by wjw on July 12, 2020

IMG_5141Here you find me and my sparring partner Heironymus Bash ready for the renewed New Mexico lockdown that begins Monday.  Bars will be shut.  Indoor restaurants will be closed, though there will still be takeout and outdoor patio dining at half capacity.  Masks are mandatory in public, even for joggers and other people doing exercise.  Anyone from out of state is supposed to isolate for two weeks, though somehow I doubt they will.

The sad thing is that our governor did everything right.  Locked down in mid-March, followed the advice of scientists, issued regular bulletins, kept the state locked down despite the screams of those who wanted an early opening, then around the start of June ordered a staged re-opening, step by cautious step.

Right about the time the state began its re-opening it had a huge leap in Covid cases, but it was an outlier caused by the virus breaking out in one of our prisons, and the number of cases continued to decline for a while, but by mid-June (significantly, two weeks after the Memorial Day holiday) the number of cases started to rise, and the other day we had the single largest number of reported cases ever.

The number of deaths are down, because most of the new cases are young, active people who went out in public and got themselves infected.  The older folks never unlocked, and aren’t getting infected at the higher rate.

And in the rest of the country, over 68,000 cases in a single day.  That’s insane.

I got nothin’, folks.  I got nothin’ wise or encouraging to say, I have no bright ideas, and I have no observations.  Except one.

The virus is smart.  People are stupid.  Full stop.

Etaoin Shrdlu July 12, 2020 at 7:10 am

Or, in other words, the lockdowns accomplished nothing other than to devastate the economy, spread panic and misery, exacerbate mental illness by isolating and stressing people, cause additional mortality and lesser medical problems by delaying diagnoses and treatments, and ruin people’s lives and futures.

Who knew?!?! Oh, right, the entire country of Sweden (which has come through just fine — yes, their death rate is higher than a couple of their neighbors, but it’s also a lot lower than some other countries that went full turtle). And all of us “flubros” who told people that it’s not that bad and to stop panicking.

I almost certainly had it in January, and didn’t realize it until late April when people kept describing the sequel anosmia (a.k.a. “metallic smell and taste”) to me, which I still had continuously until then and still occasionally notice even now. It was no worse than an ordinary mid-level case of the flu, and if you look at the usual list of “comorbidities”, I check every box except for my not being over age 70.

0.04% mortality under the age of 70 (less than influenza’s 0.1%), and if Cuomo and Whitmer and other governors hadn’t forced nursing homes to take infected-but-recovering people in, even a lot of the weakened elderly would still be alive.

But, no, let’s panic (except when people are rioting and setting up “autonomous zones” to protest capitalism and sanity and whatever else is a convenient excuse) and lock down. Good work, certain mayors and governors, now double down on it and do even more damage. . . .

grs1961 July 12, 2020 at 8:30 am

Sweden didn’t come through unscathed – more deaths in relation to their population as their neighbours, and their economy has been as badly affected as their neighbours.
Please do some basic research, you’re just proving the old adage about opening your mouth.

Etaoin Shrdlu July 12, 2020 at 5:05 pm

Please do yours, GRS. Did you even bother to read my post? It sure doesn’t seem like it.

As I specifically stated: “yes, their [Sweden’s] death rate is higher than a couple of their neighbors, but it’s also a lot lower than some other countries that went full turtle”. If you want to compare death rates, there’s a handy chart here:

Seventh (per capita), or fifth if you drop Andorra and San Marino, which are tiny sample sizes. Below the UK, which had a massive lockdown. Below Italy, ditto. Below Spain, likewise. FAR below Belgium, where one of my friends spent a month locked inside his apartment (as did everyone else) at the demand of the government.

And every economy on the planet has been hurt, but Sweden’s is doing better than many places that shut down. See:

or if you don’t subscribe and are going to complain about paywalls, you can read it on by plugging the URL into the search box (not the “save my content” box) there and looking at the saved snapshots.

Here’s the money-shot paragraph: “The result: Sweden’s economy is contracting, but not by as much as some others in Europe. Meanwhile, it is recording deaths per capita from the virus that are considerably higher than in neighboring countries—though below levels seen in France, Italy and the U.K.” (Note: in the JHU stats, Sweden has outpaced France; this may be a question of timing, or the authors may have counted deaths differently.)

Further: “Swedish authorities predict, the result will be a 7% decline in overall 2020 economic output. The eurozone economy as a whole is projected to contract by about 8% this year, according to a European Commission estimate.” In a world where economists go nuts over 0.1% differences, 1% is pretty damn good.

You could also look at where I (usually) reside, Taiwan, which didn’t shut down and has recorded fewer than 500 cases. Not deaths, cases. Do I believe it? No, not really — I had it, while there, and didn’t even know it at the time, so I’m not counted in that stat. But nevertheless, they didn’t have a huge wave of deaths, so they’ve got that going for them.

451 cases — and seven deaths — out of a population of 24 million (plus 2 to 3 million foreign contract laborers, generally — not sure how many went home).

This is not the pneumonic plague (75% fatality rate when it hit Europe way back when), it’s not smallpox (1% to 30% depending on strain, with the Soviet Union’s weaponized strain rumored to have been effectively 100%), it’s not even measles (which has a death rate of 0.2% — five times higher than the Wuhan coronavirus — and yet people refuse to get measles vaccinations because some lawyers 22 years ago bought a paper from a British “scientist”, who has since had his medical license revoked over his fraud, to pretend that vaccines cause autism.

It’s just like the flu (not even as severe, actually, since flu deaths are often spread across all age groups, not mostly concentrated among nursing-home patients already at death’s door), which we deal with annually — without shutting down, without demonstrating mass mental illness, without committing suicide because of sheer terror at a minor viral illness.

But feel free to ignore what I actually wrote, what the actual evidence is, and how the massive overreaction is going to affect people’s lives and futures — and deaths.

grs1961 July 12, 2020 at 11:17 pm

That’s not research, that’s blathering and avoidance. While what has happened on the other side of the world is interesting, concentarte on Sweden, your chosen example, and its neioghbours.

From the COVID tracking page courtesy of the Financial Times (, last week the excess mortality was:

Denmark +6%
Norway – none
Sweden +26%

And here’s another:
Deaths from Covid (as of July 8th)

Sweden – 5,482 (population 10.23 million)
Denmark – 609 (population 5.8 million)
Finland – 329 (population 5.52 million)
Norway – 251 (population 5.4 million)

Drat, I can’t find the economic studies right now, and work calls.
I shall leave it as an exercise for the honest student to find them.

pecooper July 13, 2020 at 11:49 am

Getting back to what Walter wrote, I notice that New Mexico has the distinction of being the one trying to behave like an adult, while sandwiched between Arizona and Texas who are vying with Florida to be the new number one COVID-19 hot spot*. Of course, I’m sure that has nothing whatever do with the jump in New Mexico’s cases.

*As a resident of New York state, I have to thank you guys for relieving us of burden of the title.

pixlaw July 13, 2020 at 7:37 pm

Walter –

don’t take this the wrong way, but I notice that your sparring partner, Heironymus Bash, appears to be missing at least one arm, if in fact not other extremities as well. Exactly what does that say about the level of your ‘sparring’? I know that in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king*, but in which land is the one-armed fighter acceptable?

*not applicable to Asgard

wjw July 13, 2020 at 10:57 pm

New Mexico was doing just fine, with Covid cases declining day by day, until business and political interests convinced the governor that it was time to reopen. Since then the rate has steadily been climbing, and now it’s higher than it was at its peak in the spring.

Still, we’re better off than a lot of our neighbors. Tucson’s a complete shitshow, with hospitals so full they’re airlifting their patients to Albuquerque and San Diego.

Etaoin, I don’t know where you got the statistics for Covid mortality rate in the under-70 bracket being 0.04%, and this being lower than death from influenza. 0.04%— four hundredths of one hundredth, in other words— would be completely insignificant. Most mortality is in the age group of 45 and up, and ranges up to 20% for those around 70.

As for Sweden, the numbers stayed low as long as winter weather lasted. When people came out to play in the sun, Corona came out with them.

Your takeaway: “Per million people, Sweden has suffered 40 percent more deaths than the United States, 12 times more than Norway, seven times more than Finland and six times more than Denmark.”

Worse than the States? Jesus!


“Sweden’s central bank expects its economy to contract by 4.5 percent this year, a revision from a previously expected gain of 1.3 percent. The unemployment rate jumped to 9 percent in May from 7.1 percent in March. “The overall damage to the economy means the recovery will be protracted, with unemployment remaining elevated,” Oxford Economics concluded in a recent research note.

“This is more or less how damage caused by the pandemic has played out in Denmark, where the central bank expects that the economy will shrink 4.1 percent this year, and where joblessness has edged up to 5.6 percent in May from 4.1 percent in March.

“In short, Sweden suffered a vastly higher death rate while failing to collect on the expected economic gains.”

Surviving a pandemic isn’t rocket science. You lock down fast and you lock down as long as it takes. Yes, the economy will take a hit. It’s going to take that hit anyway, as long as people are hiding from the plague.

“It is simplistic to portray government actions such as quarantines as the cause of economic damage. The real culprit is the virus itself. From Asia to Europe to the Americas, the risks of the pandemic have disrupted businesses while prompting people to avoid shopping malls and restaurants, regardless of official policy.”

wjw July 13, 2020 at 10:58 pm

Well Pix, who do you think ripped off old Harry’s arms in the first place?

This guy!

DensityDuck July 15, 2020 at 10:38 am

“Yes, the economy will take a hit. It’s going to take that hit anyway, as long as people are hiding from the plague.”

An important part of that is a government that’s willing to provide support to its people.

Thus far, the US government has been more interested in Not Wasting A Crisis. Donald Fucking Trump, of all people, said “let’s just write everyone a check”, and somehow Nancy Pelosi could not bring herself to take the W, she had to insist that money not go to the Undeserving, and everyone looked at that and said “welp, guess we know where that’s going,” and those Business Interests you talk about started agitating for re-opening.

Steinar Bang August 11, 2020 at 2:21 pm

FWIW the actual actions of the shutdown in Sweden wasn’t too different from the Norwegian one, but the results were. The reason for the difference will be subject of much analysis and research in the times to come.

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