Thursday, April 23, 2020

Schools, Hospitals, Lockdown

Two good articles at The Federalist on two aspects of the shutdowns that are coming back to bite us in the *ss--hard. Just as we need to understand epidemiology and testing and the demography of this pandemic, we need to think about effective v. non-effective counter measures.

Much of this is the result of the PC takeover of our health institutions, which pursued liberal social goals rather than preparing the country for the inevitable epidemics that everyone knows will occur and reoccur. Was funding Wuhan's bat virus research--including molecular engineering of new viruses that could spread human-to-human and evade early detection by our immune systems--a good use of resources? Or even a good idea? How much was spent looking for an AIDS vaccine over decades--and where is that vaccine? Enlisting public health in the crusade against the Second Amendment--instead of making sure we have masks in case of, like, What's Happening Now?

Increasingly I worry that this is leading to a massive Leftist takeover and makeover of America. Naturally the educational establishment is in the forefront, although the makeover of elections is also very much on the agenda.

Highly Ranked, Wealthy Virginia School District Still Can’t Teach Kids Online After Six Weeks
Fairfax's online schooling difficulties, delays, and incompetence are not an anomaly as governors indefinitely suspend kids' futures due to coronavirus mass death theories that are failing to materialize.

Some excerpts and this anecdote. Locally, on the news, we hear NOTHING about learning going on. Repeat: NOTHING. One would expect human interest stories about kids learning online from their homes. No. NOTHING. All mention of the schools ceased once meal services were assured. That's right. I know this is nothing new, but it still comes as a bit of a shock to realize that government run schools are largely about feeding kids, not educating them (full disclosure--I've never attended a government school).

Fairfax is one of the highest-ranked school districts in the state and nation, and the tenth-largest in the country. It spends approximately $16,000 per student per year, according to federal data. 
Fairfax’s online schooling difficulties, delays, and incompetence are not an anomaly as governors indefinitely suspend kids’ futures due to coronavirus mass death theories that are failing to materialize. A survey of 82 of the nation’s largest school districts, which educate nearly one-fifth of American school kids, found in late March that only 10 percent were providing defenestrated children “any kind of real curriculum and instruction program.” 

U.S. News and World Report wrote of the survey: 
None of the 82 districts they reviewed are attempting anything comprehensive, where, for example, students engage in live discussions with teachers and classmates. And just four districts – less than 5% of those reviewed – provide formal curriculum, online instruction and student progress monitoring. 

Instead, the majority provide links to general online resources, but no direction on how to use them. Some districts – 38% of those reviewed – provide a curriculum, but not instruction.
Instead of instruction, school districts focused more on social concerns such as continuing taxpayer-funded feeding programs that both congregate people back into schools and duplicate several other federal and state food welfare programs. Numerous school districts have decided to either give all students a pass/fail grade or, as in the case of San Francisco, award all children As for this school year regardless of what they have learned. 
While governors have closed schools for the rest of the school year for at least half the nation’s children so far (the rest have closed them, at least currently, until May 1), ... a study in the prestigious medical journal Lancet found closing schools is one of the least effective ways to reduce coronavirus transmission. “Recent modelling studies of COVID-19 predict that school closures alone would prevent only 2-4% of deaths, much less than other social distancing interventions,” the authors wrote. 

Earlier this morning I read about a major hospital in Michigan--far from the Detroit hotspot--effectively being closed. And then I read this:

Instead Of ‘Flattening The Curve,’ We Flattened Hospitals, Doctors, And The U.S. Health Care System 
Across the country, hospitals shut down 'non-essential' procedures in preparation for a surge of coronavirus patients that never appeared.

Preserving the availability of medical resources during a pandemic seems like a good idea, but it's difficult to see how closing hospitals and putting medical personnel out of work advances that goal. There had to be a better way.

When the lockdowns began last month, we were told that if we didn’t stay home our hospitals would be overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, intensive care wards would be overrun, there wouldn’t be enough ventilators, and some people would probably die in their homes for lack of care. To maintain capacity in the health-care system, we all had to go on lockdown—not just the big cities, but everywhere. 
So we stayed home, businesses closed, and tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs. But with the exception of New York City, the overwhelming surge of coronavirus patients never really appeared—at least not in the predicted numbers, which have been off by hundreds of thousands. 

Yes, I know this begs numerous questions.

Meanwhile, hospitals and health care systems nationwide have had to furlough or lay off thousands of employees. Why? Because the vast major of most hospitals’ revenue comes from elective or “non-essential” procedures. We’re not talking about LASIK eye surgery but things like coronary angioplasty and stents, procedures that are necessary but maybe not emergencies—yet. If hospitals can’t perform these procedures because governors have banned them, then they can’t pay their bills, or their employees. 
I’m sure the governors and health officials who ordered these lockdowns meant well. ... 
However, in hindsight it seems clear that treating the entire country as if it were New York City was a huge mistake ...

But that appears to be the goal of the Left--transforming the USA into NYC. 


  1. Some prospective from a parent of school children in Winston-Salem, NC:

    My two youngest children are in public school in our medium size NC city. My Daughter is in the 11 grade and is taking four advanced placement classes and her teachers barely missed a beat. I think that the course expectations are a little over the top but she is a trooper and does it all.

    Interesting side note, all AP exams are going to be done from home online this year. Two of her teachers are worried that this is going to affect colleges willingness to accept the courses for credit.

    Our youngest is in the sixth grade. His online course work is great in math and science, the rest are a joke. All work from home for the whole school system is going to be pass/fail for the fourth quarter. My thought is that our youngest will be moving to homeschool next year.

    My brother is a teacher in the district. He teaches US AP History and Human Geography also an AP class. He said that more than half of the teachers in the school system are doing absolutely nothing. It is a daunting task to build your class lectures to an online format. My reply was that my company had to cut a million dollars out of our remaining 2020 budget so that we wouldn't have to lay anyone off. I have been working more than 12 hours a day from home; it's tough for everyone, teachers should not be spared, if they are still getting paid, in my opinion!

  2. The left is licking its chops. It has the economy right where it wants it, in tatters. I step aside for Mencken: "the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

    In this case, the hobgoblin is both real (the virus) and self-inflicted, so not quite imaginary. Over at CNN, the environmentalist gang is chortling. It seems the collapsed economy has "bought us time" in the fight against global warming (over-hyped).

    The left is organized, hateful, and prepared. The right is...Donald Trump, and he may have shot himself in the head. If he loses the election, everything stops: Barr, Durham, the market economy. That green new deal, which is coming if Trump loses, is going to kill America dead. The beauty of that scheme is that it won't happen overnight. So by the time we figure it out, Chinese frigates will be in NY harbor.

    Saul Alinsky is sitting up in his grave.

    1. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't increasingly alarmed.

    2. James Carville quipped, "It's the economy, stupid." This focus helped get Clinton elected.

      While that is generally a true axiom, I do not think it applies right now. The Democrats will use the 26 million and growing unemployed to bash Trump, but they would bash him no matter what and had a major hand in the lockdowns. Trump gave guidelines, declared a national emergency in every state, shut down travel from China, brought in the hospital ships, built temporary hospitals, and championed various economic aid sent to everyone.

      Democrats accused Trump of being racist and xenophobic when Trump shut down travel from China. Yes, Trump did downplay this at first, but quickly moved the other way when presented with the the best, albeit flawed, information at the time. Democrats were into the hug a Chinese mode.

      Notice that the rhetoric against Trump stopping immigration for 60 days not shrill, biased, partisan propaganda and more like honest reporting even for CNN. Heck, Trump has made Democrats defend federalism and the Constitution, a feat worthy in and itself.

      Lastly, Trump has put forth guidelines to get our economy back to some sort of normalcy and has made common cause with the millions without a job.

  3. Mark, you spent days reciting the views of health care "professionals" warning us how truly dangerous this virus is and by doing that in effect endorsing the drastic measures being foisted upon us by our bettors. Now you seem to have changed your tune. The more we learn about how this virus has worked, the clearer it becomes that it is successful (for the most part of course) in attacking people with preexisting conditions. Leaving supermarkets to remain open around the nation with no measurable detrimental effects ought to be evidence enough to any thinking person that the reaction to this virus has been blown way out of proportion to the damage being done to our citizens. Reopen American and do it now!

    1. No, I haven't changed my tune. From the beginning of blogging on this topic I have stressed my expectation that the virus would NOT spread evenly around the country--I referred regularly to what I called the "human geography" of the US and my view that the virus arrived here relatively shortly before Trump took measures. That view has been confirmed by the "professionals" you deride.

      The point of the drastic measures was to prevent the spread from known local hotspots to the country at large. That seems to have succeeded--for the time being. Given what we know about the case fatality rate, however, we can't afford to be complacent.

      Yes, I regard this virus as truly dangerous. I still do. And that's why last night I did a post about the "testing" that has been widely cited to minimize that danger. The reporting on that has been largely misguided, and I've tried to provide informed views with regard to the models of epidemiologists as well as with those dissenting from those models.

      Your example of grocery stores simply goes to a point that I've also made from the beginning: that this virus, while deadly, is not as easily transmissible as other common viruses (flu, cold). That means that with rather simple precautions many common venues are safe. I did this post to suggest that schools and hospitals may fit in that category as well. It's not intended to be an exhaustive list, but one that needs consideration.

      My caution is that extrapolating from current circumstances should not be done lightly.

  4. SWAG Forecasting:

    1. Trump will get re-elected. Two recent commercials on Biden with China, and Pelosi with Ice Cream are deadly.

    2. Trump do to daily news conferences will continue to bypass the Democrats and their media allies, and their attempts to Demonize him. Trump will not allow himself to be Katrina'd.

    3. Trump will be successful on making the lockdown responsibility / effects on the back of the Governors.

    4. US Economy with more deregulation will come back a lot faster than expected in states that open up.

    5. No Federal Bail Out will pressure Blue States to reduce the Lock Down. They need the taxes. And once their government workers / union supporters start getting laid off, things will change fast.

    6. We will figure out how to live with CoronaVirus, while keeping a functional economy.

    7. Higher Education will be hit hard, and the bubble popped. In person school will not start in the Fall, it will stay online. To much fear of legal liability.

    8. Public Schools - Huge growth in home schooling, as parents see how bad public schools are.

    9. Huge blowback for Blue State Governors, and others, that go overboard with Stay At Home Orders.

    10. Barr / Durham will finally do some indictments, and that will change the conversation before the election.

    11. Grennel will release more documents, showing the corruption of the deep state.

    12. The entire CDC / FDA / Medical Industry is going to get cleaned up. Trump was not focused on this area, and now he is... Lots of dead wood and red tape will be trimmed.

    1. Good enough for me! I'm counting on every single one of those! I try to be optimistic, but ...

  5. Schools have been nothing but adolescent daycare for a long time--it started when I was in school decades ago. I didn't notice because I was engaged in learning and getting on with life. It's hard to have perspective about all of life when you're just an adolescent with little life experience.

    Gray's observations above confirm this. Learning is primarily about the student and the family environment, and little to do with school proper, except as a gathering place that provides daytime supervision and activities for adolescents. Education is an incidental and accidental by-product of the endeavor, which is a jobs program for adults.

    As to the Left "licking their chops," that's a perverse reaction to the current situation, IMO. The prog-left hasn't a clue what to do--their reactions have been partisan, not practical. They're looking for a political advantage by influencing The Narrative of Orange Man Bad. There isn't a single noteworthy performance of any prog-lefty that can be considered leadership, or substantive problem-solving.

    By comparison, at 9/11, Rudy Giuliani became known as America's Mayor, at C-19, Gov. Cuomo is telling people get an "essential" job if you want to be allowed to work.

    But also, I'm not saying don't be alarmed. There's a lot that can go wrong--and still could. The problem or challenge is never the seen (the obvious), it's the unseen (the obscure). Frederic Bastiat addressed this in his famous 1850 essay "Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas" ("That Which We See and That Which We Do Not See").

    1. Meals and indoctrination is the way my wife describes government schools. I'm constantly amazed at people who think those are "our" schools. It's like a religion for them. Blind faith, impervious to all evidence.

      Thanks for the rest.

  6. >impervious to all evidence

    Having to experience the Public Education being provided I hope is a game changer...

    Especially if the parent also knows a home schooler, so they can contrast the experience.

  7. I really had no idea of the degree to which our public schools had been converted into food banks. A friend of mine, who teaches in Maine, has stopped teaching in the lock down. Instead, he and his cohorts prepare and deliver meals to students at home. Something similar is happening in some NYC public schools. And then a retired teacher friend, in NY, told me a lot of children, teens, I would guess, live in group homes. A group of boys and girls from one of these homes attacked a nurse coming back from work a week or so back.

    Government schools--I'm glad Trump used the term. It's decidedly Orwellian, and fits like a glove.

    1. You'd be amazed at the number of people who are under the impression that government schools are somehow "community" run institutions.

    2. In my bucolic suburb, which by most standards would be considered rather affluent, the local government school district advertizes meals for all who show up. No ID required, no showing of need. So now I know where my tax money goes--into my neighbors mouths. And I paid big money to educate my 4 kids privately while also paying hefty property taxes. What a country!

  8. I have 2 grandsons in the Clear Creek ISD (NASA area of Houston) and one in a local college. All 3 are staying with the wife and me temporarily and completing their school year online. After reading this post and some of the comments, I asked them what their process looks like.

    All 3 said their teachers/professors seemed to be fairly well prepared. They haven't missed any of the scheduled coursework, the teachers keep in touch with them regularly, including all-class conferences and many one-on-one telecons, and they are tested at least as often as during regular classes. Their assessment is that they're learning about as much as they would in class, but would rather be in class (socializing is a lot easier, but also there's some learning in the in-class give-and-take).

    All 3 are athletes, and miss the workouts and training they would ordinarily get at school. All 3 work out at a local park and in my garage, and are sort of staying in shape, but the school has far more equipment than I do, so they will have a lot of work to do once the school opens again. Of the coaches, the football coach seems to be the one that spends the most time in touch with the players (1 grandson); the track coach does little player contact. The college student is dropping out of football, so doesn't stay in touch.

    I think this means that our school district was adequately prepared for beginning this kind of activity, but that there's still some work to do if they can figure out a way to replicate the in-class interactions online. Likewise with the local college. None knew anything about how the school handles meals now.

    I'm glad this wasn't a senior year for any of them.

    I had trouble getting this published, and hope it doesn't show up twice.

  9. Gaming the system is the American Way. Perhaps it is everywhere.

    I am reminded of the (perhaps somewhat apocryphal) story of the parents of one of my children's friends at an Ivy League college.

    FBOFW, my child was a full pay because I had the misfortune at the time of holding down a 'highly' paid 24/7/365 Wall Street-type job. I was working my tail off.

    My child's friend's parents lived in California. One worked for the state legislature, the other was a professor at a state college. Both jobs were essentially 'part time' with much time off. The legislature would go out of session. The college would close for the summer. Due to the parents' combined 'low' incomes the child received substantial scholarship assistance from the Ivy League college.

    Yet both parents were part of generous pension plans with low retirement ages that guaranteed higher retirement incomes than I could possibly ever save for (especially after paying full freight for three childrens' private educations).

    America is surely a wonderful place.

  10. I've been thinking for a long time that colleges and universities as currently constituted are a scam. One pays big money to see his children indoctrinated with left-wing claptrap. Students graduate with a mountain of debt. Many of the attorneys who have a Harvard pedigree seem dumber than a brick.

    Now universities are getting federal money while sitting on huge endowments. As Will Chamberlain says, "Seize the endowments."

    Mr. Wauck, I submitted two comments on Wednesday or yesterday that haven't shown up under this entry. Or, at least I thought that I submitted them. Will you please look and see if they're sitting in a queue?

    Thank you.

    1. Yeah, I luv that meme of Chamberlain's.

      Sorry, I see no sign of your comment. The only places I can look are in Spam or Trash and there's nothing related there.