Three-year anniversary of Boston school closure for coronapanic

Today is the three-year anniversary of the Boston public schools closing. From boston.gov:

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius today announced the district-wide closure of all Boston Public Schools for students, effective on Tuesday, March 17. At this time, schools are expected to reopen on Monday, April 27, following April vacation.

(The schools fully reopened, with a forced masking and vaccine coercion, about 1.5 years later.)

What were the smart people thinking on the same day? From John Ioannidis, Stanford Medical School, and author of “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”“A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data”:

A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.

How was that guestimate of 0.05%? Roughly 7 million people have died from COVID-19 (WHO) out of a total human infestation of formerly lovely Planet Earth of 8 billion. If we assume that everyone has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 by now, that’s a population-wide fatality rate of 0.0875%. How did Professor Ioannidis do in predicting the mostly peaceful protests of summer 2020, the inflation of 2021-2023, increased alcoholism and opioid addiction, and the good citizens of Martha’s Vineyard turning their backs on hapless migrants?

One of the bottom lines is that we don’t know how long social distancing measures and lockdowns can be maintained without major consequences to the economy, society, and mental health. Unpredictable evolutions may ensue, including financial crisis, unrest, civil strife, war, and a meltdown of the social fabric.

What were the stupid people thinking on March 17, 2020? Let’s check this blog for three same-day stories:

  • Will the human race be more susceptible to obsessive compulsive disorder going forward? (if hand-washing and mask-wearing worked to stave off coronadeath, we would breed a subspecies of OCD humans)
  • Coronavirus is a national emergency, but let’s not do anything drastic “on Friday, March 13, the Boston Public Schools decided to close for six weeks… but not start the closure until the following Tuesday (today, March 17). If the problem is serious enough to require a six-week closure, why open the schools on a single Monday after everyone has had a chance to pick up the virus somewhere over the weekend (if anyone needed to come the school to retrieve an item, that could have been done over a period of days, without gathering everyone together in close quarters for 6+ hours).”
  • More from the British on coronavirus “The only thing that would potentially save us from these shutdowns is a vaccine, say the authors. But other sources are saying that a vaccine probably won’t work, right? The virus evolves so fast that last month’s vaccine won’t help with next month’s infection.”

Related:

[Oh yes, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! It is ironic that Irish-influenced Boston shut down schools on the day honoring someone who was famous for teaching.]

12 thoughts on “Three-year anniversary of Boston school closure for coronapanic

    • Anon: The true cost of DEI must also be $trillions over time. Just consider the reduction in work effort among those who can position themselves into favored categories. For example, it would be irrational for a person who can get into an elite college with an SAT score of 1200 to push him/her/zir/theirself to try for 1400. (Maybe some of this is compensated for by extra effort among Asians whom colleges seek to exclude.) Then look at all of the mistakes made by second-rate people promoted to management and executive positions due to their victimhood status (the San Francisco Fed being a recent example; at least tens of billions in lost GDP due to incompetence with Silicon Valley Bank and First Republic while a “diversity crisis” was being addressed (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/us/politics/mary-daly-san-francisco-fed.html )).

    • Prof. Ioannides is one of the last scientists – the rest are just bureacrats dressed in lab coats and producing mountains of worthless paperwork. Proud of their mastery of quasi-scientific gobbledygook and mortally afraid of stepping out of line of their fellow nobodies.

  1. The best part is the total lack of anything even resembling reflection.

    Ask your average person on the street (especially in a coastal elite stronghold) and they’d tell you that Covid’s IFR was 10-20%, vaccines are highly effective at reducing spread, the ~$10 trillion sunk into Covid spending in the US alone was completely necessary, but also that inflation is caused solely by Putin, kids are at severe, existential risk from Covid, masks are safe and effective at stopping transmission (as evidenced by how Covid has disappeared in Asian countries!), lockdowns saved hundreds of millions of lives, and everybody in Florida is dead.

    In other words, “Every claim we ever made was wrong, but we were still right!” Sure bodes well for the next crisis.

  2. Assuming the WHO numbers are correct which they are not because why would they be, if you slice the 0.0875% figure by age and poverty level, your Maskachusetts friends were nowhere near the flight path of that elephant.

  3. See, this is why I partially disagree with one of Søren Kierkegaard’s most famous aphorisms:

    “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

    Much of the time, that’s true – but a lot of it has to do with our profound inability (pre-Internet) to collect and interpret what is happening in the world. It helps to have a lot of intellectual throw weight, but life *can* be understood – even predicted! – while living it forward. The “final analysis” will never truly end in this case, but the essential trajectory could indeed be grasped, even in the early days of 2020. This was especially true if one understood that they had to make “educated guesses” about something they only had incomplete knowledge of, and took that fundamental unpredictability into account. A pretty good sketch could still be drawn.

    So don’t be such a Søren!

  4. John Ioannidis was wrong repeatedly:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ioannidis#COVID-19

    He estimated that COVID would infect perhaps 1% of Americans and kill maybe 10,000 of us, compared to, as you noted, nearly 100% of people being infected, and 1.1 million deaths counting. He also later falsely estimated Santa Clara’s COVID seroprevalence as much higher than it actually was at the time to come up with a fatality rate of 0.1% to 0.2%. We knew super early on that that number was BS since a greater percentage of New York City’s population had died of COVID by the first couple months of the pandemic.

    Schools absolutely contributed to massive spread of the virus by putting hundreds or thousands of kids from different families in the same building five days a week and mixing them between poorly-ventilated classrooms throughout the day. I don’t know if we’ll ever definitely answer the question of whether or not school closures were worth it, but recall that there were no vaccines for the first year of the pandemic and people’s primary concern was how parents would go to work if their kids couldn’t go to school, not whether the kids were actually learning anything; the widespread perception, right or wrong, was that kids don’t learn much in school and they largely serve as taxpayer-funded daycare so the parents can go to work.

    I was predicting civil unrest right at the beginning of the pandemic just from the number of people dying (after being forced to go to work and expose themselves to the virus, etc.), so it’s interesting that Ioannidis made the same prediction for different reasons, but I’m not convinced that was an outcome that clearly could have been avoided, other than by actually managing to contain the spread of the virus so as to allow normal life at the time.

    • Here is an editorial he wrote which was published on March 17, 2020:

      https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/17/a-fiasco-in-the-making-as-the-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-reliable-data/

      > If we assume that case fatality rate among individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2 is 0.3% in the general population — a mid-range guess from my Diamond Princess analysis — and that 1% of the U.S. population gets infected (about 3.3 million people), this would translate to about 10,000 deaths. This sounds like a huge number, but it is buried within the noise of the estimate of deaths from “influenza-like illness.” If we had not known about a new virus out there, and had not checked individuals with PCR tests, the number of total deaths due to “influenza-like illness” would not seem unusual this year. At most, we might have casually noted that flu this season seems to be a bit worse than average. The media coverage would have been less than for an NBA game between the two most indifferent teams.

      > Some worry that the 68 deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. as of March 16 will increase exponentially to 680, 6,800, 68,000, 680,000 … along with similar catastrophic patterns around the globe. Is that a realistic scenario, or bad science fiction? How can we tell at what point such a curve might stop?

      Officially reported US COVID deaths to date (excluding people who catch COVID and later die of any of numerous illnesses which contracting COVID places us at elevated risk for) exceed 1.1 million, over 60% higher than the “bad science fiction” scenario. People complain about the Imperial College report that projected 2.2 million COVID deaths in the US if no action was taken, but honestly it was not far off (especially considering all actions we *did* take in reality, but even if you assume lockdowns, masks, vaccines, etc. had no effect whatsoever, it was off by less than 50%, compared to greater than three orders of magnitude for this 10,000 number).

    • Now we know that it is better to rely on Dr. Merkel, PhD as a prophet(ess)! That is a strange blind spot for our Stanford hero. The Swedes were saying in February that everyone on Planet Earth was going to be exposed and reinfected forever, just as with influenza and the common cold viruses.

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