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Facebook says it has removed promotion of anti-quarantine events (twitter.com/donie)
280 points by nickysielicki on April 20, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 556 comments



I usually stay out of the political/topical threads on HN but this is personal to me. From my point of view few if any of us commenting here are knowledgeable enough to connect all the disparate data points we keep snatching at and synthesize them into conclusions that are likely to be correct. The people who can do that are working on it, and generally too busy at the moment to post on forums or give interviews. The misinformation and unfounded conclusions that are flying around, and especially the atmosphere of political strife and mistrust are very frustrating to them (and all of us I'm sure). Most of us here have chafed at similar situations when people who don't really understand what we do express strong opinions about how we should do it. They understand how people are being impacted, but they can't give us certainty at the moment however badly we want it.

The mortality rate in this place or that; the experience on a cruise ship, or in Sweden, or in North Dakota vs. that in New York or Italy; the percentage of people who are positive and asymptomatic vs. presymptomatic vs. symptomatic; whether this or that drug seems to have a good effect on outcomes; they absolutely don't know how all of this fits together yet. All of them, doctors, nurses, researchers, are going in every day, treating patients, participating in daily conference calls to share information on outcomes, trying different therapies. They're figuring this out and all they have asked us for is some time. All these studies and hypotheses and numbers from various places don't always reflect what's actually happening on the ground.

Someone mentioned quarantining the "vulnerable" people and letting everyone else get back to work and develop our "herd immunity." Are researchers certain we gain long term immunity? Can they precisely define "vulnerable?" My wife is clinical care coordinator on a covid unit in northern New Jersey (that's the personal part). Her first patient was 51. I bet that's younger than most of you are thinking when you think "vulnerable." It looks like he's going to make it and drop into that large "didn't die" bucket I see referred to here over and over, but to get there he spent _five weeks_ in an ICU bed on a ventilator. My wife has treated lots of elderly people. She's also treated people in their 30's and 40's. People in those age groups have died. Children have died, too. How many of each type of person will be affected by this or that containment policy? We don't know.

When this thing started my wife's hospital was running about 2:1 patients to nurses. They're now flirting with 4-6:1. They don't have proper PPE. At another hospital near us a nurse was suspended for bringing her own to work. The general opinion is that the system can't handle much additional strain, and I don't think any of us are in a position to argue the point with them. It's been a month. We can absolutely make it through a few months if we have to, while they do their work. I personally think that would be easier with strong and consistent federal leadership, but that's a separate discussion. At the very least we should be willing to heed the people we expect to save our lives if we get sick.


> It's been a month. We can absolutely make it through a few months if we have to, while they do their work.

You and I can. Many of my friends have missed a rent or car payment, and may soon miss another. Most people cannot work from home.


And that's why government action to shut down businesses, should absolutely be coupled with action to protect workers salaries. In the UK, government is paying 80% of furloughed workers pay up to a certain amount, and there is relief on property taxes etc for businesses.

In my opinion the two (shutdown and relief) go hand in hand.


Some people think the richest country in the history of the world could figure something like this out, but those people don’t seem to understand how it became the richest country to begin with. The United States was built on laissez faire exploitation and that is not going to change overnight.


Nonsense. Laissez faire exploitation results in banana republics.


Laissez faire exploitation results in banana republics in the victim nations, and ultra wealthy first world countries in the predator nations.

I.e. the US and UK have gone ahead wonderfully; the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, South Africa.. not so much


This is right, except the “predator nations” are really a ”predator class”. Working American have gotten a very raw deal. We have lost industry and jobs and wages galore to globalist projects. We may be the consenters of imperialism, but we are not the beneficiaries.


Here in NZ the govt hasn't sent people $1200, nor have they given large amounts of money to businesses to stay alive while we're all locked up.

What they have done is: - allowed companies who's income has dropped by 30% to claim $600/employee/week of salary support - negotiated with all the banks to allow mortgage holidays

Think of it as trickle up stimulus and trickle down rent subsidies to keep people connected to companies and as many companies as possible still viable

We're getting close to having Covid beat(only 5 new cases today, all from known sources), next week we slowly start dropping out of lockdown


Correction: "here in UK the taxpayer is covering 80% of furloughed workers pay". Governments have no money, they take it from taxpayers and redistribute. Moving money from a pocket to another does not fix the problem of decreasing resources if people don't work.


You can't simply "protect the salaries", government isn't some omnipotent god who simply needs to do some hand-waving to fix things. There isn't a fountain of wealth that the government is hiding from us! You can print more money (often bad), or make businesses pay salaries while taking no revenue (also bad)


I know that this is a shocking idea, but you can, in extraordinary circumstances, use a variety of government measures, including dipping into reservers to ensure that people don't starve and that businesses aren't forced to lay off people that they will need when businesses restart.

Yes, government isn't some omnipotent god but neither is it some helpless pathetic entity that can't sort things out at a time of extraordinary crisis.


> dipping into reservers

My assumption is that governments are taking on some sort of debt here.


When you control the mint, it's basically the same thing. Doubly so when its the USD and the rest of the world has exactly the same problem you do, so you hardly need to worry about the depreciation vs other currencies.

(Even if you hardly needed to before just by sheer size.)


That assumption is incorrect for sovereign currencies issuers (like the US, UK, Japan). They would just issue bonds, which is not at all like you or I taking out a loan.


Except for self employed people. Except for businesses that are supposedly just weeks away from running out of cash on a huge scale.

The idea you can simply shut down the economy at will and balance it with relief doesn't make economic sense.


> The idea you can simply shut down the economy at will and balance it with relief doesn't make economic sense.

Of course it doesn't. Governments all over the world aren't making decisions for the benefit of the economy right now, they're doing it to save the lives of their citizens.


>The idea you can simply shut down the economy at will and balance it with relief doesn't make economic sense.

Funny you say that because it seems to be no problem when it comes to bailing out corporate investors. Of course, near-zero federal interest rates didn’t make “economic sense” either, but yet here we are.


Bailing them out of what?

The term "bail out" is usually understood to mean replacing funds after the owner of them lost them through bad decision making. What's happening here isn't a conventional bailout. Governments have destroyed the businesses of private investors deliberately and explicitly - reductions in the damage aren't bail outs.


The virus would have shut them down anyway if they had stayed open and their employees and customers became ill. The bad decision making here is the lack of foresight to keep cash on hand to weather a storm like this, despite making record profits in the billions. We are all told if we don’t keep 6 months of cash on hand we are financially negligent. Large companies were begging for money within two weeks of shutdowns happening, after spending so much of their cash on stock buybacks to pump up stock prices.


Sweden shows that view is wrong.


These data show that retail, travel, and restaurants were all taking huge hits before lockdowns went in to wide effect: https://www.ft.com/content/d184fa0a-6904-11ea-800d-da70cff6e...

Bay area issued the first national stay at home order on March 13. By then demand had already dropped precipitously. If your restaurant is seeing 60% fewer bookings, are you going to keep as many wait staff? Are you going to order as much food? How is that going to impact your supplier? And their supplier?

On the flip side we have places like Smithfield food that stayed open and their workforce became infected. Smithfield alone has as many infected as the entire country of Sweden reported newly infected yesterday. These are problems of different orders of magnitutde. How does a factory stay open with 500 people infected at once?


Given how many people have mild symptoms and how age-dependent it is, it's entirely plausible that 500 infections would yield only a handful of employees to sick to work.

And yet Sweden still disproves your point. Businesses have stayed open, including restaurants and other such businesses, and yet Swedish companies are not evaporating due to their workforces being too sick to work. That's not even close to happening, is it?


Again, Sweden is not the US, they have not been hit nearly as hard. More people will die today in the US than have died total in all of Sweden. Sweden is not immune from the effects of Covid. They have imposed measures to limit the size of gatherings, have closed secondary schools and colleges, and have imposed restrictions on restaurants. Despite their looser restrictions they are still expecting to see the economy contract and have experienced record unemployment:

``` A record 36,800 people were handed their notice in March, more than 10 times the number from the same month last year.

The government has offered loans and guarantees and expects to increase expenditure by around 84 billion Swedish crowns ($8.35 billion) this year.

At the same time, the central bank has poured money into the financial system, offering 500 billion Swedish crowns in loans to companies via banks and boosting its purchases of securities by 300 billion crowns.

Banking group Swedbank said recently it expected the economy to contract 4% this year. ``` https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-sweden...


Most self employed people are eligible to claim up to 80% of the average of their previously declared income up to 2.5K for the last 3 years. There are some notable gaps, but the vast majority are protected.

The U.K. government is also backing loans for businesses to limp on with, interest free for the first 6 months or year (I forget the specifics).



Fortunately many states are suspending unlawful detainer and eviction actions until the crisis is over and people can get back to work. They are similarly restricting foreclosure actions for impacted landlords who would otherwise use the rental income to pay their mortgages. This is also the humane thing to do because this crisis is no fault of the renters.


> many states are suspending unlawful detainer and eviction actions until the crisis is over and people can get back to work

So how does that work? Instead of right now, they'll get evicted and become homeless as soon as things open up, because they've been piling up rent with no income in the meantime? Would you find that comforting?


If everything just starts up with rent due and evictions happening to a significant population you just have a second wave of recession and a collapse of the rental market. I’d assume most people, particularly landlords and local government would want to avoid that.


> I’d assume most people, particularly landlords and local government would want to avoid that.

This seems like a “prisoner’s dilemma” situation. It’s rational for an individual landlord to evict a delinquent tenant and seek a new one. However, if everyone does this the entire market collapses. It’s better for everyone if the landlord takes a short term haircut to preserve the market.

Since cooperation is expected to break down between individuals, the government must step in to prevent collapse.


... or maybe this "landlord" is a parent who just rents out their old small house, and is now unable to make the rent or car payments


Then they do what everyone else does. Sell the asset and cut back on expenses.

Capital owners are not a special class of citizen. If you have assets and need cash, there is a way to convert one to the other. It's called a "market". You may have heard of it.

It seems that during recessions, asset-rich/cash-poor people, nominally Capitalists, turn into overnight socialists because making cuts to the ol' lifestyle is for the little people, not them.


How does that change things? I think small landlords are especially exposed to the dilemma because they have fewer resources at their disposal.


At least they have an asset they can use to survive and make those payments.


Why do you assume that would be the outcome? That is the cruelest, most pessimistic prediction that one could make. Come on, have a little faith in common sense and decency.


> Why do you assume that would be the outcome? That is the cruelest, most pessimistic prediction that one could make. Come on, have a little faith in common sense and decency.

Honestly, because its unlikely that most people will be able to share the burden of theses costs and we need only look at 2008 to see how a financial crisis reduced people to forced evictions (of people who even owned their homes, no less) because of delinquency.

Personally, I want to believe we could do more as individuals, as relying on the Government for solutions isn't going to work.

I'd prefer to enact a local/community based approach for this pandemic but I have serious doubts as to how it will take place or who would actually honor them when its clear so many businesses (even large corporations) are insolvent in the US. not to mention the level of wide-spread ignorance as seen with these quarantine protests taking place.

I'm starting to really wonder, especially as this can easily lead to a global depression if hasn't already, if we will have to have a debt jubilee given the severity of COVID.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/21/debt-jubi...


I'm not saying that will be for everyone, just that it is likely to be for many people, and those people may not be able to know if they're in that category until it's too late either. Obviously some landlords will be understanding and defer/waive payments long enough that people can repay, but my common sense says that, as cruel as it might be, what I described will also happen to a lot of people. I imagine in those cases they'll get served with a pay-your-rent-or-we'll-file-for-eviction notice as soon as that's legally possible. And unless some legal barrier is placed, I expect many landlords will evict as soon as they're able so that they can get their own income and pay their own bills.


I am having trouble understanding the landlord's perspective here. Say my tenant just missed 3 months of rent because they could not work during quarantine. Now, the economy reopens and they get their job back (yes, this is an assumption). Now they are able to pay rent but, because their job is not high-paying, they are unable to pay back the 3 months of debt. I can either waive the debt or evict and find a new tenant. But I lose the debt in either case, so why would I prefer to evict and have to suffer the hassle of finding a new tenant?


That legal barrier already exists - and the proscription is very broad. Why do you think we’ll just rip the bandage off instead of gradually phasing rent and mortgage payments back in?


Has there been a shortage of misgovernment recently that you think they'll take care of everyone, especially the poor?


There has been no suggestion that this debt will be cancelled. If a family can barely make ends meet in normal times, how will they pay back several months' rent arrears? And what will happen when they don't?


Why make these temporary suspensions at all then? Surely the people who need the government to prohibit them from evicting people during a pandemic who are unable to pay rent because of that pandemic, don’t inspire the most faith.


Because we still call them Land Lords


Why make these temporary suspensions at all then?


That's not enough if you're one of the 78% of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck and one of the 40% who can't cover a $400 emergency expense.

Most Americans are broke, it's just not really talked about.


> You and I can. Many of my friends have missed a rent or car payment, and may soon miss another. Most people cannot work from home.

Sure, and I'm very aware of my privilege in that sense. If people have the choice of getting the disease or missing rent payments that is a social failing we should all be ashamed of. I also don't mean to ignore the global perspective. The U.S. is materially wealthy enough that we could take care of people who need help as we get through this. Other nations don't necessarily have the resources.


In Canada everyone out of work gets a $2000 check almost right away and basically no questions asked. And we're definitely less wealthy than the US (even per capita). So very unclear to me why the US can't do the same


Unemployment right now is $1050 a week here in California ($450 state + $600 federal). Should be noted $2000 CAD is ~$1400 USD also.


Did you mean $1050 a month? $1050 a week seems like a lot.


Yes, weekly. The $600 from the fed is new in response to the pandemic.


The modern economy is a human invention. We can patch it with things like stimulus payments and eviction holds instead of blindly following it off a cliff into a worse health crisis. Sure we don't have infinite control over it, but we still have a lot.


How many fractional-people are willing to kill or injure for that payment, which should (but isn't, because this is America) be bailed out by the government responsible for the quarantine?

This is the statistical morality question that we're very bad at dealing with. Here, move this trolley switch lever. There's a 1/100 chance that doing so kills somebody. No, you can't tell whether it will, or even whether it did afterwards. Here's your cheque.


> which should (but isn't, because this is America) be bailed out by the government responsible for the quarantine

This makes me wonder if there might be some kind of eminent domain case to be made: If the government orders a business closed due to no fault of the owner/management, is that sufficiently similar to seizing the property that they owe some kind of remuneration for the action?


What happens in the event of other disasters, like hurricanes where the government can step in to close things? When there is an evacuation, is the government suddenly on the hook to remunerate? Running a business comes with risks, and one of those risks is having to shut down for some amount of time, for any reason. Should businesses that are not robust to this be bailed out?


Something I've been wondering for a while is how long Facebook et al would let conspiracy stuff run wild once it came close to damaging their own interests. It's one thing to look at a forest fire from a distance and say "it's people's right to play with matches", quite another thing when it reaches your own office. Neither Facebook staff nor management are immune to the consequences of a pandemic.

There is a legitimate place for cost-benefit analysis. There isn't for "5G causes coronavirus" or "it's a myth being put about by the new world order". Those kind of memes are also a kind of virality that needs to be quarantined.

(Let's not pretend there's a censorship rubicon; Facebook will remove anything vaguely "adult" or related to copyright infringement very aggressively.)


The problem is relying on FB as the arbiter of truth. Ideas that sounded insane a few weeks back, and might have been censored for the sake of the confused masses, like the possibility the virus escaped from a bio-lab or that masks really help, are now respectable. FB, Google, Twitter, etc, will, by default, protect the status quo, the safe, consensual views, and censor anything else. This is very dangerous.


This isn't a first amendment problem. This is what an antitrust problem looks like in the information age.

Privately-run communication channels have always been arbiters of truth. Fanzines and newsletters chose what to publish. The town supermarket chose what flyers it would allow on its bulletin board. The local book store chose what books and magazines it would sell. Social clubs imposed standards on their membership. And this has always been (at least arguably) both their right and their duty.

The problem is not that Facebook does this. Unless and until they seek some form of common carrier status, they continue to retain the same curatorial rights as pretty much any other private organization that isn't a telecom. The problem is that the town bookstore is gone, the town grocery store no longer has a bulletin board, the Masonic temple and the Elks club have been converted to condos, and we have generally allowed the available media for disseminating information to consolidate into a worldwide oligarchy, with Facebook as its most powerful member. The problem is that my mom gets almost all her information about the outside world, including what's happening in her local community, from Facebook, and I honestly don't know where else she can go.

And that's a problem even if Facebook doesn't try to actively arbitrate truth, because you'd still have all the other problems: The tying of access to information to an abusive monetization policy. The tying of most opportunities for community engagement to an abusive monetization policy. The single, easy target for astroturfing and political manipulation. The way that lies and misinformation generally have to be left to spread like wildfire because you can't do anything about it without people complaining about free speech.


Yes, you have it exactly. Facebook is used as if it was a the utility for information dissemination but it is run as a publisher with editorial license to suppress and boost whatever it wants. This is a new and unholy combination that should be explicitly considered in the law.


Best comment in this whole thread. While people war over the morality of Facebook Inc. banning speech is disfavors from it's own platform, most people aren't addressing the fact that Facebook shouldn't hold such a market position in the first place.


If you're treating FB as the arbiter of truth, that's a you problem.

The internet allows a wealth of information, and you should not trust FB as the arbiter of information anymore than you should absolutely-without-question trust Washington Post, Buzzfeed News or the freaking Daily Stormer.

FB 'censoring' some ridiculously unscientific and dangerous information, like COVID19 disinformation, doesn't completely hide that. You can still find it out there, but you have to look for it.

I would agree it opens up a door. You censor one thing, you think it might be worth censoring another thing and so on. But 'slippery slope' is a logical fallacy for a reason, and this disinformation is an inherently difficult problem, we can't just look to easy answers like "don't allow censorship."


Like the physical epidemic, there will be false positives and false negatives. The idea that masks would help was never ludicrous, but it was disreccomended for bad reasons. The "virus escaped from a bio-lab" theory is still rather lacking in evidence, which may be very hard to find, but that doesn't actually affect how to treat it. The "virus is spread by 5G" is both wrong and getting masts burnt down. The "virus is a hoax" is extremely likely to get a lot of people killed.

(Does anyone have a definitive "masks will not help" statement from the WHO? Rather than a "masks should not be worn" one)


The point is that FB has a disproportionate influence over speech and it should not be trusted with that sort of power (no one should really, but least of all an unelected, unaccountable, for-profit organization).


Always remember that "the NSA is spying on everybody" was "conspiracy stuff" too. Right until it wasn't.

And regarding Corona: Sweden never introduced a quarantine, and they seem to be in good shape compared to others. Not saying I agree with that policy, because I don't. But the topic isn't as "black and white" as it appears.

Here in Germany, as of today, many of the already few restrictions where lifted as well.


Just pointing out to you and people replying that you guys have already degenerated into just the sort of data-point-cherry-picking-with-no-comprehensive-knowledge-base debate that HN User markbnj was talking about.

We don't have the data was markbnj's point. (I'd go even further and say most of the people on HN don't even know what data would be good to have, and wouldn't have the capacity to comprehend the full meaning of those datasets even if we did have them.) He's also correct when he posits the very strong likelihood that the people who do have the data and the capacity for actionable understanding thereof, don't spend their days on trivialities like posting to HN right now.

He's right, they are busy. They're doing the real work of extricating us from this situation and they need a bit of space. Adding more pressure on them right now is not necessarily going to help. In tech terms, it's like working on a giant software release with features that have never before been implemented, (coronavirus), and telling your boss, (the people), you're not sure you can hit the release date 4 weeks from now.

Then your boss decides to help you by only requiring you implement the most difficult features, and moving the release date up to friday.


Could you tell me what "data cherry picking" I did?


> Here in Germany, as of today, many of the already few restrictions where lifted as well.

This is a misleading way to phrase (or perceive) it. Yes, most shops are open again under strict limitations. No restaurants, bars, churches, stadia, theaters, big shopping malls etc., even in the most permissive state (NRW). No gatherings even in private. At the same time, more and more German states are requiring citizens to wear masks for shopping and transportation. Travel within the country is subject to limitations. A few schools will now open to conduct final exams, but most schools and especially kindergartens will remain shut for months. With the R0 still close to 1 anything else would be madness.


So what was "misleading" about it? Compared to Spain or Italy, the limitations were fewer. And of those, many have now been lifted.

Not sure why you felt the need to call it "misleading".


Sweden has considerably more total deaths and deaths per capita than their neighbours Norway and Denmark.

Sweden is currently seeing an increase in both confirmed cases and deaths.

The only reason things aren't worse in Sweden is that they've implemented a mild form of lockdown. There's a lot of debate in Sweden about their approach, and plenty of people think they need to be on tighter lockdowns.


The tally is not properly done yet.

There is still great difference in how deaths are counted between countries. For instance, Italy mostly counted dead at hospitals. In Sweden, if someone dies, it's up to the doctor in charge to call for a post mortem test or not. There has been quite a lot testing in homes for the elderly.

What all of this means, is that it's very difficult to compare between countries. I think it will be much clearer in retrospect, but maybe not even then.

And this mild lockdown is the point - no tracking of citizens with apps, no quarantine orders, no Police and Military (Finland!!) or closed roads. People are changing their behaviour without all of that. The politicians in charge are worried that a hard lockdown will create fatigue - and they want us to be able to keep up mitigations for a long time, because the virus may be with us for a long time.


Sweden is still too early to call but my money is on the pandemic.


Here's the stats today for some countries including Sweden

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/new-covid-deaths-per-mill...

They seem to be doing better than average.


Funny, I just heard today that Oktoberfest was going to be cancelled. That's hardly a back to normal situation.

Germany is one of the few countries that has managed to do test+trace well enough to contain outbreaks. It's definitely a model to be copied .. but you have to get the testing in place first!


And yet shops up to 800sqm are open again and the shopping street in in front of me apartment (in a larger German city) is crowded.

And no, we didn't contain the outbreak. But we have 20,000 ICU beds. Unlike France, Italy or Spain, who only have about 5000 each.

While in those countries, people could not be treated for lack of capacity, here in Germany we still have about 50% free ICU beds (as of two days ago, according to the health ministry).

That's why we have low mortality, while still having a pretty large number of infected people.


There are increasing reports that ventilators are doing more harm than good, that in fact the way this virus starves the body of oxygen isn't pneumonia, but rather in the blood. It's like a reverse survivorship bias - most patients vented die.


Yeah, I asked my wife about that the other day because I read some of the same reports. They are trying many different things but for various reasons the most serious patients still end up on ventilators.


Sounds crazy - even if it was something in the blood, if you are oxygen starved, how can it be worse to flush your lungs with pure oxygen than not?


>> Sounds crazy - even if it was something in the blood, if you are oxygen starved, how can it be worse to flush your lungs with pure oxygen than not?

Absolutely not an expert and being married to a critical care nurse doesn't make me one. From what she has told me and what I have read ventilators are not about oxygen, they are about the mechanical work to move the diaphragm in and out, something the body gets too tired to do at some point after a long battle with respiratory illness. In fact the arguments against ventilators that I have read is specifically that they put pressure on the lungs without actually increasing the absorption of oxygen. But this is one of those things the actual experts are trying to figure out right now.


I have no expertise in this subject area. My layperson understanding is that ventilation is a fairly invasive procedure. There are risks involved, such as infection from improperly sterilized equipment. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can elaborate further.


Or it could just be regular survivor bias, in that anyone who is sick enough to need a ventilator is probably doomed, regardless.


We need comparitive studies


I had to google the ratio of patients to nurses in various countries, because 2:1 seemed very low. In Germany it is 13:1 under normal circumstances and according to a German newspaper it is 5.3 : 1 on average in the US. So something very unusual is going on at your wives hospital or the number of ICU nurses per patient is just higher than in normal stations.


It could be that it's a small regional hospital, or it could be something else, I don't know. It could be that the statistics are measuring something different. She's been on the cardiac critical care unit (converted to negative pressure covid-19 ICU beds for the duration) for 12 years so I suspect she's at least as aware of the normal ratio as google.


It depends of which unit. In an intensive care unit the norm is 1:1 or 2:1. Lies and statistics ...


This is the wrong comment for this post - you cite 'misinformation' as problem, and then go on to mislead/misinform with a misrepresentative anecdote.

1) Your anecdote is not consistent with the national concern - it's local to your area.

My father is currently in a hospital for an unrelated reason and it's almost empty -> they are 'prepared for war' and there isn't a single COVID patient in the entire area, let alone hospital. They are all empty.

The vast majority of hospitals in the US are not warzones they are quiet.

"The general opinion is that the system can't handle much additional strain, and I don't think any of us are in a position to argue the point with them. "

Yes - we are! Your local hospital is not 'the system'. We have to take this into consideration.

2) It's disingenuous to somehow imply that 'because some hospitals are busy' that this means 'all doctors think we must be locked-down, everywhere' and more importantly, that people should not be able to protest the lockdown, or that major media outlets should be suppressing this.

3) In the fact of a lot of different variables, people absolutely have the right to come to their own conclusions, and protest, and certainly to drum up support for said protests.

Edit: to be clear, I agree with the lock-downs, but we really should not be suppressing people's will to express themselves. I see a lot of doctors talking about policies without a real instinct as to how existentially destructive they are. Folks we are printing money as never before seen in history, there was a 'fire in the engines' and so we shut them off, but we are now headed straight down to the earth, very quickly. We have to be conscious of that and look very hard at other things (Korea, Sweden etc.) and be real smart about it.


>> My father is currently in a hospital for an unrelated reason and it's almost empty -> they are 'prepared for war' and there isn't a single COVID patient in the entire area, let alone hospital. They are all empty.

Which is just as anecdotal. The virus doesn't spread everywhere at once, and there are a lot of places in the country/world that aren't NYC/North Jersey yet. If they have similar population density and do a similar job of social isolation then what magic do you suggest will make the outcomes different there?


Of course it's an anecdote, that's my point - an anecdote doesn't give the national picture.

" social isolation then what magic do you suggest will make the outcomes different there?"

If you'd bother to consider outside the narrow confines of the USA you might want to consider what 'magic' the Singaporean, Hong Kong and S. Korean systems are using because they are considerably more dense and doing really well. Sweden is also dong 'kind of ok' without any lock-down.

The real issue however is the suppression of people's right to communicate and gather, even if online.

We have a situation in which the nation is forcibly locked into their homes, and large conglomerates are suppressing further their ability to communicate. This is existentially disturbing.

The most important right we have is to effectively gather and confer with one another, because the first thing authoritarian regimes want to do is stop people form 'meeting to figure out how to get rid of the regime'.

I wish the protestors would practice better social distancing, and I do think we should remain locked-down, but I absolutely support their right to voice their concerns.

In fact the government should be doing much more to mollify concerns over freedom of movement and expression etc, legislating limits to such rules, requiring oversight etc..


Yet?

Recall that the outbreak started in central Europe weeks before the USA locked down. Even in the harder hit countries, there are quiet hospitals almost everywhere. Look at Switzerland - it shares a huge land border with northern Italy and has large numbers of people who move across the borders, it volunteered to take Italian patients in. Swiss hospitals are receiving financial bailouts because they're so quiet, it's on the downcurve for a long time now yet it has never implemented house arrest (just closing shops and other gathering places). Even the Italians didn't need to send Ticino patients in the end.

There's a lot of experience with this right now. There are a few cities or local hotspots where for unclear reasons the disease hits harder than the vast majority of places. But even in those harder hit places field hospitals are hardly used.

It is incredibly bad news that Facebook is attempting to interfere with the social processes of figuring out when lockdown should end right now - and yes, that includes protests. There's no evidence lawmakers have any better insight into what's going on than anyone else, and quite a bit of evidence they may have worse insight. Silicon Valley needs to butt out or see its reputation sink the journalism-like lows.


> There's no evidence lawmakers have any better insight into what's going on than anyone else, and quite a bit of evidence they may have worse insight

I got some news for you: these protests seem to be indirectly financed by powerful politicians.

https://www.salon.com/2020/04/16/conservative-grouplinked-to...


Your link doesn't say that or even lay the groundwork for that. It says the protest was organised by "a conservative group linked to Betsy DaVos [a conservative politician". There's no mention of funding anywhere.

Really, think about what you're implying here - that Americans somehow care so little about being placed under house arrest that they'd need to be paid to turn up to a protest about it? That's not the America I know.

As for "conservative group with links to conservative politicians", given the vague nature of the term "links" that's going to encompass a vast number of politically active people in the country. There's nothing surprising or sinister about people who distrust centralised state power organising protests against totalitarian actions. It's exactly what you'd expect to see.


> There's no evidence lawmakers have any better insight into what's going on than anyone else, and quite a bit of evidence they may have worse insight.

Yes, I'm sure dark money funded protestors who blocked ambulances from going to hospitals have better insight than anyone else. What a load of nonsense.

Facebook is a private platform. It can moderate how it pleases.


"Facebook is a private platform. It can moderate how it pleases."

Absolutely not; it is highly regulated (probably should be more so), subject to constitutional concerns, ongoing legislation and pressures.


Maybe so. But protecting the 1st Amendment rights of its users is not one of those "constitutional concerns".


Let the courts decide.


IANAL, but if I understand correctly, this is quite clear legally.


"Someone mentioned quarantining the "vulnerable" people and letting everyone else get back to work"

I am one of those, who think that way, as a preferred solution. Now there are of course many problems with this approach, because who is "vulnerable"? Who decides on that. Because it also means, that those categorized as not vulnerable, would be expected to go to work etc. and those who do get quarantined should get compensated, otherwise they must go out, out of basic needs (money).

Now for some, this would mean, you can get paid vacation, if you just say, you have been a heavy smoker. Abuse of the system. So medical tests for classification of "vulnerable"? And then who compensates the relatives of the people who were classificated "non-risk" and forced to work, but did get sick and died of it?

So it is not easy. But I still think, that direction would be easier, because "We can absolutely make it through a few months if we have to, while they do their work" is only valid, for people with lots of savings. People who live from paycheck to paycheck cannot. They would need help (from government most likely) or die. And who helps all those, who spend years building up a business and have it all wasted, to protect other people? Is that fair? And there are government programs in place all around the world, but I have serious doubts, that they really compensate in a meaningful way. So the result will be most likely, the big survive and prosper (see Amazon) and the small vanishes. So killing the weak in the name of protecting the weak?

Now yes, it is usually a different thing to die economically and to die literally, but for some the result might be the same. Their live work shattered.

So this is the other side.

There is no easy solution I see, but for context: look at all the poor countries, they really have no other way, than "let it wash over them". You can't really lock people in their home for long(even though they try), if their home is a crowded metal shed in the slums with no AC, power or even running water. They will be cocked, before they starve to death. So what can they do? Live on. But it does not seem to me, that Covid-19 really takes a higher death toll, than all the other diseases are already taking. Some die, but the rest lives on.

This is harsh, but the way it is for them and somewhat working. And in any case, that also means, that the virus cannot really be wiped out globally. So is the solution really to lock the rich world in and the poor world out, until someday maybe a reliable cure or vaccine gets deployed? Well, that seems to be the current plan and it might work, but not if the total lockdown goes on forever. Because then, some parts of the "rich" world will also turn into "poor", with no other choice than working again and take the losses.


What you're suggesting probably will happen, just not right now. As people go back to work, most high-risk people will continue to stay home (hopefully with government support). But as OP points out, we don't even have a full understanding of who's high risk. Every day we lockdown we're buying time to figure it out. We're also buying time to develop medications, manufacture equipment, study immunity, ramp up testing, and so on. It can't go on forever, but these are valuable days.

Several European nations have already started to ease lockdowns. High risk people still stay home, but a lot of people get to go back to work. If the US gets it's shit together, that can happen here too.


> We can absolutely make it through a few months if we have to

What I hear from those I talk with: at what cost? Businesses are permanently closing. People are losing jobs. One report suggested 30% unemployment as an optimistic stat and that is worse than the Great Depression. Another report was that 50% of people under 45 have lost hours, been furloughed, or been laid off. 80% of Americans don’t have $500 in case of an emergency.

A lot of people are more scared of losing their home than of dying even if mortality rates are over 10%. They hear news that mostly immunodeficient and the elderly are at risk and many feel that those populations should keep under quarantine while the rest get back to business as usual.


Your right, we should ignore statistical evidence and go with your wife's anecdotal evidence. Your also right about letting the experts run our lives. After all they know far more about how the world works than we could ever know and we should just buckle down and do the menial tasks we're good at and let the experts take care of us.


>> Your right, we should ignore statistical evidence and go with your wife's anecdotal evidence.

I didn't offer anecdotal "evidence" of anything. I told a story from a professional who is on the front lines of this fight to illustrate that the numbers of people who die don't make it clear where the pressures on the medical system come from. They come from people needing care, whether or not they die. In fact whether they eventually die probably has little impact on the overall system load. If your statistical evidence, which is really just the odd bits of studies and reports you probably don't fully understand, disagrees with practitioner experience then it's probably wrong.


From wikipedia- anecdotal evidence is evidence collected in a casual or informal manner and relying heavily or entirely on personal testimony. The third paragraph presents as if you are trying to dispute the statistical evidence that has been accumulated with anecdotal or personal testimony.


I appreciate your clarification, but no that is not what I was trying to do. My intent, as already mentioned, was to highlight that the mortality rate among various categories of people doesn't tell the whole story.


What non-menial task has this situation stolen from you that is also more important than solving the current medical crisis?


Two months ago we were being told the most important problem that needed immediate resolution was planetary climate change. We needed to rely on experts for that one too. It also didn't matter what costs the industrial world would have to pay. It needed resolution. Actually if climate change is the problem the experts claim it is, I would put that one above the current medical crisis. It effects all life on the planet, not just a certain subset of mammals. In six months the crisis du jour will be the economy. Of course the experts will be sure to tell us how we must change our lives to survive that. After that we'll have an environmental crisis because 3 to 4 billion starving humans will wreck havoc on the Eco-systems they live in.


> Her first patient was 51. I bet that's younger than most of you are thinking when you think "vulnerable." It looks like he's going to make it and drop into that large "didn't die" bucket I see referred to here over and over, but to get there he spent _five weeks_ in an ICU bed on a ventilator. My wife has treated lots of elderly people. She's also treated people in their 30's and 40's. People in those age groups have died. Children have died, too.

Anecdotal cases don't tell anything. Those people and kids could have other undiagnosed diseases or preconditions, they could lie about age, they could even have been miscategorized. All statistics shows that people at risks are 60+ , and people with another comorbidity. Just one example of study :

https://www.jwatch.org/na51296/2020/04/03/how-comorbidities-...

There are other studies if you look for "comorbidity covid19"


I think the point there is that the person clogged up an ICU bed for five weeks and will likely recover. Focussing on who will most likely die does not answer the who will overwhelm hospitals question. Increasing pressure in that sense will increase death rate even further amongst vulnerable (to dying from lack of ICU beds) populations.


Now I don't know if what is going on really makes sense or not, and I'm pretty happy to wait 6 months before I decide myself who should and shouldn't have done what - apart from the obvious stuff like the US CDC banning private companies from selling test kits has to be the stupidest crisis response I've seen in my lifetime. The reaction is going to look stupid in hindsight whatever happens, people were forced to make urgent decisions with lousy data.

All that said 'the hospitals are being overwhelmed' isn't a good reason to shut down most of the economy. If people are going to park up in their houses for months anyway there isn't much difference whether they are sick or not. I know a bunch of work-hungry lunatics who would much rather catch the disease, risk whatever may happen and get back to work and the data I've seen says it is debatable on whether that is the wrong approach for someone in their 30s or 40s. And on the flip side I don't think there has ever been an experiment like shutting everything down to see what happens. We have no idea if we are playing with fire or or a fluffy pillow for some of these decisions around shutting down industries. There is a correlation with bad economies and war breaking out. Does that happen when the economic wounds are self inflected in a crisis? We really don't know. Probably not. But things are happening very quickly and a lot of serious turbulence is hitting the system.

It is a fair observation and somewhat compelling but there needs to be a better reason than 'ICU nurses are overwhelmed with work' to strip people of their right to make their own mistakes. It is good evidence but it is not the end of the conversation.


> the US CDC banning private companies from selling test kits has to be the stupidest crisis response I've seen in my lifetime.

What happens when the kits are faulty or non-experts interpret the data? Lots of folks will think they're safe and go home to visit at-risk elders.

> All that said 'the hospitals are being overwhelmed' isn't a good reason to shut down most of the economy.

The hospitals are overwhelmed, so there will be no help for you when you need it. Any care that would have addressed accidents, infections, major medical emergencies will be under duress. People will die from preventable reasons.

> There is a correlation with bad economies and war breaking out.

This is outrageous to suggest.

> there needs to be a better reason than 'ICU nurses are overwhelmed with work' to strip people of their right to make their own mistakes.

Unfortunately when you get covid-19, you can spread it along and become part of an infection chain that leads to the deaths of others.

Do people have the right to drive under the influence?


> What happens when the kits are faulty or non-experts interpret the data? Lots of folks will think they're safe and go home to visit at-risk elders.

That is basically what the CDC did. Having one organisation in a position where a totally ordinary and probably routine failure will kill tens of thousands of people, or worse, is stupid. It isn't like government officials are the only people in the world who care about stopping a blossoming pandemic; the law shouldn't pretend otherwise.

Better to ban tests if there is something wrong with them than preemptivly screw up the response.


> The hospitals are overwhelmed

In our area, nurses have been furloughed because there is not enough going on at the hospitals and clinics to bill and thus pay for the staff.


Incidentally, they're not always even always overwhelmed. In the UK, where we were told initially that it was not even a question of if the NHS would be overwhelmed but how overwhelmed the NHS would be, hospitals are now operating with record high levels of capacity. There are as many free beds in the NHS today as there are people in beds. The 3,000 extra bed field hospital they built (one of six) has so far seen 19 patients.


Right because the whole country is basically shutdown and you “plan for the worst, hope for the best”.

Also looking at the NHS as a whole doesn’t tell the correct story as the virus right now is concentrated in a few hotspots.


It’s not nurses have too much work and are sad because they are overworked it’s that having no capacity means more people die because they can’t get the care they need whether they are Covid patients or a family who got in a car wreck.


> Anecdotal cases don't tell anything

It just did. Something rather important.


I guess it is easy to dismiss the message from ordinary people, since they do not express themselves as well as the professional speakers we are used to listen to. If instead of saying "I want a haircut.", they would say like Benjamin Franklin: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." would they be taken more seriously?

In the movie version of "I Robot", since the three laws of robotics prioritize saving life over following humans' wishes, the AI ends up locking down every humans in their own homes for their own safety. Could facebook sensor this movie since it pictures the lockdown as an evil action?

For instance, in France, more than half of private sector employees have already been furloughed. This is unprecedented. So, who could predict what would be the consequences, including in terms of life? The food production in Southern Europe is down. Can we know for sure that their will be no starvation?

Several countries have not decided to do a stay-at-home-lockdown including Sweden, most of Germany, Japan, South Korea, 95% of China. Praising the strategy of these countries should be authorized. Several eastern and northern Europeans countries are opening up as well, even though the disease is still there.

People should be able to take a calculated risk. When people drive to their job, they consider the risk of having an accident, and the benefits of being able to reach their work place, then they take a decision.

The most accurate data about the fatality rate of covid-19 may come from the Diamond Princess cruise boat where everyone has been tested. The 60-to-80 year old infected passengers had a fatality rate of ~2%. There was no fatality among the infected much younger crew.

Now, the government should inform people with data, and let them take a decision. For now, it seems that the overwhelming majority of people in France, Italy, and Spain want the lockdown, so they should be able to get it. But people who want the opposite should be able to express their voice as well. Otherwise, the democracy cannot work.

(Sorry for the bad English, it is not my native language.)


>Benjamin Franklin: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." would they be taken more seriously?

Just to point out that quote is a textbook example of historical revisionism. Benjamin Franklin wrote this to the Penn family who governed the state of the same name on behalf of the general assembly.

The Penn family wanted to make a one time payment to be excluded from any future tax obligations, and Franklin's quote here is very literal, that is to say, making a one time payment to absolve oneself from duty to the state (in this case taxes were to be used to finance the Indian and French war efforts), is immoral.

So in contrast to what you're trying to imply, Franklin made the case that long term social obligations and the ability of the assembly to govern were more important than dodging one's obligation.

Ironically enough I think this may even be transferable to the covid-19 situation. A little temporary economic boost is probably not as important as following rules to safeguard public health.


I think I have heard at least four different versions of the alleged history of the Franklin quote over the years (one of which being that it is apocryphal and he never actually said it), all from people willing to tie themselves into a knot to avoid the words having their ordinary plain meaning.

It's a rhetorical device, not a history book. A lot of other people have said the same thing over the years, but if you attribute it to them instead, the words are still the same and so is the meaning intended to be conveyed by the people using the quote now.

On top of that, the quote still can't be used for what you're using it for, because giving up the power to tax (note also that at the time the taxes had to be apportioned) is not at all the same thing as usurping the power to infringe rights held by the people.


>It's a rhetorical device, not a history book. A lot of other people have said the same thing over the years, but if you attribute it to them instead, the words are still the same and so is the meaning intended to be conveyed by the people using the quote now.

By putting the quote into the context of the founding fathers the precise meaning is to imbue it with the idea that a sort of anti-governmental stance is Ur-American, no explanation or examination necessary, slogans will suffice.

It's not a minor thing to use historical figures and turn their words on their heads, and it's done very deliberately. To pick up OPs point, if an ordinary person were to argue that shops should reopen during a pandemic because they need a haircut they would be dismissed, and they ought to be because that's a terrible argument.


> By putting the quote into the context of the founding fathers the precise meaning is to imbue it with the idea that a sort of anti-governmental stance is Ur-American

A sort of anti-governmental stance is Ur-American. They didn't fight a revolution because they were satisfied to live under the rule of a far away unaccountable government. The implication being ascribed isn't out of character.

Franklin also said things like this:

> Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.

Which isn't as pithy but was treasonously anti-government in that era.

More to the point, he said the one about liberty and temporary safety more than once, so focusing on one instance as if that context is the only one is just as misleading. Here's a different one:

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-21-02-02...

Where we see this:

> As to the other two Acts, The Massachusetts must suffer all the Hazards and Mischiefs of War, rather than admit the Alteration of their Charters and Laws by Parliament. They who can give up essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

So here's Franklin arguing that they must go to war sooner than give up their liberty to Parliament in peace, i.e. context in accordance with the usage for which it's typically quoted.


Close, but missed it by a hair.

Franklin was telling the government that if they "give up essential Liberty to levee taxes for temporary safety (immediate funding)", they deserve none.

Anyway, Franklin wasn't God. He was a brilliant person and a clever rhetorician who new how to manipulate with words.


> If instead of saying "I want a haircut.", they would say like Benjamin Franklin: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." would they be taken more seriously?

Most people sound more like the latter than the former. If people were saying "We have a need for haircuts etc, this is serious", they'd get a lot more consideration than some appeal to "but our freedoms". Most people sensibly realize that a lock-down in the face of a pandemic is not a regression in our fundamental rights as US citizens, but just a temporary measure to save lives.

If instead you argue that you're legitimately going to see more harm done due to closures, and you back that up sensibly, people will care a lot more. You'll probably be wrong, but people might listen and take that seriously. In fact, they very obviously already are listening to this feedback, and it's a huge part of the communications from govt officials right now - how we are balancing saving lives via lockin vs dealing with the fallout of that exact policy. They're hardly ignoring the issue!

> Could facebook sensor this movie since it pictures the lockdown as a evil action?

Sure they could take it down, it's their platform. Would they? No, probably not, that would be really silly?

> Now, the government should inform people with data, and let them take a decision.

The role of our government is not to provide data but then otherwise let people do whatever.

You say "People should be able to take a calculated risk." - how would they calculate it? Most are not capable of making an informed decision like that, and likening this situation to driving is just ridiculous (and ironic, given that car safety was heavily regulated due to huge numbers of people dying while car manufacturers were left unaccountable. The government stepped in with license requirements, manufacturing requirements, etc.).


> Most people sensibly realize that a lock-down in the face of a pandemic is not a regression in our fundamental rights as US citizens, but just a temporary measure to save lives.

The problem is that it may not be temporary due to legal creep. See: U.S. Patriot Act.


Very little about this feels like the Patriot Act. I also don't really see why the government would want to tank its economy. I mean, I can think of some really out there reasons, but I don't really feel it's worth entertaining given the far more reasonable reason for lock-in during a pandemic.

edit: When I say 'this' I mean enforced lock in, specifically.


We have governor's calling for detention of people who have comitted no crime. We have officials suspending HIPAA. The president is claiming he has total authority and isn't limited by the constitution.

That feels very much like an erosion of civil liberties to me.


What feelings did you feel in October 2001?


Not much, I was a child.

I think it would be sort of a waste of time to compare 9/11 to Covid with regards to government overreach. Off the bat, the threat is of a completely different nature, we understand the threat in a completely different way, the threat is taking place within our borders and, of course, globally.

The measures are not broad, relatively. They are explicitly intended to be short term. They are being discussed out in the open.

I don't know, I could probably spend the whole night listing differences but it's so obvious I really don't think I will. Unless you're simple enough to boil both responses to "well it's a thing that a government did", idk, the similarities end super quickly.


You'll have to excuse my skepticism. My government has a pretty poor history when it comes to the interests of its people, having sent yet another generation of its children to war on the other side of the planet based on false statements...I'm jaded, I'm biased and I'm most likely ignorant-as-fuck.

Please, forgive my doubt. It's seeded in deep levels of trauma. I even bought into the whole "jet fuel can't melt steel beams" meme, thinking I was clever.

> measures are not broad

I would call trillions of dollars of stimulus injections and virtual lockdowns quite broad. However my point is more that while a panicked, fearful public is distracted with the News of the Day, governmental agencies, lobbyists and others will play. "You never want to let a serious crisis go to waste."

To be fair there are many on the 'net who are die-hard and staunchly rooted in the anti-governmental camp. I'm rational and seeking discourse to expand my knowledge and evolve a complex, multi-faceted worldview; many others are not.


I’ll jump in. I was considering joining the Army, ready to fight our enemies, and 100% for helping recover in any way we could. But I was also annoyed by security “Theater” and the “See, what did we tell you!” attitude towards racial profiling as though it would have helped prevent anything.


Nobody wants to “tank the economy”, but lots of panicky people are on HN and reddit, every day, calling for extensions of these lockdowns “because people are dying!”, even though the original pretense was quite different (“flattening the curve” doesn’t change the area under the curve). The premise of the thing is shifting, and censorship of contrary opinions is growing (as you can see from reflexive downvoting of comments here).

The people who are doing this are mostly well-off enough not to feel the direct consequences of their actions (yet), which is why they do it.

It’s the same moral hazard that leads politicians into war: gauzy moral sentiments can be very compelling when you’re paying with someone else’s lives.


Lots of panicky people are on HN and reddit, every day, calling for extensions of these lockdowns “because people are dying!”, even though the original pretense was quite different (“flattening the curve” doesn’t change the area under the curve).

How was it different? One of the main points of flattening the curve was to minimise the risk of overwhelming (particularly) health services by ensuring that pressure was spread out over time. Overwhelmed health services = people dying, and not just because of the virus.

Now you may think that argument is wrong, but if so it would be better to understand the reasoning (or if you understand it then at least respond to it, rather than misrepresenting it) before dismissing people who argue it as "panicky".


”One of the main points of flattening the curve was to minimise the risk of overwhelming (particularly) health services by ensuring that pressure was spread out over time. Overwhelmed health services = people dying”

You are illustrating the problem perfectly: the goal of this is not (and was never) to prevent ”people dying”. It was only to prevent “collapse of the healthcare system”. To the extent that we have accomplished this goal, it is a moral imperative to move on to less drastic interventions, even if continuing might save additional lives.

Any scenario where you think that shutting down for longer “saves more lives” creates a moral hazard, and shifts the goalposts from the original intent of this drastic approach.


To the extent that we have accomplished this goal

Country dependent obviously, but it is very preliminary to think we have anywhere near accomplished it.

it is a moral imperative to move on to less drastic interventions, even if continuing might save additional lives.

I'd agree that the next steps will be phased but am not as optimistic as you on time-frame; also I'm still not clear how you adopt such an assured understanding of the situation to consider the loss of additional lives to be worth relaxing the constraints and to be dismissing the opinions of others, the point of my original response?


> Most people sensibly realize that a lock-down in the face of a pandemic is not a regression in our fundamental rights as US citizens, but just a temporary measure to save lives.

But that's not what we're talking about here. Facebook isn't going to an event and shutting it down, they're preventing people from discussing having an event.

There is also a bit of a different trouble with the government shutting down the event itself:

> Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Going to a public event right now is dumb. But some of the things people have a right to do are dumb and they still have a right to do them.

And this is unusually problematic when the purpose of the event is to discuss the lockdown. It's like saying you can't have a public debate on something because the thing you're debating has already been decided against you before you get a chance to make your case. How are you supposed to organize the movement against that decision then?

Maybe they have a point and the only reason we don't agree is that they haven't been able to organize into a group that can effectively convey their message.

> The role of our government is not to provide data but then otherwise let people do whatever.

They should try it sometime. Most of the evils they aim to prevent come from people not having the right information to make a good decision. Just having a strong record of making good recommendations that people can trust would cause nearly everyone to follow them, since people would learn that following them is easier and leads to better outcomes than not. Whereas if they have a record of making bad decisions then how is it better for those bad decisions to have the force of law?

> The government stepped in with license requirements, manufacturing requirements, etc.

There is some evidence that this has caused the rate of improvement of vehicle safety to slow because they basically hard-coded a lot of 1970s-era technology which is now required even if incompatible with something better, and license plates have turned out to be a mass location privacy violation as a result of ALPR.

Now compare this to the alternative where they don't mandate anything but still publish vehicle safety ratings so that customers know which vehicles do the best in crashes and making a safe car is thereby something manufacturers have to compete on to win customers.


fb is a private company and can do whatever they want. their job is to make money. so many people are swayed by lies and propaganda.


Facebook is unambiguously being threatened by Congress with unfavorable legislation over not doing things like this.


> Most people sensibly realize that a lock-down in the face of a pandemic is not a regression in our fundamental rights as US citizens, but just a temporary measure to save lives.

This way many of the rights in the Constitution and Amendments were slowly eroded (reduced), permanently. Technically, it is a slippery slope even if it is driven by good intentions. One day there will be nothing left, because this is how lives were saved, think of the children, etc. The only thing that I can think of in this context is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came_...


> think of the children,

How is this any different than "think of our freedoms!" which has been used endlessly to oppress other nations and peoples, and, ironically, our own.


Can you please provide a such example? I really have no idea what you are talking about.


Operation Enduring Freedom, the Iraq War, the Patriot act, etc, were all based on the premise of defending our freedom, when the reality is Iraq nor Al-Qaeda posed any existential threat to it.

The reason freedoms are often infringed upon in times of crisis are because it is often pragmatic to do so. Also, most of these protestors have little to any idea how the US government works, let alone how its founding father's intended it to. Many would probably be upset at what they read.


No, they are not. Maybe someone said that, but it is quite obvious you don't go to fight in Afghanistan to protect your free speech or the right to bear arms, is it?


That someone is the entire US military. Operation Enduring Freedom.

As for the patriot act, from justice department:

> the Patriot Act has played a key part - and often the leading role - in a number of successful operations to protect innocent Americans from the deadly plans of terrorists dedicated to destroying America and our way of life.


I just learned that Facebook censors gifs from Team America World Police, so I’m not sure that it should be relied on for a conversation about anything critical.


America is strange. The idea of censorship seems to rile up more than the practicalities of it. Facebook is hugely censored, and has been for years. There's a distinct lack of gore, of child porn, or even just porn in general. There aren't torrent links to download the latest TV show or video game. And, dare I say it, it's better for it.


That is not censorship but removal of illegal content (with the exception of non-child porn)


Really, you mean I can't post an "America, Fuck Yeah" gif, but it's not because of the language? FB usually has a rationale for something, do you know the reasoning here?


It was an “I’m ronery” gif. It claimed it was spam but ... really?


Who do we trust, when everyone is pointing fingers at each other?


Ah, I skimmed your comment history. I'm opting out of this conversation. I think we disagree too much to find common ground here.


Unfortunate for me. :( I'm sincerely uncertain. I'm probably closer to the middle of the Bell-curve of smarts than the majority of this board, which is why it's the only community I try to engage with.

I don't know how to filter the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, when it comes to the online fire-hose of (what seems to be) an increasingly loud amount of ignorance, vitriol, panic-porn, condescension and misinformation.

I sincerely ask "who do we trust, and why," because I'm simply exhausted. Maybe HN has a solution that's not overly taxing on my mental energy? Do we vet every single argument, by every news outlet or institutional press release? Do we all become epidemiologists? Am I missing a fundamental life-skill?

Maybe another commentor can help placate my (certainly over-inflated) discomfort of existing in the modern info-sphere.


IMO, fall back on first principles. Trust no one and err on the side of caution. Weigh your actions as if you will be turned away at the hospital if you do get sick.

Trying to choose between one size fits all top down solutions is the path to madness. State shutdown orders are really just a crude response to an economic treadmill meant to push everyone into working. They're imperfect, as all one size fits all solutions are.

If you do need to continue to come into contact with others to take care of yourself and family, consciously accept the risk and do the prep work to minimize it rather than going full cognitive dissonance and backfitting justifications as to why it's perfectly safe. We've seen enough twitboast->obituary pairings.


Re: discomfort.

If you're exhausted, take a break. Recognize that information for information's sake isn't just unhelpful, but actively harmful to your own psyche right now. Don't drink from the firehose unless you have a very good reason. Intellectual curiosity isn't a good enough reason.

Some amount of unease aso comes from the fact that we don't know much about COVID-19, and in this day and age, that's hard to live with. The amount of scientifically-prove, peer-reviewed information about Covid-19 is vanishingly small so personally until there are peer-reviewed papers upon which to act, I'm learning to be comfortable with not knowing things. Trying to divine a fatality rate when there's a dearth of rigorous studies, globally is recipe for a descent into madness. (I stop reading threads when there's yet another re-hashing of how the Diamond Princess does/doesn't apply.)

Don't blindly trust a "who", but trust that the truth will emerge. It may take some time, however.


The discomfort is probably the one and only thing you should really trust.


It is a risk to let the virus burn through uncontrolled. You might get outcome similar to the second wave of Spanish Flu - https://www.history.com/news/spanish-flu-second-wave-resurge...

Evolutionary pressure on the virus should be towards a "wimpy virus", not a virus that "has the power to kill a perfectly healthy young man or woman within 24 hours of showing the first signs of infection".

And yes, it is important to balance the economic damage and public health risk. And it is important to take into consideration that there is a public health risk from economic damage.

In practice, the solution is probably pretty simple. The economy should be reopened in a controlled manner, in a few months. Sport events, concerts, conferences should stay closed, until there are either: antivirals, herd immunity or vaccines.


You're talking about this as if a "calculated risk" is limited to that individual, but it's not. Someone's "calculated risk" is literally death knell for others.

In this case, the health of the society as a whole is at stake. Therefore, people need to collectively follow rules, and understand that minor inconveniences such as not being able to get a haircut will only affect them for a few weeks or months.


I don’t think you read his post.

You are endangering others‘ lives each time you drive. And yet you’re not inline at the DMV surrendering your license, why?

Seasonal sickness also isn’t new. My coworker gave me the flu and I gave it to my grandmother. Who’s at fault there?


Covid-19 is not like the seasonal flu.

Or, yeah, maybe it is just like the flu, except (1) covid-19 is more contagious, (2) Covid-19 is much more likely to kill you if you get infected, and (3) much of the population has immunity so seasonal flu, while almost nobody has immunity to Covid-19,so it would run roughshod over a population if people didn't social distance (unless testing/contact tracing infrastructure was in place to keep it in check).

Take a good read through this article and tell me why you want to continue comparing Covid-19 to the flu:

https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/not-like-the-flu...


Settle down. They're not comparing COVID-19 to the Flu, they're using the Flu as an example to talk about transitive infections.


That's completely tangential to the discussion. No one's trying to figure out who to blame for spreading the virus.

The point I was trying to make was, restrictions on personal freedom are reasonable in this case to keep the broader society healthy.


False equivalence. Car accidents are not transmitting at viral rates. Cars are not infecting other cars even when they are working perfectly well. Seasonal flu is not killing 2% of those infected, and even then we take necessary measures to avoid the common flu.


When you say "viral rates" please cite your model.

Here is the latest out of California,

https://pressroom.usc.edu/preliminary-results-of-usc-la-coun...

Making the effective death rate like 0.1% - 0.3%, if confirmed.


This paper has been widely criticised as likely being completely wrong, as it incorrectly accounts for false positives.

https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/04/19/fatal-flaw...


> You are endangering others‘ lives each time you drive. And yet you’re not inline at the DMV surrendering your license, why?

You are endangering other drivers' lives with their consent; any time they get behind the wheel, they acknowledge the risk to themselves from other drivers as well as themselves. You're also required to carry insurance to help cover the cost of screwing up and hurting or killing other people.

Please tell me how other people are consenting to your risking of their lives because you want to go get a haircut. Also please let me know which insurance company will pay out in the case that you directly and recklessly infect someone and they die.

> Seasonal sickness also isn’t new. My coworker gave me the flu and I gave it to my grandmother. Who’s at fault there?

Not sure what this has do to with anything. I'm trying to assume a charitable interpretation of what you're asking, but this just sounds like trolling.


Some of the UK/US response was supposedly based on this study [0], which predicted maybe 250,000 deaths if there was no lockdown. That's something like 140 years worth of traffic deaths for the UK, in one go. So yes, we take calculated risks all the time, but the comparison to driving isn't useful IMO.

[0] https://www.ft.com/content/16764a22-69ca-11ea-a3c9-1fe6fedcc...


If it was just about throwing around numbers, you can compare it to 480,000 tobacco deaths per year [0] in the US.

Of course it’s about taking calculated risks everywhere.

[0] https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast...


Smoking isn't a fitting example. You can do whatever you want to yourself in your own home, but it is significantly restricted in public were it effects other people. It's obviously about calculated risk, but that is weighted very different once others are involved.

An interesting other aspect is the change to the status quo. To stick to the better example: Humans accepted that some traffic deaths will happen. But lets imagine that for unknown reason all around the country, car tyres start to just suddenly burst, steering cars into incoming traffic. I'd not be surprised if driving would be restricted until we got to the bottom of such a phenomenon. Even if the average chance of dying on a given day for the average citizen didn't increase manyfold.

Now that I've written that... kind of reminds me of a certain Boeing plane.


The DMV that exists.

The license you are required to have to drive.


You're endangering peoples' lives by driving yes, but it's more like a few persons at most and huge inconvenience for a whole lot of people.

COVID-19 could end up sickening tons of individuals at once and contributing much more death.


All the comments in response are clear then that it is a question of degree. At x deaths caused, we stop permitting this. That means the discussion is only moved to determining what that threshold x is. And so the right thing is to move past that to find what the cost-benefit analysis is.


X is the number of people who would overwhelm your local hospital system. If the cost of you getting a haircut is that it renders healthcare inaccessible for your region, such that they cannot care for people who need it (e.g. people who get in car accidents) then that cost is too high.


What car driving kills one in twenty 70-year-olds you drive near?


I have been a staunch progressive for my entire adulthood and now find myself strongly agreeing with the other side of the aisle.

Strange times.


This is where the pyramid makes more sense than left/right. This is authoritarianism/centralization top of the pyramid, where people think they know what's best for other people and a top-down approach to "fixing stupid" is the best solution.

I personally think it's okay/normal for there to be idiots in society and trying to fix stupid by stopping them from protesting via opaque big tech companies moderation policies is a terrible way to go about it (or courts via government interference on public property, for that matter, but the constitution covers that already). I'd much rather have some stupid people protesting than have FB/outrage mobs driving what is okay to protest about.

That has little to do with being left/right leaning.

Weeding out astroturfing campaigns is also distinct from this, you can narrowly remove stuff that is atroturfed without being political about it. But just because some stuff is astroturfed shouldn't mean anything to do with it should then be shut down.


>I'd much rather have some stupid people protesting than have FB/outrage mobs driving what is okay to protest about.

Note how dramatically you understate one side and overstate the other by your choice of wording.


I agree with your sentiment but one side is trying to dictate what is acceptable- the other is not.


This can also be phrased as a choice between one side that is trying to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and one that is not.

I don't care if the first group does it out of ignorance, or simple disregard for human life. They are free to play Russian roulette with their own lives. They have no moral right to do so with the lives of their neighbours.


The outrage mob is free to protest all they want. Or to freely speak. I don't see how this group would differ?

I merely used stupid here to make a point, to generalize or pander even, it's hardly just 'stupid' that people try to control. That misses the point entirely.

Regardless the other commenter already noted the very important distinction. I’m not trying to control the mob or define who or what is stupid using some top down hierarchy of wrongthink (trying is the key word here, I could rant about the costs of control and false positives vs the efficacy of FB events, ignoring the large existing willing audiences they always tapped into, and Russia spending a few hundred K in a multibillion dollar election, but I’ve fought that war enough times - the philosophy of how to deal with society in general is what we’re discussing).


I'm mostly against the people who carry high powered weapons around and hope they don't accidentally kill me. It would be nice if they don't kill me by spreading easily avoidable diseases.


I found myself wondering what exactly those weapons are supposed to be for in that case.


> Several countries have not decided to do a stay-at-home-lockdown including Sweden

The Swedish approach is based on the idea that people who have any symptoms at all are able to stay home from work. I really doubt that that approach would work in countries like the US where workers' rights are much weaker.

And although Sweden is not in a mandatory stay-at-home lockdown pretty much anyone who is able to work from home is doing so and the streets are much emptier than usual.


> People should be able to take a calculated risk.

... with their own lives. You're talking about allowing people to risk other people's lives, and no, that's not ok.

> The most accurate data about the fatality rate of covid-19 may come from the Diamond Princess cruise boat where everyone has been tested. The 60-to-80 year old infected passengers had a fatality rate of ~2%. There was no fatality among the infected much younger crew.

You're contradicting yourself. If the Diamond Princess is perfectly representative of the world population, then no young people should die, anywhere. But that's not the case -- young people have indeed died from this -- so therefore the Diamond Princess does not give us an accurate picture at all.

> Now, the government should inform people with data, and let them take a decision. [...] But people who want the opposite should be able to express their voice as well.

Express their voice, yes, I agree with that. Make their own decision, no, not at all. The average -- even above average -- person does not know how to interpret the fractured data we have right now to the point of being able to make an informed decision. This is one of those frustrating times when we must rely on the people who live and breathe this every day to make those decisions for us. I'm not saying they don't need to explain or show their work, and I'm not saying we need to just blindly trust, but we do need to carefully consider whether we know better than people who are literally trained to know how all this works. (Hint: we don't, and can't, know better.)


> ... with their own lives. You're talking about allowing people to risk other people's lives, and no, that's not ok.

So, let's ban driving then?


In my country we don't just let people drive however they like on public roads. You have to be above a certain age, have passed a test, not be drunk or stoned, be driving a roadworthy vehicle, and follow many other rules. Your risk to other people's lives is carefully managed.


And yet it is the leading cause of premature death among accidents and thousands of times less safe than alternatives such as trains or airplanes and... surprise, surprise - staying at home!


And still, drunk driving kills more than 10k every year in the US only: https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving

I should definitely quarantine me and my family after before 6 AM and after 6 PM.


It would kill a lot more people if the roads were a consequence-free free-for-all with no speed limits, highway enforcement, safety or licensing requirements.


> Now, the government should inform people with data, and let them take a decision.

The problem with this argument is that there isnt that much data around, and what is available is only understandable to a subset of the population as it's in scientific papers. If you let everyone decide, what would happen is most people would listen to their authority figures which would be their governor, mayor, pastor or news anchor. The problem is those people will each have their own agenda and aren't going to give an unbiased recommendation, and those people don't necessarily have the knowledge themselves to understand the data.

What you are saying is similar to saying people should have a choice of whether to smoke or not. The risks of smoking are pretty well known, and its easy to make that call. This is more like deciding whether to take a new party drug - your friends take it and everything is fine, but you've all heard about the story of that couple that died from taking it. (And that doesn't take into account that you can infect others who are more vulnerable than you)


When you go out to the streets, you're not putting just yourself in danger. You're transmitting a virus that can kill lots of innocent people, including health care workers, essential workers, senior citizens, etc.


> People should be able to take a calculated risk.

That is not at all what we're talking about here. People should not be able to take a calculated risk with the lives of others. Let me tell you why it's not like driving: the NHTSA reports 102 car fatalities a day in 2016. NYC just got under 500 COVID deaths a day. One city. 5x the fatalities. Compared to a country of 300 million people.

This is, by far, the most outrageous, insanely reckless thing I have ever read on HN. I beg you to please, stop doing this. Thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of lives maybe are at stake.


> NYC just got under 500 COVID deaths a day.

Important to remember what led up to that. High risk people were going about their daily activities, no one was social distancing. It’s disingenuous to imply that anyone who is anti-lockdown is talking about a complete return to pre-pandemic behavior that caused the numbers we are seeing in NYC.


> It’s disingenuous to imply that anyone who is anti-lockdown is talking about a complete return to pre-pandemic behavior that caused the numbers we are seeing in NYC.

Feel free to point out where I've done that.


NYC is also a giant, dense city where public transport is incredibly popular.

When you see photos of the people protesting lockdowns, it's clear that they're not city metro living yuppies. They're suburbanites and rural.

Any argument that cites NYC results for restrictions on non-NYC behaviour is ignorant at best and most likely disingenuous imo.


Yeah I'm not denying there are people who are genuinely protesting the shelter orders. But what's actually happening is a concerted, right wing political campaign [1].

> Any argument that cites NYC results for restrictions on non-NYC behaviour is ignorant at best and most likely disingenuous imo.

There are outbreaks in several other cities and the recommendation is the same: either get a robust testing system in place, or shelter. Those are your options right now.

[1]: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2020/04/whos-behind-the-reopen-d...


you realize when someone dies in a car accident that they may have otherwise lived another 40 or 80 years, whereas with covid they probably had two months.


https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-news-12-year-old-gi...

Tell this to her parents.

The distribution of case fatalities from SARS-CoV-2 is still very much up for debate. But it sure as hell isn't as simple as 'they were about to die anyway'.

Also something that mainstream news coverage mostly ignores is that 1: about 20% of all patients regardless of age require supplementary oxygen to survive the infection and it'll be straight up the worst experience of their life. And 2: those who develop pneumonia (again no corr to age) run a pretty high risk of suffering permanent lung damage.

If you want to inflict this on yourself, go ahead. But you absolutely don't have the right to take actions that put others at risk of these outcomes. You don't even have the right to ask for a hospital bed if you end up being one of those 20% that needs oxygen if you recklessly infected yourself. That hospital bed belongs to an actual victim.


>The distribution of case fatalities from SARS-CoV-2 is still very much up for debate.

Really? It seems to follow the same pattern everywhere.

>1: about 20% of all patients regardless of age require supplementary oxygen to survive the infection and it'll be straight up the worst experience of their life.

You mean all patients in bad enough state to end up in the hospital? 20% of all patients who have contracted SARS-CoV-2?

>And 2: those who develop pneumonia (again no corr to age) run a pretty high risk of suffering permanent lung damage.

A little googling, and everything seems to corroborate that it is in fact correlated with age and given that smoking seems to be big risk factor, even if age in and of itself wouldn't be, we'd see it a lot more in older people.

Pretending like massive lockdowns aren't having a very negative effect on drug abuse, mental health, domestic violence, and increasingly looking like food production as well, would be disingenuous. Now, maybe all of those negatives are outweighed by whatever would happen if we opened up, but surely it must be okay to at least have the discussion.

This might be a bit provocative, but I'm genuinely curious. Let's assume that suicide hotlines are filled up due to mental health problems from being forced to stay inside. If someone is advocating for a lockdown, should they not have the right to call?


A bit late to the party but if you're actually asking in good faith and are curious to understand more, check out https://twitter.com/lilienfeld1/status/1251335135909122049


Regarding the smoking, there's reports and studies of smokers doing better than the general population. Whether the smoke makes their lungs more resilient to the virus or something else is up for debate


> surely it must be okay to at least have the discussion

Yeah let's do it. COVID-19 might kill millions of people. Discussion over.


I think it would be best if we avoided engaging in the despicable, ghoulish practice of valuing one life over another.


This crisis shows you who some people really are. It seems a lot of people can't care less about the life of someone they don't know. That's a good thing. I now know what to think of those people. Who to avoid.

But even better: it warms my heart to know the vast majority of people think it's okay to take an economic hit to save lives, to prevent the collapse of our healthcare systems, to buy time on our way to a vaccine. We're in this together, young and old. We don't want other people to spend the last days of their lives suffocating in their own lung fluids. Not if we can help it. Some people will kill someone for a couple of bucks and there are different limits for everyone, and there comes a point where we're no longer the majority, but right now I'm happy with what I see.


That can be easily flipped around though.

From the perspective of people who see the virus as not in fact that dangerous in the grand scheme of things, it looks like a lot of people couldn't care less about the lives of others: the people who are trapped on their own for months at home under house arrest, the people who spent their lives building a business who tomorrow will have to tell their teammates it's all over, the people who are losing everything, and that's before we get to the risks of knock-on effects like food shortages, critical equipment failures due to the manufacturers of a special widget going bust and so on.

I don't understand people who hear "the economy" and appear to think of going on holidays? Or gambling in a stock market? They don't think of a supply chain that leads to a replacement filter in their local water treatment plant. They don't think of the builders who are trying to grow a family by constructing their house. They don't think of food being harvested in the fields or internet companies linking loved ones by video chat. They think it's all "just a couple of bucks".

It's not just user spiderfarmer above - we've seen actual politicians talk like that, which is terrifying. The economy isn't optional, the economy is life support and everything else that makes life worth living.


This is just strawman after strawman. No one's saying we shouldn't do essential work like maintaining water treatment plants. No one's saying the economy is just spring breakers. In fact, they're demanding financial support from Congress to help people while the economy is shut down.

Please do more research and be more responsible. The stakes are very high.


You've missed my point. There's no working definition of "essential". The water plant depends on regular deliveries of components. The components come from factories which in turn need more components, and those components come from factories that depend for business on orders from some "non essential" industry. So they shut down to preserve cash, and that ripples through the supply chain until suddenly water pressure is falling because treatment works can't get the supplies they need.

The economy is one giant web. You say it's a strawman argument, but that would mean I was putting words in people's mouths. The problem is that this is the opposite of what's happening: people aren't talking about these kinds of problems because they seem to perceive the economy as this optional nice-to-have thing which governments can neatly and instant partition into "needed" and "frippery which shouldn't matter if anyone is sick". That's just not how economies work.

Finally, please don't engage in childish condescension like your last statement. Describing people concerned about the economy as irresponsible is exactly the kind of behaviour I am condemning. There's nothing naive or irresponsible about the people sounding the alarm right now.


> There's no working definition of "essential".

There is, it's whatever your government says it is. They're consulting with experts and people on the ground to make and update those determinations.

> Water plant, etc.

Yeah there are tons of cases like this. All to be handled by your government in consultation with experts and people on the ground. When the water treatment plant needs X, they'll figure out how to get it (after figuring out if it's worth the risk).

> You say it's a strawman argument, but that would mean I was putting words in people's mouths.

No a strawman is mischaracterizing someone's position to make it radical, and thus easy to discredit. Here's what you've said about others:

> I don't understand people who hear "the economy" and appear to think of going on holidays?

> it looks like a lot of people couldn't care less about the lives of others

This is mischaracterizing someone's position to make it callous and naive, and then calling it callous and naive. No one's saying these things. You also did it again when you said "they seem to perceive the economy as this optional nice-to-have thing which governments can neatly and instant partition into "needed" and 'frippery which shouldn't matter if anyone is sick'." No one is trivializing the economic impact, in fact many (including me) are deeply worried about it. But coronavirus is worse, and we have other tools to deal with the economic fallout. The only thing we can do to fight coronavirus is to shelter until we have testing.

> Finally, please don't engage in childish condescension like your last statement.

I wasn't condescending, I was admonishing. When I said "please do more research" I meant "research what your government is doing and the dangers of breaking shelter too early." By "be more responsible" I meant don't engage in strawman after strawman to try and persuade people that breaking shelter is a good idea, because you haven't done adequate research. By "the stakes are very high" I meant lots of people might die and it doesn't seem like you know, because you haven't referenced it. Your posts have been one-sided in favor of breaking shelter.


I think you should re-read the comment I replied to originally. The part about "it looks like a lot of people couldn't care less about the lives of others" is more or less a direct quote from that where spiderfarmer said:

"It seems a lot of people can't care less about the life of someone they don't know."

and my whole point was that this can be turned around exactly - people who treat shutting down the economy as if it were a trivial, obviously good thing to do don't appear to care about the lives of others who they don't know and who will be seriously negatively affected by that. As exemplified by the comment about how "Some people will kill someone for a couple of bucks".

So that's the opposite of a straw man!

They're consulting with experts and people on the ground to make and update those determinations

Unfortunately they really aren't. The only people with expertise in command economies (which is what our economies have suddenly become) know they always result in ridiculous outcomes. The shutdowns aren't some hyper-precise expert driven brilliance: they're shambolic, chaotic and riven with extremely stupid results.

Here in Switzerland I went to the supermarket the other day. You can buy many things there, but the toy shelves were covered, with a sign saying you're not allowed to buy them. There's no health justification for that because the people are in the supermarket anyway. And for the millions of parents stuck at home with bored kids, toys are rather important. Instead this is a side-effect of the way the law is written - it bans sales of particular goods, not openings of particular types of stores. They could have phrased it differently but then of course every store would start selling vegetables so they could remain open. Regardless of how such a law is written you get nonsensical and frustrating outcomes with no health justification.

In the UK the government is supposed to be buying essential items like PPE. Instead it's flailing around in a swamp of incompetence:

- Politicians are causing diplomatic incidents by claiming orders weren't dispatched but

- Those same orders weren't actually submitted to the sellers days or even weeks after it was claimed they were

- Private companies with PPE in UK warehouses are shipping it to other European countries, because the government didn't bother to actually buy it after import

- When equipment is ordered, it's bought from dodgy suppliers who routinely ship wrong or defective items.

You can find news stories about all these events in the British press.

We're living in a world where governments can't reliably purchase gowns and masks or make an exception so toys can be sold in supermarkets, let alone evaluate the tens of millions of products and firms to decide what's essential and what's not. Even conceptualising the size of such a task is beyond them. The idea the shutdowns are coordinated by experts on the ground is a pleasant dream, but sadly not real.


A lot of people seem to believe “the economy” is about profits, conspicuous consumption, and something like what you might see in a rap video.

In reality, it is how we house, clothe, feed, and provide the most basic humans needs.


Fact: if we do nothing and don't buy time to prepare, our healthcare system collapses, a lot of people die and there'll be a lot of unforeseen consequences. You can say, think and believe that that's not much of an issue, but you can't proof it.

Your argument: "the economy is important, we can't do without"

Yes it is, but the economy will rebound like it always does. It will not disappear. We need to flatten the curve, gain more insight in other consequences. We don't need to lockdown forever, but we can't immediately reopen either. Both would be stupid, we need to find a middle ground.


We assign value to human life all the time, in dollar terms or otherwise. And we most certainly assign a higher value to certain lives over others, you just do it implicitly. It’s the reason you don’t drop everything you’re doing in your life right now to go fight HIV in Africa, or aren’t organizing protests in front of the White House Lawn everyday to try to prevent the US from dropping another bomb on a Pakistani village. The personal and economic costs to do so are too great, therefore you’ve at least placed an upper bound on the value of those lives, which is something like the cost of maintaining your current lifestyle. In fact, the the true price of those lives can probably be approximated by looking at how much you’ve actually contributed in dollar terms to trying to preserve them, which is basically zero.

Are you saying that it’s immoral to at least consider the implications of a prolonged economic shutdown, or to advance a timetable for reopening that isn’t contingent on waiting 6 months for a vaccine?

Save us the sanctimony, you and everybody else is engaged in the exercise of assigning different values to different lives everyday.


Hi, let me try and defuse this a little. I'm sure we're both doing our best and these are trying times. Let's endeavor to be civil and not assume things about each other. For example, you have no idea what I did all day, so let me tell you. I work in social good, trying to close the access to justice gap. The way I justify not taking a plane to some hotspot is that I think I can "do the most good" (in the immortal words of Hillary Clinton) as a software engineer working in this field.

I'm not letting you in on this to high road you. I also bought a new phone instead of donating that money to COVID relief, for example.

Rather, my point is that we need to find sustainable ways to improve the world. We're not gonna solve genocide, famine, etc any time soon, and we shouldn't beat ourselves up for enjoying life while we work to improve it. It's the only way it will ever get done.

> Are you saying that it’s immoral to at least consider the implications of a prolonged economic shutdown, or to advance a timetable for reopening that isn’t contingent on waiting 6 months for a vaccine?

I'm confident that isn't what I said. Consider away. Please don't minimize the danger of COVID-19.


Sorry if I sound irascible, but I think my point stands. Any reopening of the economy before the entire population is vaccinated will necessarily put some lives at risk. The destruction being wrought by continued mothballing of the economy is awesome, and it may well result in the premature deaths of millions of people. Pointing this out is not minimizing the danger of covid-19, it’s putting it into context. And accusing somebody who entertains a perfectly normal line of reasoning of engaging in a “ghoulish” exercise of human life valuation is a perfect example of virtue signaling.


Yeah I'm also a "recessions kill people" person, and people I'm close to personally are struggling.

If we're gonna have a reasonable policy discussion about this, my understanding is the plan is to not evict/foreclose/repossess for the time being, and print money to bail people out. That seems within our power. Containing the spread of coronavirus without sheltering or a massive testing regime doesn't.

It doesn't solve everything, people's lives are put on hold in more ways than just financially and we need to keep looking for answers. But again I think we can figure that out.


Why would that be best? Professional medical ethicists do it every day. For example when deciding which patients receive organ transplants.


I'm happy for those decisions to be made by educated, trained, licensed professionals according to strict guidelines and under the scrutiny of other similarly qualified people when small numbers of lives are at stake and where it has no chance of persuading anyone that it's alright to potentially let thousands and thousands of people die.


is a classic moral dilemma. a train heading for some people on track a or you can pull a lever and send divert it to track b where there is one person. if you do nothing, many die, if you pull the lever, one dies, but you killed him because he wouldn't have died otherwise. what would you do? there isnt one right answer, but our world is complex and we are always making decions that affect everyone else. it turns out different people have different intuitions about what is the 'right' thing to do. thats ok, and people who think this debate is as simple as "we must save lives from the virus at all costs, duh, #stfh" are totally ignorant of that


This isn't the trolley problem. We have tools to address the economic destruction, but we only have 1 tool to address coronavirus: shelter in place. It's not any more complicated than that.


that is false. first of all, a lack of imagination does not mean we have a single tool to fight a coronavirus. shelter in place is perhaps the single tool in your mind, not in the world. secondly, it is absolutely more complicated than that. economy vs health is a flase dichotomy. like the trolly problem one option seems obvious (save the crowd) but the implications for the other choice are, importantly, equally valid if less obvious : it means mudering a person. so maybe letting the trolly hit the crowd is the moral choice? in this case what are the effects of each choice? im not an american but dont americans pay for healthcare? so isnt a poor american worse off in terms of health outcomes? anyway even focusing on the health, here's an exercise that might get you to think deeply about it. coronavirus is a respiratory disease. it turns out that means if you're in good lung health you have much better odds of recovering. so one way to think about 'treatment' is treating lung health. many health problems are addressed this way -- holistically. where is our cure against lung cancer? its too hard to fight lung cancer qua cancer. but we are doing a fantastic job of eliminating it by eliminating smoking. you can stay inside your home and not catch any transmissable disease whatsoever. but the consequences of this are absolutely not merely economic!


> that is false. first of all, a lack of imagination does not mean we have a single tool to fight a coronavirus.

The fact that we need to imagine more options means we only have the one.


while i dont follow the logic (what color is your shirt? if you need to imagine other options it means you only have the one?), if i interpret you charitably you might have thought i meant "imaginative" as in not realistic. but i simply meant there are other possibilities. the phrase "failure of imagination" has a somewhat technical definition: it means something obvious in retrospect that most people didnt think about until after a fact. like how it is obvious a plane could be hijacked. if i had to guess, id say the common conception (at least in NA) that there aren't other options to fight this virus is possibly because public knowledge of the pandemic is largely via news/entertainment media (compare for reference any other subject matter).


so it's a hard topic nobody wants to think about genuinely but isn't there truth to it? the nursigng homes that are being ravaged the most -- people are there for end of life care. by definition. they are generally under a policy of do not recussitate. thats very different than any hn readers experience (nobody here is commenting as a nursing home patient). this is not to say their lives dont matter but the context does


> but isn't there truth to it?

NO. THERE IS NOT. Less than 50% of COVID deaths are over 75 years old. That means that more than 50% are under 75. A full quarter of deaths are below 64. These are not people dying anyway. These are not people in nursing homes. These are people like you.


i wish that math and statistics were mandatory education


> Less than 50% of COVID deaths are over 75 years old

That means more half of the deaths are of people over 75, and 75% of deaths are over 65.


read what you quoted again


Those numbers are really damning for public transportation. If just one of the many diseases being spread around on the NYC subway system kills 5x as many as an entire nation of cars, it clearly isn't acceptable to operate public transportation.


It would have been fine if shelter in place had been ordered sooner. Further the first outbreak was in Westchester which is far outside the NYC subway system (there are still trains but ridership numbers are far lower).


Hyperbole much? People do take calculated risks with the lives of others - again driving is a dangerous activity, you take the lives of everyone in your car and those around you in your hands while driving. Even chefs are responsible for not giving people food poisoning. Because of our hyperconnected world, we depend on people taking risks around us constantly.

Additionally, NYC had 500 deaths because its approaching its peak - soon most people will recover and be immune to this disease, then its gone forever. But the economic costs - the careers and education opportunities lost to regular people will impact their whole lives.


Yeah, let me rephrase. COVID is the deadliest thing most people will ever have a chance of coming into contact with, you'll spread it to others before you even know you have it, thus it's almost certain you won't be the only one "taking the risk". It's not like driving, flying, takeaway, or any other inane, minimizing comparison. It is a highly infectious, stealthy, lethal pathogen. If we let everyone get it, at even .5% fatality rate, that's millions and millions of people dead just in the US alone. It kills everyone, infants, the elderly, the healthy, the comorbid, just at different rates.

Here is what you should do:

- shelter in place

- if you must go out, wear masks and gloves, stay at least six feet away from others if possible, and wash your hands thoroughly when you return

- lots of places need volunteers, please help them if you can and follow their safety protocols

- donate money to funds for responders and local business/community relief

Here's what you shouldn't do:

- flout shelter in place orders

- minimize the risk in public forums

- engage in armchair epidemiology; this isn't like having an opinion on tabs vs spaces

I'm sympathetic to (indeed terrified by) the economic destruction of this, and I know it's happening right now. Let's stay alive and keep each other alive first. We'll figure the rest out later.


> We'll figure the rest out later.

When? As far as I know, no one has provided any quantifiable goal post for when it’s safe to stop lockdown.


When we have a plan that doesn't involve the likely death of thousands of people.

I get it's frustrating to not have a timeline and that the stakes are high. But as shitty as it's gonna sound, life's not fair.

But in terms of metric, people are actually talking about what stats to look at, mainly the reproduction rate (Cuomo refers to it as infection rate in his watch the dial slide) vs. hospital capacity. Angela Merkel went on at some length about it. But it'll take time, and to avoid new waves, we need testing, and I haven't heard anything about US plans for that, which honestly scares me.


There's been some testing. It generally shows that _way_ more people have (or had) COVID-19 than we thought, and that most of the cases are so mild that people never even knew they were sick.

NYC Hospitals find that 15% of pregnant women have COVID-19: https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamhaseltine/2020/04/20/new... That particular article doesn't mention it, but other reports I've heard of said only about 1 in 8 of that 15% were symptomatic.

In Chelsea, MA, 30% of 200 random people tested positive, 1/2 reported no symptoms at all: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/04/17/business/nearly-third...

Here's a general article pointing out that this is very likely to not be as big of a deal as we thought it'd be: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/how-many-people-h...


> most of the cases are so mild that people never even knew they were sick

These studies don't add up, and there have been numerous criticisms of them referenced elsewhere in this discussion.

Just in your post, you're suggesting that 1 in 8 of infections are asymptomatic /and/ that 1 in 2 are asymptomatic. Those are very different figures.

Anecdotally, friends and acquaintances of mine who have had the disease are reporting that contact between people is very likely to result in a symptomatic infection.

Take the UK cabinet as a "public anecdote": the UK PM got the disease (and required intensive care), the PM's fiancee had to isolate with symptoms, so did the UK health minister, and the chief medical officer who shared the PM's press conferences, and the PM's chief advisor.

I don't know how many people Boris Johnson was in close contact with, but that outcome feels consistent with the 40-50% asymptomatic cases assumed by e.g. the Imperial study. It could easily be a bit outside that range, but it doesn't feel consistent with the idea that vastly more people are asymptomatic than not.

Of course, we need good data rather than anecdotes, and hopefully we'll get them soon. My money is on less than 50% asymptomatic though.


All that the antibody studies have shown is that antibody studies grossly overestimate the number of people that have COVID-19.

If the studies are accurate, only 1/600 affected people die... Which means that every single man, woman, and child in NYC has already been infected, and that the death rate will drop to zero tomorrow. I find that rather difficult to believe.


Yeah it's probably better to look at health care workers in this case: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/15/8349200...


Can I check what you think gloves will achieve?


Yeah! A major way people spread things is through their hands, so wearing gloves and taking them off before you get home helps you not bring it inside. You can then remove your mask and wash your hands.


That’s actually not true. We are talking 0.2-0.3% lethality which is still a lot but it will bellow 250k deaths even if we are back to full normal right now.

Current estimations are 60-70k deaths from it but the doubling of suicides resulting of lockdowns this year to 100k make us more likely to die from suicide than covid-19.


I think those numbers are way low. Based on demographic numbers:

Older than 85: 650k deaths

65-84: 150k

55-65: 400k

I don't think everyone will be infected, but lets say it's half. That's 600k. Let's say it's 10%. That's 120k. By any measure, the loss of life is... just breathtaking. But either way, parent was taking about letting everyone get it to build herd immunity, so that's where "everyone gets it" is coming from.

https://www.livescience.com/is-coronavirus-deadly.html

> the doubling of suicides resulting of lockdowns this year to 100k make us more likely to die from suicide than covid-19

This had been circling the internet a little, but I would caution against extrapolating an uptick in suicides into doubling by the end of the year. There are no doubt consequences to sheltering in place, domestic abuse is a concern as well for example. But this is the best we've got.


Do you have citations to back up those numbers? I've been looking for things to read that try to quantify the potential harm of shelter-in-place orders, but haven't found much that go anywhere beyond wild guesses.


Yeah! Well, not the suicides. The stuff I found was like "9 suicides in Tennessee" (which is tragic but not indicative) and a lot of coverage of Trump's lies about it. But COVID-19 I used:

https://www.livescience.com/is-coronavirus-deadly.html

and

https://www.statista.com/statistics/241488/population-of-the...

Feel free to check my math, it's late and I did some pretty sketchy rounding.


> the doubling of suicides resulting of lockdowns this year to 100k

There's no evidence that suicides are doubling.


Are you personally willing to be civilly and criminally liable if you injure someone by transmitting a disease to someone despite the known risk? You have to be so willing when you drive; and you can usually find an insurer to cover your civil liabilities.

If you can’t find an insurer to indemnify you if you make someone ill, that should tell you something about the level of harm you could cause someone else.


> you take the lives of everyone in your car and those around you in your hands while driving.

The key point there is that you do that with their consent. Also you are required to be insured to cover you in the case that you screw up and hurt or kill people. Please show me the insurance company that will cover you if you recklessly spread COVID-19 to someone who then dies.

I don't consent to you risking my life and the lives of people I care about just because you're getting a little cabin fever.

> you take the lives of everyone in your car and those around you in your hands while driving.

Says who? The data we have so far does not support (or refute) that. We just do not know yet.

> But the economic costs - the careers and education opportunities lost to regular people will impact their whole lives.

Yes, that's potentially true. But if you want to be persuasive, you're going to need to quantify that, with error bars and probabilities. We have pretty solid estimates as to how many people are likely to die based on various social distancing, shelter-in-place, full quarantine, etc. scenarios. Those lost lives can't be "fixed" after they're gone.

Economic harm can be lessened and even fixed. No, I do not have confidence that everyone will be made whole after this; unfortunately governments and people in general are far from perfect. But that's not an excuse to take other actions that will directly cause deaths.


What about the lives lost to the increased rates of suicide and drug/alcohol abuse that will accompany an economic collapse?


We have tools to combat an economic collapse. The defense we have against COVID is to shelter in place until we get a huge testing system up and running (which we currently don't have a plan for).


Very unlikely NY is anywhere close to herd immunity as the number of those infected is probably well under half the population.


> Thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of lives maybe are at stake.

You are extrapolating only to spread FUD. Covid19 could kill only a few people, but very fast, which could also explain the data we have for now.

There is no evidence "that millions of lives are at stake" and the available data shows cars and tabacco have killed and will kill more people than the covid19 over 20 years

"We could all die from covid19" hypothesis was valid the first 2 weeks of December. It has been long found that only a segment of the population is at risk, and we should help them, but not stop the entire economy pretending we will all die.


Even with the lowest lethality rates 1.2 million people over 55 will die from COVID if they're all exposed. That's why we need to shelter in place until we set up adequate testing.

The "tobacco also kills us so we should let COVID kill us faster" argument makes no sense, by the way.


> The most accurate data about the fatality rate of covid-19 may come from the Diamond Princess cruise boat where everyone has been tested. The 60-to-80 year old infected passengers had a fatality rate of ~2%. There was no fatality among the infected much younger crew.

The trouble with this assertion is that we don't know if it is statistically valid. Consider the number of crew to the number of passengers on a typical cruise ship. If there were only 20 crewmembers, is that enough to form a valid conclusion of "young people don't die from this disease"?

Furthermore, were emergency services able to help every infected passenger on board? Yes, the fatality rate was 2%, but how many were infected and required treatment?

The big issue in the states is that if enough people (just 1% in some areas) require treatment, the hospital systems will be overwhelmed and people who have a treatable illness will die due to lack of available resources. So the best thing society can do is either self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, or hospitals can somehow advocate for legislation to refuse patients with COVID-19 symptoms to prevent their resources from being overwhelmed.


"Praising the strategy of these countries should be authorized."

I've heard variations on this argument made 3 of the last 5 days by the President Of the United States. In what sense is this not authorized? The most powerful person in the world is promoting variations on this idea. Also, turn on Fox News and they have been making this argument almost continuously for the last 72 hours. No one is censoring them. Indeed, if you watch that channel, you might think this argument is the mainstream view.

There is nothing wrong with the argument itself, which is why it is getting so much air time. Still, the actual gatherings that are being organized are a different issue. Until there is more transparency about who is funding the anti-quarantine movement, a certain caution would be wise, otherwise we are potentially stumbling into another fiasco like the 2016 election.


I'd buy into the argument that people should be free to make their own risk choices, if most people were in the position to make their own choice at all. Unfortunately for many, needing to go to work to pay rent is not a choice. Closing non-essential businesses is one of the few avenues of collective action available. It's horribly unequal to essential employees, but it's better than everyone simply being forced to carry on as normal, especially without PPE or new procedures.

What is shutdown and what is open certainly needs to be refined. (Simple example: there is a private park near me that is closed, in spite of it being a good place to get out of the house while distancing) But it's awfully hard to have nuanced discussion when it's drown out by obtuse ignorant nonsense.


If a country is unwilling to make reasonable accommodations for working people to vote, defending in-person protests during a global pandemic as necessary for said country's democracy is beyond parody.


I've voted in three states. In California, permanent absentee registration is simple (now, it wasn't 30 years ago), and the state mandates time off to vote. In Washington state, all voting is vote by mail. I don't remember what voting in Wisconsin was like (at the time, I did same day registration, but I think they went back and forth). In the US, voting is a state issue, for better or worse, and there are plenty of examples of states where voting is reasonable.


> In the US, voting is a state issue, for better or worse, and there are plenty of examples of states where voting is reasonable.

7 people got infected in Wisconsin due to voting: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2020/04/.... I am glad your experiences in CA/WA were positive, but I would suggest looking into the history of "voting is a state issue."


If these were private matters affecting only particular individuals as a consequence of their particular decisions, then yes, I would broadly be open to allowing private choices.

But it's not. Folks breaking shelter-in-place orders impose a non-trivial risk on everyone else. This is a classic externality problem and the classic answer, if a market mechanism cannot be formed, is regulation.

Since viruses don't respect cap-and-trade schemes, we are stuck with what we have and we should absolutely punish those who impose substantial risks (2% is absurdly high, are you kidding?) on the rest of us against our will.


Serious question: would you make the same argument about censoring anti-vaccination views?

Reopening the country has undeniably turned into a political issue, and one thing we know for certain about Facebook and social media in general is that they are rife with political disinformation. I don't think it's accurate to explain this activity as the speech of "ordinary people" when there seems to be just as much evidence, if not more, that most Americans are concerned about COVID-19, and that these campaigns to organize protests are barely-disguised astroturfing. See also Trump's "LIBERATE $STATE" tweets.

I think Facebook is terrible and should be destroyed, but I must admit they have a very challenging problem on their hands in distinguishing malicious, manipulative speech from ignorant speech, and ignorant speech from speech that goes against the majority opinion but is, in fact, correct. And even if they can classify content correctly most of the time, how should they deal with all those categories and all the shades of grey within them? Do you think they should turn a blind eye to political disinformation? Do you think they should enable the spread of manipulative ignorance, theft of elections, and so on?

Given that some people will disagree with everything they do, and that at the scale of billions of users they will invariably fuck up a lot of individual cases, I think banning astroturfed campaigns to get people out in the streets blocking ambulances and harassing medical personnel during a global pandemic is A-OK. The people propping these things up should be fucking ashamed of themselves, but I know they aren't capable of such things. This activity has nothing in common with good-faith speech questioning the value of these lockdowns.


Here's a radical idea: allow people that want to ignore lockdown to do so, in exchange for refusal of anything but palliative care if they get sick with Coronavirus.


You forget that they will go and infect many others until they end in the hospital. That is the major issue with infections diseases.


> refusal of anything but palliative care


> they will go and infect many others


Who have the choice themselves on whether to isolate or otherwise


This is not acceptable. It is like saying we should not try to catch serial killers because people can just stay at home.


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