We are so screwed

There’s a rumor going around that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, and that it’s unwise to gather in large groups. The disease is getting worse, not better, and the half-hearted lockdown of previous months has clearly failed, and we’re past the time when the whole nation has to this thing damned seriously.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey:

In the most recent incident, three residents were charged for violating the governor’s order limiting the size of gatherings after at least 700 people were found partying in an Airbnb rental on Sunday, police officials said.

700 people. Partying. I was shocked at the stupidity of the idea of a massive gathering of people exhaling on each other, but then, in the next sentence…

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s order limits outdoor gatherings to 500 people and indoor gatherings to 100 or 25% of a room’s capacity.

Wait, the official limit is 500? What kind of feeble Mickey Mouse restriction is this?

Also, I thought Airbnb was known to be a criminal scam.


  1. dianne says

    And then there’s the thousands of people demonstrating against masks in Berlin, proving that this sort of nonsense is not limited to the US. Free bonus: apparent immunity disappears after 3-6 months, which means vaccination is going to be tricky at best. Yep, we’re screwed.

  2. dianne says

    I am also totally baffled by this behavior, a 700 person house party in New Jersey being pretty much the thing in room 101 for me. What is it about getting breathed on by a bunch of smelly strangers, drinking bad alcohol, with the music too loud to hear each other that could possibly be considered fun, much less something worth risking your life for?

  3. acroyear says

    “Free bonus: apparent immunity disappears after 3-6 months, which means vaccination is going to be tricky at best.”

    This is a misunderstanding, and I’m kinda getting tired of it being repeated over and over because of doom-sayer headlines.

    Yes, antibodies do fade out with Covid19, just as they do with a lot of other viruses including the flu. However, the signs from several studies are that our B-Cells and T-Cells ‘remember’, and are able to regenerate the antibodies very quickly. Yes, you do have the chance for a second infection, and yes, there is the risk that you can spread it before any symptoms show up. But the signs are that our bodies have the tools and are able to fight it off much faster the second time around.

    That said, much of the damage done is not necessarily the virus but rather our immune system over-reacting to it, so we’re still better off in the long run with a vaccine and a proper booster schedule.

  4. says

    To be fair, by all indications outdoor gatherings, as long as people wear masks and practice distancing, are safe. Connecticut never closed its beaches and we have successfully suppressed the epidemic. The BLM protests also have not been linked to any detectable outbreaks. The risk is indoors — bars, churches, restaurants, concert venues — that’s what you need to avoid.

    Outdoor stadium sporting events are not safe, however, because people congregate in restrooms and concessions and are forced together in passageways. But in general, outdoors is much safer.

  5. raven says

    130,930 K-12 schools
    How many schools are there in the U.S.? There are 130,930 K-12 schools in the U.S., according to 2017-18 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).Jan 3, 2019

    Education Statistics: Facts About American Schools
    https://www.edweek.org › issues › education-statistics

    This party will be repeated ca. 140,000 times in a month in the USA.
    That is when school starts again.
    In theory anyway.

    Most K-12 schools in areas with any sort of Covid-19 transmission have already decided to go online only.

  6. raven says

    In PZ’s hometown, in a month or so there will also be a party with 1,500 young adults.
    That is when U. of Minnesota, Morris starts it’s Fall semester.

    I’m not seeing how this will work for the colleges and universities either.

    It’s real easy to say, “online only”.
    But large numbers of students can’t just go back and live in mom’s basement.
    The obvious case would be foreign students.
    But for many others, the parents might have downsized, moved, or they are sick or dead.
    And in some cases, kids left at 18 to escape a bad situation and won’t go back no matter what.

    They may go to classes online only, but they might have to live on or near campus.

  7. dianne says

    @3: Have amnestic responses to covid re-exposure been documented? I don’t know of any. However, there are now documented cases of re-infection without significant viral mutation. If the current literature is anything to go by, we don’t really know what the role of T-cell immunity is in protection against covid yet or if there is a strong amnestic B-cell response. It just hasn’t been studied much because the coronaviruses are frigging cold viruses and no one cared before now. SARS1 came and went too fast for much literature to develop.

    It may be that re-infection is a rare event or even that the apparent re-infections are actually re-activation of latent virus, but neither of these hypotheses is proven currently.

    However, the signs from several studies are that our B-Cells and T-Cells ‘remember’, and are able to regenerate the antibodies very quickly.

    Do you have links?

    Finally, as you point out, the immune system can do damage in covid infection. If we’re very unlucky, we may end up with a vaccine that makes infection more severe. It happened with dengue.

  8. Akira MacKenzie says

    The problem is that this virus allows you just enough wiggle-room for some to skate by, If we’re more communicable and more lethal, the right-wing would be singing a different tune.

  9. numerobis says

    cervantes: Connecticut saw a low of about 20 daily cases per million, and is thrice that number now.

    Quebec is creeping up to 20 per million, we’re the worst-affected province by far, and even we are starting to worry that we’ll need more measures.

    But indeed, beaches don’t seem to be a prime spot for transmission. Meatpacking, bars, restaurants, churches seem far more relevant.

  10. numerobis says

    Akira: I highly doubt it.

    If it were more infectious then they’d be saying what they’re already saying, that it’s inevitable that we all get it.

    If it were deadlier they’d be saying what they’re already saying, that it’s just the flu and only old people die.

  11. microraptor says

    I’m more convinced than ever that, had President Obama put out a PCA telling people not to drink bleach in 2015, Trump never would have gotten nominated, much less become president.

  12. unclefrogy says

    I don’t sleep all that well these days I wake early and my mind races with things I want to do and feeling like I don’t have the time ………
    I stay awake late late always in the back of my mind that it is pointless I will never have the time to finish any of the things and can’t get out like before everything is more difficult.
    Watching this unfold in all of it’s pettiness, incompetence and graft feeding the racism and paranoia of the ignorant with great gobs of resentment does not give me much hope for the future mine or modern civilization frankly.
    rationality was a great experiment but it looks like it is being rejected by too large of a segment of the population to be much of a help for survival and we are embracing the old way of superstition, ignorance and faith.
    Those are the emotional coloring’s my personal experience gives things but I wake up and feeling good anyway. The plants are green and growing the mulch is seething with energy the carnations are beginning to flower. Today is a baking day! The fools will do what they will I can’t stop them but I will not join them thank you very much
    I struggle forward with eyes open!
    and remember things.

    Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand! Men of the West!

    and this old song as well

  13. pilgham says

    My first thought reading that: 700? There were only 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae.

  14. says

    I’ve heard enough AIrbnb horror stories I couldn’t imagine renting one or, even worse, renting out my home.

    Airbnb: awful enough that I’ll defend the friggin’ hotel industry.

  15. mnb0 says

    @1 Dianne: “Yep, we’re screwed.”
    On the positive side COVID-19 may very well slow down climate change. Given that the USA is the main culprit in that respect it’s appropriate that the virus strikes hardest there.

  16. Rob Grigjanis says

    pilgham @15:

    700? There were only 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae.

    Yes, but according to Herodotus, there were also 700 Thespians.

  17. Hairhead, Still Learning at 59 says

    The Sturgis Motorcyle Rally in North Dakotoa is coming up. Usual attendance: 250,000. Anticipated attendance: “only” 125,000. Most on motorcyles, from all areas of the country, who will afterwards spread back out to their home towns.

    The business community of Sturgis (pop. 7,000) pressured the town council not to cancel, not caring about people in the rest of the country. But at least they’ll make money. Woo-hoo capitalisn!

  18. DanDare says

    We will eventually have herd immunity. But instead of biological immunity it will be behavioural. All the millions of numpties will be dead.

  19. chrislawson says

    Supporting acroyear@3–

    Antibody levels are NOT proof of immunity or susceptibility. They are a good correlate, which is why we use them in research and practical applications, but by themselves they mean very little until they’ve been actively investigated. Which we have not yet had time to do with COVID19.