Reno and Hitchens Question the Shutdown


But I disagree that there is no context. I spent a fair bit of time building context with a well-known disease.

Yes, but some differences between them matter. For example, the timeframe we are dealing with, the complexity of the measurements, the number of inputs. Still hard, yes, particularly with very incomplete data. But you know what’s happening? The rates of hospitalization in NY are going above the model. That’s a number that is easy to measure and has plenty of context in historical data.

I dunno my friend, what can I say. We sorta disagree here. I’ve been to Italy too, and we obviously have a different understanding of its preparedness. I don’t think its socialized system is irrelevant. We will see what happens here in the US. I hope and pray for the best. I am thankful some of the former administration officials’ predictions (overrun hospitals nationwide by March 23) were incorrect. I happen to think a shutdown will do (and may have already done) more long-term damage in the form of excessive job loss (read: destruction of peoples’ livelihoods). Where you sit is where you stand, as they say. It is easy to armchair quarterback when one is not currently in a position where they are no longer able to provide for their family. It is easy to say the government will just give them money and everything will be okay. I think, in the long term analysis, that supposition is more dangerous than a virus because it is that sort of thinking that ends up disrupting supply lines, clearing shelves, destroying jobs, removing food from tables, and, historically, paving the way for totalitarianism.

My tentative position is, open things up. Use the DPA if necessary to shore up medical technology and logistic lines. Support the infected as best as possible. If that sounds heartless I don’t know what to say. The whole reason we can support the infected now as well as we can is because our economy has been so strong. If that gets crippled, aint nobody getting decent care.


Well, it certainly is easier to armchair qb than to improve one’s position. As it happens, I do know a bit about Bat Flu income loss: I was informed this weekend that my contract will be over on 4/10, largely because nobody wants to sign new contracts with my current client. I’m expecting to have quite a bit more time to armchair qb in the coming months. Fortunately we have a good buffer unless things really get pear-shaped. Give us this day our daily bread.

These things are tied together in unpredictable ways. It’s hard to have an economy without a health care system and it’s hard to have a health care system without an economy. The needle to thread is to do as little damage to the economy as possible while keeping the health care system functioning. It’s unclear to me at this point if that’s even possible.

Just to circle back around to the flu comparison, the last 7 days have seen 50 people per day die in NY, average. The worst flu season in decades saw a peak week of 41 per day.


Hope it’s okay to share this link here. It’s a compilation of well sourced rates of cases and deaths in the US and Canada and is frequently updated. The exponential curve of cases and deaths is troubling. Regardless of what we think is best to do, practically, we must pray to God on behalf of our neighbors across the world for their daily bread, for their salvation, and for wisdom for all the civil authorities.


Keep a close watch as to what is happening in Europe and the UK, as it is only a matter of time before it happens in the States as well.

Last night the small group I am part of met on-line via something called Zoom. 40 minutes, but that was all we needed to “meet”. It did work, I must say.


We’ve been using both Zoom and Skype, depending on the need.

Jobless claims came out and if anything could make the case that the cost isn’t worth the lockdown, I guess that could. But… I’m not liking the thought of 70% of the country getting Covid so we get herd immunity. I don’t see how it would result in anything other than way higher than 1% of that 70% of the nation dying.

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This may also be timely:

There are some categorical errors happening here. Running a country is complex. Medical professionals provide invaluable advice. Medical professionals are not economists so their advice on when or whether the country needs to lift restrictions on economic activity doesn’t mean a lot because such a question is outside of their wheelhouse. Economists are not disease specialists. And so on. And all of these people are bending the ear of leadership, and they’re all important. The medical superstructure is a result of the economy. The relationship may be symbiotic to some degree today, but the excellent medical system of the US (compared to most other nations) is not what created the economy. The economic system created the health apparatus. So to the degree that the economy continues to be limited by medical professionals, they are in a sense sawing off the branch on which they sit.


Models seem to change every day (as this shows), and its hard to know what to believe, but there’s some interesting information coming out of the U.K. on that essentially already being the case.

Some quotes from the 2 articles:

However, after just one day of ordered lockdowns in the U.K., Ferguson has changed his tune, revealing that far more people likely have the virus than his team figured. Now, the epidemiologist predicts, hospitals will be just fine taking on COVID-19 patients and estimates 20,000 or far fewer people will die from the virus itself or from its agitation of other ailments.
Ferguson thus dropped his prediction from 500,000 dead to 20,000.

He now says both that the U.K. should have enough ICU beds and that the coronavirus will probably kill under 20,000 people in the U.K. — more than 1/2 of whom would have died by the end of the year in any case [because] they were so old and sick

Also, this (although unfortunately the article this is originally quoted from is behind a paywall):

Professor Gupta led a team of researchers at Oxford in a modeling study which suggests that the virus has been invisibly spreading for at least a month earlier than suspected, concluding that as many as half of the people in the United Kingdom have already been infected by COVID-19. If her model is accurate, fewer than one in a thousand who’ve been infected with COVID-19 become sick enough to need hospitalization, leaving the vast majority with mild cases or free of symptoms.

Really what this goes to show is that most of the models seem about as accurate as weather predictions in the Pacific Northwest, changing every day and about 50% accuracy.

As far as herd immunity goes, it seems to me that without it, we end up with multistage coronavirus outbreaks, with the scenario we have now on repeat over the next couple years until we have a herd immunity.

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That would be great news indeed.

I just can’t figure out how the small rate of positive tests in most states jives with that.

I guess it means that most people have already had it and recovered.

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I haven’t commented much because @jtbayly is making many of the same points I would, but one thing people are not considering is that sending everyone back to work and letting the virus run its course may result in economic destruction anyway if hospitals get overwhelmed and people self-isolate anyway as they see other around them get sick and die. From all I see, this is worse than the most severe flu we’ve had in decades, and I’m not confident at all that hospitals in the U.S. won’t get overwhelmed. Note that the government did order isolation measures a hundred years ago during the Spanish Flu.

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Yeah, I’m with @Joel on this. I don’t think anybody was saying that. Rather that if it totally falls apart, the economy will, too. Is everybody hiding in their houses in fear any worse than everybody hiding in their houses because the government ordered them to? Maybe not. Both come with economic collapse, at least for a time. But one comes with the economy and health systems collapsing. Recovering from that seems a lot harder to me.

Praying that Gupta, et al are correct in their new models. I wish they were based on some random sampling for antibodies rather than simply an updated transmissibility number. With all the money we are spending on this, it seems like it should be possible to fund a study to get a better estimate of how many people have already had it. That would remove a lot of uncertainty in the models.


Hmm… I’ve finally gotten a chance to read these and even get the Daily Wire article discussed on the Hacker News front page briefly until it got flagged.

I think some things are worth noting.

  1. Ferguson has not essentially changed his tune. His basic claim is that the lockdown will work to save many lives and keep ICUs from being overwhelmed. The daily wire has even issued a correction. In fact, the increase in the estimated transmissibility only bolsters his conviction of the necessity of the lockdown.
  2. Gupta (at Oxford) is the one with an alternate model where many more people have already gotten it. The only way to prove this is with a study doing antibody testing, which they are pursuing there in the UK to see whether the model has any validity. I personally don’t believe it. However, there are now two experts on this side: Gupta and Ioannidis.

You are right to question me. But what did I say that made you think I want any of that? I deliberately created a dichotomy of extremes to illustrate the direction I believe Christian values push us. If I am wrong, your emotional argument fails to prove it.

Yes, abundance often leads to forgetfulness, but as far as I can tell that is irrelevant to the point I was making. I was saying that we should be faithful and wise stewards, and content with what we have. Sure we should be grateful and generous too.

Again, who said anything about wishing for or embracing poverty?! The majority of my post is about storing up wealth so that economic collapse wouldn’t even be a concern in a time like this. I think you may have missed the argument I was responding to in my last paragraph.

Thanks for the reply. That is the statement which I thought a tad harsh. I understand that you qualified it with a comparative ‘than’ but I don’t think that comparison holds for reasons stated previously.

Ok, but my qualifier is absolutely essential to the meaning of the phrase you quoted, and the mere fact that poverty is miserable doesn’t refute anything. If we reverse my statement, is this what you’re saying?

“I would rather knowingly sacrifice human life to keep an arbitrary standard of living far beyond the food and clothing with which our Lord commanded us to be content rather than allow the economy collapse to third world standards.”

Isn’t that the logic of the culture of death?

Thank you for the conversation.

I see no virtue in soul and life crushing poverty.

I see no virtue is profligate life-styles.

These are the options you present. That is why I see your comparison as invalid.

There is a third way. It would appear from scripture that the God who gave the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey desires people to enjoy bounty. Other places it is described as men enjoying life under their own fig trees.

What bothers us both is our tendency to forget the God who gives us such wondrous blessings and then we attribute these blessings to our own ingenuity.


Amen. Over and over again.

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You’re right, although he seems to have changed his tune on how long the lockdown will need to last.

It’s amazing how much conflicting information is out there. Some sources say recommendations against closing schools were made due to the fact that then children (possible unknown carriers of coronavirus) would be stuck inside, often with elderly grandparents or other elderly relatives watching them, and schools were closed anyway. Other sources say that NYC received recommendations to close their schools, and delayed doing so for too long. Then I read this morning that NY Gov. Cuomo said it was possibly a mistake to close the schools, at least in as sweeping a manner as they did.

I tend to think even after this is all over, we’ll have no idea whether all this was the right call.