Data-driven derangement


Who knew that rioters and looters were covered under Phase 1 of the re-opening plan?

High school graduation ceremonies with 260 students are still verboten, but if you and several thousand of your comrades want to get together and torch a church or flip over a few police cruisers, no one’s going to stop you — or even tell you to social distance.

To their credit, though, the peaceful rioters were years ahead of everybody else when it comes to wearing masks.

Meanwhile, as the rest of us slog through our phased, data-driven re-opening (my favorite kind of re-opening), it may be helpful to examine what “data-driven” really means.

In this context, we can safely say that if the data show that too many people are testing positive for the virus, we can’t re-open. It also means that if other testing shows that too few people are positive for the virus, we can’t reopen because not enough of the population has been exposed and remains vulnerable.

If you’re puzzled by these seemingly contradictory standards, you haven’t been paying attention. It’s entirely consistent. The lockdown cannot end until all diseases are eradicated and there is no war, hunger or suffering anywhere.

In the blink of an eye, we seem to have gone from “flattening the curve” to NO ONE CAN GET SICK – EVER!

At this rate, we should reach Phase 3 by 2030.

Meanwhile, there is no indication as to when things like one-way arrows in supermarkets aisles will go away, even though, judging by the traffic flow, I am the only one observing them.

Hey, you with the surgical mask and the shopping cart overflowing with Häagen-Dazs and Diet coke: I think the rules are stupid too, but if I have to circumnavigate the globe to get to the mayonnaise section, so should you.

Also, we are apparently going to be wearing masks until the end of time because we’ve been told that we need to be terrified of the millions of asymptomatic “spreaders” out there. But we don’t want to dilute the mortality rate by including these spreaders in the total number of cases. Only “confirmed” cases can be used in that calculation.

There’s also no “guidance” (another of my new favorite words) as to when municipal boards and committees can resume meeting in person. So, our representatives will have to continue to contend with the teleconferencing software ironically named “Zoom,” where absolutely nothing happens quickly. All votes must be done by roll-call and participants have to constantly be reminded to “unmute” while everyone else waits while they locate the unmute button.

You’ll have to forgive me for pondering such trivia in these trying/difficult/challenging days. But I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately that would normally be spent socializing with friends and family, going out to eat and watching sports on TV, so my mind tends to wander.

Don’t worry. I’ll get back to focusing on death, destruction, illness and strife right away.

I promise.

[This column originally appeared in the June 4, 2020 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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