Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Illusion of Control

A magician uses misdirection to create illusions.

They get the audience to focus on the misdirection in order to hide the reality.

I can't help but think of a magician when I consider much of what the CDC and the political class is doing with regard to Covid.

Why were masks so heavily promoted and mandated after they were initially disparaged? The science before Covid clearly showed that cloth and surgical masks were of almost no value against a virus that is aerosolized.

Additional studies since Covid  appeared have reached the same conclusion. One high profile study was done in Denmark. 

The reason that masks were promoted so heavily is they provided the illusion of control.

It made it appear that something was being done to protect the population.

It made each of us believe that we were also controlling our destiny. After all, don't we all think it is better to do something rather than do nothing?

In fact, it was an illusion. It was nothing more than a masquerade if you look at the science and the subsequent data.

Bear in mind that at one time the CDC Director actually stated that masks would be more effective than the vaccines in combating Covid.


We were also told that if everyone wore a mask for 1-2 months that Covid would be controlled.

That statement was made over one year ago.

Almost every state established some form of mask mandate last year between May and August. At the beginning of October, 2020, 88% of Americans stated they typically wore a mask when away from home.

Mask adherence nationally was over 80% until May of this year.

This chart compares mask usage with the number of confirmed positive cases for the one year period March, 2020 through March, 2021.


It is difficult to see any correlation between mask usage and the transmission of Covid in this data.

In fact, a study by the CDC actually found that an overwhelming number of people getting Covid wore a mask "always" or "often".

Keep the magician analogy in mind as we see what the CDC, Joe Biden and the political class have up their sleeves next regarding Covid.

There are rumors that we will see additional calls for mask mandates and lockdowns to combat the rise in Covid cases sometime within the next two weeks.

They want to portray that they are in control.

However, it could very well be that the current surge in cases might be in the early stages of turning down in the Sunbelt states that are currently driving it. I believe that the increase in cases is being driven principally by seasonality factors much like was the case last year.

Let's look at the UK and India which were both ahead of the United States in dealing with the Delta variant which is being blamed for the current increase in cases in the U.S.

There seems to be a pattern with Covid in which cases surge for 45 days when a major outbreak begins until it turns down.

You can observe this pattern in the UK in the wave last Winter as well as the recent so-called Delta variant wave.

You can see the same pattern in India where the Delta variant is reported to have originated.

The UK had a high vaccination rate before the surge. Cases are now dropping quickly but it seems that has nothing to do with vaccine rates. In fact, most cases in the UK have been in vaccinated people.

India has less than 10% vaccinated but cases dropped quickly with no apparent reason. 

Experts have no real answers on what happened in either instance.

Let's look at Florida which is having the highest number of cases reported in the United States right now.

Cases were running at the lowest levels since the pandemic began in the week of June 15-June 22 when cases started an upsurge.

This would suggest Florida is very close to the peak if the UK and India patterns hold. We should start to see decreasing cases in Florida soon irrespective of government interventions if the prior pattern repeats itself.

In fact, calculates that the Effective Reproduction Number (Rt) is already showing signs of flattening in Florida. It increased above 1.0 on June 21 (41 days ago).

This is an indicator that typically signals whether cases will soon be increasing (above 1.0) or declining (below 1.0) in the near future.


Is it possible that the CDC is aware of this and by implementing new mandate recommendations ( vaccinations, masks or lockdowns) they can then argue that "it worked" to maintain control and credibility when cases inevitably come down?

Is the illusion of control more important than actual results?

If this is their strategy they cannot allow Governors like Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas to go their own way. It represents too big a threat to that strategy.

What if Florida and Texas do nothing and cases plummet on their own?

This is why I expect major attacks and unrelenting pressure on red state governors to keep them from going their separate ways. It is too big a risk to the narrative.

If everyone is together in the herd you don't risk being called out and criticized later. Outside the herd the individual decision you make will make you a hero or a goat. There is no hiding outside the herd. You are exposed and accountable.

DeSantis became a hero to many because he was able to withstand the heat and take Florida in a different direction last year on Covid policy. He now faces a new challenge as do other red state governors.

Can they hold up to the pressure? If they can, we may find out who is right and wrong in all of this. It is impossible to do that if everyone is in the herd.

Magicians only seem magical when you see the illusion but not the reality.

What happens in New York, Illinois and other deep blue states if they implement more mandates and restrictions but seasonality starts to drive cases up as the weather cools despite all of the measures and mandate?

Here is the Rt for Illinois. It is already higher than Florida and still climbing right now.

Here it is for California which has always had stricter mitigation measures in place than Florida. The Rt in California is also higher than Florida.


Vermont has the highest percentage of residents vaccinated of any state.

It also has a higher Rt than Florida right now but it also appears that the reproduction number is starting to roll over.


Mississippi has the the fewest number of residents vaccinated of any state.

Its current Rt is 1.89 and rising.

However, Connecticut has the third highest vaccination rate in the country.

There is almost no difference in its Rt (1.87) and that of Mississippi (1.89) right now.

The narrative is clear. We need more vaccinations, more mask mandates and more restrictions. It is the only way.

Is it really? Perhaps it is.

However, what does the data and almost 18 months or experience with Covid tell us? Shouldn't we be in a better place if the narrative is true.?  It tells me we don't have all the answers. It tells me that the people in control of the narrative are mainly interested in providing us the illusion of control.

We could be moving into one of the most interesting times we have yet seen with Covid.

We may end up with two herds moving in different directions.

It may reveal who got it right and who got it wrong. 

It may reveal a real path to control Covid or we may find that much of what we have been told was a mere illusion designed to control the narrative and control us.

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