When does coronaplague stop being an emergency?

The Swedish epidemiologists, just as everyone else was shutting down, said “coronavirus is going to be with humanity maybe forever, just like influenza; can you stay shut down forever?”

Today’s question is whether the U.S. can have a permanent state of emergency based on the threat of coronaplague.


Maybe we don’t like the new coronaplagued world, but at what point do we have to say “this is how life on Earth is; this is not an ’emergency'”?


  • April 17: Swedish MD/PhD says get used to coronavirus (and notes that, if influenza had been new in 2019, humanity would have panicked in exactly the same way that it panicked regarding coronavirus)
  • June 29: a different Swedish MD/PhD says get used to coronavirus…. Throughout it all, Tegnell has argued that the world is only in the first stage of dealing with a long, uncertain battle with Covid-19. That’s why Sweden’s strategy — keep much of society open, but train people to observe distancing guidelines — is the only realistic way to cope in the long run, he says.

26 thoughts on “When does coronaplague stop being an emergency?

  1. Just announced: Harvard’s policy for the reset of the academic year and for 2021: 40% on campus, but all classes are taught online only. Students live in single-room residences with shared bathrooms and an extensive manifest of rules and regulations.


    “All students living on campus will be required to sign a community compact agreeing to new health measures, which include mandatory video training, daily symptom attestation, viral testing every three days, participation in contract tracing, and standard safety practices such as wearing masks and physical distancing. Students who test positive will be isolated and cared for by medical professionals at Harvard University Health Services, which is preparing quarantine accommodations for up to 250 individuals.”

    So that’s the new “how life on Earth is” at Planet Harvard.

    • Not only that, but students will continue to pay full tuition price for a subpar online product. Other Ivies have been more realistic in their return to campus implementation.

      Maskachussetts current statistics indicate a consistent downward fatalities and new case trends (https://i.redd.it/cz0ghyw3q3951.png), yet Harvard insists to operate within a mental model that accepts no risks.

      The three deans that hosted the Zoom ‘panel’ on July 6 did not manage to communicate a credible online course alternative, other than vague hints at how it will be amazing.

  2. Would ending the emergency increase political power? There is your answer. Remember the post 9/11 color coded terror warning scheme that lasted about ten years.
    If Kung Flu were to go away there would be something ‘reportedly worse’ to replace it in short order. We will live with a public health emergency in effect until America collapses.
    It will be interesting to see how ridiculous the next compliance dictate is, masks are pretty stupid, but the next one has to raise the bar.

  3. Up here in the frozen land of Canada, in BC we have the Great Dr. Bonnie Henry, the corona virus did not stand a chance here in BC. Currently at 2947 cases, 177 deaths (mainly in the >70 years old) for a population of 5.1 million.


    Life here is getting back to normal. The number of daily deaths over the last couple of weeks in BC has been between 0 and 3. Almost nobody is wearing a mask, although people are pretty good at social distancing. The main concern of Canadians is keeping the US/Canada border closed so the plague infested Americans do not cross into Canada and spread the corona plague among us good Canadians.

    With 8.16 million (working population of Canada is 15.45 million) on emergency response benefits in Canada, the only question is when is the party going to end and people have to go back to work. My prediction is that the emergency will go on for one year or until the country goes bankrupt.

  4. The answer is easy, one of the following will stop all this and it will end on the spot midnight Nov 3, 2020:

    1) If Biden wins — He will be seen as the “vaccine” even before one is available (will there ever be one?).

    2) If Trump wins — Everyone will see the over-blown war is lost and will move on to another crises to start a new war.

    • How far up your ass does your head have to be to think that nearly every country in the world closed their borders and put people under lockdown in order to keep Trump from being re-elected?

    • If Trump wanted to get re-elected, he should’ve not bungled testing early, bungled PPE to this day (why is it still so hard to find N95 masks?), constantly ignored the problem, leading other countries to ignore the problem as well, refused to set a good example by continuing to hardly ever wear a mask, refused to shut down travel from New York and surrounding areas when they were the epicenter, and refused to shut down travel from the current epicenters. He also should’ve not failed to have the federal government pay for centralized quarantine (so people don’t have to infect all their family members and roommates when they get sick), not failed to setup proper quarantine procedures for people entering the country, and not failed to set up a functioning test and trace system. I overlooked a lot of Trump’s behavior since we did have three years of peace and prosperity, but now he’s refusing to do anything about tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans dying (and unknown numbers ending up with permanent consequences) and claiming it’s all a conspiracy to prevent him from getting re-elected. He’s driving the country into the ground. We’re now the laughingstock of the world, a pariah nation of people who can’t travel hardly anywhere, and we’re plunging the world into chaos as our status as a superpower collapses.

      The US has been constantly screwing up, and continues to screw up, yet we act like there’s nothing we can do, this is just the way things are, woe is me, and really the problem is we’re not ignoring the problem hard enough. Trump thinks governors aren’t ignoring the problem enough, and every governor thinks the other governors aren’t ignoring the problem enough until their own state gets hit hard. Never mind that ignoring the problem is exactly how we ended up in the current state of affairs. New York’s politicians famously tried ignoring the problem, e.g.:


    • @Ryan, your language is not called for and your follow up comment clearly suggest that you believe, one man, the president, is fully responsible for the entire country.

      Just like with Obama, there were Republicans against Obama, we see the same now for Trump. The difference is, Trump got a big mouth and will say it as it is. This is why he alienated other world leaders because for once, we have someone looking after USA.

      Trump is not a smooth talker. Other then that, he is no different from all of the other presidents that we ever had or will have.

    • George: How do you know that Trump has “alienated other world leaders”? What does that mean? If France could gain an advantage via an agreement with the U.S., Macron would say “I’m not going to sign this agreement because I don’t like Donald Trump”?

    • George: The first link proves that U.S. journalists don’t like Trump and wish to characterize interactions with other countries whose interests don’t align with ours as personal disputes (e.g., Australia wanted to get rid of refugees (despite the fact that low-skill refugees make a country super rich!) and the U.S. did not want to take them (despite the fact that low-skill refugees make a country super rich!) ). The second link proves that Europeans like to make money trading with Iran.

    • “Trump is not a smooth talker. Other then that, he is no different from all of the other presidents that we ever had or will have.”

      If you still believe this, despite the mountains of evidence I have to agree with Ryan sentiment on the location of your brain.

  5. How long have gay men (not exclusively them, but especially them) had to worry about HIV/AIDS? Unfortunately problems don’t go away just because you get tired of dealing with them. I think you’re right that at some point it does just become “the way things are.”

    • Ryan: Yes, HIV is a good example. If the U.S. had invented Shutdown Karens before 1980, the country would have outlawed all sexual acts (anyone who needed a baby could get one produced in a test tube) for the “emergency”. But we didn’t do that, so eventually HIV just becomes part of the landscape (responsible for the loss of far more life-years than Covid-19, of course, due to the young age at death of HIV/AIDS patients). We don’t say that it is an “emergency” that there is some risk of getting HIV with every sexual encounter and there is no vaccine or truly effective treatment. We wish that HIV didn’t exist, of course, but it is not the only thing that we focus on.

    • @Ryan, “the way things are” should have been the case 2-3 months ago.

      The panic that got injected into the public will never be reverted.

      If the never ending “infection” numbers broadcast daily were followed with never ending prevention lessons, the whole world would have been in a much better place with COVID-19. But all we here is “infection” going up as if anyone who is infected is doomed to die.

    • I think the thing that makes the situation with COVID so unfortunate is we had people’s attention for two or three months, and countries that planned well and had good compliance made a lot of progress, whereas the US basically squandered that whole timeframe: case numbers were roughly stable but didn’t go down much. So of course when the “lockdowns” (with no restriction on New Yorkers spreading coronavirus all over the country) ended, the cases started going up again. HIV unfortunately doesn’t stop being contagious if you stay inside for a few weeks, but I think there’s still a compelling case to be made that most of the spread (at least in developed nations) is caused by people being idiots: not knowing their status (and therefore not getting treatment that makes the virus basically impossible to transmit), people sharing needles, and people having sex with large numbers of strangers without using condoms or being on PrEP.

      George A.: You’re basically saying that the problem is we’re not ignoring the problem hard enough. President Trump, Governor Cuomo (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ny-gov-cuomo-says-no-new-york-city-s-shelter-n1162911), and the governors of numerous southern states already thought of that idea. This idea seems to be extremely alluring to Americans, and it’s not just that people want to personally choose to ignore the problem: many people seem to want to force others to ignore the problem as well. The Florida government went so far as trying to refuse to report the number of people hospitalized. If only New York had thought of that! They could’ve avoided so much bad press and their entire tax base fleeing!

    • Russil: Thanks for that. Classic example of begging the question. “The response must be global, because the virus can spread anywhere, but an effective response also depends heavily on national policies, plus implementation at the state and community level. Businesses must work with governments, and epidemiologists with economists and educators.”

      (i.e., what would really be great for this is a top-down planned economy in which everyone is forced to work together! And it should be a government with at least as much as authority as China’s so that state and community governments cannot disobey. He doesn’t explain what happen when “educators” are in a union and refuse to go into work for 6-18 (or 36?) months!)

      He assumes that only the Great Father in Washington can save people who live in New York State or California, not those states’ respective multi-$billion health departments ($88 billion/year budget in NY!). Then he assumes that humans are in charge of this virus, an assumption that the Swedish MD/PhDs reject. Then it is time to talk about how the Great Father in Washington failed to take charge in the correct way.

      If these assumptions are correct, the Europeans should be mostly dead. Their “countries” are more like U.S. “states” in population, geographical extent, and resources. They had no Great Father in Brussels to take charge.

      What if the Swedish MD/PhDs are right and this Cirrus pilot is wrong? The virus will be in charge. The death rate in any given Western country won’t depend strongly on government action or inaction. Then this article is yet another way to make Americans feel angry. We’ll have a death rate from this virus that is lower than from the 1957 flu (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1957%E2%80%931958_influenza_pandemic ). That death rate will be roughly comparable to what has occurred in many European nations, with or without lockdowns. But we’ll spend the next 10 years pointing fingers at each other.

    • philg: European nations might have populations similar to US states, but they can close their borders to places like Sweden that are failing to control the spread of the virus. The US would’ve been way better off if we hadn’t let New Yorkers spread coronavirus all over the country.

      You criticize the Chinese government’s level of intervention and seem to only think it’s fair to compare against the European countries competing with us for last place. I’m not sure why you take it for granted that, when faced with a national emergency producing World War-level casualties (we’re currently between World Wars I and II for deaths), the American way of life requires that the federal government go AWOL and say it’s every state for itself. There’s a saying, “lead, follow, or get out of the way”; the federal government is currently doing none of these things. The feds have repeatedly done things like banning testing through overregulation, confiscating supplies states imported from overseas, setting bad examples for people (e.g. Trump’s refusal to wear a mask), and bullying state governments into doing dumb things they don’t want to do. Now they’re bullying universities too, by saying the international students all have to go home unless they can take a class on campus and help spread coronavirus. What purpose does that serve?

      While you may prefer American-style government to Chinese-style government, unfortunately the virus seems to prefer American-style government and isn’t giving us a pass because we’re trying to uphold people’s freedom to run around acting like idiots driving the country into the ground. I’ve been telling my friend for months that we should ban travel out of NYC (he lived there pre-coronavirus so wasn’t a fan of this idea, but is currently a fan of NYC banning travel from Florida), we should shut down the subways, we need to set up a way for people to quarantine outside their homes, we need to enforce mask wearing (and also ramp up manufacturing), and we need to get way better at contact tracing. His responses the whole time (which I think have been fairly typical of many Americans) have been along the lines of “we can’t do that in America, that’s impractical, illegal immigrants don’t want to talk to contact tracers.” Well, if we know all the techniques for getting the problem under control, and we claim we can’t do any of them (even though many other nations are), I don’t want to hear anymore about how we’re a great and capable nation facing a difficult problem that just isn’t solvable. We’re a failed nation that gave up and stood around with our dicks in our hands in the name of “freedom” while letting China run circles around us.

    • Ryan: I hope that I didn’t criticize the Chinese government! People in China have a different attitude toward the importance of preventing deaths, a different level of social cohesion and interpersonal trust, a different level of social agreement (i.e., not as many people hate each other in the way that people in the Bay Area hate the Trump voters of the South and Midwest). Even the Swedish priesthood said that a Chinese-style lockdown could probably work (see https://unherd.com/thepost/coming-up-epidemiologist-prof-johan-giesecke-shares-lessons-from-sweden/ ), at least temporarily. It was the Western societies that the Swedes believed could not carry out an effective lockdown. And the numbers and curve shapes suggest that the Swedes were correct! It is difficult to see the difference in curve shape between Belgium, the UK, or Maskachusetts, and Sweden, for example.

    • Look at the Surgeon General telling people in February that masks don’t work:


      I bought a couple N95 masks on eBay around this time because it was fairly apparent that they would provide some level of protection (it was however not yet apparent to me the degree of the shortage which hospitals were facing due to their and the government’s lack of preparedness). But the Surgeon General decided (or was told) to completely destroy the credibility of the government and scientific experts by lying to people. The US response to coronavirus has been full of totally unforced errors like this. Months later, we still haven’t ramped up N95 mask production to the point where they’re widely available to the general public. We used to be a manufacturing superpower, capable of massive wartime production. Nowadays, we use the threat of liability lawsuits (https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/six-respirator-manufacturers-warn-president-bush-imminent-shortage) and price gouging laws to discourage people to the maximum extent possible from producing or importing N95 masks. Is that an unsolvable problem resulting from freedom, democracy, and the American way of life, or is it because we colossally screwed up, and we’re continuing to colossally screw up?

    • “…People in China have a different attitude toward the importance of preventing deaths, a different level of social cohesion and interpersonal trust, a different level of social agreement (i.e., not as many people hate each other in the way that people in the Bay Area hate the Trump voters of the South and Midwest). ..”

      A great example of classic “begging the question”.

  6. How long was that dopey color-coded terrorism alert in the corner of the screen on all the news stations? And it was never blue or green, it was always yellow or higher.

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