I repeat what I said in this post: Our leaders are toilet mold.
But if we’re being honest, we’ll admit that we get the leadership we deserve. These stories about Cuomo and Gavin Newsom and now Denver Mayor Michael Hancock are fun in exposing the hypocrisy of our loathsome governing class, but no one’s pretending that Americans would have followed the rules if only these turds had too, are they?
Just as a serious people wouldn’t elect Andrew Cuomo to run a pet store, let alone a state, a serious people wouldn’t have tens of millions citizens traveling at a moment when the pandemic in the United States is the worst it’s ever been. A former White House doctor described Thanksgiving 2020 as “potentially the mother of all superspreader events” given the prevalence of cases right now, the close contact involved in air travel, and the extended gatherings around the dinner table to come. Two weeks from now, the only news story in America will be hospitals and governments trying to cope with the crush of new infections and ultimately deaths seeded by the holiday.
And then, because we’re not a serious people, many millions of us will decide to travel for Christmas gatherings too. Despite the fact that, because of the vaccine, we’re just a few months away from turning the tide against COVID.
So yeah, Michael Hancock: A bad leader but a very typical American.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock boarded a flight to Houston ahead of Thanksgiving despite his warnings that people should stay close to home and only spend the holiday with their own household if they can.
His spokeswoman confirmed that Hancock was traveling to Houston Wednesday to visit his daughter in Mississippi, and that his wife is already there.
About 30 minutes before the flight, Hancock’s account tweeted out to “avoid travel, if you can” in order to slow the spread of COVID-19…
In an email to city staff on Nov. 18, Hancock wrote, “as the holidays approach, we all long to be with our families with person, but with the continued rise in cases, I’m urging you to refrain from travel this Thanksgiving holiday. For my family that means cancelling our traditional gathering of our extended family.”
Here’s his tweet. We can debate, I guess, whether it’s better to be a hypocrite by urging others not to travel while doing so yourself or to embrace the irresponsibility and encourage everyone to travel while doing so yourself, but that’d be a depressing debate.
Here’s where things stood last night, two days before Americans hold a national pox party for COVID:
Our daily update is published. States reported 1.8 million tests, 167k cases, and 2,028 deaths. 88k people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, reaching a new all-time high for the 15th consecutive day. pic.twitter.com/1ZqB5A0W7L
— The COVID Tracking Project (@COVID19Tracking) November 25, 2020
Hospitals are already dealing with an unprecedented load of patients and taking unprecedented steps to try to accommodate them all. In two weeks it’ll be much, much worse. Deaths yesterday were north of 2,000 for the first time since May 7 and actually outpaced the gloomy projection made recently by Seattle scientist Trevor Bedford. Bedford looked at case counts in mid-November and estimated that we’d reach 2,000 deaths per day again by December 2. We arrived a week ahead of schedule. What daily deaths will be a month from now, after Thanksgiving has poured gasoline on the bonfire, God only knows.
I think sheer terror at what the post-Thanksgiving pandemic will look like is driving seemingly nonsensical decisions like this:
In-person outdoor dining prohibited by one of the few large counties in the country where it is pleasant to be outdoors all year round. This ongoing science experiment on 10 million humans seems very unlikely to end well. https://t.co/cALpwdJZV2
— Matt Welch (@MattWelch) November 25, 2020
Welch is right that closing down *outdoor* dining is an absurd overreaction but LA officials may be reasoning that they need to do everything they can short of a full lockdown to try to limit infections considering how bad things are about to get. Restaurants are a major vector of transmission (at least the indoor areas are) so they’re clamping down even on the outdoor areas. Is that sound public policy? No. Is it understandable that they’re panicked right now? Yeah, unfortunately.
The Times has a color-coded map today of every county in America based on how many people say they plan to have Thanksgiving dinner with someone outside their household. At least 10 percent say so virtually everywhere; in some counties, more than 50 percent do. Have a look at the state-by-state breakdown, which you can interpret in two ways. One: There isn’t a ton of difference between red states and blue states, with most in the 20-35 percent band. Two: There *is* a difference, obviously, in which states are more likely to throw caution to the wind.
One of the mysteries of the pandemic lately is how, exactly, people are getting infected. A theory emerged a few weeks ago that infections were happening at small private gatherings, not large public ones like bars. Children’s sleepovers, dinner with friends — those were the seeds of the winter wave, supposedly. That led to bizarre rules in some states a la L.A. closing down outdoor dining in which people were still allowed to dine at restaurants indoors but couldn’t have friends over to dinner at their homes. Experts have warned more recently that the data to support the “private gathering” theory is thin, which may sound like good news in light of the many small-ish private gatherings that’ll be happening tomorrow night. But it isn’t really: The reason doctors aren’t sure where people are getting infected anymore is that there are so many people out and about who are carrying the virus that one could pick it up virtually anywhere while interacting with others. Literally anywhere that Americans are gathered is a potential hot spot. That’s the epidemiological posture for Thanksgiving.
The mystery of why the midwest and the plains states have been hit harder than others is less of a mystery, though. The WSJ analyzed mobility data and found that in rural areas Americans are now leaving home as often as they did before COVID began. They’re back to their pre-pandemic normal even as the country is mired in the worst stretch of the entire ordeal. Result: “Infection rates for the week ended Nov. 14 were about 60% higher in rural areas than in urban counties, according to the figures from Johns Hopkins and federal government data identifying county types.” A decent-sized percentage of the entire U.S. population will be leaving home tomorrow, assuming it hasn’t done so already over the last few days. We’ll pay for that in December and January, before vaccinations really get rolling.