Sunday, April 5, 2020

Wuhan Virus - Government Idiocy

In general, I've liked President Trump's approach to the Wuhan crisis, but I've been rather unimpressed with the content of the press briefings.  Even so, I try to watch them every day.  I've kept most of my criticism to state and local leaders (and you'll see more below).  But yesterday, the task force members stepped over the line.

First, we had the mask fiasco.  Originally, the Surgeon General said that wearing masks would do more harm than good.  By wearing them (if you weren't a health care worker), you had a better chance of giving yourself the virus.  Now he says you should wear them because of asymptomatic cases.  That is, you could be sick and spreading the virus and not know it.  Well, he lied the first time, masks help everyone to some extent.  Then he had to walk it back and try to make it look like he hadn't lied.  Pitiful and BS.

Now we have the 'don't go to the grocery and pharmacy during the apex' from Dr. Birx.  If you look at the site to see when the apex is, it's (estimated at) 10 days from now for the US.  It's not until May 6 for Texas, where I live.  This is the site that Dr. Birx has been referencing.  So let me paraphrase.  At the start of the crisis we were told don't hoard, the food supply won't be in danger, you can always go to the grocery.  Now?  Don't go the grocery, please hoard.

Let me start with the stupid pharmacy 'hoarding' concept.  My wife uses the military's TriCare for health services.  She is asthmatic, and needs meds regularly.  They will not refill the meds until she is almost out of the previous prescription.  She HAS to go to the pharmacy to get her meds.  She cannot stay home and away.  Maybe it's just the military, and regular doctors and clinics allow their patients to 'hoard' medicine?

Now the groceries.  What the f**k?  They allowed hoarding when the crisis started, and from what I can see, most of the shelves have stayed empty.  Further, the idiots all reduced their hours, and some even create lines before people can enter.  So you have to go to the grocery (unless you were a lucky hoarder) to find a few things that are on the shelves, but have to go back repeatedly to try and find things that are not on the shelves.  EVERYONE is going, and the crowds are worse than before the crisis. 

I agree your typical grocery now is a hell-hole of a virus incubator.  The government stopped you from doing anything but going to the grocery and eating, forcing everyone into close quarters at a limited-hours grocery that doesn't have, at any one visit, much of what they need.  And now they tell you don't go to the grocery, HOARD!  I cannot write on here what I think of these people.  Can they not think of a good way to minimize exposure?

Before I pivot to my second topic, local government, I want to mention Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator.  He does a live stream every morning and evening, usually around 50-60 minutes each, on the crisis.  He's 62 or 63 and also has asthma.  So he feels, rightly, at high risk.  He's self isolated so effectively that he doesn't go out and doesn't let anyone in.

He's pretty well off, what most people would call rich, and he is not concerned about any financial impact on his life.  However, he lives in an urban area with delivery services for everything.  I, and much of the country, live in a relatively rural area with delivery services for nothing but the local pizza.  He can effectively self isolate; we cannot.

Scott is a smart guy, and I will continue to watch his live streams.  And he is a Trump supporter.  But there's a lot he does not consider.  He has his own bubble.

Now to local idiocy.  I just checked the local COVID-19 page for my county (April 5th).  We have 21 cases total and 2 deaths.  Out of the 19, six have recovered, leaving 13 sick in the county.  According to the stats, 4 are hospitalized.  We have a population of about 150,000 and one significant city.  The age range is kind of interesting.  The peak is in the 50-59 age group.  60-79 is next.  Then 40-49.  And finally, the 80+ group.  But there are still 3 people below 40, spread all the way down through the 1-18 year group.

As I've said before, Texas allows county judges to overrule county and city emergency management directives.  Peculiar.  What it appears to me is that the legislature decided they didn't want local politicians to break the law or violate the Constitution during emergencies, so they let the courts do that.  Maybe they thought the courts can make their own laws?  Or would follow the law?  Aren't all of us conservatives laughing?

Anyway, the Texas governor took pretty much the same approach as the feds.  Recommendations, plus a directive disallowing in-restaurant dining.  He let the local counties do more strict regulations in accordance with Texas law.  Most of Texas is rural, but we have about 5 big cities.  That law basically says localities or judges (with judges directives superseding conflicting local directives) may limit access to disaster areas.  It also talks a lot about providing help to those areas.  The areas are where significant loss of life or property occur or are imminent.

So the Dallas-Fort Worth area had an 'outbreak.'  I think to date 19 people have died there.  But almost immediately after the crisis started, the Dallas county judge issued a lock down directive, citing the Texas code and the need for safety for their residents.  San Antonio followed soon after.  I assume Houston did the same.  I cite the Dallas judge because I read most of his order.  From my reading of the Texas statute, the judge didn't have the authority to do what he did.  But who's going to complain or sue?  And if anyone does sue, what appeals court will overrule?

On April 3rd, our county issued a shelter-in-place order with a fine of $1,000 for violating it.  Since March 27th, we've had orders closing most person-to-person businesses like beauty salons.  Now anything non-essential is off limits, and the list of essential stuff is pretty explicit.

Our county judge's order is a little more respectable than the Dallas version.  He actually cites the ability to restrict movement, even though he's violating the intent of the statute.  He's got dozens of "Whereas..." where he cites earlier orders from everybody in the region, state, and nation.  So he tried to use precedent and the text of the statute to make his order more legitimate.

So now in the future, if any disease kills 2 people and makes 13 sick in the county, any county judge can shut down all non-life-essential businesses in his/her county.

Apparently, the same precedent is available for any governor.  Ohio did it with five cases.  And the media wants the President to seize the same unconstitutional authority?

As far as I can tell, very few people in the media or online are concerned about the precedents we are setting.  They all seem to think everything will go back to normal.  Yeah.

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