…until it doesn’t. Over the weekend, a lot of people were shocked by video of people
attempting to help the SARS-Cov2 virus reestablish itself spending time in large, dense social settings–the antithesis of social distancing–here’s video of one of many examples.
It’s tempting to claim they’ll get their comeuppance, but, as some asshole with a blog has been noting, they probably won’t, at least not the first time. Why?
The overall frequency of currently infected people is low. In D.C., which has been hit hard by COVID-19, though not as badly as New York City, the number of currently infected people is low. Even in the ward with the highest rate of infection, Ward 4, the percentage of people who have been infected over the last two weeks is only 0.53% (May 9 to May 23). Yes, there are presymptomatic, asymptomatic, and sick people who haven’t been counted. At the same time however, many of the infected people are effectively isolated, either at home or in the hospital. So I wouldn’t take 0.53% as a hard and fast figure, but I don’t think it’s horribly off either. Meanwhile, in D.C.’s Ward 3, only 0.067% of residents have been infected over the last two weeks.
To put this another way, if Ward 4 decided that there ain’t no party like a COVID party, and had a big shindig of 200 people, there still is a one-in-three chance no one infected shows up to the party (and, of course, even if someone shows up, that’s no guarantee of infection). In Ward 3, that 200 person party only has a thirteen percent chance of having one or more infected attendees. In many of the places where people are acting foolishly, my guess is that those locales are much more like Ward 3–or even lower. To be blunt, it’s conservative white areas, and many, though not all of those areas, just don’t have a lot of cases–and to the extent they do, segregation by class and race will mean that not everyone has the same risk.
So they’ll likely survive a bout of stupidity without any transmission, possibly many such bouts.
Until, of course, they don’t. Because the virus only has to get lucky once. That luck will be very patchily distributed, but, unless things get out of control, lots of places in the U.S. will manage to survive their own stupidity, at least in the short term.