COVID Policy is about the Euphoria of Ruling the World

Every two-bit official can now order the world around them to stop. Just. Stop. Even judges. Doesn’t have to be a governor or mayor.

Forget the logic and think about how that feels for a minute. Consciously I’m sure they agonize over it. But the power is incredible. No one is unaffected by that sort of power.

If they admitted they didn’t need to be giving such orders, they’d suddenly feel empty and useless. Kind of like I did for a year after retirement. They don’t have to be getting anything else out of it to get hooked. Just the Endorphins. What does an alcoholic get? Drunk, broke, divorced, cited for DWI, but they can’t quit. It’s the same.

Reuters
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday decreed that face masks must be worn in all counties with over 20 coronavirus cases. USNews

Maybe Texas governor Abbott can’t walk (no disrespect intended) but he can order you to wear a mask (no objection, actually) and not gather in groups of more than 10 people (not doing that either, but clearly somebody was).

The Texas forecast was not that bad. I’ve been modeling COVID trajectories for 4 months full time (yeah, retirement flexibility). I’ve published 3 papers on my work and built an international website. Let’s look at the EFFECT of the recent order. Previously, Texas had a pretty good forecast:

We were at the peak this weekend (July 4th) and economic recovery was a good 30% (of a year lockdown losses). Hardly any fall or winter cases despite continual step increases in easing.

Here is the transmission rate chart. It suggest the order was extraordinarily effective. Those points at the end are falling off a cliff:

Looks about like 10% more locked than before. Let’s assume by school in September some unlock about to the previous level will be attempted again. Here is what that looks like.

Oh look Mom, I made the number of deaths go UP 25% by locking down tighter. What?

Yes. Well, the near term cases fall off a cliff, so of course Texans will demand to be unlocked, and that’s what Gov. Abbott promised, “billing the measure as a requirement to avoid another economic shutdown“. There are already mask protests.

Look how slowly cases creep back even though the unlock is the same as now, and it’s high season for Coronavirus, winter. By March, when hopefully we are vaccinating people, a minor hump backs down. That’s when I think we’ll really let the horse out of the barn. And despite a vaccine cases will rise nearly to present levels, and the peak will be broader and thus more deadly.

If you think the level of information on coronavirus is a bit iffy (not the raw data, the inability to use it to make decent projections), then take my 12 minute survey which includes a video explanation (5 minutes) of how this stuff works, and gives you interactive access to the model right in your web browser. Uses Texas for an example, but you can type in the name of any state or country and it comes right up. Put in your own unlock levels and see if you’d make the grade as an epidemic manager! Ultimate gaming! Life and death reality! Click to begin your journey.

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