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Quarantine Angst (7.27.20)

It's Monday morning. Who's ready to have their mind blown?

Today the DC mayor announced visitors from 27 states have to quarantine two weeks when visiting the district. The mayor defined a high-risk location as "locations where the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 cases is 10 or more per 100,000 people."

The mayor's money quote: "We know, unfortunately, that there are states that are seeing significant spikes and new cases. We know that there are places where people are not being as cautious or making the sacrifices that we’re making here in D.C."

Looking at the CDC tracker of cases over the last 7 days ...

Fun fact #1: By its own standards, Washington DC has to quarantine from itself. Our average is currently over 10. By the mayor's logic we should all be sheltering in place right now. Why aren't we?

Fun fact #2: Maryland and Virginia should also be on the quarantine list, but they're exempt, I guess because they touch DC? And you know, that's how quarantines work when you're trying to stop the spread of a deadly disease. Science!

Fun fact #3: I picked a big "safe" state not on the quarantine list: Illinois. I used that state's numbers and census population estimates to calculate avg. daily new cases per 100,000. If I'm doing the math right it's at 11.1. (I divided the state population by 100,000, then divided that number by the average new cases per day over the last week.)

Fun fact #4: Use that same CDC page and look at overall recorded cases per 100,000. By that metric, DC so far has done "worse" than 42 states.

The way I read all this: The city government is doing a bad job, and they're trying desperately to paint it as a good job. They're "following the science" and saying we're all making noble shared sacrifices that everyone is on board with. When cases start going up, who's to blame? Not us! Last week the health director said it was (anecdotally) all these people traveling from Texas and Florida and the Carolinas. Today it's the fault of all those other places that are "not being as cautious." And it could never have had any relationship at all to the mass gatherings that the mayor participated in (sometimes without a mask) -- they said those had no connection at all to the spread! It has nothing to do with household spread, or the fact that the city early on might have failed miserably in its communications and outreach with the hardest hit neighborhoods -- which were primarily black and Hispanic.

If you live in DC, this should be EXTREMELY worrisome to you, because it's creepy propaganda. Rhetorically, the mayor keeps waving the bloody shirt of public health, while ignoring data or best practices when they're inconvenient. The city isn't making things better, while simultaneously committing to "sacrifices" that potentially could destroy a lot of neighborhoods for the next five years.

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