Yesterday, I wrote about the pressing need for data --- not the long-term data some medical researchers insist on seeing before they advise us to start returning to some semblance of normal, but what we can learn NOW to help us know how to respond. Today, we have more of that.

Of course, we have this piece of data to consider: 6.6 million unemployment claims. In a flash, we’ve gone from virtually full employment in the last year of Trump’s first term to this staggering statistic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, coming from the point of view of a researcher, has said the fight will continue until there is absolutely no new case of COVID-19; of course, he’s looking ahead to a vaccine. Well, a vaccine will be just super, but a proven-safe and effective vaccine for the population at large could be 12 to 18 months away –- though one trial with mice at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is already looking promising –- and we cannot shut America down that long. We can’t shut America down for 12 to 18 more WEEKS. So let’s look at what we can reasonably do in the meantime.

Commentary continues below advertisement

Alex Berenson, a former NEW YORK TIMES reporter who has been looking hard at available numbers, said as a guest on Tucker Carlson’s show Thursday that the computer models predicting apocalyptic effects of this virus in terms of serious illness and death are turning out to be wildly wrong. “In some cases,” Berenson said, “these epidemiological models are extremely new. They’ve gone extremely ‘south’ in a matter of days." He’s daring to ask if there might be some other strategy that would do just as well and might be less damaging to the economy. “We’ve done it [put millions out of work] on the basis of models that don’t seem to line up with reality in real time.”

He cited the University of Washington model, “which was created and released only a week ago.” In other words, its accuracy has never been tested. It predicted that as of now, about 50,000 people in the state of New York would be hospitalized with COVID-19. The real number is about 12-13,000. It’s as I said yesterday, these models really have no predictive value. Garbage in, garbage out.

Berenson contrasted this with the prediction of another model, from the Oregon state government, that was revised on Monday to show that “if Oregon did nothing, ended the lockdown...there would be 90 people in ICU beds at the beginning of May...If the lockdown continued, there would be 30 people.” And so the question becomes, are we going to lock the state of Oregon down, with all the societal disruption that will cause? He’s concerned about other serious problems such as escalating domestic abuse and other deaths, by suicide.

"Do these massive lockdowns make sense,” he asks, “when we can’t even necessarily figure out how they’re working?”

For a case study in how a less-strict approach to containing the virus would work, we can look at Sweden. (Surprising, isn’t it, that a safety-net country like Sweden would decide to take their chances?) People are being trusted to take basic precautions –- keep a distance, wash hands, etc. –- and use their own judgment on the rest. They didn’t take what they consider drastic measures such as closing all schools (they did close high schools and universities) and restaurants. Gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, but many are choosing to avoid crowds and work from home if they can. Only people over age 70 are specifically being asked to stay isolated.

Sweden’s death rate from coronavirus has been compared to that caused by “a bad winter flu.” Out of a population of 10 million, 308 have died according to Johns Hopkins University. Of course, Swedish society has some differences that might contribute to the relatively low number; for example, many more people in Sweden live alone, so it’s easier to isolate. Still, this gives us something to think about as we contemplate months of a shut-down economy.

It seems to me that the only way a “lockdown” is even feasible for more than a few more weeks is if there could just be a “pause” button everyone could hit. No one pays anyone. Your business doesn’t pay the rent, say, and the mortgage-holder on the building doesn’t pay the bank, either. It would be like a “holiday” for everyone up and down the line. (This might leave the huge financial institutions holding the bag, but considering how they cleaned up during the bailouts of 2008-2009, it’s hard to cry too much.) Of course, this sort of cooperative effort has never happened; Melissa Francis of FOX BUSINESS NEWS actually brought up the possibility of doing it but noted that it would take “the best financial minds” to figure out exactly how it could be achieved.

Barring something like that, it’s hard to imagine how we can keep so much activity shut down. And some of the rules are getting downright crazy. As I reported yesterday, the state of Vermont has put in place new rules that “non-essential” items can’t be bought in big-box stories, even by people who are already there to buy essentials. This is reportedly happening in some other states as well, such as Massachusetts. (If social media reports are correct, even vegetable seeds can’t be sold --- at a time when people are trying to stay home and be more self-sufficient --- because the garden section is considered “non-essential.”)

The idea is to discourage “wandering” in the store. This is idiocy. It’s definitely the leftist mindset at work: the reflexive micromanaging of every aspect of life.

Some other bureaucratic restrictions absolutely defy common sense. For example, in New York, at least at this writing, a patient can’t be prescribed hydroxychloroquine without being admitted to a hospital. Again, insanity. I understand that the intention is to make sure patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can still get their medication. But New York hospitals are reportedly overwhelmed; if a coronavirus patient can be helped without going to one, it needs to happen. (Plus, it's better to get the treatment before becoming that sick.) Doctors around the world are increasingly using the hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin combination drug therapy with good results.

It’s downright criminal that people might be denied such a promising treatment, for whatever reason. One reason, of course, is shameless politics, with some like the WASHINGTON POST accusing the President of offering “false hope” and peddling “snake oil.” But the President has been right. Some in the anti-Trump media have finally, reluctantly, had to admit that there’s something to it.

If we’re going to survive this mess and get back on track, it won’t be through months of government-imposed quarantine but through identifying those who have immunity --- the definitive antibody test is reportedly 1-2 weeks away --- and the quick, effective treatment of those who contract the virus. This drug therapy, if given early enough, seems to be doing a very effective job of keeping people off ventilators (and only about half of patients, once they’re put on a ventilator, will recover). As has been said, you go to war with the army you have. So praise the Lord and pass the hydroxychloroquine.

1. U.S. # CONFIRMED CASES (As of 6:30 AM): 245,573   DEATHS: 6,058  RECOVERIES: 9,228

TESTS GIVEN:  1,288,013

2.  CDC RECOMMENDATIONS: How to protect yourself  |  What to do if you are sick

3.  CORONAVIRUS DEATHS:  They are mounting everywhere, these are a few names you might recognize. 

4.  WHAT DO YOU THINK: Share your thoughts on President Trump's handling of this crisis

5.  DATA:  We see data emerging NOW, and it may be a "game-changer"

6. A CURE?: Some potential good news on a possible cure for COVID-19.

Coronavirus Deaths

April 3, 2020

There’s no update yet on legendary songwriter John Prine, who was reported to be in critical care on a respirator with the COVID-19 coronavirus. But the disease has now claimed the lives of two other highly-respected musicians.

Jazz pianist and teacher Ellis Marsalis Jr. has died in New Orleans at 85 after being hospitalized with symptoms of the disease, although it has yet to be confirmed. Marsalis was not only a legendary New Orleans jazz man in his own right, he was the teacher and mentor to generations of star players, such as Harry Connick Jr. and Irvin Mayfield, as well as his famous sons, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason Marsalis. To show how much he helped advance the art of jazz, his sons now play with symphony orchestras. But he once recalled that during his youth studying classical piano at Dillard University, "you could get expelled for playing jazz. The dean would get a report that we were over there ruining pianos playing jazz on them.”

And the deadliness of the virus is not limited to the elderly, the sick or those with poor health care. The rock music world was shocked Wednesday at news that singer/songwriter Adam Schlesinger had died of COVID-19 complications at 52. Schlesinger was one of the rare talents who nearly earned “EGOT” status: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. He was an Emmy winner for his music for the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend;” a Grammy winner with his ‘90s pop/rock band Fountains of Wayne; Tony nominee for his score for the musical “Cry-Baby;” and Oscar nominee for the early Beatles-style theme song of Tom Hanks’ 1997 directorial debut, “That Thing You Do.”

Our prayers for their families and condolences to their many fans.

1. U.S. # CONFIRMED CASES (As of 6:30 AM): 216,722   DEATHS: 5,137  RECOVERIES: 8,672

TESTS GIVEN:  1,168,997

2.  CDC RECOMMENDATIONS: How to protect yourself  |  What to do if you are sick

3.  POLITICAL FALLOUT:  Cancel the Democrat and Republican conventions?  Maybe.  

4.  MEDIA BIAS:  Hume: TDS Media can't be trusted.

5.  CHINA LIES:  The Australian Media isn't buying them.

From Bonnie:

Just thought you might enjoy a little history - I remember my great aunt, Amelia Johnson, who was a head nurse at Cincinnati General Hospital during the 1918 flu pandemic, telling me about the 18-hour shifts, the patients lined out in the hallways and the fact that they could only make them comfortable, NOT do anything to really help them. She contracted the virus herself and nearly died. Her fever went up to 107 degrees and she lost all her hair. Both she and I found it incredible that she survived that.

She said she was one of the "lucky ones" because she lived, even though she was basically bald for the rest of her life. I was 16-18 when I knew her, and some of the girls at our college made fun of the fact that she wore a hairpiece. I would never have asked her about it, but one day when I was staying with her, she volunteered the information about how she lost her hair. I was incredulous!

The 1918 pandemic has never been just another story for me since then. I was a history and English major, and firsthand stories make it so much more than just an event. When I see the pictures of the crowded wards, I can picture her working there and paying a terrible price for her dedication. Her attitude was one of blessing though, as one of the "lucky ones."

When we are just asked to stay home a while, it's not so much by comparison. One of my sons works in an ER and I pray for him and them every day. God bless our healthcare workers and keep them safe.

From the Gov:

Thank you so much, Bonnie, for offering this perspective. Your great aunt truly was great, courageously offering comfort at a time when she knew little could be done to help her if she herself became ill. How wonderful that she chose to share her story with you...and ultimately with us.