Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What Do Lies Look Like in the Virginia Media

By David Burns

What do lies look like in the Virginia media? They swap case rates for death and hospitalization rates. Even though increasing case numbers is a wholly expected outcome of a policy to increase tests, case rates are being used to justify harsher lockdown measures. This same trick is being used across the United States.

Today the Virginia governor is expected to announce mandatory mask wearing in businesses. The justification for this, according to Jonathan Franklin at WUSA9, is that Virginia is still in the upswing of this pandemic, due to increased cases. Which again, is the result of a deliberate policy to increase testing.

In Virginia, death and hospitalization rates from Covid-19 are declining, see the attached screenshot from the Virginia Department of Health. The number of daily confirmed deaths in Virginia peaked on April 30th, at 40. There were less than 40 deaths due to Covid-19 last week total.

This is the same across the United States as the second screenshot shows. Deaths in the USA peaked even earlier at ~April 22nd and have been declining steadily.

Covid-19 deaths are actually clustered in very small regions of the country, of which Virginia is not one of them. As the third screenshot shows, 2/3rds of all Covid-19 deaths in America are in the red and yellow highlighted areas. The rest of America, including Virginia, has seen very little of this outbreak, which is on its way out.

Declining death rates are true nearly everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. Even in New York (see the 4th screenshot) and in Sweden (5th), where the virus is said to be overrunning the country. By the way, these declines are occurring in spite of a wide range of policies and severity of lockdowns. It's almost as if the response to the virus made very little difference.

Also, of note the virus still remains to be completely non-impacting to children in the transmission or acquisition. This is universally true in every country. Yes, even Sweden. (see the 6th screenshot on deaths in Sweden by age.)

An alternate view of reality could come from, say, the CDC, who recently revised the estimate of all ages iCFR for Covid-19 down to 0.26%, and posted an estimated 99.95% survival rate for symptomatic Americans ages 0-49.

This means that, according to the CDC, healthy Americans under 50 have virtually nothing to be concerned about. Take a moment to juxtapose this against the current level of fear among people under 50 in America. What do you think causes such a dichotomy? See the first paragraph above.

Or from a recent study showing that presymptomatic Covid19 carriers do not pass the disease:

"It is debatable whether asymptomatic COVID-19 virus carriers are contagious. We report here a case of the asymptomatic patient and present clinical characteristics of 455 contacts, which aims to study the infectivity of asymptomatic carriers."

It's not even clear that mask wearing would limit the spread of Covid-19 if it were still in the upswing. According to an often cited study that compared cloth mask use to surgical masks, cloth masks performed horribly and had no clear benefit at all: "Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection." - MacIntyre CR, Seale H, Dung TC, et al A cluster randomised trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers BMJ

We also don't appear to know much, if anything at all, about the science of social distancing. It appears to have been made famous in 2006 in a high school experiment that was championed by the Bush administration, and adopted by the CDC in 2007. But there doesn't appear to be any consideration in the original social distancing computer model about human immunity, complex social interactions, the effects of collapsing economies, the effects of social isolation, or even variable transmission rates among individuals. It even appears that the original model viewed everyone as contagious in an influenza pandemic, which we have learned is not at all the case with Covid-19.

Social distancing may end up going down as one of the craziest hysterias in human history, especially in light of the need for at least 24 feet of space to not be in range of a sneeze.

But it's truly bizarre to impose all of these measures by mandate after the peak. As Professor Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University recently stated:

“Remaining in a state of lockdown is extremely dangerous from the point of view of the vulnerability of the entire population to new pathogens. Effectively we used to live in a state approximating lockdown 100 years ago, and that was what created the conditions for the Spanish Flu to come in and kill 50m people.”

Furthermore, ending the lockdown is critical for the well being of our children. If we wish to talk about scientific consensus, there is a very clear one on the negative effects of stress on child development. Here is just one example of many:

"The biologcial effects of stress undermine[children's] ability to concentrate, remember things, and control and focus their own thinking."

Thompson, Ross A. “Stress and Child Development.” The Future of Children, vol. 24, no. 1, 2014, pp. 41–59. JSTOR,. Accessed 25 May 2020.

And yet the plan in Virginia remains to social distance children in masks, with teachers in masks and gloves, and pretend that learning will happen.

In closing, I fully expect that Governor Northam will take credit for the decline in Covid-19 deaths that started nearly a full month ago for a policy he implements today. I look forward to his response to the next pandemic that he made more likely. And as the science for social distancing, lockdowns, and mask wearing are all clearly evolving, I'd like to thank Northam and all those who are imposing these restrictions on society for forcing us to be participants in your science experiment. Even though such methods are usually considered unethical.

David Burns is a cyber security engineer living in Virginia Beach. He can be reached at


  1. I have relatives who live near Durham, North Carolina and have I driven there from Detroit at least 25 times in the last 36 years. To do that, you need to get over from the I-75 Michigan corridor to Florida to the I-77 corridor which is how Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo drive to Florida. In Wythe County, Virginia, I-77 shares the road with I-81 which starts in northeast Pennsylvania and takes you to Knoxville, Tennessee. That shared corridor is chock full of motels and fast food joints. Everyone going in whichever direction is going to tend to stop there. According to the NYT today, Wythe County, VA. Has 21 “cases” and one death. From what I can tell, Virginia didn’t issue a “stay at home” order until March 30.


    Wythe County's location, at the confluence of I-81 and I-77 which is, incidentally, a wrong-way concurrency, has led to its growth for industry and tourism. Recently Gatorade and Pepsi manufacturing facilities have located here, primarily due to the ease of access and central location along the Eastern seaboard. There are a variety of travel-related businesses including several hundred hotel rooms, several truck stops, and restaurants located in the county.,_Virginia

    I’ve also driven to Florida from Michigan at least 40 times. THE PLACE to stop after entering Florida is Lake City in Columbia County, also chock full of motels and fast food joints. It’s where I-75 crosses I-10.

    Columbia County, Florida has had 132 "cases", 2 deaths.

  2. As a follow up to this post, I'd like to point out that a systematic review of the science behind social distancing makes the case for it even weaker than I possibly could have imagined. I will try to submit a full report on that to RW by the end of the week.

    David Burns

    1. Thanks, that was a good no fluff run down.

      Just in case you haven't seen this study on social distancing:

      Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses

      “There was limited evidence that social distancing was effective, especially if related to the risk of exposure.”