“Lies, damn lies, and statistics” have led America into its pandemic purgatory.

There’s no other reason for why so many civic leaders have actively encouraged behaviors that have led to spiking Covid-19 cases.

You could just imagine the logic: Some states, and certainly many counties within them, exhibited far fewer cases, both in total and growth over time. The data were clear on these points. Hospitalizations, and subsequent deaths, also correlated with larger urban centers and specific at-risk groups; again, the data told a story that made masks or more stringent precautionary measures unnecessary.

Then, they must have included a variety of other relevant data to answer such questions as:

What were the percentage likelihoods of unanticipated infection (i.e. a family member returning home or traveler passing through)? What was the risk profile for those infections and what they might mean in terms of additional illnesses, strains on local healthcare systems, and impacts on economies overall?

What about the risk assessment of the imperfect medical science surrounding Covid-19, specifically the likelihood that its association with those particular at-risk groups might be circumstantial and not physiological? What would be the direct and indirect costs if kids were more likely to catch it than previously thought, or more likely to spread the virus? What about the chances that millennials might be more threatened and/or contagious?

What were the data on peoples’ willingness to practice health precautions like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing? There must have been probability models for compliance and data on what it might mean if they weren’t implemented. Data were compiled correlating willingness to take precautions with particular groups, weighted to reflect likelihood of infection and risk for serious illness.

The the data on transmission/interior spaces must have been considered, compiling an endless number of ratios of likelihood of infection accounting for various numbers of people arraying over particular distances, but then factors for air movement (HVAC systems) and temperature. Communities must have mapped actual physical spaces — their restaurants, bars, etc. — and come up with the right numbers of people allowed in them. Limitations of 10 or 50 people in enclosed spaces would be arrived at through reliable statistical analyses.

Data on the success of shut down and other precautions must have been collected, so leaders could interpret causal connections between specific actions and outcomes. If keeping people home reduced the spread of the virus, what would allowing them to move about more freely produce?

Then, there were lots of data collected from other communities, especially those that had experienced infections earlier, whether in the US or around the world, to better inform their algorithms. Civic leaders wanted to be sure not to repeat the mistakes that others had committed, and benefit from what they’d learned. These data would have changed the precautions for who could go where and when.

What about forecasts of long-term effects on recovered patients? There must have been close collaboration with infectious disease experts drawing from the data on, say, how people who recovered from serious flu were impacted over the courses of their lives (lung damage, other issues), so that predictions could be built on the risk and cost of such implications.

Finally, the economic models of what would happen from various levels of shutdown would have been correlated with the forecasts for health damage, resulting in thoughtful risk/reward models that guided their conclusions on public policy. Civic leaders would have defaulted to the most responsible conclusions about what people should be asked (or told) to do.

This data led them to open up our communities and, lo and behold, the US to become the sickest country in the world.

Yeah, right. When politicians claim to have “followed the data,” the only data they saw was the decline in economic activity and their own polling numbers.

When US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says on CNN, “There is nothing in the data that would suggest that kids being back in school would be dangerous to them,” she’s either a liar or a fool. Or both.

So are the rest of them.

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