I am frankly tired of repeating myself at a half-dozen sites. I will let this excellent Quillette article out of the UK speak for me this time. I think it is stronger for paralleling our own situation so closely, but with different personalities, culture, and details. So it's not about Trump, or Biden, or Cuomo, or DeSantis. It's about human nature, and therefore, about us.
I am tired of reading about how "they," usually meaning Fauci and a lot of handwaving, lied to us about Covid, which is why "they" haven't any credibility now and we won't listen to what they say or do what they say anymore. Because they are just controlling bastards, and the people still masking are timid and cowardly - not brave true Americans like us, who value liberty.
Because that's what our Founding Fathers fought for, sure, to not have to follow safety precautions unless they felt like it (and they weren't going to feel like it if it was physically uncomfortable or didn't look daring). It's so easy to accuse others of bad motives, isn't it, and so hard to even consider that theirs might not be all that good.
Glenn Reynolds has spent the last year putting "experts" in quotes and complaining how they "haven't exactly covered themselves with glory over the past year." Well compared to the skeptics, they absolutely have covered themselves with glory. The deniers have been repeatedly and spectacularly wrong.
I was there for all of it. I remember when as far back as March of 2020 people were saying this was exaggerated and no big deal. We kept hearing that this was "just the flu," and then "only like a bad flu season," and then still some mutters like that, but most people abandoned that line of argument. That was when we had just passed 100,000 deaths and I, also thinking that there was only going to be the one peak, and a long slow decline in deaths rather than a sharp one by June, predicted we would hit 150,000 deaths by September, maybe even August 1st, and was cautioned to check my statistics and estimates, and not to believe data that lead to such predictions.
Now we hav 4.5-5 times as many deaths as that, and the same people are still finding excuses. Sometimes the same excuses. I've got a guy over at Chicago Boyz, a retired physician, saying he thinks these deaths weren't really covid, they are influenza, and you just wait, eventually it will show. Sure Dr. Mike. The 2020 flu inexplicably struck twice instead of once, and worse the second time, killed 30 times more people than average, and just happened to occur in the year when there was all this covid rumor going on. Oh, and it petered out just as the new vaccines came on line.
Residents of states that had not yet been hit hard spoke contemptuously. Texas, Georgia, Florida - "We're not seeing any problem down here. You people are all panicking. You must be doing something wrong. You just like telling other people what to do, but we won't have it. We're freedom-loving Americans. Why I know a guy who works at an ER and he says it's empty these days." Again so easy to accuse others of bad motives, so hard to even consider the possibility that they are just being sulky teenagers who don't like being told what to do.
Not all of them are that. Some of them are exactly that.
When the second wave hit all those states harder than New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, I do not recall a single statement on any of the blogs I frequent or their commenters that admitted the slightest bit of inaccuracy, or any apology for being insulting. As the numbers rose the excuses went with them. These aren't deaths from covid. These are deaths with covid. What? What the hell does that mean? Tom Bridgelend the ICU nurse from Chicago who comments here sums it up well: If someone comes in with covid symptoms but we don't do a test, and he dies in his own fluids, I don't really mind if the doctor writes coronavirus on the death certificate." Right. Seeing that C19 is the overwhelmingly likely cause of death. What would you call it instead?
Then the focus on covid deaths occurring primarily among people who had other factors, like age, obesity, diabetes. So you are saying that's okay then? There is the constant denial that this is what is being said, but when it gets highlighted repeatedly, with no on-the-other-hands or cautions, I have to conclude that is what is being said. The little polite nods that of-course-those-deaths-are-all-tragic-but... no longer cut it. Minimising is convenient for you for some reason. A year ago I suspected that. Now I'm sure.
Relatedly, there are stories about relatives that died from lack of medical care because of all the focus going to covid. I imagine there were some, but interestingly, those aren't showing up in the statistics. There is no increase in deaths from other causes, except a bit in things that have similar symptoms to Coronavirus - heart disease and respiratory failure. And drug OD's, which did legitimately go up - and account for 3% of the excess mortality. The story may be working backwards from the data, from "Maybe Aunt Jessie might have survived if she had seen the doctor earlier" to "The focus on covid killed her."
The hospitals are calling things covid because they get extra money for those cases. And governors get reelected by making it look like the state's numbers are low, so that's a competing incentive. And so when you look at other clues to see what the real number is, you find we have undercounted, not overcounted.
But by all means, lets get exercised all over again that they said "flatten the curve" and it didn't work out that way. Because they were supposed to know. And refer only to the studies that tell us what we want about masks, ignoring the ones that tell us differently. Because that's brave. Now the cry goes up that the lockdowns were worse - sometimes it is even said there may have been more deaths (again Instapundit, repeatedly) - than from SARS-2 itself. Okay then - by what metric? I know there were lost jobs and diminished business, I know there was a general economic hit, but put that in numbers. Put it out there and weigh x number of jobs versus y number of deaths. Make the assertion that "We should have stayed open even if it meant a million more deaths. Because that's not crazy now that we are up to 750,000 even with precautions. Convince me with numbers, plus your years-of-life versus quality of life equation.
And then factor in all the other effects of Covid that are gradually emerging. Those are part of the equation, too.
Of course it is irritating that politicians and other powerful figures, especially Democrats, were hypocrites and traveled, and didn't mask or distance themselves, but really, so what? It doesn't change a thing about the disease itself. Get over it. It's irritating if kids have to wear masks at school when that isn't likely a big danger of spreading, but we are comparing that to what level of difficulty and oppression children have gone to school with before? Masks? Quelle Horreur. I think they'll get over it. Talk to people from Romania about oppression at school. People talk now about how traumatic it was for American children to be told to get under their desks in the fifties, fearing nuclear attack. I think we got over it. I'm not seeing any downstream effects of that, even though there has been occasional hyperventilating about it. We regard it as funny now. Masks are a bad thing for a small number of people, with speech or hearing difficulties. That's legit. It's an irritation for the rest of us, unless you assign great symbolic value to having to wear one.
Yes, maybe they assigned symbolic value to not wearing a mask first, but that doesn't really change things, except it's irritating.
An anecdote of irony: the guys in charge of security in churches because of the very occasional horrendous events that occur - they clearly understand the principle of being prepared for a low-chance but devastating event. But they don't see the point of wearing masks because...why, exactly? The evidence would suggest that picking and choosing like that suggests some personal motive rather than a risk assessment. Not such a good thing from a professional security firm. You might even guess at their motives.
And the claim that we really don't know what works, and maybe this many people would have died despite whatever we did anyway. Evidence? Because people are making the opposite claim with lots of evidence. Please include in your calculations the countries with low rates of infection and death, some of which don't have anywhere near the hospital care we do. I think the evidence is those selectively-chosen studies about masks. Not a devastating case.
I think the deaths don't seem real because people don't see them, but they do see masks and signs about distancing, and closed businesses. That is understandable, but is still illogical. The numbers are what they are. If you have different numbers, bring 'em. For the record, I am not currently masking except at the places that require them, which is mostly medical facilities at this point. The Delta variant is worse, but not worse enough to respond to. That could change. If we have to mask again, I shrug. I am hugging children at church. That too could change, if the data changes.
Worldwide there is a third spike in both cases and deaths. In America...maybe. There has been a small recent upturn in cases, driven by Texas, California, Arizona, and especially Florida. Maybe a rise starting in deaths, from the same places. But clinics and hospitals know what they are doing at this point, which will likely keep the deaths moderate unless something catastrophic happens.