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Month: May 2020

on “Reopening”

The political pivot from plague to re-opening has been nothing less than breathtaking, if you obsessively follow the US political news. After a MAGA terrorist invasion of the Michigan statehouse and astroturf “reopen my state” groups proliferated, including protests in Sacramento, the political class is all aboard the reopening train.

The public’s not going along, so far.

Restaurant reservations have barely started creeping up from dead, even three weeks after the first state “reopening.” That does suggest most of the public is smarter than the political class, at least.

From The Economist, obviously. Click to go to the article.

States are one-upping themselves to falsify data to make themselves look less bad. California and LA County still have increasing cases and deaths, although most counties in the state don’t. Is it any wonder people aren’t going along with reopening yet?

From LA Times, May 20 2020

Starman Musk lost some fanbois over “reopening” the Fremont factory a week before the state had allowed him to. Some universities are pledging to “reopen” to students in the fall, including Purdue (whose politician-turned-president dissed a colleague’s engineering prof sister), Notre Dame, and New York University, which thinks somehow putting the lecturers behind plexiglass is going to work out.

Mono county is one of those trying to “reopen” despite having a sudden spike in cases last week. Their justification seems to be that Newsom changed the criteria to make it somewhat easier for the small counties to go to the state’s “Stage 2,” which allows more businesses to open. They hope to have the Fishing Opener on June 1st as usual.

I’m not convinced the rural counties’ “reopening” is wise, since us Angelenos will bring the virus there as soon as we’re able to go. But that’s rather out of my hands. We’re probably going to go up the last weekend of the month ourselves.

Casa Conway’s in a relative stable pattern now. We get up and go to work in our home offices every day, we do a couple of walks a week and a couple of yoga classes, and once (and sometimes twice) a week there’s a shopping run. I last was out on 15 May, to get the snow tires off the Model 3.

Oh, I spent 9 hours on the 16th cleaning the garage. It’s a long way from done.

Re-Opening Amerika

This was the week the Trump administration gave up on fighting the coronavirus pandemic and pivoted to restarting the Economy. Zero states that are reporting infections actually meet the required 14 days of declining cases that was the centerpiece of the previous plan. Instead, as of this week, the NY tri-state region has declining rates, while the rest of the nation is still on the increase.

California’s also running in the rush to reopen, it turns out. LA County amended its public health order starting May 8th. But the LA Times’ daily tracker reports cases continuing to climb. I expect that in 2 weeks from tomorrow, we’ll see new cases start to accelerate again.

LA Times, captured May 7th, 2020.

The IHME model at the University of Washington currently projects 134,475 deaths by August 4th. Today we’re at nearly 77,000 dead. This model has consistently underpredicted, so I’ll go out on not-much-of-a-limb and say 150,000 by August 4. We’re already #1 in deaths worldwide.

It seems to me that the rush to re-open won’t just make things worse for public health. Restaurant reservations fell off a cliff the week before lockdowns started, according to OpenTable reservation data. People stayed home voluntarily. No particular reason to believe enough people will start going out again when the death rate is still climbing. And that’s even worse for the businesses that do try to reopen prematurely. There’s costs to “reopening.”

This April 22, 2020 chart shows the rapid decline during the two weeks after March 3. The California Safer at Home order was release March 17.

Air travel started declining before the lockdowns too, but starting slightly later than the restaurant nose dive.

On the other hand, 30 million people* are now unemployed, so I’m not surprised right-wing politicians are panicking. Their hold on power is their grifting, handouts to the wealthy in exchange for donations and access, and they’re now out of money to give. Instead they’re desperately trying to purge people from the unemployment rolls and cut Medicaid and education. But the Economy isn’t going to suddenly restart because governors, or the Orange Emperor, have said so.

*a little update: 30 million have filed for unemployment, but apparently “only” 20.5 million count as unemployed. The 8 May unemployment report is 14.5%, worst since the Great Depression. One interesting tidbit is that 4 out of 5 people filing were furloughed, not laid off, so there’s a little hope of rapid rehiring. But not much, as I’ve said above.

The Day Oil Prices Went Negative

I knew this was theoretically possible. . .but didn’t expect to ever see it. Basic story seems to be that the US has run out of places to store oil already ordered and on its way. West Texas Intermediate closed the day at -$37.63. . .which is crazy.

Also today the astroturf protests to “reopen America” apparently convinced the governor of Georgia to “reopen” the state this weekend. The current White House guidelines specify that states should see two weeks of falling case numbers prior to removing the social distancing orders, and Georgia’s are still going up. Now they’ll go up extra-fast!

I suppose the real reason for “reopening” is to force the poor people back to work so they’ll be the ones dying off. It doesn’t work that way, though. Lots of wealthier people will get it from their maids, gardeners, children, etc.

Glad I don’t live in a Republican state. Idiocracies every one.