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CDC advises Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving (axios.com)
189 points by hhs 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 217 comments

Seems kind of silly to tell people who have been working at customer facing jobs this entire time that 8 hours at work is ok, but a few hours at dinner isn't. It's even more silly to blame working people for being unwilling to accept this contradiction rather than the government for being unwilling to pay people to stay home.


I got to spend a week making daily visits to a hospital this summer, and of course ended up spending a lot of time chatting with the care team about the pandemic. For context, the room we were in was next door to the space set aside for the COVID-19 isolation cohort, and the some folks were back and forth between both areas throughout the day. As far as customer-facing jobs go this year, having your customers be, not just anyone, but specifically people who are a known SARS-CoV-2 infection risk, seems like a pretty singular situation.

They all felt pretty safe, though, and, at least up to that point, hadn't had a single staff member test positive. They attributed this to everyone on the team being very scrupulous about masks and hand washing.

Somewhat similarly, and less anecdotally, my state recently released some information about their contact tracing efforts, and, while they didn't give any specific numbers, they indicated that workplaces did not seem to be a significant source of transmission as long as mask policies are being followed. The bulk of the transmission was from social gatherings, both in home and in public. There were some case studies of super-spreader events at public gatherings, and the general story is that, as long as the staff is sticking to the policy of wearing masks while at work, they are generally not getting caught up in these events.

So, I suspect it would be fine as long as everyone involved kept a mask on at all times.

The problem with getting together for a Thanksgiving dinner, then, is that you simply can't share a meal and (properly) wear a mask at the same time. Heck, you can't even offer your guests light refreshments and have them properly wear a mask at the same time.

The isolation room probably has negative air pressure

Fair point. Given where we were, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole floor had negative air pressure.

Nitpick: It may have had lower air pressure. It certainly did not have negative air pressure.

It's an accepted term in this context, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_room_pressure

The pressure is negative relative to the outside and that is the standard terminology https://blog.gotopac.com/2020/04/15/negative-pressure-triage...

Nitpick: people commenting on things they don't know

Depending on where you live or work, you might be wearing a mask and other PPE during your working hours. You wouldn't be wearing a mask or PPE during dinner (and likely any other time during the visit).

In addition to mask mandates, I've also seen copious amounts of hand sanitizers at store entrances, 6ft floor stickers and large plastic shields at checkout stations, and even thermometer checks in some store entrances.

In addition to that, Thanksgiving often requires traveling to another area (which is what the headline is specifically about). You also don't need to attend Thanksgiving, but you do need to work. We are probably going to have vaccines for everyone by summer or possibly as early as April, with those who are at risk getting vaccinated by next month. It would be extra unfortunate to die right now when a vaccine is right around the bend.

I'm conflicted about this. We need to work, because we made it in such way. Where I live, the subway is packed with people that go to work, many of them, to office jobs that are not needed.

You claim that people do not need to attend Thanksgiving. I guess the same goes for Christmas, or most family and friends gathering during the worst times of the pandemic. But this incurs a huge toil on mental health. People suffer.

I'm not saying to ignore restrictions and put people's will to meet above everything. But I think it's important to see what are we prioritizing. How we are considering that 40h of work are irreplaceable, but we must avoid seeing family and friends.

And how long can you sustain this? Imagine this needs to last one more year. A position where I'm forced to work undesired jobs during 40h per week under the threat of unemployment, poverty and starving, at the same time that I'm refused many social activities it's one where I'd rather kill myself.

Aren't people stuck working out in public exactly the people who should think carefully about passing that risk on to others in their extended family?

It's a horrible position to be in, but I don't think it's silly.

It's more about the communal traveling, or even isolated traveling, and mixing diagnosis from different areas, exacerbating local transmission.

Not silly at all.

Exactly this. It’s one thing for local people to spread it from one to the other. But now you have a country wide super spreader event where you mix people from all over - either spreading virus to their relatives and their communities when visiting somewhere, or taking it back to their own communities after the thanksgiving. Just in time to do it all over again during Xmas, and then New Years.

Healthcare personnel get COVID as such higher rates than most other fields because of the rate of exposure. Being in a small room with someone with COVID for a few hours is far riskier than passing 100 people with COVID on the street or in a big box store over the course of eight hours, where your exposure would be measured in seconds or minutes.

Most jobs outside of transportation also limit exposure to a relatively small group of regulars like a neighborhood grocery store, so we're already in the range of acceptable consequences (since most people need to work to eat). Creating transmission links between disparate regions is outside the range of acceptable consequences (IMO, and for the first year at least)

Spending a small amount of time around an infected person where you're both wearing masks is much less likely to spread the disease than sharing an enclosed space for an extended period of time with no masks.

Edit: source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7362827/

8 hours in a large, ventilated space, everyone wearing masks, limited/no physical contact, generally brief interactions usually from a safe distance


Thanksgiving aka the exact opposite of all of the above

Not a comparable situation because you are now potentially spreading it to people in your family whom you have not seen since.

A gathering of many people from diverse areas in an inadequately ventilated home is a bad idea. If you imagine transmission rates as a punch of particles bumping around with a chance of infecting nearby nodes that haven't been previously infected, run the additional mental model where you decide to first randomize every node's position.

At work you might be in a large space, you probably don't have long contact with any one person (when contact tracing it seems they ask who you've been in contact with for >15 minutes, not sure if they're still doing that), and you're wearing a mask. None of that might be true for a family gathering.

It's not silly at all. At work, They are wearing masks, staying socially distant, have shields and blocks in many cases,and keeping the economy afloat.

Contrast that to crowding within 6 feet of 5+ family members unmasked for hours, traveling and spreading virus everywhere for a holiday that celebrates native americans giving food resources to ill prepared settlers?

What IS silly is that this is a holiday, it's a fun but nonessential day. Do you think Turkey day or Jesus's "birthday" (aka coopted Pagan winter solstice day) is worth the 1000s of deaths that they will certainly cause? The pandemic that has killed 250,000 Americans in just 8 months is far, far more important than a couple family meals.

This is caricatured thinking though. You need to work because you want $$$ for rent, and you need to go to the grocery store (or wherever) to eat so you don't die. That's a sunk cost every person generally must assume.

But the point isn't that people have some risk, so adding more is OK. No — the goal is to not take unnecessary risk when avoiable. Eating turkey with family is something that you can postpone or even do over a video call if you have the means and still want some level of connection.

In my observation it's much easier to maintain a certain level of carefulness around strangers than it is around family. It's as if we were biologically wired to trust family more (we might actually be). On paper, Covid precautions are supposed to be as much to protect the other as to protect the self, but much of the relevant behaviour is so little controlled by rational though that we can only control it by tapping into self preservation instincts. And those simply don't fire as reliable with family as they do with strangers. I claim that if they have the same risk of being infected, n hours with m strangers is less dangerous than n hours with m family members.

It sure looks a bit weird to ask this of people who don't work in isolation, but on the other hand it's not worse for them than for the WFH crowd. It could even be argued that it's worse for the WFH because the customer facing at least still get to interact with humans on a regular basis.

In January 2020 China blocked Chinese New year travel for 1 billion people.

To this day, it amazes me that some people don't get that a nationwide travel and dine with a lot of people, could exponentially spread the virus.

We are almost 1 year later... And I think most people are here are well educated.

This saddens me deeply.

Actually, the real problem is that they didn't shut Wuhan before Chinese New Year.

If they had done that, the Chinese lockdown probably wouldn't have needed to be nationwide.

The Chinese did in fact shutdown Wuhan on January 22, three days prior to the Chinese New Year.


Why would that be the real problem?

I'm talking about smart people not realizing consequences from their own actions.

Our society considers those people in “essential services” to be sacrificial animals. They really don’t matter as long as we keep benefiting from their work. It’s brutal but it’s always been like this, just less obvious.

Sorry, are you saying we're capable of not having essential services run? Because we're not. There's no choice for society to make when it comes to essential services.

There is the dictionary definition of essential services - power, water, etc. But somehow Burger King is being called an essential service as well.

I agree with your point but don't think it's any less obvious at all. Our country has long treated essential service personnel as fungible.

For many people (especially those who travel), Thanksgiving isn't "a few hours at dinner" but "stay with relatives at least overnight and maybe an entire long weekend".

I don't understand why. If one works with customers there are two possibilities. One, their company has strict protocols that keeps them safe and so they should still be worried about getting it from guests. Two, their company is lax on protocols and so they are the ones risking the lives of their guests.

Either way, I am surprised to see this comment on HN, I would expect people here to not look at it at the individual level, and think in terms of probabilities.

It's not tho. Families won't be wearing masks or social distancing because of familiarity and alcohol (and probably some weed). Also they'll be eating and talking loudly without a mask which also spraying just tons and tons of germs into the air, often in a relatively small dining room or living room with most likely very limited ventilation. It's a perfect recipe for spreading the disease.

I imagine the difference is at those customer facing jobs they are wearing masks all day, where is at dinner everyone will have their masks off (at least while eating/drinking but in reality most will probably end up leaving them off after eating or even before eating because unlike at work where they maybe surrounded by strangers at home they will feel more comfortable maskless around extended family).

I think the obvious response is that working customer-facing jobs isn't safe, but is necessary for many people to pay for important things like food and shelter.

This criticism seems similar to the common one of "why are grocery stores okay but not concert venues: surely the virus doesn't know the difference?" Of course not, but buying food is, at least in the short term, more vital.

You seem to be under the impression that things are fair during a pandemic. It's not, and shouldn't be.

> 8 hours at work is ok, but a few hours at dinner isn't

Large, well-ventilated space vs close poorly-ventilated space.

Not sharing food vs sharing food.

Not yelling at each other vs yelling at each other.

Everyone wearing a mask vs not wearing masks.

There are some important differences between workplaces and dinner tables.

I assure you customer-facing retail employees experience plenty of yelling at work.

Yelling at each other??

Have you never been to a large family dinner?

I've never seen family members yell at each other. Is that a thing?

You’ve never seen The Simpsons?


I find family to be far more dangerous than strangers. With family people let their guard down and hug and take off their masks in doors. Family are where 70% of infections come from.

Except that every family that takes notice is potentially a dozen fewer direct infections. Two fewer hospitalisations.

Every little helps when it comes to public health messages.

It may seem that way. But they are talking to the populace as a whole, not just people who work customer-facing jobs.

And who is "blaming working people"?

People who work customer-facing jobs aren’t travelling cross-country, and are probably behind Perspex or wearing masks

Equivocation and blame games.

COVID is bad, passing it to people is bad, wearing masks and distancing almost guarantees it won't transmit, masks and social distancing are nearly impossible at social gatherings where people eat or drink, so halt social gatherings so we don't overload our hospitals and get a bunch of people killed a few months before a vaccine is available. Really not much more to it than that.

reducing contact is a statistical method. But it's ethically questionable to allocate the stochastic social activity budget primarily to work.

It is also silly to believe the issue is simply unwillingness of the government to pay people to stay home

Do you honestly believe that everyone can just stay home until we have wide scale vaccine? Who will make the vaccine, who will keep the water flowing, the power, the food, everything else we need for daily life

Lockdown has never, and will never be a reasonable strategy for a pandemic, this one or future ones

You don't need a lockdown forever, just to reduce transmission enough that contact tracing can be effective.

This worked in Europe for a few months, although all the tourism over the summer probably seeded the current outbreaks.

There is a huge part of the population that is advocating for a total lockdown until wide scale vaccine distibution is complete

and "worked" in EU is an oversimplification of what has happened with out taking into account 100's of other variables

You can not simply do a base comparison of cases and say "nation X locked down, and Nation Y did not and that is why they have different outcomes" there is no factual basis for that statement

Can you point me to some evidence for this huge portion of the population wanting lockdown until vaccines are distributed?

Should be pretty easy, given that so many people believe it.

Well, it didn't work forever, but one can clearly see that most countries of the EU locked down in March/April, which reduced cases massively. They then held cases at a low level until September/October.

This is much better performance than the US, where on a country basis, the numbers basically never went down, and are now increasing massively from a much higher base.

Sure, it's not causality but it's suggestive evidence.

Your interaction with an infected customer is probably less than 5 minutes--and you are probably both wearing masks.

Your interaction with an infected family member is hours in a close setting with poor ventilation without masks.

See: "56 coronavirus cases were linked to a Starbucks in South Korea. But employees who were wearing masks didn't get infected." https://www.businessinsider.com/56-got-coronavirus-south-kor...

> the government for being unwilling to pay people to stay home

The difficulty here is that there are some truly essential services, and there are some businesses that will die if not attended to, and we can't simply just let that all fall apart or people will starve. The government does actually have to grapple with questions like that, and even the best government will necessarily accept medical deaths to prevent a larger number of starvation deaths in the short term, or mass poverty in the long term.

The trick is adequately figuring out what is an 'essential service'. Really, it's more like figuring out what's inessential....

I'm lucky enough to be a Canadian and the CERB benefit has helped family members and friends who work in inessential industries like tourism that have been hurt badly by this. I support programs to help with that so those folks don't become poor. But no amount of money is going to let us close grocery stores, at least not without some other food logistics system in place.

I feel like anyone who would actually care enough to heed this was already planning not to travel for Thanksgiving, but I suppose it would at least give _some_ support to their case when other relatives complain about them not attending/hosting Thanksgiving this year (whether or not it satisfies those relatives).

One would think the fact that cases in the US are rising faster than they ever have would be deterrent enough.

I see where you’re coming from with that. Especially if someone has already booked flights that may be non-refundable, they are likely to go anyway.

But people feel intense pressure to follow the norm. In the absence of clear messaging from some third-party authority, that norm is generally “what we’ve always done.”

Messaging like this can change the perceived norm to “it’s okay to stay home this year.”

> Especially if someone has already booked flights that may be non-refundable

At least when the lockdown first kicked in during the spring, my impression is that most airlines let you cancel your tickets for a full-price credit that you could use later. That's what happened when I cancelled my "non-refundable" spring break tickets.

I got an email from Alaska Airlines recently saying essentially the same thing. They'd rather let people cancel in return for a credit than have people simply not book at all out of fear of needing to cancel. Hell, they'd be happy to take your money now for a plane ticket in the future. It's basically a loan to help them weather the pandemic.

From what I've seen it's quite the opposite, at least for "basic economy" style tickets. I bought tickets (which I will definitely not be using) and every extra bit of space on every page of the airline websites was filled with big warnings that nothing related to COVID is a valid excuse to get a flight change or refund.

> Especially if someone has already booked flights that may be non-refundable, they are likely to go anyway.

Pretty much every airline is offering credits for future travel, at the very least. I doubt too many people are in this position.

The messaging from medical experts has been about 99% on point. Those individuals who choose to listen to a certain lying-through-his-teeth-to-the-point-being-considered-the-norm commander-in-chief instead are the ones who are mostly doing these sorts of dangerous activities. It is really hard to have any sympathy for them. I have more sympathy for my wallet which ultimately pays the taxes that will be used by the government to fix the economy that would be a lot healthier if people listened to experts.

> Especially if someone has already booked flights that may be non-refundable, they are likely to go anyway.

With the pandemic I completely stopped following the details of the aviation and airline industries (a combo of not flying and impact to my family working there.) In normal times, many tickets would be changeable with a hefty change fee. Has the industry switched to even more restrictive "use it or lose it" fares?

That's a good point, and I hope this is the case. It just seems that, as with many things these days, people I've encountered are so set in their opinions that contrary messages from anyone, even (or especially) an authority, wouldn't change anything for them. But I hope you're right.

I know people who are on the fence. Such a guideline may well change their mind.

We were on the fence. Up until recently our local area has been only lightly affected by covid. It wasn't the decree from the governor that made us decide not to go, however, it was the big surge in cases. No need to be part of that mess, thanksgiving will still be here next year. And this year we're going to use a Zoom call to get everyone together while we eat :)

> but I suppose it would at least give _some_ support to their case when other relatives complain about them not attending/hosting Thanksgiving this year (whether or not it satisfies those relatives).

Messaging is important. It irritates me to no end that newscasters aren't wearing masks--for example. There are a lot of people who are "Oh, the lady on TV is wearing a mask--so I guess it's bad enough that I should, too."

I wonder if there would be any implications for travel insurance? I know you aren't covered if you travel to a country against the advice of your country (ie. travel to a place with ongoing war or conflict), would that extend to travelling within your own country against the advice of CDC?

Excellent point, many insurance covers would have certain criteria and CDC announcements would certainly qualify in many instances. Though might be case that advisories are less credible than an announcement/alert. They advise people use sunscreen to reduce skin cancer and yet if you get skin cancer the insurance company don't get out of cover as you missed using sunscreen one day. So from that analogy perspective, I'm wondering if an advisory is enough to help some policies insurance wise.

I'd imagine it depends on the specifics of the policy you bought.

I got a lot of flack for cancelling plans with my family, this honestly is a god send in terms of relationship management.

I really think this is the aspect people are missing.

This helps a lot with people who already wanted to cancel plans, but didn't have "permission" to.

Now, people can say: "Oh, I really really wish I could attend, but I'm following the CDC guidance. I'll really miss you, and I'll definitely be back next year."

The families who are ignoring covid are quite likely to be the ones who think covid is a government conspiracy to take away their right to not wear a mask. It would be pointless. The best thing to do is just take a stand and say you're doing this to protect yourself and that's the end of the discussion. The evidence is overwhelming that covid is deadly and to be avoided whenever humanly possible. What good is an in-person Thanksgiving if you wipe out half the old folks in your family and know it wouldn't have happened if you had skipped it this year. A lot of people won't be seeing loved ones next year because they willy-nilly killed them this year because "muh rights" or because they let their emotions overrule their logic. I can't believe people want blood on their hands like that.


Oh no! Someone might use the recommendations of a scientist to lessen the social consequences in order to do the same thing they were already planning on doing.


Yes, I don't understand this. If you don't care enough about your family to spend time with them during the holidays, then why care what they think about your nonattendance?

If you don't care enough about them to consider the risk that you might carry the virus to them, why would you even consider going?

Maybe I misunderstood GP. I thought by "people who already wanted to cancel plans" he meant people that didn't want to visit for reasons unrelated to the virus.

You did misunderstand me.

I meant people who were already concerned about the virus, but also concerned about the social opprobrium that might come from canceling a Thanksgiving dinner.

This tips the scale—by lessening the negative social consequences for deciding to cancel—so more people may cancel their plans now.

Holidays are usually more stressful family events for myriad reasons. I'm more comfortable spending considerable quality time with a few different family members throughout the year (not this year obvs), than I am spending a small amount of time with all of them at once.

I love my family, but despise family gatherings. Although, admittedly, I'm a happily introverted hermit most of the time.

We're planning on skipping Thanksgiving, but for Christmas my parents, my sister, and I are all going to quarantine very strictly (separately) for 2-3 weeks beforehand and then get together. We may also get tested at some point, and none of us will have to travel by plane. I'm hoping that with the precautions and the small-ish group it will be safe enough.

That's very similar to my plans for the entire holiday season -- I live across the country from my family, so my girlfriend and I (who work remotely) are just driving quite a few hours and staying with family for the entire Thanksgiving -> Christmas season. We've been quarantining at home for over two weeks now, so as long as we're highly cautious on the drive when we have to stop at gas stations I think it'll be OK.

As long as you can avoid risky situations the rest of the time, there shouldn't be a problem doing the holidays with family. The trouble is that even going to the grocery store counts as "risky" in my book, so you need to plan well in advance.

Maybe the situation varies greatly in different areas, but we haven't been to the grocery store since March. We order deliveries from the regional chain and they can generally be scheduled just a few days out from when you order

Yeah, that's where my family landed. 2 week strict quarantine for everyone, then you can get a little slice of normal.

It will honestly be the best Christmas present I could have asked for

That seems like a good approach. Andy Slavitt's podcast had really good coverage of this recently: https://www.lemonadamedia.com/podcast/toolkit-how-to-stay-sa....

I've seen lots of sites[1] that show the risk at someone will end up being covid-positive during a large gathering (like Thanksgiving). This data is, as far as I can tell based on an estimate of how many people in a given population are likely to have an infection.

Does anyone know of any sites/data that offer the same risk analysis, but can take into account people who receive negative covid tests? For example, how would you estimate the risk of a 15 person Thanksgiving gathering if all 15 people receive negative covid tests prior to gathering?

[1] https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/

You can do the math, take the GA Tech prevalence data and combine it with the false negative rate (has covid, tests negative).

If you want to go further, consider the time you will spend together in an indoor environment mask-less. I think there are some estimates of indoor transmission probabilities per time of exposure to a positive case.

Bear in mind the average 5-8 day incubation period so even if you test the day before you are still almost a week behind in exposures.


Very hard to estimate false negative rate for a group given that the false negative rate itself is fluctuates considerably based on when you get the test. False negatives are very high the day before symptoms and go down dramatically at the third day after symptoms (which is the best day to get tested).

Yep this is basically why people need to not gather.

You may also want to consider at this point that social gatherings of people do not represent a random sample of the population but are instead self-selecting for higher exposure to covid.

I think it's not just about the "first-order "risk of infection itself. It's also the fact that a disease is a graph phenomenon, and gatherings will connect parts of the graph that are normally separate. This means that infections will lead to more than average amounts of secondary, tertiary infections.

But on the other hand this may not matter as much anymore since we are in a late stage of the epidemic, and the disease is everywhere already.

Also I don't mean to dissuade anyone from attending with this.

Are tests so easily available now that they can be "wasted" on people just using them for convenience, instead of reserving the testing capacity for better use?

The test may anyway be worthless if you take it and then anyways have been exposed during a flight or so.

Depends on the region. Urban California, for instance, has high testing capacity. I get tested here in SF pretty often and any time I'll be hanging out with people.

Rural and semi-urban areas like SLO etc. are quite strapped on the other hand.

EDIT: See below, my info was out of date by a week. I would hypothesize it's everyone who wants to be tested for the holidays.

> I get tested here in SF pretty often and any time I'll be hanging out with people

Given the time it takes from exposure to symptoms and tests register it, isn't that kind of a false sense of security? Exposed on sunday - takes a test thursday that's negative - hangs out with friends on friday, kinda deal.

Nothing eliminates risk. There are only mitigation and constraint measures. In my case, and the case of those close to me, we find these measures adequate.

If you were to spend time with me, you will know my entire protocol, and I will willingly show you my contact/movement history (I record each event on Google Calendar and I use Google Timeline History for maps).

I understand if you have a different protocol.

> I would hypothesize it's everyone who wants to be tested for the holidays.

That's probably a factor.

The statewide case spike is probably also creating a testing demand spike even before considering holiday-related impacts, too.

Interestingly, I've heard slightly differently from 2 of my Bay Area friends. They've said that local appointments have been fully booked up to Thanksgiving. I live here too but I haven't checked myself. It's possible they are only looking at the closest locations to their home.

I just checked in San Francisco and they gave me a warning that they've never done before. I've had tests on a regular cadence earlier so I know this is fresh (last test was last week).

So it looks like your friends are right and I was one week out of date!

I'm in line right now. They have some capacity for signups at the scene.

Seems like a simple recipe for anyone to improve their lot in life is "Learn Javascript; move to urban California"

NYC and NY State are running TV ads reminding everyone to get tested often, because you can be contagious and asymptomatic and frequent testing helps detect that earlier.

I'm sure there is regional variability... but in at least some places, it seems like tests are indeed plentiful.

If I had to guess, the regions that have decided to handle the pandemic by largely doing nothing different than normal don't have great availability, but probably more for political reasons than logistical ones.

In San Diego, a family member and several friends working for various biotech companies and research institutes get tested weekly. However, those that don't have physical experiments to tend to are WFH and not receiving the test AFAIK. It's also easily available as a drive through test at every pharmacy I've seen throughout Southern California.

Yes. Near me at least in Oakland CA there are several providers that offer no-appointment, no-referral covid testing.

There's no one way to estimate it, so any such tool is just going to turn into a reflection of the assumptions used to create it.

Setting aside the probability that someone could be asymptomatic and contagious after a negative test (which actually seems to be fairly low), you'd need to know the false-negative characteristics of the different tests that were used. Unfortunately, people seem to be far more concerned with the former risk than the latter -- they assume that their tests are infallible (wrong), but that the risk of asymptomatic transmission is relatively high (also wrong).

> you'd need to know the false-negative characteristics of the different tests that were used

Good point about this. Do we have enough data to compute this? my layman's guess is that if someone is asymptomatic and receives a negative test, they're not likely to follow it up with another test (which would be one way to learn the first test was a false-negative). But maybe there are other clever ways at getting at the false-negative rate for each type of test.

My organization has put together some data on this:


We pulled together performance data for dozens of COVID-19 diagnostics, which you can download. We also created a stats tool to help you understand the Predictive Value of each test based on how widespread the disease is in the tested population.

The key metrics we look at are:

Positive predictive value (PPV), the fraction of positive tests where the person actually had the disease.

Negative predictive value (NPV), the fraction of negative tests where the person actually did not have the disease.

Considering the White House has been doing daily COVID tests long before Trump caught it and has still had multiple large spread events, I'd say it doesn't tell you much.

If you could all get tested a week before, isolate completely for the next 7 days, and continue to test negative the day before or day of, then you can be confident.

Otherwise, with the 5-7 lag where you can be infected and spreading the disease while still testing negative and having no symptoms, a single test isn't a guarantee. Depends on your group's specific risk factors.

What's the point of sandwiching the 7 days between tests? Wouldn't 7 days isolation, then test be just as good? The only scenario (ignoring actual technical false negatives) where you'd get positive on the first, negative on the second would be a very late stage where infectivity was mostly over already at the time of the first test.

I mean, it’s a little better because the danger window is 7 days instead of 14 days. A back of the envelope estimate would be that 2X people with clear coronavirus tests have equivalent risk of someone having coronavirus as X people who have had no testing.

WH folks were traveling all over the country for election events.

When it comes to family deep rooted historical cultural traditions, I'm sensing that an advisory is not going to make much of a dent upon impact. Maybe better to advise how to have thanksgiving safely - pre isolate prior to meetup - whole scale of what you can do and outline the risk reductions each one has. Give people an educated choice in the risk as like crossing the road - we all make educated risk choices each day and they won't stop the holiday, but can manage it better with better advice/approach I feel.

We didn't have an Easter celebration this year. In fact, for the entirety of Lent, the Catholic Church in my area said that mass was not necessary due to the pandemic.

Some things are more important than tradition. Easter is the most holy holiday of the Catholic Church (Christmas has more secular importance, but is still only 2nd most important).

If you were willing to sacrifice Easter back in April, then Thanksgiving / Christmas is no different, at least to those of us who are religious. Its important to take this situation seriously.

And yes, the Catholic Church definitely cares about tradition. In fact, people criticize it for caring too much about tradition at times.

Wonderful to hear that and was wondering if that would be down to the catholic church having a better structure of leadership that was on-board early? After all, we all know the Catholic church has The Pope as their leader, and probably about the only religion people know who the World voice of that religion is.

But kudos for the Catholic Church for what they have done throughout this pandemic. I am by no means saying other religions efforts during this pandemic are any better or worse and just wanted to clarify that so no subtext is inferred. Indeed I don't want to hear what others if they are be doing wrong, kinda want to hear the good examples so we all learn from them.

>And yes, the Catholic Church definitely cares about tradition. In fact, people criticize it for caring too much about tradition at times.

The Catholic Church also has a tradition of caring and people have a tradition of complaining (I'm British so maybe a cultural perspective slant there), but nobody complaining here upon that tradition of caring too much.

> Wonderful to hear that and was wondering if that would be down to the catholic church having a better structure of leadership that was on-board early?

I don't know the full mechanics of the decision. But a few things to note:

1. This was Archbishop Gregory's decision. I'm unsure how high up the "chain" goes for the Catholic Church. As such, Archbishop Gregory's history is important, but also the Archdiocese he's leading. So #2 goes into that background...

2. Archbishop Gregory was brought into my Archdiocese as a "turning over a new page" kind of bishop... as Theodore McCarrick (a previous leader) was caught up in the whole sex-abuse scandal that I'm sure you know about. Cardinal Wuerl, Gregory's immediate predecessor, was also seen as too connected to the sex-abuse scandals.

So after having the whole sex-abuse thing come into light over the past few years, and coming on as the new Bishop who will turn a new page after that whole awful affair... it is obvious what Archbishop Gregory should do for his first Easter of this area of Church.

So this is quite possibly a local-church politics (Archdiocese wide) thing that plays into the decision making process here.

> After all, we all know the Catholic church has The Pope as their leader, and probably about the only religion people know who the World voice of that religion is.

And yes, the Pope is the leader for sure. The new Pope is also quite reformist in attitude, and Archbishop Gregory would have been elevated to his position thanks to the blessings of the Pope.

But I didn't know the Archbishop had the power to negate the need of mass + eucharist (temporarily) during this pandemic. Such authority is rarely, if ever, used. But its those sorts of moves that really help get the Church unified during a long-term pandemic like this.

Not bad for Archbishop Gregory's first year.



>> The dispensation issued by Archbishop Gregory from the obligation to attend Mass during this time remains in effect. All persons who are subjects of the Archbishop of Washington no matter where they may be, and all other persons who are actually present in the Archdiocese of Washington who are under the obligation, are dispensed from the obligation until further notice (cann. 87 §1, 91).

Not to be crude, but the whole sexual education debate is fairly analogous here.

We can teach people to abstain completely, or we can teach them how to do things safely.

It's pretty settled on which works better to prevent unwanted consequences.

Sex is a biological imperative entrenched in our DNA through countless generations of evolutionary selection all the way back to the dawn of sexual reproduction millions of years ago.

Thanksgiving is an American secular holiday about eating turkey.

Being social and connected with our family unit is also deeply embedded in our DNA.

Family and social relationships are not entrenched in our DNA?

Sure, they are. But Thanksgiving is only one minor manifestation of that.

Abstinence-only education is likely doomed to failure because you can't expect people to resist all possible sexual urges. But you could reasonably effectively get people to, say, abstain from having sex at Thanksgiving dinner.

That's my initial thought as well. Abstaining from sex (or contact in the context of the pandemic) is a near impossibility for mental health, societal/economic benefit, and just human nature, so it's better to teach how to do so safely.

I fear that there's a large subset of the population who won't follow safe practices unless you scare them with text like "don't visit your friends/family".

One might argue there is no safe method in this case. There are enough stories of people who did as much as they thought they could and still ended up infected. Can't really be compared to condoms for example, which have a fraction of a fraction of a chance to break.

Condoms are 95% effective.

Masks are only 60%. The only methodology that's anywhere close to 95% effective is a vaccine. Furthermore, you can't wear a mask while eating, and its too cold outside now to hold an outdoor dinner.

If you have a combination of methodologies that reaches 95% efficacy, feel free to tell the world. But mask-up, social distanced (6-feet apart) and all that is only partially effective at controlling the virus. And such conditions are unlikely to be kept during a Thanksgiving party (especially if alcohol is involved)

> too cold outside now to hold an outdoor dinner.

If it was good enough for the Peanuts, it's good enough for us with appropriate clothing. :D

Certainly gives some perspective into peoples ability and limitations of controls/tools available. Best will in the World, stuff is goona happen and STD rates would give an insight. Be interesting in years to come to mine the COVID infection rate data and contrast against STD spread trends and see if any correlation geography. I'm looking at crime rates in area's and infection spreads and whilst nothing hard, it certainly does seem to have some correlation. The more likely an area is to have people prepared to break laws, the more chance people won't respect the laws/rules/advice for spread.

So certainly much to be learned, but like driving - you can follow all the rules and drive perfectly, it's always the other person who does not that crashes into you.

Just case of managing the flow like a production line and not seeing hospital capacity bottleneck, which seems to be the case in every country in the production line of normal life. So a mass risk increase all in short window of time is one heck of a sudden spike risk that could really jam up and backlog the bottleneck and have a knock-on effect that will not bode well.

This all happening in a country with leadership in a bumpy transition phase and potentially a perfect storm.

I'd hate to think though that the head of the CDC wasn't prepared to do an outright internal flight travel ban or harder notice statement for fear of upsetting the current president and getting twitter sacked and classed as a communist for not protecting American values. But for me and possibly others - I can see how that may well be plausible, so there is that in the back of my mind, can't deny that thought and do hope I'm wide of the mark even though it is a doubt I can't dismiss. But politics and health are never good bedfellows.

This is one reason I tend to tell people traditions are stupid if there is no reasoning or thought behind them and the only reason is "because it's always been this way". Humans need to start using pragmatism and logic and forget about those traditions and cultural attributes that no longer serve a purpose in the now.

It's all very well to say that traditions that serve no purpose are stupid and should be forgotten, but it might be a Hard Problem to distinguish those kinds of traditions from other traditions that serve an excellent purpose that is complex or non-obvious enough that they appear purposeless.

Relevant Slate Star Codex: https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/06/04/book-review-the-secret...

Relevant HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22037749

Why don't we have cheap/free, widespread, rapid home testing yet? We've known about Covid-19 for almost a year!

Then people could just test themselves before traveling or going to indoor gatherings. They could also be used at airports, etc.

Even if you do, the tests aren't biased that way.

If the tests give you a positive result, you almost certainly have Covid. However, a negative result doesn't imply lack of Covid with the same accuracy.

I've read that the rapid (antigen) testing is not as accurate as the tests that are processed in a lab. I've seen figures of up to 37% false negatives. I would have looked into it more, but I've decided that I would personally not trust a rapid test if a lab test was available, except in the most urgent of scenarios.

When cases were down this summer (Ontario, Canada) I briefly considered having an outdoor 'x-mas in august' for the family. Seeing the trajectory we're on now, really regretting not doing that.

> Seeing the trajectory we're on now, really regretting not doing that.

Props to you for helping maintain social distancing.

I noticed people stopped wearing masks outside and started doing more gatherings around Toronto right about the time cases started going up again. Coincidence? I don't think so...

We're just outside the 'sphere of influence' of Toronto, and I can really see the diligence going down and the cases going up. Our area wasn't hit very hard in May, maxing out at just over 1:4000. Now it's getting cold, the college kids are back in town, and we seem to have forgotten about the very real threat. Last week we broke our city's record for cases every day, 5 days in a row.

Yeah, had the same experience. The sad thing is that officials were warning about this exact risk from way back in June, but I guess covid fatigue is a real thing :/

It's the year for hindsight

Remember that this whole mess started (or at least got a lot worse) because the Chinese travelled a lot for the Lunar New Year. Back then there was a lot of people blaming everything on the Chinese for not staying where they were and spreading the virus.

Anecdotally, covid tests in the bay area seem to be all booked up until Thanksgiving, with walk ins being very busy. I hope all those tested people are only traveling to each other though; it won't help them much if they fly with untested folks to gather with untested people.

In Massachusetts, according to an article in the Boston Globe, at least some MA test centers are getting backlogged because of people getting tested prior to traveling for Thanksgiving. (Which the governor has asked people not to do but not much he can do besides saying people are required to quarantine when they return.)

Close the airports.

Remember when the outbreak just started and China aggressively closed off all travel (including by road) to/from Wuhan (and this was all going on near the Chinese New Year). It's a somewhat similar situation now in the US with a holiday that historically involved travel and large family gatherings, but I'm afraid that many government leaders have downplayed covid for so long that it'll be hard to get any compliance at this point, especially in the worst hit areas, which at some places are in full-blown collective denial.

You don't need compliance from the populace if you close the airports. Preventing them from driving is an entirely different proposition, but most people would not be able to make the drive due to time and distances involved. So closing the airports would probably be pretty effective, if you also shut down trains. The airlines would hate it, but the car rental places would see a boost.

(Not sarcastically), I would really love to know how much this would help. I read a statistic once that the majority of people live within 8 miles of where they were born. If that's true, then although there are is a lot travel in airports during Thanksgiving, a large portion of the people would be unhindered by this.

If you live that close then you probably already see family semi-often so 'traveling' for Thanksgiving makes little difference. So the probability that you/one group doesn't have the virus and the other hasn't is already low since both groups live in the same region and would have already transmitted it to each other.

If you live far enough that you have to fly then you most likely have a completely separate social sphere where you live plus traveling by plane means being close to 100s of complete strangers. So the chance that one person/group is coming from a region with an outbreak to a non-outbreak region is higher and the risk of catching it during travel is higher.

It's just like ring security theory. Level 2 > Level 1 vs Level 3 -> Level 1.

Spot on. If your social circle already includes your family because you live one town over, feel free to have family thanksgiving with that limited social circle (so don't invite your grandparents from hours away, unless you call all afford to isolate for 1-2 weeks in advance!).

If you live in California and your family is in New Hampshire, please don't hop on a plane, risking infection, and potentially spread COVID from your social circle in California to your family's in New Hampshire.

Unfortunately, the combination of humans being bad at following instructions, folks being tired of COVID, and the high levels of stress this year are probably going to result in a lot of folks doing exactly this kind of stupid thing. I really wish we could close the airports for the week of Thanksgiving (refunding all flights that week) to give people a push towards responsibility, because they likely won't do it themselves.

While it's hard to predict the number of people who will travel outside their communities, I'd say the packed highways, airports, and buses during past holiday seasons mean that number's pretty high.

Is that statistic of 8 miles for the US or worldwide? I'd have to imagine countries with large populations of very poor residents would have a much different stat for that compared to the United States.

This article suggests the figure is 18 miles for the US.


It's from 2015 but I wouldn't expect the number to be too different today.

I think it's the U.S. I remember it thinking that statistic means that it is especially bad for people to use the challenge question of "What city were you born in?" If you know anything about the individual, you can probably just guess where they live now and be correct.

We should also lock people in their homes. Except the technocrats and politicians, they get a free movement pass.


I think this issue has been so downplayed and politicised in the US that such a move is now essentially unthinkable.

You can see that in some of the rather predictable responses you've received. Of course, I don't think you literally mean "close all airports" – rather, a move to temporarily ban nonessential long-distance travel, which is a pretty normal tool that you'd expect to use to tackle a pandemic.

I'm in England just now—hardly the poster child for excessive restrictions–and pretty extensive limitations apply for the next two weeks for travel and gathering. This isn't anything that anybody particularly wants, but it definitely feels that the country has collectively shat itself to a lesser extent.

Really? I'm currently out of the country on a special visa which expires at the end of the month. I'm traveling for family/health reasons that couldn't wait, not for leisure or holiday. If the US forcibly closed the airports I'd be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

While that would certainly dent holiday travel, it wouldn't nearly be enough. The type of family gatherings being discussed here could happen just via driving. Even a more extreme mandate of "Close all state borders" wouldn't stop a student in their state college to drive a few hours back home for the holidays.

Looking at pre-Covid numbers from 2019, driving accounts (~55m) for more travel than flying (~36m) during the Thanksgiving period.[1][2]

[1] https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/thanksgiving-travel-2019-... [2] https://newsroom.aaa.com/tag/thanksgiving-travel-forecast/#:...

University students are pretty much obligated to go home for the holidays. My niece attends a state university where all the undergrad housing is closed as of now and through the end of the year. Final exams are happening remotely.

Which shows how uncoordinated this all is. A ton of schools where planning since August to go remote only after thanksgiving as they have no way of stopping students from visiting on thanksgiving but having them all come back afterwords is unthinkable. Therefore the only solution is to force them to leave completely at thanksgiving.

Every institution is enacting policies that make the sense for themselves but together are not great at actually stopping the pandemic.

>Which shows how uncoordinated this all is.

While the Federal response and some state responses have been horrible, I actually don't see it as inherently bad that schools have flexibility in deciding what they do based on their location, size, need for physical access to teach/lab work. Schools have indeed responded differently and some of that is simply different decisions by different administrations. But some of it is also recognizing that situations are different. And so far, schools do not seem to have been a particular problem in disease spread.

This particular school had a really weird thing where freshmen moved in and then went back home and came back a few days later, which seems like the worst possible idea. But, they've done in-person, on-campus classes for the whole semester and COVID hasn't been a disaster for either the student body or the surrounding town, so?

No, head of CDC fired in 3, 2, 1, ..

It would not surprise me. Someone on german TV called Trump's behaviour a "retaliation campaign against the country that did not want to elect him again" and it really feels like it.


Except Trump got record reelection votes. There were slightly more for the other guy.

It would be folly to underestimate how much support Trump has in this country.

This was no clear win -- we are very much a country divided.

Yeah, I was amazed to see Trump actually had a larger percentage of the popular vote in 2020 (47%) than he did in 2016 (46%).



Edit: That's not to say Biden is not the clear victor, only that there are still A LOT of people who support Trump, and even people who didn't vote for him in 2016 who did vote for him this time.

2016 had a few more viable 3rd party candidates that did particularly well in certain areas (like McMullin in Utah)

> Edit: That's not to say Biden is not the clear victor, only that there are still A LOT of people who support Trump, and even people who didn't vote for him in 2016 who did vote for him this time.

I think people are taking what I'm saying out of context. I'm not saying that Biden didn't win the election.

I'm saying that this election isn't where this ends. The fact that other commenters had such a knee jerk reaction (yourself excluded) only proves it.

and a few points shy of 20% more votes than the first time.

> This was no clear win

Let's see:

Biden appears to have won got the highest share of the population (not share of those who actually voted) ever to vote for a Presidential candidate.

Biden got a clear popular majority.

Biden got a clear electoral majority (the exact same electoral majority the Trump camp declared a landslide in 2016.)

How on Earth is that not a clear win?

At this point, the “no clear win” argument from Trumpists is the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail saying “All right, we'll call it a draw” after all his limbs have been severed.

I'm not even a Trump supporter.

I'm just saying that it's a mistake to think that America resoundingly rejected Trump. He got roughly 11 million more votes the second time around. That puts him roughly on par with Ronald Reagan as far as popularity the second time around. In terms of raw votes, he's the most popular encumbent we've had period.

Biden's win is a pretty narrow percentage -- in the battleground states it came down to less than 1%.

This is very much an unsettled political question. If you think that that political movement has buttoned up and moved on, you're nuts. The results of this election are going to be in play in the mid-term elections and the next Presidential.

Feel free to downvote the unpopular truth.

> In terms of raw votes, he's the most popular encumbent we've had period.

In terms of raw votes, the ninth most popular US Presidential candidate in 2020 (several steps below Kanye West) is more popular than Washington in either election, John Adams, or Jefferson in his first election, and the major party loser of every election 1876 and later was more popular than every President up to, and including, Lincoln.

Raw votes are a stupid measure.

My problem is not with whether Biden won for a little or a lot, he won and that´s all that matters.

My problem is that 70+ million Americans (almost 1 in 4) voted for him... somehow thought that despite everything the person has done and said, 1 in 4 people actually think it was not reprehensible enough to not vote for him.

I really would have thought that the vote would have been 70% vs 30% or so for Biden but 70 million people! (plus all the ones that cannot/didn't vote but still support him)

6-7 million more votes is a clear win.

It's also a clearer win than he had vs. Hilary.

It's not even 6 million, but that's splitting hairs. He got nearly twice as many more people to vote for him the second time as the amount he lost by.

It's just funny to see how offended people get when you float the idea that half of their countrymen might disagree with them. And that that half has a meaningful political reality worthy of accounting for.

If despite those numbers, you still think we're "unified", you're just burying your head in the sand.

I'm not from the US and I didn't say the US was unified.

I'm saying the US system is a winner takes all system.

Biden was a clear win, even if he would have won with only 1 EC vote. He also had the popularity vote.


This doesn't deserve to be marked 'dead'. I am vouching for it because it is evidence-based advice.

Seen several families have their big, invite friends and family type dinners early, last week and this week.

It is going to explode with the cold wheather - isn't it? Travel is already far lower than usual.

"going to" implies that it is not doing so right now. Which isn't the case. Infections are growing exponentially to the point where something like 1-5% of the US population is estimated to be infected right now.

It's going to explode because of a synchronized nation-wide spreading event, not because of the weather.


Why not? It's an advisory, not an order... There's no need to 'comply', just use common sense.


That's highly presumptive. The underlying message may be valid, but the way you are saying it is the same inflammatory clickbait that the media has started to use.

You could meet outdoors and socially distanced. The participants could all get tested, etc. Not to mention, one could plan for a funeral for vulnerability people regardless of the gathering as they could become infected during other normal life activities, such as doctor visits or grocery shopping.

It's from https://www.mississippifreepress.org/7014/after-big-thanksgi... which was paraphrasing the Mississippi State Medical Association president, "We don’t really want to see Mamaw at Thanksgiving and bury her by Christmas" and "You’re going to say hi at Thanksgiving, it’s so nice to see you, and you’re either going to be visiting her by Facetime in the ICU or planning a small funeral by Christmas".

This was qualified with "we're going to see some of that" but if it's not getting the desired reaction, they will probably continue to ramp up the inflammatory imagery.

It would be correct to plan on a probabilistic funeral for someone else after coordinating a gathering.

I am spending most of my time this week weighing the risks of leaving my father in a Covid-infected nursing home (where he gets otherwise awesome care) or removing him to worse bespoke care but lower risk of Covid infection in the short term. I don't wish this process on anyone.

Do your neighbors a favor and limit your contact with other humans for the next few weeks.

Also, if you know healthcare workers running short on PPE, encourage them to list on https://findthemasks.com/ We are back in full operation.

Merriam-Webster defines clickbait as:

something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest

In this case the headline (from the Mississippi Free Press) is paraphrasing a quote from MSMA President Dr. Mark Horne. The paraphrasing agrees with the quote in context and does not appear to be designed to exaggerate or sensationalize the facts being reported.

Here's the relevant section of the article:

The state’s top health official urged even Mississippians who are having small holiday gatherings to observe 6 feet of social distancing and to hold the gatherings outdoors, where the chance of transmission is lower.

“We don’t really want to see Mamaw at Thanksgiving and bury her by Christmas,” MSMA President Dr. Mark Horne said during the meeting, concurring with the state health officer.

“We’re going to see some of that. It’s going to happen,” Dobbs replied.

Horne agreed.

“It’s going to happen. You’re going to say hi at Thanksgiving, it’s so nice to see you, and you’re either going to be visiting her by Facetime in the ICU or planning a small funeral by Christmas,” the MSMA president said.

Full article here: https://www.mississippifreepress.org/7014/after-big-thanksgi...

The key difference is that the quote is saying that we will see some of that, but the headline is implying that it is universal due to it's absolute tone.

It would be like me saying if you drink alcohol, plan on being an alcoholic. It's true that we see some of that, but it's not the case for everyone.

I think the better analogy, if we want to use alcohol, is a headline saying "If you drink and drive get ready to crash or be arrested."

Of course there are plenty of people that will drink and drive and not crash or be arrested. Not a great warning / deterrent though.

"Drink and drive and statistically increase your chances of crashing or being caught by law enforcement" is technically more correct, but I don't think we would be having an argument over the signs on the highway that simplify the message.

Well, the signs on the road are intended to be government propaganda, whereas journalism is supposed be more neutral fact reporting.

I went with the alcoholism analogy because it is a health issue, like covid is. They both have somewhat unknown triggers, mostly genetic, and actions can initiate the problem actions but not ultimately determine the problem will occur. The analogy you are using is mostly decision based, and not based on genetics or health.

You could do all of those things, of course, but that's even less likely than people canceling their plans.

I've heard of people doing this. In fact, there was a memorial service for a relative who passed away right before this started. It was outside and socially distanced. It went well.

Many neighbors for Halloween came up with distancing solutions as well. So I think there are more people modifying plans than outright cancelling them in this area. Of course this can vary drastically depending on the specific location and I imagine there are some areas seeing the inverse.

I went to an outdoor memorial service in September. It was beautiful. I told my wife to do that for me if I kick it first. So much nicer than a funeral home.

I told my wife to donate my body to science, have them pay for cremation when they're done with me, then throw my ashes in the garden.


What Fauci said that one time was taken out of context by all the anti-mask idiots (and propagated by Trump himself).

Fauci has corrected it multiple times after and said that yes you should wear masks.


And comparing the CDC to a street drug dealer is beyond asinine.

Here is the whole thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRa6t_e7dgI

He says that if there is an outbreak, it might make people feel better to wear a mask... among other incriminating things


He also says that he was wrong in saying that masks don't prevent the spreading of the virus

"among other incriminating things"

I don't see this is incriminating. Computer security is not perfclty secure, and in the same way masks arent perfect. He took the academic approach of saying they aren't perfect without clarifying that its better than zero masks. Either way, his statements had unintended consequences and was dumb to take the academic approach

the parent said: "What Fauci said that one time was taken out of context by all the anti-mask idiots"

which it was not.... incriminating in that sense.

You're right. The drug dealer can only harm his clients. The CDC can (and did) hurt everyone.

And just for everyone who didn't read the link: Fauci absolutely did advise "no universal masking". The position was reversed in early April, by which time the damage was done.

In what way is that out of context? Out of date, yes, but I don't see its out of context.

I think the context is given at the end of the video.

I think Fauci was trying to avoid a mask shortage that would have affected healthcare workers who absolutely need the masks. The problem is that he downplayed the masks too much, and now his words are being used against him.

EDIT: The video was in another comment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRa6t_e7dgI

Taiwanese healthcare workers needed masks too. You know what the government there advised? Everyone should be masked.

Taiwan: 609 cases (7 deaths)

US: 12 million cases (250k deaths)

Their metro stayed open while we're telling people to not go sit in the park.

Taiwan was hit earlier, Taiwan is closer and denser, Taiwan has many travelers to and from Mainland China. There was one right answer. None of this "they were trying to avoid" shit. They just solved the problem. This is the sort of thing it's not good enough to try. You have to be good enough to do it. Clearly what we did is we put a bunch of Pee Wee Leaguers in the MLB and we got the socks knocked out of us. The lesson isn't "they tried". The lesson is "next time, get the A players".

The one thing that this has taught us is that the Anna Karenina Principle applies pretty well to national organizations. All the guys who did well did it the same way. Everyone who sucked, sucked in their own way.

I lived in Taiwan and the comparison you are making with masks isn't a very strong one. Wearing masks in Taiwan was normal even before the pandemic.

Scooter travel is the most common form of transportation and it's very normal to wear masks to prevent inhaling pollution. You could find masks all over the place. They sell them at convenience stores, stationary stores, in vending machines at the front of hospitals, etc.

I agree there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from Taiwan's success but I'm not sure it's fair to compare their mask adherence to other nations that didn't already have that embedded in their daily lives.

That's fair but an independent criticism: whether mask wearing compliance is high. But the ability to build manufacturing capacity is different. It's almost an unskilled task.

Fauci made a recommendation based on data at the time. Which was later demonstrated incorrect, he colleted updated data and changed his recommendation.

Remember when a smart guy changed his opinion and you stopped harping on him for being kinda wrong that one time? Me neither.

> Fauci made a recommendation based on data at the time.

It's incredible the amount of slack this total incompetent has gotten, just by contrast of standing next to the president.

There was no change in available data on mask efficacy on either side of the great switch in recommendations.

Nah, the data were there in January. We know because Taiwan CDC made the right call. In some things in life, correcting yourself isn't enough. You just have to be right the first time.

A quarter million Americans died for this mistake.

Seriously, how are people covering for this? When Fauci's / CDC call on masks went out early in the pandemic, HN collectively gasped on multiple threads about wtf were they thinking and linked tons of research evidence on why they were effective. Many of us knew that it was a terrible, terrible call.

Fauci recommending masks in January would likely have wound up with the same end result - "no!" from a substantial portion of the population.

If it has no impact on the outcome, then why perform the intervention at all? The truth is that even masking for the remainder of the population is very useful, and it's more useful the earlier it is.

Remember how Toilet Paper seemed to have run out because of excess buying?

The already small stock of masks would have been consumed much much earlier than how it happened.

So make more. Reuse. Remove price limits. Taiwan was producing one per capita every 3 days in March.

I'm sure we can come up with infinite hypotheticals. But East Asia beat this. So we don't have to hypothesize. We know what the right approach is and they showed us in freaking February!

The production lines were not there yet and you can't scale available lines up easily. Asia was ready because their leaders saw the threat of SARS. Meanwhile European countries actually lowered ICU capacities because they were deemed "too costly".

They went from near nothing to full capacity in a little over a month. I read the articles as it was happening. I watched it happen in March but I genuinely had this belief that the US bureaucracy were competent (even if the elected government wasn't). I was so confident they were competent, I didn't even short the market. That was rapidly torn apart and I think it was worth the cost I paid to learn that lesson. I posted a timeline here on HN https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22776614

I am going to copy it for you to show you how the A-players do it:

New Year's Eve: Rumours of viral pneumonia in Wuhan. All inbound flights from Wuhan subject to inspection

Jan 5: All Wuhan travelers exhibiting upper respiratory inspections are now subject to screening

Jan 20: First positive test

Jan 21: Mask export ban, production ramp-up

Jan 31: Taiwanese government forced monopsony on masks (1/3 reserved for healthcare personnel). Announces rationing first week of Feb

Feb 2: Taiwanese defence personnel dispatched to bolster staffing at mask factories

Feb 6: Mask rationing starts

Feb 15: Mask production by end of month projected to be 10 million / day. Taiwanese population: 24 million

Mar 9: Mask production 9.2 million / day

Mar 16: Production 10 million / day

Mar 22: Production 12.6 million / day

April 3. Taiwan: Population 24 million. Density: 649 people/sq.km. First case: Jan 20. Cases: 348. Deaths: 5

April 3. Florida: Population 21.5 million. 136.5 people/sq.km. First case: Mar 7. Cases: 10268. Deaths: 170

Did we have to make the choice between the economy and lives? Did we have to choose between grandma and the dollar? Could policy have changed the outcome?

You decide.

> They went from near nothing to full capacity in a little over a month

How can that be true if masks were already a highly available everyday product in metropolitan areas in e.g. China. Many people wore masks in winter almost every day even if they were not sick due to lower air quality.

It is indeed true that they raised already existing capacities massively up, but compared to what has been produced in the US or in Europe they already had a starting point magnitudes higher.

Ya know, if the best you've got is that one guy was maybe wrong about something almost a year ago, then you may not have a particularly strong point.

There is this which showed a lower infection rate in non participants of the strict lock-down(mask wearing) study group.


The study was not large. Another study found similarly close rates of infection for mask vs no mask:


From this CDC report we can see that despite widespread mask usage there is infection(as we are seeing in general)


Each of these studies have their own issues such as small sample sizes and self reporting. We need more data and studies to make an informed decisions.

> Each of these studies have their own issues such as small sample sizes and self reporting

Agreed. Which is why I choose to wear a mask in public. Wearing it may help, and doesn't hurt. At worst, it is mildly inconvenient.

> Wearing it may help, and doesn't hurt. At worst, it is mildly inconvenient.

Your second statement is subjective. Regarding your first statement, there are real and potential negatives:

Airflow restrictions on people with COPD/asthma, fogging glasses can cause vision obstruction, tendency to draw closer to hear conversation, false sense of safety, skin irritation, infection if not properly washed, to name a few.


Fortunately there are many other public health experts to choose from. You can safely ignore everything Dr. Fauci says and still get good advice.

Yes, I agree, and that is what I am recommending. Ignore the CDC since they have demonstrated inability to determine the truth. The right reaction to that isn't "do the opposite of the CDC recommendation", it's "use a reliable information source".

After all, an unreliable information source should contribute near zero to your priors.

Kinda late, most people have booked flights and made plans by now.

All of the major airlines are offering full credits for money spent on flights. In some cases, "non-refundable" tickets are actually fully refundable in cash.

People cancel "plans" all the time.

I would think it could be argued that a pandemic is not of one's own choices for the cancelation, and much more aligned with act of god reasons for canceling.

There is no quality discussion that will come from this submission.

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