America is losing the stomach to fight Covid-19 :: Financial Times

by Volker Weber

America continues to lose about 1,000 people a day - and in some states that are relaxing social distancing rules, infection and hospitalisation rates are rising. This week Berkeley scientists estimated the US had prevented 60m infections by taking early lockdown measures. That is roughly 250,000 deaths that did not happen.

That discipline is now dissolving. Mr Trump will restart his re-election campaign next week with a full-blown rally in Oklahoma - his first since early March. That will give a green light for Americans to crowd together again without censure.

Las Vegas is broadcasting even starker images. Its slot machines are ringing again. To judge by the footage, most punters are not wearing masks. Forget war. Going for the jackpot is a more fitting metaphor for America’s coming pandemic summer. ...

So what is likely to happen? The most likely outcome is a second coronavirus wave in the coming months. Many assume the virus goes quiet when the temperature rises. There is no scientific consensus on this.

There is however one scientific consensus: wearing a mask helps. Which is exactly what the Karens in the video above do not want to do.

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Those emotionally driven individual people who spoke at the board have access to only basic news and information. They judge on basis of the values they have grown up with (freedom, personal rights, individualism,...) and what they know from their direct neighborhoods and personal networks. Poor people who seem to have a need for better guidance and education.
In contrast to that, Trump has access to full information and in most cases superior information. BUT, he is taking well informed decisions. He is taking calculated risks and by doing this he sacrifices thousands of peoples health an lives. He does that to win the next election.

Stephan Bohr, 2020-06-12

“Some of you may die, but that’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.“
Lord Farquaad

Thomas Holzapfel , 2020-06-12

I really don‘t get the point what the problem is with wearing a mask?
We are in this pandemic for less than six months now. Months not years and people riot because of wearing a mask.
I can fully understand everybody whose business broke down and who wants to have an open discussion about re-opening or not and under what circumstances.

But mimimi because of wearing a mask is childish.
(By the way, my children, 5 and 9, probably have a better understanding for the situation.)

Sascha Westphal, 2020-06-12

"Calculated Risks". 100.000 dead and counting. My ass.

Armin Auth, 2020-06-12

The efficacy of masks is not as clear as one might think. From one of the more respected voices in infectious diseases... (56 minutes - transcript available as well. It is long, but worth reading all of it)

I think it important to take all available steps to help mitigate propagation. At least here in the US, a common message is that cloth masks will help society get back to normal (shopping, eating out, etc). Adopting that stance and then becoming complacent with social distancing (my 6 feet is closer to 20 feet....), hand washing, avoiding unnecessary travel, etc will only make matters worse. Inconsistent messaging and lack of commitment (wishful thinking?) on the part of Washington doesn't help.

Nick Coenen, 2020-06-12

Nick, it is pretty clear that mask wearing has been the most important counter-measure. And refusing to wear masks is a good measure to propagate the disease. Is that too simple for you?

Volker Weber, 2020-06-12

Masks are one element only, and the usual mouth-nose-masks are to basically keep your "fallout" within your mask, thus protection the people around you, not so much for yourself...unless everybody is wearing one.

Other factors important are the distancing, staying outside and more. No reason to complacency yet, and no reason to rush back to the pre-pandemic normal. Numbers are rising already as you can see in Texas and Arizone, but also in Germany we see this effect from people taking the openings as a signal to hang loose...

Armin Auth, 2020-06-12

No, not too simple - I wear one when out in public and expect others as well. But I don't think a simple cloth mask (as opposed to a snug fitting surgical or N95 mask) is going to be effective if the wearer then goes about his or her business interacting with others while ignoring other safeguards.

Nick Coenen, 2020-06-12

You might not think it is. But it is. You are bot infecting others. As they do not infect you, when they are wearing a mask.

Volker Weber, 2020-06-12

That's the whole point of the linked article. That belief is not necessarily accurate.

Nick Coenen, 2020-06-12

Some battles have been fought elsewhere. Whether it's wearing masks or banning firearms. You will catch up one day.

Volker Weber, 2020-06-12

The article seems rather misleading. "America is losing the stomach to fight COVID-19" is an extraordinarily broad jump to make and seems a very sensationalized headline.

Last week I had mandatory travel around several different states of the US. There were masks being worn by virtually everyone (90%+, myself included) where people would gather. Active social distancing was virtually 100%.

Americans are generally fine with wearing masks, and the vast majority seem to understand that you do it to protect others - not yourself.

But yes, there will be major pushback by Americans for any *government* that requires it. It's quite interesting - nobody is protesting at *stores* that require one. The only pushback is when the *government* does it.

As for the other locations mentioned in the article: many people, particularly Europeans based on my experience, seem to forget that the US is a vast collection of individual states, each with varying cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and governments (that many times the US government *cannot* override.)

Oklahoma was one of the first states to re-open, back in April. A rally there is hardly a "green light for Americans to crowd together again". It's more along the lines of "Oklahoma continues to lead re-openings with Alaska, Georgia, and Florida". I'll be curious to see how many at the rally wear a mask.

Unfortunately much of the coronavirus arguments have turned into a binary. E.g. If you think a single store should reopen then "you obviously want to kill all grandmas". Similarly, if you ignore the fact that 20+ million Americans unemployed causes increases in suicides, depression, broken homes, etc. then you are not having an honest conversation.

On that last point, below is an interesting study on that topic. The conclusion is that for each 1% increase in unemployment in the US, there are 22 more suicides per 100,000:

Based on those numbers the recent massive unemployment increase in the US easily implies 500,000+ deaths.

Erik Brooks, 2020-06-13

It's not working, or is it? People keep dying. That's giving up.

Volker Weber, 2020-06-13

The economic and employment situations across the US certainly go some way to demonstrating that American-style capitalism isn’t working. So something has to give, because given that humans won’t change their ways, we can all expect more pandemics.

Ben Poole, 2020-06-13

Who here learned about Darwinism at school?

Ian Bradbury, 2020-06-14

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