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Some Covid Links

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal applauds U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s striking down of the CDC’s mask mandate for travelers. A slice:

The ruling comes when the mask mandate is a waning health necessity, if it ever was. The CDC recently extended it until May 3, and it is increasingly unpopular with passengers and airline executives as Covid-19 becomes endemic and less lethal. Rather than appeal the ruling and risk a broader defeat, the CDC would be wiser to drop it.

The Biden Administration should also hire more lawyers who understand that the courts are looking more closely at sweeping federal orders that lack clear statutory justification. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration lost its vaccine mandate case at the Supreme Court. President Biden may want to govern with a pen and a phone, a la Barack Obama, but he’ll suffer more legal defeats without a clear command from a law written by Congress.

(DBx: I fly on Thursday from DC to Detroit. I am incredibly thankful to Judge Mizelle for saving me from having to participate in health-scare theater. For the first time in over a year I’ll not feel compelled to drink or eat simply as a means for me to keep the mask off of my face.)

About the lifting of the mask mandate, Matt Yglesias wisely tweets: (HT el gato malo)

People can argue all day but the fact that every airline immediately went masks-optional the day of the ruling suggests that people with actual money on the line do not believe there is a large group of people with a significant preference for masked flying.

My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan offers some guidelines for government. A slice:

4. Think before you preach. Ask yourself, “What reason do I have to believe that I know better than most people?” If you have no compelling answer, shut up and do nothing.

5. Count when you think. Don’t just say, “This rule makes people safer.” Ask, “How much safer? And at what cost?”

6. Measure what counts! Before you wage a war to save lives, measure both the lives you’ll save and the lives you’ll destroy. Before you require masks, measure the risk reduction.

7. Always consider the convenience of the ruled. Due to Social Desirability Bias, explicitly valuing convenience is awkward. Government should shield the public from this awkwardness by habitually asking, “Isn’t this too inconvenient?” on the public’s behalf.

8. Avoid hyperbole. “Two weeks to flatten the curve” was a strangely honest slogan. “Together we can defeat Covid-19” was not.

9. Don’t move the goalposts. If you ask for two weeks to flatten the curve, then in two weeks you should loudly announce, “Your two weeks are up. Time to go back to work.”

Vinay Prasad weighs the relative dangerousness of the extremes on Covid.

“William Forbes” reports on life (so called) in lockdowned Shanghai. Two slices:

This time around, what is going on is just utterly unbelievable. Despite high vaccination rates and a weaker variant of the virus at large, the restrictions are way tougher this time.

I’ve been locked in my apartment with my wife and kid for more than a month, and I have had to take more than 20 COVID tests during this time. Government health workers appear in white suits every other day, and neighborhood wardens use megaphones to summon everyone outside to take their tests.

There’s more than 1,000 people living in my complex — and everyone complies. Chinese people in general are pretty obedient. Privately, many Chinese friends tell me they don’t like the procedure and lockdown but believe going along with it is the quickest way back to normality.

Almost all apartments in Shanghai are in gated compounds, so it’s pretty easy to keep people corralled as there are walls all around. I used to think this was a good thing in general as it was secure — until I saw the huge steel mesh wire fence being bolted into the ground in front of the entrance at the beginning of lockdown, physically sealing us in. Talk about a sense of foreboding. Now we can’t even get outside except for COVID tests or to pick up food deliveries, which are passed up over the fence. That’s if food arrives.


There’s also fear this time around — not of the virus itself but of testing positive. If you do, you’ll be taken away to a makeshift “hospital” where the lights may be on 24/7 and there are no showers. You’ll be isolated from the outside world and not let out until you test negative four or five times.

Understandably, nobody wants to end up in one of these places, and there’s been more than a few viral videos passed around of people being dragged kicking and screaming from their apartments.

The Editorial Board of the New York Post calls on NY Governor Kathy Hochul to stick to her word to not shut down New York. A slice:

So while she’s promising no shutdowns, she hasn’t made any real commitment to that beyond the rhetorical.

Nor admitted that New York’s restrictionist responses to COVID wrought utter disaster, pushing us to lead the nation in out-migration.

They wrecked the state’s economy. We’re still massively lagging the rest of the nation in recovery, with a 4.9% unemployment rate vs. the national 3.6%. We’re still missing hundreds of thousands of pre-pandemic jobs.

They did deep, possibly irrecoverable damage to students in our public schools, causing absenteeism to skyrocket, college-enrollment rates to fall and inflicting learning loss across the board.

Worse still, they were also utterly pointless in public-health terms. The virus ripped through New York in 2020, killing tens of thousands — despite the fact that city and state were almost entirely shut down. Each subsequent surge has been less deadly, with Omicron the least deadly of all — despite the loosened rules around masking, commercial restrictions and vaccines.

Here’s excellent commentary from el gato malo. A slice:

“bUt iT wUZ a nOVeL PaTHogeN!” how could we know?

this is one of the stupident arguments of all. so, what, every time you see a new anything, you forget all priors from similar things? if you see a new kind of fish, do you assume it will be nothing like any other of the 200 fishes you’ve seen before and make up and entirely new set of expectations because some muppet in london has a bad exponential poisson model? or might a sane person presume that it’s probably a lot like other fish until there was some strong reason to believe otherwise?