Umm, well, you know……

California locked down early and took the coronavirus seriously. Why are its cases still rising?
How California finds itself in limbo despite doing many things right.

If the outcome is bad then the things that were done weren’t right, were they?

47 thoughts on “Umm, well, you know……”

  1. BlokeInNormandyFromTejas

    Well, more fairly, if the outcome is worse than elsewhere with the same base conditions then the right things weren’t done

    But it seems infeasible to compare base things, because it’s still not really known what the important factors are.

    However, it is clear that “taking things seriously” is not of itself a good thing; the real world doesn’t give a dead, used lion [TM Steve] for intentions. It’s affected by actions, not wishes. Which it seems California (and all other left-leaning social groupings) appear to find difficult to grasp.

  2. BlokeInNormandyFromTejas


    Well, of course. In the abstract.

    But this was comparison stuff. So one should compare relative outcomes, no?

  3. Their two major cities are – literally – shit holes. How do you lock someone down in their cardbox box?

  4. ‘Why are its cases still rising?’

    This isn’t necessarily bad. If it’s amongst the young, and none of them are dying from it, then it’s not particularly relevant.

    As to the ‘how,’ it could be they delayed herd immunity by slowing the spread. I.e., long term, slowing the spread could have been a bad policy. Hopefully, we will learn as time goes by.

  5. Things have moved so fast, or at least did in the early days of March, that I find it sometimes difficult to recall the previous status quo and then to fit in the daily quantum leaps of [insert preferred diplomatic description for ignorant derangement].

    But one of the early headlines, for me, was when California declared a state of emergency after one person died. I think it was about the time Tom did a Tractor Quantitative Easing spoof.

    I mean, it’s a thing, innit? One person dies and there’s a state of emergency? In a state of, what, 40 million people (I haven’t bothered to look it up)? To make that decision, you’ve got to be persuaded of all sort of things about infection rates and mortality rates for which there’s never been any evidence.

  6. “If the outcome is bad then the things that were done weren’t right”

    Non sequitur.

    The things done might be necessary but not sufficient.

  7. There seems to be a considerable lag across all countries but the Uk is clearly suffering unusually high numbers of dead, partly due to the incompetence of its government. The government that flung Covid 19 cases into care homes requiring no special measures,now wishes us to trust that sending our children to school is safe. This from Michael ( the git ) Gove, who only recently expressed the view that Boris Johnson was unfit to run the country and that erecting barriers between ourselves and our largest clients and supplier would make us richer.
    Once again the age divide is stark.Support for other people taking risks is strong amongst the old, support for other people returning for work similarly. The teachers parents and families involved do not support the government.

  8. By the way… is everyone enjoying the fantastic cheek of this shit bag charlatan disgrace of a government pretending they care about the educational opportunities of the vulnerable.
    The same Party has steadily cut every resource directed at these children in the last ten years starting with Sure Start….. you need to have a drink every time you want to throw something at the telly just to stay sane.

  9. The government that flung Covid 19 cases into care homes requiring no special measures

    The government did that? Citation needed. Or was it the sainted NHS?
    Pulling “facts” out of your arse again Violet Elizabeth.

  10. As for the “flinging people into care homes” claim, governments all around the world did it. Scotland did it, with their devolved powers. Canada did it. Cuomo in New York admitted doing it. Everyone did it. Why? Well, when you plan for the worst you have to free up inpatient capacity somehow, so you move the very elderly people who were sick enough to be admitted to hospital back to care homes, in anticipation of the wave of very sick 40-50 year olds the virus may generate. Some of those elderly people would die as a result – if they are sick enough to be in hospital, they are sick enough to die at home at that age.

    Everyone screaming at the government TO DO SOMETHING !!! at the time knew this, and if they didn’t they are a fucking idiot who shouldn’t be allowed out on their own. But hey, hypocrisy is the new national sport so everyone pretends they didn’t know and blames the government instead, but only ours, of course.

    BTW, this is one reason why classifying all “excess deaths” as down to Covid is a bad idea. A certain percentage of deaths at care homes will be due to the Covid RESPONSE, not the disease itself, as will the increase in suicides, or deaths at home because people were warned against going to hospital. Counting these as down to Covid is perverse and will only prolong the emergency.

  11. If UK has done so bad, Newmy, what did Ireland and Belgium do that was so super brilliant? Hint, check the relative population sizes. Always happy to keep feeding you facts in the hope that, one day, you might develop an intellect

  12. My go-to for this data is the CDC “Excess Deaths” site, which handily lets you drill down by state:
    Try selecting California, and then look what COVID-19 has done vs the Jan 2018 flu season. Sure, there are some excess deaths, but they’re barely visible. While California governance has of course continued to be a shower of excreta, it really hasn’t been bad here.
    Now try viewing New York / New York City / Massachusetts / Michigan – they clearly do have problems. Florida interestingly not so, despite having a very old and (you would think) vulnerable population.

  13. Quite happy for my eleven year-old to go back to school.

    Beyond very rare housepartying online (it’s an app), she’s had almost nothing to do with another child in almost eight weeks.

    What government has ever done that to our children?

  14. Echoes of all those articles starting with “Despite Brexit…”, only the other way around.

  15. @ Diogenes
    “Hint, check the relative population sizes”
    Indeed, on a deaths/100,000 population basis,Belgium takes the gold by a large margin with Spain and Italy as runners-up. OK UK, is 4th but, rather surprisingly, the USA is way down the field despite the large absolute number of deaths.

  16. Dennis, Who Does Not Play A Doctor On TV

    California locked down early and took the coronavirus seriously. Why are its cases still rising?
    How California finds itself in limbo despite doing many things right.

    The unproven assumption being that locking down to slow the spread of the virus was an effective response. As of right now, I see no proof that it has worked. And I suspect that as the months pass and more data becomes available, no clear proof will emerge that it worked at all.

  17. ‘To make that decision, you’ve got to be persuaded of all sort of things about infection rates and mortality rates for which there’s never been any evidence.’

    Imperial College London said there would be 2.2 million U.S. deaths.

  18. There are only around 3000 deaths out of 40 million and even the article says hospital admissions are falling and deaths are flat. And this requires the a Californian economy to close down? They must be drinking the Kool-Aid.

  19. Quite, Gamecock. That’s my point.

    I recall, back in about February, Mr in Germany making two points/predictions. First, he predicted about 70m deaths worldwide. Second, he suggested that the response might be worse than the disease.

    Guessing, I said I reckoned 500,000 to a million deaths worldwide.

    His point about the response being worse than the cure stands. Indeed, it’s the last word.

    But he’s the expert on stuff like this. I’m just an opinionated bookworm. And yet, my prediction of the number of deaths seems very much closer to the reality.

    For policy makers, that’s a point* worth pondering.

    * Not, ‘quick, get Lud in’, just, ‘whogivsufucxspert’?

    Nobody knows nothing. People come to me, and to all other lawyers, all the time, asking us to look at the chicken entrails and forecast the outcomes of their cases. Well, sure, there are times when you can do that with high confidence. But loadsa times when you cannot. Loadsa times.

    Experts is overrated. And as for, ‘follow the science’, that has all the appeal of a catechism.

  20. I saw an interesting theory somewhere, which does make some sense:

    The reason governments went so totally overboard with lockdowns was because Western intelligence services had picked up that the Wuhan flu virus did not in fact come from the “wet market”, but had leaked from the Wuhan virus laboratory. But nobody quite knew what it was – a fairly harmless bat virus, or a doomsday biological weapon? And then the Chinese themselves went, er, bat-shit crazy and started welding people’s doors shut to enforce lock-down – did they, too, not know what they had on hand?

    Next Italy starts panicking, and lots of older people catch the virus in the hospitals…

    Now it turns out the virus (although it does have some peculiar effects) probably is “just” a natural thing, with not too horrendous consequences. But, we now have politicians’ face to save – how can they say “sorry, we were spooked and made a mistake”? No, so instead we have to devastate our economies – it will at least hand over much more control to the politicians, for years to come, so it’s an ill wind…

  21. “I saw an interesting theory somewhere”: that’s mine. But I dare say it occurred to other people too.

  22. It’s also jarring, because California has more resources, more public cooperation, and in many respects better leadership than most states.

    You can safely disregard this article altogether, if the source hadn’t already tipped you off.

  23. Lots of people pointing out Asia less badly hit than ‘the west’ , each attaching pet theory as correlation = causation. Asians were better prepared, used more aggressive test and trace, wear masks as a matter of course, are more co-operative with government etc. Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines undermine theory that it is S.korea, Hong Kong or Japan’s health system, while Japan undermines theory that population is younger in Asia.There is also less obesity, diabetes etc. But that doesn’t explain Aus and NZ, where the difference with Canada – in many ways very similar in policy, population density, demographics and health system – is huge. A simple answer is that ‘it’s been their summer’ which is never flu season, except we know (now) it’s not a flu. An only slightly more complex answer is vitamin D. We only produce it is summer, and it’s an important contributor to immune systems. A data crunch shows infection correlated with latitude and would also explain the BAME issue, in particular the relative susceptibility of BAME people in northern climes where they are often noted to have low vitamin D, but not the same demographic in the far sunnier places of ‘origin’.
    I know Tim has mentioned this in passing already, but throw in the fact that many of the other co-morbidity factors also lead to being indoors and not exercising or getting any sun- Elderly in care homes, (Florida not affected as much as NY or Illinois ) or obesity meaning people inside on sofas etc – and the argument for getting as much sun as possible is overwhelming. After all, there are no real side effects beyond a bit of British lobstering and vit D supplements have as much Clinically proven worth as the face masks we are all told to wear.

  24. “Indeed, on a deaths/100,000 population basis,Belgium takes the gold by a large margin with Spain and Italy as runners-up.”

    That may well be because of the simple fact that Belgium has a couple of typical national ..quirks.. that make CoVid hit harder there.

    The fact that there’s the italian/spanish tendency to Take Care of Family At Home ( for a ton of reasons) is one. Plus a frugality to the point of madness when it comes to “going to the Doctor”.

    The fact that Belgium is as densely populated as the Netherlands ( or Greater London, to give a comparison for the Brits ) despite its looks doesn’t help. It’s like Lombardy, only with more people in it.

    The fact that belgians in general only pay attention to The Law when there’s a Gendarme nearby plays a role. And even the gendarmes are pretty laissez-faire about things in general.
    So Brussels can Proclaim Edicts all they want, half the population will ignore them anyway when it doesn’t suit them. Lockdown only works when people actually Follow the Rules….
    The belgian lockdown is much stricter than the (imnsho) much more practical “semi-lockdown” the dutch have applied. But whereas in the Netherlands most people actually ( mostly… we’re still Dutch..) followed the quite sensible measures the government suggested, the belgians.. weeelll….
    With of course, the inevitable result that the strict belgian lockdown has less result, and a higher death toll.

    The fact that Belgium, like France, has the usual amount of ex-colonial “improvements” from specific areas, and is still one of the focal points of the Fortune Seekers before they try to bugger off to Greener Pastures.
    Neither of those groups are inclined to obey any local law/custom, let alone a lockdown, even more so than real belgians.

    The fact that Belgium as a whole is…Badly Maintained. Almost everything there has a shiny facade.. Just don’t look behind it.

    So yeah.. Belgium as a nation pretty much incorporates every factor that we know now that can increase the impact of a CoVid outbreak. And the mortality reflects it..

  25. As to dearieme’s conspiracy theory, I’ll see you and raise you. On his site the Uni review, which has just had the distinction of being ‘shut down’ by Facebook, Ron Unz pointed out that in 2019 China had a highly unusual swine flu that destroyed their pig supply, forcing them to import from the US. This was swiftly followed by a highly unusual bird flu, that had a similar impact. Then some previously unknown bug began to destroy some other staple crop (can’t remember which). At the time, Chinese officials referred to ‘criminal elements’ spreading disease from drones. If after all that ‘bad luck’ at the start of 2020 a seemingly reckless attack on Iran threatens to push your oil costs through $100 a barrel (remember that?) and then you suddenly appear to have a new SARS type virus hitting you in your central transport hub of Wuhan just ahead of Chinese New Year, well I think paranoia about a full spectrum attack by the US would seem warranted. This is not to say that the CIA did this – although their historic tendency to ‘projection’ meant that accusing the Chinese of leaking a bio-weapon is interesting in itself – but that the Chinese response may have been that they thought they ‘knew something’, that something being it was the US wot done it.
    Also note that the Wuhan military games theory came from Japan and Taiwan, hardly fans of PRC, who noted that the earliest strains, type A, are dominant in US and Oz, and only very marginal in China where its mutated form B is dominant. It was B that spread to Europe – C in Italy – and then on to US east coast. The extent to which this ‘fact’ is obscured or shouted down is also interesting as it doesn’t fit the new ‘blame China not Trump’ playbook being aggressively rolled out by the US propaganda machine

  26. Bloke in Lower Hutt

    I’m not convinced by the Vitamin D argument, it’s true that Oz and NZ case numbers have been low but Vitamin D intake is also ridiculously low because the locals tend to slap factor 50 sun cream on before leaving the house in the summer. Studies on the Gold Coast are showing some kids have Vit D deficiency likely caused by over-cautionary use of sun cream so there is an argument that even though it’s been summer it doesn’t immediately follow that there are high levels of Vit D in the population.

    Oz and NZ’s low population density is more likely the major factor IMO.

  27. The fact that Belgium is as densely populated as the Netherlands ( or Greater London, to give a comparison for the Brits ) despite its looks doesn’t help.

    I was nodding in agreement until we reached this sentence. NL has a population density ~15% greater than BE, and while they’re both significantly ahead of the UK, that’s distorted by the vast open spaces of most of Scotland (and, to a less significant extent, Wales & NI). England has a much higher density, and Central England (where 80% of its population live in half its area) has a population density of over 700/km² – 2.6x the population of NL in 1.5x the land area.

    As a result, I’ve always expected England to fare badly in any pandemic, where population x density is a reasonable heuristic for first wave deaths.

  28. I have a theory that the lockdown created more infections (and thus deaths) by sending all the university students home. Students live in communal housing and socialise a lot, and also (being young and fit) more likely to be asymptomatic. Thus its entirely feasible that CV-19 could have been moving through the university population largely unheralded, prior to the mad panic and the lockdown in mid March. So then we send all those asymptomatic students go home (and there’s over 2 million of them in the UK) and they get locked down with their middle aged parents. Hows that for a super-spreading event?

  29. ” that’s mine. But I dare say it occurred to other people too.”

    It occurred to me too. Not so much that the West knew about it being a lab escape, but that the Chinese certainly must have known fairly soon that was the case (if it was) and thus their over the top reaction was driven by their knowledge of its origins and lack of precise knowledge of how bad it could be. This then fed into the Western 24 hour news machine, which then jumped all the Western governments into over reaction as well.

  30. @Mr Lud

    +1 Left and UK Gov’t have reacted with emotion. hysteria & panic. Calm, Common sense, Logic and Rationality abandoned. Now they don’t know how to climb out of rabbit hole they went down as too scared to say “Sorry, we panicked, over-reacted and did wrong thing”. Instead they double down and make matters worse
    – UK Govt and UK & US left wing media ‘moving goalposts’ on purpose of lockdowns

    California is deranged
    After Musk re-opens Tesla and tweets “arrest me” to Gov’nr & Mayor

    LA Mayor Extends Lockdown to End of July and maybe forever, police rigorously enforcing
    – Some states are using science to guide their decisions and cautiously beginning to relax their lockdowns. But power-drunk politicians in the other half of the country are tightening their lockdowns even now.
    Then throws a bone to public:
    – “Beaches open, but you must not touch dry sand” – Beaches closed then

    and so it continues
    Left Favouring Lockdownn Over Liberty
    – “When you are afraid; they have more power”

    Well done you 15 Dems
    – Rep. Kendra Horn explains why she and more than a dozen fellow Democrats voted against the Pelosi’s $3 trillion 1,800 page coronavirus stimulus bill

  31. @Jim May 17, 2020 at 8:26 pm
    Agree. Students were congregating intimately/closely then all sent home to spread. Same idiocy as Gov/NHS/PHE sending infected back to care homes.

    Makes one wonder why Nightingale hospitals built when Uni student accom blocks empty

  32. @Chris

    Yes and no.. population densities are ..well..averages..
    My point there was that Belgium may look pastoral, when it very much isn’t. Much of it is covered in “linear settlements” ( 13.000+ km of it in Flanders alone by 2018..) , which gives people a false impression when it comes to realising how densely populated it actually is.

    Belgium, for the most part, isn’t “divided” in cities and towns, separated by “pretty much nothing”, or at least carefully designed/maintained buffer zones.
    Its population is spread out pretty evenly, which gives a different dynamic to preventing a thing like CoVid to spread. Instead of clearly defined hotspots that can be handled effectively, spread there is more like a brushfire, or peat bog fire : it spreads along the web of roads, flaring up here and there, but never in a way you can get a handle on it.

    As for the Netherlands… You do realise 80% of us cloggies do also live in 50% of its area? So when it comes to your comparison to Central England…

  33. @Pcar

    “Makes one wonder why Nightingale hospitals built when Uni student accom blocks empty”

    And also the hotels. But neither would have been suited to treating patients requiring intensive care.

    Nightingales were constructed on an assumption based on Wuhan and early Lombardy experience, I believe, that they needed extra places for armies of sedated and intubated patients who would take a long time to recover, and many of whom would die. The alternative, and this was what was producing the bad scenes in Italy, looked like overflowing wards, giving up on most of the older patients so that all of them would die while only taking those patients with the best chance to ICU.

    In practice it doesn’t seem to have worked out like that, CPAP without sedation has been more important than originally expected and ventilators less so. Capacity wasn’t as crunched as feared. So the Nightingales were an insurance policy that largely haven’t been called upon. Not necessarily a bad thing, an unused parachute wasn’t a mistake to pack and all that, but unfortunately they are not well-suited for holding conscious, recuperating patients in isolation from each other while they await negative swabs before being sent to a care home (or shared household). And it turns out we could need some of that kind of “quarantine hospital” facility – I believe the Chinese made heavy use of them.

  34. I suspect raw density figures (with exclusions for desolate countryside etc) really only matter in so far as they’re proxies for daily contact opportunities for transmission. So densely occupied places naturally provide more opportunity for transmission because you’re surrounded by more people, but cultural norms about personal contact, number of people in a household, fraction using public transport (and for how long a journey) and so on must matter too. It’s not clear to me that a town where everyone has bigger gardens is inherently much less transmitty than an equivalently sized town with smaller gardens.

  35. Remember the nightingale hospitals when you remember the stated reason for the lockdown.

    The hospitals have gone. The lockdown has not.

  36. Alasdair Rae has computed lived population densities in Europe: Starting at the top it goes
    San Marino

    The only outliers there are Monaco and Malta. ES very much empty but high densities in the lived in areas. But he agrees that NL more densely lived in than BE.

    If anyone sees an analysis of public transport use with Covid-19 rates I’d be curious to read it. My preconception is that personal transport ( private car, foot, bicycle ) negatively correlates, and shared transport ( taxi, bus, train ) positively correlates. But this prejudice is based on what I know of one of the main differences between CA and NY.

  37. Bloke in North Dorset

    Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying (both biology PhDs) discuss the lab hypothesis in their latest Dark Horse podcast. He’s studied bats in the past and makes the point that the likely source is the horseshoe bat and that its not native to the Wuhan region.

    They also discuss how it could have been manipulated in a lab and that if it did that would explain its susceptibility to UV light. If that’s the case they make the case for maintaining SD even outside to deny the virus the opportunity for a UV resistant mutation to be transmitted and spread as that would be a nightmare scenario.

  38. @Grikath
    You do realise 80% of us cloggies do also live in 50% of its area?
    That will be those extensive Dutch moorlands that are lightly populated? You can place a map of the NL anywhere you like within Central England and there’ll be at least 30% more people living within its border (if the area includes Greater London, more like double).

    Alasdair Rae’s methodology is flawed. He looks for km squares where nobody lives – which (for historical reasons) Spain has a great many of – and eliminates them from his calculations. But take my typical English village. There’s a couple of thousand people living in one or two km squares, and very little in the surrounding 25 km squares. But (being England) there’s not nothing – there are farms and large ‘manor’ houses – so Rae’s methodology assumes that the ‘lived’ population density is relatively low. But if this were Spain with a similar village and the surrounding squares were actually empty, Rae would calculate a ‘lived’ density in 4 digits, whereas in reality both these small areas of their respective countries fell quite similar. It’s meaninglessness AFAICT.

  39. @MBE
    “quarantine hospital” convalescent facility: empty student accommodation blocks – react & improvise

    @Mr Lud

  40. The continued lockdown here in California is driven by two things, Orange Man Bad, and the prospect of Federal bailout money.

    Only LA and SF are experiencing problems with COVID-19. The rest of the state is doing well. Guess where Governor Nuisance is from.

    The lockdown continues here to hurt President Trump’s election chances and to get bailout money to get out of a financial hole that was present before the virus showed up.

  41. “The reason governments went so totally overboard with lockdowns was because Western intelligence services had picked up that the Wuhan flu virus did not in fact come from the “wet market”, but had leaked from the Wuhan virus laboratory.”

    That theory doesn’t work in the U.S. Lockdowns are a state action.

    “The lockdown continues here to hurt President Trump’s election chances”

    Nope. Trump has no chance in California regardless. Trump won’t even campaign in California.

  42. Nope. Trump has no chance in California regardless. Trump won’t even campaign in California.

    I know that’s true, yet four years ago, didn’t a Libertarian candidate get a few million votes in CA? I assume they were further to the right* than the Republicans.

    * Yes, ranking parties on a single dimension is silly, but it mostly works as shorthand

  43. @Gamecock

    The never-ending MSM NY & Cali bad news hit’s Trump nationwide.

    LA Mayor extending lockdown to end July ‘for safety’ is political, not evidence based. His ‘beaches open, but don’t touch dry sand” confirms it’s nonsense

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