Post #862: Will we finally get some bodies in reefers? The Dakotas test the limits of stubbornness.

Posted on October 11, 2020

Source:  Isaacs and Isaacs . com

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

I bet not.  I bet they’ll act before it comes to that. Based on history.


And so, here’s how things look.  This is more-or-less the history of the US pandemic, in one big, sloppy graph.  

Source:  Calculation from NY Times data repository counts of Johns Hopkins University data.

Based on that, I’d call this latest development the third wave.

In Wave I, when New York State hit 50 new cases per 100,000 per day, people said, well, that’s as bad as it gets.  The governor instituted lockdowns and mandatory mask orders.  And New York recovered.

In Wave II, when Arizona and Florida got near to 60 new cases per 100,000 per day, people said, OK, that’s really as bad as can be tolerated.  And, dragging their feet all the way, governors of both states eventually got the message across to their populations with mandatory mask orders and other things.

In Wave III, when North and South Dakota are now over 65 new cases per 100,000 per day, people said, hey, you really can do worse than Florida and Arizona.

And the governors of both states are continuing to get their public health advice from that nationally renowned expert, Dr. A. E. Newman.

In South Dakota, contrary to (as far as I know) all public health expert opinion and all available evidence, the Republican governor insists that stay-at-home orders and such are “useless”, and do nothing to reduce spread of disease.  For that expert opinion, apparently she relies on one unnamed national news reporter.  Unsurprising, I guess, given that she flatly rejects the notion that the August Sturis SD motorcycle rally might have been a major source of COVID-19 spread.

I am always astonished by the sheer ego it takes to make a statement like that.  To say, effect, all those countries around the world that took a lockdown-style approach were all fools.  And those states.  And that all the instances of reduction in new case counts, following those lockdowns, were merely coincidence.  And that, uniquely, she, the Governor of South Dakota knows the truth, which is that such orders are “useless”.  Absolutely amazing.  Well, I assume it’s ego, but you can’t rule out absolute cluelessness.

In North Dakota, the Republican governor is avoiding stay-at-home orders which should have been mandated by the state’s own criteria by the simple expedient of not updating the state warning system levels.   So, even though the numbers are setting new records, as long as the Governor declares that no county is above the  “yellow” risk level, nothing needs to be done.

Needless to say, neither state has a mandatory mask order.  And, based on the press coverage, at least, that seems to reflect the attitude of the average citizen.  They truly would rather have the disease spread through the population than be required to wear masks in public.

July 2020 mask use rate.  Source:   New York Times.

At some level, you get the government you deserve.

So far, they aren’t running out of hospital and ICU beds yet.  My guess is that’s due, in some measure, to being largely rural states with largely small, rural hospitals.  Purely as a statistical issue, small hospitals have to maintain more excess bed capacity to function (to deal with normal day-to-day fluctuations in patient load).

I can only guess that, as they get nearer to hospital capacity, and to the prospect of storing bodies in refrigerated trailers, they’ll wise up.  As did other states facing that same prospect.  But, honestly, given what’s gone on so far, I don’t expect that to happen before they hit that critical capacity constraint.   Despite the lessons of New York, Arizona, and Florida.