Friday, March 20, 2020

"I don't know how to make you see reason"

An old friend...actually he was my sixth grade boyfriend...commented on one of my Facebook posts.  He's worried that we're "overreacting" and giving up civil liberties to defend against a threat he just can't see is that bad.  He said that lockdowns would collapse the economy and cost "thousands" of lives.

This was my response: 

Do you remember a few days ago when you were trying to claim that nobody was showing up to hospitals with Covid-19 symptoms, when in fact hospitals in Atlanta and south Georgia were already swamped? And when I predicted that we would soon match Italy's numbers and you shrugged it off?

I was right. You were wrong. You're wrong now, too. I know you're not a stupid person, and I don't understand your emotional resistance to the facts of the situation. I really don't understand your lack of intellectual curiosity about it; the information I've been talking about is easy to find. It's practically everywhere. I even gave you the information necessary to understand that COVID-19, unchecked, will spread exponentially. Seventy-five percent of Americans will be infected.

Seventy-five percent of 330 million is 250 million. One percent of 250 million is 2.5 million...but that's the best case scenario, with no crowding or external complications and optimal care. 3.5 percent of 250 million is 8.6 million. That's a much more likely number, if this thing is allowed to run out of control.

If we do not act strongly and decisively now, "thousands" won't die. MILLIONS will die. Over four times as many Americans will die than in all of our wars combined. And then our economy will collapse anyway. The difference is that it will be a lot easier to recover if a significant chunk of the work force are holed up in their houses or whatever we can pull together to help people survive, than if they're dead. The difference is between relatively short-term pain and...something else entirely.

You don't have to take my word for it; look up the Imperial College epidemiological model or any of the articles that are out explaining it. The part about the economy collapsing and recovery is the opinion of my husband, who has an MBA from Georgia Tech. He saw this stuff coming and pulled his 401k out of the stock market before it crashed. Argue with him, if you please.

Right now, we are choosing life or death for millions of Americans. We are choosing whether they will get a fighting chance or die gasping in a hallway waiting for a respirator that will never come, and a doctor too overwhelmed to care for them. By the time we get to that future, it will already be far too late.

Haven't you watched the news? Better yet, don't you know anybody who works in a hospital? They are already overrun. They are already running out of supplies. Already, now. And this is still just the very beginning.

If that is news to you, then your sources of information are flawed.

I don't know how to make you see reason, and I find this conversation distressing. Especially considering I am in a high risk category and may very well not live through this. I don't know how to tell you not to step out in front of a bus that has everyone's grandmother and diabetic friend on board. I don't know how to make you see life or death in a mathematical curve, or trust the world's best epidemiologist when he says we should be taking it much more seriously than we are.

I will just remind you of our conversation a few days ago, and how everything I said has come to pass.


  1. Since you're trying to do some education on this issue, this article just came out and I was convinced; read it and see if you are too:

    The summary is: a few weeks of heavy suppression and social distancing could buy us the time we need to get South Korea's testing and tracing strategy going. This could allow a return to something like NORMAL LIFE while we wait for a COVID-19 vaccine.

    The problem with the article is that it's dense and the way it uses statistics is likely to confuse anyone who doesn't have a background in them. I think it's best to summarize it, and for conservative audiences, develop the metaphor it suggests:

    We're about to go to war with an underequipped, underprepared army, but a few weeks will make a HUGE difference in preparation. Direct people's patriotism toward supporting health care workers and the health care system; they're the troops in this war effort, and they desperately need time.

    A few weeks of heavy suppression ("The Hammer") now could put off the collapse of our health care system, save the lives of doctors and nurses, and save millions of lives overall.

    I also suggest encouraging people to let their elected representatives -- local, state, and federal -- know they support short-term shelter in place/lockdown strategies.

    Hang in there.

    1. We thought for sure that the governor of Georgia was going to issue a shelter-in-place order today. We were wrong. *sigh*