Update: Was the MLB’s decision dumb?

April 19, 2021

As the late great sportscaster Harry Carey would say:
“HOLY COW”

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Let’s connect a few dots today…

MLB’s political demographics split pretty evenly among Democrats, Republicans and folks who are independent (or politically disinterested).

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Source: XM Institute

About the 1/3 of the fan base is Republican…

Morning Consult pollsters report that MLB’s net favorability among Republicans has plummeted after the decision to move the All-Star game from Atlanta.

MLB’s net favorability among Republicans dropped by a whopping 36 percentage points … from from 48% to 12%.

The direction of the drop is predictable … the magnitude of the drop is HUGE … dropping MLB’s net favorability below football and hockey.

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Post-MLB All-Star decision, Dems’ net MLB favorability is 41% …. that compares to the 26% for independents and, as cited above, 12% for Republicans:

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Morning Consult didn’t publish the specific historical numbers numbers for Democrats, but hinted that it was essentially unchanged.

Assuming that the pre-post numbers are unchanged for the independents, then…

MLB’s net favorability across its full fan base dropped by about 1/3 …. from 38% before the All-Star decision to 26% after.

And, there’s a likelihood that MLB’s fan base will re-mix … more woke millennials rushing the turnstiles to virtue-signal for a couple of hours at high-priced, slow-paced games … fewer old, loyal white guys who (used to) savor the game’s history and seek a momentary escape from political craziness.

I’m betting against woke millennials saving baseball.

Based on my small sampling, they may have a betting and fantasy league interest in MLB, but that only requires post-game stats and highlight reels.

Don’t count on wokesters buoy attendance or surge TV ratings.

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April 19: COVID Dashboard

April 19, 2021

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COVID: How safe (or risky) to resume activities?

April 16, 2021

Here are my Covid 5-Ps of risk assessment
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Like most people who have been vaccinated, I’ve been recalibrating my Covid risk tolerance: What activities can I safely reactivate? What venues can I visit? What mix of people to beware?

Nudged by a New York Times article headlined What Can You Do Once You’re Vaccinated?, I’ve distilled down to my personal 5-Ps of Covid risk (or safety):

1. PREVALENCE

  • Community contagion?
  • Herd immunization?

2. PLACE (Venue)

  • Outdoors or indoors?
  • Ventilation? Shields?
  • Cleanliness? Sanitation?

3. PASTIME (Activity)

  • Intensity: Sweat? Spray?
  • Duration: Brief? Prolonged?

4. PEOPLE (Crowd)

  • Density: How many? How packed?
  • Familiarity: F&F? Strangers?
  • Behaviors: Known? Apparent?

5. PRECAUTIONS (Personal)

  • Healthy?
  • Vaccinated?
  • Masked?

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Some common sense hints

  1. Watch local case & vaccination rates
  2. Don’t frequent likely hot spots.
  3. Avoid crowds of strangers
  4. Don’t linger – keep moving
  5. Enjoy the outdoors
  6. Exercise at home.
  7. Distance from close talkers
  8. Wear a mask (just in case)

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DISCLAIMER: I’m not a medical professional or scientist — just a curious, self-interested guy.  So, don’t take anything that I say or write as medical advice. Get that from your doctor!

Perhaps the most important SCOTUS ruling ever…

April 15, 2021

Rather than ruling on the merits of the Texas election complaint, the esteemed Justices ran for the hills … and may have diminished the future political independence and relevance of the court itself.
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Yesterday, it was reported that Pelosi’s Congress has started drafting a law to pack the Supreme Court with 4 new (liberal) justices.

How did we get to this point … and what are the implications?

Flashback to a couple of weeks after the 2020 presidential election.

The Supreme Court “docketed” a complaint filed by the State of Texas (and a long-list of other complainants) that claimed voting irregularities in a handful of of states (details below).

I assumed that “docketed” meant that they would hear the evidence and rule on the case’s merits.

Silly me.

Recognizing that they would be caught between a rock and a hard place, the SCOTUS channeled Sgt. Shultz claim (“I hear nothing, I see nothing”) to stay out of the election dispute.

For the record, here’s the first part of the official SCOTUS statement:

ORDER IN PENDING CASE (155, ORIG.) TEXAS V. PENNSYLVANIA, ET AL.

The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution.

Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.

All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.

The key point: This isn’t a ruling on the merits of the case, i.e. whether there was election irregularities, fraud and rigging … or not.

The Court just decided to rule on procedural technicalities and leave the merits of the case open for all of us to decide.

That leaves about half the country thinking that the election was clean as a whistle … and, half suspicious of the election’s processes and results.

The obvious result: high tension and animosity.

Given its importance, let’s parse the court’s statement….

Read the rest of this entry »

April 15: COVID Dashboard

April 15, 2021

Daily New Deaths metric drops below 750
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J&J vaccine halted … so what?

April 14, 2021

Here’s what you need to know.
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The J&J vaccine a “viral vector DNA” vaccine that is very different than the Pfizer and Moderna “messenger RNA vaccines” … and their long-term effects may be different.

Below is a very detailed analysis of the differences and their implications.

The J&J blood-clotting issue is a near-immediate injection side-effect that is very rare … less than a 1 in million occurrence … less likely than getting struck by lightning.

Statistically-speaking, the blood-clotting occurrence rate is so low that it raises questions as to why the vaccine has been halted.

Up until yesterday, most “experts” were saying “Take whichever vaccine is available to you first.”

Yesterday, Dr. Fauci and the other political-scientists were lock-stepping an “abundance of caution” message.  It will be interesting to see how this situation evolves, especially since…

For the record: Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved by the Trump administration; J&J was developed under the auspices of Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, but the J&J vaccine was approved by the Biden administration.
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MUST READ: Here is a detailed recap of how the vaccines work and how they compare.  It’s long, but well worth the reading time.

The topline:

The 3 currently relevant brands (Pfizer, Moderna, J&J) are “well tolerated” (i.e. they exhibit few or no side effects) and provide high levels of protection …  with near total protection against hospitalization or death.

In clinal trials, Pfizer & Moderna scored higher in overall protection (roughly 95% against symptomatic infections) than the J&J vaccine (72%) in the U.S.

Most experts consider the difference in effectiveness rates to be more a function of when and where the clinical trials were done than the relative effectiveness of the vaccines.

Specifically, the J&J trial was done in a more “hostile” Covid environment: a higher prevalence of Covid and emergence of new Covid strains (especially the South African variant).

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Regarding the variants…

“Laboratory studies and clinical-trial data suggest that all of the Covid  vaccines will provide significant protection (i.e. greater than 50% effectiveness) against emerging strains of the Covid virus.”  Source

It’s highly likely that an additional shot — either a booster or a reformulation — will eventually be required for all brands and types of vaccines to combat the variant strains.

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It’s uncertain how effective the vaccines are preventing asymptomatic infections or how long the vaccines provide immunity against serious symptoms.

But, the consensus seems to be that there is very high protection against asymptomatic infections … and that the immunities last for at least several months, maybe longer.

That said, annual shots seem to be likely.

Again, the most compelling immediate effectiveness result to consider: all brands claim near total protection against hospitalization and death with unlikely side effects.

My take: Call it a push on effectiveness.

Convenience

The J&J vaccine is easier to distribute since it requires less demanding refrigeration.

So, once production is ramped up, it will probably be more ubiquitous in rural areas and in low volume vaccination outlets (e.g. doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics and smaller pharmacies).

As well publicized, Pfizer & Moderna are currently administered in 2 doses with the 2nd dose following 3 or 4 weeks after the 1st.

The J&J vaccine only requires a single dose, making it a good fit for, say, high volume mass vaccination sites and for people who want the convenience of one & done (e.g. workers who are schedule constrained or people with limited access to distribution sites).

The Pfizer & Moderna vaccines are likely to be concentrated in, say, public health department vaccination clinics, targeted to high vulnerability populations.

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That’s probably all that you really need to know, but if you’re interested in the comparative science of the vaccines, keep reading…

Read the rest of this entry »

How will we know when we’re near-normal again?

April 13, 2021

Stay focused on the number of Daily New Deaths!
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Now that the country is getting vaccinated at a rapid clip, everybody is asking the same question: When can we resume “normal” life again?

The verbiage from the political-scientists and pundits ranges from ‘pretty soon’ to ‘probably never’.

Thanks guys.

Is herd immunity within reach or asymptotically impossible because of ”vaccine hesitancy”?

How many covid survivors now have “natural immunity”?

How long does natural or vaccine immunity last? Weeks? Month? Years?

Case counts spike then drop like a rock … with “scientific” explanations mimicking financial analysts’ head-scratching rationales for why the market went up (or down) each day.

My advice from the get-go has been — in the words of Nate Silver — to ignore the noise and focus on the signal … the covid-related death count.

Back in Jan.-Feb. 2020, Dr. Fauci was saying:

This not a major threat for the people of the United States, and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.

I bought in to Fauci’s read of the situation, but said that I’d start worrying when daily covid deaths surpassed those of a a bad flu year.

The were about 80,000 flu-related fatalities in worst recent flu year.  Source

Spread across the entire year, that works out to about 250 deaths per day; spread across the usual 4 month flu season, that’s about 750 deaths per day.

Of course, we blew past those numbers … and stayed at sky-high levels for most of the past year.

Now, we’re coming back down … with enough people vaccinated or naturally immune that the trend and levels are likely to stick.

So, my advice: Take case counts with a grain of salt, be encouraged by vaccination rates and stay focused on the averaged number of daily new deaths (DNDs).

Based on the flu benchmark, when the weekly average of DNDs drops below 750, we’re probably near-normal … when it drops below 250, then giddyup … we’re there!

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For more detail. see:  MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned a COVID-19 corner?

MUST READ: How will we know when we’ve turned a COVID-19 corner?

April 13, 2021

Stay focused on the number of Daily New Deaths!
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This is a relevant excerpt from a long ago prior post (May 2020)
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Why have I centered on Daily New Deaths (DND)  as my key metric?

First,  saving lives is our paramount objective, right?  If yes, it should be our focus metric.

Second, I think that most other metrics that are being bandied about are quite problematic.

Counting deaths — while a bit macabre — is a more reliable process than counting, say, the number of infected people.

Sure, I’d like to know the number of people infected with COVID-19.

But, unless everybody — or at lest a large statistical sample — is tested, the number of confirmed cases is subject to lots of statistical issues.

Most notably, who is being tested and who isn’t? What about the asymptomatic “hidden carriers”? What are the criteria for confirming a COVID infection? What about false positives (and false negatives)? How to standardize the reporting processes across states? How to keep governmental units from fudging the numbers?

Importantly, if testing increases, then confirmed cases goes up.

Is that an indication of more virus spread or just a reflection of more testing?

I sure can’t tell.

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Again, counting fatalities is probably the most reliable metric.

Fatalities are discrete events – so they’re countable.

Still, even deaths may have some counting imperfections.

For example, many non-hospitalized people die and are buried without autopsies.  Some may be uncounted COVID victims.

On the other hand, some people may die and be diagnosed with COVID infections. That doesn’t necessarily mean that COVID killed them.  That’s especially true with COVID since it’s  most deadly for people with other health problems.

And, as we stated above, the definition of COVID deaths has changed:

COVID-related” means “COVID present”, not necessarily “COVID caused” … and that, along the way, “present” was redefined from “confirmed” to “presumed”

Further, COVID deaths are a function of two drivers: the incidence of the virus … and, the nature, level and timing of therapeutic healthcare.

Said differently, more effective therapeutic healthcare will dampen the death toll.

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Bottom line:  “Daily New Deaths” is the number we should be watching.

If it shows a consistent downward trend, then we’ll know we’ve turned the corner.

If it stays stable (at a high level) or turns upward, we’ll know that we’re in deep yogurt.

 

April 13: COVID Dashboard

April 13, 2021

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WSJ: The Future of U.S. Higher Education…

April 9, 2021

A Few Star Universities, Many Affiliated Satellites
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Consider how the U.S. hospital system is evolving … independent hospitals are affiliating with “name brands” (e.g. Mayo, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins) … or are joining “integrated delivery networks” (e.g. HCA, CommonSpirit, Universal, Ascension, Tenet).

That model is analogous to a “re-imagining” of higher education in a WSJ op-ed by Daniel Pipes, founder of an organization called Campus Watch.

Mr. Pipes predicts that “top schools will flourish while the rest wither and are reborn as affiliates.”

Here’s the essence of Mr. Pipe’s rationale:

The taxi system was unreliable, expensive and unpleasant, so along came Uber and overturned it.

Higher education, even more antiquated than taxis, was due for a comparable shock.

Covid provided it.

More specifically, this is what Mr. Pipes envisions:

Covid has forced a massive reliance on Zoom instruction has finally proved the internet’s potential to disrupt the dominant, archaic model.

 

In-person attendance will return, but institutions will scamper to find new procedures [and ways to add value

 

MOOCs (“massive open online courses,”) – which have generally languished — will take off and finally fulfill their potential.

 

The appearance of such huge courses at a moment when lesser institutions are failing will result in a few star universities flourishing while the rest starve and die.

 

Imagine a reduction from some 5,300 U.S. colleges and universities to 50, each with its renowned outlook, specialties and strengths.

 

Thousands of existing campuses will become shared satellite facilities for those 50 that flourish.

Legions of (local) teaching assistants and graders who meet in person with students, will give education the personal touch and community grounding essential to its mission.

So, what happens at the “flourishing 50” campuses (and their faculties)?

My take:

> They continue to fulfill their research missions.

> They train the next generation of scholar-teachers

> They offer advanced content courses that require in-person teaching by subject matter experts.

> They operate as “content farms”, providing proprietary online courses

> The provide quality control over the “satellites” to protect the school’s standing and brand image.

For sure, the next couple of years will be interesting.

In-person advanced seminars with star professors will continue as ever,

Tuition will come crashing down as economies of scale come into play, truly opening education to all and ending the student-loan crisis.

April 9: COVID Dashboard

April 9, 2021

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Boycott baseball (and Coke)?

April 8, 2021

WSJ: It’s a necessary “intervention”.
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Had to know that this one was coming.

A WSJ op-ed, says ”Yes, Boycott baseball”:

Though he’s been absent from this column for weeks, it’s time to put Donald Trump back in play.

He’s right: Boycott baseball — and the rest of the progressives’ new corporate cancel-culture all-star team, including Patagonia, H&M, Uber, Tripadvisor, Levi’s, Blue Apron, Nordstrom and SoFi.

Why boycott them?

Because their CEOs are treating their customers like compliant saps.

Most of commercial life today revolves around one idea—promoting a company’s “brand.”

The left sees that they can generate 500 hostile social-media posts against a corporate brand over some made-up woke offense.

No dopes, CEOs who have bet their careers on millions in marketing costs, fear that their brands are  about to be destroyed by groupthink millennials who all at once will stop drinking Coke or refuse to stream baseball on MLB.TV.

Corporate cowardice is worse than ever.

I suspect the left’s professional activists are as taken aback as anyone at how the middle-aged liberals running big companies and cultural institutions swooned for wokeness. Why so easy?

The logical conclusion:

It’s time for  conservatives to organize commercial boycotts …

… to keep pandering CEOs from cavalierly dismissing half of their brand base …

…  and to save once-rational liberals from destroying themselves and pulling the rest of us down in the woke vortex.

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My take:

Baseball has been losing fans by the droves for a decade or more.

From a marketing perspective, politics aside,  I don’t understand why MLB was so quick to give an eye-poke to its mostly white, mostly male, mostly working-class fan base.

I guess that MLB thinks that woke millennials will stem the attendance and TV-viewing slide and flock to America’s slow-paced pastime.

Recent research has indicated the obvious: highlight reels are “in” and couch-watching long, commercial-heavy games is “out”.

So, I’m betting the under on woke millennials saving baseball.

And, I’m betting the over on pissed off fans ditching the high-priced seats and and ungluing from their TV sets.

We’ll see…

April 8: COVID Dashboard

April 8, 2021

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Trump: “Enough vaccine for all Americans by April”

April 7, 2021

Dateline: September 18, 2020
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Ballyhooed headline yesterday:

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To paraphrase the Biden-gushing media: “Yes, Biden has saved the country.”

Big problem with the narrative, though.

A more appropriate headline might have read: “Fortunately, Joe didn’t f-k this one up.”

See Obama: “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f–k things up.”

Why?

Well, it turns out that April was Operation Warp Speed’s timeline all along.

You know, the plan that Biden says that Trump didn’t have.”

For proof, flashback to Friday September 18, 2020 … the day that Trump boldly predicted that there would be enough vaccine available for all Americans by April (2021).

As reported by Kaiser Health News the following Monday:

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Specifically, Trump said:

“Millions of doses will be available every month, and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April.”

But, of course, the “experts” and the Trump-hostile media guffawed:

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To recap:

  • Operation Warp Speed delivered.
  • Trump was right.
  • The “experts” were wrong.

Sound familiar?

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Just in case the September, 2020 news reports gets vaporized, here’s a hard copy of the KHN recap article (with specific citations)

April 7: COVID Dashboard

April 7, 2021

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MLB: Dumbest decision ever?

April 6, 2021

Let us count the ways…
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1. Provoked by the Biden Declaration … which the WaPo fact-checkers gave:

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… and allowed the Babylon Bee to headline:

MLB: ‘We Will Not Legitimize Georgia’s Racist Election Law
By Reading It To See What It Says’

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2. Denounced by all Georgia politicos … bipartisanship, including Stacey Abrams — the self-proclaimed “legitimately elected” Georgia governor.

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3. Induced head-scratching for the eroding MLB fan base: mostly old, white, working-class, men.

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4. Spotlighted the under-representation of black players.

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5. Announced during the opening week of the season … effectively stepping on all the season starting hype and excitement.

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6. Set off a tweet storm by leaking Denver as the replacement site for the All-Star Game

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Oh yeah, and don’t forget the MLB’s policy re: All-Star balloting that we featured yesterday:

Flashback: MLB victimized by voter fraud …… and responded by taking the vote away from fans!

April 6: COVID Dashboard

April 6, 2021

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Flashback: MLB victimized by voter fraud …

April 5, 2021

… and responded by taking the vote away from fans!
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Want to know why MLB is so touchy about voting rights?

Well, it all goes back to the 1957 All-Star game balloting.

Controversy surrounded the 1957 game:

Cincinnati Reds’ fans stuffed the ballot boxes and elected nearly their entire team to starting positions.

The voting shenanigans deprived baseball greats Hank Aaron and Willie Mays of honored starting spots.

Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick (and many non-Cincinnati fans) was outraged.

So, Frick overrode the fans’ votes and named Aaron and Hayes to the starting lineup and …

Frick took the bold step of  eliminating fan all-star balloting entirely.

He transferred All-Star voting rights from fans  to the players, managers and coaches starting in 1957. Source

Fans were excluded from MLB’s all-star selection process until 1970, when fans regained a “role” in the selection process.

That role was not a final say.

Over the years, MLB’s all-star voting has morphed into a Byzantine, centrally managed process.

Byzantine: a system or situation that is excessively complicated, and typically involving a great deal of administrative detail.

In a nutshell, here’s how the MLB’s annual all-star roster is selected:  Source

  • All-Star Game starters (except for starting pitchers and the NL’s starting designated hitter) are chosen via fan vote in 2 phases (think: primary and run-off elections)
  • Phase 1 is akin to a political primary election.  Voting is conducted online & via paper ballots — stacks of which are are freely distributed at games. (think: mail in ballots). The top 3 vote getters advance to the “Starters Selection”
  • Phase 2 — the Starters Selection — is akin to a run-off political election. Vote totals are reset, and fans have a 28-hour period to vote online on starters from the list of finalists at each position. (Note: No provision is made for rural, minority or poor fans who lack internet access)
  • All of the pitchers and position-player reserves are chosen through a combination of player ballot selections and choices made by the Commissioner’s Office (i.e. fans have no say re: 75% of the roster slots)
  • All teams are guaranteed at least one roster slot (think: U.S. Senate representation)
  • The Commissioner (who decided to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta) reserves the right to over-rule any selection that is not in the best interest of baseball.

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So, these jabrones self-appoint as the arbiters of voting rights?

C’mon, man.

Have they looked in a mirror recently?

As the Babylon Bee asked: Will the MLB stop requiring picture IDs for beer purchases … and sell beer until the last out?

I’m betting the under …

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April 5: COVID Dashboard

April 5, 2021

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April 4: COVID Dashboard

April 4, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

Read the rest of this entry »

COVID: How risky to resume activities?

April 2, 2021

Here’s an interactive online assessment tool to try.
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To answer the question “What Can You Do Once You’re Vaccinated?”, the NY Times devised a handy risk assessment tool.

Boiled down, the tool rates participation risks by asking questions along a couple of key dimensions:

Your vulnerability … Vaccinated?  Healthy?

Location risk  … Regional hot spot? Indoors??

Activity risk … Close contact? Intensity?

Crowd risk … Number of strangers?  Behavior?

Inner circle risk … Their vulnerability?

It only takes a couple of minutes to rate an activity.

It’s worthwhile to try it.

At a minimum, it will plant some seeds in your brain re: factors to consider.

It may even sub-consciously nudge you to more healthy (i.e. risk-reducing behavior).

Try it.

April 2: COVID Dashboard

April 2, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

Read the rest of this entry »

VAX: J&J tosses 15 million doses … failed quality control.

April 1, 2021

First, HUGE vaccine blunder comes under Biden’s watch !
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A couple of weeks ago we noted a red flag in the CDC vax numbers.

See Notice anything odd about this vaccine shots’ chart?

Specifically, we pointed out that J&J’s vaccine deliveries were far below plan (and still are).

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But, not to worry … Team Biden was on the case.

In a mid-March statement, Biden said:

“You know, when we came into office, we began working with the team at J&J to accelerate and add capacity to their manufacturing and production efforts.

I have not hesitated to use my power under the Defense Production Act to expedite critical materials in vaccine production …. to help speed up the delivery of millions of more doses.

Whew.

Fortunately, Team Biden was on the case and not Trump’s Operation Warp Speed clowns, right?

Well, not so fast, mes amies.

The original Grandma Homa used to say: “Sometimes haste makes waste.”

And, as Rev. Wright preached: “The chickens will come home to roost”.

Yesterday, reports surfaced that:

Workers at an Emergent Technologies plant in Baltimore manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines (for J&J and Astra Zeneca) accidentally conflated the ingredients several weeks ago, contaminating up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. Source

The good news: J&J’s quality control checks uncovered the mistake before any doses were packaged in vials or shipped.

The bad news: 15 million doses went down the drain.

According to the NY Times:

The mistake is a major embarrassment both for J&J, whose one-dose vaccine has been credited with speeding up the national immunization program, and for Emergent, its subcontractor.

Note that the Times neglected to mention that Team Biden had been working with J&J and Emergent “since they came into office … to expedite critical materials … and accelerate manufacturing”.

Probably just an oversight, right?

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Again, Team Biden says not to worry since they’re nudging “the other two approved coronavirus vaccine makers (Pfizer and Moderna) to meet President Biden’s commitment to provide enough vaccine to immunize every adult by the end of May.”

I like the America First thinking, but the spin doesn’t change the facts: subbing 2-dose vaccines for J&J’s 1-shot formulation will stretch the time it takes the U.S. to get fully vaccinated … and, it means that 15 million folks somewhere (Canada, for example, which is far behind in vaccinations) are missing out on timely vaccinations at a critical time.

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P.S. Politico is reporting that:

Senior officials working on the federal government’s Covid-19 response told POLITICO that it became clear earlier this month that there were significant problems at Emergent’s West Baltimore plant, where the company was producing the active ingredient — or drug substance — for J&J’s vaccine.

What happened to truth and  transparency?

April 1: COVID Dashboard

April 1, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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Even the MSM is debunking Biden’s claim of “no vaccine plan”…

March 31, 2021

Of course, we’ve been all over this topic for months (links at he end of this post), so it’s delightful to see the Biden-friendly press to  concede the point:

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In the words of ABC News

Biden and his top aides have repeatedly accused the Trump administration of having “no plan.”

Despite calls for national unity and bipartisanship, President Joe Biden and his top aides have declined to give the Trump administration credit on the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout while relying heavily on a system established by their predecessors.

Many of Biden’s public “wins” on the vaccine, including expanding supply and distributing doses to local pharmacies, are tied directly to efforts initiated by policy aides working under Trump before he left office.

While Biden has purchased additional vaccine supply, it was always expected that Pfizer and Moderna would ramp up their supply throughout the year.

Under Trump, the U.S. agreed to buy enough doses for 200 million adults from vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna with “options” to buy more if necessary.

It also had purchased enough J&J vaccine to buy supply for 100 million adults once authorized — enough supply to cover every U.S. adult by summer.

Also, Biden’s playbook for vaccine distribution has relied heavily on a system created by the Trump administration, including federal partnerships with state officials and agreements with local pharmacies.

In fact, the federal pharmacy program created by Trump aides is what Biden relied on  to expand eligibility to teachers.

And when Biden called for “100 million shots in 100 days” — a pace of about 1 million shots per day — former health officials noted that the U.S. had already hit that pace the week of Biden’s inauguration in mid January.

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What is new under Biden are more than a dozen mass vaccination sites managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency with special attention paid to hard-hit and vulnerable communities.

Glad the media is catching on to what we’ve been saying all along:

Biden: “Trump blundered, I’m saving the day”

So, how much vaccine did the Trump administration order?

VAX: Viva mass vaccination sites

March 31: COVID Dashboard

March 31, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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VAX: Viva mass vaccination sites…

March 30, 2021

Anybody notice that Biden put “equity” and “essentiality” on the back burner.
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Let’s connect a couple of dots …

Maryland — which had been lagging on ‘shots in arms’ —  has been in a full out sprint the past couple of weeks.

The magic sauce: state-run mass vaccination sites.

In the past couple of days , a couple of friends got shots at Maryland’s up & running mass vaccination sites … one at Six Flags and another at M&T Stadium (where the Ravens play).

Both raved about how organized and efficient the process was. No complaints.

That’s really encouraging news since max-vax has emerged as the primary vaccine distribution channel in Maryland.

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And, Maryland’s not alone.

Coincidentally, I spotted an article headlining that Texas and Georgia — which together account for 10% of the U.S. population — will be opening vaccine distribution “to all comers” in the next week or so.

That means anybody 18 or older (kids aren’t legit yet), no “employment “essentiality”, no jurisdictional boundaries.

Just “come & get it”.

How can they do it? What’s the downside?

Read the rest of this entry »

March 30: COVID Dashboard

March 30, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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Is “buyer’s remorse” setting in?

March 29, 2021

Biden’s “net approval” cut in half since inauguration day.
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Frankly, I wasn’t paying attention to Biden’s approval numbers until he said in his press conference that “a majority of Republican voters approve of the job I’m doing”.

As we previously fact-checked, that claim is patently false.

According to Gallup, only 10% of Republican voters approve of the job he’s doing … 88% disapprove.

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Digging deeper, the numbers get even more interesting.

According to RCP, Biden’s net job approval is still above water at +10.3, but…

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Biden’s net job approval has been cut in half … it was over 20% on inauguration day, now, it’s just over 10%.

His job approval has slipped 8.2 percentage points … 2.5 points were previously approvers, now disapprovers … 5.7 points were previously “undecideds” who have decided and disapprove.

Bottom line: It’s starting to appear that the honeymoon is ending and some buyer’s remorse is setting in.

The thrill of trading out the boisterous orange man for a zombie may be wearing off.

And, it’s now crystal clear that Biden’s campaign promises to unite the country, reach across the aisle and, oh yeah, govern as a moderate … were all malarkey.

Expect more slippage since, according to RCP, a majority of Americans (52%) think that the country is moving in the wrong direction … and, that number is likely to worsen as the sugar high from the  $1,400 “thanks for voting for me” checks wears off … and the border crisis becomes more apparent.

Hmm.

March 29: COVID Dashboard

March 29, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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VAX: Why are there more than 40 million doses stockpiled?

March 28, 2021

Early on, Team Trump (and the states) were widely criticized for having about 20 million “unused” vaccine doses sitting in inventory.

About half of the “distributed but not administered” doses was an oversupply to long term care facilities … and, about half was being held in inventory to ensure 2nd doses were available folks who had received their 1st doses.

Team Biden is way more efficient in vaccine distribution.

That must be so, because Biden says so (repeatedly) and the mainstream media confirms it.

But, the data seems to contradict…

Over the past month, the the stockpile of unused doses has about doubled … to over 40 million doses.

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States continue to clamor for more vaccine and have substantially boosted their vaccination rates, especially at mass vaccination sites.

So, what’s going on?

Best that I can tell, the excess doses originally shipped to Walgreens & CVS for long term care facilities has been redistributed to “public” vaccination sites — mostly retail pharmacies.

But, as a matter of policy, doses are still being held in reserve, earmarked for 2nd shots.

That was understandable at the beginning of the year when the vax companies were fine-tuning their processes and ramping-up their production.

But, now the vaccine manufacturers are producing at higher rates that are steadier and more predictable.

So, why not release the stockpile for 1st shots … and, handle 2nd shots “on the come.”

That would get us closer to herd immunity faster!

C’mon man…

March 28: COVID Dashboard

March 28, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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March 27: COVID Dashboard

March 27, 2021

Daily New Covid Deaths Drop Below 1,000

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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March 26: COVID Dashboard

March 26, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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Biden: “Majority of Republican voters approve of the job I’m doing”

March 25, 2021

In Thursday’s press conference, President Biden laid pipe for killing the filibuster.

Among his  rationale points:

While the Republicans in the Senate may not approve of what I’m doing, the majority of Republican voters do.

Say what?

Hate to burden him with facts, but…

According to Gallup, only 10% of Republican voters approve of the job he’s doing … 88% disapprove.

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Gallup

So much for truth-telling, data-following and bringing the country together.

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P.S. What was up with the binder of written answers that he kept referencing?

Bloomberg: Biden is just following Trump’s plan…

March 25, 2021

Hard to accuse Bloomberg of being a right-wing, pro-Trump rag.
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Biden has oft claimed that Trump didn’t have a plan to acquire enough vaccine and that he (Biden) quickly remedied that shortcoming to ensure that all of America got vaccinated fast.

We previously debunked that claim, See Biden: “Trump blundered, I’m saving the day”

Now, a Bloomberg assessment blows holes in Biden’s claim.

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The Bloomberg article concludes:

“The U.S. government, first under Donald Trump and then continuing under President Joe Biden, had already arranged to buy all of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s known U.S. production, assuring hundreds of millions of doses for American arms.”

More specifically, Bloomberg says…

> Both Biden and Trump have been unapologetic that they’ve aimed to vaccinate Americans first.

> The Trump administration wrote clauses into contracts with manufacturers and also used the Defense Production Act, … to prioritize U.S. orders, explicitly requiring domestic U.S. production, exclusivity and continuing “rights of first refusal.”

> The same tools the Trump administration used to keep domestically produced vaccines within the nation’s borders have been employed by Biden’s team.

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As one pundit put it:

Biden deserves credit for recognizing the wisdom of Trump’s plan, and for bolstering it by getting Merck licensed to produce Johnson& Johnson’s vaccine.

But the idea that Biden didn’t get a plan or a reliable supply of COVID-19 vaccines is a shabby lie, one that Bloomberg punctures.

Perhaps Biden will concede the point at today’s press conference.

But, I’m betting the under…

March 25: COVID Dashboard

March 25, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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Gimme a break ! Now there’s a hero book for kids…

March 24, 2021

How many times can a media-proclaimed “leading expert” miss the mark and legitimately hold the title “America’s Doctor”?
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Loyal readers know that I’m not a Fauci fan … and haven’t been for a long time … ever since he morphed from “scientist” to “political-scientist” … and hit the cable news circuit, spreading oft-erroneous, constantly “evolving” psuedo-science.

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Now that a children’s book is being launched to enshrine Fauci, I think it’s appropriate to flashback on the good doctor’s most significant mis-steps:

  • He originally said that the COVID risk to Americans was miniscule
  • He opposed the Chinese travel ban as unnecessary or, at least, premature
  • He illogically told people not to wear masks since they won’t help and would deplete PPE stockpiles.  Only the latter was true.
  • He grossly misled Congress regarding the COVID death rate (by an order of magnitude!), conflating the conflation of the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) and Case Fatality Rate (CFR).  The CFR (of which Fauci was likely referring) is about 10 times the IFR. Source
  • He championed the “15 days to stop the spread” … using the widely discredited projection of  2 million “do nothing” deaths to seal the deal with Trump. (Note: the 15 day program has had an anniversary and still has a head of steam).
  • He lauded Cuomo’s “Gold Standard” response to COVID … despite highest death count (over 35,000), 2nd highest fatality rate (NJ is #1), wasted resources (think: a hospital ship, field hospitals and ventilators), an economic disaster in NYC and, oh yeah, a crushing 2nd wave of COVIID.
  • He admitted to boosting his estimate of the herd immunity threshold “partly based on new science and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.” Source
  • He led the charge to close the schools (but now concedes to closing the bars, but opening the schools)
  • And, back in March, 2020 he proclaimed that “it will take a year or more to develop a Coronavirus vaccine.”

Well, Dr. Leading Expert, the Pfizer vaccine was approved on December 11, 2020 and the 100 millionth dose was administered on March 12, 2021 … and the country will be vaccinated way before Fauci told Americans that the 1st vaccine would be available … thanks to Trump’s Operation Warp Speed!

Perhaps some day, Fauci will rush to CNN to say “Trump was right, I was wrong.”

I won’t hold my breath …

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P.S. Because of Fauci’s pessimism re: the speed of vaccine development, many (most? all but West Virginia?) procrastinated readying their vaccination distribution networks … control of which they (the states) demanded.

That caused the the initial launch to sputter.

That not withstanding, again, the country will be vaccinated way before Fauci told Americans that the 1st vaccine would be available.

That’s a gigantic miss by “America’s doctor”.

 

 

March 24: COVID Dashboard

March 24, 2021

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Herd Immunity Projection details…

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Notice anything odd about this vaccine shots’ chart?

March 23, 2021

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Note how short the J&J bar is … only 2.5 million doses have been administered since the vaccine was approved.

That’s only about 60% of the 4.25 million doses that have already been distributed to the states.

What’s going on?

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According to Politico

J&J’s single-shot Covid vaccine was supposed to be the catalyst for the country’s return to normal.

Instead, it’s sparking confusion and finger-pointing between the states and the Biden administration over why millions of doses are sitting unused.

Almost three weeks after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the shots, no one appears to be able to explain why immunizations are lagging.

Some states are thought to be intentionally holding back shots, while others say it takes time to inoculate harder-to-reach underserved communities and specific groups.

Politico’s central conclusion: The bumpy J&J rollout highlights the challenges the White House still faces ensuring a timely and steady administration of Covid-19 vaccines.

The initial J&J experience may be a proverbial “canary in the coal mine” … simply a precursor of what’s to come.

To that point…

Read the rest of this entry »

March 23: COVID Dashboard

March 23, 2021

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Herd date estimate below ….

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Biden: “We’re bringing back science.”

March 22, 2021

But, Fauci has said:  “Trump was saying what we were telling him.”

So, why isn’t Biden listening to his chief political-scientist’s affirmation that Trump, too, was listening to the scientists?

Sounds like Biden isn’t listening to his chief political-scientist.

Hmmm…

Good time for a flashback… 

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Originally posted on Sept. 13, 2020 with a timeline of who said what, when they said it … and how Trump responded at the time

Last fall, Bob Woodward set the media’s collective hair on fire with his “bombshell” that Trump “knew” that the coronavirus was more serious than he was telling the American people.

Biden: “Clear evidence of incompetence and dereliction of duty”.

Trump: “Listening to the scientists, and didn’t want to prematurely cause a panic”.

How to settle the question?

Let’s start with what Dr. Anthony Fauci had to truth-tell on the matter:

click to view 4-minute video
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By Fauci’s own admission, Trump was “following the science” … contemporaneously channeling what Fauci and other “scientists” were telling him at the time. 

Let’s dig a little deeper on that and look hard at the timeline…

Read the rest of this entry »

March 22: Herd Immunity Tracker

March 22, 2021

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Herd date calculation details  below…

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Studies: Fauci’s endorsement hardens net vaccine hesitancy…

March 19, 2021

Time to put him out to pasture?
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Loyal readers know that I’m not a big fan of Dr. Anthony Fauci —  Biden’s chief political-scientist — who is always certain (but often wrong), occasionally evidence-based (except when the data goes against him), straight-shooting (depending on the political winds).

For full chapter, verse and sources re: Fauci’s many mis-steps, see

Yesterday, I got a couple of more logs to throw on my Fauci fire.

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First, in the morning, I was doing a deep dive into vaccine hesitancy — why some people are reluctant to take the Covid vaccines — and how the resistance might be softened.

Note: For the moment, I’ll skip over the thornier question: Should the resistance be softened? I’ll have more on that subject in future posts.

I came across the COVID States Project Report #36: Evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine communication strategies.

Note: The 50-state COVID-19 project is “a multi-university group of researchers with expertise in computational social science, network science, public opinion polling, epidemiology, public health, communication, and political science.”

Here’s what caught my eye in the report

The researchers queried study participants on whether public endorsements (i.e. televised vaccinations or public service messaging) by an array of personalities would make the subjects more or less likely to get vaccinated.

For example, predictably, an endorsement by Trump made Democrats less likely to get vaccinated and an endorsement by Obama (or Biden) made Republicans less likely.

Less predictably, a vaccine endorsement by Dr. Fauci resulted in only small reductions in vaccine resistance among Democrats, but increased and  strengthened vaccine resistance among Republicans.

According to the researchers, the Fauci finding “contrasts with unspecified scientists and respondents’ personal physicians, whose endorsement reduce vaccine resistance across the board.”

So, the researchers conclude that Fauci has taken on a partisan association that has substantially reduced his credibility and effectiveness as a messenger.

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Later in the day, I caught an interview with Frank Luntz who presented some focus group video footage re: vaccine hesitancy among Republicans.

Disclosure: The interview was on Fox; Luntz leans right but usually exhibits anti-Trump tendencies.

The headline from the focus group:

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Click to view a worthwhile 1-minute video clip that brings the comments to life:

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Luntz’s conclusion: Fauci — “who keeps changing his mind and moving the goalposts” — has no credibility whatsoever among Republicans … if you want reluctant people to get vaccinated, the message must be delivered by their personal physicians.

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Bottom line:

Both the impartial 50 States Project and the Luntz focus group reach the same fundamental conclusions:

>  If you want to overcome vaccine hesitancy

>  And, if Republicans are, in fact, the problem (i.e. more reluctant to get vaccinated than Democrats)

> Then one of the last people you want pitching the merits of getting vaccinated is Fauci

> Especially if he’s dishing inflammatory, condescending messages like “Getting vaccinated is a no-brainer”.

To summarize more bluntly: Yes – it’s time to put Fauci out to pasture.

Amen.

It’s official: Fauci whiffs, again!

March 19, 2021

How many times can a media-proclaimed “leading expert” miss the mark and still hold the title?
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My running tally of Fauci’s mis-steps:

  • He originally said that the COVID risk to Americans was miniscule
  • He opposed the Chinese travel ban as unnecessary or, at least, premature
  • He illogically told people not to wear masks since they won’t help and would deplete PPE stockpiles.  Only the latter was true.
  • He grossly misled Congress regarding the COVID death rate (by an order of magnitude!), conflating the conflation of the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) and Case Fatality Rate (CFR).  The CFR (of which Fauci was likely referring) is about 10 times the IFR. Source
  • He championed the “15 days to stop the spread” … using the widely discredited projection of  2 million “do nothing” deaths to seal the deal with Trump. (Note: the 15 day program is approaching day #300).
  • He lauded Cuomo’s “Gold Standard” response to COVID … despite highest death count (over 35,000), 2nd highest fatality rate (NJ is #1), wasted resources (think: a hospital ship, field hospitals and ventilators), an economic disaster in NYC and, oh yeah, a crushing 2nd wave of COVIID.
  • He admitted to boosting his estimate of the herd immunity threshold “partly based on new science and partly on his gut feeling that the country is finally ready to hear what he really thinks.” Source
  • He led the charge to close the schools (but now concedes to closing the bars, but opening the schools)
  • And, back in March, 2020 he proclaimed that “it will take a year or more to develop a Coronavirus vaccine.”

Well, Dr. Leading Expert, the Pfizer vaccine was approved on December 11, 2020 and the 100 millionth dose was administered on March 12, 2021 … thanks to Trump’s Operation Warp Speed!

Perhaps, Fauci will rush to CNN today to say “Trump was right, I was wrong.”

I won’t hold my breath …

 

More: Fauci confirms “Trump was saying what we were telling him”

March 19, 2021

MUST READ: Originally posted on Sept. 13, 2020 with a timeline of who said what, when they said it … and how Trump responded at the time.

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Woodward certainly set the media’s collective hair on fire with his “bombshell” that Trump “knew” that the coronavirus was more serious than he was telling the American people.

Biden: “Clear evidence of incompetence and dereliction of duty”.

Trump: “Listening to the scientists, and didn’t want to prematurely cause a panic”.

How to settle the question?

Let’s start with what Dr. Anthony Fauci had to truth-tell on the matter:

click to view 4-minute video
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By Fauci’s own admission, Trump was “following the science” … contemporaneously channeling what Fauci and other “scientists” were telling him at the time. 

Let’s dig a little deeper on that and look hard at the timeline…

Read the rest of this entry »

March 19: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 19, 2021

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Why vax hunters are pulling their hair out…

March 18, 2021

And, how at least one retail pharmacy has “broken the code” for doing it right.
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Yesterday, we showcased a vaccine scheduling invitation that I received from the Maryland Department of Health.

See How would you respond to this vaccination invitation?

We called it well-intended, but another  “not-so-great moment in direct marketing” because…

It was an anonymous email (sender was “your vaccination provider”) with a cryptic “no reply” email address. The vaccination site address googles to a gambling casino … and the recipient is instructed to click a link.

Our conclusion:

If that doesn’t set off safe computing alarm bells in your head, you should immediately close your browser and never open it again.

All of the critical warning signs for a scam email are there!

That’s too bad, because it is a legit “invitation” via Maryland’s brand new state-central vaccine scheduling system.

Unfortunately, this auto-generated email is representative of well intentioned but shoddy work that has plagued the vaccine roll-out … causing much consumer confusion.

OK, that was yesterday.

Last night, since I hadn’t scheduled an appointment, “the system” auto-generated a follow-up email reminder.

Satisfied from yesterday’s experience, that the email was probably legit, I clicked through as directed.

Here’s what I got:

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The good news: it was well-identified as coming from the Maryland Department of Health’s new PrepMod system.

The bad news: After teasing me with the “schedule now” email, I got a message informing me that “Clinic does not have any appointment slots available”.

The obvious question: Why doesn’t the system check for availability before hitting the send button on the “get off your duff” email.

That’s simple system design logic.

Note: I checked the link as soon as the email arrived, so it wasn’t likely a matter of the appointments filling between the time of the email and my check-in.

My intention isn’t to pile on the state’s well intentioned effort to centralize vaccine scheduling.

It’s just a handy example of how and why people who are frantically trying to get vaccinated are frustrated.

My advice: Inject a modicum of quality control before going “live” with a high visibility system.

Stop treating an anxious public as beta test subjects.

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P.S. This example isn’t the worst case that I’ve encountered.

One retail pharmacy’s scheduling system has previously kept me waiting for up to an hour “in queue” …  watching an animated  stickman walk slowly across the screen …  before giving me the “no vaccine available within 30 miles of your zip code” message.

The best: CVS (where I ended up getting vaccinated).

The first CVS screen just instructed: “Click on your state” … the second screen displayed all Maryland store locations, indicating “available” or “fully booked” … third screen asked for a zip code … enter the zip for a store that had availability and BINGO … I was in the scheduling sequence with a slot held for 10 minutes while I entered insurance and consent information.

From that point, the process was a cake walk … immediate confirmation by text & email … reminder message a couple of days before the appointment (which reassured me that CVS still had me in their system)… a text message on the morning of the appointment with a link to “check in online when you get to the store” … which then pulled up all my info for the admission checker and vaccinator – saving mucho in-store processing time.

My question: Why didn’t Maryland just jack CVS’s system?

March 18: COVID VAX Snapshot

March 18, 2021

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March 18: COVID Snapshot

March 18, 2021

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Note:  At the index starting date: deaths were ~1,000 per day. hospitalizations were ~55K, cases were ~ 100K and tests were ~1.4 MM per day