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Over the past two weeks, retail shops were allowed to open in England and in Wales.

Shops in Wales opened a week later than in England’s because of the devolved government. Scotland and Northern Ireland are also operating their own reopening timetables for the same reason.

England

The government encouraged shops to remove as much risk from COVID-19 as possible. Certificates are available for shops that do so.

On Monday, June 15, a number of retail shops reopened.

Primark was the biggest draw.

These were the scenes in Birmingham:

It was the same in Liverpool …

… and Bristol …

… and Hull:

These are Primark’s in-store guidelines:

If you need a laugh, this is a great video about Primark’s guidelines:

Oxford Street in London was the same. There is obviously something about Primark, as can be seen from this photo of Berlin:

Here’s a shop in Oxford Circus. Also note that some secondary schools reopened and that face masks became compulsory on public transport in England:

Oxford Street was busy in places:

These were Selfridge’s first shoppers on that beautiful Monday morning:

More waited in the queue outside:

For some, social distancing was so last month:

Grandparents still cannot hug their grandchildren, but there was a workaround for that. I believe this was outside the Nike Store:

Apparently, not everyone was happy with non-essential retail shops opening for the first time since March:

How true:

Mandatory face masks on public transport have been causing concern for some:

Transport for London trusts passengers who say they cannot wear face coverings:

Public transport was a mixed bag with regard to masks:

Things were more relaxed in Bristol:

I had to wear a mask indoors today for a while. I walked home in it just to see what would happen. While the mask was comfortable, I was getting short of breath after my five-minute walk home. Was it hypoxia? I would not recommend walking the streets with a mask for that reason:

We have more reopenings to look forward to on Saturday, July 4, which will be an Independence Day of sorts for us, too.

Wales

Shops in Wales reopened on Monday, June 22.

Everything was much quieter there.

Wales Online reported that shops had made a lot of adjustments.

Cardiff has redesignated thoroughfares in the main shopping area:

Some shops did not reopen until Friday, June 26. Here’s Primark in Cardiff:

Schools in Wales can reopen next week, with social distancing measures in place:

We had a splendid week of warm and sunny weather. Unfortunately, it brought out the worst in some people:

Even the First Minister Mark Drakeford remarked on unauthorised mass gatherings and the lack of social distancing:

In brighter news, an online #IAmOpen campaign kicked off today:

Just another step forward to normality:

More reopening updates will follow in the weeks ahead.

What on earth is going on?

Until the deplorable death of George Floyd, most of us were told we must social distance because of coronavirus.

Now a few Western countries have been breaking that rule to protest by the thousands as well as set fires and loot.

The media have their role to play in this, too.

From former reporter Adam Housley and his Twitter followers:

Incredibly, some — not all — nurses are the common point in the Venn diagram of coronavirus and protests. Don’t they have patients?

On the other end of the spectrum, we have General Mattis calling President Trump divisive because he wants to stop Washington DC from becoming an ashtray:

Remember the early days of the Trump administration? The Left didn’t like Mattis. Now he’s their best friend:

And what about the average guys and gals who aren’t doing triage or serving in the military?

They’re being told by their notional betters that they are wrong to want to hug their grandchildren, attend a funeral or go to church. Such people are called ‘Grandma Killers’.

Protesting, rioting, setting streets alight and looting during a pandemic are perfectly acceptable alternatives to these people. Here’s a great thread from journalist Drew Holden with a gimlet eye on his peers:

Drew Holden then brings in a few Dem governors before returning to journalists and political activists:

These are two of the replies he received. I fully agree with the sentiments:

Ian Miles Cheong, the managing editor of Human Events, is always worth a read.

Here’s footage of ‘peaceful’ demonstrators in Seattle:

He came to this conclusion:

However, people are afraid to not support the protests, possibly like the aforementioned nurses.

Mollie Hemingway from The Federalist highlighted this poll from Emerson:

Tucker Carlson tells us not to surrender to the mob. True.

On the other hand, we need to be aware that some looters and vandals are being released from police custody:

Incredible.

Equally incredible is that churches cathedrals were vandalised across the nation. Some cathedrals now require extensive repair, as the Catholic News Agency reported on Monday, June 1 (emphases mine):

Catholic churches and cathedrals in several cities were among the buildings damaged in the protests and riots that occurred nationwide over the past week.

Church buildings in California, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky, Texas, and Colorado were attacked. Many of the defaced or damaged churches were cathedrals. The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver sustained permanent damage.

Vandals repeatedly struck the Denver cathedral on multiple nights of the protests and riots over the weekend. The church building and rectory were spray painted with the slogans “Pedofiles” [sic], “God is dead,” “There is no God,” along with other anti-police, anarchist, and anti-religion phrases and symbols.

Gates surrounding the cathedral were damaged, and tear gas that was fired to disperse the protests leaked into the rectory. The doors to the cathedral are believed to have been permanently damaged by the vandalism and will reportedly need to be replaced.

Three bags of rocks were collected from the parking lot, but the cathedral’s most valuable windows were unharmed. Other windows on the cathedral’s campus were shattered.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was tagged with various graffiti, including profanities, “No justice, no peace,” “BLM” (Black Lives Matter) “NYPDK.” The name of George Floyd was also written on the stairs outside the cathedral …

Sickening.

One of the strangest journalistic twists was the invitation from the New York Times to Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) to write an editorial about the riots. He nails it:

Yes, they did apologise for it, in a way:

Ultimately:

The Federalist‘s Sean Davis had a go at their reporters. The responses are good, too:

In 2019, only 10 blacks died at the hands of the police. The United States has approximately 325 million people. Meanwhile, 48 police officers were fatally wounded, according to FBI data.

In 2015, under Obama’s presidency, the number of blacks dying at the hands of the police was three times higher.

Tucker Carlson has the details of the ten deaths in the video below. The details of the cases come from the Washington Post. In only two of the cases, an officer was criminally charged. In the other cases, the suspects had attacked or assaulted police officers in various ways, including firing a taser and driving at full speed after them.

In 2018, over 7,000 blacks in America were murdered — no police involvement. So, that’s one police murder for every 700 committed by civilians, often people they knew.

I would encourage everyone — especially those living outside of the United States — to watch Tucker run through the statistics and share them with their friends and family:

Bottom line: factually, there’s no need to riot.

As a final thought, here are two great videos from a Trump supporter, who says it’s time for Americans to put away their divisions and, together, embrace patriotism. Language warning, but well worth watching:

Yet, despite all this — coronavirus and riots — maybe America is poised for a swift economic recovery this year:

As the president is so fond of saying: ‘The best is yet to come’.

I certainly hope so, for America’s — and Donald Trump’s — sake.

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, one name has popped up several times, that of Prof Michael Levitt, biophysicist and professor of structural biology at Stanford University in California.

In 2013, Prof Levitt was a joint winner of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Martin Karplus and Arieh Warshel, for ‘the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems’.

Levitt, 73, was born in Pretoria, South Africa, and is currently a citizen of the United Kingdom, Israel and the United States.

He holds degrees from King’s College London and the University of Cambridge.

He has had a stellar career, receiving several distinguished scientific awards and scientific advisory board appointments in addition to his university professorships over the years.

He has had much to say about coronavirus.

On Monday, March 23, 2020, he gave an interview to the Los Angeles Times, with a prediction: ‘Coronavirus outbreak may be over sooner than you think’.

The LAT said that he had been adopting a measured approach throughout the pandemic since January, refuting the wild and inaccurate overestimates from the likes of Prof Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London (emphases mine):

Michael Levitt, a Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist, began analyzing the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide in January and correctly calculated that China would get through the worst of its coronavirus outbreak long before many health experts had predicted.

Now he foresees a similar outcome in the United States and the rest of the world.

While many epidemiologists are warning of months, or even years, of massive social disruption and millions of deaths, Levitt says the data simply don’t support such a dire scenario — especially in areas where reasonable social distancing measures are in place.

“What we need is to control the panic,” he said. In the grand scheme, “we’re going to be fine.”

This is what he discovered about China’s experience of the pandemic:

On Jan. 31, the country had 46 new deaths due to the novel coronavirus, compared with 42 new deaths the day before.

Although the number of daily deaths had increased, the rate of that increase had begun to ease off. In his view, the fact that new cases were being identified at a slower rate was more telling than the number of new cases itself. It was an early sign that the trajectory of the outbreak had shifted.

Think of the outbreak as a car racing down an open highway, he said. Although the car is still gaining speed, it’s not accelerating as rapidly as before.

“This suggests that the rate of increase in the number of deaths will slow down even more over the next week,” Levitt wrote in a report he sent to friends Feb. 1 that was widely shared on Chinese social media. And soon, he predicted, the number of deaths would be decreasing every day.

Three weeks later, Levitt told the China Daily News that the virus’ rate of growth had peaked. He predicted that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in China would end up around 80,000, with about 3,250 deaths.

This forecast turned out to be remarkably accurate: As of March 16, China had counted a total of 80,298 cases and 3,245 deaths — in a nation of nearly 1.4 billion people where roughly 10 million die every year. The number of newly diagnosed patients has dropped to around 25 a day, with no cases of community spread reported since Wednesday.

At that point, he moved on from China:

He analyzed data from 78 countries that reported more than 50 new cases of COVID-19 every day and sees “signs of recovery” in many of them. He’s not focusing on the total number of cases in a country, but on the number of new cases identified every day — and, especially, on the change in that number from one day to the next.

“Numbers are still noisy, but there are clear signs of slowed growth.”

On Tuesday, March 24, The Independent picked up on the article and had found another interview he had done for an Israeli financial newsletter on coronavirus modelling, in which he stated that he disagreed with the exponential growth formulae used in predictions, e.g. Ferguson’s, although he mentioned no names:

In an interview with Calcalist, an Israeli financial newsletter, Mr Levitt explained why he didn’t agree with models of exponential growth that many organisations were using as the basis of their predictions.

“In exponential growth models, you assume that new people can be infected every day, because you keep meeting new people. But, if you consider your own social circle, you basically meet the same people every day,” he said. “You can meet new people on public transportation, for example; but even on the bus, after sometime most passengers will either be infected or immune.”

He also thought that social distancing was a good idea:

Mr Levitt said that social distancing measures have been helpful in reducing the virus’ ability to spread rapidly.

At this point, he was studying Italy’s coronavirus numbers:

He suggested that the higher percentage of elderly people in Italy paired with the country’s vibrant social culture resulted in the explosion of cases in that country.

“Furthermore, Italian culture is very warm and Italians have a very rich social life. For these reasons, it is important to keep people apart and prevent sick people from coming into contact with healthy people,” he said.

He was rightly concerned with overloading health systems, including that of the United States:

“Currently, I am most worried about the US. It must isolate as many people as possible to buy time for preparations. Otherwise, it can end up in a situation where 20,000 infected people will descend on the nearest hospital at the same time and the healthcare system will collapse,” he said.

However, while he recommended a brief lockdown as a stop-gap measure to flatten the sombrero, as it were, he also believed that the nations’ populations were developing a natural, or herd, immunity to coronavirus:

Mr Levitt said that while isolating was an important step to fighting viral spread, he also believes a certain segment of the population may be naturally immune to the disease.

“We know China was under almost complete quarantine, people only left home to do crucial shopping and avoided contact with others. In Wuhan, which had the highest number of infection cases in the Hubei province, everyone had a chance of getting infected, but only 3 percent caught it,” he said. “Even on the Diamond Princess [the quarantined cruise ship] the infection rate did not top 20 percent.”

He said those numbers suggest that some people simply are immune or especially resistant to the virus.

It’s quite possible that some of us can build up immunity to COVID-19, because the common cold is a type of coronavirus. I’m not equating the two by any means, just highlighting that the principle could well be the same. We might not need an expensive drug — or a vaccine with who knows what in it.

On May 2, Prof Levitt gave an interview to Britain’s online magazine UnHerd, which is an excellent site. Freddie Sayers, the site’s executive editor, conducted the interview, which is just under 35 minutes long, available below and at the accompanying article:

The aforementioned article explains Levitt’s nuanced view of coronavirus. Lockdowns should be only short-term, or focussed on vulnerable groups, such as the elderly. Social distancing is important, but, even then, after a while people will ignore it. Therefore, some prior immunity or asymptomatic cases must factor in somewhere. Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College numbers are misguided, because this is not about exponential growth.

An excerpt from the article follows:

His observation is a simple one: that in outbreak after outbreak of this disease, a similar mathematical pattern is observable regardless of government interventions. After around a two week exponential growth of cases (and, subsequently, deaths) some kind of break kicks in, and growth starts slowing down. The curve quickly becomes “sub-exponential”.

This may seem like a technical distinction, but its implications are profound. The ‘unmitigated’ scenarios modelled by (among others) Imperial College, and which tilted governments across the world into drastic action, relied on a presumption of continued exponential growth — that with a consistent R number of significantly above 1 and a consistent death rate, very quickly the majority of the population would be infected and huge numbers of deaths would be recorded. But Professor Levitt’s point is that that hasn’t actually happened anywhere, even in countries that have been relatively lax in their responses.

He takes specific issue with the Neil Ferguson paper. “In a footnote to a table it said, assuming exponential growth of 15% for six days. Now I had looked at China and had never seen exponential growth that wasn’t decaying rapidly.”

The explanation for this flattening that we are used to is that social distancing and lockdowns have slowed the curve, but he is unconvinced. As he put it to me, in the subsequent examples to China of South Korea, Iran and Italy, “the beginning of the epidemics showed a slowing down and it was very hard for me to believe that those three countries could practise social distancing as well as China.” He believes that both some degree of prior immunity and large numbers of asymptomatic cases are important factors.

He also observes that the total number of deaths we are seeing, in places as diverse as New York City, parts of England, parts of France and Northern Italy, all seem to level out at a very similar fraction of the total population. “Are they all practising equally good social distancing? I don’t think so.” He disagrees with Sir David Spiegelhalter’s calculations that the totem is around one additional year of excess deaths, while (by adjusting to match the effects seen on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship) he calculates that it is more like one month of excess death that is need before the virus peters out.

More generally, he complains that epidemiologists only seem to be called wrong if they underestimate deaths, and so there is an intrinsic bias towards caution. “They see their role as scaring people into doing something, and I understand that… but in my work, if I say a number is too small and I’m wrong, or too big and I’m wrong, both of those errors are the same.

He believes the much-discussed R0 is a faulty number, as it is meaningless without the time infectious alongside.

On May 23, the Telegraph had an article about Levitt: ‘Lockdown saved no lives and may have cost them, Nobel Prize winner believes’.

Levitt had been in touch with Ferguson to tell him his numbers were (once again, as the British know) woefully out of whack:

Michael Levitt, a Stanford University professor who correctly predicted the initial trajectory of the pandemic, sent messages to Professor Neil Ferguson in March telling the influential government advisor he had over-estimated the potential death toll by “10 or 12 times”.

The Imperial College professor’s modelling, a major factor in the Government’s apparent abandoning of a so-called herd-immunity policy, was part of an unnecessary “panic virus” which spread among global political leaders, Prof Levitt now tells the Telegraph.

Levitt told the Telegraph that he was no fan of a prolonged lockdown:

“I think lockdown saved no lives,” said the scientist, who added that the Government should have encouraged Britons to wear masks and adhere to other forms of social distancing.

“I think it may have cost lives. It will have saved a few road accident lives – things like that – but social damage – domestic abuse, divorces, alcoholism – has been extreme. And then you have those who were not treated for other conditions.”

Levitt nails it with his next observation. Politicians were terrified at the prospect of a high death toll if they did not implement lockdown:

“I think that the real virus was the panic virus,” Prof Levitt told the Telegraph. “For reasons that were not clear to me, I think the leaders panicked and the people panicked and I think there was a huge lack of discussion.”

Levitt believes that COVID-19 has a natural life cycle. Lockdown did little. The virus burned out by itself:

“In Europe, I don’t think that anything actually stopped the virus other than some kind of burnout,” he added. “There’s a huge number of people who are asymptomatic so I would seriously imagine that by the time lockdown was finally introduced in the UK the virus was already widely spread. They could have just stayed open like Sweden by that stage and nothing would have happened.”

Also:

“There is no doubt that you can stop an epidemic with lockdown but it’s a very blunt and very medieval weapon and the epidemic could have been stopped just as effectively with other sensible measures (such as masks and other forms of social distancing),” he added.

Levitt thinks that the UK will have total deaths around 50,000, which looks quite possible. He’s also drawn the ire of epidemiologists, yet his forecasts have been far more accurate than theirs:

“It turns out numbers are played out very consistently when you look at all the places that have been badly hit, particularly in Europe. The token number of deaths before things stop is about one month of natural deaths, which is something like one in a thousand.”

Based on his estimates, Britain was due to suffer around 50,000 deaths in total. “A lot of things went wrong but I think the main thing is that we just needed to think and discuss things a little bit,” he added. I was told on numerous occasions ‘you are not an epidemiologist, shut up’. I don’t really care. I was just looking at the numbers. I was looking at the cruise ship, looking at Wuhan. The same number held for these places.”

A few days before the Telegraph interview took place, an article comparing Levitt’s spot-on numbers with Prof Neil Ferguson’s off-piste ones appeared in The Critic: ‘We’re all in the big numbers now’.

As its author, Alistair Haimes, says, we are now in a place to begin studying UK coronavirus deaths and statistical curves.

This is how wrong, to be polite, Ferguson’s Imperial College numbers were:

Imperial College haven’t had a good war, and after their performance in other recent epidemics perhaps they will now pass their mantle onto another team.  Preferably one that can code to levels fit for publication, never mind policy: it is increasingly awkward to hear the Prime Minister quoting their forecast that, were it not for lockdown, the UK could have been looking at half a million deaths when, at the tail-end of the epidemic, there are only 320,000 deaths worldwide.

By contrast, we have Dr Levitt’s accurate predictions, but no one wanted to know because Levitt is not an epidemiologist!

In mid-March, Stanford’s Nobel laureate Michael Levitt (biophysicist and professor of structural biology) discussed the “natural experiment” of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a virtually perfect sealed petri-dish disproportionately filled with the most susceptible age and health groups. Even here, despite the virus spreading uncontrolled onboard for at least two weeks, infection only reached 20% of passengers and crew (an “upper bound” to infection levels?); Levitt concluded that we must have high levels of innate immunity that can clear the virus. And using very simple mathematics (not “15,000 lines of uncommented code” like Neil Ferguson) he demonstrated that the virus’s spread had never been exponential but rather has been running out of steam from day one. Who listened?

The end result is a death toll that is no worse than a bad influenza year:

If we simply move covid-19 deaths from spring to winter, the death-toll and the extent of the epidemic is put in the context of recent bad (but not dramatic) influenza years.

We have had bad flu years in the UK, and within the past two decades, but we didn’t get hysterical about them:

Remember the killer flu of 2000, and the lockdown after the Millenium super-spreader events? Me neither. Covid-19 might not be “just flu”, but that’s because there’s no “just” about flu.

According to the article, Sweden’s no lockdown strategy was that of Britain’s SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) member and our Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance:

In Sweden, Professors Giesecke and Tegnell have managed the epidemic within Sweden’s healthcare capacity without suspending civil liberties or shutting down schools or society (Sir Patrick Vallance’s “Plan A”), with no greater death-toll than our own. The Free Swedes pointed out all along that lockdown would be much easier to get into than out of: no kidding, we’re in an eel-trap.

We have no idea if the UK government looked at models that contradicted Ferguson’s. Oxford University has more realistic models, but we paid attention to Ferguson’s numbers from Imperial College. They have never been right for other pandemics, so why would he have been right about this one?

One thing the article omits is the media narrative that drove us to lockdown. Britain was going along with the Swedish model of social distancing, but the 24/7 news channels — BBC and Sky — ramped up Project Fear by asking why we didn’t have a lockdown, too.

No doubt advisers put pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, too, because everyone in that stratum of society, Boris included, will watch some BBC news every day. He probably already knew the narrative.

Hence, lockdown on the evening of Monday, March 23.

SAGE minutes actually state that the British public was so scared that they would comply:

SAGE minutes make it clear that the public was explicitly petrified in order to ensure compliance with lockdown.

Lockdown was a YUGE mistake socially and economically.

We are due to go through the worst economic disaster since the early 18th century. Years differ: 1704, 1706, 1708. Take your pick.

Questions must also be asked of Neil Ferguson. He ruined the farming industry with his past predictions. Now he’s ruined not only the British economy, but, perhaps, others where leaders looked at his unrealistic extrapolations. (The United States comes to mind.)

One could be forgiven for thinking that Ferguson has an agenda of some sort. It certainly looks that way.

Boris, his government ministers and his advisers now have to get us out of this mess, sooner rather than later.

Boris’s ‘baby steps’ won’t cut it.

The following British coronavirus version of Rudyard Kipling’s If– (original full text here) with regard to coronavirus brought a smile. I hope it does the same for you.

It’s a comment that Steven Brook left on a Spiked column by Brendan O’Neill: ‘What Neil Ferguson’s booty call tells us about modern politics’.

I’ve added a few grammatical edits to this witty take on the virus:

If – by Mr Kipling

If you can lose your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you for not panicking sooner.
If you can hide your doubt, judgement and perspective and put your faith in experts like Piers Morgan
If you make no allowance for other considerations, the economy or unintended consequences.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting for a vaccine that is unlikely to turn up.
Or meekly accept being lied about, because the mainstream media don’t deal in facts any more.
Or being hated, don’t even think of cutting the public funding to the hatemongers.
And yet don’t look too normal, nor talk too wise, just put your critical faculties on one side and show you care …

If you can dream of a multicultural paradise but ignore the reality of a fragmented rudderless society
If you can think, then, for God’s sake, hide those thoughts, or you will look cold and heartless.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, having beaten the virus but wrecked the economy.
And treat those two impostors just the same; who needs a healthy economy anyway?
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by the BBC to make a trap for fools, but you’re too scared to deal with that nest of vipers.
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, the family, freedom of speech, education.
And stoop and failed to build ’em up because you imported third rate tools from China:

If you can make one heap of all our national wealth
And risk it on Prof Ferguson’s model which forecast that 121% of the British population would be dead by Easter.
And lose, because Imperial College has a long history of getting things completely wrong and start again at the beginnings.
And never breathe a word about our loss because no one takes responsibility for previous panics (and, for goodness sake, don’t publish the grooming report).
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew not to strangle Robert Peston even though he richly deserves it.
To keep having press conferences long after they have become utterly pointless.
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘You do realise that Common Purpose runs the UK?’

If you can talk with the public while selling out your nation to the globalists
Or walk with the Davos crowd — but still pretend to have the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you because you burnt the photos of you with the lady boy.
If all men count with you, but George Soros particularly;
If you can fill the unforgiving news cycle
With sixty seconds’ worth of calm reassurance,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, which, sadly, is a lot less than it used to be.
And—which is more—you’ll be a modern politician, old chum.

It nicely sums up the past two (and a bit) months here in England.

On April 23, 2020, France’s president Emmanuel Macron announced that the nation would begin to reopen on Monday, May 11, after battling coronavirus.

COVID-19 is still around, but parts of the economy — and some schools — must restart.

Health minister Olivier Véran estimates that the R number in France is 0.6.

This is only a partial reopening of 400,000 businesses, including hairdressers. A reporter explained that they have been ‘working for weeks’ on rearranging their shops for correct social distancing and hygiene. A few hairdressers opened at midnight:

In Paris, road traffic was down and the streets were still largely empty early Monday morning:

In Nice, employees at a delicatessen applauded the reopening of their establishment at 11 a.m. that day:

Cafés, restaurants and many shops remain closed.

Interestingly, 70% of the French who have been working at home wish to continue doing so, even after total lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

As is true in other European countries, social distancing and other rules are still in place.

Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner said he hoped that the French would be able to meet the challenge with intelligence and common sense. President Macron called on people to exercise personal responsibility towards others.

Below are a selection of tweets from news channel BFMTV.

On Thursday, May 7, BFMTV’s top editorialist, Christophe Barbier, who always wears his red scarf, gave his thoughts on the matter. He is known for being anti-gilet jaune (yellow jacket) and against the everyday Frenchman. He said it was vital that the construction and manufacturing ramp up activity, but wondered if the average Frenchman would meet the challenge or be fearful. It is no wonder then that someone replied with, ‘This guy frightens me more than lockdown! He really is a crazed madman!’ Other comments noted his relentless condescension towards the average man and woman:

Early Monday morning, Christophe Barbier pointed out that the French parliament did not renew the state of emergency, which the nation’s constitutional council said they would address later that day. Someone in the replies complained about France’s open borders — ‘real sieves’ — during the coronavirus crisis:

Not every political leader was impressed with President Macron’s déconfinement (release from lockdown). Jean-Luc Mélenchon of La France Insoumise (Unbowed France) was one of them. A Twitter user said it was time for him to start yet another protest movement.

Sunday should have been a ‘school night’, with those going back to work in bed early. Unfortunately, parts of France were under an amber warning for rain. Two départements in the south west had red alerts, with the worst rain they had seen in decades. So, a number of people spent the night bailing water out of their homes:

Also on Sunday, eight new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed just outside of Paris, in Clamart. The men, said to be living in ‘young workers’ accommodation’ (code for immigrant worker housing?) told health professionals they’d had no symptoms.

Meanwhile, that evening, in the heart of the French capital, a video display at the Eiffel tower thanked first responders who worked throughout the darkest days of the coronavirus crisis:

In Paris, public transport was of primary concern for those returning to work. On Sunday, the transport minister, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, went through the various preparations made for travel, among them, mandatory masks for all passengers and transport workers:

Masks were handed out at station entrances early in the week. On Wednesday, May 13, fines may be imposed in greater Paris for anyone travelling without one:

In some parts of the country, such as Hauts-de-France, coupons are necessary for travel on certain rail lines, particularly the TER. The coupons — a type of reservation, in addition to a ticket for travel — are for specific scheduled trains. No coupon, no travel. This is to ensure that there is adequate space for all travellers:

On buses and trains in Île de France — greater Paris — roundels (macarons) were placed on the floors of stations and on seats to help maintain social distancing. Unfortunately, one Métro train driver said that some passengers were ripping off the roundels from the seats. He said that one cannot impose too many rules on Parisians:

On Monday, one bus driver told RMC (BFMTV’s sister talk radio station) that people were sitting on seats with roundels on them. He said there was nothing he could do about it.

Nonetheless, the transport secretary said mid-morning on Monday, that safe travel was going according to plan. True, at that point, 95% of those taking Paris transport were wearing masks. Yet, at 6:30 a.m. that day, some Paris Métro lines were quite full, with no social distancing:

The company in charge of keeping transport vehicles clean said that ‘continuous’ disinfection would be ongoing.

Across the country in Lyon, a rather ingenious hand sanitising machine is being used on that city’s Métro:

As far as air travel is concerned, the transport secretary announced that there would be no social distancing on planes, so that ticket prices would not increase dramatically.

With regard to schools, staff across the country have been rearranging the classroom for staggered schedules and limited numbers of students:

Parents are not obliged to send their children back to classrooms at this time. A number of parents are concerned that children might bring the virus back, even though schools have put disinfecting and social distancing procedures in place, including in canteens. Teachers are also worried. Children might not get COVID-19 very often, but they can still carry it and bring it home. Children will have to think of creative ways of playing, as social distancing is also required on playgrounds.

Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, who has called on secondary school students to begin revising for the Baccalaureat exam in French language, showed the correct procedures for students returning to school. They begin with everyone washing his/her hands:

France is under a coronavirus traffic light system now, with départements labelled as green (relatively safe), amber (less safe) and red (restrictions apply). One mustn’t travel from a red zone to a green or an amber zone, for example. By and large, however, even those living in red zones still have the ability to shop, travel 100 km within their zone and get one’s hair cut:

One of the regions hardest hit is the northeastern part of France, the Grand-Est, where the regional president, Jean Rottner (LR [Conservative]) says that masks must become the norm when leaving the house. However, further south, in Nice, a case might be taken to the European Court of Human Rights protesting the mandatory wearing of masks outdoors in the city. Neighbouring Cannes and other cities along the Cote d’Azur also have obligatory mask policies.

In hospitals, health and hygiene policies are also evolving. One hospital in the north east of France has a fever detector. Hmm:

In closing, readers might be wondering if the French can meet up at someone’s home for drinks and nibbles, the increasingly popular apéro. Unfortunately, gatherings of a maximum of ten must be held outdoors, with social distancing in place. That’s going to require a fairly large garden, so it’s out of the question for most. Guests must wash their hands upon entering their hosts’ house. Everyone must receive an individual plate of nibbles — no communal bowls or plates. It sounds like an absolute pain to arrange and manage, as this report explains.

France is far from being COVID-19 free. If this partial reopening doesn’t work, it’s back to lockdown. I wish them all the very best.

Hmm.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown charade, I have wondered about the timing of this worldwide pandemic that hit just when the American and British economies were doing so well. Britain had also made a preliminary exit from the European Union at the end of January.

Forget Pelosi, look at the second tweet:

No doubt it was just coincidental. My fellow Britons will remind me that it’s cock up before conspiracy.

That may be true. The pandemic has affected the whole world. Our respective economies are tanking quickly.

This is what it’s been like for many countries on lockdown (click on link to open in a separate tab):

Does this make sense?

Bear in mind, Western nations have higher rates of death during the annual flu season. I realise this video is supposed to encourage Americans to get a flu jab but look at the difference in numbers between the coronavirus and flu:

I am happy to see that the European nations that implemented lockdown earlier than the UK are now gradually reopening. I wish them well.

Before I get to coronavirus and the economy, here’s a clip from Season 22 of The Simpsons. I read elsewhere that this was about the zika virus outbreak, but it hasn’t aged a day. This is worth a watch for a laugh and for its uncanny accuracy:

Interesting, because:

It seems that humans can pass coronavirus to cats, but not vice versa.

I found that Simpsons clip in the replies to Newsmax’s John Cardillo’s tweet, which is bang on the button:

The same goes for every other nation doing a shutdown.

Coronavirus strategies adopted in most other countries — those with lockdowns — will prove fatal:

Everyone talking about ‘wartime’ and ‘we must do our part’ really needs to have the following graphic put in front of them for eight hours a day. Those idiots, especially among our notional betters, should be forced to memorise it:

Please pay special attention to the abortion number.

Then revisit the COVID-19 figure.

Even a healthcare worker agrees the shutdowns are harmful:

So does someone at ‘high risk’:

More here:

It’s no wonder that people with two synapses rubbing together suspect that a) something is amiss or b) underfoot:

I’m disappointed in Donald Trump. I’m disappointed in Boris Johnson. As for other world leaders, I’m not surprised they plumped for a shutdown.

I don’t often agree with Lord Sumption, but he nails it here:

This is what we’re looking at with regard to shutdown length:

This is what Market-Ticker‘s Karl Denninger has to say on the matter:

He’s got a set of coronavirus figures that he explains. I won’t go into them here, but I do highly recommend you read them.

He concludes (all emphases in the original):

That’s 50 days, approximately, or roughly two months.  In other words, roughly what they’re talking about doing, right?

(For the pedantic folks that’s not exact because there is some repression from already-infected in both of those sequences — but not a statistically significant amount, and it’s a lot easier to follow without it.)

What did we get?  15 days (three viral infection cycles) worth of not doing it.

What do you think happens when you relax the lockdowns? R0 goes back to what it was because there’s still no herd immunity.

The shutdowns will have been useless in eradicating coronavirus:

You have to get the last case in the entire country and isolate it.  You also have to prevent anyone from anywhere in the world from coming back in and re-infecting your population.  Which you can’t and won’t.  Only twice in the history of mankind has actual eradication been accomplished — one of which was smallpox, and that one came about by forced vaccination.  Smallpox was fatal about 30% of the time, there were many outbreaks before the vaccine was developed and while there were quarantines and forced isolation events actually preventing more outbreaks repeatedly failed until that vaccine became available and herd immunity was achieved.

Oh, and for comparison, smallpox had an R0 not too far removed from this virus — best estimates are that it was around 3.5 …

The premise that somehow “flattening the curve” means the total number of people will get this virus will be smaller is a lie.

There are exactly three ways that happens: 1) The virus is hard enough to get and easy enough to identify before contagion, which is what happened with SARS and made it possible to contain it; 2) There is a vaccine and thus we can use that to obtain herd immunity to suppress the effective R0 below 1.0 or; 3) Enough people get the virus that R0 is suppressed via natural herd immunity.

That’s it.

If you suppress a virus with these measures you do not change this fact.  You only change timing, and in addition you take all the economic and social damage from those mitigation measures.  You do not change the total number of infections and, where medical interventions in the most-severe cases are ineffective 85-90% of the time, you also don’t change outcomes either.

On April 3, Denninger covered the economic outlook. Be afraid, be very afraid:

Folks, there’s now way to sugarcoat this: 30% of small businesses are gone.  They will never reopen.  We are not only destroying their cash flow the incessant prattle of fear has turned people against the premise of ever setting foot in a place where you may be within 6′ of another person — ever again.

If we do not stop that right now you could reopen every single bar and restaurant and they would have no customers.  It doesn’t matter whether the sign reads “open” or “closed” if nobody comes through the door to spend money.  Loans, forgiven or not, do exactly nothing if there are no customers.

This threatens to be a problem that will not go away for a generation.  When the Depression came through it altered behavior for nearly 50 years.  This isn’t that bad yet but it will end up that way if we don’t cut this crap out right now.

Not in a month, not in three weeks, not at some indeterminate point when some model says it’s ok, now.

Further, the collapse in health care I warned we were at risk of seeing is going to occur if we don’t cut this crap out.  There will be little or no warning when that comes; a demand spike into collapsing employment in the sector, and thus no people to take care of you means you will die if you have an ordinary heart attack.

The only recourse — even though we’re already in economic trouble — is to reopen for business:

Next month is going to print 10+ million jobs lost  The internals in this jobs report say it might print as high as 20 million.  It will break every record.  The only way to stop it is to reopen the economy right now and take whatever mitigating steps we can for those who are at high risk, which we know are identified — they are the deadly co-factors in the NY death data.  Specifically, those who have Diabetes, Lung Disease, Cancer, Immunodeficiency, Heart Disease, Hypertension, Asthma, Kidney Disease or Liver Disease, either singly or in combination, should self-isolate and not live with anyone who isn’t willing to do so with them.  That means your groceries and such are ordered for pickup, you drive to the WalMart or wherever and the bags get loaded in the trunk, then you go back home.

Those people may also choose to take their chances and use HCQ as a prophylaxis.  It may work and it may not.  Some people cannot do so because of other drugs that interact badly with it, but the dose required for prophylaxis is likely similar to that for malaria, which is a once-a-week pill.  Will that stop all high-risk people from getting it and potentially dying?  Nope.  In fact it might not help much at all.  Some people will be forced off it by side effects.  We don’t know.  But it’s the best we have and the best we’re going to have in the next few weeks, so you fight the war with the army you’ve got.  We cannot sit locked down for even another three to four weeks, and you know that claims is a lie; there’s no date being given, the Administration already lied once and tripled its original claimed time while some governors have even issued orders all the way out into June already.

We now have governors, mayors and others that are literally placing people under house arrest — more than 3/4 of the nation’s population is under such orders and some, including in Kentucky, are literally putting ankle bracelets on ordinary citizens to compel compliance.  Walton County in Florida just banned families from sitting in their yard on property they own.

This is not theoretical any more.  It is not a “inconvenience.”  It has destroyed consumer confidence and if we don’t cut it out now it will destroy a huge percentage of economic activity on a permanent basis.  You cannot fix this by handing people “money” that we do not have; more debt is the last thing this nation and its citizens need.

By June the economy will be a smoking hole in the ground from which we will not recover.  We will have so-ingrained people with fear that it will not matter what you do or when you do it.  That fear will last years, even decades and we absolutely must not have that happen.

Period.

We must keep people out of the hospitals that are high risk.  We cannot, as a society and economy, accept the path being put forward by people on the Gates’ Foundations board and their models.  Their models, which are the predicate for every single one of the shutdowns thus far have already proved wrong in the case of NY; they claimed the city would need far more hospital beds and ICU beds than on this day are actually required.  In fact they’re so far off they’re laughable yet all the so-called “experts” are still setting policy with those models.  Remember, NY is the worst thus far in the US and yet the models predicted that by now it would be three times worse than it actually is.  There has only been an 0.4-0.5 change in transmission rates (from ~2.7-2.2) and that is consistent, within a tenth, between NY and nationally as a whole.

I understand the fear — it’s palpable — this is a sniper attack; you can’t see him but he can kill you without warning.

I get it.  It’s why snipers scare the living hell out of people; a guy shooting at you who you can see is still scary, but much less-so than a gunshot that comes out of nowhere.

We must overcome the fear; we must stare it down and power through it.  We have no choice.

I fully agree. I always opposed the shutdowns, for economic and libertarian reasons in equal measure.

The statisticians advising our world leaders are dangerous characters. I’m rewording Mario Puzo’s quote about a lawyer with a briefcase to say (emphasis mine):

A statistician with a spreadsheet can steal more than a thousand men with guns.

Who will make the first move to save the global economy? Donald Trump? (I think Boris Johnson will wait and see what the United States does.)

Please, President Trump, reopen for business by the end of April.

Today’s coronavirus commentary comes from Twitter’s Guillotine sales and Repair, a Hoosier (Indiana resident).

‘Uncle Joe’ Stalin would have been so pleased with all the lockdowns in Western nations:

Believe it!

As Guillotine sales and Repair says (emphases mine):

Don’t delude yourself into thinking we’re protected by the Constitution right now. While that should always be the case, know that right now, we’re not.

He takes issue with a lawyer from Indianapolis. I’m not sure what the details are there, but the meme surely fits lockdown:

He discusses Americans’ God-given rights, enshrined by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution:

YET:

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits shot up stratospherically on April 2.

Please note what he says:

This is the very real result of lockdowns, not only in the United States but also in other countries:

Yes, how did they do that? In the US, Democrat governors began locking down their states long before Republican-governed states did. They just took that decision.

Police are out enforcing, and, in some cases, not in a nice way, either:

I’ll have more on the economic front tomorrow.

The bailouts from Western nations to compensate for lost earnings during the coronavirus shutdown are frightening.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer announced ours before the United States. Interestingly, Thomas Massie, a Republican congressman from Kentucky, retweeted this:

Peter Hitchens is correct.

I know our bailout had to be done and, to a large extent, I am glad it was done given the circumstances.

BUT — where is the money coming from? You and me.

The same holds true in every other nation, including the United States. I’ll get to more of Rep. Thomas Massie’s thoughts on that in a moment.

First, though, for anyone wondering about the (nearly) 19-year-old Patriot Act, here is Massie’s speech from March 14 opposing its reauthorisation:

Reauthorisation passed on March 15, giving an extension of 77 days.

Now on to the CARES Act, America’s bailout package:

On Friday, March 27, President Trump announced what the package will include. I noted this (emphases mine):

This legislation provides tax free payments—treated as a refundable tax credit—to Americans, giving families the immediate financial support they need.

    • Couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $2,400, plus an additional $500 for each child.
    • Individuals earning up to $75,000 will receive $1,200, plus an additional $500 for each child.
    • These payments will phase out for those earning over $75,000, $112,500 for head of household filers, and $150,000 for married couples filing joint tax returns.

That isn’t very much money, is it?

Contrast those payments per household with the following, added in the House of Representatives:

Absolutely agree!

There’s more. We can trust the numbers. Thomas Massie is an MIT graduate:

This is so important:

As is this:

This shutdown has the potential to run and run:

Of course, the shutdowns started at state level:

This is how they play out in real life:

In a nutshell, everyone is cooped up at home because most Western governments do not know what is going on. Massie retweeted this:

Will we ever know?

In closing:

That reminds me of what Ronald Reagan once said. The most terrifying words to hear are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’.

Several days ago, James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas issued a request for information about coronavirus cases from people in the know:

On March 27, O’Keefe and a colleague visited a few hospitals in New York and New Jersey. They asked for a test at the first hospital, as they’d been travelling around the United States. The nurse on duty at the rear entrance said that no one gets tested for coronavirus, not even the health workers. She told the two men to self-isolate.

Project Veritas managed to speak with other health workers. Essentially, this interesting video is a bit of a mixed bag. Everything and everyone is calm. Anyone expecting sensational scenes — the sort that the media whip up on the news every day — will be disappointed, which is why I am posting it:

On Thursday, March 26, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was unsure whether a state-wide quarantine was a good idea. New York state’s economy is crippled.

The New York Post reported (emphases mine):

“We closed everything down. That was our public health strategy,” said Cuomo during an Albany press briefing. “If you re-thought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say ‘Quarantine everyone.’”

It’s the third day in a row that Cuomo has publicly mused about quarantines and how best to eventually restart the Empire State’s shattered economy.

But Wednesday, Cuomo’s answer during an hour-long news conference about quarantines — which are backed by city and state health officials — took a new turn as he speculated it might have spread the disease.

“I don’t even know that that was the best public health policy. Young people then quarantined with older people, [it] was probably not the best public health strategy,” he said. “The younger people could have been exposing the older people to an infection.”

So far, New York has clocked 37,258 confirmed cases and 385 deaths from COVID-19.

Cuomo’s staff told the New York Post that he had read a column in the New York Times by a professor from Yale University, Dr David Katz, who is doing a study on risk stratification.

Cuomo’s staff said that the governor referenced Katz’s article in his press conference two days earlier:

There’s a theory of risk stratification that Dr. Katz who’s at Yale University is working on, which is actually very interesting to me,” Cuomo told reporters then. “Isolate people but really isolate the vulnerable people. Don’t isolate everyone because some people, most people, are not vulnerable to it.”

He added: “And if you isolate all people, you may be actually exposing the more vulnerable people by bringing in a person who is healthier and stronger and who may have been exposed to the virus, right.”

That said, he is wary of reopening New York for some time yet, because the apex of the pandemic in the state is still two or three weeks away.

Once the FDA approves an antibody test for COVID-19, Cuomo would like New York residents to take it. If they are immune, then they can return to work:

“Younger people can go back to work. People who have resolved can go back to work,” Cuomo again said Wednesday. “People who — once we get this antibody test — show that they had the virus and they resolved can go back to work.

“That’s how I think you do it. … It’s not [that] we’re going to either do public health or we’re going to do economic development and restarting. We have to do both.”

Mass self-isolation will prove to be a huge mistake on many levels.

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