From the New York Times news section:
The head of New York City’s public hospitals pushed to keep the city open in early March. Now the mayor has put him in charge of contact tracing, deepening a rift with the Health Department.
By William K. Rashbaum, J. David Goodman, Jeffery C. Mays and Joseph Goldstein
May 14, 2020
As Mayor Bill de Blasio was resisting calls in March to cancel large gatherings and slow the spread of the coronavirus in New York City, he found behind-the-scenes support from a trusted voice: the head of his public hospital system, Dr. Mitchell Katz.
There was “no proof that closures will help stop the spread,” Dr. Katz wrote in an email to the mayor’s closest aides. He believed that banning large events would hurt the economy and sow fear. “If it is not safe to go to a conference, why is it safe to go to the hospital or ride in the subway?” he wrote. And, he said, many New Yorkers were going to get infected anyway.
Of course, as we all know now, banning large events, like Broadway shows, did hurt the NYC economy; it wasn’t safe to go to a conference in NYC, nor was it safe to go to an NYC hospital or ride the NYC subway; and a lot of New Yorkers did get infected anyway.
It’s almost as if sometimes there aren’t any really awesome alternatives.
“We have to accept that unless a vaccine is rapidly developed, large numbers of people will get infected,” he wrote. “The good thing is greater than 99 percent will recover without harm.
We are hoping that almost 99% of infected New Yorkers will not die in the short run. Whether all of the survivors will “recover with no harm” is an extremely interesting question.
Once people recover they will have immunity. The immunity will protect the herd.”
Sure. Although for how long the herd will be protected appears to be a truly relevant question. 12 months? 18 months? 24 months?
Also, what exactly is “the herd” when it comes to New York City? After all, Times Square advertises itself as the Crossroads of the World.
For example, a couple of years ago I was being questioned by a doctor about a curious set of symptoms I had developed, which turned out to be fleeting. “Had I been abroad recently?” she asked.
“No. Not for a decade and a half.”
“Except … four nights ago I was in Times Square in NYC, so I was exposed to perhaps the world’s most random collection of foreigners.”
“Oh … bad.”
So, while NYC appears to be much closer to Herd Immunity than the rest of the United States, as suggested by its 20,000 or so deaths, it’s not clear what is New York City’s precise herd: the residents of NYC? The residents of the U.S.? The residents of the whole world?
How exactly is the economy of New York City, which is extremely dependent upon business travelers and tourists, supposed to recover if business travelers and tourists aren’t allowed in the interest of protecting NYC’s hard-earned herd immunity?
… In his March 10 email to top city officials, Dr. Katz made the case that keeping the city open was the best approach at the time.
“Canceling large gatherings gives people the wrong impression of this illness,” he wrote. “Many of the events are being canceled anyway, and fewer people are going out. However, it is very different when the government starts telling people to do this.”
If you look at U.S. movie theater box office receipts, almost half of the decline to zero happened before the mayor of Los Angeles ordered the movie theaters of Hollywood shut late on the evening of March 15, and the other half happened over the subsequent week. My guess is that without Mayor Garcetti’s action, national box office would have declined, say, 75% rather than 99.9%.
In other words, both consumer choice and government action were significant.
He wrote that Italy “is having a terrible problem that I do not believe we will have,”
Ehhh … NYC pretty much had Italy’s terrible problem.
and ended the message by arguing that shutting down events could create fear among some with mental health issues.
“If even a few people with serious mental illness become more isolated or fearful due to messaging, we could have more permanent harm than we currently have with Covid-19,” he wrote in the email, which was sent to three deputy mayors, top health officials and the budget director.
Ms. Goldstein said Dr. Katz stood by his concern over the harm caused by isolation to those with mental illness and by his comments on herd immunity….
Part of Dr. Katz’s reasoning in March for opposing closures, particularly of city schools, was that it would lead to health care workers not showing up to work — a concern shared by leaders of New York’s private hospitals. Kenneth E. Raske, the president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said large gatherings were a “corollary issue” to the question of closing schools. …
An official at the Health Department said Dr. Barbot’s remarks came after Police Department officials had shown up at a secure Health Department warehouse and tried to commandeer 500,000 N-95 masks that were earmarked for hospitals. Chief Monahan said in an interview that the city’s Office of Emergency Management had given the go-ahead to pick up 250,000 masks; when police showed up to the warehouse, they were told they were to receive only 50,000 masks.
It’s almost as if outsourcing 99% of America’s production of masks to the Chinese turned out not to be such a good idea.
On the other hand, thank God for globalism so that the Chinese could preserve American mask-ulinity by hoarding all the masks. Only effeminate men think Americans should manufacture enough masks ourselves to get America through a crisis. Trusting the Chinese to protect America’s national interest is macho. By commandeering all the masks in the global supply chain, the Chinese were doing our fragile manhood a huge favor.