Post #888: Will we fail the reefer test?

Posted on November 13, 2020

Source:  Isaacs and Isaacs . com

Reefer being the common term for refrigerated trailer or truck of any sort.



I was going to be flip about this.  Maybe patch in a relevant clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  But in the end, it’s just not a subject that lends itself to levity.

This post refers back to Post #862, from early October.  The question then was whether we’d finally start seeing bodies stacked in refrigerated trucks, for lack of morgue space, in the Dakotas. 

I’ll call that the “reefer test”, because if we see that, we surely will be judged to have failed, about as badly as possible, in dealing with this pandemic. 

A month ago, my best guess was no.

At the time, my bet was that, no we wouldn’t see bodies in reefers in the DakotasDespite the fact that, at that time, the governors of both states were dodging the issue rather than doing anything about it.  (See Post #864, regarding goobers.)

The governor of South Dakota, in particular, deserves some sort of prize .  She managed to spout not just the standard Republican line, but made up a few new ones as well.

She duly sang the standard song, as did (e.g.) the Governor of Florida, when faced with a surge this summer.  Different voice, same tune:

But the governor of South Dakota went above and beyond the old standards.    That starts with insisting that a week-long 500,000 person drunken party during a pandemic could not possibly have any negative public health consequences.  Which is pretty wild, when you think about it even a little bit.

But for sheer chutzpah, she gets the prize for her attempt to lure new businesses to South Dakota, during the pandemic, by highlighting the fact that she wasn’t going to take any actions to stop the pandemic.

I bet that little episode doesn’t end up on her resume.

Now, all bets are off.

But despite all that, I figured that they’d do what all the other states in similar situations had done.  When push came to shove, when the hospitals filled up, they’d just do a 180.  They’d stop with the nonsensical rhetoric and just start doing what public health experts suggested.  Then pretend they’d been with the program all along.  Mask up.  Ban gatherings.  Close bars.  And so on.

But apparently, that’s not happening yet.  No mandatory mask orders.  And, in fact, as of a couple of weeks ago, few people voluntarily wearing masks.  At least, that’s what Dr. Birx said, based on her visit to the area.

And its starting to look like that may never happen. There are absolutely no plans to do anything differently.  At least, that’s the gist of this article on today’s Washington Post.  Which is the genesis of this depressing rant.

It’s not just that they are taking no action.  It’s that they are proud of it.  Do you get the drift?  It’s not that they haven’t taken action.  They have.  The action they have taken is to state absolutely, positively, and with forethought, that their policy will be to take no action.

Dry air, no masks, and a reefer watch.

I’ve already had my say regarding dry air and spread of coronavirus.  You can read that in Post #879, Post #880, and Post #885 (part).  Two decades ago, you could plausibly claim that we didn’t know why winter was flu season in temperate climates.  That’s no longer true.  Read the literature, summarize the findings, you’ll reach the same conclusion I did.

It’s all about humidity and stupidity.  Too little of the former, too much of the latter.

At this point, either you get it or you don’t.   If you have a humidifier, run it.  If you don’t have one, buy one.

The only other thing I can do is keep a reefer watch.  Keep an eye out, to note the first time that refrigerated trucks get mentioned in the COVID-19 news.  During the New York outbreak, my recollection is that they did, in fact, have reefers on standby at the height of the crisis.  But that they didn’t need them.

But what’s going on now, in the US Midwest, dwarfs what went on in New York.  Sure, it looks like the mortality rate has fallen significantly since then, for reasons that are not entirely clear (See Post #871).  But the sheer volume of cases is just off-the-charts, now, relative to the New York portion of the pandemic.  And it isn’t slowing down.  Maybe they’ll pull through this in some as-yet-unspecified manner.  But at this point, based on the numerous positive assertions, by several Midwest governors, that they will not take action, I’m betting that at least one US Midwest state is going to fail the reefer test.

Source:  NY Times data repository on Github.  Data current through 11/12/2020.