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Stokes: Unpacking the Logic Behind “Slow Testing”—Noted

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Jon Stokes: Unpacking the Logic Behind “Slow the Testing Down, Please” https://theprepared.com/blog/logic-behind-slow-the-testing-down/: ‘A lot has been made of the President’s claim that we should “slow the testing down,” a claim that he doubled down on in subsequent remarks to reporters. Most commentators state that he’s under the mistaken impression that if we just don’t look at the problem, it’ll go away. But I follow a bunch of virus skeptics.... I think I understand the reasoning behind the president’s remark.... There is an actual school of thought behind this.... I want to unpack all this... because it’s important... to understand... [the] virus skeptics... [and the] story they’re telling themselves and anyone who’ll listen, and that this story is driving the US response to the

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Jon Stokes: Unpacking the Logic Behind “Slow the Testing Down, Please” https://theprepared.com/blog/logic-behind-slow-the-testing-down/: ‘A lot has been made of the President’s claim that we should “slow the testing down,” a claim that he doubled down on in subsequent remarks to reporters. Most commentators state that he’s under the mistaken impression that if we just don’t look at the problem, it’ll go away. But I follow a bunch of virus skeptics.... I think I understand the reasoning behind the president’s remark.... There is an actual school of thought behind this.... I want to unpack all this... because it’s important... to understand... [the] virus skeptics... [and the] story they’re telling themselves and anyone who’ll listen, and that this story is driving the US response to the virus at the highest levels.... The story the virus skeptics are currently telling goes something like this: "The outbreak actually peaked in March, and at far higher numbers than we know about. The cases were probably in the millions, and were undercounted... because the virus is very mild... unless you’re very old or otherwise compromised.... The number of uncounted cases has been dropping dramatically as the outbreak fizzles, and you can see this in the ongoing drop in deaths.... Therefore, the rise in detected cases is simply because we’re doing a bunch of track-and-trace and testing, which is leading us to uncover all these previously undetected cases that were out there. So the bottom line... is that if we weren’t sending “hotspot hunters” (a real term I’ve come across) to do contact tracing and find all the remaining pockets of infections, we wouldn’t be seeing these alarming rises in case counts. By this logic, this “phantom” rise in apparent cases (remember, really we’re just finding more old cases that are mild) is giving rise to media hysteria and economic devastation.... At this point, goes the reasoning, the economic damage from the “fake” rise in cases is far worse than any damage from the very mild virus, so we need to just quit testing.... To be clear, the above is still head-in-the-sand-ism, but it reflects a sophisticated head-in-the-sand-ism that’s being earnestly promoted by a crowd that includes some prominent medical professionals in the US and abroad. The government of Sweden, for instance.... What's happened in Sweden is crystal clear, as it has happened out in the open: the Swedes thought & said the virus was very weak & already quite widespread, and that assumption was the basis of their strategy & projections. It turns out they were wrong https://t.co/lecQxpqVS5... .#coronavirus #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-06-26

Bradford DeLong
J. Bradford DeLong is Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was Deputy Assistant US Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration, where he was heavily involved in budget and trade negotiations. His role in designing the bailout of Mexico during the 1994 peso crisis placed him at the forefront of Latin America’s transformation into a region of open economies, and cemented his stature as a leading voice in economic-policy debates.

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