The COVID-19 messaging failures keep coming

The CNN reporting on Trump administration officials and the internal arguments over the COVID-19 response has me thinking about what could have been and what should have been. I’ve been trying to avoid looking back. I think the Trump presidency was awful in many ways. And while I see the value in learning from mistakes, his presidency seems, to me, so unique that I’m cautiously optimistic that his mistakes aren’t the kind that any current or future president will make, so I’m not sure what we gain, in this case, from dwelling in the past. But when it comes to COVID-19, some of the mistakes keep getting made, and that’s really unfortunate.

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The enduring oddness of Trump supporter

I’m feeling more and more like we’re leaving Trump behind and I think that’s a good thing. Without him on social media, his voice is much quieter than before. The onslaught of social media posts supporting him and his crazy ideas seem to have faded somewhat. I don’t know if they’re lurking in the shadows or if they’re really fading away. I’ve posted several times on Facebook that years from now I expect to hear plenty of “I never really liked him” or “he wasn’t even close to my favorite” from folks who were the most vocal in their support of him over the past few years. And while I’m ready to move on, I still can’t help being puzzled at support for him and, more broadly, the kind of thinking that goes on in the heads of those who do support him. Lately, it’s the vaccines that have me puzzled the most.

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First- vs third-person view of the world and how COVID fits in

The partisan divide in attitudes about COVID makes me very sad. It didn’t need to be this way, and it seems like it never would have been this way if not for the self-centeredness of the president. But maybe that’s not true. Maybe it would have been that way regardless of who is in office. Maybe it’s revealing some fundamental differences in how folks on the left and folks on the right see the world. It seems like it comes down to what I think of as a first person vs a third person perspective of the world. Let’s parse that first and then see how it applies to COVID.

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Florida man…oh man

Florida has announced that all efforts to prevent the spread of COVID are over. Mask mandates cannot be enforced statewide, and restrictions are being lifted. This is so unfortunate. Again, as I’ve been saying, let’s compare this to Israel, then let’s think about how hard we work to stop people from dying from car accidents.

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Today’s thoughts about COVID-19

There are now more than a million confirmed cases of infection by the virus that causes COVID-19. Worldwide, the mortality rate is 5.3%. Of course, there’s plenty or reason to believe that it’s less fatal, and that 5.3% ignores the many people around the world who likely have been infected but have not been confirmed (either because of false negative results or because of lack of testing). I spent some time crunching numbers this morning. Not because I think there’s anything that I can learn that others don’t know already, but because it keeps my mind from wandering and I like crunching numbers. In the same way, I’m sharing this number crunching here, not because I think anybody should read it, or take it as some real source of information, but because this site has been a faithful outlet for me to put my thoughts on paper. So here’s what I found.

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Lesser of two evils: death by virus or by recession

The United States is in the early stages of the pandemic of COVID-19 caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus. As of this moment, there are 597,304 confirmed cases worldwide and 104,661 confirmed cases in the United States alone. Today, the number of cases in the United States grew to the point that there are now more cases in the United States than in any other country. Of course, we do not know if this is accurate, and suspect that it isn’t, because there are very likely many people, in many countries, who are infected but have not been tested. There is a growing movement, especially among republicans, to weigh the potential harm caused by the virus and the harm caused by slowing the economy (because of people sheltering in place, closed restaurants and other businesses). A friend brought this up to me recently, calling attention to a quote in the movie The Big Short: every 1% unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die. It got me thinking…as most things do.

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Quarantined

My family has been voluntarily quarantined for six days. My wife was frightened by the novel coronavirus first. We thought she was crazy, and made fun of her, but I soon was infected by her fear. At first I was just trying to be a good husband, and help present a united front for our kids, so they’d fall in line, but after some easy math, I got worried also. I hope I’m wrong. I hope this ends faster than we fear. I hope it takes fewer lives than I fear. I hope for all those things. I am, to a fault sometimes, a man of hope. But I’m afraid.

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Space Force (and roses called other things)

One of the places where I tend to disagree with other liberals is the defense budget. Attacking defense spending is a common hobby for many liberals. I get the appeal. I don’t like spending astronomical sums of money for the purpose of killing people. It doesn’t sit well with me. But what I’ve come to realize is that the defense budget is so much more than a killing budget. It’s a convenient way for Congress to allocate money to things we need, as a nation, but can’t convince many voters (or even Members of Congress) to support otherwise. How do some countries fight unemployment? They hire lots of people to work for the government. We do that too, through the military. Want to provide education and job training and healthcare for millions of Americans…put money for education and job training and healthcare into the Department of Defense budget and consider it done. Want to spend money on biomedical research, on materials research, on computing research, on all kinds of research…put money into the Department of Defense budget and consider it done.

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Give him the money for his stupid wall…

Yes, you heard that. I think the democrats should give Trump the $5 billion he requested for the wall. I think the wall is a dumb idea. I think we already have physical (natural and man-made) barriers that do good where they’re needed. I think the eminent domain issues will be tied up in court for the better part of a decade, at least. I don’t think it’s a good use of our funds, but it’s about 0.13% of the proposed FY2019 budget, it’s a fraction of important things like the $39 billion budget for the National Institutes of Health, and I just don’t care enough about it to advocate keeping federal workers from getting their paychecks.

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