Can Doesn’t Imply Should

The UK is taking another step “toward normal” today. In England, indoor hospitality (read: pubs and restaurants) can resume; hosting parties of six people or two households. Outdoor gatherings up to 30 are okay, museums, theaters, and gyms can reopen. And snogging and shagging strangers is now legal again.

At the same time, there is significant concern about hot spots of “India variant” cases. The Telegraph reports (paywall) “total numbers have more than doubled in each of the past two weeks.” The official message from the government is that the planned reopening on June 21st is under threat, but today’s reopening will proceed as planned.

A recurring refrain in the UK is that Boris’ Tory government has taken many of its critical decisions a bit too late. Locking down. Restricting Travel. The timing of travel restrictions from India are currently top of the news cycle.

On June 1st, today will be “two weeks ago” – and there’s a little insistent voice in my head asking what we’ll wish we’d done, or hadn’t done, today when we look back in two weeks.

The scientific community is concerned – an article in The Guardian (paywall) quoted Professor Sir Mark Walport (you can never have too many honorariums ’round here) – chief scientific adviser until 2017 – who advised people continue remaining outdoors as much as possible, saying “my advice is that just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.”

Wise words in many contexts.

The data emerging from the “India variant” hot spots seems to suggest the risk continues to be higest to the non-vaccinated. Fortunately there’s unlikely to be much overlap between young people not yet eligible for vaccination and those most likely to return to indoor activities.

That Telegraph article I mentioned? It reassures readers that the doubling in each of the last two weeks was “climbing from a very low base, with just 1,313 cases so far detected in total.” I guess the author never had to figure out how much wheat or rice ends up in the proverbial chess board.

People do not understand exponential growth.

Last week I read Michael Lewis‘ (The Big Short, Flash Boys, Moneyball) latest: The Premonition: A Pandemic Story. The inability to collectively grok exponential curves is a depressingly recurring theme. (The book is recommended, but not uplifting.)

On the “home front,” we’re both well. Dawnise is fully vaccinated, I’m between jabs. I’m anxious for my second, but reminding myself that the “first-doses-first” strategy has proven good for the collective, and the inter-vaccination duration seems to significantly improve efficacy, making it good for me individually.


I hate waiting.

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