March 11, 2020

"The tricky thing is that social distancing works best when done preventatively, before things get really bad..."

"... says [Lori Uscher-Pines, a senior health-policy researcher at the RAND Corporation]. But there are downsides, too — canceled events mean lost money (and sometimes lost jobs), and self-isolation can be hard on one’s mental health. For that reason, says Uscher-Pines, many public-health officials find it challenging to decide when to instate social-distancing regulations.... 'If you are personally concerned about COVID-19, you should try to limit your contact and exposure to crowded places, and try to maintain a distance of three to six feet [from other people],' she says.... Err on the side of a liberal interpretation, when possible — for instance, if (and when) schools close, keep kids away from their classmates outside the school building too. 'A big concern with something like school closure is that school will be closed, but then kids will mix on their own outside of school, and that kind of defeats the purpose,' she adds."

From "What Does ‘Social Distancing’ Really Mean?" (New York Magazine).

ADDED: The term "social distancing" is not familiar enough for me to feel comfortable using it in explaining why I'm not doing something. When I wrote an email to cancel an appointment just now, I referred to what I'm doing as "taking a 'social distancing' approach," and I thought that sounded rude and changed it to "taking a 'self-isolating' approach." That's more I'm doing this to myself and less I'm doing this to you.

59 comments:

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

We needed to shut down all travel from China immediately after it was known.,
I doubt that is a possible scenario under and circumstance.

But that is what needed to happen. and the rest of the world needed to do it too.

CStanley said...

the rest of the world needed to do it too.

Which is why that alone could not have been an effective strategy for keeping it off of our shores. All we could do is buy a little time.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Americans deep state state-ists and dictator Chi-coms are cut from the same clothe.

Journalists Argue Use of Term ‘Wuhan Virus’ is Racist as China Seeks to Obfuscate on Origins of Epidemic

Carol said...

Meanwhile my local GOP is holding meet-and-greets for local candidates and going about its meetings because this coronavirus thing is all political you know...

chickelit said...

Enforced sSocial distancing" might be politically convenient for shutting down Trump rallies.

Nonapod said...

I'm a naturally aloof person who generally avoids crowds and keeps at least 6 feet away from other people whenever possible anyway, so that part is easy for me. The main behavior modifications I've made are obstaining from touching my face while I'm outside my own home (that was hard) and washing my hands frequently or using disinfecting wipes. I have a thing of disinfecting wipes in my car and at my work station.

It's funny, I never heard the term "social distancing" before this week. It seems to describe common sense behavior during an infectious disease pandemic.

sinz52 said...

"But there are downsides, too — canceled events mean lost money (and sometimes lost jobs), and self-isolation can be hard on one’s mental health."

And even your physical health.

It may mean climbing up 50 flights of stairs to reach your office in a skyscraper, rather than take a crowded elevator car with sniffling passengers. Lots more heart attacks may result.

Fernandistein said...

If you take a cow-poop bath people will stay six feet away from you, at least.

Fernandistein said...
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Fernandistein said...
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Char Char Binks said...

Social distancing is easy. I've started eating garlic and not showering.

rhhardin said...

One person infects average X other people. The trick to wiping out the disease is to get X to less than one. Get the disease birthrate less than replacement.

Social isolation reduces X.

Fernandistein said...

Journalists Argue Use of Term ‘Wuhan Virus’ is Racist as China Seeks to Obfuscate on Origins of Epidemic

W.H.O has a naming convention that a disease can't be named after a place, or an animal, or a person or a group or people, apparently because they believe the peasants can't be trusted to not misuse that information.

Darrell said...

Ebola is named for river near its origin, Lyme disease comes from Lyme, CT, Zika comes from the Zika Forest in Uganda, then there’s German Measles, West Nile Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Rift Valley Fever, Inga Brain Shrinking with Verbal Diarrhea.

Mark said...

Given that there was no toilet paper at Costco, I think I'll just stop wiping.

Shouldn't be that hard to keep people 6 foot plus away. People will move away when I go to a restaurant ... win, win, win.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

virus = Happy coincidence for Democrats and the Chi-coms

Professional lady said...

My husband and I just decided not to go to a concert we have tickets for this weekend. We don't mind losing the money - we consider it a donation to the classical music venue. We're not so worried about us, we're more worried about passing something on to my elderly father and to friends and co workers who have some serious health issues that could put them at great risk. We figured we'd rather be over cautious. I am washing my hands more often and more thoroughly. I haven't bought a truckload of TP though.

Browndog said...

AOC weighs in. I'm dying.

eric said...

This has become quite literally hysterical

And our government is using this hysteria to institute authoritarianism. Taking away our rights "for our own good" and many are cheering this on.

Especially our right to peaceably assemble.

In an odd twist, it's not the "authoritarian" Trump who is doing this, but his political enemies who call him an authoritarian.

Craig said...

The ESPN/Disney corporate shills Golic and Wingo were all-in on coronavirus panic this morning. The Network probably wants people to stay home and watch sports on TV rather than attend the events.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Based on the spread of the virus, we would have need to shut down travel with Europe and Canada as well as China but the border with Mexico can remain open. Since Mexico hasn’t yet closed its border, isn’t the best social distancing move now to pack the car and drive to Mexico?

Jupiter said...

The possibilities are

1 - There is no coronavirus anywhere near you.
2 - There is coronavirus in your environment, but your immune system fights it off
3 - You get a mild case
4 - You end up lying unconcious in the street like the (young) people in the Iran videos

Where does "wash your hands and try not to touch your face" fit into those scenarios?

n.n said...

Social distancing: you're not in my diversity (e.g. color, sex, class) group.

J. Farmer said...

This has become quite literally hysterical

So far it seems every thread on coronavirus ends up here...

Person X calmly, soberly, rationally explains why social distancing is a prudent step to take to contain the spread.

Person Y responds: You're panicking! You're hysterical!

Left Bank of the Charles said...

What’s Plan B if Plan A fails? Another public health measure that could be taken: create a wall of immunity by exposing young people with low risk of death to the virus, quarantining them until fully recovered and virus free, then have them rejoin the general populace. The certified immune could then be given the jobs requiring public contact.

Nichevo said...

Left Bank of the Charles said...
Based on the spread of the virus, we would have need to shut down travel with Europe and Canada as well as China but the border with Mexico can remain open. Since Mexico hasn’t yet closed its border, isn’t the best social distancing move now to pack the car and drive to Mexico?


Joe? Joe Biden? Is that you or is there another random phrase generator out there spewing hot garbage nonsense trying to pimp D policies?

Michael said...

Seattle airport is about half empty. So there is that.

So once again our precious little panic is going to devastate...the poor. Hourly workers will get crushed because all the panicked will be staying home and out of the public restaurants, sports venues, concerts and all the other places where these poor shits eek out a living serving those who can afford to “social distance” or whatever other precious name is to be given to the panic stricken.

Wash your hands. Don’t fucking sneeze on others. Grow up.

Michael said...
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I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Farmer, you're not acknowledging that many many people are unable to calmly, soberly, and rationally discuss this disease. I'm traveling right now but back at home the city school district is calling a press conference because "some" students "may" have been exposed to coronavirus. Waiting to hear that they are cancelling school. There are no confirmed cases in our city, there are thirty confirmed cases in the entire state of Texas all of which are quarantined, but yeah let's go ahead and have forty thousand children roaming the city and completely torpedo parents' ability to work for a living. But if you point this out you get attacked with the always completely rational won't someone think of the CHILDRENNNNN!!!!! and its fresh new variant WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF GRANDPA!!!!!.

Michael said...

60 six o Chinese restaurants closed in Vancouver BC. Nice

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

So once again our precious little panic is going to devastate...the poor. Hourly workers will get crushed because all the panicked will be staying home and out of the public restaurants, sports venues, concerts and all the other places where these poor shits eek out a living serving those who can afford to “social distance” or whatever other precious name is to be given to the panic stricken.

I've read on this very blog that such people are assholes who shouldn't have had kids because needing to work to feed them means they are putting their "careers" ahead of "raising their children." Snort

eric said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...
This has become quite literally hysterical

So far it seems every thread on coronavirus ends up here...

Person X calmly, soberly, rationally explains why social distancing is a prudent step to take to contain the spread.

Person Y responds: You're panicking! You're hysterical!


3/11/20, 10:47 AM


If only this were the case.

Instead, Governor Inslee is expected, today, to cancel all events with 250+ from gathering and taking place. If people don't want to go, fine. But they should have that choice.

In New York they are talking of quarantine for entire towns and using the national guard to bring in supplies.

But let's have more calm, sober and rational discussions of the benefits of social distancing as if that's the case here

Jupiter said...

"Person X calmly, soberly, rationally explains why social distancing is a prudent step to take to contain the spread."

"Social distancing" is a prudent step to to take if you're hoping you won't get the flu. Because if you get the flu, oh well. You'll get over it.

Those well-dressed, young people lying in the streets of Iran, while others drive by in cars, don't have flu. They have the Chi-Com Plague, and they appear to be dying of it. Calm, sober and rational is no way to go through life, Son. We're all gonna die!

J. Farmer said...

@I Have Misplaced My Pants:

There are no confirmed cases in our city, there are thirty confirmed cases in the entire state of Texas all of which are quarantined, but yeah let's go ahead and have forty thousand children roaming the city and completely torpedo parents' ability to work for a living.

Are there any number of cases in either your city or in the state of Texas that would make you think closing public schools was a prudent idea?

I've read on this very blog that such people are assholes who shouldn't have had kids because needing to work to feed them means they are putting their "careers" ahead of "raising their children." Snort

Yeah, that's one of the reasons parents come in sets. One can go out and earn the living, and the other can stay home and look after the children. Some of us do think this is a preferable arrangement to handing your kids over to paid strangers to look after them 40+ hours a week.

J. Farmer said...

@eric:

Instead, Governor Inslee is expected, today, to cancel all events with 250+ from gathering and taking place. If people don't want to go, fine. But they should have that choice.

In New York they are talking of quarantine for entire towns and using the national guard to bring in supplies.


That is absolutely standard operating procedure in containing an outbreak, and this country has a long history of practicing going back at least to the mid-17th century. Early and aggressive actions to contain spread is essential to keeping the healthcare system from getting overwhelmed. The classic example is Philadelphia and St. Louis during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Philadelphia initially downplayed the significance after the first case, allowed a large parade to go on, and did not ban public events until 14 days later. St. Louis banned such events two days after their first case. Philadelphia had nearly four times as many deaths (on a per capita basis) as St. Louis. Proactive interventions are preferable to reactive interventions.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Childless gay guy lecturing 20 year stay at home mother of six about how people should parent @@

J. Farmer said...

@Jupiter:

"Social distancing" is a prudent step to to take if you're hoping you won't get the flu. Because if you get the flu, oh well. You'll get over it.

Those well-dressed, young people lying in the streets of Iran, while others drive by in cars, don't have flu. They have the Chi-Com Plague, and they appear to be dying of it. Calm, sober and rational is no way to go through life, Son. We're all gonna die!


If there is supposed to be a point to any of this verbiage (other than mere glibness), I'm afraid it's gone right over my head.

eric said...

This is in response to J Farmer, but I didn't want to copy paste his whole thing ....


Are you at all skeptical?

Do you accept what the bureaucrats and media and politicians are telling you about this in an election year?

Let me put it another way. If we are being lied to, who will pay the price a few months from now when the hysteria dies down and they move on to the next crises?

Oh, that's right. It's not hysteria. It's just being compared to the Spanish flu.

Totally reasonable, calm, etc.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I’m sure if you explain it like that to all the Walmart clerks and LPNs and warehouse pickers they will magically wake up tomorrow being white collar workers in “sets of two” with emergency funds.

J. Farmer said...

@eric:

Are you at all skeptical?

There is always room for skepticism. Nothing would please me more than for this to turn into nothing. But wishful thinking isn't a strategy. It is far preferable to overreact to a small threat than to underreact to a big threat.

Do you accept what the bureaucrats and media and politicians are telling you about this in an election year?

This is not just an American phenomenon. I don't think places like South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Italy are doing what they are doing because it's a US election year. I don't watch television news, and there is tons of material out there by epidemiologists and infection disease experts from numerous countries that have made quite compelling arguments for why we should take this seriously. I don't think they're making it all up to hurt Trump.

If we are being lied to, who will pay the price a few months from now when the hysteria dies down and they move on to the next crises?

What exactly do you think is the lie?

Oh, that's right. It's not hysteria. It's just being compared to the Spanish flu.

Totally reasonable, calm, etc.


More reading comprehension and less snide remarks will serve you well. The comparison was not between the two viruses but between the reaction of two major US cities to a pandemic. One responded aggressively and early, and the other dithered. The former had much better outcomes than the latter. The most prudent thing you can do in a pandemic is avoid unnecessary contact with other people.

Marc said...

Governor Inslee's decree applies to churches and church-going, too, I suppose?

J. Farmer said...

@I Have Misplaced My Pants:

I’m sure if you explain it like that to all the Walmart clerks and LPNs and warehouse pickers they will magically wake up tomorrow being white collar workers in “sets of two” with emergency funds.

There are options for mitigating the financial impact on workers. For one, the government can just give them money. Or force large companies to provide paid time off to employees. Suspending the payroll tax for the rest of the year could also help recoup any lost income. South Korea, Japan, France, Iran, Pakistan, and India have all closed schools. And those are all countries with less wealth than us. It's not an impossible task.

Marc said...

I see that Governor Inslee's decree does in fact apply indefinitely to three Seattle area counties, churches included. Not schools, though.

I wonder also how well-established the legal justification for this is, or if a lawsuit in this "unprecedented" business should be expected fairly quickly.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

Pants: I’m sure if you explain it like that to all the Walmart clerks and LPNs and warehouse pickers they will magically wake up tomorrow being white collar workers in “sets of two” with emergency funds.

C'mon Pants. This, and you're accusing other people of reacting emotionally? I'm sure JF disagrees with you about when to pull the public health measure triggers because, unlike you, he just doesn't give a shit about the people who are going to be on the frontlines of economic damage from any public health measure.

Risk re optimum infectious disease control isn't the easiest thing in the world to assess. The economic damage from restrictions today (and there will *always* be economic damage from diseases, major or minor) has to be weighed against the potentially greater damage that the disease can cause tomorrow. And that "tomorrow" also includes (and I should put this in all-caps) the potential for much greater *economic* damage than that sustained by the imposition of early restrictions. Where's the inflection point, where the cost/benefit ratio goes from favoring a hands-off decision, to indicating that stronger public health measures are needed?

You seem to be really damned sure that you know where that point is. Well, good for you, 'cause I sure don't, and there are people whose opinion I respect on such matters who think early restrictions are a good idea. When your medical system is showing obvious strain is not the time to start thinking about slowing down the spread of the disease. I have no emotional attachment to that position, however, and listen with disinterest to contrary policy advice from informed persons.

and P.S. to eric: yeah, sure, the only reason people here disagree with you is because they trust the media and the government. Wow, we never thought to ever be skeptical of what they're pushing. We believe every word we hear from the gummint and the tee-vee. Thanks for the enlightenment! We won't be fooled again!

Rosalyn C. said...

"... taking a 'self-isolating' approach." Sounds more like someone with a psychological issue but also in line with liberal speak where virtue signalling requires self blame. At the end of the day social distancing isn't personal, self-isolating is. Someone probably already worked out the subtle nuances before releasing the terminology. Social distancing means I really do want to connect with you but society requires me to keep my distance. Self-isolating means I prefer my own company to any association with you. Anyway, that's my interpretation.

Browndog said...

Our great governor, Michigan's Gretchen Witmer, announced a state of emergency today due to, and I quote "Michigan's first confirmed case of presumably corona virus"

She's so smart.

Jim at said...

Jay Inslee is banning all gatherings of 250 people or more in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Where he gets the authority to do this, I have no idea.
How he plans to enforce it is even more of a mystery.

This place is nuts.

jaydub said...

I wonder if it would be possible for Farmer to avoid gracing us with his unique wisdom regarding every comment and perhaps limit himself to every tenth or so. I mean, how egotistical does one have to be to never let any other poster's opinions, regardless how mundane, go unremarked? You can practically cut his arrogance with a knife.

Browndog said...

When Farmer shows up the discussion nearly always goes in one direction. Sideways.

Not saying its good or bad, or he's right or wrong. Just saying you're going to debate him. On his terms. There is no quarter.

JaimeRoberto said...

This is an introvert's dream.

n.n said...

Social distancing is an archaic practice that was popular before the development of communication systems, and has limited relevance to mitigating progress of a contagion.

Jim at said...

When asked about how he was going to enforce the ban, Inslee said, "The penalty might be killing your granddad, and I’m serious.”

Nope. No scaremongering there. Not at all.

Imagine the screams and howls if another, certain politician said that.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

C'mon Pants. This, and you're accusing other people of reacting emotionally? I'm sure JF disagrees with you about when to pull the public health measure triggers because, unlike you, he just doesn't give a shit about the people who are going to be on the frontlines of economic damage from any public health measure.

What? What Farmer or I do or don't care about is not the subject. The subject is Farmer's 1,001 comments over the last three or so days insisting there is only one possible valid point of view or approach to this health threat, and his astounding obtuseness regarding how elitist and unrealistic his position is that shutting down schools and gatherings is not only totes doable but those who are skeptical about it are bad parents, man!.

I don't know why some of you are struggling so mightily with the concept that not everyone is a white collar person with options. It's not realistic to expect that every worker is like you and is going to stay home and do puzzles with the kids and work through the books on their nightstand. A little acknowledgement from Farmer that in the real world people often do not comply with fantasies of how they should act, because they have reasons not to that are very real to them, would mean less of these stupid back and forths with him. Sanctimonious lectures about two parent households and blah blah are such a fucking waste of time.

Jupiter said...

"If there is supposed to be a point to any of this verbiage (other than mere glibness), I'm afraid it's gone right over my head."

My point is that, if whether you live or die depends upon whether you touch your face or not, you don't "try to touch your face less", you have someone duct tape your hands behind your back. So all this crap about touching your face and hand cleanser is every bit as useful as it was to teach us kids to hide under our desks to escape an atomic bomb. If this thing is for real, a lot of us are going to die, with or without touching our faces. Or it may peter out, but it won't be because they closed the schools.

wbfjrr2 said...

Cauccia, or however you spell name of the doc who’s been doing the hi level tv briefings said today that they now know more than before about the disease. He said that rather than 3.4% fatality rate announced by WHO, the actual rate is 1%. Normal flu is around .1%.

CNN headline: Coronavirus 10 times deadlier than flu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

Pants: The subject is Farmer's 1,001 comments over the last three or so days insisting there is only one possible valid point of view...

I'm not seeing any difference here between Farmer and everybody else here, you included. You *know* that restrictive public health measures being called for are unwarranted, irrational, and hysterical, because, well, you just know. Just like you know that any expert who opines that sooner is wiser than later is an elitist jerk who is indifferent to the problems of working people. He couldn't possibly be an honest person with any longer-term concerns about the potentially devastating effect of an epidemic on those same working people (their lives, their health, *and* their economic condition), struggling to make the right call with the limited information available.

No, he's just a white-collar asshole. (And you know what? If he gets it wrong and the threat never materializes, he's an incompetent asshole who doesn't care about working people. If he gets it wrong and there is a serious toll, he's an even *bigger* irresponsible incompetent asshole who doesn't care about working people. Win-win for your position.)

I don't know why some of you are struggling so mightily with the concept that not everyone is a white collar person with options..

Yeah, you're right, Pants. There's no other reason why anybody would disagree with you, or even admit to not knowing one way or the other, about the wisdom of implementing any given disease control or containment measure. Nope, any disagreement would be down to being a white-collar asshole whose life has always been full of options and deeply padded with rich Corinthian financial security.

But, yeah, that J.Farmer sure is a smug self-righteous prick...

n.n said...

Exactly. It is imperative to mitigate the fifth choice, Pro-Choice, through early judgment and moderation, and testing if you're in a high risk group.

n.n said...
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n.n said...

Inslee said, "The penalty might be killing your granddad, and I’m serious.”

Ironically, Planned Parent: Gaia's Choice or Pro-Choice? The more inclusive Planned Population, not limited to dodo dynasties, and reduced Posterity, has been proposed as a strategy to mitigate progress of [catastrophic] [anthropogenic] climate cooling... warming... change.