I’ll take my COVID curve short and steep, not long and flat

Scientists are still debating whether we should try to “flatten” the COVID curve. The curve is a plot of deaths on the vertical axis versus time on the horizontal axis. The graph above is an example, showing daily deaths worldwide from COVID since the advent of the pandemic.

If you add up the daily deaths, you of course wind up with the total deaths – currently over 800,000 in the U.S. This is the “area under the curve.” (Calculus, anyone?)

“Flattening the curve” means lowering the peaks – lowering the daily deaths. Scientists on one side of the “flattening” debate – call them the Flatteners – say that we can accomplish that by taking preventive measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing, as we have for the last two years to varying degrees.

On its face, that sounds prudent. It was certainly prudent two years ago when COVID infections threatened to overwhelm hospitals.

Other scientists – call them the Non-Flatteners – contend that, with Omicron now the dominant variant, we should do the opposite. (Yes, “follow the science” is a meaningless platitude when scientists disagree, as they frequently do.) The Non-Flatteners point out that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible, and so preventive measures are futile.

Moreover, the Non-Flatteners say that the lethality of Omicron in low anyway. So people who catch it are even more unlikely to die than people who caught previous variants. In fact, Omicron infections seldom require even hospitalization, and so the threat of overwhelming the health system is mostly gone.

Finally, the Non-Flatteners say that allowing people to catch Omicron would be a good thing because, though a small percentage of them will die of it, the vast majority will survive. And the survivors will be conferred immunity from future infections that is far more effective than the immunity conferred by the vaccines.

The Non-Flatteners say that even if we can flatten the curve, and it’s not clear that we can, the flattening will lengthen it, and so the area under the curve will not be reduced. In other words, the pandemic will go on for longer, albeit at a lower daily death rate, to produce the same or a greater number of total deaths.

I’m not skilled in COVID epidemiology (and, the last two years suggest, neither are epidemiologists) but my instinct is that the Non-Flatteners are right. Flattening the curve by reducing the daily death rate will produce a longer curve by prolonging the pandemic. Consequently, the area under the flattened but lengthened curve – the total deaths – will be the same as under the higher but shorter unflattened curve.

And so the question becomes, do we choose a short steep curve of greater pain or a longer flatter curve of more moderate pain?

Expressed that way, this choice is no longer a debate about science so much as a debate about philosophy. It’s a debate about how to live. Some people will choose low-level pain that goes for years over high-level pain that goes for months.

I respect that. But for me, I’ll take my pain short and steep. I recognize that this short, steep curve of pain could claim me personally, or those I love. But so could the long, flattened curve of pain.

I don’t live recklessly. I take risks, but I calculate them. Sometimes I miscalculate, but better to miscalculate than not to calculate at all. Regular readers know that I was in the original Pfizer vaccine clinical trials, and still am. That entailed risk but my calculation was that the risk was acceptable when weighed against the benefits.

So too on this issue of flattening the curve. In my calculation of risks and benefits, I choose to live real over living long. I’m done with masks and social distancing. Life is too big, brave and steep to live it small, fearful and flat.

Don’t hate Joe for his senility; hate “doctor” Jill and his other handlers for their elder abuse

After another loss at the Supreme Court and on the verge of more losses at even the Democrat-controlled Senate, the guy who used to be Joe Biden read a speech last week that someone wrote:

“The next few days … will mark a turning point in this nation’s history. Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadows, justice over injustice? I know where I stand … I will defend … our democracy against all enemies – foreign and, yes, domestic.”

“Where will the institution of the United States Senate stand? … “Will you stand against voter suppression? Yes or no? … Will you stand against election subversion? Yes or no? Will you stand for democracy? Yes or no?”

“I ask every elected official in America: How do you want to be remembered? … Do you want to be … on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”

This is unadulterated crap. The Georgia voting laws he’s demagoguing as fascist and racist are less strict than in Biden’s liberal home state of Delaware and less strict than in uber-liberal New York State.

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The Supreme Court will probably toss out the tyrannical OSHA vaccine mandate

Let’s be clear what the issue is here. The issue before the court is not whether vaccination is good or bad. All nine of the Justices have been fully vaccinated and have also received boosters (as I have). It’s fair to conclude that the Justices all think vaccinations are good, at least for people of their demographic.

Nor is the issue whether state or federal government can impose vaccine mandates on the population. They probably can, and occasionally have. In oral argument yesterday, Justice Gorsuch noted in passing that he recently rejected a challenge to a vaccine mandate imposed by the state government of New Mexico. Similarly, Congress could pass a law imposing a vaccine mandate or authorizing the Executive Branch to impose one.

What’s at issue in this case is much narrower. It’s whether the Executive Branch via the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) can impose vaccine mandates without specific authorization from Congress.

The six conservative justices signaled that they think the answer is no.

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I don’t want to sleep with AOC, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden or Donald Trump

New York Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio Cortez can’t get enough of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. She harps obsessively on his purported mismanagement of COVID, including his refusal to mandate masks against the will of the people in the state he was elected to govern.

And so it was interesting that AOC was recently photographed in Florida. Did she come to stalk DeSantis? If so, she might have stalked in the wrong place. The photograph of her was taken in a drag bar, which is probably not the type of place DeSantis frequents.

Upon hearing the news, DeSantis good naturedly welcomed AOC to his state. Other Republicans, however, pointed out the contradiction between AOC’s words criticizing DeSantis’ management of COVID in Florida and and her actions in coming to Florida for bar entertainment in close quarters.

AOC tweeted her defense, of sorts: “It’s starting to get old ignoring the very obvious, strange, and deranged sexual frustrations that underpin the Republican fixation on me, women, & LGBT+ people in general. These people clearly need therapy, won’t do it, and use politics as their outlet instead. It’s really weird.”

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