How many deaths would you condone in order to liberate your state’s economy?

When you admit to an acceptable number of deaths you have already lost the argument. Crimes against humanity are on the horizon for Individual-1.

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President Trump’s approach to scaling back social distancing measures aimed at containing the novel coronavirus is, to put it mildly, inconsistent.

Earlier this week, he claimed to have complete authority to rescind the measures, which he didn’t. His administration, in its recommendations that it released Thursday for considering whether to resume normal economic activity, instead recognizes that governors had that power. And his insistence that businesses reopen is offset by his formal embrace of those standards, which would keep them closed.

Trump is also aware that some of his supporters are vocally opposed to the measures that exist. So on Friday, he embraced a weird sort of middle ground, supporting opponents of distancing measures indirectly by calling on states to be “liberated” from the restrictions — less than 24 hours after offering guidelines to governors about how to do so safely.

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Trump’s battle cries seem even more bizarre when you consider that looking only at the first two categories Birx outlined, none of the three states Trump wants to “liberate” actually meet the criteria.

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Let’s consider just the first two categories, symptoms and cases.

To resume economic activity the White House — Trump’s White House — has a two-part benchmark measuring symptoms of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s measurement of influenza-like illness in the state should have trended downward for two weeks.
  2. Its data on emergency room visits for covid-19-like illness should similarly trend downward over the same period.

The category for cases is an either-or. Either:

  1. The number of new cases should trend downward over a two-week period, or
  2. The number of positive tests conducted should trend downward during that period.

So let’s consider Minnesota. How does it fare?

Well, the state just saw an uptick in its ILI activity in the April 5 to 11 period, data for which were released on Friday. The CDC is likely to have more current, daily data, but based on this public data, that alone is enough to indicate that the state shouldn’t begin “liberating.”

The only data available for measuring covid-19-like illness — “syndromic illnesses,” in Birx’s articulation — is offered regionally. In Minnesota’s region, the number of covid-19-like illnesses trended down from late March to early April (the most recent data available). The CDC has daily data on syndromic illnesses in smaller geographic regions which we don’t, so take that metric with a grain of salt.

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Vertical lines on these graphs mark two weeks before the most recent data. The most recent data for ILI is from April 11. For syndromic illnesses, it’s April 4. For cases and tests, it’s April 16.)

The daily case totals in a state can vary widely and depend on the number of tests completed. That said, the picture in Minnesota, using data from Johns Hopkins University, doesn’t show a consistent downward trend relative to two weeks ago. Data from the COVID Tracking Project indicates that the percent of tests coming back positive has been trending up. Without hitting one of the two case-total benchmarks, Minnesota fails the test.www.washingtonpost.com/…

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