Covid-19: Everything was working until it wasn’t working

We are seeing in many states and countries that were the “poster child” for how to do everything right, that everything worked great until it no longer worked.

Just two months ago, the island state had the fewest cases per capita in the country at less than two dozen per day. Democratic Gov. David Ige was praised for acting early to close Hawaii’s borders and impose strict quarantines, a painful economic sacrifice for a state heavily dependent on tourism. [Also had inter island travel quarantine requirements and had a face mask mandate since  April!]

But a ten-fold surge in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations over the last month has triggered new shutdown orders and a scramble to bolster the public health measures state officials neglected before reopening. ….

Now the state, once hailed as a Covid-19 success story, has become a cautionary tale for other parts of the country that are preparing to open schools and loosen economic restrictions as infection rates come down. For public health experts and Hawaii officials, the state’s worsening outbreak is a stark reminder that this virus will easily exploit gaps in defenses.

Source: Paradise lost: How Hawaii went from Covid-19 star to cautionary tale – POLITICO

Public health mitigation measures only work to slow the progression of the disease spread. Many measures are not sustainable over long periods of time or over large regions (such as strict lock downs). Other measures do not work well, or do not work at all, due to the realities of real life. Others, which seem like intuitive solutions, have no evidence to support their use. That’s not my opinion – that’s the view of four epidemiologists, one of whom is responsible for eradicating smallpox from the planet in a paper they published in 2006.

Consequently, the reasons that some places do well and some places do not, likely has to do with other issues – such as demographics, population density, and the time dimension. Places that do well for months seem to eventually have bad experiences too (Hawaii now, New Zealand, re-surging cases in EU countries that “did everything right”, S. Korea, Australia).

We make the mistake of comparing region X to region Y, in say, the spring and conclude that X is doing great while Y is doing poorly – and then draw conclusions that Y is doing poorly because of reasons A, B and C. But then three months later, region X, which did everything right finds itself doing badly. Thus, reasons A, B and C had little or nothing to do with region X doing well early on.

The experts have said most of these public health mitigation steps only delay and do not prevent the eventual spread of the disease. Thus, all of these measures may accomplish little but to prolong the pain.

All pandemics eventually end – either via herd effects, vaccinations or because the virus eventually changes to a less virulent strain.

It seems that everyone has mostly done “everything right” and while it did not stop the pandemic, at least it destroyed their economies, so there’s that success.

Note – I am an idiot who has no expertise in any of this and this post is for Entertainment Purposes Only. All persons not in health care are required to post a disclaimer like this, but those in health care never issue a disclaimer when they issue policies concerning business and economics over which they have no expertise.