This has gotten a lot of attention today on social media, but it seems a bit premature — although not as premature as the media meltdown over the Lake of the Ozarks parties on Memorial Day. Remember the pictures and aerial video of the crowded shores and the large numbers of people in the water, and the predictions of pandemic doom?
That was then … this is now. Missouri’s top health official declared yesterday that they have detected no uptick in COVID-19 diagnoses since then:
The large crowds of people at the Lake of the Ozarks over Memorial Day weekend have not led to any more reported cases of COVID-19, Missouri’s top health official health department said Wednesday.
“The answer, to our knowledge, is no,” Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, said when asked whether more cases have come from the gatherings, photos of which showed throngs of people close together without wearing masks. …
Over the past month, Parson also said, statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 have dropped by more than 40%.
“Our hospitals are not overwhelmed. Our positivity rate continues to decline. People are recovering, and we are moving forward,” he said.
Hospital admissions and hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to drop in the St. Louis area, according to data reported Wednesday by the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.
Don’t get me wrong; this is great news … so far. But isn’t it a wee bit early to pop the corks on the COVID-19 champagne here? Memorial Day was just ten days ago, and the basic quarantine period after possible exposure has usually been given as two weeks. That’s not a hard and fast rule, of course; in Iowa, they’re isolating for a week on possible exposures:
Four student-athletes from two different sports at Iowa State are in quarantine and awaiting COVID-19 test results after experiencing symptoms and being in close contact with individuals outside of the athletics department who have been infected by the virus, the school announced Wednesday. …
“This certainly is not a great surprise,” Pollard said. “We believe our plan to isolate infected individuals, continually communicate and educate our student-athletes and staff on proper hygiene, ongoing efforts to thoroughly sanitize our facilities, and implement other strategies as necessary, will allow us to ultimately be successful in mitigating the impact of the virus.”
Any staff or student athlete at Iowa State with a positive test will be restricted from the department facilities for an extended period of time (three to six weeks). Individuals who have been in close contact with an infected individual in the 48 hours leading up to their symptoms, will be isolated for one week followed by more testing.
For most of the crisis, though, two weeks has been the gold standard against potential incubation after possible exposure to COVID-19. Missouri could still see a late bump in cases from the Lake of the Ozarks free-for-all, but we should know for sure by next week. For now, though, the lack of any impact at all strongly suggests that either no one showed up at the event as a carrier, or that outdoor transmission isn’t much of a risk in any density, perhaps especially when the sun is shining. Ultraviolet light has a significant impact on viruses, and that’s why one of the strategies for dealing with it indoors is to find a safe version of UV that can be deployed in buildings.
Assuming we don’t see much impact from the non-social-distancing Memorial Day get-together at the Lake of the Ozarks, what does that tell us about the shutdowns? For that matter, what does it tell us about the George Floyd protests and riots taking place in major cities, some of it at night when there is no UV light to cleanse the virus? Jonah Goldberg sees it as a lose-lose for the liberal shut-commerce-down mindset, even if it wasn’t completely incorrect:
So, if we don't see a big spike in Covid19 after the abandonment of social distancing by protestors, no one will believe public health officials again (even if seasonality explains it). If we do see a big spike, well, then a big chunk of the shut down was wasted. Am I right?
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) June 4, 2020
Pretty much, yes, in part because public health officials used a sledgehammer when a scalpel might have been more useful. In the first couple of weeks, we didn’t have enough information to distinguish that, but that ended two months ago. The “seasonality” Jonah notes started at least at that time if not before for most of the country, especially outdoors, and yet we’ve locked everyone inside their homes. Now the same people who screeched hysterically about the public-health risks of a day at the Lake of the Ozarks have barely said a word about high-density public demonstrations stretching on for more than a week in major cities, even at night.
That will make a whole lot more people suspect that public health wasn’t the driving priority behind the shutdowns all along. That may not be correct, but those are the impressions that get created when double standards come into play.