Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Coronavirus

What is a COVID Death?

This tragic story helps illustrate the issue with COVID death statistics:

Louisiana Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, who died while battling COVID-19, suffered a heart attack following a procedure, a hospital official said.

 

The 41-year-old was receiving treatment in the intensive care unit at Ochsner LSU Health in Shreveport when he died Tuesday, the Monroe News-Star reported.

 

LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor G.E. Ghali confirmed Letlow underwent an operation related to the virus and later went into cardiac arrest.

 

“It’s devastating to our entire team,” Ghali told the paper, adding that he “had no underlying conditions.”

We all saw the headlines when they came out. Things like, “Congressman-elect dies of COVID-19” and “Rising Republican Dies of COVID-19.” But was it?

We do not know the specifics of why he was undergoing heart surgery. They say it was related to his COVID illness, but how? What were they actually doing? And given the shock of the doctors, it seems that they did not think it was a high-risk surgery. Clearly it was the heart attack that killed him, but is the underlying COVID the real culprit? What a bit fat guy dies of a heart attack or diabetes, do we say that he was killed by obesity? No, so why label COVID as the problem here? If someone has a heart attack while driving and is decapitated in the crash, what killed her? It gets complicated. An argument could be made either way by rational people.

In the case of COVID, however, we have defaulted to classifying ANY death where COVID is present as a “COVID” death. We see the stats where this is happening. COVID deaths are increasing while it looks like we have virtually cured many other previously-deadly ailments. People who were shot, drowned, had heart attacks, strokes, etc. are all mixed in with the COVID death statistics. Sometimes, they are called a COVID death even if they do not have a firm diagnosis but the person had “COVID-like symptoms.” There is a distinct preference to label deaths as being caused by COVID if the slimmest of connection can be found.

The question is… why? Why have officials all across the country chosen to default to COVID when declaring the cause of death.

Hint… follow the money… follow the power.

Evers fights for more government with COVID-19 bill

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News this week. Thankfully, this bill is still dead.

Gov. Tony Evers is urging the Republican leadership of the Legislature to pass his self-styled “compromise” bill addressing the ongoing health concern precipitated by COVID-19. Setting aside, for a moment, that Evers’ bill is not a compromise (hint: compromise bills are rarely announced by only one side) and that Evers has actually taken the Legislature to court over the legality of bills passed in a so-called “lame duck” session, let us examine the priorities of the governor during the ongoing health concern.

 

Evers’ bill consists of 17 provisions. Seven of the provisions are designed to expand government and/or reduce the government’s accountability to the people. Eight of them would make waste, corruption, and graft easier with taxpayer money. And two of them are regulatory overreaches that will wreak havoc on citizens and the economy.

 

Given Evers’ background as an educrat, it is not surprising that his bill begins with the absolution of the government education establishment from the strictures of accountability. Under his bill, government schools would not be required to administer pupil assessments and the State Department of Public Instruction would not be required to publish the annual school and school district accountability report for the 2020-2021 school year. Evers seeks to remove any evidence of just how much government education failed the children of Wisconsin this school year.

 

Ominously, Evers seeks to allow any state entity to waive in-person requirements until June 30, 2021, “if enforcing the requirement would increase the public health risk.” You will take note of the fact that no objective standard is given for what constitutes an increase to the public health risk. While this may impact things like court proceedings, Evers’ likely target it to waive in-person requirements to obtain official state photo identification and the spring elections. With this provision in law, Evers could provide a massive gateway for illegal aliens to obtain official photo identification and force the upcoming elections to be conducted 100% by mail.

 

The bill also seeks to funnel unemployment insurance payments into the hands of people who do not need it. It would permanently allow people who are receiving federal Social Security disability payments to also receive unemployment payments. Under current law, someone who is receiving money because they cannot work due to a disability is not eligible for unemployment payments because they are already being compensated for not working. The bill would also completely waive the requirement to seek work in order to receive unemployment payments until July 3, 2021. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at 5% and employers are again struggling to find workers. Anyone who is able and willing to work can find a job. Evers should focus his attention on fixing the unemployment payment backlog that his administration has allowed to languish for the previous nine months.

 

Evers is also sure to take care of the state bureaucracy. His “COVID relief” bill would allow state government employees to take their annual leave even if they have not completed the required six-month probationary period. Evers would lavish additional funding on the Department of Health Services and the Department of Administration while expanding their powers. The DOA would be given arbitrary discretion to shift money around to fund unemployment payments and DHS would be given a grand mandate to operate COVID testing and treatment facilities in perpetuity. The Department of Revenue gets a nod too with the arbitrary discretion to distribute grants to small businesses. The arbitrary discretion of any government official is an invitation for corruption.

 

Most shockingly, Evers would completely prohibit any foreclosures or evictions until July 1, 2021. He would do so without providing any relief for the thousands of property owners, big and small, who would be forced to completely pay for the housing for people unable, or unwilling, to pay their mortgage or rent. Should this provision go into effect, it will force a wave of bankruptcies for small- and medium property owners and force the prices up for people who do pay their bills. While one might be willing to grant Governor Evers credit for trying to stick up for struggling families, this measure is so breathtakingly stupid and destructive that no such credit can be issued.

 

Governor Evers’ bill is a mishmash of bad ideas interspersed with measures clearly designed to unshackle the state bureaucracy. Its only redeeming quality is that it will never pass. True to his character, Governor Evers announced this bill after a series of insincere discussions with the legislative leadership designed to give him the cover of having negotiated something. He did so while giving the Legislature a ridiculous deadline of less than two weeks during the holiday season to pass it. Thankfully, the legislative leadership has signaled that they will not be bullied by a duplicitous governor offering nothing but a list of destructive decrees.

 

The fact that Governor Evers is devoid of good ideas does not release the legislative Republicans from their duty to convene and pass meaningful legislation to help Wisconsinites who continue to feel the impact of COVID-19 and our government overreaction to it. They should start with universal school choice to allow families to escape government schools that failed so badly during this time, liability protections for employers, and prohibit state taxpayers from paying to bail out local governments that enforced more restrictive COVID-19 measures that crippled their own local economies.

States Prioritize Vaccine Rollout

Interesting

FloridaTexas and Ohio are among the Republican-led states forgoing federal vaccination guidelines to prioritize the elderly ahead of frontline workers.

 

While medical workers and residents and staffers of long term care facilities are being prioritized for vaccines in virtually every state, local leaders are split on who gets the vaccine next.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say under the second tier of vaccinations grocery store employees, transit workers, and other frontline staffers should receive the shot at the same time as those who are 75 and older.

 

But in Florida, Texas, and Ohio shots are being offered to the elderly first and frontline workers are asked to wait.

 

‘We are not going to put young, healthy workers ahead of our elderly, vulnerable population,’ Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday, allowing people 65 years and older to jump ahead of essential workers.

I can see both sides. On the one hand, prioritizing the higher risk groups first makes the most sense to reduce the death count as quickly as possible. On the other hand, prioritizing frontline workers first gets those industries back to work faster. Given those considerations, I’d prioritize the most vulnerable first.

Evers fights for more government with COVID-19 bill

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I dig into Evers’ COVID bill a little. Here’s a part:

Gov. Tony Evers is urging the Republican leadership of the Legislature to pass his self-styled “compromise” bill addressing the ongoing health concern precipitated by COVID-19. Setting aside, for a moment, that Evers’ bill is not a compromise (hint: compromise bills are rarely announced by only one side) and that Evers has actually taken the Legislature to court over the legality of bills passed in a socalled “lame duck” session, let us examine the priorities of the governor during the ongoing health concern.

 

Evers’ bill consists of 17 provisions. Seven of the provisions are designed to expand government and/or reduce the government’s accountability to the people. Eight of them would make waste, corruption, and graft easier with taxpayer money. And two of them are regulatory overreaches that will wreak havoc on citizens and the economy.

COVID Surge?

Do you believe this?

An alarming new red wave map shows that the vast majority of the United States is currently one huge COVID-19 hotspot – as the country recorded its second deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic with 3,400 deaths and President-elect Joe Biden warned the ‘darkest days’ are still ahead.

The map data, which is included in the latest community report from the White House COVID-19 Task Force, tracks areas of concern on a county level across the country based on recent cases and testing history.

It shows that every state currently has counties that fall into the ‘sustained hotspot’ category, which means the task force classifies them as communities that have a high number of cases and may be at an even higher risk of overwhelming their local hospitals.

Increasingly, I don’t. With the clear lax behavior of people supposedly “in the know” and personal observation, I just don’t buy the hype. Then you get stories like this:

According to the video, Jensen and Franson looked at 2,800 “death certificate data points” and found that 800 of them did not have COVID-19 listed as the underlying cause of death, but were still counted as COVID-19 deaths. That means, Jensen said, that those 800 people may have died with COVID-19, but not of COVID-19.

“That would mean that we’ve had the number inflated by 40%,” said Jensen, who explained that the “key diagnosis on a death certificate is the UCOD,” which stands for underlying cause of death.

In one case, a person who was ejected from a vehicle and died was “counted as a COVID death” because the virus was in his system, Franson claimed.

“I have other examples where COVID isn’t the underlying cause of death. We have a fall. Another example we have a fresh water drowning. We have dementia. We have a stroke and multi-organ failure,” she said.

The two lawmakers concluded their video, which has been viewed more than 200,000 times on Facebook, by expressing support for an audit of the data.

We are in a pandemic of an aggressive virus, but the numbers being put out are massively misleading. We have also failed as a society to put those numbers into perspective. Everything in life is about weighing the consequences and making compromises. We have failed to do that with our response to COVID-19.

Wisconsin COVID19 Cases Are Down 50% Since Recent Peak

Huh… no Thanksgiving spike? Just like no election spike… no Independence Day spike… no Labor Day spike… it’s almost as if the virus doesn’t really give a crap what we do.

New daily COVID-19 cases are down 50% from their peak a month ago in Wisconsin, according to state Department of Health Services data.

And contact tracers can again handle their daily caseloads after being overwhelmed in October and November, DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said in a news conference.

Side Effects from the Vaccine

The news feed is starting to fill up with examples of people having adverse effects from the Coronavirus vaccines and some are using it as a reason to eschew getting it.

Last week, two health-care workers in the United Kingdom who were among the first batch of people to get the vaccine after it was authorized developed anaphylaxis, a severe allergic response.

Both were known to have a history of severe allergic reactions, and both were treated and recovered. A third person reportedly suffered a rapid heartbeat. British authorities issued new guidance saying people with a history of anaphylaxis should consult with their doctor before taking the vaccine. Researchers do not know what substance in the vaccine formula triggered the severe allergic response.

“When you make a decision to launch a vaccine like this, it’s not because you know everything,” said Paul Offit, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and member of a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel that endorsed the vaccine Thursday. But, he added, “I think we know enough.”

Of course there will be side effects. And of course they will be different for different people. Humans are complex organisms and the injection or ingestion of any substance will have varying effects.

Demands of 100% safety are not reasonable? That various vaccines will likely help a lot of people avoid getting COVID-19. It will also likely hurt and kill a few people. There are risks. There are also risks if you don’t get the vaccine, and those risks are also different for different people. It is up to each of us to weigh the risks and make the best decision we can.

As for me, I’ve already had it, so I don’t need the vaccine. I’ve been naturally inoculated. Some of y’all might want to think about getting the vaccine when it is available. Some of y’all might be young and healthy and decide that it is not worth the risk because there is a 99.9% survival rate from COVID-19 for your demographic.

Make good choices!

WHO: Lockdowns Make “Poor People and Awful Lot Poorer”

Some of us have been saying this for going on eight months now.

The World Health Organisation has backflipped on its original COVID-19 stance after calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies.

Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus.

He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved.

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.

“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

Talks for New COVID Rescue Bill Fails

Fantastic.

US President Donald Trump has said he is ending negotiations over a Covid-19 relief bill, and will only resume talks after the election.

“Immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans,” he tweeted one day after leaving hospital.

Budget talks between Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been underway.

We don’t need another massive spending bill. We might need a few targeted infusions or policy adjustments, but not an omnibus monster. But Pelosi and Schumer never had any intention of passing anything before the election. They are just moving the goal posts to keep it in the news cycle. Trump was smart to drop it. And I hope it stays dropped after the election.

Evers wants to extend illegal mask mandate

My column for the Washington County Daily News in online and in print. When it comes to the mask mandate, Governor Evers is wrong on the law and wrong on the science.

Governor Tony Evers’ illegal order that all Wisconsinites wear face masks is set to expire on September 28 and he covets an extension of his despotic rule. Any extension of the order would not only be the third intentionally illegal power grab by the governor through emergency declarations, but it would be an admission that his actions are not rooted in science or data. Evers’ emergency orders are about power — not people.

[…]

If you think that a governor creating a permanent state of emergency where he issues arbitrary orders at his sole discretion is an acceptable way to govern, then the governor should at least be able to explain why the order is necessary and will work. The evidence is clear that the current mask mandate has not had any impact on the spread of coronavirus.

Evers Threatens to Extend Illegal Order

Typical.

Evers issued the statewide mask mandate on July 30, using a power in state law that lets governors declare public health emergencies for up to 60 days. Evers used the same law to issue another 60-day emergency in March during the early days of the pandemic.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit over the mandate in late August, arguing that it was unlawful for Evers to declare multiple emergencies for the same event. That lawsuit is ongoing.

“We will fight we will fight every step of the way to make sure that this one small thing that everybody can do remains in place until we’re told that the numbers are down,” Evers said in a discussion that was broadcast by the Wisconsin Eye public affairs network.

Evers’ current order is set to expire on Sept. 28 unless it’s rescinded before then by the governor, the Legislature or a court order. But Evers gave no indication that he would rescind the masking order himself, and he didn’t rule out extending it.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there whether we extend it or not,” Evers said.

Once again, the issue is not whether mandating masks is the correct course of action or not. The issue is whether we are going to allow a single man to utterly ignore our system of representative government and issue arbitrary orders from his mansion in Madison. If he can order a mask, he could also order that we all wear hats, or be clean shaven so that the masks fit, or carry guns because there are riots, or whatever. The issue is whether or not we should live under the arbitrary rule of a single man or return to a republican form of government.

As for the effectiveness of a mask mandate, help me reconcile this.

Since the order, cases have gone up:

But deaths and hospitalizations are steady:

 

So since Evers ordered that everyone wear masks, cases are spiking, but deaths and hospitalizations remain flat. If the purpose of masks are to stop the spread of the Rona, shouldn’t we see the positive impact in the number of cases? We are not. We are seeing the opposite.

The reason is that the rise in cases is being driven completely by people aged 18-24.

This is because of all of the college kids who went back to school. Not only are they spreading it around a bit, but they are being tested like crazy. The more you test, the more you will find. But clearly, many of the kids have few, if any symptoms, and they are recovering fine without hospital intervention. Also bear in mind that almost all state colleges are rigorously enforcing the mask mandate.

If there is absolutely no evidence that the mask mandate is actually mitigating the spread of disease, why would the governor consider extending it? Aren’t we supposed to follow the science? Is is this not really about the science or fighting the pandemic?

Let the school year begin — and continue

Here is my full column that ran this week in the Washington County Daily News.

After a truncated school year and a summer that has been robbed of the normal cultural milestones, it is almost difficult to believe that the new school year is upon us. Yet upon us it is and school districts all over the state are releasing their plans to open.

The science and public opinion overwhelmingly support opening schools with in-person instruction with reasonable precautions to mitigate the spread of disease. The Centers for Disease Control said, “The unique and critical role that schools play makes them a priority for opening and remaining open, enabling students to receive both academic instruction and support as well as critical services.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”

The vast majority of people agree. According to a recent AP-NORC poll, 68% of Americans think that schools should have in-person instruction with some changes to lessen the chance for spreading diseases. The myriad surveys that local school districts conducted came back with even stronger preferences with as much as 88% (West Bend) wanting some form of in-person school instruction.

To their credit, every public and private school and school district in Washington County responded accordingly and is opening with a plan that includes in-person instruction. Some plans are better than others. The West Bend School District is offering in-person, virtual, or hybrid models so that each family can choose what best fits their situation and risk tolerance. The Germantown School District is offering an in-person or virtual model, but the in-person model for high schoolers is a goofy alternating schedule that wreaks havoc on family schedules.

Still, the schools in Washington County will be open for education and that is to be commended. It demonstrates that education truly is a priority when so many other schools across the state and country are choosing to eschew their duty to educate the adults of tomorrow. Opening our schools is not only vitally important for the education of our kids, it is also imperative for their social and emotional well-being.

But we must gird ourselves for the inevitable outbreak of COVID-19 when our schools open. Every parent knows that some sniffle or cough will ravage their household within a couple weeks of school opening every year. It is the unavoidable outcome of the commingling of hundreds of humans with questionable hygiene. The implementation of social distancing, thorough sanitation, masks, shields, and limited or coordinated movement will surely reduce the spread of disease, but nature has a way of finding holes in any defense. There will be outbreaks of various contagious diseases and, undoubtedly, one of those will be COVID-19.

Davy Crockett was fond of saying, “Be always sure you are right, then go ahead.” That is the attitude we will need from our school leaders and parents when outbreaks happen. The science is sound. Our kids need to be in school and they cannot afford to miss any more. The risk of kids suffering severe harm from COVID-19 or spreading it is low. The short- and long-term educational, emotional, and social harm our kids will suffer if they miss more school is immense.

When the outbreaks come, and they will, we must not panic. We must act, but we must not panic. And when we act to isolate the infected and mitigate the spread, we must do so with the overarching goal of keeping our schools open.

The schools must open. They must stay open. We are sure we are right. We must go ahead.

 

Coronavirus Spending Bill Hits Impasse

Good. May it never see the President’s signature. Let the economy open and we won’t need another flood of borrowed money.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Sunday he was not optimistic on reaching agreement soon on a deal for the next round of legislation to provide relief to Americans hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term,” Meadows said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” as staff members from both sides were meeting to try to iron out differences over the bill.

Democrats were standing in the way of a separate agreement to extend some federal unemployment benefits in the short-term while negotiations continue on an overall relief package, he said.

“We continue to see really a stonewalling of any piecemeal type of legislation that happens on Capitol Hill,” Meadows said. “Hopefully that will change in the coming days.”

Government ponders response as cases rise

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Wisconsin is seeing an uptick in daily reported COVID-19 cases as the summer warms up. The statistic that we are supposed to be scared about continues to shift as the scare-mongers and power-grabbers grasp around for the most alarming statistic, but Wisconsin has been seeing an increase in daily reported cases for about a month. Should our state government do anything about it? Mark Twain once wittily classified statistics as one of the three kinds of lies. If we remember back to when the coronavirus crisis came to a head in March, the two statistics that were being trumpeted were deaths and hospitalizations. Deaths were being tracked because the models predicted 2.2 million deaths in the United States. Those models have now been proven woefully incorrect, but we believed them at the time.

We tracked the number of hospitalizations because of the great fear that we would overwhelm the capacity of our health care system and cause a lethally cascading event. This was the whole logic behind “flatten the curve” and “15 days to slow the spread.” The logic was sound in the face of models projecting a doomsday pandemic, so we implemented striking infringements of our civil rights to flatten the curve.

Thankfully, as it turns out, we never came close to overwhelming our health care system and the overflow hospitals that were built were left unused. After the Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ unconstitutional dictatorial power grab on May 13, the number of hospitalizations remained manageable and eventually declined. The death rate also continued to decline.

Now, two months after the state reopened, we are seeing an increase in daily reported cases and we are told by the media and our government that the state must act to lock down the state, require masks, or some other reactive measure to keep everyone panicked and docile.

Let us return to the statistics that we were originally concerned about. As of this weekend, there were 264 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 out of 7,305 active cases. That is a hospitalization rate of 3.6%. Wisconsin has 11,390 hospital beds of various uses – not including the overflow beds built by the state. At the peak of this crisis, 446 people were hospitalized. Wisconsin’s health care system still has ample capacity to handle the ongoing spread of the disease.

There seem to be two main reasons why Wisconsin is adding more cases every day but the hospitalization and death rate continue to be flat or decline. First, Wisconsin is testing more than ever. With a capacity of over 24,000 tests per day, testing has become easy and routine. Early during the pandemic, only people who were sick or suspected of being sick were tested. As such, the percentage of positive results was high. Now we are routinely testing entire workplaces or facilities and finding more people who have, or had, the virus without ever actually being sick.

Second, many of the cases being discovered are people who are younger, healthier, and fight off the virus as easily as a cold. The age group of 20-29 now comprises a full 25% of reported cases and growing, but only has a hospitalization rate of 3%. Whether the virus is spreading through the younger portion of the population or we are merely noticing it now that we are testing more is subject of speculation. In either case, it is a good thing. The virus is working though the least vulnerable portion of our population and building a natural community immunity. This is the surest way to protect the most vulnerable parts of our population.

The goal of our public policy was never to stop the virus completely, nor should it be. Such a goal is impossible and has the fetor of a hubris only a politician could entertain. Our government’s response should be to do exactly what this column said months ago. Our government should pool resources to respond to outbreaks, provide the latest recommendations, and provide the legal protection to allow Wisconsinites to continue to work. Other than that, our government should stay out of the way and let Wisconsinites manage their own lives.

 

Government ponders response as cases rise

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I’ll get to the point:

The goal of our public policy was never to stop the virus completely, nor should it be. Such a goal is impossible and has the fetor of a hubris only a politician could entertain. Our government’s response should be to do exactly what this column said months ago. Our government should pool resources to respond to outbreaks, provide the latest recommendations, and provide the legal protection to allow Wisconsinites to continue to work. Other than that, our government should stay out of the way and let Wisconsinites manage their own lives.

 

Back to School

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. We must open the schools:

School Districts throughout the state should get back to the business of educating kids on a full-time basis. There will need to be some reasonable changes to mitigate the spread of disease, whether it is COVID-19 or something else. Rigorous sanitation, routine hand washing, masks where appropriate, and quickly sending sick kids and staff members home should become the norm, but so should rigorous and routine education.

Also, accommodations must be made for kids and staff members who are at a higher risk by providing real distance learning alternatives. This does not mean broadcasting a class that is usually delivered in the classroom and sending some worksheets. This means designing education specifically to be delivered remotely. There are already several online public and private schools in Wisconsin that do a phenomenal job educating kids who learn better outside of the classroom. Wisconsin must learn from these schools, amplify their success, and waive restrictions to allow kids to transfer into those schools immediately.

Wisconsinites invest a tremendous amount of money, time, and effort into our K-12 education system precisely because we believe in the necessity and promise of education. It is past time for them to get back to doing the work our kids deserve.

Lifting of Stay at Home Order Does Not Lead to Covid Outbreak

Sooooo…. there’s a study.

Both the White House and state governors have explicitly linked thresholds of reduced COVID-19 case growth to the lifting of statewide shelter-in-place orders (SIPOs). This “hardwired” policy endogeneity creates empirical challenges in credibly isolating the causal effect of lifting a statewide SIPO on COVID-19-related health. To break this simultaneity problem, the current study exploits a unique natural experiment generated by a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision. On May 13, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court abolished the state’s “Safer at Home” order, ruling that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services unconstitutionally usurped legislative authority to review COVID-19 regulations. We capitalize on this sudden, dramatic, and largely unanticipated termination of a statewide SIPO to estimate its effect on social distancing and COVID-19 case growth. Using a synthetic control design, we find no evidence that the repeal of the state SIPO impacted social distancing, COVID-19 cases, or COVID-19-related mortality during the fortnight following enactment. Estimated effects were economically small and nowhere near statistically different from zero. We conclude that the impact of shelter-in-place orders is likely not symmetric across enactment and lifting of the orders.

Bureaucrat Brags Despite Failure

Ummm… no.

“No administration has ever faced anything like that before,” said Mark Reihl, DWD unemployment division administrator. “We have done everything possible as quickly as possible to bring as many people on as we could … Frankly, I think we have done a great job in this period of time. Is it as good as we would like? Certainly not.”

I see a lot of excuses and slow action. I see very little leadership or results. Take a look at this MacIver story that tracks their very, very, very lethargic reaction and refusal to think outside of their bureaucratic bubble.

When Safer at Home went into effect, DWD had 57 employees at its unemployment call center, and the phone system could handle 450 calls at a time. On Mar. 26th, the day after the lockdown went into effect, DWD was getting 160 attempted calls a second, over half a million an hour.

DWD reacted by transferring 75 of its 1,606 full time employees to help out at the call center, bringing the total up to 132. It also boosted its call volume capacity up to 690 calls at a time, which meant more people would be able to wait on hold.

DWD’s unemployment line got 1.5 million attempted calls during the first week of Safer at Home, but only 115,679 people successfully filed a claim. Not all of those claims were filed over the phone. DWD begged people to file online, citing a 98 percent success rate for the 19,000 who did.

With the call center completely overwhelmed by demand, Frostman added another 18 people to its staff during the second week of the shutdown. That brought the total up to 150. Even though DWD still had over 1,400 full time employees not working at the call center, it announced plans to hire 85 new employees to help process unemployment paperwork.

Frostman said out of date IT infrastructure was the problem, and it “has forced DWD’s staff to work overtime, nights, and weekends to process unemployment claims to support out-of-work Wisconsinites.”

However, they weren’t taking calls 24/7. Phone lines were only open from 7:30 – 3:30, Monday to Friday.

That doesn’t look like “everything possible as quickly as possible” to me.

Predicted Surge in Deaths Fails to Materialize

Again. It seems like every time the anti-civil rights folks claim there will be widespread death if we don’t strip people of their rights, it fails to materialize. Are they incompetent or do they have ulterior motives? Or both?  From Dan O’Donnell

On May 13th, the day of the Supreme Court ruling, Wisconsin saw 291 new cases of Coronavirus out of 4,363 tests for a positive test rate of 6.3%.  Since the virus has an incubation period of between three and 14 days (with an average incubation of five days), the state would expect a massive spike in both positive tests and the positive test rate by today—two weeks after the state reopened—if the reopening was indeed responsible for such a spike.

There hasn’t been a spike in either.  Five days after the court’s ruling on the 13th, the state saw just 144 positive tests even though there were far more total tests (4,828) done than on the 13th for a positive rate of 2.9% on May 18th.

Eight days later, on May 26th, the positive test rate was 3.6% (279 positive tests out of 7,495 total).  Just twice has the positive rate hit or topped 8% since the Supreme Court’s ruling.  By contrast, in April the positive test rate routinely hit 10% per day.  Two weeks to the day after Wisconsin reopened, neither the number of new cases per day nor the percentage of positive tests has even come close to spiking.

Neither has the number of hospitalizations or ICU visits.   In none of the state’s seven regions has there been even a tiny bump per day.  Instead, the numbers have been remarkably consistent throughout the outbreak, suggesting that the reopening has had little to no effect at all on the hospitalization rate and thus the severity of the disease’s impact.

As if that wasn’t enough to disprove the hysterical predictions of death and destruction made just two weeks ago, the virus has somehow become less deadly since Wisconsin started to reopen.

In the 13 days since the Supreme Court’s ruling, there have been 96 Coronavirus deaths for an average of 7.3 per day.  In the 13 days immediately preceding the Court’s ruling, there were 105 Coronavirus deaths for an average of 8.07 per day.

If Wisconsin signed its own death warrant when the Supreme Court struck down “Safer at Home,” then the signature must have been forged.  In no way has the state become a more dangerous place since it reopened.  The “chaos” that Evers repeatedly predicted has been proven to be as nonsensical a forecast as the death and destruction the Governor and his fellow Democrats insisted would result from an in-person election on April 7th.

“Emergency Order 28 is declared unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.”

Hey look. The Supreme Court agrees with me. Go about your business, folks.

IV. CONCLUSION

¶58 We conclude that Emergency Order 28 is a rule under the controlling precedent of this court, Citizens for Sensible Zoning, Inc. v. DNR, 90 Wis. 2d 804, 280 N.W.2d 702 (1979), and therefore is subject to statutory emergency rulemaking procedures established by the Legislature. Emergency Order 28 is a general order of general application within the meaning of Wis. Stat. § 227.01(13) which defines “Rule.” Accordingly, the rulemaking procedures of Wis. Stat. § 227.24 were required to be followed during the promulgation of Order 28. Because they were not, Emergency Order 28 is unenforceable.21 Furthermore, Wis. Stat. § 252.25 required that Emergency Order 28 be promulgated using the procedures established by the Legislature for rulemaking if criminal penalties were to follow. Because Palm did not follow the
law in creating Order 28, there can be no criminal penalties for violations of her order. The procedural requirements of Wis. Stat. ch. 227 must be followed because they safeguard all people.

¶59 We further conclude that Palm’s order confining all people to their homes, forbidding travel and closing businesses 21 This decision does not apply to Section 4. a. of Emergency Order 28.  exceeded the statutory authority of Wis. Stat. § 252.02, upon which Palm claims to rely. By the Court.—Palm’s Emergency Order 28 is declared unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.

Most disappointing is that Justice Hagedorn voted in the minority with a ridiculous rationale. This comes after he went lefty on taking up the ballot issue a few months ago. Make no mistake, once Justice Kelly leaves the court, this is now a 4-3 LIBERAL Supreme Court.

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