Buried behind news headlines screaming about social distancing, ventilators, and death counts is the timeline and origins of the Chinese coronavirus in America. At the daily task force briefings, media dimwits seek only to play “gotcha” with the president, begging him to take responsibility for anything and everything and quibbling over which governor asked for how many ventilators and when.
Yet they are surprisingly incurious over the origins of this virus and when it first appeared in the U.S. The basketball player and scarf lady (Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx) are happy to use models to look forward, but hopefully can take a look backward, too.
It’s hard to know where we are going if we don’t know where we have been. The forward models having been changing faster than spring weather. In mid-March, without social distancing and other measures, per the IHME model, the U.S. was looking at 2.2 million deaths.
The IHME model reduced its death projection in early April to 100,000 to 240,000 even assuming social distancing measures in place. At the time of this writing, the model now projects only 60,415 deaths, only 3% of original predictions. What changed? Social distancing was in already in place when the death predictions dropped by a factor of four.
Not to minimize any deaths, but in perspective, this is the fatality count for a bad flu season. 61,000 died in the 2017-18 flu season.
Models can also look backward, which as any gambler knows, is a much better way to win than looking forward. What do the models say about when the Wuhan virus first appeared in America?