The Factions In The COVID-19 Reopening Debate

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Up until quite recently, perhaps even the last few days, there had been two main factions in the fight against Covid-19, conservatives who preach reality denial and justifiable murder vs. the non-reality deniers, those who understand that this virus is deadly and the need to use public policy to prevent infections until we can at least control if not eradicate Covid-19.

But things are shifting, especially since Elon Musk has gone on his pressure campaign to resume production. There are many factions in this “debate.”

Conservative Reality Deniers

They invent lies, believe their own lies, justify mass murder, and think they should have the “freedom” to infect others while denying everything, and of course blaming scapegoats for the consequences of their stupidity. Much ink has been spilled covering their pathetic nonsense.

Those Frustrated with Lockdown

There are many reasons for this: loss of income (which is an economic policy problem, not a fiat currency problem), going stir crazy, worry about the future, and so forth. It can be alluring to think time has passed, so the problem has diminished. But data show we are not there yet.

Reduced Risk Means Little or No Risk, So Open Now

These may be some of the frustrated fraction, but most are those who think they are armchair epidemiologists (obviously, without the proper medical training), hence the assumption they know enough to make blanket recommendations — for example, wear masks and stand 6 feet apart and everything can resume. Masks are not 100% effective. Distancing helps, but it is not a silver bullet — it’s a logarithmic probability calculation. Each foot you add reduces infection probability, the first few feet diminishing the probability rapidly. But 6 feet is not a magic number.

It’s easy to think “this and that” reduces risk, hence we can reopen because intuitively it makes sense, so it must be correct. This of course assumes 100% compliance, which is not exactly easy to accomplish, and intentional exposure rationalizers. Plus, accidents are assumed to not be an issue as part of the logic, despite the fact that this reopening is often being pushed by intentional exposure rationalizers. Fox guarding the hen house.

And if we later discover that 8 feet was needed or certain masks worked better than others or the ventilation system spread particles in a cloud versus a more linear way. We may not realize it until untold numbers become affected, at the point where we create what we “tried” to avoid. A stitch in time saves far more than nine.

The virus will not respect the Dunning–Kruger effect.

Elon Musk Groupies

Elon is obsessed with reopening. The reason really doesn’t matter, and while I don’t think his reasoning is malicious (I suspect workaholism), this virus does not respond to rationale. The groupies have decided to follow the leader over a cliff. They are now using conservative reality-denying rationalizations plus armchair epidemiology plus adding climate change as justification.

This virus doesn’t care about justification, cognitive dissonance, desperation, or any other rationale. In fact, carbon pollution is down because of Covid-19, giving us some extra breathing room. We can use it to whine about reality and reopen prematurely or we can use it to make renewable plans and lobby for them. We could fight stimulus going to fossil fuels and work to get it redirected to renewables. Opening many new factories with deployment plans in hand would work far better than a few more EVs today. It could fully take us off our climate catastrophe trajectory.

Reopening prematurely will lead to a second wave. The only answer to that is to repeat the lockdown or allow the virus to run rampant and commit preventable mass murder.

This is the real debate at hand.

Elon could instead direct his current time and energy to convincing various governments to give renewables stimulus money to build a dozen or more new factories worldwide after the lockdown ends. It would likely create hundreds of thousands of temporary jobs and over a hundred thousand permanent jobs, and potentially millions of EVs a year. This dwarfs what opening Fremont right now will get us.

The groupies are fighting the wrong battle.


The side under attack from everyone else. Because they have nothing to offer but the painful truth.

The truth is based on science, math, common sense, and the resources of modern medicine. On the other hand, dotard dismantled two agencies designed to deal with a pandemic and attacks the WHO. Various other governments were also caught flatfooted and are playing catchup. Science, epidemiology, medical research, and physical isolation are the best ways to fight and defeat Covid-19. Of course, those who don’t want to wait say it can’t be done, so let it spread and kill millions. Such rationalization is just another attack on human rights.

The best way to defeat this virus is to double down on reality and reject false gods, no matter their form and no matter the arguments they concoct. They will keep trying. Their goal is to find an argument that sticks. They will try every angle they can conceive of. Now, if only they could find a way to teach the virus itself to start agreeing to their wishes.

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Barry A.F.

I've had an interest in renewable energy and EVs since the days of deep cycle lead acid conversions and repurposed drive motors (and $10/watt solar panels). How things have changed. Also I have an interest in systems thinking (or first principles as some call it), digging into how things work from the ground up. Did you know that 97% of all Wikipedia articles link to Philosophy? A very small percentage link to Pragmatism. And in order to put my money where my mouth is I own one (3x split) Tesla share.   A link to all my articles

Barry A.F. has 68 posts and counting. See all posts by Barry A.F.