There Are Better Ways to Fight COVID-19 Than Mask Mandates

The data clearly show that the vaccine helps people more than previous interventions, including mask mandates, and that the risk of dying from COVID-19 for the vaccinated is extremely low.

The CDC should follow the science, be transparent, and base all guidance on the data.

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Given such concerns, the CDC investigated the delta variant’s spread last month. In a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released on July 30, a number of researchers examined COVID-19 spread last month during a variety of festivities in Barnstable County, Massachusetts.

The authors made a number of claims, including that 74% of those who tested positive for COVID-19 after the festivities were fully vaccinated.

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Among the 469 who tested positive, 74% indeed had been vaccinated. However, as we discussed in our report, the data that this estimate is based on are not representative of the Barnstable attendees, let alone of the entire country. Therefore, it would be a mistake to use those estimates to make inferences of the broader American population.

Second, there’s a more fundamental question the authors neglected to look at: Infection rates in the broader context of the number of people who actually attended the festivities, both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

We also examined this question, making a variety of assumptions on available data and information. Assuming an attendance of 60,000, as has been suggested by a number of people, and a vaccination rate of 90% of attendees, we found the following infection rates.

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So, there you have it, under all such assumptions, less than 2% of the vaccinated attendees caught COVID-19.  Irresponsible reporting suggesting that 74% of those vaccinated caught the virus, however, needlessly causes panic and will only increase vaccine hesitancy.

Source: There are better ways to fight covid-19

Who’s Skipping the Vaccine? The Answer May Surprise You

Hint: It’s not who the media says it is.

Source: Who’s Skipping the Vaccine? The Answer May Surprise You

Before the election, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were vaccine-hesitant.  Both cast doubt on the COVID vaccines, still in clinical trials last fall. Biden said, “I trust vaccines. I trust scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump.” Did he believe Trump was cooking up the vaccines in the White House basement, the sole decision-maker regarding approval, ignoring the pharmaceutical companies creating the vaccines, overseen, and ultimately approved by the FDA, not the president?

Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, cast similar doubt saying, “I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about. I will not take his word for it.” Again, it is the FDA, not the White House that is charged with approving vaccines.

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At present, the U.S. is 51 percent fully vaccinated. While that may not seem like success, if you break it down the numbers are more favorable. 62 percent of adults and 81 percent of the elderly are fully vaccinated. Another segment of the population has natural immunity based on having had COVID. Given natural infection as a second and more robust pathway toward herd immunity, America has done well.

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What is the media not saying about the vaccine-hesitant?

As reported in Summit News, “A new report by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh has found that the most highly educated Americans are also the most vaccine hesitant.” This was not a survey of a few hundred, but of 5 million Americans.

They found a U-shaped curve with the greatest hesitancy among the least and most educated. “The most common concern for those who are hesitant to take the vaccine is potential side effects, with a lack of trust in government close behind in second.”

So much for the media narrative that only the missing-teeth, knuckle-dragging, Neanderthal Trump supporters are against vaccination.

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Another group, not mentioned as vaccine-hesitant, is blacks. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the white vaccination rate is 1.3 times higher than for blacks. This is not education level-related but instead may be a mistrust of “government benevolence,” a remnant of the Tuskegee syphilis studies where the U.S. government withheld disease treatment in blacks as an experiment to learn the natural history of syphilis.

The vaccinated and the unvaccinated

Some COVID statistics to ponder.

Misinformation and misunderstanding about vaccine efficacy have abounded recently, potentially sparked by what seemed to be worrying data out of Provincetown, Massachusetts, reported last week by the CDC.

The agency’s investigation revealed that 74% of the 469 COVID-19 cases in that outbreak occurred in fully vaccinated people.

But that doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination mean that three-quarters of vaccinated people are getting COVID.

In addition to this being one particular outbreak, as vaccination rates increase overall, a larger proportion of cases will occur in the vaccinated — it’s just simple math.

Katelyn Jetelina, PhD, MPH, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, explained the concept of base rate bias back in June after the Israeli health minister said that about half of infections were occurring in vaccinated people.

“The more vaccinated a population, the more we’ll hear of the vaccinated getting infected,” Jetelina wrote, noting that 85% of Israeli adults were vaccinated at the time.

If there were four COVID cases out of 100 people, for example, with two occurring in vaccinated people and two occurring in unvaccinated people, that would be 50% of cases occurring in vaccinated people.

 

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But the more important number to look at would be infection rates among the separate groups — which would be a 13% infection rate in the unvaccinated, and a much smaller infection rate of 2% in the vaccinated.

That would strongly indicate that vaccines are working.

Massachusetts’s most recent data on breakthrough cases indeed indicate that vaccines are working remarkably well in that state. As of July 31, there were 7,737 breakthrough infections among 4.3 million fully vaccinated people. Of these, 395 required hospitalization, and 100 died.

With that large of a denominator, the percentages are reassuring: 0.18% of fully vaccinated people had a breakthrough infection; 0.009% went to the hospital; and 0.002% died.

Source: The vaccinated and the unvaccinated

It might be worth reviewing Bayes’ Theorem.

Biden Falsely Claims “White Supremacist Terrorism” a Greater Threat Than ISIS and Al-Qaeda

Fortunately both Islamic and white supremacist terror are extremism rare in America, never accounting for more than 1% of all homicides in any given year except 2001.

Whether it’s white supremacists or Islamic extremists that are America’s biggest terror threat determines what timeline we’re looking at. Given that 9/11 resulted in more deaths than every white supremacist terror incident in the 21st century combined by a country mile, it cannot possibly be the case that white supremacist terror is a greater threat than Islamic terror overall.

But, with groups like ISIS decimated thanks to Donald Trump’s policies, it could easily be the case that white supremacist deaths exceeded Islamist deaths in a single recent year – and that’s what is happening here.

I’ve debunked previous versions of this argument years ago, and the latest iteration comes from a Homeland Security report that spawned headlines such as this one over at CNN: “White supremacists remain deadliest U.S. terror threat.” As one learns on the eighteenth page of the report however, this is based on a sample size of one year of data (from 2018-2019). “American domestic violence extremists, racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists – specifically white supremacist extremists will remain the most persistent and lethal threat to the homeland” reads the key passage of the report, nothing that from 2018-2019, white supremacists conducted half of all lethal attacks (eight total) among domestic violent extremists, resulting in 39 out of 48 deaths that year from domestic extremism. For reference, the 2016 ISIS-inspired Pulse Nightclub massacre alone killed 49 people, more than all white supremacists combined in 2018-2019.

Dan Bongino Show

Shutdowns Were a Disaster [with comment by Paul]

The Wall Street Journal notes that, as the coronavirus disappears in the rear-view mirror, two Americas are emerging:

The unemployment rate in April nationwide was 6.1%, but this obscures giant variations in the states. With some exceptions, those run by Democrats such as California (8.3%) and New York (8.2%) continued to suffer significantly higher unemployment than those led by Republicans such as South Dakota (2.8%) and Montana (3.7%).

It’s rare to see differences that are so stark based on party control in states. But the current partisan differences reflect different policy choices over the length and severity of pandemic lockdowns and now government benefits such as jobless insurance.

Nine of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates are led by Republicans. The exception is Wisconsin whose Supreme Court last May invalidated Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’s lockdown. The unemployment rate in Wisconsin is 3.9%—the same as Indiana—compared to 7.1% in Illinois whose Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been slow to reopen.

This chart shows the highest and lowest state unemployment rates:

Of course, blue-state governors who imposed long and stringent shutdowns would say that they did so for reasons of public health. Harsh shutdowns, they may argue, were necessary to slow the spread of the Wuhan virus.

But there is no evidence of any such positive effect. This has been shown over and over in a variety of ways, but let’s add one more. I added up the coronavirus deaths per 100,000 of population, according to the CDC, for the ten states in the Journal’s chart with the highest unemployment rates, and averaged them. I found that the ten states with highest unemployment averaged 202.6 deaths per 100,000. I then did the same thing for the ten states (all but Wisconsin with Republican governors) with the lowest unemployment. Their average deaths per 100,000 was much lower, at 134.5.

PAUL ADDS: ….

A measurement of lockdowns’ adverse effects on unemployment would require a more refined analysis. For example, it seems clear that Hawaii is experiencing the nation’s highest unemployment rate not primarily because it shut down or because it has a Democratic governor, but because it relies so heavily on tourism, and people didn’t want to fly to Hawaii, or couldn’t, during a pandemic (shutdown or not).

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It’s more probative to compare Minnesota and the Dakotas. Deaths per one million people in Minnesota, where the governor imposed a lockdown, are 1,329. In South Dakota and North Dakota, which did not lock down, deaths per one million are 2,272 and 1,984, respectively (according to numbers reported in Worldometer).

We also know that Sweden, which did not lock down, had vastly more deaths per capita than Norway and Denmark, which did. According to numbers reported in Worldometer, Sweden had 1,419 deaths per one million, compared to 433 in Denmark and only 143 in Norway .

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JOHN responds: I disagree. Paul doesn’t comment on the Minnesota-Wisconsin comparison, which is as close to apples-to-apples as we are going to get. Minnesota locked down drastically, Wisconsin didn’t, and the coronavirus deaths were identical. As for the Dakotas, North Dakota did lock down, unlike South Dakota, and their death totals are virtually the same.

As I wrote here, an obvious variable is what percentage of a state’s population, pre-covid, was in nursing homes. That percentage varies surprisingly widely from state to state. I looked at the Upper Midwestern states in my post, and found that nursing home population went a long way toward explaining covid death rates. There were many more people in nursing homes, per capita, in Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota than in Minnesota and Wisconsin before the epidemic began. I also looked at nursing home populations in various states around the country and found similar correlations.

So I continue to believe that there is no sound empirical basis for thinking that lockdowns, or the severity of lockdowns, made a material difference in covid results.

Source: Shutdowns Were a Disaster [with comment by Paul]

EUGENE VOLOKH: Race and Violent Crime….

An article by a criminal law professor Thursday in the Columbus Dispatch included this assertion:

The reality is that Black-on-Black crime is a myth, and that Black and white people routinely commit crimes at similar rates, but Black people are overwhelmingly targeted for arrest.

Yet I think this is not the reality, at least as to violent crimes of the sort that are usually labeled “black-on-black” when committed by black criminals against black victims. (Blacks and whites do seem to commit drug possession and drug distribution crimes at relatively similar rates, but in this post I focus on violent crimes.) As best we can tell,

  • blacks appear to commit violent crimes at a substantially higher rate per capita than do whites;
  • there seems to be little aggregate disparity between the rate at which blacks commit violent crimes (especially when one focuses on crimes where the victims say they reported the crimes to the police) and the rate at which blacks are arrested for crimes; and
  • the black-on-black crime rate is especially high.

Of course, it’s always hard to measure what the actual crime rate is for any group (whether for purposes of claiming that the rates are similar or that they are different). Still, the most reliable data, to my knowledge, is generally the National Crime Victimization Survey, and the U.S. Justice Department Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that are based on that survey. Indeed, the link in the quoted sentence from the article goes to a source that relies on such data.

Because the NCVS surveys a large group of people about their experiences with crime victimization, it is not based on what is reported to the police and what the police do with it. (The Uniform Crime Reports is based on data from police departments, and is thus generally a less reliable measure of actual crime.) Naturally, there are possible sources of bias in victim reports. But the NCVS seems to be the best data we have, and I know of no better source that yields other results. (If you do know, please let me know.)

Here, then, is the data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Race and Ethnicity of Violent Crime Offenders and Arrestees, 2018, with regard to “rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault“:

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Blacks, which here means non-Hispanic blacks, were 12.5% of the U.S. population, and non-Hispanic whites were 60.4%. It thus appears from this data that the black per capita violent crime rate is roughly 2.3 to 2.8 times the rate for the country as a whole, while the white per capita violent crime rate is roughly 0.7 to 0.9 times the rate for the country as a whole.

It also appears that the arrest rates for violent crime are roughly comparable to the rates of offending, especially if one takes into account those offenses reported to the police (which is a choice of the victims, not of police departments). And the great bulk of such violent crime is intraracial.

The disparity is even more striking for murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, which the NCVS doesn’t measure (since the crime victim can’t respond to the survey), and which thus relies on the police department reports in the UCR…

Source: EUGENE VOLOKH: Race and Violent Crime….

[Eugene Volokh] Race and Violent Crime

[Do “Black and white people routinely commit crimes at similar rates,” if we focus on violent crime? Is “Black-on-Black crime … a myth”?]

An article by a criminal law professor Thursday in the Columbus Dispatch included this assertion:

The reality is that Black-on-Black crime is a myth, and that Black and white people routinely commit crimes at similar rates, but Black people are overwhelmingly targeted for arrest.

Yet I think this is not the reality, at least as to violent crimes of the sort that are usually labeled “black-on-black” when committed by black criminals against black victims. (Blacks and whites do seem to commit drug possession and drug distribution crimes at relatively similar rates, but in this post I focus on violent crimes.)

….

Here, then, is the data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Race and Ethnicity of Violent Crime Offenders and Arrestees, 2018, with regard to “rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault“:

….

Still, the best data that I know of suggests that

  • black-on-black violent crime is not a myth;

  • blacks and whites generally commit violent crimes at substantially disparate rates (and, for homicides, sharply disparate rates); and

  • as best we can tell, the disparity in arrest rates for violent crimes is pretty close to the disparity in crimes that are committed, and especially crimes that the victims report to the police.

Source: [Eugene Volokh] Race and Violent Crime

Middle-Class Stagnation is a Myth

(Don Boudreaux) Tweet Here’s a comment – that, alas, I discover that I’m unable to post – on a response by “Matthew A.” to Scott Winship’s devastating analysis of the latest from Oren Cass’s shop, American Compass:

I write in response to your comment on Scott Winship’s thorough exposé of the many flaws in American Compass’s latest portrayal of the American economy. I here focus on your assertion that official measures of inflation intentionally undercount the dollar’s devaluation.

While I’m the last person to doubt government-officials’ scurrility, I believe that the Boskin Commission finding remains valid – namely, that the Consumer Price Index overcounts (or, you might say, “inflates”) inflation.

But we needn’t quibble over this matter. When reckoning changes in living standards, a way to avoid the need to adjust for inflation is, first, to calculate the amount of time that an ordinary worker today must toil to purchase various goods and services, and then, second, to compare these findings to the amount of time that an ordinary worker in the past had to toil to purchase these same items. We can perform this comparison using only nominal wages and prices. If workers today must toil longer for most goods and services, living standards are lower than in the past; if not, not.

A quick Google search turned up this list of prices of 16 familiar grocery items along with their nominal prices in both 1990 and 2020. And FRED has, for each of these years, reliable records of the nominal hourly wages of private-sector production and nonsupervisory workers. And so we can then divide the nominal price, for example, of a pound of beef in 1990 ($2.81) by the nominal hourly wage in 1990 ($10.22) to determine how long an ordinary worker in 1990 had to toil to earn enough income to buy a pound of beef (16.5 minutes). After performing the same calculation for 2020, we can then see if a worker today has to work longer or less, compared to a worker in 1990, to earn the requisite purchasing power.

In the case of beef, priced at $4.35lb in 2020, an ordinary worker in 2020, earning $24.67 per hour, had to work only 10.6 minutes to earn enough income to buy a pound of beef. That’s 36 percent less time – or nearly six fewer minutes per hour – than he or she had to work to earn the same ‘beef’ purchasing power in 1990.

I performed this calculation for each of the 16 grocery items listed at the above-mentioned link. The amount of time that an ordinary worker today must work to earn income sufficient to purchase each and every one of these products is lower than it was in 1990.

Of course, the fact that ordinary workers today don’t have to work as long as did their counterparts of 30 year ago to buy these 16 grocery items itself doesn’t prove that middle-class Americans today aren’t worse off than they were decades ago. But it does counsel some skepticism of your assertion that, unlike in the past, to maintain a middle-class lifestyle today “most wives are forced to work.”

In the near future, The Age of Superabundance­ ­– a brilliant, data-drenched book by Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley – will be published. The authors document beyond any doubt that each hour of work on the job today by an ordinary American worker yields that worker far more purchasing power, across a wide range of goods and services, than was yielded just a few years ago. (Here’s an essay that gives you a flavor of the book. And you’ll find here my own, more-modest efforts that point to the same happy conclusion.)

The only reason women ‘must’ work today to maintain a household’s middle-class living standard is that what we regard today as a middle-class living standard is far more luxurious than it was in 1990, and made so by the voluntary participation today of more women in the labor force.

Source: Middle-Class Stagnation is a Myth