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Don’t Be Gaslighted

If you're thinking this is simply going to go away because you wear a mask, you're being gaslighted. If you're thinking it's all a big hoax, you're also being gaslighted.

Eventually the coronavirus case count, worldwide, will hit somewhere around 1-2% of people, which is about where the U.S. is right now, and top out at somewhere between 3-5%. That’s around 35 million cases, so we’re around halfway there according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. As President Trump said, it will get worse before it gets better.

The only way to keep coronavirus out of a particular nation is to not let it in in the first place, to live on an island like New Zealand, or to possess incredibly strict border discipline and constant vigilance like South Korea. But most countries have borders with other nations, and some, like the U.S., are not set up to monolithically implement centralized processes for restricted movement. Think of the U.S. like the European Union, but without any restrictions in force. Each state is going to have a different experience with the virus, so now it’s California and Florida.

The only metric that we need to look at right now is the death count, because the case count is simply going to go where it goes. Demographics of the case count is the relevant and key statistic. In Florida, the current spike is led by 21-year-olds. In California, around 75% of cases is from 18-59 year olds, but 43% of deaths is from people 80 or older.

It’s becoming much clearer how damaging and awful New York’s massacre of its elderly was, given that between that state and New Jersey, more than 48,500 have died, which is fully one-third of the deaths in the entire nation.

Don’t be gaslighted by spikes in case counts. It’s deaths that matter, and deaths is mostly a function of keeping the virus out of nursing homes, assisted living, and places where older people live and go. This means keeping those over 65 sheltered in place as much as possible, using masks in public places they might go, and keeping hospital capacity low enough to handle new cases.

Also, don’t be gaslighted by those who say masks don’t matter. They do, because, as I wrote early on–March 1st, to be exact–COVID-19 grows at a 2% per day rate, even in the face of strong countermeasures. Our current growth rate in the U.S. is 1.3%. We’ve done a lot to limit the spread, but we let up too soon. This was not a failure of government as much as a cultural and social failure. We just stopped trying as hard, and many turned mask-wearing into a political symbol of oppression. That was stupid.

The fatality rate in America is around 3.5%. Most of that comes from people over 65, and most of that is from the elderly over 75. Yes, there are those who are more susceptible to the terrible effects of COVID-19: those with lung problems (like Erick Erickson, for example), asthma, immune deficiency diseases, and the like. These people need to take extra caution, but I think, in general, they have been.

But are we helping them by going out without masks in stores, streets, and places they need to go? Should we condemn people to a shut-in life simply because we are too wrapped up in our political symbols to take the minimum measures to protect them? Masks (other than N95 respirators, correctly worn, without facial hair, along with face shields and gloves) won’t fully protect those of us at low risk for death from contracting the virus. But they will protect us from spreading it to others if we do get it.

And don’t be gaslighted that you can’t spread it. You can spread it before you even know you have it. Some people have it and recover without knowing they had it at all–just a bit of feeling poorly for a week or two and they’re done. But that doesn’t mean the very same virus that barely held them back won’t kill someone else.

Don’t be the person who fights over mandatory mask-wearing at stores, and other public places. If you are, you’ve been gaslighted into being a monster without realizing it.

Also, don’t be the person blaming the government for everything. Yes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a terrible decision about nursing homes. But that doesn’t make him Reinhard Heydrich. Gov. Gavin Newsom did a very good job protecting California for the first part of the spread. But now he’s reaping the liberal protest policy and political idiocy of targeting churches. That doesn’t make him the antichrist. Don’t be gaslighted.

Political people–grifters and throne-sniffers–are out there making money and playing politics from COVID-19. It’s absolutely disgusting. Television and cable news networks are doing the same. It’s gross.

Even if you haven’t felt the crisis in your wallet, at some point you will. Real estate is going to take a major hit when tenant protections end this month. Unemployment $600 weekly bonuses are going to end, and people sitting at home won’t have cash for rent. Evictions will soar. Landlords won’t be able to pay mortgages. Government will again intervene and try to help, but it won’t be enough.

The prices of things will swing wildly as demand and supply disruptions continue to spread. Every industry will be hurt, especially the medical industry, which has lost billions in services dealing with COVID-19, not to mention the cost in human lives from those exposed to the danger every day.

Schools won’t open soon and that will prevent many working couples from working. It will limit incomes. Some people will continue to work from home indefinitely, leading to empty office buildings, and soon companies will realize it’s not worth renewing the lease–leading to a glut of office space and a plunge in new construction.

Families will flee cities consumed by homelessness, protests, crime, lack of police protection, and poor schooling. There will be a spike in the prices of suburban and rural homes for a while, then a collapse when city families demand services that simply don’t exist in rural areas. Some places will see taxes soar by multiples of two or three hundred percent.

The country will take years to recover from COVID-19, way beyond what the political grifters and news networks are saying. We will have a vaccine for the virus itself, but the vaccine for our culture and economy has not been invented yet.

If you’re thinking this is simply going to go away because you wear a mask, you’re being gaslighted. If you’re thinking it’s all a big hoax, you’re also being gaslighted.

Don’t be gaslighted. Follow the facts.


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