RT @NewYorker: Seattle’s leaders took their cues from the C.D.C.’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, which has been described as “like a secret society, but for saving people.” In New York, politicians, not scientists, took center stage. https://t.co/GvyVW7LyUu
RT @dabeard: While the nation's capital dithered, here's how Seattle acted, partly by ignoring or working in defiance of the misleading and erroneous US messaging—and therefore stopping many others from getting #COVID19 and dying. https://t.co/m2tFDLWOvx@cduhigg@NewYorker #coronavirus
In early March, as Dow Constantine was asking Microsoft to close its offices and putting scientists in front of news cameras, de Blasio and New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, were giving speeches that deëmphasized the risks of the pandemic, even as the city was announcing its first official cases. De Blasio initially voiced caution, saying that “no one should take the coronavirus situation lightly,” but soon told residents to keep helping the city’s economy. “Go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus,” he tweeted on March 2nd—one day after the first COVID-19 diagnosis in New York. He urged people to see a movie at Lincoln Center. On the day that Seattle schools closed, de Blasio said at a press conference that “if you are not sick, if you are not in the vulnerable category, you should be going about your life.” Cuomo, meanwhile, had told reporters that “we should relax.” He said that most infected people would recover with few problems, adding, “We don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries.”
De Blasio’s and Cuomo’s instincts are understandable. A political leader’s job, in most situations, is to ease citizens’ fears and buoy the economy. During a pandemic, however, all those imperatives are reversed: a politician’s job is to inflame our paranoia, because waiting until we can see the danger means holding off until it’s too late. The city’s epidemiologists were horrified by the comforting messages that de Blasio and Cuomo kept giving. Jeffrey Shaman, a disease modeller at Columbia, said, “All you had to do was look at the West Coast, and you knew it was coming for us. That’s why Seattle and San Francisco and Portland were shutting things down.” But New York “dithered instead of telling people to stay home.”
The effort was blocked over fears that it might create a panic, but such alarm might have proved useful. After all, the official told me, panic is pretty effective at getting people to change their behavior. Instead, the Mayor’s office informed the Health Department that the city would sponsor a job fair to find a few new “disease detectives.” That event was held on March 12th, in Long Island City. The Department of Health official said, “We’re in the middle of a catastrophe, and their solution is to make us waste time interviewing and onboarding people!” (The Mayor’s office eventually relented on the sentinel-surveillance samples, and testing began on March 23rd—almost a month after samples were first collected. By then, the outbreak was well under way.)
How does Seattle have a healthy pandemic team and not New York City, the financial capital of the world and victim of 9/11?
At press conferences, Layton and other physicians played minimal roles while de Blasio and Cuomo, longtime rivals, each attempted to take center stage. The two men even began publicly feuding—arguing in the press, and through aides, about who had authority over schools and workplace closures.
“It cannot happen legally. No city in the state can quarantine itself without state approval and I have no interest whatsoever and no plan whatsoever to quarantine any city,” Cuomo insisted.
The way I see it, Bill de Blasio is victim to Cuomo's incessant narcissism and obsession with the spotlight. Cuomo believes NYC is his own personal playground. Either Cuomo is an incompetent (and dangerous) buffoon obstructing progress and threatening public safety, or Bill de Blasio is 100% complicit with Cuomo and just acting like they're butting heads.
In a state like New York, home of the financial capital of the world, if Cuomo wants to pound his chest like a little failson brat that runs things then he should've been doing his job instead of playing the role of someone who knows what they're doing and getting in the way of other more competent leaders- especially since NY had plenty of ample warning.
NYC should have proper threat assessments and pandemic preparedness/response teams. Would it have even mattered? Health officials were begging them to act while the rest of the country warned that COVID-19 would strike everywhere in time, but Cuomo refused to listen. Instead, Cuomo is busy chestpounding at Bill de Blasio like a petulant brat, and cutting everything in sight like healthcare and stripping government of its power to foresee/manage future crises like these. Just like Trump. NYC hospitals hit their limits and imploded because of decisions Cuomo's made.
Now Cuomo has his soap opera reality TV marathon pretending to be on top of things with his useless Powerpoint presentations, while he was and is the individual responsible for causing this crisis to begin with.
De Blasio and Cuomo kept bickering. On March 17th, de Blasio told residents to “be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order.” The same day, Cuomo told a reporter, “There’s not going to be any ‘you must stay in your house’ rule.” Cuomo’s staff quietly told reporters that de Blasio was acting “psychotic.” Three days later, though, Cuomo announced an executive order putting the state on “pause”—which was essentially indistinguishable from stay-at-home orders issued by cities in Washington State, California, and elsewhere. (A spokesperson for de Blasio said that City Hall’s “messaging changed as the situation and the science changed” and that there was “no dithering.” A spokesperson for Cuomo said that “the Governor communicated clearly the seriousness of this pandemic” and that “the Governor has been laser focused on communicating his actions in a way that doesn’t scare people.”)
Tom Frieden, the former C.D.C. director, has estimated that, if New York had started implementing stay-at-home orders ten days earlier than it did, it might have reduced COVID-19 deaths by fifty to eighty per cent. Another former New York City health commissioner told me that “de Blasio was just horrible,” adding, “Maybe it was unintentional, maybe it was his arrogance. But, if you tell people to stay home and then you go to the gym, you can’t really be surprised when people keep going outside.”
More than fifteen thousand people in New York are believed to have died from COVID-19. Last week in Washington State, the estimate was fewer than seven hundred people. New Yorkers now hear constant ambulance sirens, which remind them of the invisible viral threat; residents are currently staying home at even higher rates than in Seattle. And de Blasio and Cuomo—even as they continue to squabble over, say, who gets to reopen schools—have become more forceful in their warnings.
Too little too late. Bill de Blasio needs to stop being complicit with Cuomo and playing along with this kabuki theatre scam cause Cuomo's anti-government austerity extremism has proven genocidal. Cuomo is not equipped to be Governor and he should have been removed long ago.
This article has some fantastic insights on the thinking of state leaders in the early days of this crisis. It confirms what a lot of people suspected, that they purposely phased into a stay-at-home order because it would improve acceptance by the public.
There is anecdote that Dow Constantine personally called the president of Microsoft to urge the work-from-home in advance of any formal state orders. The goal was to start getting people in the mindset of treating this as a serious issue. I would say that it was very successful.
I think it made a whopping difference to have F5, Microsoft, and then Amazon pull their people back. It made it very easy for even medical groups like UW Medicine to see the wisdom of going as remote with workers as they could etc. The business groups helped the medical groups in the politics of stay at home. Thanks very much from a Washingtonian.
Though the C.D.C. formally recommended, in mid-March, that Americans practice social distancing, governors in five states have refused to order residents to stay home. (One of those states, South Dakota, is now contending with a major outbreak.) Federal leaders have given shifting advice—initially, Americans were told that they did not need to wear masks in public, but on April 3rd, at a White House press briefing, masks were recommended—and this has risked undermining public confidence. Trump announced the change by saying, “You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it.”
Morale at the C.D.C. has plummeted. “For all the responses that I was involved in, there was always this feeling of camaraderie, that you were part of something bigger than yourself,” another former high-ranking C.D.C. official told me. “Now everyone I talk to is so dispirited. They’re working sixteen-hour days, but they feel ignored. I’ve never seen so many people so frustrated and upset and sad. We could have saved so many more lives. We have the best public-health agency in the world, and we know how to persuade people to do what they need to do. Instead, we’re ignoring everything we’ve learned over the last century.”
I think the article does a great job, not seeking blame, but comparing responses in a crisis. And that most of today's politicians are not able to lead communication and a plan of action when in a crisis. Their mindset (an those immediately around them) is about self-glorification and self-preservation.
In a crisis, the politician should be the implementer behind a plan of action and communication developed by people better equipped to understand the situation.
I think it is worth reading the article, if only to see how little based in science, in the sense of actual data and repeatable result, Seattle's response was.
They closed schools, not because they were a vector for the virus, but because it would jolt people and make them take things seriously. This is sociology, or politics, not science.
Constantine thought that announcing school closings was a potent communication strategy for reaching even people who weren’t parents, because it forced the community to see the coronavirus crisis in a different light. “We’re accustomed to schools closing when something really serious happens,” Constantine told me. “It was a way to speed up people’s perceptions—to send a message they could understand.”
Much of the first half of the article compares Seattle's actions of the governor standing back to the Federal response, which makes no sense, as the obvious comparisons are to the alternative state level responses. Newsom and Cuomo did not step back, and one state did well and the other badly, but rather than use the meaningful comparison, the article harps on Trump.
This is the behavior that the article considers to be scientific: “You have to think about managing the public’s emotions, perceptions, trust. You have to bring them along the path with you.” That is marketing, not science, and the people who do this are called politicians.
When one homeless man at the motel, who was asymptomatic, left to buy a beer, Constantine immediately went to court, so that police could arrest him the next time he went out. The man’s actions had posed little risk: he had gone to a gas station across the street, then returned. But, Constantine told me, “the fact is some people are not going to follow the rules—and we need to show everyone there are consequences.”
This is what a government does, make up new laws and enforce them. Does Constantine have a scientific reason to believe that harsh punishments make people obey the laws in the case? That is a political question is there ever was one. No (non-political) scientist, especially not a epidemiologist has any business deciding that question.
This is how the article treats masks:
initially, Americans were told that they did not need to wear masks in public, but on April 3rd, at a White House press briefing, masks were recommended—and this has risked undermining public confidence. Trump announced the change by saying, “You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it.” Had the C.D.C. been in charge of communicating about masks, the agency surely would have used the change in guidance as a teaching opportunity, explaining that scientists had come to understand that people infected with the coronavirus can be contagious but asymptomatic for longer than originally thought—which means that we need to be more careful when we cough, even if we feel healthy or just have seasonal allergies.
A truer statement would be that the CDC lied to the American people in an attempt to prevent them buying masks so they masks could be used for hospitals, or the CDC just lied because the can. Trump, in his usual way, did about the best possible sales job for people wearing masks. If he told people to wear masks, democrats would not, so he told people to wear masks but said he would not because of vanity, and had Melania appeal to people to wear masks. This immediately put all Democrats on the side of masks, and softened the usual opposition you would expect from republicans, by using Melania to carry the message. It meant the Republican wives felt they were suppose to tell their husbands etc. This is politics, and Trump does this well.
scientists had come to understand
What a huge lie. There were no new studies that changed scientists mind. That is one of the high problems of the article. It seems to say we should put scientists in charge because the public will believe them when they lie. That bus left long ago.
> Trump, in his usual way, did about the best possible sales job for people wearing masks.
This is why I don't like Trump's rhetorical style being defined so that he can never be wrong. Only a totally imagined post-hoc analysis could sound so Trumpian.
> the CDC just lied because the can.
That sure doesn't *sound* like the CDC. It does sound exactly like something Trump would do if he wasn't too busy playing 28345-D chess.
Trump is good at sales. It is what he does. Part of being good at sales is convincing people you are saying what you believe. I honestly believe that Trump meant it when he said he would not be wearing a mask. For instance, I think he does not wear one in private when off-camera. Trump may have grave difficulty following the science, and be unwilling to read the reports, but he gets sales.
> That sure doesn't sound like the CDC.
Everything the CDC says seems to be full of institutional blather. I don't trust them. Not about masks. For example, they recommend washing your hands for 20 seconds. What is the evidence that this is better than 5 seconds? I believe that washing your hands more times, but for a shorter amount of time, is preferable to the 20 second wash. Is there any data on this, or did the CDC just make up this from thin air?
> A truer statement would be that the CDC lied to the American people in an attempt to prevent them buying masks so they masks could be used for hospitals, or the CDC just lied because the can. Trump, in his usual way, did about the best possible sales job for people wearing masks. If he told people to wear masks, democrats would not, so he told people to wear masks but said he would not because of vanity, and had Melania appeal to people to wear masks. This immediately put all Democrats on the side of masks, and softened the usual opposition you would expect from republicans, by using Melania to carry the message. It meant the Republican wives felt they were suppose to tell their husbands etc. This is politics, and Trump does this well.
This is one of those times when Trump makes me wonder if it's 5D chess or just a buffoon and people around him trying their best to compensate. I'm leaning towards it not being 5D chess...
> I'm leaning towards it not being 5D chess...
I don't think it is. I think he just has a simple and effective strategy. Tit for tat is one of the most successful strategies, showing that the best plan does not need to be complicated.
Wow, this is a great comment; I only skimmed the article and so failed to notice this. This is a really good point. The article still demonstrates the value of leaving said marketing to people who know what they're doing, but calling this letting *scientists* take the lead is not just misleading but is exactly the sort of thing that makes science worse by suggesting that such marketing is totally a part of it. Not a good thing.
> but because it would jolt people and make them take things seriously.
They keep doing the same thing with ‘young people are being hospitalized’ stories. Seems like every week someone says to me ‘yeah I guess young people are getting it just as bad now’, and point to some article that is making a small percentage of cases seem like the norm. Do you remember the first stories to come out after that whole spring break debacle was something like ‘40% of hospitalizations are people aged 25-54!’ Of course 25-54 is a huge age bracket and most of that was clustered closer to 54.
Neither state/city did great, but New York's response was a deadly botched dumpster fire. All they had to do, first and foremost, was follow the federal recommendations and close down right away (like my state of IL did). They didn't and waited way too long.
It was the Federal government limits. We have one of the best hospitals in the region, if not the country. They were ready to ramp up testing as soon as it was allowed and are testing at much higher rates now. They were even starting to stockpile tests in January because they saw the warning signs so early.
None of that shit by the city's poltiical leadership really mattered in the face of the structural differences between the two cities. They mentioned all of it at the beginning part before they broke it down. The differences between the mayors was: one asked people at Microsoft to work from home and the other told people there was nothing to worry about? That's a ridiculous point of contrast. You have 53k employees for Microsoft in Seattle total, about half of which are already remote, and the ones that aren't will be travelling by car. They're not even the people most likely to be exposed to and vulnerable to reinfecting others.
Meanwhile, the NYC mayor was dumb to downplay the virus but he couldn't just immediately jump to closing the schools in middle of March. He needed some numbers of hospitilzations and infections to gain the political will. People here on this sub are going to play armchair mayor and think they can tell the public to do whatever they want if they were mayor and the city will listen. Politics is the art of the possible. If nobody is dying, good luck closing schools. Nobody would follow and if you forced them, people will panic.
Bullshit. The mayor and Carranza spent the better part of a week dragging their feet on the schools when EVERYONE was telling them to close already - the unions threatened to sue, parents were freaking out, and eventually the governor had to step in.
Companies at this point were already telling people to work from home. It was clear this was serious, but the mayor was as usual refusing to lead.
The article's entire point is that Seattle acted DESPITE worries that the public wouldn't like it, and that move saved lives. You seem not to understand that.
The mayor dragged his feet, but Cuomo dragged his feet as well. It was even mentioned in the article. People on this sub love to demonize the mayor, some deserving but mostly irrational compared to the Governor. Seattle went into lockdown a week earlier. But there's no proof that it was the mitigation. The people that died the first day nyc went into mitigation, most likely contracted their illness a week ago. It was already spreading and had we had acted at the time as Seattle, the rates would've been higher. It's a structural problem, which you don't seem to emphasize at all. Not entirely a political problem which the article seems to put the entire length of reporting on.
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I"m going to call BS on this article, and shame on The New Yorker for publishing this irresponsible headline and article. If you read the article there is zero information on New York officials not listening to scientists, instead the whole thrust of the article is about miscommunication. Even that premises is 100% attributed to anonymous quotes.
"A health official told me" "A city councilman told me".
Who are the New Yorker editors that allow this level of mediocre writing and anonymous quotes to be published with such an accusatory and inflammatory headline. Sure, Seattle did a good job of communicating, but too compare Seattle and New York, with all the obvious differences in politics, size, demographics, virus exposure etc and to make a provocative headline is irresponsible journalism. To make such a statement and then publish it without any serious research is wrong.
If you do a search and find on the article page using the words New York, there's not a single instance where it mentions ignoring scientists.
This is the stuff that gives good journalism a bad name. The article is now out, on the web, people see the headline and form opinions based on it. "Oh,I saw it in the New Yorker, so it must have credibility." This is a hatchet job on DeBlasio, pure and simple, hidden behind inflammatory headlines. I don't give two hoots about DeBlasio, I care about good journalism
The New Yorker should be embarrassed by the bias in it being so obvious and the content and supporting evidence so poorly supported. If you want people to believe in your ethics and good journalism, then fire the editor and find a better writer, and get better quotable sources. Shame on you New Yorker.
As late as March, DeBlasio was on MSNBC saying he had no plans to close schools and that it didn't look like it would be a big deal.
He was also way more interested in talking about Bernie than talking about the virus. Fast forward 2 weeks and the city is in chaos. I didn't have an opinion of DeBlasio one way or the other prior to that, but he really screwed the pooch.
> It’s also true, however, that the cities’ leaders acted and communicated very differently in the early stages of the pandemic. Seattle’s leaders moved fast to persuade people to stay home and follow the scientists’ advice; New York’s leaders, despite having a highly esteemed public-health department, moved more slowly, offered more muddied messages, and let politicians’ voices dominate.
> New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has long had a fraught relationship with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which, though technically under his control, seeks to function independently and avoid political fights. “There’s always a bit of a split between the political appointees, whose jobs are to make a mayor look good, and public-health professionals, who sometimes have to make unpopular recommendations,” a former head of the Department of Health told me. “But, with the de Blasio people, that antagonism is ten times worse. They are so much more impossible to work with than other administrations.”
And it goes on like this for another dozen paragraphs or so, citing examples of New York's leadership clashing with health experts both in the past, and in this situation.
I'm calling BS on you, back:
**Article title:** "Seattle's leaders let scientists take the lead. New York's did not"
>If you read the article there is zero Information on New York Officials not listening to scientists, instead the whole thrust of the article is on miscommunication.
That about sums it up. In Seattle, there was clear, decisive messaging from scientists. In New York, there was tremendous miscommunication and mixed signals provided by Cuomo and DeBlasio. I think the title is an accurate summary of the article. The article didn't claim NY officials "ignored" scientists (your word), it only claims they miscommunicated (also your word)
To your point on politics, size, and demographics differences better Seattle and New York, the article clearly calls those out.
And to your point on sources, this one isn't all that hard. Seattle *publicly* had scientists delivering daily information. New York *publicly* had Cuomo and DeBlasio out front. The article isn't trying to claim they secretly ignored scientists; it's trying to demonstrate the danger of muzzling public health experts and instead having a politican manage public health announcements during a pandemic
> The article didn't claim NY officials "ignored" scientists
That's very strongly implied by the title. That about as click-bait-y you can get when really NYC had doctors speak at almost all of their press briefings.
No one muzzled public health experts. NYC was hit by an unimaginable crisis. No one new how to respond. Things were changing by the minute. The stress of the crisis was much higher in NYC than in Seatle. We were expecting our healthcare system to completely collapse. Of course Mayors and governeror are going to bicker and fight about details, but as a New Yorker, I can honestly say I think everyone did they best they could and acted responsibility.
Just remember, we were locked down while Trump was still golfing.
> article. If you read the article there is zero information on New York officials not listening to scientists, instead the whole thrust of the article is about miscommunication.
That just isn't true. *You* should be ashamed of yourself for skimming. I'm not even gonna quote an example for you. You have earned the instruction to read every word carefully.
Give me one example of a policy that public health experts pushed that NY politicians rejected. We locked down before everyone, we are all legally required to wear masks, our politicians were 100% honest about testing from day one.
Politicians bickering is not anything close to not listening to scientist.
I'm concerned about the idea that it's even possible to govern with complete objectivity by way of science. There's certainly a large faction of people who have deluded themselves into thinking this should our goal, and in pursuing it they're abdicating their responsibility as citizens of our society.
Science cannot product policy. Science can give us data, and it can provide a variety of lenses through which to understand that data.
Science cannot determine the correct policy to pursue based on that data. The creation of policy requires the imposition of some framework of values. We have to decide what things matter most to us and to our nation, and consciously choose policy based on those things we most value.
Pretending that there's no value judgment being made is allowing some group to smuggle in their own values without others being able to deliberate on it. That's a bad thing.
What can be done, science
What you want to be done, politics
How to do what you want to be done, engineering
A system needs all 3 to work, they also line upish with the 3 parts of government we know, courts, legislative, executive.
Well, more like values are which node you're trying to reach; then science tells you the path weights for the different ways of getting there.
Think like [vote on values, bet on beliefs](http://mason.gmu.edu/~rhanson/futarchy2013.pdf).
In principle you’re right, but in practice it seems that there are some extremely broad values that are mostly shared within cultures, and a lot of debate within democratic systems is about the best way to achieve those values.
Science can be very useful for answering that question.
>Science can be very useful for answering that question.
A pandemic seem unusual in terms of it's fit.
"We don't want people to die" is a pretty well defined goal. 'Vaccines/etc. that work well' probably also are.
Epidemiology may be complicated, but it seems like there's a certainty about '(how many people) are people dead or alive' that works well enough to make things pretty solid, and enable learning from the past, as well as experiments.
>there are some extremely broad values
And how will science determine how they should be balanced?
1. It won't.
2. People won't use it to figure that out.
That might be true in some cases. It is not true here.
At least a subset of the "closer" faction seems to be arguing that science says we must stay closed, QED. But this is clearly a question requiring balancing of moral values.
The same is true for climate change. A large number of climate change activists claim that science demands that extreme measures be taken.
I’ll grant you that there’s an important difference between “listen to scientists” and “listen to the people who loudly proclaim that they’re listening to scientists”. But I’m sure you would agree that actually listening to scientists and using their predictions to inform policy is a good idea.
> But I’m sure you would agree that actually listening to scientists and using their predictions to inform policy is a good idea.
Based on conflicting "scientific" "facts" I've seen throughout this debacle, I'm ok letting it inform *intelligent* people, but those aren't the people pulling the levers of democracy. And the Democrats are no better.
Have you any advice for this type of scenario? I've decided on a policy of assuming every "fact" I hear from "the experts" or the "trustworthy" media is incorrect, at least in some way. So far, this heuristic seems to have *extremely* high predictive power.
I *would* agree with that, but it's not what the people I'm hearing are saying. You said, "using their predictions to **inform** policy" (emphasis mine), but what I hear doesn't use the word "inform", but instead asserts that their predictions **are** policy.
That is, "loosening shelter-in-place is likely to increase fatalities. Thus, the scientific policy is to not loosen those guidelines." They're entirely skipping the step where you *derive* policy by weighing alternatives, by simply asserting that science = policy.
Agreed that there’s a rhetorical trick some people are using that can be misleading in some cases.
In the specific case of coronavirus though, I think experts broadly agree that shutdowns would maximize most values that we care about, not just lives. See for example http://www.igmchicago.org/surveys/policy-for-the-covid-19-crisis/
> I think experts broadly agree
Is science now based on a form of democracy rather than evidence and logic?
Enopoletusr/HardcoreRationality -always accurate, sometimes 4 months ago
Public-health officials say that American culture poses special challenges. Our freedoms to assemble, to speak our minds, to ignore good advice, and to second-guess authority can facilitate the spread of a virus
Disgustingly racist and orientalist. Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, I presume, are slaveocracies run by godkings.
I mean overall the level of trust probably is fairly similar to that of Americans living in similar types of environments (for SK, HK might be lower given the protests). That is to say mostly urban and suburban. The US has a much larger rural population though, which tends to be especially anti-government.
Enopoletusr/HardcoreRationality -always accurate, sometimes 4 months ago
No. They are, in fact, *especially pro-government*. If you ask "do you support the Federal government's COVID response", I have zero doubt rural people will show more support than urban.