As if like a faint echo, Phantom responds…

Apparently our old friend and interlocutor Phantom is still reading the blog and leapt to the defence of Ms Hoyt’s argument for not applying social distancing measures in Colorado.

“I note at this time that the odious flopping cameltron has decided that he/she/it must decree that Sarah and the rest of us are all A) uneducated losers and B) racist bigots.”

Uneducated? No. Reasoning poorly? Yes. Many educated people make poor arguments, particularly when they apply their learning and reasoning to the purpose of convincing themselves that what is not true is actually true.

Racist bigots? I’ll be politic and diplomatic and simply say that if I was attempting to establish that the denizens of the comment section were either racist bigots or happy in the company of racist bigots, I wouldn’t start with this post from Sarah Hoyt.

“Nowhere in the camel’s analysis and defense of computer models do I see mention of the A) failure of Western governments to hold back the infection by restricting air travel, or B) the failure of socialistic countries to have adequate medical supplies for an emergency.”

Because neither points were pertinent to the question at hand: whether the people of Colorado should follow social distancing measures now – in the current situation.

Should governments have shut down air travel earlier than they did? Yes. You and Hoyt would have howled and howled about overreacting and governments interfering with business etc because the *right* way to have taken that extreme step would have been to shut down far more than flights to and from China. Of course that requires 20-20 hindsight and I can forgive even Donald Trump for not having that.

And more pertinent to Ms Hoyt’s and Mr Phantom’s ideology, why did CAPITALIST fail to have adequate medical supplies for this emergency? In Particular why was the supposedly greatest nation on Earth, the USA, so woefully unprepared? Mr Phantom’s own nation of Canada, is currently managing the disease better than the USA — not flawlessly by any means but still better. Why is that if the USA is just so good at things and has such great leadership currently?

“What would be cheaper: shutting down the airline industry for December, January and February when the virus first broke out, or doing what we’re doing now? I can hear them screaming RACIST!!! from here.”

Shutting down air travel in JANUARY completely would have worked. That’s pretty much what would have been needed. To isolate the disease just in China you’d have needed to shut down air travel to and from China in December or probably even November. Nobody, including the good Mr Phantom, knew that at the time of course except maybe the government of China. The President of the USA didn’t establish the Whitehouse Coronavirus Taskforce until January 29.

And yes, the Chinese government deserve a huge heap of blame as a consequence. Not that helps contain or treat the disease now. Nor does it in anyway help Sarah Hoyt’s argument. Oh yes, obviously I understand that rather than presenting any specific logical or factual challenges to the arguments I made, that you seek to find some kind of point scoring instead.

“Could we have kept it there long enough to generate a vaccine and get it distributed to all the vulnerable people in our populations?”

Maybe. After all the 2013-2016 ebola outbreak was largely contained within three countries, with just a few cases spreading beyond and cases in the UK, USA and Italy being confined to healthcare workers who had bravely gone to contain the outbreak. Of course that was a different era and the USA acted cooperatively to limit the outbreak.

Could the same have been done with China and Covid-19? Maybe. It would have needed a degree of international cooperation that sadly seems to have gone by the wayside since 2016. It would have needed a greater degree of trust between the US and China and, let’s face it, it would have needed a more competent POTUS (that’s not an ideological point, a more competent GOP president of any kind, even Bush Jr would have been less disastrous).

And again, none of that points to Hoyt’s position being correct: that the virus isn’t as dangerous as it is or that social distancing measures aren’t currently the main weapon we have.

47 thoughts on “As if like a faint echo, Phantom responds…

  1. Apropos of nothing but silly Internet drama… I pointed out on that comment thread that you hadn’t mentioned race. My comment seems to have been deleted and my IP banned, though I’m not sure. Phantom called me out specifically, though I never saw my comment posted, which makes me think he probably has admin/mod privileges on that blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I do not agree with closing down air travel for three reasons.

    a) Ebola was a deadlier disease. Paradoxically, that makes it easier to contain. People die instead of getting only very mild (or none!) symptoms which limits the spread.

    b) There’s a lot that indicates that the virus had spread in china for at least a month before the Chinese government went public. Shutting down air traffic from China was most likely too late by then.

    c) Shutting down air traffic from China would only have worked if absolutely everyone shut down the traffic at exactly the same time, which would have been very unlikely.

    What would have happened then is that people from China wouldn’t have taken direct flights, they would have gone by a third or even two third countries. That would have heightened the spread and reduced the possibility to track it. As an example, what if people instead flew to Mexico City and took a bus to US? Lots more people infected.

    With such a contagious virus as this, stopping it entirely seems very unlikely. And just a few countries are trying, most are trying different strategies for slowing it down. Those, on the other hand, are absolutely necessary and are more effective the earlier you start and will lessen the impact for the whole country and might make it possible to leave the harshest measures out.

    Btw, our social distancing in Sweden has totally eradicated the ordinary flu epidemic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with Hampus regarding to flights. Let me just add, that a big difference between Ebola and Corona (or Corna and MERS/SARS for that matter) is that Corona is infectious before symptoms emerge. That makes it much harder to contain and most likely people outside of China already had it, before anyone noticed.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. The Kivu Ebola epidemic which has been on a slow burn for several years seems to have been finally contained – no new cases for several weeks.

      Liked by 5 people

    3. True – I was a little unclear. My point was they would have needed to do a sudden *global* shut down of international (passenger) air travel. Not just from China but around the world for at least a couple of weeks.

      Liked by 3 people

    4. You would have had to stop shipping goods to and from China as well. It’s not air travel, but it’s still a vector, and it would have spread the virus even if the planes were stopped. And of course conservatives would have hated it — “Interference with free trade — blasphemy!”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. There’s be some worry about crews, but I’d expect that much seaborne container traffic is sufficiently slow that the virus can’t survive the trip. When you’re container load of iphones arrives at Los Angeles I expect that disinfecting the outside of the container would be more than sufficient.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. And the key point is that it doesn’t matter where the virus came from. It’s here, now. It’s contagious, and it kills. Maybe it won’t kill you, but you could infect somebody that’s then killed by the virus. Unfortunately, we can’t charge you for involuntary manslaughter for being reckless. But it boils down to my question before: How many people are you willing to sacrifice on the altar of Mammon?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. No, the key point for conservatives is that if we can blame it on China or the Chinese, then Donald Trump clearly cannot be blamed for this and neither can his supporters. He shut down travel from China, therefore he was taking it seriously from the first!
      Any disagreement takes them into “nah, nah, nah can’t hear you” territory.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Trump didn’t shut down travel from China.

        He waited weeks and weeks despite recommendations from his health department advisers to do anything. He then flourished a “ban” of foreign nationals coming from or having been in China being kept from entering the U.S., but it wasn’t actually a ban. It was restrictions to which there were numerous exceptions. And Americans were not banned or restricted and free to travel to and from China for weeks and weeks, cause business, y’know. Neither were permanent residents and their families. They estimate that some 40,000 Americans flew in to the States from China right after the possible restrictions announcements alone. Nor did he close off travel to and from Italy, South Korea or even Iran, the other hot spots that developed early.

        Trump did not close the southern border or the northern border with Canada, despite falsely claiming to have “closed the borders”. “Essential” business traffic and people are still going back and forth across those borders and there was no particular screening for the virus on the U.S. side. There was no to nearly none testing and screening of all the people coming in through the U.S. airports. And the coastal borders are not closed to shipping at all, including from China, where we’re still getting masks and supplies (that states desperately need since the Fed refuses to give them masks and often seizes shipments they’ve paid for,) though there are some restrictions. Neither Hawaii nor Alaska have closed borders. None of the borders are closed.

        Trump continually lies and claims he faced opposition for travel restrictions, which again he falsely claims were ban closures, from Democrat lawmakers and scientific experts, that those folks thought it “too early” to do. This is false, though some objected to types of policies being used in the restrictions. And it wasn’t again early — it was around the same time that other countries were setting up restrictions, some of them countries that had been dealing with the virus later than the U.S. And it didn’t apply to all the Americans, largely white Americans, coming in from Asia.

        Trump’s administration called the virus the coronavirus, same as everybody else, until late March, when Miller and co. decided to have Trump start calling it the Chinese virus and try to cast blame for the U.S. response mess on China. The right-wing media dutifully took it up. It was a deliberate, racist attack. Hoyt’s claim that virus clusters are strange if they are in areas with low Chinese ethnicity is scientifically wrong and openly racist — I’ve got no problem saying it, because that’s clearly the intent. It’s the old “Yellow Peril” strategy and both East and South Asian Americans have been physically attacked, harassed and discriminated against as soon as Trump switched to calling it the Chinese virus.

        And U.S. borders still aren’t closed. Trump’s whole schtick is that he will protect right-wing white Americans from the dangerous threats of those not like them with super security and guns. But that doesn’t work on a virus. So again, he invents enemies who are trying to take them down with the virus who he’s supposedly bravely protecting those right-wing white Americans from by again super security and guns — imaginary ones. He’s going to start talking about deploying military forces more and more, even though that does utterly nothing against the virus. What would help is throwing a ton of money and equipment at the science and medical people all over the country, using the Defense Procurement Act instead of just saying he might do it someday, using the Army Corps of Engineers to build field hospitals and other needed disaster functions and testing, testing, testing. But none of those things fit the bigoted security narrative, so he just goes on about how he’s stopped the virus spread with guns, the military will stop the virus at borders (ICE is actually helping to spread it and a lot of their staff has it now,) and the supposedly evil Chinese are supposedly being kept at bay. And he helps his business cronies price gouge the states on PPE and ventilators while doing all he can to damage states run by those he doesn’t like who won’t kiss his ass.

        We need a working government with an organized response and fast financial aid to workers on the ground. But a working government helps all the people and Trump’s promise was that he would have a federal government that made sure most people weren’t helped, especially all POC. Plus it’s pretty clear he has FTL dementia and it’s getting worse. His ghoul aides are more focused on making a profit out of the pandemic than a coordinated response. Dr. Fauci is about to get fired for not going along with the security theater and I’m very scared what happens after that.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. “B) the failure of socialistic countries to have adequate medical supplies for an emergency.”

    I see the USA is now socialistic. Actually, given their usual refusal to consider anything less than a full-blown Galt’s Gulch to be “proper” capitalism maybe they do actually believe that?

    Liked by 8 people

    1. This flat out statement is weird, because you dont know, which counrtries he paints as “socialistic”. Vietnam is dping very well, in the EU (which I assume Phantom means) its different in different countries – Italy and spain are harder hit than Germany regarding Death rates etc. That is (probably) more of a sign of the respective health systems. Id say that the health system in Germany is probably more “socialistic” than the one from Italy, but Im no expert in Phantom-Lingo (the political definitions are different anyhow). And of course, everyone is expecting the US to be the hardest hit, sadly, due to a health and welfare system that is not fit to deal with a pandemic on so many levels. One of the reasons being, that many politicians are still trying to score points.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Google is publishing COVID-19 social distancing data. Americans (even Californians) are noticeable for their lower compliance.

        In spite of Bolsonaro doing a Trump, and Christian leaders holding coronavirus parties (just like in the US), Brazil is showing a stronger social distancing response. (Though Brazil may have vulnerable populations not captured by Google’s data.)

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Germany has a lot more intensive care beds than Italy, but there are other factors that may be relevant, such as more thorough testing in Germany, and a difference in the age profile of cases. (In Italy COVID-19 got into the health care system – I’m entertaining the hypothesis that the initial German cases included people returning from skiing holidays.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. @ Stewart 9:47

        I’ll just use your comment to note that Italy has fewer ICU beds and so on because of the Austerity policies championed by Germany (my country). Even Germany itself is ill prepared because of this.

        Liked by 5 people

      4. Stewart:

        I get the feeling Bolsonaro is hoping COVID will take out all the indigenous tribes (who always have the worst of it in epidemics, for 500+ years) so he can open up their territory to logging, mining, etc.

        I’m surprised Phantom hasn’t left Socialist Canada to move to the great free market of the US, he admires it so. Apparently he isn’t willing to sacrifice himself on the altar of Mammon, which is… typical. “Austerity for thee, but not for me” is the right-wing creed.

        Very glad my cats are strictly indoors. I think there’s only one cat who’s indoor/outdoor in this neighborhood, and he loves to come up to our back door and enrage my formerly be-coned one. My cat’s been keeping a lookout but none of us have seen the intruder lately — maybe his people are keeping him in.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. lurkertype: I’m surprised Phantom hasn’t left Socialist Canada to move to the great free market of the US, he admires it so.

        Oh, he tried, but the U.S. wouldn’t have him. Back before he got banned here, he complained about the U.S. not letting him stay and work there (because he’s a physical therapist, which is not a skill which has a shortage of trained U.S. practitioners) and how incredibly awful and unfair that was.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. lurkertype:

        I’d expect that uncontacted tribes in Brazil will do better – no contract, no transmission. Similarly the North Sentinelese. Worldwide indigenous peoples may also do better that the rest – it’s a virgin field epidemic for everyone, and indigenous peoples don’t have demographic profiles skewed towards the old, which more than compensate for the lack of access to modern medicine.

        I read that several aboriginal communities in Northern Australia have cut themselves off from physical contact with the rest of the world – anyone visiting Alice or other larger settlements is to be quarantined before they can rejoin the community.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. JJ:

        Well, he’s not a proper capitalist then! He should have come in and pulled himself up by his bootstraps into another career! Not keep sponging off the socialist health care system of Canuckistan like he does. He doesn’t have the guts to go full Galt.


        It’s the occasionally-contacted tribes I worry about. One logger or missionary could cough and wipe out a whole settlement. Various small Pacific island nations are quarantining anyone who wants to come in, and frankly I think the only humans who are safe are the ones on the ISS. For now.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. @lurkertype

        My thinking was that as this is a completely novel pathogen everybody would be equally vulnerable. However I’ve now found reasons to think that you are correct at least some circumstances.

        Basically US Native Americans have a higher rate of some risk factors (e.g diabetes) as well as less access to medical care. IIRC, the Pacific island nations also have high incidences of diabetes, so concerns about them also seem warranted.

        PS: Trump is now reported to have prevented Fauci from answering a question about hydroxychloroquine, which is the straw Trump is clutching in the storm. (Apparently he’s arguing what the harm in taking hydroxychloroquine; the harm is that the people most in need of treatment are also the people most likely to be killed by the drug.)

        Liked by 3 people

  5. It takes a special level of skill to have an argument based on the screaming ghosts in your head rather then what the person actually said and STILL be wrong.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I don’t think anyone was arguing that Hoyt is an uneducated bigot. Rather, that she doesn’t seem to understand how contagion works, and that she seems to be engaging in wishful thinking.

    I mean, I’m absolutely certain that most people in Colorado were not engaging in social distancing before March of this year. Even in small towns people go out to the bar or the restaurant or church. Some of those people will likely either commute to or regularly visit larger cities for concerts or basketball games or conventions. People visit their families in larger cities, or their families come to them. People in their families will often live and work in larger cities like Denver or in the suburbs of Denver. People in their families may work at ski resorts with customers from all over the world. People in their families may have come into contact with someone with the virus at an airport or at a beach in Florida over spring break or even in Italy or China.

    All those are vectors for contagion, and it’s wishful thinking to suggest that a virus this contagious won’t spread through them.

    I am frankly concerned about a lot of the southern states because they seem to be in a similar state of wishful thinking. Alabama finally initiated a lockdown after their governor said they didn’t need one because they weren’t New York ; I know anecdotally that they are likely to be undercounting deaths (at least at the hospital where my wife’s cousin is a doctor). Florida is such a mess I don’t know what the hell they’re doing

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s not unlike the theory that was going around that summer weather would help stop the virus spreading. Who knows, I guess it might reduce it a little but the wave of infection is so huge that any seasonal impact won’t be visible until we have years of living with the virus in our communities. Likewise, more stand-offish cultures might end up being less prone to (seasonal) Covid-19.00X in years to come. Right now, it’s irrelevant. It’s like assuming that taller people have an advantage when faced with a tsunami.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That is not what our epidemiologists in Sweden are saying. They are calculating with a lesser spread in Sweden come summer weather, not the least because other movement patterns will take over and people will spend more time outdoors and in vacation places.

        I don’t think anyone can be sure of what will happen.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Given the way that COVID-19 is happily spreading in the Southern Hemisphere (Australia, Brasil, Chile) and the tropics (Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica) I think that we can abandon that hope.

        There are plausible arguments that summer weather will reduce transmission, but while it might reduce R for flu for 1.25 to 0.75 with the result that flu disappears, if it reduces R for COVID-19 from 2.75 to 2.25 infections still grow exponentially, just at a slightly slower rate.

        Liked by 5 people

      3. The argument for changing spread in summer in Sweden is that Sweden has very large differences in seasons which tropical countries around the equator hasn’t. It is not only a matter of humidity or temperature, it is also a matter of how people act depending on season. Spending more time outdoors instead of indoors in enclosed areas as an example.

        And yes, it will of course not disappear entirely, but we are working on slowing down the spread. Not making it disappear.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. The difference is most likely larger in Sweden too, because we tend to have vacations, which many in US haven’t. Our cities are often half empty in the summers. Many people are living alone with their families in their summer cottage.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. In Sweden, we say that it is the rest of the world that is doing the experiment. Because no one has tried these large scale lockdowns before and know how they will affect the society.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I’d prefer the Swedish experiment to what Germany is doing now. Currently, a rightwing Christian state prime minister is calling for compulsory mask wearing. Only a few months ago, the same guy was vehemently in favour of banning burqas and niqabs everywhere and facial coverings like bandanas during protest, because “in Germany we show our faces”. I wonder what would happen if someone were to go out in a burqa or niqab now.


    2. Michael,

      What you said.

      Way before we ever heard of social distancing, my FIL’s Colorado nursing home was closed to visitors since an Italian came down with COVID in the ski areas and was diagnosed just after he got home. No idea if he got it in Italy before he came, or in the US, or on a plane or airport. This was long before the US had any reported cases, and just before Italy cracked down. So everyone else was merrily going about their everyday business. But who knows how many people he coughed on?

      As to the situation in FL, I believe Stephen Colbert summed it up best this week when he said they had “a bad case of being Florida”.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Megachurches are spreading the virus real good in the US. Conservative Evangelicals who believe it’s a hoax and that Jee-zuss! will protect them, so they have to go shake hands, hug, take Communion and pass the plate with hundreds of other people. The results are predictable, as is the whining about “mah rights!” being infringed when the authorities ask them to shut down.

    Whereas my friends who attend mainline denominations have been doing virtual services for weeks now, and are resigned to not doing Easter this year. They’ve decided to protect the vulnerable rather than make a show of attending church in the busy season. Which sounds a LOT more like what that guy from Nazareth said they ought to do.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The Church of England announced a shutdown about three weeks ago – my own parish church has gone virtual (not very well, admittedly, but they’ve done it) and I think most of the other denominations around here have done the same – not that I’d actually know, because I am staying indoors and only going out to get food. I’m pretty sure the local mosque is doing the same. Dunno about the Christian Scientists and the Spiritualists, who are the next biggest religious types around here.

      I don’t see anything Christian in denying science at the best of times, and I certainly don’t see anything Christian in allowing a church to become a reservoir of infection!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Holy water fonts are a cesspool of who knows what at the best of times — I shudder to think of them now. But Evangelical megachurches don’t have them anyway.

        My friends’ CofE parish is doing quite well online, as their congregation includes several longtime nerds. Not only Sunday mornings, but Bible study and meeting groups and whatnot. Particularly the whatnot.

        Liked by 2 people

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