The Dance of Death (1493) by Michael Wolgemut

The New York Times reports today that even while Donald Trump is urging states to "carefully" cast aside public health measures so the economy will be all better in time to get him reelected, his own administration

is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of cases and deaths from the coronavirus over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, nearly double from the current level of about 1,750

Here's the relevant chart from the full briefing document:

That sounds pretty bad, at least until you remember that people die all the time, that the old and the frail are a drain on the economy, and it's not like Americans have ever made big changes to our way of life just because 3,000 people died in one day. We could go on about the possible lessons of a day when 3,000 lives were snuffed out, but the 9/11 memorial museum is still closed because of the virus.

Because the 9/11 memorial hates our freedoms, probably.


According to the Times, the projections,

based on modeling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases now.

The forecast seems maybe a bit at odds with Trump's calls for states to "reopen" and his encouragement of the organized rightwing efforts to pressure governors to ignore the majority of Americans who think we shouldn't rush back into the fever swamps just yet. The CDC warns that the worst is yet to come, especially in states where the outbreak hasn't been too bad so far. That doesn't mean they'll be spared, just that they've wasted the time they could have been using to get ready, but now, "There remains a large number of counties whose burden continues to grow."

That lines up with data on the outbreak that the Times has generated, too:

Some states that have partially reopened are still seeing an increase in cases, including Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas, according to Times data. Indiana, Kansas and Nebraska also are seeing an increase in cases and reopened some businesses on Monday. Alaska has also reopened and is seeing a small number of increasing cases [...]

The situation has devolved most dramatically in parts of rural America that were largely spared in the early stages of the pandemic. As food processing facilities and prisons have emerged as some of the country's largest case clusters, the counties that include Logansport, Ind., South Sioux City, Neb., and Marion, Ohio, have surpassed New York City in cases per capita.

Worse, it's beginning to look like the social distancing we've done so far has had only limited benefits, since too many places haven't done anything at all. Here's Trump's former FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, appearing yesterday on CBS's "Face the Nation."

While mitigation didn't fail, I think it's fair to say that it didn't work as well as we expected [...] We expected that we would start seeing more significant declines in new cases and deaths around the nation at this point. And we're just not seeing that.

And now the wingnuttosphere is proclaiming social distancing a failure, without mentioning the part where they all went and stood next to each other on purpose. As we all know from disaster movies, nothing good comes from ignoring the scientists' warnings in the first act.

Now, it's also possible, just barely, that the document was leaked as part of an attempt to make the experts look like alarmists and to discredit them further. The White House is already antisocial distancing itself from the report in the Times with a statement saying the document isn't officially official. Let's take a look at this nondenial denial!

This is not a White House document nor has it been presented to the Coronavirus Task Force or gone through interagency vetting. This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed.

Note that the statement doesn't say it's not a real CDC document, or that the analysis is bad; only that it's different from the modeling Mike Pence's task force has done. Yes, that's the modeling the Washington Post reported this weekend has consistently been unduly optimistic compared to other forecasts, and to actual outcomes, although the White House disputed that, too. But back to the denial:

The President's phased guidelines to open up America again are a scientific driven approach that the top health and infectious disease experts in the federal government agreed with. The health of the American people remains President Trump's top priority and that will continue as we monitor the efforts by states to ease restrictions.

We're just going to go with HOLLOW MORDANT LAUGHTER for that part, the end.

[NYT / CDC "Situation Update" / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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