Texas

The Land of the Free Shows it’s Time to Lose the Lockdowns

No surge as schools open in the UK, no surge as Texas throws off restrictions, free states like Florida and Georgia doing no worse than lockdown states – is anyone in Government watching the real world or are they too busy gawping at the curves of Neil Ferguson’s latest model?

Jeffrey A. Tucker at AIER has gathered together some of the alarmist predictions made about Texas that have, so far, not come to pass:

  • California Governor Gavin Newsom said that opening Texas was “absolutely reckless.”
  • Vanity Fair went over the top with this headline: “Republican Governors Celebrate COVID Anniversary With Bold Plan to Kill Another 500,000 Americans.”
  • There was the inevitable Dr. Fauci: “It just is inexplicable why you would want to pull back now.”
  • Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke of Texas revealed himself to be a full-blown lockdowner: It’s a “big mistake,” he said. “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that it’s also a cult of death.” He accused the Governor of “sacrificing the lives of our fellow Texans… for political gain.”
  • James Hamblin, a doctor and writer for the Atlanticsaid in a Tweet liked by 20K people: “Ending precautions now is like entering the last miles of a marathon and taking off your shoes and eating several hot dogs.”
  • Bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald flipped out: “Goddamn. Texas already has FIVE variants that have turned up: Britain, South Africa, Brazil, New York & CA. The NY and CA variants could weaken vaccine effectiveness. And now idiot @GregAbbott_TX throws open the state.” He further called the Government “murderous.” 
  • Epidemiologist Whitney Robinson wrote: “I feel genuinely sad. There are people who are going to get sick and die bc of avoidable infections they get in the next few weeks. It’s demoralising.”
  • Virus guru Michael Osterholm told CNN: “We’re walking into the mouth of the monster. We simply are.”
  • Joe Biden famously said that the Texas decision to open reflected “Neanderthal thinking”.
  • The chairman of the state’s Democratic Party said: “What Abbott is doing is extraordinarily dangerous. This will kill Texans. Our country’s infectious-disease specialists have warned that we should not put our guard down, even as we make progress towards vaccinations. Abbott doesn’t care.”
  • The CDC’s Rochelle Walensky didn’t mince words: “Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained. I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19.”

Are any of these experts and commentators now reconsidering their fundamental assumptions and examining the data? What do you think?

The coronavirus has certainly surprised many of us in the past year, defying expectations by being more deadly in Europe and North and South America than it was in South East Asia, while in Africa and India it surprised by its mildness.

The lazy mainstream assumption that the differences between countries are explained primarily by their restrictions or interventions has not been borne out by any of the studies that have examined the real world data rather than relying on models that bake-in assumptions of lockdown efficacy.

One of those studies, by eminent Stanford scientists Jay Bhattacharya (co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration), John Ioannidis and colleagues, published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation, has come under criticism since it was published at the start of January. The authors have now responded to that criticism, defending their paper in the journal.

It includes some great quotations from these two pillars of the sceptic movement.

Covid Numbers Continue to Fall in Texas More Than Two Weeks After State Returned to Normality

There is some great news from Texas today: Covid cases and hospitalisations continue to fall more than two weeks after the state lifted its mask mandate and allowed businesses to reopen to full capacity. President Joe Biden dismissed this return to normality as “Neanderthal thinking”, but it appears as though it has not been the “big mistake” he claimed it would be. Let’s hope that it stays this way. The Mail has the story.

On Saturday, Texas’ seven-day Covid positivity rate reached an all-time low of 5.27%, while hospitalisations fell to their lowest level since October, according to the latest state data.

The state recorded 2,292 new coronavirus cases, about 500 fewer on average from last week, and 107 new deaths.  

The number of people hospitalised with coronavirus, meanwhile, dipped to 3,308. 

The latest figure marks a significant decline in hospitalisations in the state which had seen levels soar past 14,000 for a couple of days in January. 

The drop comes 17 days after Republican Governor Greg Abbott ended the statewide mask mandate and other Covid safety measures.  

Abbott took to Twitter on Saturday to celebrate the state’s progress, saying: “Today Texas hit an all-time recorded low for the seven-day Covid positivity rate: 5.27%. It’s been below 6% for 5 days & below 10% for an entire month.

“Covid hospitalisations declined again – now at the lowest level since October 3rd. Vaccinations continue to increase rapidly.”

Our leaders could certainly learn some lessons from what is happening on the other side of the pond.

Worth reading in full.

British Variant Fails to Live Up to the Hype Again

This morning I wrote that despite the British Covid variant – supposedly much more deadly and contagious – being dominant in the UK since December, positive cases peaked 10 days before the January lockdown, and instead of a Christmas surge, infections plummeted in January and also failed to spike in schools when they reopened in March. In Denmark, too, the dominance of the British variant in January and February was marked not by a new surge in positive cases but precipitous decline, confounding predictions.

Now we have two more places that show the Kent variant is failing to live up to the hype. The table below from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that as of February 27th, Florida was the state with the highest prevalence of the British variant (B.1.1.7) at 13.2%, and Texas comes in third at 7.1%.

Source: CDC

These are also two of the most open states. Florida ended its restrictions in September and did not reimpose them in the winter, while Texas removed its remaining ones back at the start of March. So, for the past month neither has had any restrictions at all, let alone a lockdown “tough enough” to hold back the British variant. And what do we see? No new surge at all. The reopening in Texas even saw positive cases decline to their lowest level since last spring.

This isn’t modelling or prediction. It is cold, hard data on what happens when a state opens up or stays open for the winter. It is therefore also solid proof that restrictions are not needed to “control” the coronavirus. We already knew that from Sweden in the spring. Now we know it from Florida in the winter, and Texas, which is near the bottom of the pack when it comes to vaccinations, shows us what we can expect when we open up, British variant or no British variant.

Of course, there will still be new outbreaks of COVID-19, as some countries in Europe are currently experiencing. But how much more proof do governments and their scientists need that the threat is manifestly manageable without unprecedented restrictions on liberty, the efficacy of which is anyway unproven?

Kent Covid – not so much a tiger as a pussycat.