Prediction: Two and a half weeks

I noticed today that there have been comments in Nature.com and The Lancet Respiratory Medicine about the false positive problem of Covid-19 tests.

Each points to the conditional probability problem of using tests with seemingly good accuracy to screen large numbers of people lacking symptoms, among a population with a low prevalence of the disease – which can lead to extraordinarily high false positive test results.

Continue reading Prediction: Two and a half weeks

Airlines push for mandatory covid-19 tests before flight

Costs likely to be $50 to $100 before flight (I have seen prices of $125 or more as well), per person, each direction.

Source: Hard hit by virus, airlines push for tests over quarantines

Many U.S. states have mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements for inbound visitors (such as Vermont) but with an optional exit via getting a negative Covid-19 test. The joke in Vermont is that you arrive in the state, it takes 4 days to schedule a Covid-19 test and then up to 10 days to get your results (really). So you can quarantine for 14 days or optionally spend money on tests and quarantine for 14 days. Perhaps with Rapid Tests (which are not that accurate), the turn around will be same day.

  • Hawaii and Alaska both offer the covid-19 test exit strategy. Will this become a routine part of travel between states in the U.S.? You must be tested?
  • What impact will this have on personal health privacy as required by HIPAA?
  • Will these tests be used by governments to track your travels? Yes, obviously, as needed to enforce their quarantine rules.

Concerning: Garbage bags with unopened ballots found along roadway

There have been reports like this in other areas of the country too:

SAMMAMISH, Wash. – Sammamish Police are investigating potential mail theft after two garbage bags of mail, which included ballots, were found on the side of the road and several unopened ballots were found in incorrect mail boxes.

Source: Sammamish Police: Garbage bags of mail found on side of road included unopened ballots | KATU

Experts knew this in 2006: Pandemic fatigue has set in

The NY Times writes that pandemic fatigue has set in and people want to get on with their lives – and are getting on with their lives.

Back in 2006, a group of epidemiologists wrote a paper explaining why all of these public health mitigation steps do not work in the real world. This cannot go on forever, and what cannot go on forever, will not go on forever.

Empirically, public health measures have generally failed as new “positive test” counts climb rapidly higher. Places with mask mandates starting in April did well for a few months – until cases exploded in late summer and fall.

Most of the public discourse centers on an assumption that these Orders actually work – they often didn’t and most are not sustainable. This was well known from long ago.

Continue reading Experts knew this in 2006: Pandemic fatigue has set in

Bigger deal than realized: Boeing may sell its 215 acre Commercial Airplanes HQ

Boeing sees the advent of the “mobile executive” and most engineering, marketing, finance work no longer need be done in a corporate office complex. Time to sell the corporate real estate.

When companies no longer have a large physical infrastructure in a community, they need no longer remain there and staff can leave communities in an instant.

This is a huge deal – and it is not just Boeing. Many big companies may pull back and let staff move elsewhere. This is a bombshell on local economies.

Continue reading Bigger deal than realized: Boeing may sell its 215 acre Commercial Airplanes HQ

It’s only a little lie: UK Health Secretary lied about vitamin D trials

Ministers are to reconsider vitamin D as a potential weapon against Covid-19 after Matt Hancock wrongly claimed that government scientists had run unsuccessful tests.

The health secretary told the Commons last week that he had ordered a trial that showed vitamin D did not “appear to have any impact”. Officials now admit that no trials took place.

Source: Hancock wrong to say government scientists ran coronavirus trial on vitamin D | News | The Times

The UK has now reversed its stance and is recommending that everyone take vitamin D supplements. More background on that here.

Putting in a plug for Best Buy

In the past we did not like shopping at Best Buy. Upon entering the store you were assaulted by blue shirted sales people.

Once you were ready to buy something, they’d try to upsell accessories and extra charge warranties. It was not a fun place to shop.

Our last 4 or 5 interactions have been way better. We’ve had Geek Squad techs service a broken dishwasher (they were the only ones who serviced the brand that was in our house). The tech was very knowledgeable and passionate about doing solid repair work, done right.

During the pandemic, as mail order service like Amazon devolved into random delivery dates and 4 week lead times, we ordered from Best Buy. We opted to have one large item delivered – which turned out to be free, from the local store, the very next day, with excellent communication about when they expected to arrive.

Today I used their curbside delivery service – ordered online, drove to the store about an hour later and was greeted by an employee who brought my item out within minutes.

I am impressed by this because Best Buy did not used to be a friendly place to shop. In the midst of the pandemic, they have quickly adapted their services – with competitive prices – and friendly and helpful staff.

No one paid me to write this – I just wanted to call out a business that has made great improvements and is now, obviously, getting my repeat business.

“The Coronavirus Experts Were Wrong, Now They Need Scapegoats “

We don’t know how well the China Model worked for the People’s Republic of China, but it failed in every free country that tried it. Lockdowns eventually gave way to reopenings and new waves of infection. This was always going to happen because not even the more socialist European countries have the police state or the compliant populations of a Communist dictatorship.

Desperate, the public health experts adopted China’s compulsive mask wearing, a cultural practice that predates the virus, as if wearing a few flimsy scraps of fiber would fix everything.

It hadn’t and it didn’t.

Source: The Coronavirus Experts Were Wrong, Now They Need Scapegoats | Frontpagemag

This is true:

The daily coronavirus reports have become the equivalent of Soviet harvest reports. They sound impressive, mean absolutely nothing, and are the pet obsession of a bureaucracy that not only has no understanding of the problem, but its grip on power has made it the problem.

In the U.S. we blame political leadership for high counts and frequently point to other countries as having done things right. How do you explain this?

What the pandemic has taught us about science | Climate Etc.

How should the public begin to make sense of the flurry of sometimes contradictory scientific views generated by the Covid-19 crisis? The only way to be absolutely sure that one scientific pronouncement is reliable and another is not is to examine the evidence yourself. Relying on the reputation of the scientist, or the reporter reporting it, is the way that many of us go, and is better than nothing, but it is not infallible. If in doubt, do your homework.

Source: What the pandemic has taught us about science | Climate Etc.

Effect of school closures on mortality from coronavirus disease 2019

It’s only a model. In fact, its the useless ICL model but whatever – study concludes that shutting schools has led to more deaths.

Some assert that public health pandemic mitigations mostly converted a shorter pandemic into an economically devastating longer pandemic that may end up killing more people.

Results

The CovidSim model would have produced a good forecast of the subsequent data if initialised with a reproduction number of about 3.5 for covid-19. The model predicted that school closures and isolation of younger people would increase the total number of deaths, albeit postponed to a second and subsequent waves. The findings of this study suggest that prompt interventions were shown to be highly effective at reducing peak demand for intensive care unit (ICU) beds but also prolong the epidemic, in some cases resulting in more deaths long term. This happens because covid-19 related mortality is highly skewed towards older age groups. In the absence of an effective vaccination programme, none of the proposed mitigation strategies in the UK would reduce the predicted total number of deaths below 200 000.

Source: Effect of school closures on mortality from coronavirus disease 2019: old and new predictions | The BMJ

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