TravisR

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kinda of a ghoulish comment.
Indeed but when the folks in charge and/or the kids don't care, I find ghoulish to be called for. Maybe if people heard a blunt comment like that, it would wake some of them up to the reality that they run the risk of spreading something to their family members that could literally kill them. Probably not though.


Respectfully, this is non-constructive criticism as you propose no workable alternative.
I didn't feel the need to state the obvious and say that they should stagger the release of classes, enforce a 6 foot distance rule and have everyone wear a mask. Those fairly simple things would make the situation as pictured impossible, slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
 
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John Dirk

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I didn't feel the need to state the obvious and say that they should stagger the release of classes, enforce a 6 foot distance rule and have everyone wear a mask. Those fairly simple things would make the situation as pictured impossible, slow the spread of the virus and save lives.
Fair enough. I guess my point was, as with most situations, there are decent and well-meaning people of both sides of this issue but it does contain complexities. Possibly to your point, there are also selfish and self-serving people on both sides. While the example you shared is extreme, it is likely not typical, which may even (perhaps subconsciously) have something to do with why you chose it.

When people become emphatic about any issue I believe it clouds their ability to be reasonable and therefore impacts productivity. I'm not accusing you of this at all, only pointing out that it happens and, in fact, is happening. I don't have a problem with a blunt statement if it's constructive but when it's inflammatory it will likely be met with another blunt statement from the opposing side and eventually both are too busy talking to listen. Again, this is not an accusation, only food for thought.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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It feels like they’re letting wishful thinking substitute for hard realities.

The reality right now is that indoor gatherings are the most dangerous activity we can engage in. All of this talk about maybe kids don’t get it as bad or whatever misses the point. Let’s say you have 30 kids in a classroom. That’s thirty households that are now all connected. If one person in one of those households get sick, now you have a really good opportunity for exponential growth and for all members of all of those households to get it. And with the two week latency period from exposure to onset of symptoms, by the time you get the first warning signs, it’s already game over.

This maybe could have worked in some way if schools were the only thing that reopened. If we kept all other establishments closed, if we didn’t open bars and sports and everything else, if we kept it so that everyone stayed isolated except for kids in school and essential workers, maybe there’s a way this could have worked.

It seems like we’re all on that five stages of grieving chart and a lot of people are stuck on “bargaining” (if they’ve made it out of “denial”) - what if we go to school but only half a day? What if we go to a bar but take our drinks outside? What if we go to the park but draw circles on the ground? What if we go to the movies but sit three seats apart?

For as much time as governments and doctors have spent talking about the virus and steps to take, maybe we needed professional grief counselors and therapists to have been filling that time. I don’t think it’s healthy or productive to be spending so much energy on trying to outsmart common sense precautions we all need to be taking now. Yes, it sucks. No, the end isn’t immediately in sight. No, it’s not fair.

If it was unsafe for schools to be open in March when we had a fraction of the cases and community spread we have now, then it is unsafe for schools to be open today.

We so desperately need an adult in the room, someone with wisdom and compassion yes, but also someone unafraid of hard truths. The hard truth is that 2020 is over and has been over since the spring. There was a chance to do better at this but we missed it. Now the only thing left to do is ride out the storm. Yes, it’s unprecedented in our modern history to lose a year like this, but instead of trying to trick ourselves back into normal, we should be accepting that reality so we can start figuring out how to cope with it.

No one wants to dwell on the fact that the fastest vaccine in history took five years to create. No one wants to dwell on the fact that we’ve never successfully created a vaccine for any other coronavirus. No one wants to dwell on the fact that even if we can beat the odds and make a safe and effective vaccine in a year, that that does not mean we will have a dose for everyone on day one. No one wants to dwell on the reporting that has stated our infrastructure doesn’t have the capacity at present to distribute doses of vaccine to the entire population even if one came into being in record time. We don’t even discuss practical realities like how do you convince people who refuse to wear masks to get a shot. We could get very, very lucky and somehow this could all happen quickly and efficiently and safely. But we are not spending even a moment considering what to do in the absence of that going exactly as well as it could. We shouldn’t be asking “what do we need to do to pretend school is safe?” We should be saying, “School isn’t safe, going to the office isn’t safe, going out recreationally isn’t safe, so what can we do to support our population while it idles at home? What can we do to make staying at home sustainable indefinitely?” That was the question we still haven’t meaningfully addressed from the start.
 

Malcolm R

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If it was unsafe for schools to be open in March when we had a fraction of the cases and community spread we have now, then it is unsafe for schools to be open today.
It is likely untrue that in reality "we had a fraction of the cases" in March. To compare then to now, a comparable number of tests needed to be happening. They were not.

It's been widely hypothesized that there were many thousands of unidentified cases in the early months. With more widespread testing, we're identifying many more cases today that were likely missed in the beginning.

As seen in the graph below from Johns Hopkins, the percentage of positive tests (the blue line) was 3x higher in March/April than today, but the raw numbers are higher today because so many more are being tested (the light orange lines are total tests; dark orange lines at the bottom are positives). If we had comparable testing rates in March/April, you can extrapolate that the numbers of positive cases in March would have been nearly 3x higher than current daily numbers. Back then, they were only testing the most symptomatic patients who were seeking medical attention. They missed most all of the asymptomatic carriers and those with mild symptoms who just stayed home and recovered. Today, we're identifying many of those.

1596647443226.png


So while today's raw numbers are kind of scary, the graph above shows we have made actual progress with regard to percentage of positives, and likely the overall number of actual cases is lower now than in March/April even while the currently reported numbers are higher due to increased testing (5x to 6x more testing than in March/April).

Whether that means we should open schools, who knows? But as others have noted, there are many stresses/issues on families beyond the virus itself. Because of the society we live in, there's much more to be weighed in these decisions than simply health concerns.
 

Josh Steinberg

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But as others have noted, there are many stresses/issues on families beyond the virus itself. Because of the society we live in, there's much more to be weighed in these decisions than simply health concerns.
I do get that, trust me. I haven’t felt comfortable sharing all the details but my world has been completely upended by all this - my employment, where we live, how we’re approaching raising our infant twins - every idea and plan my wife and I had while she was pregnant last year has had to put on hold or abandoned altogether. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen when all of this ends, and I’m not great with that kind of uncertainty. And I know that despite that unexpected curveball, I’m still incredibly fortunate and that there are countless people facing much harder circumstances.

But I guess I disagree with the idea that health decisions shouldn’t be the only factor in determining a way forward. My concern is that whenever we try to bargain away the health concern, it comes back with a vengeance that puts us in a worse situation than the one we just left. Areas that have rushed to reopen have had the virus roar back into their communities even worse than it had been before they shut down. I think it’s foolish and naive to think it would be any different with schools. And to my mind, what all these incidents do is simply extend the amount of time it will take to get this out of control.

It sucks. It all sucks. But I think at the end of the day, everyone being a semester behind in school but home and healthy is the better scenario than one where schools reopen and then have to shut down as they become agents of community spread, directly resulting in large percentages of local populations becoming sick, overwhelming hospitals and health care and ensuring that exponentially more people become sick than otherwise would have. And then they’re still a semester behind anyway.

So that brings me back to where I started, which is that what we really needed was not a rush to reopen but more support to enable staying at home to be more feasible for everyone.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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We should be saying, “School isn’t safe, going to the office isn’t safe, going out recreationally isn’t safe, so what can we do to support our population while it idles at home? What can we do to make staying at home sustainable indefinitely?” That was the question we still haven’t meaningfully addressed from the start.
Perhaps, we have actually become a bit too reliant or even too entitled to the notion that we should all have absolute safety (and good health) above all else... and that we must be able to do so above all else...

While I agree that many may indeed be in denial or "bargaining" about the risks (in ways they shouldn't), it seems that last question (and the thrust behind it) is doing something similar from the opposite POV.

Covid-19 is real. And there are definite risks. But the Covid-19 threat actually isn't the only threat we face. People aren't all merely in denial or "bargaining" if they're very concerned about the other issues/threats too. And "making staying at home sustainable indefinitely" probably isn't the answer. That's probably no less wishful thinking than what some on the other side are doing. IIRC, sometime back someone compared the denial of the traitor character in the Matrix to the denial spoken here. Ironically, "staying at home sustainably indefinitely" is essentially what that character wants and would get by going back into the Matrix...

Life isn't absolutely safe... and sickness and death have always been part of our reality. Sure, we've learned to control or stave off all that better/more than ever before... or so we assumed and taken for granted.

Still, as Stephen King tweeted (as shared sometime earlier), Covid-19 isn't remotely like the virus in the Stand. We should take proper precautions. But let's not panic and insist everyone must stay at home indefinitely...

_Man_
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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I do get that, trust me. I haven’t felt comfortable sharing all the details but my world has been completely upended by all this - my employment, where we live, how we’re approaching raising our infant twins - every idea and plan my wife and I had while she was pregnant last year has had to put on hold or abandoned altogether. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen when all of this ends, and I’m not great with that kind of uncertainty. And I know that despite that unexpected curveball, I’m still incredibly fortunate and that there are countless people facing much harder circumstances.

But I guess I disagree with the idea that health decisions shouldn’t be the only factor in determining a way forward. My concern is that whenever we try to bargain away the health concern, it comes back with a vengeance that puts us in a worse situation than the one we just left. Areas that have rushed to reopen have had the virus roar back into their communities even worse than it had been before they shut down. I think it’s foolish and naive to think it would be any different with schools. And to my mind, what all these incidents do is simply extend the amount of time it will take to get this out of control.

It sucks. It all sucks. But I think at the end of the day, everyone being a semester behind in school but home and healthy is the better scenario than one where schools reopen and then have to shut down as they become agents of community spread, directly resulting in large percentages of local populations becoming sick, overwhelming hospitals and health care and ensuring that exponentially more people become sick than otherwise would have. And then they’re still a semester behind anyway.

So that brings me back to where I started, which is that what we really needed was not a rush to reopen but more support to enable staying at home to be more feasible for everyone.
But Josh, you just finished saying we need to prepare to "stay home indefinitely" (probably because you're very pessimistic about a vaccine coming for foreseeable future). So you're basically saying we should expect to keep schools closed indefinitely too... which means kids' education will suffer indefinitely also... along w/ everything else.

I understand you're feeling the upheaval firsthand, and I certainly sympathize. But there's really no magical "safe" button we can hit to keep everyone perfectly safe and healthy in perpetuity.

And there's no real way to sustain 7B people in the world while keeping everything shut down... so the reality is risks have to be carefully taken and managed... as they always had to be even though Covid-19 is a big, new one we don't currently have a great handle on so far.

Yes, I'd agree some things are likely done too rashly in poor judgment -- and I'm by no means a proponent of reopening schools en masse. But as often the case, this probably shouldn't be some kind of one-size-fits-all, all-or-nothing proposition...

_Man_
 
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Josh Steinberg

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“Indefinitely” doesn’t mean forever. It simply means that right now, we don’t know when it will be safe. That’s just the truth. Anyone who is saying “it’ll be safe in the fall/winter/next summer” is making a prediction, not speaking to known facts.

“Stay at home” doesn’t literally mean lock yourself in and barricade the doors. It means that most activities need to be scaled back until this is under control.

The problem is that enough people haven’t participated in best practices, which then makes “indefinitely” last longer.

And as with everything, there are trade-offs. As a society, we made a decision to prioritize the opening of recreational and luxury activities like going to a bar and sporting events over prioritizing the opening of more necessary things like schools.

As a society, we are making choices and trade-offs that are resulting in more widespread virus activity, more hospital admissions and less infrastructure capacity for testing and tracking.

It’s like a video game; to advance to level 2, you need to beat level 1 first. We haven’t beaten the first level yet but we’re demanding to advance to the next level just the same.

Look at what’s happening with baseball; it starts as a couple players on one team sick, and then most of the team is sick. They can’t play, so the league schedule GWTW screwed, the virus still spreads, and then no one plays. End result is the same: no baseball. Only much more people got sick than would have if you just hadn’t tried at all.
 

Josh Steinberg

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But Josh, you just finished saying we need to prepare to "stay home indefinitely" (probably because you're very pessimistic about a vaccine coming for foreseeable future). So you're basically saying we should expect to keep schools closed indefinitely too... which means kids' education will suffer indefinitely also... along w/ everything else.

I understand you're feeling the upheaval firsthand, and I certainly sympathize. But there's really no magical "safe" button we can hit to keep everyone perfectly safe and healthy in perpetuity.

And there's no real way to sustain 7B people in the world while keeping everything shut down... so the reality is risks have to be carefully taken and managed... as they always had to be even though Covid-19 is a big, new one we don't currently have a great handle on so far.

Yes, I'd agree some things are likely done too rashly in poor judgment -- and I'm by no means a proponent of reopening schools en masse. But as often the case, this probably shouldn't be some kind of all-or-nothing proposition...

_Man_
The problem is, we’re not managing the risks well. If we were, then we could discuss reopening in careful and safe ways. The scientists keep saying if we had 90% compliance on masks and social distancing, we could go about something close to normal business. But we’re nowhere close to that.

It’s very frustrating because we could be doing so much better than we are with not a lot of extra effort on the individual level.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I’m not pessimistic on a vaccine at all; I think we’ll probably get one faster than we ever have before. I just don’t think the process will be as simple as flipping a switch or as instant, and to me it seems like that is the only eventuality we’re planning for.
 
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Malcolm R

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The problem is, we’re not managing the risks well. If we were, then we could discuss reopening in careful and safe ways. The scientists keep saying if we had 90% compliance on masks and social distancing, we could go about something close to normal business. But we’re nowhere close to that.

It’s very frustrating because we could be doing so much better than we are with not a lot of extra effort on the individual level.
Again, unfortunately, we're living in a society where we are unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to accomplish this.

My governor just issued a "mask mandate" that started August 1. But in that same press conference, he admitted it carries no legal enforcement capability.

People can make all the announcements and post all the signs they want, but unless there is some sort of enforced consequence for not complying, the current state of affairs is unlikely to improve. A fair percentage of people just don't care about any people other than themselves, including their friends and family.
 

Carlo Medina

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Not to be a Debbie Downer, but don't forget in addition to creating and *testing* a vaccine, there's the small issue of 1) creating enough for billions (including over 300 million doses for the USA) and 2) distribution. Because we've done such a good job with getting timely testing deployed at all cities/states...oh wait.

Also...let's not forget those who won't take it.
 

Mark Booth

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I found this video to be both informative and entertaining. It uses a creative method to demonstrate the effectiveness of a simple disposable face mask. It underscores how supremely important it is for EVERYONE to wear a mask when near others (that are not in their same household). It clearly demonstrates that the MOST important function of a face covering is to prevent spread by an infected person. We wear face masks primarily to protect others.


Mark
 

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Imagine how different all of this could have looked if the government had sent everyone a few high quality masks along with the checks back in April.

And to clarify an earlier point of mine - I’m not saying education should be forever shut down. What I am saying is that school districts are being tasked with reopening without being given the resources needed to safely accomplish that objective. It’s unfortunate that a lot of our schools are housed in older, under maintained buildings with poor ventilation, with the goal of fitting as many kids as possible into each confined space. To return for safe instruction is going to require more ingenuity and innovation than simply demanding that the buildings reopen. We haven’t given those who run the schools the support they need to accomplish this task, and I don’t think it’s a great idea to go back to business as usual without that being addressed first.
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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Imagine how different all of this could have looked if the government had sent everyone a few high quality masks along with the checks back in April.

And to clarify an earlier point of mine - I’m not saying education should be forever shut down. What I am saying is that school districts are being tasked with reopening without being given the resources needed to safely accomplish that objective. It’s unfortunate that a lot of our schools are housed in older, under maintained buildings with poor ventilation, with the goal of fitting as many kids as possible into each confined space. To return for safe instruction is going to require more ingenuity and innovation than simply demanding that the buildings reopen. We haven’t given those who run the schools the support they need to accomplish this task, and I don’t think it’s a great idea to go back to business as usual without that being addressed first.
IMHO, such points to why we ultimately can't and shouldn't be quite so reliant on govt or "society".

We participate and do our parts, but ultimately, we have to understand their limitations and not expect too much... and I'm not at all suggesting/promoting we should become selfish or the like either...

_Man_
 

Josh Steinberg

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I guess I’m just not that defeatist or isolationist. I don’t see our failures in this as a reason to not depend on government or not to participate in society; I think our failures serve as reminders for why it’s important to always care and put effort into the communities we live in. I think sometimes we like to embrace the idea that we can do it all ourselves a little too much, and a mass event like this virus serves to remind us how interconnected we all are. It makes me want to do better, not expect less. I guess my optimism is still alive and kicking :)
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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I guess I’m just not that defeatist or isolationist. I don’t see our failures in this as a reason to not depend on government or not to participate in society; I think our failures serve as reminders for why it’s important to always care and put effort into the communities we live in. I think sometimes we like to embrace the idea that we can do it all ourselves a little too much, and a mass event like this virus serves to remind us how interconnected we all are. It makes me want to do better, not expect less. I guess my optimism is still alive and kicking :)
Not being defeatist or isolationist at all, but simply being what I see as realistic. Of course, you might think the same of your POV.

I didn't actually suggest or promote becoming isolationist... not at all -- that's just your interpretation if that's what you think.

I'm simply saying don't expect too much... even while doing what we actually, realistically can both in our participation in society, in community, etc and in our individual lives...

_Man_
 

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