Day 56!  Glorious Day 56!  Welcome to the beginning of week 8 of the apocalypse!  Two! Full!  Months!  Of stress and panic!

It’s beautiful out but it’s 44 degrees out.  It’s the only time I’m relieved I did not plant anything this year (and neither did our neighbors) because it frosted last night on May 8th and everything would have died.   I would have planted last weekend when it was hot and come out to see dead shoots this morning.

If there’s any sign of the apocalypse, it’s frost alerts on my phone the second week of May.

Eric took Kate out to Staples to acquire a new desk chair this morning.  She grew out of her bungie chair in her bedroom and now needs a better chair for support since she’s on her big computer all the time for school now.  This meant suiting up like going to the moon: mask, gloves, easily washable clothing outer layer.  Then on coming home, washing hands with soap for 20 seconds.

But hey, actually going to the store on a Saturday morning to pick up something necessary like… going to the store.

Our observation here in Maryland (mine and Eric’s) is that about 95% of the people are wearing masks.  Maybe because we’re in boogie Howard County, but people are adhering to the mask protocol.  If anything will help us bend the curve here it’s that — spreading the infection around will simply be more difficult, which lowers the R0, which lowers the spread, which contains the damn thing.

I’ve read several economic analyses lately. All the economists say the same thing: until people feel it is safe to go to the store, people are not going to go to the store. It’s that simple.

I keep talking about risk and people managing their own risk models in their heads.  If leaders do not provide information people can rationally act on, people are going to build their own risk models and act on those models.  Those risk models are likely way out of whack with reality, but people are somewhat rational actors when it comes to risk around life and death, and they’re always going to choose their own lives.  That’s basic biology — we’re all programmed to survive and propagate the species down in our DNA, and we will eschew (extremely) obvious risk when given a choice.  Pulling back information and then telling people to go out shopping anyway only results in people not going out at all for longer and being risk-averse for longer because they don’t know if it’s safe or not, and even a touch of not safe means not going out.

The right way to manage a reopening is to give clear guidelines and benchmarks, give updates on those guidelines and benchmarks, and clearly give people rules that make them safer.  If they feel everyone is safer, they will feel safer.  Then they’ll go out.

The economy is a big flywheel.  Physics, man,

For me, knowing that 95% of people are wearing masks === much safer to go to the store.  I’m ok with Eric and Kate going to Staples to pick up a chair.  I don’t believe that, suited up, and everyone else suited up, they’ll bring COVID-19 back into the house.  This is my own personal risk model at work.  If everyone in bougie Howard County, Maryland believes the same thing, we will be safer.  That will open the economy faster.

As economists keep saying, there’s a 1 to 1 correlation between the public health response and the economic conditions.

Meanwhile, the White House is hypocrisy city.  No one can have tests but them; no one can have reporting but them; no one can be safe but them.  And even with all the walls they’ve erected around the place, COVID-19 is still getting in the walls.

I feel like the entire Federal response to the pandemic is a bit like the dog.  Dog wants to be on the couch because people are on the couch but dog can no longer jump on the couch.  Dog must be air-lifted onto the couch to be on the couch.  But dog hates being lifted.  The eternal rub — he wants something but cannot have something without doing something he does not like that takes an actual exertion of effort.

Also, Grammarly has this new feature called the Tone Detector where it tells you the tone of your text and it keeps reading my tone as “sad” and “disapproving.”  I’d say their sentiment analysis ML is working!  I clicked on the little thumbs up to help with their training set.

Stats:

  • 1,314,949 confirmed cases.
  • 78,789 dead
  • 223,937 recovered
  • 31,575 cases in MD,  1,581 dead
  • 1 out of 276 people have it in Howard County

We’re sitting at 1000 new cases a day and it’s been that way all week.  I can’t tell if that means we’re finding more people with it because testing is ramped or what.