Don’t open the schools and universities, at least “live”

When the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) weighed in a while ago saying that it was essential to reopen the nation’s schools, that was before the big resurgence of the pandemic in many states. Many colleges and universities have already decided to reopen as well, though with restrictions (Harvard, for example, will have online classes, and 40% of the student body on campus each semester, while the University of Chicago will re-open with a mixture of live and “remote” classes).

Things have changed. The pandemic seems out of control in most places, and I can’t imagine a school reopening safely—not with proper masking, social distancing and the absence of groups and isolated dining. Colleges and universities are even worse, with students coming to campus from all over the U.S. and the world. How can you prevent an outbreak in such a situation? Even if children get sick less severely than adults, or not at all, many teenagers can be taken very sick, and infected children can transmit the virus to adults.

Even the AAP has walked back its statement, as ArsTechnica reports:

The American Academy of Pediatrics has clarified its stance on school reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic after the Trump administration repeatedly used the academy’s previous statement to pressure school systems to resume in-person learning in the fall.

The AAP, in a joint statement with three large education organizations, emphasized that school reopening should be driven by science and safety—“not politics.” It also directly responded to President Trump’s threat of withholding funding from schools that did not reopen, calling the move a “misguided approach.”

The point was echoed Monday by Michael Ryan, an infectious disease expert with the World Health Organization, who implored countries not to let school reopening become “yet another political football.”

“The best and safest way to reopen schools is in the context of low community transmission that has been effectively suppressed by a broad-based comprehensive strategy,” Ryan, executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said in a press briefing.

Now there may be some schools, somewhere, in low-density areas with low infection rates, that could be opened safely. That’s above my pay grade. But I doubt those schools are numerous.

And yes, I’m aware that we’re trading off safety against our children’s education. My view is that the former must take precedence until the virus is under control in the U.S. And that’s not now.

Paul Krugman put it starkly in his new NYT piece:

A quote from Krugman:

So we’re now facing a terrible, unnecessary dilemma. If we reopen in-person education, we risk feeding an out-of-control pandemic. If we don’t, we impair the development of millions of American students, inflicting long-term damage on their lives and careers.

And the reason we’re in this position is that states, cheered on by the Trump administration, rushed to allow large parties and reopen bars. In a real sense America drank away its children’s future.

Now what? At this point there are probably as many infected Americans as there were in March. So what we should be doing is admitting that we blew it, and doing a severe lockdown all over again — and this time listening to the experts before reopening. Unfortunately, it’s now too late to avoid disrupting education, but the sooner we deal with this the sooner we can get our society back on track.

But we don’t have the kind of leaders we need. Instead, we have the likes of Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, politicians who refuse to listen to experts and never admit having been wrong.

So while there have been a few grudging policy adjustments, the main response we’re seeing to colossal policy failure is a hysterical attempt to shift the blame. Some officials are trying to besmirch Dr. Fauci’s reputation; others are diving into unhinged conspiracy theories.

As a result, the outlook is grim. This pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better, and the nation will suffer permanent damage.

I’m not in charge of these decisions, thank goodness. All I know is that when the students swarm back to campus this fall, I’ll be masked and keeping my distance from them. We’re screwed, and it’s very sad.

186 Comments

  1. Mark R.
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Since the 2016 election, I’ve pretty much been embarrassed to be an American. Now I’m ashamed.

    If we don’t rid this country of Trump and the GOP this Fall, we will soon become a failed, 3rd world country.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      Speaking of the future, I saw something positive which has effects on the economic balance. Also positive is that I don’t think there is any “3d world country” classification any longer – the global economic distribution is now unimodal.

      A Lancet study has peak population in 2065, at most 10 billion so 3 billion less than the UN reference scenario, and quite a dramatic downturn – 20+ nations will halve their population. [I’m happy to report that Scandinavian nations will still increase, and at a slow rate.]

      Africa and the Arab World will shape our future, while Europe and Asia will recede in their influence. By the end of the century, the world will be multipolar, with India, Nigeria, China, and the US the dominant powers.

      Professor Ibrahim Abubakar, from University College London and the chair of Lancet Migration, said that if the predictions made in the Lancet “are even half accurate”, then “migration will become a necessity for all nations and not an option”.

      [ https://news.sky.com/story/decline-in-fertility-will-see-global-population-shrink-triggering-radical-shifts-in-economic-power-report-12028364 ]

      According to researchers, for example, the able-bodied in China will decrease from 950 million today to just over 359 million at the turn of the next century. It is also behind the conclusion that China will certainly overtake the United States as the world’s leading economy in 2050, but that the United States will regain first place 50 years later.

      [ http://tt.omni.se/studie-bara-8-8-miljarder-i-varlden-2100/a/9v5gop ]

      Study: “https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30677-2/fulltext” .

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        Yeah total slow motion Children of Men.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 6:29 am | Permalink

        ‘Europe and Asia will recede in their influence.’ But both India & China, who are named as ‘dominant powers’ in the future are in Asia. Perhaps the people at the Lancet are not aware of geography.

  2. Steve Gerrard
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    What we really need is faster test turn around. We are testing a lot, but people are waiting a week, even 10 days, to get results. That doesn’t work for contact tracing, or for checking returning students, etc. We need 2 day results or better, same day if possible.

    It’s just pathetic that other countries can do it, and we can do all sorts of other technical things, and we have more money than other countries, and we can’t get the job done.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      At this point, it’s not possible. The US is testing 500,000 people a day. It would need to increase that by an order of magnitude just to test students in Texas.

      There was a “surge” in testing in Texas recently. And all the testing locations ran out of tests before noon. People were in line for 6 hours to get tested.

      We’re doomed.

  3. Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Even if the outbreak was handily under control, and we re-opened schools with 50% capacity and social distancing and stringent checks on symptoms of all children, teachers, and staff… if by some miracle we managed to do all that…
    it would soon not make much difference in my opinion. The virus would still become resurgent in the fall, and force us to close schools again by late October. That is what the virus does.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I depressingly agree. Schools would open and two weeks later they would start to close.

      The best option is to give the kids formally arranged physical interactions that require full social distancing but they can see each others eyes and know they are now alone.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes, we have the COVID-19 pandemic already raging out of control, with a second wave expected to arrive with the cooler autumn weather, in conjunction with regular flu season.

      It’s like a Cat 5 hurricane fixing to make landfall during a king high tide. Current adumbrations, to risk understatement, are unpropitious.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes my university I Ontario, Canada is not reopening in the Fall. We don’t know what we are doing for Winter but we are planning for a second wave and we are just starting to reopen the economy now. This is what we are doing with a fraction of the I factions in the US so it is baffling to me opening universities with such a high infection rate in the US. For public schools most likely there will be a combination of distance learning and in person with drastically reduced class sizes probably through shifts.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Public is what I mean by non higher ed – Highschool and elementary.

      • Vaal
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        I’m from Toronto and my eldest son was just finishing his final year university in Tennessee when the pandemic lock-down started occurring. He got back to Canada just in time and finished off his course on-line. Thank goodness he doesn’t have to go back!

        Whereas his friend is a bit younger, also studied in the states (Virginia) and is going back to school this fall! (Because, of course, Trump says keep the schools open). Yikes!

        That said, just today I saw my youngest son, 18, off on a flight to Winnipeg. He’s doing the Katimavik program for several months, helping out various communities in need with a group of other young people. Naturally we were somewhat nervous…traveling? Flying? The pandemic?” etc. But ultimately we decided it still made sense. He’s doing a gap year, would have nothing else to do around here, Canada generally is doing pretty well with controlling Covid and there is far less COVID in Winnipeg (Manitoba has only 5 active cases and no new cases!), and he’ll be getting a great experience. The main fear is the flight, but he’s young, has taken every precaution for the flight, so fingers crossed…

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          Yeah your son was lucky. Winterpeg not exactly the plague hotbed of the GTA and Windsor. Lol. Not that it’s all that bad. All of Ontario only had just over 100 new cases today. The lowest since March. We only have 1 cases currently in hospital right now in my area and I think we haven’t had any new ones Only had 136 total.

          • Vaal
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            Yes, very nice seeing those numbers stay down!

            Diana, are you ready to go out to eat at a restaurant patio any time soon?

            I’m a “foodie” and have said to friends I’m not sure I’ll be truly comfortable until this pandemic is behind us (which is killing me!).

            But I’ve seen some reports on local food boards that some have enjoyed high end dining on certain patios in which the spacing of seats and precautions made them feel comfortable enough to enjoy the meal.

            It’s almost tempting….

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

              Nope no way. I won’t even get take out even though it is said to be safe. I just don’t want to risk getting sick. I did get a hair cut. We were both masked and no one else was there except me and the stylist. I also got an MRI and the hospital was very empty with all measures in place where they take your temp and give you a mask. I also went to see an orthopaedic surgeon with all measure in place. I don’t want to do anything too luxury at this point. My fear is that I have a person in my FB that thinks it’s all a hoax and she works serving food. So if someone like her is around my food or me, it makes me nervous.

              • Vaal
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

                Understood Diana. We all have our risk/benefit analysis going on at this moment.

                My wife thinks I’m paranoid as I’m still washing our groceries, even though it’s been downplayed as a cause of contagion. But for me it’s a pretty low cost activity for the mental relief.

                Whereas when it comes to things like going out for walks or sometimes ordering food for take-out, for me the mental benefits are huge – any moments of normalcy! – and outweigh the risks as I understand them.

                (I usually get the food home and transfer it to our own dishes/cutlery. But today I grabbed a Firehouse sub sandwich and didn’t fret about eating it out of the container).

                (BTW, my son just texted, arrived safe and sound in Winipeg – glad because he has a nut allergy so flying is always a bit nerve wracking. He had a mask, wore a hoody as some news stories suggested, we also supplied him with a face shield but he didn’t wear it. He said no one else on the plane was wearing one, including the flight attendants. Social embarrassment and sticking out in a crowd is still a big factor for someone his age 🙂 I’m sure he’ll be fine.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

                Yeah I wouldn’t want to wear the face shield either. 🙂

                Try ordering from some of the restaurants you like. Maybe that will satisfy some of the food at a restaurant cravings. Stage 3 openings will be coming soon. We will see how that all goes.

                Still washing groceries here even though, like you, the risk is low. I get groceries for my parents via curbside and drop them off and I don’t think they are washing them but we all wash our hands after touching anything from outside the house and when we come in from anywhere public. Hand washing and masks are the easiest defence I think.

            • Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

              There are also various restaurants selling meal kits. We even bought a paella kit from Tarsan I Jane in Seattle and had it shipped to Long Beach, CA. It was very easy to prepare and tasted great. I think there are a lot of foodie things like that around but still not exactly the fine dining experience we’d prefer.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

              You can try some yummy take out if you want to risk it as that is supposed to be safe. My Toronto friends broke down and did so.

              • rickflick
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

                I would think it would be safe, especially if you pop it in the microwave or oven to bring it back up to temp. Not too many viruses can withstand 150F.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

              Vaal, I thought this Xkcd comic was a propos of our discussion.

              https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/covid_risk_chart.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      This is Ontario’s data and our higher ed is not opening in September and high schools and elementary schools will likely not be fully back in the outbreak hot spots but the decision for how to open (full distance learning, fully back, hybrid) will be up to individual school boards. https://globalnews.ca/news/7178333/ontario-coronavirus-cases-july-15-covid19/

  4. GBJames
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    It might have been avoided if not for the deep running river of stupidity we’re up to our necks in.

    • C.
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      As Pete Seeger once sang (but about a different though unnecessary crisis)
      “We were neck deep in the Big Muddy but the big fool said to push on”.

  5. rickflick
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    “We’re screwed, and it’s very sad”.

    At least until next year when, we hope, there will be new leadership at the top. Flipping the Senate would really be sweet.

    • mike cracraft
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree. Trump’s egomaniacal stupidity is digging his grave for November burial.

  6. John Donohue
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Only 21 children between the ages of 2-14 (beginning of high school) have died from COVID-19 in the United States, as of July 8. I could not find stats for the last seven days.

    https://www.acsh.org/news/2020/07/14/coronavirus-covid-deaths-among-children-and-reopening-schools-14909

    I have no data on these 21 cases, but naturally suspect comorbidity complications, as per documented percentages.

    Do we keep schools closed — and thus keep parents locked out of working jobs and/or running their business as usual — with this risk in mind?

    I say no. If your child has comorbidity, keep them home, otherwise, open the school.

    However, on other risk, such as intermingling of adults in the school and homes of both staff and children, perhaps the answer is yes, keep them closed.

    That triggers billions of lost productivity in this nation, and trillions in unemployment compensation. Keeping the nation and the schools closed is not being paid for “as we go,” but rather by IOUs which will be burdensome on these very same children for their entire lives.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Intermingling of adults and children? That’s pretty hard to arrange. It does suggest, however, that one solution would be the away-school. Kids would check in and stay for an extended period in dorms with the teachers but no outside contact. Sort of like the old time boarding schools for the rich.

    • GBJames
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Well, John, that’s the price of totally fucking up the national response to a pandemic. We could be opening schools up safely, like they are in Europe, but we won’t be able to. Donald J. tRump and Republicans across the country have decided that magically they could restart the economy without first controlling the virus. Willful stupidity comes at a price.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Trump’s latest plan for dealing with the pandemic seems to be to ignore it in the hope it will go away, as though it were some floozy he disappointed in the sack during a Lake Tahoe golf outing one time.

        • Mark R.
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          And now they’re trying to siphon all the CDC and other government Covid data through the White House before being disseminated to the rest of the world. Another fascistic move for all to see. Hopkins and other Universities are getting their data directly from hospitals, so I don’t know how they think this ploy will work. And trashing Fauci is another nonsensical tactic to confuse Americans. What a shit show.

      • Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Let’s of course keep a close watch on countries that have done better at controlling this thing during their lockdown phase, so we may learn what happens when even they re-open their schools so that parents can go back to work.
        I bet that even for countries that were exemplary in doing this, when they re-open their schools all that progress will soon be erased. The damn virus will come roaring right back anyway and they will have to close again.

        Rock Hard Place.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      There is this Kawasaki-like syndrome in children. It appears to be very rare now, but it may appear late. What will we see in, say, 5 years? My point is that infections in children maybe much less innocent than we think now.
      There are some studies going on about the BCG vaccine giving protection against the post-Covid dementia (not to be confounded by the pre-Covid dementia of the Trumphadists protesting against the wearing of masks).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I’d want more data than just deaths. There are long term effects that harm kids as well including organ damage.

      • John Donohue
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        ” long term effects ” such as living in fear as their normal. Not hugging and wrestling with each other. Kissing grandma goodnight.

        I saw a mom in a park, far from others, playing smile/recognition/peekaboo with her pre-toddler child. She got irritated at one point and pulled the mask away from her face. Good for her, she wants genuine authentic intimacy to be the normal between them, not the faces of fear and hiding.

        I know many cast ridicule on the Sweden strategy, and I dispute it either “failed” or is no better than authoritarian lockdown. One thing that can’t be disputed: the populace is not living in fear of one another.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          So not hugging or kissing for a few months is worth someone dying FOREVER. It’s not all or nothing. You should be afraid. If you do this right you get to live life almost normally again. Like the rest of the world which is opening up.

          And don’t try to say Sweden did nothing. They socially distanced, they closed schools for some kids, workers who could work from home did. They didn’t need to force anyone. The people of Sweden knew that not kissing someone for a few months means they could open up again and they didn’t ask anyone to die for that. Please, enough with the hyperbole that distancing for a few months is worse than death.

          • tomh
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

            Sweden is a cautionary tale, not an ideal to emulate. Not only did thousands more people die than in neighboring countries, but there were no economic benefits (the main purpose of their strategy.)
            “They literally gained nothing,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

              Yes but it’s an absolute myth they did nothing and just let the disease run its course. They did a lot but they didn’t lock down like the rest of Scandinavia.

            • John Donohue
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

              Tom, that is a disputable claim, and you linked to the NYTimes, which is now only a propaganda rag, not a journal of objectivity.

              I see the tricks they pull in that piece. I can find strong evidence as well as justified explanation to counter. I won’t engage in a posting duel with you, just know you are siding with a slant.

              • tomh
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

                “the NYTimes, which is now only a propaganda rag”

                That sounds like about as slanted an opinion as one can imagine.

            • Torbjörn Larsson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

              I have commented on that erroneous article and its erroneous hypothesis before, but I guess I need to repeat the core part of that, as well as add an update of NYT noawadays often failed reporting.

              A journalist has just uncovered that the economist [!] NYT article on Sweden’s pandemic situation is error filled and seemingly prejudged.

              The economist had tweeted on the erroneous article assumption that Sweden aimed for herd immunity in April, claimed that it was “actively embracing a crackpot strategy”.

              In the NYT article the new, but still erroneous, hypothesis that Sweden aimed for good economy before health was apparently raised.

              Here is a review of the article’s most serious misunderstandings and factual errors.
              Claim: The Swedish government chose to conduct an ”open-air experiment” to save the economy.

              False. And since this is the overarching premise of the article, it being incorrect is particularly serious: the economy has never been a beacon for Sweden’s choice of strategy. As early as mid-March, Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell explained that “we have always worked very hard to ensure that we have the highest possible level of public health in Sweden. The economy comes second”. Neither the Swedish Government nor Parliament has given a divergent reason for choosing a strategy. The Swedish authorities have repeatedly stated that the reason for implementing a less restrictive strategy is its viability over a prolonged period.

              It goes on, with next the usual problematic comparison with death rates based on different ways of defining deaths (Sweden use deaths _with_ covid-19, US _of_ covid-19; et cetera). The journalist claims US easily have the higher rates, and now a rampant peak that we passed long since.

              While Sweden has aimed towards creating a sustainable strategy, acceptable to citizens over an extended period of time, the United States has locked down, opened up, and is having trouble getting acceptance on trying to lock down again. … Sweden is now back to normal levels of mortality.

              Here is what likely irks Swedes most:

              Claim: The daily lives of Swedes have continued largely unhindered

              That’s not what the statistics on street population density say, nor what we experience.

              Claim: The daily lives of Swedes have continued largely unhindered

              It might be easy to believe for those who see Sweden from the outside, but for those of us in Sweden during the pandemic, daily life is largely different. City centers and restaurants have emptied, hundreds of thousands have worked from home and met neither the elderly, risk groups nor even friends. Many have lost their jobs due to disappearing infrastructure, with even more being furloughed.

              Almost all of this was achieved without new legislation, as the situation was not judged to require it. Legislators limited the number of people allowed to gather (a maximum of 50), and restaurants and other public institutions were given rules of conduct for their activities.

              Here, it’s important to understand that Sweden has a different political tradition than many other countries – including our neighbors – of having an administrative model where politicians both listen to and trust responsible authorities. While other countries made political decisions, the Swedish Public Health Agency’s recommendations in Sweden became indicative. It stated early on that every decision would have its foundation in science, which meant Sweden stuck to the idea of ​​not shutting down society entirely, and instead introduced a number of recommendations. The recommendations, in turn, led to large numbers of companies closing down, furloughing staff or asking employees to work from home. City centers and destinations were emptied. Self-imposed isolation began in Sweden, where there’s been very little ”business as usual”.

              More here: https://emanuelkarlsten.se/multiple-errors-in-the-new-york-times-article-about-swedens-corona-strategy/ .

              I should add in the context that the science is now in and it show Sweden’s strategy worked, voluntary social distancing was about as effective as other nations lockdowns. There is also a fresh European study of school children health during the pandemic – it seems mostly dire, except in Sweden. I commented on this with references elsewhere on the thread.

              I should also add that Sweden is an export economy – no one expected to come out well due to the need for social distancing.

              After that NYT NYT published another article that gives a false impression on Covid-19 responses:

              If you happened to read The New York Times this week, you may be under the false impression that the World Health Organization significantly changed its stance on whether the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, spreads by lingering in the air.

              [ https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/07/no-the-who-has-not-reversed-its-stance-on-airborne-transmission ]

              TL;DR: Balderdash! Check for yourselves, especially if NYT now promotes opinion before fact checking.

              • Torbjörn Larsson
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

                Note that the text starting with “It might be easy to believe …” and ending with “… here’s been very little ”business as usual”.” is a quote. (I messed up the HTML code.)

          • John Donohue
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

            Diana, your last stinger-sentence utterly rejected without comment.

            It’s what Sweden didn’t do. They didn’t coerce business to shut down, especially retail, they didn’t enforce mandatory masking, they didn’t shut down schools.

            Thus my claim that the populace has a normalcy normal, not a fear penumbra, like we have in the US.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

              No Sweden didn’t politicize their response. They didn’t tell people wearing masks and working from home that they were liberal pussies afraid of everything. They simply all worked together.

            • Torbjörn Larsson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

              Presumably there will be science on that too, but the first few weeks until we saw that the pandemic was manageable (in the sense that health care was not overwhelmed) was generally scary, if media is correct.

              The circumstances will differ between regions – as it does locally here in Sweden – but the government was a bit slow* and focused on travelers from Asia, while it seems early travelers spread the disease by way of many European nations (and we likely spread it back). Also, there is a few days delay in coming together as a group. Death rates were high in elder care, but concentrated to 10 % of units, so it will be both vital and interesting to see what went wrong, and to fix it.

              *We know since a few larger catastrophes (ferry catastrophes, the 2005 tsunami) that our catastrophe response on local scales is not good. And it was tested yet again in the 2018 forest fires – but at least we started to get coordinated catastrophe responses at the smaller scale as well. The central Folkhälsomyndigheten, which seems to have done a good job, was AFAIK founded precisely because of earlier response problems.

          • Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:25 am | Permalink

            Dying forever is inevitable. We all die forever eventually.

            What we are trying to do here is balance destroyed lives. If the schools aren’t reopened soon, the damaging effects may stay with the children for the rest of their hopefully long lives.

            Given the demographic of the COVID19 deaths, we are trying to decide whether a few months or years more of life for an 80 year old is worth the harm being caused to the education and future prospects of quite a lot of children.

            I’m not saying we should throw the 80 year old under the bus, but this is not a black and white issue.

            • Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:28 am | Permalink

              One small clarification. I’m pretty sure that Trump is not weighing people’s futures against each other, unless it’s everybody’s future against his own. Trump just wants to be able to say things are getting back to normal before the election.

            • rickflick
              Posted July 16, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

              “whether a few months or years more of life for an 80 year old is worth the harm being caused”

              80 year olds is the extreme. Your really talking about people 65 and older (there are 50 million of us), which includes me and many WEIT reader who I don’t consider totally spent as worthy human beings. But, I know what you mean. There is a trade off to be made, as there always is in such cases. And, while life is sometimes precious, it can be overvalued sometimes too. Actually I know quite a few people, mostly politicians, who I wouldn’t mind throwing under the bus.

              • Posted July 16, 2020 at 9:06 am | Permalink

                80 year olds is the extreme.
                No, really, it isn’t. Early on in the Italian outbreak, the mean age of deaths was calculated to be around 85.

                In the US almost half of all deaths are of people over 75.

                https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-age-sex-demographics/

                Amongst the rest, a large proportion will have had conditions that put them at risk of dying soon anyway (in fact, even age is really just a proxy for these conditions). David Spiegelhalter calculated for More or Less, the risk of dying from COVID19 if you catch it as being almost exactly the same as your risk of dying from any cause in the next year.

                The Office of National Statistics in the UK maintains records of all deaths in the UK for each week. In March, April and May there was a huge number of excess deaths – thousands per week – compared to the five year mean. Now, we are actually seeing a small deficit of deaths in each week compared with the five year mean, even though we still lose a hundred people each day to the disease. It’s hard not to conclude that a lot of the people who died during the peak would have died anyway over the following few months.

                I’m not saying that children in the USA should go back to school in the autumn. The risks are not just to them but to their families and their teachers and you need to take all of that into account. I’m just saying that there is a case to be made that they should go back – it’s not as obvious as people seem to think that the schools should remain closed.

              • GBJames
                Posted July 16, 2020 at 9:11 am | Permalink

                I don’t know… it seems pretty obvious once you realize that kids are driven to school in busses driven by adults, taught by adult teachers in schools staffed by adults, and return home at night to homes in which adults live.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

              Yes well my forever was to emphasize that outsized comparison between accepting a few months of set back verses increasing the risk that people die. And it’s not just “old people” which people do seem very willing to sacrifice but people with diabetes or arthritis. People I know who are otherwise pretty much normal. They stand a high chance of not making it though an infection or making it through with permanent lung or heart damage and that includes kids.

              And contrary to what people automatically assume if you point this out I’m not in complete terror, a liberal pussy, nor do I think we should be in lockdown forever, not that is, if we can control/manage the disesae which many nations are doing right now. We are opening back up where I am because we masked, socially distance, stayed in lockdown for a few months but asking kids, teachers, school bus drivers, janitors to go back and not even take any precautions when the disease is raging out of control in parts of the US – hospitals turning people away because there are no beds, thousands of new cases per day, obituary pages in papers that go over 40 pages, because “it’s not fair the kids have to wait a few months” is really cold hearted and I think that whoever thinks this should volunteer for their kids to be injected since it’s clearly no big deal, with the virus for study because who cares, just a kid right? Like just an old person who is going to die soon anyway. I’ve seen the signs with protesters desperate for a hair cut that read “weed out the weak”….so money where the mouth is I guess.

              • Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

                As I said, there’s a balance. “A few months” is a long time in a child’s education. There is a cost to not sending them back to school.

                I’m not saying that the cost merits the risks, just that the whole thing really isn’t as simple as it appears.

                One thing I will say is that Trump almost certainly hasn’t weighed the risks and benefits up or put much thought into it at all. He just wants the kids back in school and the economy moving in the right direction in time for the election.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

                Agreed and to get to a place where you can reopen and send kids to school you have to do the work. That means distance learning for 3 months sometimes. It sucks. It impacts all of society as I support parents to stay home both through taxes and through work to cover them if they need to look after the kids. But if you do the work now, it’s less work later. I think people miss that. You can’t go back to December 2019. You are going to have to make adjustments and plan for the longer term and that isn’t going to be ideal for anyone.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    And for further bad news, it seems getting the virus once may not give you much immunity. So the whole idea of herd immunity may just not be there. As Mary Trump said in her book, Trump is not capable of leading. Truthfully he could not even spell it. He continues to say open the schools because he could care less about how many get sick or die. This is something else he is not capable of understanding -empathy. The folks who wrote the book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, explained all of this and it should be no surprise to anyone. We are all in school now – sociopath 101.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I think psychopathy 101 would be the better title. The definition fits better:

      Psychopaths are usually deemed more dangerous than sociopaths because they show no remorse for their actions due to their lack of empathy. Both of these character types are portrayed in individuals who meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder.

      A lack of empathy is a key element of tRump’s personality. You wouldn’t want to leave that out of a good intro course.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

        Trump gives all outward indications of being constitutionally incapable (by which I mean his own person constitution, not the one drafted by the Framers in Philadelphia) of experiencing empathy — as least for anyone not named Trump (and, seemingly, for damn few of them, too. Maybe just for himself and Ivanka).

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

          He actually has it for only himself according to Mary. He treated his dying brother very poorly and then used fraud to get Fred Jr. money, stealing it from Mary. When you will steal money from your dead brother’s kids, you will do just about anything.

        • rickflick
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          The way he gropes his daughter in public(he says he wants to date her) is indicative of psychopathy. There is very little impulse control and sexual impulses are free to be expressed inappropriately.

        • rickflick
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          The reason he can’t experience empathy is that it is actually a missing part of what is hardwired into the normal brain. Normal empathy depends on these circuits. In a psychopath, they seem to be missing completely. About 1% of us are broken that way. It helps explain why tRump is difficult for people to figure out. How could such a charming and colorful fellow be only in it for himself? Doesn’t compute.

          • GBJames
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

            A more puzzling question is how so many Republican voters can’t recognize that he’s so broken. That, I lay at the feet of the kind of thinking found among deeply religious people, trained from childhood to believe in ridiculous things.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

              It’s a cult.

            • Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

              Yes, it is amazing. I have to think that many of them just didn’t pay much attention to details and just liked the promises and some liked the racism. And they hated Clinton. Now, many of those that are still behind Trump are racists or doubling down on their 2016 decision. Still, his support is amazing considering how bad he is.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

                Such is the power of a sociopath the mesmerize and charm. Trump has a cult.

  8. Anna
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    This is madness to keep the schools closed. Kids are less likely to die from this than from standard issue flu. We are absolutely robbing them of the most formative years of their lives. This affects old fuckers like me. I should quarantine. I should bottle myself up. School teachers should take precautions and get a lot of support. It shouldn’t be a burden kids have to carry. It’s incredible selfish.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      It’s not just the kids I’m worried about, as I CLEARLY said in my post. And you can’t quarantine kids from their parents. And then those parents could infect others.

      It’s not “incredible” selfish to do this, especially in view of the schools having been closed earlier in nearly identical circumstances. Was it “incredible selfish then.

      Thank you for characterizing my comment as “madness.”

    • GBJames
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Kids don’t have parents and grandparents? What is the magical protection you’ve prescribed for teachers?

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      It’s not selfish. My family is (eighth and eleventh graders) headed for dark times. The best we can do is prepare with as many engineering and administrative controls and provide for as many possible safe interactions for the kids until we get through this.

      The kid’s burden is everyone’s. We tolerate the burden together and we can put thought into small solutions rebuilding new opportunities each day.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      It seems to me the madness has infected you in this comment. How many kids will pass this on to teachers. How do you teach if you are dead? How do these kids get to school. Oh, yeah, bus drivers, usually older folks. Who feeds the kids? And if that is not enough to think about, how many parents simply are not going to send their kids to a virus factory.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      In addition to what others have said the kids DO get harmed by this virus. They develop complications. Do you want to risk children having damaged hearts and lungs for the rest of their lives because you think it’s unfair the kids miss a year of school?

      • Mark R.
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        And there just haven’t been adequate studies on how this virus affects kids. And it is impossible to do adequate studies since there simply hasn’t been enough time.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        And, they don’t actually miss a whole year if they use distance learning and/or are home taught. Some parents would be candidates for home schooling. The feds could pay them to teach their own kids. Even form a small bubble with relatives. Besides, kids brains are very plastic. They can make up any deficits with clever management. How about move to longer school hours once normalcy is restored. Not such a disaster.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          My friend has home schooled her two boys for most of their education and they aren’t behind other kids at all when it comes to knowledge. I can see this being a burden on parents because of work but we just have to come together a s be legible to the parents in this situation.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

            Oops “and be flexible”

        • Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I agree. I don’t have kids, so I suppose my opinion isn’t worth much but, still, I was a kid once!

          Kids are much more resilient than they are being given credit for by many. They make it sound like their kids will be socially and educationally stunted for the rest of their lives because they can’t go to school in person this fall. I have to think some of these parents are actually wanting the kids to get out of the house and they are just making excuses. Instead, they should tell their kids that being alive during the Great Pandemic of 2020 is a learning experience, right?

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      What they said. Your points about the cost on childrens’ education and social development is significant. True. And it should always be brought up.
      But what they said.

  9. Desnes Diev
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    “The pandemic seems out of control in most places”

    Things could appear better now that Trump’s minions found a way to hide data from CDC and public scrutinity:
    “Hospital data on coronavirus patients will now be rerouted to the Trump administration instead of first being sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed to CNN on Tuesday.
    The move could make data less transparent to the public at a time when the administration is downplaying the spread of the pandemic, and threatens to undermine public confidence that medical data is being presented free of political interference.” (CNN.com)

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      He’s trying to do away with science and thus reality. I suggest the hospitals ship all the COVID corps directly to the White House. Line the body bags up on the White House lawn so they can be counted by anyone passing by. As they stack higher and higher, the White House would disappear into a huge mound. That would be quite a sight.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        And it would be quite a stink too.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of, who was it – Shrub of Bush who tried to hide the coffins of soldiers coming home from war?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, they’re jukin’ the stats, as the Baltimore Police used to say on The Wire.

      For example, Florida governor Ron DeSantis (who looks more like a one-termer than any governor I’ve ever seen) dumped his data expert for reporting deaths and disease accurately and has steadfastly refused to release the grim numbers regarding nursing homes (of which there are many, in the state with the nation’s second oldest population).

      • Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        There was quite an eye-opening documentary about the # fudging in Florida, based on an interview of a whistle blower. She was fired for refusing to change the data.
        As monumental as that is — criminal, really, it barely registers on the news wires; such is the wave after wave of bad news we are getting now.

  10. tomh
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    According to Robert Redfield, CDC director, “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.” Too bad that’s too much trouble for Americans. Oh, and freedom.

  11. Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Orange County, California just announced they want to re-open schools in the fall with no masks or social distancing required. Many people are outraged but take solace in the fact that it will be up to individual school districts within the county as to when and how they re-open. It’s a crazy time.

    Although we know that kids rarely get sick from Covid, I saw a report yesterday that said that middle-school kids were pretty good at infecting others. Sorry, I don’t have the reference.

    • boudiccadylis
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      I agree. I suspect some of you remember the time before vaccinations for measles, mumps, chickenpox and measles again as well as scarletina, head lice and other “kid” diseases. At one point in time I had all of these and I was the shy one. Kids of middle school age are very creative with their contacts. Social distancing this group would be like corraling the cats at the humane society.

      • Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Although I don’t have the data to support my contention, I find it hard to believe that kids wouldn’t be efficient pathways for this virus.

      • Filippo
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        “Kids of middle school age are very creative with their contacts. Social distancing this group would be like corraling the cats at the humane society.”

        This is what makes them so enjoyable to deal with.

        The middle school mindset seems (to me) to have increasingly pervaded college. To paraphrase Andrew Sullivan, we’re more and more in middle school now.

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      I’m not a parent, but if I lived in Orange County and had school-aged children, I don’t think I’d let them go to school under a “no mask/social distancing” scenario. I know Orange Country is an “orange” county, but I doubt the parents there would approve of opening like this. But what do I know…as you wrote, It’s a crazy time.

      • Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Orange County used to be known as a conservative stronghold, home of the John Birch Society, etc. When I was young, people talked about going “behind the Orange Curtain”, though it was not Communist obviously. It has changed greatly since then and become much more liberal, though there are still pockets of Trump-loving idiots who demonstrate their unwillingness to wear masks. I guess it is a purple county. I live just over the border in LA County only about two miles from the Orange Curtain. 😉

        • Mark R.
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, the 2018 midterms flipped a lot of (R) seats in Orange County. Hopefully it maintains its sanity in 2020.

  12. Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Everywhere I look I see college age kids “herding”. Drinking, beaching, partying, protesting, you name it. They might as well be in school. They are not going to isolate.

    • GBJames
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

      They are outside now. Protesters have been mostly masked, at least where I live.

      Is it OK with you to write off professors and other staff as long as the partying kids “might as well be in school”?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Everywhere I drive, I see motorist commit traffic infractions. What do you think it would do for traffic fatalities if our response was to throw up our hands and stop all efforts to enforce traffic laws?

      • C.
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        That’s pretty much what we’ve done with gun laws, and that’s turned out great…right? 😳

        All morbid joking aside, at my school, I can think of several teachers and staff would would fall under the category of “high risk”. At other schools I’ve worked at in the district, there were many more, plus kids who despite their ages would be “high risk” too, for health reasons. Plenty of parents (and custodial grandparents) would be “high risk” as well. What I saw in late May, when we returned to get our stuff and prep the classrooms for the summer also bothered me. Where was the “deep cleaning” that was supposed to happen? The desks and tables still had the fingerprints, dirt, and general kid-filth on them. If schools can’t get cleaned when no kids or staff are there, how well would they be cleaned if/when we return? Even if surface transmission is lower than first thought (and ignoring air circulation and filter equipment) this seems to bode ill for a future return. It seems damn near hopeless.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      This is why I, a professor of sorts (I just teach) will not conduct classes face to face. Even if we were all masked in a classroom, and even if we managed to have generous amounts of social distancing, I know my students will be walking bags of plague. I have a complicating condition, and my wife has asthma. So no thank you.

      With great infection rates comes greater probabilities of infection.

  13. Filippo
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    sub

  14. Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Here in Germany schools opened partially last year with partial classes and minimised contact — because our lock down was effective. It was very strict at the start, and is being gradually eased.

    Unlike the US and UK, the political leadership took responsibility for explaining the seriousness of the situation to people and making masks compulsory. More than 80% of people trust the government and more still trust information from state run media.

    This is one of the advantages of having a leader who has a Ph.D in physics. She often does a better job of explaining difficult medical information to the public than the experts.

    In the UK, the political leadership weren’t intellectually capable of comprehending the gravity of the situation, and have never been prepared to put their credibility on the line in enforcing masking or other measures. Instead they merely gave vague advice about using ‘common sense’ (this with the population that voted for Brexit!!!), and then blaming the public for their failure.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Somebody clearly needs one of these again:

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        That is at the Quebec G7. After that meeting Trump told his staff to slam my PM every chance they got because he didn’t like something he said after and Trump threw a tantrums and would ratify a decision. Honestly, this isn’t the first time Merkel has had to deal with a pain in the ass leader. She has a lot of experience with Putin. But I think Trump’s stupid behaviour must exhaust her. Before Trump I often wondered how she could stand most leaders. This is even worse now.

        • Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

          Putin was informed that she’s scared of dogs, so in a meeting with her he suddenly let his giant German Shepard into the room to sniff around her. She didn’t bat an eyelid.

          • Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

            That Putin is such a kidder. No wonder Trump loves him so much.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

              He has dogs now that were given as gifts. They are nice dogs but very much a one person dog. He can’t play around like that with them. By his own admission, they can bite. Konni was a good girl that he had to tell people not to feed. ☺️

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

            Oh yes that wa with his black lab Konni. A lovely dog Konni was.

            • Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

              Ah, that’s what it was… Not as bad as I recalled it!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

                I think it was played up a lot. It was rude of him for sure but of course not dangerous because it was Konni but of course he was being an ass to Merkel.

      • Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

        …And not this–

      • jezgrove
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        You can tell the photo was taken a little while back, as John Bolton is in it. Though Trump does get through appointments pretty quickly, so not that long ago…

        • jezgrove
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

          Not sure how my comment got down here – it was a response to the first photo above.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          It’s from the Quebec G7. After he got in a big fight with Trudeau and the US wouldn’t agree to what everyone came up with there.

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      I also read that in Germany, the government provided tablets for all the students who lacked them. This goes a long way in helping with on-line learning which I think Germany is also relying on during the pandemic. I don’t think we can re-open safely without supplementing in-class learning with on-line learning. That’s another American failure; we don’t have the will to make sure all students have access to the internet. How much would a learning tablet cost if paid for by the Federal government…20 bucks? The pandemic has made very clear how inequality can seriously impede a country’s response to a crisis.

      • jezgrove
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. Though even with a tablet, the kid still needs a quiet place to study and in a cramped apartment with other siblings that’s easier said than done. Inequalities are going to have a big impact, especially on younger school children.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        It’s not just the quality of leadership. I think it has to do with the national character. The US is very individualistic whereas other countries tend toward collectivism.

      • Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Yes, we did online learning for all students, and then classroom attendance for a third of the class a couple of times a week.

        (It’s odd — the German school system is partly a relic from the 1920s if not earlier, and partly very progressive.)

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          I think that approach is what many school boards in Ontario, Canada will be looking at doing. A somewhat hybrid approach. We have until September to decide how it will look but of course with the Fall comes a potential second wave….

        • Mark R.
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

          I spent a Summer as a “sophomore” (16 year old American version) in Freiburg as an exchange student. We had to attend the same classes as our surrogate “friends” and I spent a month in Germany’s version of high school…much more dedicated students than my American experience. German students were more like the serious students I met at University. And I loved how teachers came to the students’ classroom instead of the opposite. The bell rings, the teacher leaves and all the students remain and start talking and relaxing until the new teacher arrives. I don’t know if that’s still the practice in Germany, but it makes a lot of sense. Youngsters are difficult to get from one place to another…many distractions. And the socializing was still happening. I loved living in Germany with a German family. But that’s beside the point…I got a little wispy in remembrance.

          • rickflick
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

            I had a German and a Swedish exchange student for our senior year here in the US. Both were quite serious in their studies and made us USians look dumb. The Swede became a diplomat.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

              Haha the German exchange student I knew was just as bad as is for being naughty and skipping class and goofing around but I think we corrupted him.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted July 16, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

                We had some Canadian students, on a one-year exchange program with a law school in British Columbia, during my third year.

                They were party animals. I loved ’em. They’d come over my crib on the weekends to play poker. 🙂

  15. Rick
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    What should the long term goal of the US coronavirus strategy be? Initially we were just trying not to overload our ICU capacity but now social distancing and masks seem to be the only strategy until we (maybe) have a vaccine sometime in the future. Herd immunity is dismissed as impractical and immunity may be temporary. Can a vaccine be effective if natural immunity doesn’t last? Sweden has been much maligned for the herd immunity approach and their large number of deaths, but checking Wikipedia shows their case and death rates have dropped a lot. Is this herd immunity working? Are their numbers accurate?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Sweden is nowhere near herd immunity and you have to understand that Swedes are not Americans. They don’t need to be legislated to maintain social distance or wear masks. They took a lot of sensible precautions.

      Herd immunity comes at the cost of millions or billions dead and it may take years. Either way the economy tanks. The smart game is learning how to live with the virus.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      I don’t know the cause of the decrease in Sweden, but I am glad to hear of it. just a vague suggestion that it could be because of the season. As it is warmer now people are outside and spread out more.

      • jezgrove
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        That warm weather is certainly working out in Florida…!

        • rickflick
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          They use A/C and stay indoors.

        • Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          Well summer fun in steamy Florida bars, nightclubs, and amusement parks is not like summer fun in Sweden.

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        No, the science on Sweden’s response is in, see my comment down thread – it was the voluntary social distancing, and it was much as effective as lockdown.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Herd immunity is working well enough for the government to deny ever having intended to try it!

      It was a disaster compared to other countries that locked down properly.

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-15/sweden-says-latest-covid-immunity-not-enough-to-protect-citizens

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        ? It seems to me you are making things up by inverting the article description. Herd immunity was not a goal of Sweden’s response, and I don’t think you can find anything in that article suggesting it. You can’t verifiable claim that was a disaster.

        The article is discussing why herd immunity won’t be a feasible goal.

        In any case, what was Sweden’s strategy – voluntarily social distancing – has been much as effective as lockdowns, we can now know when the science is in. See my comment down thread on that. You can’t verifiable claim that was a disaster either.

        In fact, perhaps I should suggest your comment was a disaster? I think I have verified that.

        • Torbjörn Larsson
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

          I may be wrong on the Bloomberg article though, it was paywalled and I only read part until the wall came down.

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        So I was curious why people claim that herd immunity was “tried”. It seems to come from a confusion between presentations discussing having immune individuals and “a myth of complete herd immunity” media speculations: https://www.expressen.se/nyheter/tegnell-finns-en-myt-om-total-flockimmunitet/

        • Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:10 am | Permalink

          Thanks for clearing up my poorly worded and unclear comment.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      The strategy should be to test to identify cases, use tracing to find the source, and isolate any exposed. If done well enough this should get us back on track. The only problem is, that takes a coordinated effort, and the coordinator-in-chief is out playing golf.

      • Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        As I understand it contact tracing is not effective with high rates of infection and lower rates of giving a sh*t.

        • rickflick
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

          That would be my guess too. But, a lot of not giving a sh*t is referred from sh*tty people with influence.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      I believe the *Republican* governor of *Mississippi*, but also a mathematician, pretty much killed the herd immunity argument with numbers.

      https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/15/politics/tate-reeves-mississippi-coronavirus-herd-immunity/index.html

      (But I still think we should consider the pros and cons of reopening schools and colleges.)

  16. LM
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    We should reopen children schools. The situation is entirely different from colleges as are the costs and benefits. As you pointed out, with kids everyone is local and chances of virus importation is very low. Furthermore young age groups are not only less likely to get infected, *much* less likely to die but, most importantly, kids are terrible at spreading the disease. All over the world there has been schools open and in no place there was an increase in the rate of infection. In fact, closing the schools did not even decrease the rate at which kids get infected, pointing out that they are getting infected outside schools. For kids under 10 there is not a single documented transmission from infected kid to a parent or caretaker living in the same house!

    With this in mind one need to evaluate costs and benefits. The costs to children are immense, measures of math and reading show that during the 3 months of lock down kids were set back 7(!) months (10 months for minorities). This represents an immense loss and in many cases (online drop out rate was 20%) an irreparable damage, permanently setting lives down. This is not even taking into account the immense rate of psychological damage, from depression to abuse, all indexes are over the roof.

    In summary the risks are very low (even more when associated with distance and masks) and the costs of not reopening are enormous. I fear that people (including the american pediatric association) are reacting to Trump saying we must open schools (what Trump says is bad). It will be a disaster for the country and a true crime against children to keep schools closed.

    https://news.yahoo.com/german-study-finds-no-evidence-164704005.html
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-case-for-reopening-schools-11594681985
    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/school-openings-across-globe-suggest-ways-keep-coronavirus-bay-despite-outbreaks
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-toll-that-isolation-takes-on-kids-during-the-coronavirus-era-11592236617?mod=wsjtwittertest19

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      German schools will be opening next month, after a partial opening last month that went well. But Germany also has thorough contact tracing and testing, as well as people already knowing how to lock down, wear masks, minimise contact etc.

      If the stats are being fudged or concealed, and testing inefficient, problems are to be expected.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      I really want for this to be true. Or true for us, where the initial rates of infection are higher. Maybe a higher initial rate of infection means it will not work.

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      “For kids under 10 there is not a single documented transmission from infected kid to a parent or caretaker living in the same house!”
      You’re wrong.
      “For example, one pre-published study by researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia that observed a collection of families with Covid-19 across the world found that children were the initial source of infection among the families in about 8% of households, Nature reports.”
      And yes, there are studies that show a lower rate of infection from kids and even no rate of infection. For every study that doesn’t find correlation, there is a study that finds correlation.
      The bottom line is we don’t know enough about this virus and how it affects children to simply “open all the schools!!!” Especially opening in the foolish, haphazard way some are suggesting in the U.S. Sure, open schools in areas like Wyoming that have very little infections, but what about L.A. country or Miami-Dayton? It’s lunacy to think it wise and “for the children’s sake” to open in certain areas of the U.S.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

        There is of course the example of Israel where re-opening schools is concerned. I’m surprised nobody mentions this.

  17. Curtis
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    My problem is that there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Do you really think things will be different next summer or fall? If we get a vaccine in 18 months, that means almost two years with crappy schools. My daughter will basically miss half of her high school. I do not think ignoring our children’s education is acceptable.

    I understand that it is a tough decision but I prefer schools with mask and do our best to protect the vulnerable.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      You make it sound like it’s all or nothing. First you need, as a country, to work together and get this virus controlled. You’re not even there yet. If you keep going like you are, schools will be the least of your concern.

      • Curtis
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        Online high school was basically useless last year in my school district. It will get better but if my daughter learns half as much as her elder sibling I will be pleasantly surprised. Many teachers are not tech savvy and schools have a great aversion to letting some kids learns while other don’t. I think we will be limited to ability of the least effective teachers.

        I pushed her to do something else next year (school abroad or something) but she wants to finish with her friends.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          Then you all need to make a safe environment and with how it is now nothing will make it safe. You need to do as Yakaru said, the necessary steps and like the article says, opening up too soon has jeopardized a safe environment for kids to return to. If you push kids to school like this they will get sick, some seriously regardless of the data points, some kids are that data point that get permanent organ damage and death. Others will spread it to adults who will go to work and spread it to other adults and some of those adults will die too. It may not be fair to ask kids not to finish school with friends but you can bet it’s also really unfair to ask some other kid’s parents to risk dying and leaving their kid without their mother or father. The US needs to get their shit together to make things safer first.

          • rickflick
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

            Correctamundo! The tacktics available are:
            1. shutdown.
            2. testing and tracing.
            3. getting better drugs to treat to lessen symtoms.
            4. Get a vaccine that works well enough.
            5. Get a vaccine that works very well.

            All of these are in the works and can help get things under control. But, again, much of it takes coordination which is the function of the Feds. Science-savvy Feds.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

              Wear masks in public places

              Socially distance 6ft

              Plan for a slow and monitored reopening by watching numbers of new cases.

              Make tests available to everyone.

              Compensate those financially who need to stay home

              If you can work from home do that.

              • rickflick
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

                Yes, all that too.
                I’d vote for Diana for president!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

                Good thing I’m Canadian and can’t run. I’d hate to lead a country and have to do a lot of people-y things.

          • Curtis
            Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

            If I understand you correctly, you are saying we need to wait until it is safe before starting schools. But as Yakaru says “there is no end in sight for those countries that refuse to follow the difficult but entirely straight forward, reliable and well known safety precautions.” That is the US and it will be many states for the foreseeable future.

            In this real world we live in, when do you expect it to be safe enough? How long are you willing to delay proper education? Are you going to be saying the exact same thing next July? Or July 2022?

            I have the feeling that waiting for safety is the equivalent to waiting for Godot.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

              Again you are all or nothing. Schools here are opening based on a plan where we see few new cases per day. And even then it isn’t going to be business as usual. But you are suggesting that in the middle of daily cases that suggest the virus is not controlled at all it is ok to send kids to school. To me that is irresponsible. As I said before get your virus outbreaks controlled. Listen to your epidemiologists about what that looks like. Get contact tracing and testing in place then think about how to open schools. You aren’t there yet. You could have been but people thought it was more important to go to bars and restaurants. Decisions have consequences.

              • Curtis
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

                Simple question, when do think it will be safe to open schools in a majority of states? In all 50 states?

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

                When you can manage the virus according to what epidemiologists say. Manage doesn’t mean wait until it’s all gone. I’ve already answered this. The faster you get started the faster you can open. Resisting taking effective measures has most likely set your opening back. Time to get on it if you want kids back at school without an even higher surge than you are already seeing.

              • rickflick
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

                I think progress is on hold until we have a new administration.

              • Mark R.
                Posted July 15, 2020 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

                “Simple question, when do think it will be safe to open schools in a majority of states? In all 50 states?”

                Simple question: what is consciousness and how do you think it manifests itself?

                Your “simple question” is at the moment unanswerable and thus the antithesis of simple.

              • Tim Harris
                Posted July 16, 2020 at 6:55 am | Permalink

                I think, Mark R, that Diana MacPherson has answered your ‘difficult’ question very well. Perhaps you should re-read what she has said.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

                Tim that was Curtis not Mark

              • Curtis
                Posted July 16, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

                Here are your thoughts.
                1. We need to keep schools closed until Covid is managed.
                2. People are acting in a way that keeps Covid from being managed.

                Therefore,schools will not open for a long, long time. But you are not willing to say because it does not suit your agenda. You may be right but you are not willing to admit the obvious results of your actions.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

                Huh? I state what I thought and you are going to now accuse me of not saying what I thought and then argue against that? Strawman much? Interesting you’ve made up in your own mind exactly what my “agenda” is.

              • Mark R.
                Posted July 16, 2020 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

                I didn’t sub to this post, but a browser was up and I refreshed and started reading again. Damn, this post has legs. But Curtis is writing words that are confusing. Diana is more than capable of defending herself, but that “agenda” word really agitated me. How can stating reasonable opinions based on scientific data (known contemporary facts) be an agenda? Unless trying to stay healthy and keep other folks healthy is an “agenda”. I’m really afraid of the upside down world right now. What would Ben and his trumpet say? 😦

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 16, 2020 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

                Lol I miss Ben. He’s in a very infected state too.

        • Filippo
          Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          “I think we will be limited to ability of the least effective teachers.”

          Is student intellectual curiosity, regard for academic achievement, self-discipline, and willingness to work (study) – all in their own best self-interest – irrelevant and not worth your mentioning?

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      I know what you’re saying but being cooped up in a classroom all day is ideal virus transmission conditions. Masks will help but I have a sinking feeling communities with school districts opening up will be making Covid headlines a month or two later.

    • Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Yes — there is no end in sight for those countries that refuse to follow the difficult but entirely straight forward, reliable and well known safety precautions.

      • tomh
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Exactly right. This is America, you can’t make me wear a mask. Idiots.

  18. kyuss
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    “But we don’t have the kind of leaders we need.”

    You’ve got the kind of leaders that you elected. Amerikkka gets her comeuppance?

    • tomh
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      The kind of leaders we deserve, until we get rid of the ridiculous EC. Is there another country where the person with less votes becomes the leader?

      • Mark R.
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

        Without the EC, we never would have had W. Bush or the current disaster of a human being. The EC is an undemocratic institution carried over from our history of slavery. Another reason we need to do away with the GOP entirely. With Dems in control of more states, we can do away with the EC and while we’re at it, make Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. a state.

  19. Posted July 15, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I think as soon as tRump opened his pie hole and called for school openings, any hope of a reasoned discussion about this, and how it might be done, went out the window.

  20. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    I wrote a comment under a similar article on this earlier today, and I’ll excerpt the pertinent part:

    Like on masks the US reactions are politicized, where it seems more of an all-or-nothing partisan position, here lumping all grades as either open or closed.

    The science isn’t all that clear but children haven’t been engines of pandemics and doesn’t appear to be here either. Sweden never closed down lower grades, yet when the observations and epidemic model science is in we see that the voluntary social distancing was as effective as a lockdown [ https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa864/5866094?searchresult=1 ]. The reason Sweden didn’t close lower grades was that our experts anticiopated that it would risk children health in the balance – when we now compare how children fare in Europe, the nations that closed their schools have health problems among the children [ https://sverigesradio.se/artikel/7509550 ].

    In the survey, the children’s ombudsmen describe that they noticed that bullying over the internet increased as children spend more time there, that distance education can be difficult for families who do not have digital equipment or the opportunity to help with schoolwork at home and that children go hungry when not served school meals.

    – It is a completely different picture than the one we see in Sweden, where children have still been able to go to school, have been able to meet safe adults and have a more normal life than many other children in Europe, says Elisabeth Dahlin.

    The picture given by the European Ombudsmen for Children also agrees with a study conducted at Karolinska Institutet, which shows that Swedish children are affected much less than children in other countries.

    Our universities are handled totally different of course. They are treated as an ordinary work place, and the current voluntary social distancing “lockdown” procedures continue – the pandemic is not over [ https://www.folkhalsomyndigheten.se/smittskydd-beredskap/utbrott/aktuella-utbrott/covid-19/verksamheter/larosaten-och-annan-hogre-utbildning/ ].

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Can you tell everyone that thinks Sweden just let the virus run its course with no measures put in place that that is false too. Because people seem to think that’s what happened. You’ll see the comments….

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Thanks! Yes, that is what the 1st link intends to clarify all the way – we got effectively a lockdown response.*

        I see some comments on Sweden above, so I will respond there.

        * There is more to it than the overall result, but such detail need more research.

  21. Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m not in charge of these decisions, thank goodness.

    I’d love for you to be in charge of them; you couldn’t possibly do as badly as these fools. Of course you wouldn’t last two weeks before Trump or DeSantis or whoever you worked for would throw you out. But it would be a desperately needed week-and-a-half of sanity.

  22. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Everyone knows that teaching kids via online classes is just a plot by the teachers’ unions to sexualize students, to get them hooked on porn, and to groom them for sexual predators — or at least everyone who watches the Laura Ingraham show on Fox News knows that.

    Fox — the only “news” channel ever proven to make its viewers dumber.

  23. Max Blancke
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    Others in these comments have mentioned the cost/benefit issue.
    From a pure perspective of prevention of the spread of Covid, the sensible thing would be to completely isolate everyone from everyone else until a reliable vaccine or cure is produced.
    The cost of doing that, especially if those medical innovations don’t happen for another year or so, could be catastrophic.
    Just for the kids, a year of no school for 50 million kids will have some negative effects eventually. There also seems to be a trend of online truancy, primarily affecting those most in need of an education.
    For adults, there is likely some tipping point where when enough businesses collapse, the whole economy goes into a uncorrectable dive.
    Those situations likely have measurable health effects, although I cannot begin to estimate what they might be.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Accept I don’t think anyone is really saying wait a year to open. Instead manage the virus then stage your opening. What is happening in the US is that in many places the virus is not managed at all.

      • Max Blancke
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        It has already been four months or so, depending on the area. Our local schools are not planning on opening this September, which makes six months.
        Probably a year is unlikely, but not beyond reasonable possibility.
        It has to have a negative effect.

        • GBJames
          Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. And it is particularly enraging that we did not need to be in this situation. But that’s what science-hostile idiocy substituting for public policy gets you. Disease, death, ruined economy, and kids with serious educational damage.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

            Yep. Very sad. All that isolation was for nothing now.

  24. tomh
    Posted July 15, 2020 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    How Sweden Screwed Up
    By MARY HARRIS
    JULY 14, 2020

    Back in February, as the coronavirus started rapidly spreading worldwide, Sweden’s state epidemiologist didn’t see the need to lock down the country. A lot of Swedes started to fly all over Europe for their annual winter break. The country’s public health leaders insisted on keeping businesses and primary schools open while the rest of the world shut them down. Face masks were constantly discouraged. Months later, Sweden now has one of the highest death rates from the coronavirus in all of Europe. Its hands-off approach to COVID-19 has been disastrous, and shockingly, it’s still unclear whether Sweden’s policy will change course.

    Interview at the link with Lena Einhorn, PhD in Virology and Tumor Biology from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.

  25. Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    On Sweden (and Japan, NZ, Taiwan, HK, etc) – there’s a big difference between them and us – social trust: and also trust in a competent government which cares about its citizens. We are beyond imagining that state of affairs.

    We’re told to buy goya, give tax cuts to the rich and that public health is a “bootstraps” challenge.
    Sometimes (lately, often) I’m embarrassed b/c you do know other countries are watching us.
    D.A., J.D., NYC

  26. Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I really prefer that schools and universities do open. The lives of millions of students are basically being ripped apart, and do you really want to ruin their lives forever?

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Ummm. . . I didn’t suggest ruining the lives of children forever. For crying out loud, it’s one semester. Yes, it will put them back, but one has to weigh that against LIVES. You haven’t even considered the spread of the virus.

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      How does taking a year off from school, say, “rip their lives apart”? Many kids take a year off after high school in non-epidemic times, don’t they? I am not advocating for the practice but their lives aren’t ripped apart.

    • GBJames
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Potentially dying, having your family members die, or having your teachers die is the alternative. That’s a much more direct way of ruining lives forever.

      • Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        I apologise for the wording here, I admit I should have worded it a lot better. What I was trying to say was that there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight and students will feel the effects of this for a while, as well as university students. I just feel that we cannot neglect students education.

        Yes it will be a tough decision whatever happens and whatever solution will end up costing someone. It is a tough decision but I prefer schools with masks, with measures put in place to mitigate the risk as much as possible (I understand it can’t be completely mitigated). Whatever happens I hope there is some sort of support for students (as well as others), as I fear a mental health crisis for young people.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

          Looking at countries outside the US, that is the approach they are taking. Where I am, we first worked on getting the virus managed by sacrificing and doing lockdowns so we could build our PPE, increase our contact tracing, and obtain test kits to make sure we could test anyone who wanted a test. That took some time and at first we only tested people with symptoms, once we had tests and the daily increase in new cases showed a downward trend we started executing a plan to open slowly knowing that kids would not be able to return to school if things increased too far. Governments had created plans to open up. The provincial government is providing a few options to schools in September: distance learning, hybrid with safety measures including pick up time and drop off times staggered, class times reduced, PPE in place, social distancing (don’t know how that will work with kids), or full reopening. It depends on the school boards where they are and the numbers etc. I think most will open with a hybrid approach and monitor how that goes.

          Universities are staying closed at least for the Fall session. It was too difficult to try to safely socially distance students. If you saw my campus you’d agree as that thing is packed.

          I think what many people miss is we aren’t going back to how things were in December 2019. That is the past. Until we get a vaccine, we have to figure out how to live with this thing and after the vaccine, I think a lot will have changed (how much we travel for work, how much time we spend working from home, etc.)


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