It’s been relatively easy since March for the open U.S. states to stand by their decision to roll back Covid restrictions as infections have defied the doom-mongers’ models and stayed low.
However, that is about to change for at least some of the states. The arrival of the Delta variant (see below) is now causing surges in infections in a number of states, including some which have reduced restrictions to a minimum, such as Florida and Arkansas (see above).
Short-lived surges driven by new variants come and go – the Delta surge is already peaking in the U.K., at least among the unvaccinated and in Scotland, showing there is nothing to fear.
The open American states will need to hold their nerve in the coming weeks as infections rise and they come under pressure to “do something” once again.
Lockdown Sceptics received a fantastic response to our call for news from the reopened states in America with which to shame our own timid Government as it delayed reopening for yet another month. We published the first as a taster on Wednesday. Now we bring you the rest.
A Road Trip to Florida and Texas
Mark – a Brit who lives in Connecticut and recently visited Florida and Texas – writes:
I spent the start of the pandemic in Manhattan, NY, where the initial response mirrored the U.K.’s. It was frightening, and to me seemed possibly OTT, but given the explosion of terrifying news and the predicted Armageddon I definitely didn’t consider myself a lockdown sceptic. There was no particular turning point, more just the steady stacking up of evidence that whether or not lockdowns ‘worked’ in terms of a non-zero reduction in R, they very clearly didn’t justify their extreme costs. By the time we got to May and police would harass me for not wearing a mask walking alone down a near-empty street while politicians across the world were getting exposed on a daily basis flouting their own rules, I was a resolute sceptic and found your site one of the few places that would keep me sane while L.A. was filling skateparks with sand the Spanish were disinfecting beaches.
My first trip to Orlando, Florida early in 2021 felt like I’d entered a parallel universe – it was hard to believe I was in the same country as the Northeast, coming from a micromanagement regime that treated me like a leper even once restaurants had their ‘opening’ with the full Monty of plexiglass, 25% capacity, digital menus/ordering and drink-only bans. To be clear, some Covid theatrics remained in Florida, particularly with corporations, but they were largely unenforced – think masks in hotels, six-foot queue marks in banks etc. Although there were no legal restrictions on mass gatherings, there weren’t a huge number of gigs or comedy shows, and the basketball was at pretty limited capacity. Although I didn’t agree with it, I still appreciated what it showed – if individuals or a business took a different view of the risks to me, they were free to limit their own behaviours or capacity without arbitrary rules forcing them to, and I could spend my money in busy venues with a better atmosphere.
Possibly the biggest difference was the attitude of people. In Connecticut and New York many people feel Covid entitles them to a level of rudeness about non-conformists that would’ve been unimaginable pre-pandemic, and even more, like the U.K., seemed to almost enjoy the constant discussion of Covid news. In Florida it certainly wasn’t ignored, but people treated one another like regular humans, and Covid was an aspect of life rather than the aspect. I felt welcomed and had a great trip.
If the above is a good example of how much better life can be when Covid is still very prevalent and other countries imprison people in their homes, my experiences on my recent trip, with Texas and Florida’s approaches now fully justified and cases far lower, highlight the absurdity of the current state of the U.K.’s lockdown-lite when Covid levels are extremely low.
In Texas we enjoyed packed nightclubs, unrestricted baseball games, and had an amazing night in Dallas on May 8th watching the sold-out boxing in front of 70,000 fans (see snap above).
Masks aside (more on that later), in most places Covid effectively didn’t exist. People with symptoms isolate and get tests, and if positive they warn their recent contacts – everyone else gets on with their lives and from my perspective is far happier because of it. Florida – theme parks excepted – was much the same. I challenge anybody who supports anything close to the U.K.’s current approach to visit Texas or Florida and still defend it.
Answering the call from Lockdown Sceptics for news from the reopened states in America with which to shame our own timid Government, Julian Boulter sent us this dispatch from Florida. More stories will follow.
We are a family of three Brits – although my wife was born South Korean – living in Naples, Florida for the past six and a half years.
Florida, in line with most other states, issued a Shelter-at-Home order (lockdown) in April 2020, but in Florida this only lasted for one month; eight states followed South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s lead in not locking down at all, preferring to share the data with their populations and only making recommendations on behaviour. Governor Noem has eloquently pointed out that all businesses are essential to those who own them and it is not the Government’s place to decide otherwise.
Between May and the end of August 2020, Florida gradually re-opened (against the wishes of President Trump), although schools did not resume in-person learning until the start of the 2020/2021 year in August, and then with masks in classrooms. In September Governor Ron DeSantis met with the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration (Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University) and took their advice about a focused protection approach rather than any continuing restrictions.
He has subsequently issued Executive Orders that strengthen Floridian’s rights to decide for themselves on mask wearing and taking the vaccine, and has banned vaccine passports. At the same time he ensured care homes and the vulnerable were protected – witness a death per million rate that ranks around 26 of 50 states – and is better than the UK, despite having some similarities with the UK (same average age of population, same urban density and worse metabolic health).
I returned to the office in June 2020 (no masks) and have been working there ever since. We had our first two cases of COVID-19 in May this year; both have recovered and are back at work. My daughter has had to wear a mask to class, but that is all. The school averaged four to five cases a week but did not shut down any classes at any time; testing was not required. Her High School Graduation was at the local Concert Centre, who insisted on reduced numbers and masks; by contrast, the graduating students and parents’ dinner at a local country club earlier in the week had 300 people with no masks, and a packed dance floor. We’ve been eating in restaurants for months. Last year we went to the Florida Keys diving twice, and drove up to St Augustine for a few days earlier this year. We had friends drive across from Texas to stay with us for a few days back in May.
We’ve been back in church and singing in the choir since well before Christmas, although we also had a separate service for those who wished to wear masks. In May we moved to a combined service, and we also had international opera star Jeannette Vecchionne-Donati performed a charity benefit concert to a packed Church, no masks (video here).
It’s also worth noting that politics is very polarised here and many are sceptical of President Biden, Dr Fauci and Bill Gates, and are reluctant to take the vaccine, so take-up appears to have stalled; infections and deaths however have continued to decline. In fact, I think I know more people who will not take the “experimental gene therapy” than have had the vaccine. Governor DeSantis’s current mantra is that Florida chose “Freedom over Faucism”.
No vaccine passports (they’re banned), no tests, no masks, no distancing – 22,000 people packed together for an outdoor live music event in Florida. Freedom-loving Governor Ron DeSantis showed up and was treated to a hero’s welcome. The Capitolist has the story – though there was notably little coverage of this milestone in pandemic recovery elsewhere.
Video from this weekend’s Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam shows the governor emerging out of the smoke on the concert venue’s runway as “Crazy Train” blares and roughly 22,000 country music fans erupt into thunderous applause. He throws his arms in the air, encouraging the crowd even more, clearly enjoying the experience.
“Amazing,” a man backstage is heard on a video saying as DeSantis takes the stage, “that guy’s a rock star.”
DeSantis made a surprise appearance to the concert last night to welcome country music fans to Panama City Beach and thank them for attending what is believed to be the first major live music festival event since Covid.
The Panama City Beach 2021 Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam three-day event did not require masks and featured headliners Lynyrd Skynyrd, Brad Paisley and Luke Bryan. It was originally slated to occur last Labor Day weekend but was postponed because of the pandemic.
The festival is just the latest example of Florida’s determination to get life back to normal.
During DeSantis’ brief remarks he encouraged other states and countries to follow Florida’s lead and open back up and “let people live their lives.” The crowd roared when he said the reason Florida was hosting the event was because “Florida chose Freedom over Faucism.”
While the U.K. dithers about whether to take a step closer to normal later this month, Florida ended all restrictions eight months ago in September 2020 and went through the winter without lockdowns or mask mandates. But no public health disaster unfolded, and the state did better than strict lockdown states like California.
The latest model of doom from Government advisory group SAGE appeared yesterday, predicting a ludicrous 10,000 hospital admissions a day in mid-July in a vaccinated population (nearly three times the January peak) because of the Indian variant – and that’s the central scenario. Furthermore, the researchers don’t even think the Indian variant is more deadly or particularly good at evading vaccines. So how do they conclude it will precipitate such a calamity?
The issue is that many people have a mental image that we’ve [already] had the biggest possible epidemic waves, whereas we’ve actually had ones that are relatively small compared to what could have happened without control measures in place. Because of these controls, only a fraction of the people who could have got infected in the past year or so have been infected, so they’re still out there. Of course, for many of these people vaccines have now decreased their risk substantially. But a very large number of infections that come with a very small individual level of risk can produce a similar outcome to a smaller epidemic that carries a larger individual level of risk.
Maths whizz Glen Bishop, writing for Lockdown Sceptics, has shown why SAGE’s assumptions are so unrealistic as to produce these highly implausible scenarios. In their central scenario, for example, their assumptions imply that up to half of the UK will be simultaneously infected in one week in mid-July. This is despite the January peak only having around 2% of the population infected at one time, according to the ONS.
Another of the models’ big assumptions, prominent in what Prof Kucharski says above, is that lockdowns and social distancing have successfully suppressed the virus and that it is only because they continue in some form that the flood of infections, hospitalisations and deaths is held back. The latest modelling starkly shows how, even with a high vaccination coverage as in the UK, such an assumption can produce predictions so dire they send twitchy Governments reaching for the lockdown order.
As the SAGE briefing says:
At this point in the vaccine rollout, there are still too few adults vaccinated to prevent a significant resurgence that ultimately could put unsustainable pressure on the NHS, without non-pharmaceutical interventions. … It is a realistic possibility that this new variant of concern could be 50% more transmissible. If [the Indian variant] does have such a large transmission advantage, it is a realistic possibility that progressing with all roadmap steps would lead to a substantial resurgence of hospitalisations.
In fact, there is no evidence (outside models, which are not evidence) that lockdown measures or social distancing have any significant impact on reducing Covid infections or deaths. This is why the states in America which removed their restrictions in March (Texas) or last autumn (Florida) or never imposed them (South Dakota) are doing no worse, and often better, than many states which maintained strict restrictions throughout the winter (see the graph above). Sweden demonstrates a similar point in Europe.
The depressing truth, though, is that sceptics have largely failed to get this basic point across to those in charge and their scientific advisers. It’s not as though the evidence is not there. There are numerous peer-reviewed articles in leading journals that set out the evidence on this, and more keep appearing. Leading scientists have raised their heads to make the evidence-based case.
Graphs like the above, which should by themselves undermine the entire lockdown edifice, are easy to produce. Leading journalists such as Fraser Nelson, writing in one of the leading Tory newspapers, the Telegraph, has pointed repeatedly to the evidence on this. The data is plain for all to see and the voices highlighting it are not marginal or lacking in credibility.
Yet here we are again, with another model built on dubious assumptions and a presumption of lockdown efficacy once more imperilling our liberty. Freedom has never felt so fragile as in these past 14 months, when access to basic liberties has rested on the evidence-free assumptions made by a small group of mathematical modellers whose word seems to be taken as holy writ by those in charge.
Adam Kucharski is on Twitter. So why not ask him (politely!) why, if so many people remain so susceptible to this virus and its variants as to produce such dire predictions, Florida, Texas and South Dakota have fared no worse than places which have imposed or maintained restrictions? I’ve put the graph as the featured image to make it easy to share – just put a link to this article in the tweet and the graph should appear. If you get any answers from him, why not email them to us here.
Would that journalists and broadcasters paid as much attention to places with no restrictions doing fine as they do to the latest places experiencing a Covid surge.
All eyes are currently on India and especially Delhi where, after a year of little impact, the virus is making its nasty presence felt. But as Ivor Cummins points out, India for whatever reason has a long way to go to catch up with countries in Europe and the Americas when it comes to Covid deaths. The country is not a good comparison for the UK where the virus is endemic and substantial population immunity is now present.
If only our media would spend as much time telling the population about how Florida lifted its restrictions back in September, how South Dakota never had any, and how Texas and Mississippi reopened in full at the start of March, as they do telling us about how many people are in hospital in Delhi. The latest positive-test data for these open states is in the graph above, along with two other light-restriction states, South Carolina and Georgia. Note the conspicuous lack of surge despite being basically back to normal. What more evidence do our politicians and scientists need that the threat from the virus is overblown and does not warrant social restrictions or emergency measures? Is the Government interested in data which contradict their preferred narrative?
The Telegraph today is reporting that as of June 21st – another seven weeks away – Brits will be permitted once again to attend large events without anti-social and uneconomic distancing requirements and hug one another. Our ultra-cautious scientists are advising that these things might just be okay by then. Though in case you might have thought they would then end the seemingly endless state of emergency, they have said measures such as staggering entries to venues accommodating large groups and good ventilation will still be required. What part of normal don’t they understand?
Nor is there any indication of a move to return international travel to normal, as the country faces more limitations on travel this summer – when most of the country is vaccinated – than last summer – when nobody was. What this has to do with following the science is, as ever, unclear.
What’s strange is that even in America where parts of their own country are living free and showing that the measures aren’t needed, state governments, with popular support and backed by federal agencies, just carry on with their restrictions, lifting them only very slowly and with no obvious commitment to bringing them finally to an end. It’s as though people don’t want to know. Too much has been invested in the lockdown narrative, it seems, for people to be able to cope psychologically with the trauma of facing the truth that it is fundamentally false. Too many reputations are at risk. Too many interests coincide.
Are we doomed to live forever in this Covid state of emergency? I confess it is hard to see what will prompt governments to bring it to an end, now that we live in permanent fear of the appearance of variants and believe we must continually top up the whole world’s antibodies through rolling annual programmes of vaccinations. One of the most depressing thoughts is I find it almost impossible to imagine Boris Johnson facing the camera and announcing: “My friends, our ordeal is over. The data is clear. The virus is now one among many hazards with which we daily must live. Vaccines are available to the vulnerable, as are effective treatments, and we will continually strive to find the safest ways to protect those at risk from this and other illnesses. It is time to resume our old lives. I declare the state of emergency to be over.”
Will we ever reach a point where we no longer even think about whether some activity is “Covid secure”? Where we no longer see our fellow human beings as sources of infection? It would be good to hear much more often from the Government that this is where it believes we are headed, sooner rather than later.
One of the great things about America is that it has 50 states that can set their own policy across a broad range of areas, including on public health and lockdowns. This has allowed some to resist the stampede to impose swingeing restrictions on normal life in the hope of limiting transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and this provides us with a valuable control group in the great lockdown experiment that can give us an idea what might have happened if we hadn’t made some intervention or other.
During the autumn and winter a new surge in Covid infections prompted most US states, like most Western countries, to reimpose restrictions. But a few resisted. Eleven states did not impose a stay-at-home order and left people at liberty to leave their homes whenever they wished. Of these, four – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and South Dakota – did not impose any restrictions at all and treated it pretty much like any other winter.
Although there are various differences between states that might have affected Covid outcomes, because they all form part of one country there are enough similarities to make comparisons useful. In particular, if lockdowns are effective and necessary to prevent hundreds of thousands of extra deaths (or the equivalent for the size of the population), then those states which didn’t lock down should have a far worse death toll. If the death tolls are not much worse, but about the same (or better), then lockdowns cannot be having a large impact on preventing Covid deaths.
In the chart above I have used data from Worldometer to plot the current total Covid deaths per million for each state. I have coloured the 11 states which did not lock down (i.e., impose a stay-at-home order) this winter in red. I have also calculated the average for the two groups of states, those which did not lock down over the winter and those which did, and coloured them in yellow.
As you can see, states which did not lock down over the winter, far from having many times more Covid deaths, have actually had fewer – 1,671 vs 1,736 deaths per million. There may be demographic or other reasons that some states have a higher or lower number of deaths than others so we shouldn’t read too much into the precise differences. But even so, if lockdowns are supposed to suppress the virus to low levels and thus prevent ‘hundreds of thousands’ of deaths (or the population equivalent), then how is this possible? The only conclusion is that lockdowns do not work as intended and do not suppress the virus.
This conclusion is reinforced by looking at the death tolls in the four states which imposed no restrictions at all over the winter, the average of which is 1,716 deaths per million, which is still below that of those which imposed lockdowns (1,736). Florida reopened in the autumn, Georgia and South Carolina in the spring of 2020, and South Dakota never closed. Yet overall they have suffered fewer Covid deaths per million than the states which imposed stay-at-home lockdowns this winter.
Those academic teams which produce models predicting doom for places which don’t impose the measures they recommend should be challenged to apply their models to these states and hindcast the last winter. Any model which cannot accurately reproduce the known outcomes for these states should be calibrated until it can. Otherwise, if it can’t get the answer right for the past, why should we trust it for the future?
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who reopened his state last autumn and kept it open throughout the winter, has given a new interview to the Epoch Times where he talks of his regret in locking down last spring and the challenges he faced reopening in the face of widespread and fierce opposition.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1st last year, locking down the Sunshine State for 30 days amid global panic about the CCP (Chinese Communist Party)virus outbreak. Sitting in his office exactly one year later, he told the Epoch Times that the lockdowns were a “huge mistake,” including in his own state.
“We wanted to mitigate the damage. Now, in hindsight, the 15 days to slow the spread and the 30 – it didn’t work,” DeSantis said. “We shouldn’t have gone down that road.”
Florida’s lockdown order was notably less strict than some of the stay-at-home measures imposed in other states. Recreational activities like walking, biking, playing golf, and beachgoing were allowed, while what constituted an “essential business” was broadly defined.
“Our economy kept going,” DeSantis said. “It was much different than what you saw in some of those lockdown states.”
However, the Governor now regrets issuing the order at all and is convinced that states that have carried on with lockdowns are perpetuating a destructive blunder.
After the initial 30-day lockdown in Florida lapsed, DeSantis commenced a phased reopening. He faced fierce criticism at each stage from establishment media, as well as segments of his own constituency beholden to the lockdown narrative.
The Governor fully reopened Florida on Sept. 25th, 2020. When cases began to rise as part of the winter surge, he didn’t reimpose any restrictions. While lockdown proponents forecasted doom and gloom, DeSantis stood his ground.
The Governor’s persistence wasn’t a leap of faith. Less than two weeks after Florida’s full reopening in late September, scientists from Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford universities went public with the Great Barrington Declaration, which disavowed lockdowns as a destructive and futile mitigation measure. The declaration, which has since been signed by 13,985 medical and public health scientists, calls on public officials to adopt the focused protection approach – the exact strategy employed by DeSantis.
Despite dire predictions about the pandemic in Florida, DeSantis has been vindicated. On April 1st, Florida ranked 27th among all states in deaths per capita from the CCP virus, commonly known as COVID-19.
The ranking’s significance is amplified because the Sunshine State’s population is the sixth oldest in the United States by median age.
Politicians should have been prepared and blew it, DeSantis says, though they’re not the only ones to blame.
“You have a situation where if you’re in this field, the pandemic, that’s something that you kind of prepare for and you’re ready for,” said DeSantis. “And a lot of these people muffed it.
“When push came to shove, they advocated policies that have not worked against the virus but have been very, very destructive. They are never going to admit they were wrong about anything, unfortunately.”
Elected leaders aren’t the only ones to blame, according to the Governor. The media and big tech companies played a major role in perpetuating fears about the virus while selectively censoring one side of the mitigation debate. DeSantis said the media and tech giants stood to benefit from the lockdown as people stayed home and consumed their products.
“It was all just to generate the most clicks that they could. And so that was always trying to do the stuff that would inspire the most fear,” DeSantis said.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister said that the reduction in cases, hospitalisations and deaths “has not been achieved by the vaccination programme”. Rather, he claimed, “it’s the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we’re seeing”. While the lockdown may have had some impact on the epidemic’s trajectory, we should be very sceptical of the Prime Minister’s claim.
First, as Will Jones pointed out yesterday in Lockdown Sceptics, there are several US states where numbers fell dramatically in the absence of any lockdown: Florida, Texas, Georgia, South Dakota, South Carolina and Mississippi. And to this list, one could add Sweden. As shown below, the trajectory of deaths per million in Sweden is strikingly similar to that in the UK, even though the country has never gone into lockdown. (It should be noted, of course, that measures not based on age-adjusted excess mortality can be misleading.)
These examples do not show that lockdowns have no impact on the epidemic’s trajectory. But they do show that lockdowns are not necessary for case and death numbers to decline. Hence it is wrong to assume that, if numbers decline after a lockdown is introduced, it must have been the lockdown that caused the decline. (It might have been, but this cannot simply be assumed.)
Second, the most convincing study of the UK’s lockdowns of which I am aware (now published in Biometrics) concludes that each one was introduced only after the corresponding peak of fatal infections.
In particular, the statistician Simon Wood sought to reconstruct the actual time course of infections in England, based on available data. He notes that reported case numbers are subject to various forms of bias (e.g. non-representative samples, changes in the amount and type of testing) and that “under normal circumstances” statisticians would not “recommend attempting to estimate the effective reproduction number of the pathogen from such data”.
As an alternative, Wood used hospital death numbers (which, though imperfect, are less comprised than case numbers). In order to reconstruct the time course of infections, he combined these with the distribution of fatal disease durations (i.e., the number of days between infection and death), which he derived from the published literature.
His results are shown in the chart below. The grey dots are hospital deaths; the black line is inferred fatal infections; and the red lines are the lockdowns. As you can see, the peak of fatal infections occurs before the corresponding lockdown in each of the three cases. This finding casts serious doubt on the Prime Minister’s claim that the third lockdown has been “overwhelmingly important”.
Wood’s findings are consistent with those of economist David Paton, who notes that seven separate indicators all appear to show infections declining before the start of January’s lockdown. (Though it should be noted that parts of England were already under quite heavy restrictions when the lockdown began, and these may have contributed to the epidemic’s retreat.)
There is a largeamount of evidence that lockdowns are neither necessary nor, in every case, sufficient to bring case and death numbers under control. This does not mean they have no impact on the epidemic’s trajectory, but it does mean that claims of “overwhelming” efficacy should be met with skepticism. And the best available evidence for England suggests that the infections were already declining when the third national lockdown was imposed.
Stop Press: Simon Wood, the author of the Biometrics study mentioned above, has written a piece for the Spectator responding to the Prime Minister’s comments, as well as the claim made by Imperial College that infections were surging right up until the first lockdown was imposed in March 2020.
We’re publishing an interview today with Kevin McKernan, a PCR expert. He is the Chief Scientific Officer and founder of US company Medicinal Genomics, the former CSO of Courtagen Life Sciences Inc and former Vice President and Director of R&D of Life Technologies. He was also the President and CSO of Agencourt Personal Genomics, a start-up company he co-founded in 2005 to invent revolutionary sequencing technologies that dropped the cost of sequencing a human genome from $300 million to $3,000. According to McKernan, the UK’s testing system is “a mess” and not using PCR tests to diagnose other diseases, because all the reagents are being used to diagnose Covid, is “killing people”. He also thinks the UK’s glacial reopening is “madness” and that the we should follow in the footsteps of Florida. Here he is talking about the Lighthouse Labs:
It’s pretty messy in the Lighthouse Labs. They do not have a great reputation from the people I have interacted with there. The people who push back on the PCR thing are the lab folk who say, ‘Well, we found RNA there’ – and they probably did, they’re probably right about that. But what they couldn’t sort out is whether it was infectious RNA or not and they will say, ‘Well that’s not PCR’s job, that’s not our job.’ Well, if you are calling things medical cases off a single test then it is your job to figure out whether that person needs to be quarantined.
It’s a mess and it’s very heterogeneous data, you cannot assume all of the labs are running the same protocol, so that adds further to the smoke and mirrors. That’s why I’m sceptical that the people doing this actually care. You see what’s going on and it’s clearly a mess and anyone who brings it up gets shouted at. But it’s quite clear for anyone who is in the field and not on the gravy train. And there is clear evidence that it has false negatives too, which makes the whole contract tracing stuff a mirage. There’s reports of up to 30% false negatives, where the swab just doesn’t find anything and you get nothing even though you have it. For Matt Hancock to say that it [PCR test] is rock solid, he is just a moron.
There are ways to use PCR responsibly. You either run it twice, such as day one and day two and, if your viral load is going up, you’re on the front end of the infection curve. If it’s going down, you’re clearing it. But they’re just being lazy and don’t want to do it. There is no argument they can make that they [labs] can’t run it twice. They will say it doubles the amount of testing we have to do – they just scaled up 100 fold in a year, you can’t do twice to get accurate on this? They want positivity because positivity brings in more revenue. Once you’re positive, all your family members come in for testing. So they want that bar of positivity set as low as possible so as many people get sucked into the vacuum as possible. They’re financially motivated for false positives.
The interview is by Oliver May, a staff journalist at a national newspaper group. Oliver May is a pseudonym because the journalist is concerned that if he was to disclose his identity he would get into trouble at work.