The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

May 5th US Covid Data

So, multiple states are moving to reopen, despite not having crushed their curves.

In about two weeks after reopening, the effects will show up as new cases, and in about four weeks, as deaths.

As I suggested April 21st, this means that states which have dealt, or are dealing, with Covid responsibly will have to move to border controls, limiting access to those from states which have chosen to simply let people die. I expect this will mean using state police and calling up the National Guard.

There is simply no way the current policy mix in the US allows for sub 200K deaths this year, and half a million by fall is likely. It is not possible to reopen before crushing the curve, and, once you’ve reopened, you need sufficient testing, tracking, and quarantine, which the US does not have.

Other countries should close or keep closed their borders against US visitors, as well.

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  1. Daniel Lynch

    Not sure that state border controls are constitutional, though almost anything goes in a public health emergency. Travel that crosses state lines is the Federal government’s purview, as it should be.

    One wonders whether America’s system of government is capable of dealing with the pandemic? Part of the problem is incompetence and depravity, but even a competent government would be hard pressed to get around the 10th amendment and the “constitutional sheriffs” who refuse to enforce lockdowns.

    I can’t think of a single instance when the 10th amendment was a force for good? It was intended to protect slavery. Later it protected Jim Crow, today it is cherished by the Bundy Nutters and their billionaire backers. We fought a civil war over the 10th amendment and the 10th amendment side lost, yet the victors never got around to repealing the 10th, so here we are.

  2. krake

    Worst. Timeline. Ever.

  3. krake


    The North lost the War of Slaveholder Treason. The Confederates stopped sacrificing their white sons on battlefields, and have been engaged in terrorism, infiltration, incarceration, betrayal and the human sacrifice of brown and poor bodies ever since.

  4. S Brennan

    I should be clear to almost everybody by now that, in the fullness of time, every person in the US will have to experience this disease. The best the CDC can come up with is to; A] hide and if that doesn’t work; B] bed rest & fluids. By not demanding early treatments be made available, not just to the uber-rich but, to the unwashed masses, we know the final outcome. “Flattening the curve” only makes sense if you are trying to do something useful with the time. And right now, there are no clinical studies for EARLY treatment, just treatment AFTER you have entered the hospital. Big pharma has sleepwalked us into medieval times.

    And on that front, the news is quite bad.

    And still no pre-hospital treatment should take place, according to Fauci, only compounds that have withstood the most rigorous long term studies directly related to Covid-19 should be considered for early treatment [shorter version, only big Pharma need apply]. With a death rate that is one of the highest in the world, the USA’s CDC can only recommend bed rest and plenty of fluids as treatment, NOTHING ELSE HAS BEEN SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TO WORK ! Not that bed rest with fluids has been shown to work but…sprinkle that with a few “Doctor do no harm” chants and that’s the shit sandwich medicine offered to deplorables. Now in fairness to Fauci, once you have spent your life’s savings and have arrived at deaths door, your last minute treatment options can include “experimental drugs” under the “compassionate use” doctrine…what a fuckhead.

    As stated by others, this disease will accomplish the “great compromise” that Obama/[Clinton wing D’s] sought with extremists in the Republican party to cut social security. With those late boomers, born after 1956, a numerical majority but, vastly inferior economically/politically to those in the preceding decades, still working but, about to reach SSI age, this pandemic will be just what economists ordered. Not yet understanding the nature of time, Millennials, like the audience in “Logan’s Run” will cheer the spectacle of America undoing it’s social contracts.

  5. Zachary Smith

    Found a site with Covid statistics, and after discarding the tiny places like Andorra and San Marino, here are the “leaders” in deaths per million of population.

    Belgium 692
    Spain 548
    Italy 485
    UK 433
    France 386
    Netherlands 302
    Sweden 283
    Ireland 267
    USA 214
    Switzerland 207
    Germany 83

    Now for an “explainer” from before the pandemic began as to why these particular nations have failed in such a spectacular fashion.

    Opinion: Three decades of neoliberal policies have decimated the middle class, our economy, and our democracy

    Three years ago, President Donald Trump’s election and the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum confirmed what those of us who have long studied income statistics already knew: in most advanced countries, the market economy has been failing large swaths of society.

    Nowhere is this truer than in the United States. Long regarded as a poster child for the promise of free-market individualism, America today has higher inequality and less upward social mobility than most other developed countries.

    The US successfully exported Neoliberalism to most of the EU. But how to explain Germany’s relatively low number? Here I edge into tinfoil-hat territory. Just as the high moral values of the Confederacy prevailed here in the US after the Civil War, post-WW2 Germany has basically conquered Europe by means of the EU. Nations like Greece have been exploited by the EU, and I suspect Germany has benefited in much the same way as Britain did with its own Empire. (possibly just a cockamamie notion, but that’s how I see it)

    Some nations ruthlessly exploit their citizens for the enrichment of their Top .1%, and some don’t. How else can you explain the Covid numbers for South Korea, Taiwan, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, or Vietnam? Especially when compared with the very wealthy Neoliberal nations with the worst statistics? And the most predatory ruling classes.

  6. Mark Pontin

    Link to the original paper out of Los Alamos —

    The Theoretical Biology and Biophysics Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory has been synthesizing global data for the last two months. They are drawing on the work of groups in the UK and China particularly.

    This new one is not entirely unsuspected — there was an earlier paper from Los Alamos about two weeks back that pegged R0 for COV19 at 5.7. I think I posted the link here on Ian’s site back then and nobody paid much attention. I also ran the paper by some real life-scientists and got a varied response, with some push-back. Well, this latest paper moves the higher transmissibility rate towards being ‘official.’

    It’s also not entirely unexpected in that higher transmissibility was where you’d expect COV19 mutation to go.

    One possible ray of hope here is that where mutation might also take COV19 is towards less virulence and lethality i.e. diseases that kill their individual host animals too quickly — Ebola is the prime instance that comes to my mind — tend not to be transmitted and reproduce in new hosts. A successfully reproducing pathogen, conversely, will tend to mutate towards less lethality.

    No evidence that we’re seeing this yet with COV19.

  7. Mark Pontin

    Another unfortunate possibility also worth monitoring re. COV19 does _not_ appear in the Los Alamos paper. There’s a possibility that the bug exploits antibody-derived enhancement (ADE) —

    “Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), sometimes less precisely called immune enhancement or disease enhancement, is a phenomenon in which binding of a virus to non-neutralizing antibodies enhances its entry into host cells, and sometimes also its replication.[1] This phenomenon—which leads to both increased infectivity and virulence—has been observed with mosquito-borne flaviviruses such as Dengue virus, Yellow fever virus and Zika virus,[2][3] with HIV, and with coronaviruses.”

    There’ve been several research groups here and there releasing papers that suggest COV19 also exploits ADE. See forex —

    ‘Is antibody-dependent enhancement playing a role in COVID-19 pathogenesis?’

    ‘Is COVID-19 receiving ADE from other coronaviruses?’

    ‘Impact of immune enhancement on Covid-19 polyclonal hyperimmune globulin therapy and vaccine development’

  8. Ian Welsh

    Belgium’s number is so high because they actually made a point to count all likely Covid deaths.

    The US will beat many other soon enough.

  9. S Brennan

    Germany – Despite a high number of infections, the death toll has been much lower than in France, Italy or the United States…More than 3,800 people have died in Germany out of more than 133,000 confirmed infections, a rate well below other big European Union countries such as France or Spain…since April 12, more people have been declared disease-free each day than new infections have been reported, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday.

  10. S Brennan

    In viral infection [or for that matter, any other] it really does help if treatment begins prior to a patient requiring critical care. Currently, the CDC is advising patients to NOT seek/ask-for treatment until they require intensive care in a hospital. German medical practitioners do not agree and the results speak for themselves.

    Strangely, Germans/German-media are NOT crediting Chancellor Merkle for their good fortune, they’re crediting their medical institutions, that contrasts sharply with the USA where, overturning the results of the last election are seen as the ONLY genuine solution to the pandemic. Talk about snake oil.

  11. Stirling S Newberry

    What’s funny about the US is that the President announces a low count while his inner circle tells him that cases will go up.

  12. NR

    It’s okay, I’m sure our resident science denier will be here soon to tell us “It’s just the flu!!!” again.

  13. S Brennan

    Fortunately, for the Germans anyway, they are focusing on the problem and not how to use the pandemic politically.

    Notice the word TREATMENT, not cure, not vaccine, not quarantine.
    “Swiss and German Team Develop Inhaled mRNA Coronavirus Treatment”

    I really wish all the political hacks, with either a [D] or [R] after their name understood that the death of 70,000 people of their fellow countrymen, with much worse to come, was a serious matter. Yeah, yeah, yeah, if Hillary was in the White House blah, blah, blah. I get it guys, your need to put a neoliberal, Wilsonian [D] in the White House is job one, blah, blah, blah. Remind me again, who was in office during the last world pandemic?


  14. Ché Pasa

    Minimal testing = low count. Limited reporting = low count. We don’t know how many people have or have had or will have Covid-19, and we will never know because of minimal testing and limited reporting.

    On the other hand, the excess death numbers turning up practically everywhere that the virus has raged are startling. Are they all Covid-19 deaths? Probably not, but some of them certainly are. We’re at the point in the US where the ruling class and their man on the throne have decided to sacrifice however many Americans they must. Same in Britain. And we’ve seen the same phenomenon wherever the neolib paradigm reigns. There’s no escape. You get the virus, a certain percentage of you will die. And that percentage goes up as you age. That percentage goes up if you are not lily white. That percentage goes up the more direct contact you have with others. That percentage goes up depending on where you live and what your living conditions are like. All these things and more are known. And this knowledge is being used.

    Just a note: cities, states, and the US itself are under emergency rule. The constitution is not technically suspended, but for all practical purposes, the constitution’s authority is limited or non-existent. Civilian rights may be impinged, limited, or voided. Effectively, it’s rule by decree.

  15. Hugh

    Most countries beginning with China did a poor job initially dealing with the coronavirus. Most ramped up their responses, and the speed that they did determined how well their outcomes have been to date. The US led by its third rate game show host has completely f##ked up every stage of its response. So again no surprise that the re-open is equally not thought through, fragmented, and poorly executed. Meanwhile as tens of thousands die and will die unnecessarily, Trump laments that he has been treated worse than Lincoln, who was assassinated.

  16. Mark Pontin

    Hugh: “The US led by its third rate game show host has completely f##ked up every stage of its response.”

    Sure. All the con man knows is the con.

    Not sure how much better things would be under the other half of the Duopoly. Better somewhat, but those clowns took four years to get the Obamacare website running, remember.

    They would probably have had the sense to get their egos out of the professionals’ way a little better, though.

    I can’t stress enough that, even though neoliberalism has defunded a lot of programs, there’s been plenty of past work done re. pandemic and emergency response. But Trump’s denialism and magic thinking — feeding into the similar inherent propensities of a nation of 300 million-plus used-car salesmen — has defeated what effective responses might have been possible for a neoliberalism-atrophied US state.

    Arguably, from an accelerationist POV, it’s all probably good as it tends towards defederalization and semi-Balkanization of the U.S. —

    — and the breakup of the Evil Empire, provided nobody gets too trigger-happy with the nukes.

    An immense amount of pain coming Americans’ way in the meantime, however.

  17. EGrise

    Hey Ian,

    Can you foresee Canada blocking travel to the US or preventing US residents from entering Canada? If so, how do you suppose that will work out?

  18. bruce wilder

    Not sure how much better things would be under the other half of the Duopoly. Better somewhat, but those clowns took four years to get the Obamacare website running, remember. . . . They would probably have had the sense to get their egos out of the professionals’ way a little better, though.

    Certainly it is pretty to think so, but . . . what professionals?

    Fauci was not all that competent 35 years ago; now he is 79 and willing to endorse remdesivir. Even before the top leadership had occasion to put on their clown show, much lower level “professionals” were bollixing the test, and not just the test itself in purely technical terms, but the protocol for testing. They had not figured out masks worked!

  19. Mark Pontin

    EGrise wrote: “Can you foresee Canada blocking travel to the US or preventing US residents from entering Canada?”

    It already is, fella. We’re in the second month of the closure, which has already been extended one month to May 16. It’s a pretty sure thing it’ll be extended again.

    TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday the U.S. and Canada have agreed to keep their border closed to nonessential travel for another 30 days and he said it will be undoubtedly longer before the restriction is removed

    …Trudeau said in French the restrictions will remain in place for “many, many weeks to come” and then said in English it will “undoubtedly” be many weeks.

  20. Mark Pontin

    Donald J. Trump
    · May 4
    Getting great reviews, finally, for how well we are handling the pandemic, especially our strong production of desperately needed ventilators, the building of field hospitals & beds, and soon, the great things we are doing on testing. People are really working well together!

    “…and soon, the great things ….”

    Bhagdad Bob after the war: “My information was correct, but my interpretations were not.”

    Emperor Hirohito announcing Japan’s surrender: “The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage”

  21. Mark Pontin

    Bruce W. wrote: “Fauci was not all that competent 35 years ago; now he is 79 and willing to endorse remdesivir …”

    Oh, I agree, Bruce. I had an email conversation two weeks ago and took your side of the debate re. Fauci. I recalled in particular an interview I had in my files in 2005 with a former Russian bioweaponeer now living in the U.S., whose comments referenced Fauci in passing with the words, “I’m sorry, that’s … naive.”

    He was being polite, but it was that particular tone of voice that Russians have, you know? And then he explained in detail why.

    Bruce W: “. . . what professionals?”

    Oh, I was thinking more of the folks at joints like Fort Detrick aka USAMRIID and Sandia/Lawrence Livermore/Los Alamos. But honestly it’s been more than a decade since I talked to any of them, and those places are probably not what they were.

    I had a VC acquaintance run those papers which I linked to nearer the top of this thread by a hotshot virologist they’ve got working for them now. I looked up the virologist’s CV and he spent a half-dozen years each at USAMRIID, then NIAID, then Lawrence Livermore, and now he’s out in the private sector.

    It’s probably not just because of the money.

  22. bruce wilder

    Taking note of great sentences (Hugh will be quite jealous.)

    “The consensus is for 20,000,000 payroll jobs lost in April, down from 27,000 lost in March.”
    — Calculated Risk

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