You’re one of the best at social distancing. You always have your mask at the ready — and you wear it even in the drive-through at McDonald’s. You only visit face-to-face with your nuclear family. You work from home via internet. You’ve sacficied your hobbies (no more basketball games or knitting groups). You long to see your friends, your nieces and nephews, but you make the sacrifice and do without. You’ve even stopped going to church.
But there’s that one time. You needed to see someone. You tried to take precautions, but you know this wasn’t essential, and it ended up being face-to-face. No masks. A lot closer than six feet.
How do you control an epidemic? In that context, let me discuss the SIR model of disease and demonstrate it in action. It’s the one that gives rise to those curves we’ve seen so many of, the ones that we’re trying to flatten.
Yes, we told you before you did it that this would be the result. By “we” I mean the worldwide community of scientists, especially the experts in the fields of epidemiology and medicine, especially the ones who work in the field at places like CDC and Johns Hopkins, especially the nation’s leaders (like Anthony Fauci) and the people who work for your own state’s department of health.
We told you so, you ignored the warnings, went ahead with your re-opening plans, and the result was this:
Nuclear reactors can use “control rods” to control the reaction. Push them in all the way, they’ll slow the reaction so much it will quickly die out. Pull them all the way out, the reaction grows so fast it goes critical — but before it can “go nuke” it melts. Still a disaster.
The “basic” epidemiological model (the SIR model) makes some very basic assumptions, and treats the spread of a disease like COVID-19 in a straightforward manner. It gives rise to the “bell-shaped” curve (the one everyone wants to flatten) we’ve seen in so many news stories.
Of course it’s not “right” — there are too many unaccounted-for factors to believe that. But they also encompass certain purely logical ideas which are known to be correct. Added bonus: the equations are not unlike what you see when you study how neutrons keep the reaction going in a nuclear reactor. The reactor equations are likewise imperfect, but they too encompass some undeniable logical ideas. The most impressive thing they have in common: experience has shown that they both work.
And now to the real point of this post. Pay attention, because this is the real message and it’s worth it. Here it is:
Of the 50 U.S. states, 24 have democratic governors — let’s call them “blue states” — and 26 “red states” have republican governors. The blue states have a considerably larger population, so let’s compare the case load of COVID-19 per capita (specifically, cases per day per million population). Democrat-governor states in blue, republican-governor states in red.
America’s police aren’t just killing black people in disproportionate numbers — in immensely disproportionate numbers. The ugliest truth of the situation, as I see it, is that America’s police are killing America’s young black people — both young adults and kids — at even more frighteningly high rates.
When it comes to the drastic increases in COVID-19 cases lately, some are desperate to deny that it has anything to do with the fact that states like Florida have loosened the restrictions that were designed to prevent exactly that.
Hence the latest COVIDiot idiocy: the claim that “the increase isn’t because cases are on the rise, it’s only because we’re testing more.” Those damn tests!
The worst offender of course is Donald Trump, who is so addled he might actually believe we can overcome the disease by ignoring it. I’d rather not pay the millions of lives his “plan” will cost.