Now that Covid-19 is gone (I said it) we should be taking a look at who was right, who was wrong, what worked, and what didn’t for whenever it comes back. The national dialogue isn’t doing us any favors here. The NY Times are doubling down on mask rhetoric, Hillary and Biden are claiming power over vaccine mandates that they do not have, and the Covid Culture War rages on because humans like culture warring. But for those of you who are culture war agnostic, let’s take a look at HWFO’s performance, what the near future may hold, and what worked versus what didn’t.
HWFO February Predictions Confirmed
On February 16, 2021, HWFO predicted that the Covid-19 epidemic would be gone by the middle of May, and went so far as to make real five figure stock market investments based on that prediction. Pro tip: they worked. The logic was simple, but you can follow the link back to that article and read it in full if you like. The case went like this:
Herd Immunity Threshold (HIT) was very likely not to be 85% as claimed by Fauci and friends at the time because the prison system reached natural herd immunity in places like San Quentin, Folsom, and LA County at natural infection rates as low as 55%.
Natural immunity to Covid was likely to be much higher than thought by the experts, because of asymptomatic spread and because of the lack of testing in the spring of 2020. The country probably started with around 36% natural immunity (see prior article), although it’s increasingly questionable how long that lasts. More on that below.
Vaccination in the USA was happening at “warp speed” but was likely to peg out at around 56% based on polling data. (again see prior article) Based on extrapolating linearly from vaccine velocity, presuming natural immunity gave us a head start, and using HIT numbers from prisons, HWFO predicted in February that the USA would trend towards a total vaccination rate of a little over half the population, and that that would be enough to crush Covid-19, and that we’d hit that in the middle of May.
It’s now the middle of May.
Everything came true.
Here’s your google snapshot:
38.2% of the country is fully vaccinated as of May 20, 2021. We’ve currently got 125 million fully vaccinated, an additional 27 million on their first shot, for a total of 152 million in the vax pipeline. That’s 46% current vaccination, creeping up on the 50% boundary in the middle of May just as predicted. Confirmed cases are cratering:
Confirmed deaths are following suit. We can’t compare spring 2021 rates to spring 2020 rates because in the spring of 2020 the CDC and FDA had cockblocked all efforts to make tests for so long that we were test rationing and our data sucks for that band. Cases in spring of 2020 were probably underreported by a factor of ten or more.
In February HWFO also predicted that we’d end up with over a hundred million vaccines we weren’t going to use, and one of the next Covid Culture War battlegrounds was going to be about giving them away to countries that don’t have them, as well as forced vaccination to push the numbers up beyond what’s necessary to try and do something with our unused vaccine hoard.
All of this is happening now.
Will Covid Come Back?
Yeah probably. Clues to why come from the overall social shift in the USA that Covid cemented, and what has transpired within these social groups. The Covid Culture Wars of 2020 funneled everyone in the USA into two basic disease tribes, because Covid-19 was an almost perfect Shiri’s Scissor of a disease. It’s just deadly enough to cause half the country to freak out, and just benign enough to make the other half of the country refuse to freak out. And in 2020 every single thing ever had to be about Trump somehow, so anything Trump said was either automatically adopted by one tribe or automatically opposed by the other, so again, the country became divided 50/50. Our Covid tribes looked like this:
Tribe 1: ZOMG GERMS!!!1!1one!eleventyone
The ZOMGs hid under their beds, wore three masks to the grocery store, virtue signaled to their friends on Facebook how much safer they were being than their peer group, applied social pressure to everyone they met, including strangers, and were the central fixture of what became known among its targets as “Covid Shaming.” It was a social distancing program vastly more macabre and effective than any government mandate, because they were running Cancel Culture dynamics in real time against their friends and family.
Tribe 2: YOLO SPEAKEASY
The YOLOs were a disparate band of rebels reacting against the ZOMGs. Some of them were people who didn’t think a virus with a 99.5% survival rate was worth this magnitude of fuss. Some didn’t think the fuss actually worked. Some thought that adding a few extra years to some old folks lives wasn’t worth sacrificing years off the young folks lives. Some were deep Trumpsters. Some were doing whatever the ZOMGs weren’t doing because they don’t like the ZOMGs. Some were simply extroverts of all stripes whose personality typing could not deal with locking themselves in a room for a year and a half.
And I’m sure some others were caught in the middle. I was in the middle but wasn’t caught. I just sorta grinned and popped popcorn and watched the thing.
The formation of these two tribes was fascinating to watch from my point of view, because I’m allergic to tribal thought. The ZOMGs formed immediately and signaled their allegiance to each other by adopting one or more colored frames around their Facebook profile pictures, almost like getting a sports team tattoo. The formation of the YOLOs took longer, because they had to carefully feel all their other friends out in private to see who else was a YOLO, who was willing to sneak out of the house and have face to face contact, who was willing to risk ZOMG castigation and cancellation to have a drink with some friends. The YOLOs in border states were not fully formed as a social group until around October or November of 2020, because they had to form in secret, like ancient Christians avoiding being fed to the lions. And then they said “fuck it, Thanksgiving” and “fuck it, Christmas,” once they had a quorum. You Only Live Once.
And these two tribes had almost zero contact with each other. It was as if the country divided into two countries occupying the same land. And every epidemiological model that failed to account for that and presumed even mixing in a petri dish, which means every single one of them, was and is wrong. If any of those epidemiologists are reading this article now, they just had a sinking feeling in their stomach because they just realized I’m right.
It’s no secret that blue states were primarily ZOMGs and red states were primarily YOLOs, but states riding that boundary had a healthy portion of both, and they fought, and I live in one of these. Georgia. There was a great confusion among epidemiologists around a month ago when the blue states were outvaxxing the red states but the blue states cases were climbing while the reds were cratering. The YOLO/ZOMG model explains that trend very easily. In the blue states, natural immunity from the spring 2020 wave was expiring while they all still hid under their beds waiting for their shot, while a lot of the YOLOs had caught Covid in the fall and winter of 2020 so their natural immunity was still working. Effectively the red states had YOLOs getting natural immunity from one direction and ZOMGs getting artificial immunity from the other direction, and they met at the quarterback. The blue states only had one blitzer.
Let’s wrap up “will covid come back” and then move on to an on-the-ground Georgia analysis.
Covid will come back because natural immunity lasts less than a year. I know a handful of reinfections so far, out of a sample size of about fifty infections, most but not all of which happened within the YOLOs. No reinfection happened sooner than around nine months. Covid’s only been around a year and change. There’s your reinfection boundary. What’s likely to happen going forward is the YOLOs don’t get vaccinated and the ZOMGs vaccine booster rate tails off lower than the current initial vaccination rate, and the country dips below that 55% (or whatever it is in reality) threshold, and Covid comes back in fits and starts basically forever. It will be fun and funny to watch the differences in how the red and blue states react to this permanent condition. Some may even call it an…
EXPERIMENT IN HUMAN SACRIFICE
When Georgia became the first state in the union to reopen, the blue media mounted the greatest dogpile in epidemiological media history, foretelling worse doom than the Black Plague, and literally accusing governor Brian Kemp of “experimenting in human sacrifice.” In the Atlantic no less. As HWFO readers already know, they were doing this because their entire business model is clickbait outrage porn, but Blue America totally believed them because that’s what America does, blue and red. Well, the experiment is done. Georgia opened first and came out about average.
(image from the IHME model)
Say this to a blue person in Georgia and they will reply “yes but Atlanta didn’t do what Kemp said and implemented their own regional controls.” That is an accurate statement. But the deaths per capita by Covid of the red and blue counties within Georgia are not too far off, outside some truly curious statistical outliers which probably have to do with the way the numbers are counted on military bases. “Yes but Atlanta is more dense, and has public transit, and such.” This is also true. If we wanted to find the best possible comp to compare the effects of diametrically opposite Covid management approaches, not only within Georgia but nationwide, we’d need to find two counties geographically adjacent with similar demographics, no rapid transit, within the same state mandate umbrella, which did things as opposite as possible, and then we could compare their numbers.
These counties exist. Cobb County and Cherokee County. I used to live in Cobb until October of 2020. Now I live in Cherokee. I know exactly what happened in both, because I watched it. Ignore the NYT, the truth is much more stark in every direction. This is what happened.
Cobb Under Covid
Mask use was 100% everywhere. You waited in line outside the barber shop to get in one at a time. Home Depot had a guy with a ticker checking store capacity and the line was in the parking lot. They cancelled school with only one week’s notice, throwing every parent into an insane bind with no time to prepare. Private schools immediately filled up to over-capacity. Day cares were running distance learning programs in pop up tents for parents who had to work. Two of the five school board members decided to make critical race theory training a requirement for all staff before the schools were allowed to reopen, and drug the county down into that shit show. I tried to put my seven-year-old daughter in a “learning pod” and the parents running it kicked her out because they decided she wasn’t washing her hands enough. Kicked her out. Pro tip: when liberal white women say the phrase “it takes a village,” what they really mean is “it takes a village unless there’s germs in which case fuck you.”
Even when the district did finally open, they mandated one distance learning day per week for all students, mandated masks, and reopened to a 15% net loss of enrollment from so many parents bailing on the shit show. Everyone was socially shaming everyone else if they ever left the house. Per the terminology above, Cobb was a unilaterally ZOMG controlled county, with some extra Blue tribe cultural race war thrown in for spice. It was and still is really, really nasty.
Cherokee under Covid
Cherokee is literally across the county line from Cobb. Very close. In October I moved forty-five minutes north. The Cherokee Kroger was 60% masks, Ace Hardware was 20% masks, Tractor Supply Company was 5% masks, and Waffle House was packed. No Covid shaming. Extreme red tribe signaling, including signs in yards berating the “Plandemic” and “Fake Virus” and such. I’m not saying I buy these signs. I’m just saying, there were signs. The schools only closed twice. Once for several weeks because literally too many teachers had Covid and there weren’t enough subs. Second for a district wide vaccination day. Masks in school were optional for kids. My children loved it, and the number of Covid cases at their elementary school was near zero.
Cherokee’s opening was so derided nationally that it even had multiple New York Times pieces trashing it. A middling county in Podunk Georgia. But when you read the NYT pieces, they made a tremendously stupid math error that nobody would pick up on if their reason to read the “news” is to culture bash. Their pieces references cases in schools that reopened as if those cases wouldn’t have happened if the school was closed. I pulled the Cherokee Schools Covid numbers up every single week my children were in school there, and they never once exceeded the per capita rate of the overall county. Usually they were lower. I know this because I know how to use a calculator. Despite there being Covid cases in schools, the schools were comparatively safer than the rest of the county. And because we mentioned Critical Race theory (CRT) in Cobb up above, I’ll note that I received an email today stating that Cherokee has banned CRT and also the 1619 project from the school system. I state this to give the reader an idea how fundamentally different these two counties are. Cherokee was squarely YOLO.
But Covid hit them exactly the same.
The numbers are the same. Here they are.
Per capita infection rate about the same. Death per 100,000 rate about the same. Cherokee actually did better on deaths but honestly that probably has something to do with retirement home ratio. All the things that Cobb put itself through during Covid had no discernable impact. And these “basically the same” numbers land both Cobb and Cherokee in the “about average” category for the USA, and also “about average” for liberal globalist Western Europe.
“But the CDC said mask mandates worked!” you say. Well, sorta. According to CDC studies comparing “mask mandate” areas with “masks optional” areas, the difference in spread was 0.5% to 1.5%. Not a lot. And that difference may not have had anything to do with masks, because of how we as Americans used the masks. We all now know, as those of us paying attention have known since May of last year, that Covid is an airborne disease that is transmitted primarily by sharing stale air with a symptomatic carrier. 24 of 25 transmission cases for Covid were from symptomatic carriers, indoors, in enclosed environments. It spreads among family, friends, and inside apartment buildings and subways. But in the USA we wore them out and about, and then took them off when we got inside our homes. We took the masks off when they were most useful, and wore them proudly when they were the most stupid to wear. The masks were largely not a health and safety measure, they were a tribal totem to display to others how proud we were to be in the “compassion” tribe.
Which is exactly why everyone is still wearing them right now even though the CDC said we’re done with masking. Nobody wants to be mistaken for an evil uncaring individualist, or worse, a Republican.
This time I have none. Covid will be back, probably around February of 2022 plus or minus a few months, but it’s hard to say how badly. Some states will try to run lockdown stuff, but this time around the lockdowns will hurt a Blue president instead of a Red president so the more lockdown inclined states may not go as hard in the paint towards economic disaster as they did in 2020. Hell, they may not have even recovered from the last lockdowns by then. I don’t travel to California, but I hear it’s fucked. Red states in the next six months are going to ball out economically. Georgia is fully open and going nuts. Nashville on any given weeknight looks like Spring Break in Daytona. Daytona probably looks like … Daytona. People in the red southeast are even working at their jobs, instead of sitting at home on welfare refusing to rejoin the economy like I’m told is happening in Virginia by this nice lady tending the bar I’m sitting at right now. (KC Crabs and Cues, shout out, Kilmarnock VA represent yo) I have no idea how long it will take California to return to normal. I sort of hope they fail to do so before the Covid reinfection wave hits in 2022, just so my stock in popcorn and 3d glasses will go up. Maskers will become a permanent fixture of the environment, because wearing a mask is a very easy way to signal your moral superiority without having to actually do anything to help anyone. The billionaires will prevent the UN from re-banning gain of function research and something worse than Covid-19 will hit the air waves in a decade or less. And the world will continue to become more absurd.
Nobody will learn anything. The CDC has become a permanent allegory to “crying wolf.”
And Measles-19 (or whatever) is going to be lit, because it might be the actual wolf, while nobody is going to want to do this shit again.