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covid mitigation stringency: some data

A few days ago, commenters on the blog argued that I was fighting a strawman by suggesting we move from strict measures to a laxer “protect the elderly” position. Lockdowns in response to COVID simply weren’t happening and my argument was entirely off base. Here, I’ll briefly review some evidence on COVID mitigation measures. My suggestion for COVID – focus on at risk groups such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions – may be wrong, but the evidence does not suggest that I am fighting a straw man.

First, the media is reporting that many parts of the world are becoming more stringent:

Of course, the media may be missing the story. They might be exaggerating things or I might be selectively looking at things. There is actually an independent source of data that tracks the stringency of COVID mitigation: The Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. Their rank nations from 0 (no response) to 100 (the banning of nearly all gatherings).

If you look at the data, you will immediately see extremely wide variation in government response. I have chosen five nations to show the range and how it varies over time. The US as a whole, it is safe to say, has modulated between moderate to high stringency – from 60% to 70%. New Zealand has widely oscillated between a near 100% rating and a 20% rating. Sweden is cruising along at 40% – moderately lenient but not as open as the media would suggest. Ireland has been pretty strict, but for one month, dipped low. Peru has been very strict the entire epidemic – nearly 100% most of the time.

Why do I bring this up? Simple. Many nations are definitely highly stringent and some are very stringent. Some are not stringent at all. Discussing curfews, mass quarantines, and the like is not fighting a strawman. Focused COVID mitigation – “protect the elderly” – may be a bad idea, but the debate over strict COVID measures is real and needs to be had.

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Written by fabiorojas

October 27, 2020 at 7:51 pm

Posted in uncategorized

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