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Threat level down again

Nice.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Friday downgraded the county to the yellow COVID-19 threat level, citing improving metrics for the virus here coupled with increasing vaccinations.

“This is an important and encouraging, but still fragile, milestone in our fight against COVID-19,” Hidalgo said. “Our community is doing what it needs to do to move the needle in the right direction, but the threat of stalling or moving backwards remains very real.”

Hidalgo urged unvaccinated residents to avoid gatherings over Memorial Day weekend and implored them to get inoculated.

Friday’s move was the second downgrade in two weeks, following months of criticism the threat level had become meaningless as COVID numbers improved and the governor opened the entire state for business.

See here for the previous update. You can complain if you want, but Judge Hidalgo was just following the data and not screwing around with the agreed-upon metrics for the sake of politics. If you want to keep this moving along, go convince your unvaccinated friends and family to get the shot or stay masked up. The path forward has always been simple, the problem has been the unwillingness of too many people to follow it.

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9 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Desperate attempt to remain relevant.

    News flash, Dora: Nobody cares.

    Texans are retaking normalcy on their own. Dora’s cute little danger meter is a lot like the East German leaders announcing a relaxation of emigration restrictions….AFTER the Berlin Wall fell.

    The people took the lead, political leaders acknowledged the reality on the ground after the fact. No one is paying attention, to your danger meter, no one cares. Dora might be a good subject for an insurance company commercial. Oh, you woke up early this morning, Dora? No one cares. It’s the same with your danger meter.

  2. Fritz Kraut says:

    To compare Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s COVID policy with GDR’s emigration policy is absurd.

    To imply that she is a Communist is likewise ludicrous. Nostalgic McCarthyism?

    And, as a matter of historical record, the storming/opening of the Berlin Wall was triggered by an announcement by the GDR government (no longer headed by Erich Honecker) on Nov. 9, 1989, which was broadcast back to the East German population by West German TV.

    For details, see Wiki entry for “Fall_of_the_Berlin_Wall”
    To read the announcement of the emigration policy change click on “Text of the regulation”, which will open the original text in German with English translation side by side.

    Prior to this epic prelude to German reunification, East Germans who wanted to move to the FRG went “on vacation” to Hungary – a fellow (so-called) Eastern Block country – with their 500cc two-cylinder two-stroke Trabis, and then crossed into Austria (about 70,000 of them). That escape route became a viable option because Hungary had eased its border controls earlier in 1989.

    https://www.rferl.org/a/hungary-1989-east-germany/30156892.html

    It should be needless to say that the Austrian border guards didn’t shoot them. That would have been unthinkable. Nor did that happen in 1956 when 200,000 Hungarians fled West as the Soviets rolled in the tanks to crush the popular uprising, and their bid to leave the Warsaw Pact.

    Under Honecker, however, the GDR did shoot their own people trying to escape over the Berlin Wall or across the inner-German border. Guards were under pressure to obey the Schießbefehl (standing order to shoot) and were rewarded with medals, bonuses, and sometimes promotion for shooting escapees.

    FAZIT: Based on his previous comments and prescriptions for border security policy on the Mexico-Texas border, Bill Daniels seems to have more in common with old-guard Communist and wall-builder Erich Honecker than with Judge Lina Hidalgo, a self-described Progressive.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Wolf,

    While I always enjoy your annotated history lessons, seriously, there’s one tiny flaw with your comparison.

    I support building a wall to keep OUT the hoard of mostly military fighting age foreign men pouring unopposed across our Southern border, in contrast to the DDR, who, as you well know, built a wall to keep their own people IN. Unless you’re a closet Ron Paul devotee and fear the wall would be used to keep US citizens in, your comparo is not really a good one.

    But in the spirit of gleichheit and wohlwollen, here’s another example of the tail wagging the dog. Remember the Polish people fighting to break free of the evil of communism? Remember Solidarnosc?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Solidarity

    Remember the last good Pope, John Paul II using his position to help the Polish people rise up and overthrow their commie overlords? Remember Reagan taunting Gorby about the wall?

    The Poles declared THEMSELVES free people. It was only after the cows were out of the barn, that the commies running Poland relented. Just like Dora with her stranger danger meter, the PEOPLE declared themselves to be free of oppressive Wu flu policies, THEN Dora adjusted her meter.

    I should also point out that back in those heady days, when the Iron Curtain fell and freedom broke out, most all Americans celebrated the fall of communism. We largely agreed that was a good thing. My how things have changed.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    For further historical context, here’s the NY Times on the John Paul II’s historic visit:

    https://www.nytimes.com/1979/06/11/archives/9-triumphant-days-in-poland-pope-in-messages-spoken-with-passion.html

  5. Jason Hochman says:

    Following the data is not the same as following the Science. The metrics for the data were set, and never revised as the Science churned out with more and more discoveries.

    This is why I advocate voter suppression. I would say, that in order to vote, you must have a BSL 3 or higher lab of your own.

  6. ken roberts says:

    Jason,

    They did change one of the metrics, otherwise we would still be at the highest level. However, that metric was for the Test Positivity Rate of under 5%, which was changed to a “secondary indicator.” It is just now, at 5.0% after spending most of the previous two months hovering between 8 and 10%.

    That was a data-informed decision based on the fact that there are far fewer tests being processed and now testing is more likely to be because someone is expressing symptoms.

    I’m not a epidemiologist, but I advocated for ignoring that metric more a month previous to when it was.

    The other metrics (e.g., hospital bed usage, number of new cases per week, change in the number of cases) have not been changed and provide a much better picture.

    While we moved rather quickly from Level 2 to Level 3, it looks like it will take much longer to get to the Level 4 (i.e., the lowest level). Part of the reason the move from 2 to 3 quick was that Level 2 was being held up by that Positivity Rate, alone. We need to cut the bed usage by half and reduce the number of new cases per week to almost a third its current rate.

  7. Jason Hochman says:

    ken, I don’t know where the county gets its positivity rates, but the TMC rate has been below 4% for more than a month.

  8. ken roberts says:

    Their data is delayed by 7 days, so that wouldn’t account for the difference. Harris County has their data on their data hub, which would include TMC:

    https://covid-harriscounty.hub.arcgis.com/pages/367466b9ffb64a839e768a02f92bae58

    TMC may be more liberal with testing, including testing people who are already vaccinated, due to fear of spreading it to patients. I don’t know.

  9. Jason Hochman says:

    TMC states that its data is from “Greater Houston MSA” which is larger than just Harris County.

    TMC has been below 4% positivity and an R value slightly below one for several weeks now.

    The 5% metric is totally arbitrary. It is not science. Why not 3%? Or 7%?

    If we assume belief in the number of cases/infected persons, you would need to encounter thousands of people to find one infected person. Then you have the additional probability of is the person contagious? And, would you get enough of a dose to be infected?

    The percentage of people sick with Covid who are hospitalized is around one to three percent. The risk to most healthy people is very low.

    Past pandemics ended without a vaccine. Yes, it is more humane and effective to vaccinate rather than to let everyone get sick and the vulnerable won’t survive.

    All of which is to say, that it is time to toss our face buddies, time to toss our threat-o-meter. For better or for worse, this ain’t the plague that will wipe out humans.