The bungling of many a lockdown, item 1:
“It’s Now Up to Governors to Slow the Spread,” says a Wall Street Journal article — written by board members of pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Illumina, Johnson and Johnson and Cigna. It encourages states and governors to band together and implement restrictions “focus[ed] on known sources of spread, such as bars and nightclubs.”
Drs. Gottlieb and McClellan’s plea sounds reasonable. After all, ‘the science’ tells us that Covid spreads in confined spaces. Basing policy advice on ‘the science’ would be the sensible thing to do. These spaces — the restaurants, bars and cafes we enjoy — must be closed for our protection.
But there’s just one small problem: ‘the science’ isn’t really there. In fact, the only evidence we have is circumstantial: all we have are data simulations (in other words, predictions), case studies followed up with contact tracing, and… that’s it. Given that Covid has become a worldwide attention magnet for 8 months one would expect a lot more substantial evidence than is available.
Bungling in one of most important states, Item 2:
New Yorkers are still puzzling over a new, state-wide rule that bars, restaurants, and gyms must close at 10 pm to stop the spread of Covid. Was this based on some brand-new evidence that the virus mutates like a gremlin, getting worse at night? You wouldn’t know it from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement, which did not cite any research whatsoever that might justify this policy. The announcement did claim, however, that New York uses “more science than any state in the nation.”
I’ve seen this happen again and again since the start of the pandemic: a new, “science-based” Covid-19 measure is prescribed, but the science in support of it is either vague or missing altogether. Just last week, for example, I was working on a story about the latest research into quarantine procedures. The best data to this point suggests that an eight-day stretch of quarantine, combined with a Covid test, provides the same level of protection as the traditional 14-day quarantine. But then I saw New York state’s new policy: Some people who arrived from out of state are allowed to quarantine for just four days. I asked New York’s Department of Health how they’d come to this decision, and they sent me another statement from Cuomo, in which he said only that he’d “worked with global health experts” on the plan. A formal guidance from the state health department gave no research citations, either, but it did find space to boast about New York’s record of “strict adherence to data-driven, evidence-based protocols.”
Makes a guy (or gal) wonder.