The lockdown that dare not speak its name

What does Philadelphia have for you this holiday season?

A second lockdown that it will not call a lockdown. Clampdown, maybe?

Mayor Jim Kenney has bad news for you

And this is happening precisely when public health officials are agreeing that lockdowns are not especially effective. What?

At a Monday news conference, a grim Mayor Jim Kenney cited a “very dangerous stage of the pandemic” that required direct and firm action. The impact on people and businesses was factored in, he said, but turned the presser over to Health Commissioner Thomas Farley to deliver the bad news, and it was very bad.

The U.S. is experiencing an explosive surge in the disease. By December, Philly could count 3,000 cases a day, said Farley, requiring “tough” restrictions, if not “orders,” to stay home.

The surge is the result of pandemic fatigue, as people get lackadaisical about precautions. He produced a chart showing a sharp spike in local deaths.

The greatest spread, said Farley, came from household visits, which he requested people to cease.

Here is what Farley rules out, starting Friday, and lasting through Jan. 1:

  • Small social gatherings
  • Large social gatherings
  • Dining indoors at restaurants
  • No spectators at pro sporting events
  • Working, except for “essential” services.
  • Bars
  • Gyms
  • Car pools

The city was trying to avoid a lockdown such as last spring’s, said Farley, even as he announced restrictions very much like last spring’s — with the difference being schools for youngsters would remain open.

He said this was the result of what was learned by a number of European nations that had “restricted” people, but not young students.

The idea here is to follow the science, and the experience of others.

The problem is, the experience of others has been mixed. In some countries, from small (New Zealand) to large (China), tight lockdowns have been effective. Other countries, notable Sweden, have done almost nothing.

In Philly, the full list of restrictions will be published on the city website Tuesday.

I hate to use the P-word, panic, but that almost seems to be what is motivating a lot of government policy. Political leaders do not want their name attached (as has President Donald J. Trump’s — rightly or wrongly) to a long list of American dead. They would rather be in charge of a shattered economy, as that can be cured by cash. Nothing brings a dead person back.

So, yes, even if driven by panic, the restrictions are designed to flatten the death curve, and will probably do so. They may not be the best policy, but they do work. We saw that in the spring. They are clumsy, but they do slow the pace of infection, and death.

That is why I will observe them.

I don’t want to kill you — or me.

34 thoughts on “The lockdown that dare not speak its name”

  1. Stu – your article title can be summed up by Shakespeare: “A rose by any other name….”

    Or maybe Lincoln in his 1858 address: You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

    Or perhaps P.T. Barnum said it best: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Which seems to better describe Philly’s mayor – both his attitude towards the citizens and maybe he himself.

    Okay boys and girls !
    There will be no hoarding of toilet paper, tissues of any sort, milk, bread, eggs and anything else that you can hoard.
    EXCEPT ! lysol spray. Because it’s already on the endangered hoarding list !
    On a lighter note. Because of my birthday being on Christmas. I don’t expect any gifts from my fellow bloggers. Cash will do ! Send it C/o Stu Bykofski. He’ll get it to me – and help me spend it !

        1. No, Toni, it is not Polish (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The derivation is Russian, ending in “y.” The “i” generally denotes Polish, but I am an American, first and foremost.

          1. I knew that, pallie.
            Did you also know that Tony – abbreviated from Anthony, when spelled with an “I”, would be Toni, female, as in Antoinette.
            Of course, in Philly, Tony is short for Antonio, being Italian. Also “Ant”, Antny”, Anth, and the always popular “YO !”.
            just say’n’

  3. These idiotic restrictions do NOT or will not lower the death count. Not when you factor in the increase in suicides, stress related heart attacks, strokes (and the like), deaths from the expected effects of a great percentage of the population not being able to get cancer screenings, preventive health care checkups, etc. I will bet you $____(fill in amount) to charity that this time next year you will be able to check 2020 deaths (via death certificates issued) and the total number of US deaths will NOT be in the top 5 highest during any of the past 25 years. If ever a lesson should be learned from this whole ordeal it’s that elections have consequences and we as a country have got to take the election of local, state and national officials much more seriously.

  4. These “experts” are morons! We knew back in March that the virus didn’t effect affect children and they don’t spread it. These are the same idiots who killed thousands of elderly people in nursing homes, the people we KNEW were the most vulnerable by placing active Covid patients in the homes and not allocating the proper testing procedures for the residents and employees. They are crushing small businesses who were doing the right thing without evidence that they were responsible for the surge. The same with gyms.

  5. I remember in the movies and in recent prison stories how dangerous inmates were seeking to be allowed into the general population. And now the reverse we are the general populations being directed to return to our cells until further notice by political leaders who never come out of there cells out of fear of the general population. And in Wuhan China where it all began there are no restrictions as there have been no new cases and the City is clear. What a perfect time to air the Abbott and Costello skit Who’s on first.

  6. Three thousand — 3000— deaths A DAY in Philadelphia? Nonsense! That has to be a typographical error. Perhaps 3000 CASES a day, but 3000 DEATHS? Not a chance. That would be 90,000 deaths a month in Philadelphia, where there have been 253.000 deaths in nine months in the entire USA.
    And take heart, good frightened people (as the government clamps down on your freedoms): there have been 11,500,000 cases in the entire USA, a nation of 330,000,000 people. That means 318,500,000 people haven’t gotten sick. And among those who did get sick, 7,000,000 have recovered. If indeed the city closes businesses until January 1, there will be more damage done by government than by Covid. (Warning: the following is paranoia run amok): the Left cannot rebuild America as a socialist nation until it destroys capitalism. Covid is the excuse.

  7. Could you please published the phone number to call so we can turn our neighbors. Stalinist Russia was probably less restrictive. Are they going to raise the bridges and barricade 95. Kennedy’s begging off has been a feature of his tenure as Mayor. He isn’t a person you would want to share foxhole with.

  8. Geez Stu, I didn’t know you had so many readers that were virus experts. It seems to me that the government is trying to save lives. As to wearing masks, the only way that this would be adhered to, is to penalize folks who refuse wearing masks by issuing fines. It looks like a vaccine is about to be distributed, and anyone who refuses a vaccine should also be penalized.

    1. Don’t underestimate the possibility that the pols are merely trying to save their hides. Stu points this out with, “I hate to use the P-word, panic, but that almost seems to be what is motivating a lot of government policy. Political leaders do not want their name attached (as has President Donald J. Trump’s — rightly or wrongly) to a long list of American dead. They would rather be in charge of a shattered economy, as that can be cured by cash. Nothing brings a dead person back.”

  9. For a democrat run city these restrictions are mild. At the same time “the further we’re removed from our precious freedom the nearer we are to losing it”…bit by bit.
    Is there no choice but to abide?

  10. Philadelphia, PA

    Dear Stu,

    I plan to do about what we’ve been doing all along. We wear a mask when going into a shop or supermarket, and try to keep some distance generally. But at least in recent months, even eating inside at restaurants has not proved dangerous. I wonder if they intend to close the restaurants, too? I really fear for the future of small business in the city and the area. What does the Governor have to say about the rest of the state?

    We are also lucky to be able to work from home.

    I notice that since they’ve agreed on the outcome of the election and accepted the position of President-elect Biden, the media now allow themselves optimism about getting a vaccine fairly soon. There has been some good news along those lines.

    H.G. Callaway

  11. We the people are like Clement Atlee, whom Winston Churchill referred to as “a sheep in sheep’s clothing.”

  12. “By December, Philly could count 3,000 deaths a day, said Farley, requiring “tough” restrictions, if not “orders,” to stay home.”

    3000 deaths/day in Philly could happen, I suppose, but it would mean a level of virulence heretofore unseen in this virus. It is, in short, a scare tactic, and when, as is likely, it fails to materialize, it will give aid and comfort to those who think the whole thing is a hoax. Yes, let’s follow the science, but no, let’s not do it with hyperbole.

    This reminds me a bit of George Carlin’s routine where he mocks the airlines when they announce at the end of a flight, “And check your seating area for anything that you may have brought on board”. Carlin remarks, “I may have brought my stamp collection, BUT I DIDN’T!”

  13. Yes, the murder rate will continue. The restrictions on small business is a disgrace especially the restaurants. We
    go to support our local restaurants, wear a mask, safe distance but now it has to be a family of 4 sitting at a restaurant. I guess they want to kill the restaurant business all together and no pleasure or any fun for us. All doom
    and gloom. The politicians go about their lives but want complete power over ours…they are all hypocrites!!!!
    So other problems will arise…loneliness, health risks not going to doctors, more crime in Philly.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!!!!

  14. 1) Wear a mask and make sure you over your nose and mouth with it. Would you just put a condom on your testicles?
    2) Wear disposable gloves. People handle fruits and such at the market.
    3) Make your own hand sanitizer and keep it in your pocket in a mini-spray bottle. 2/3rd of 70% rubbing alcohol and 1/3 liquid Aloe (Also keeps your skin from drying out)
    4) Wash your hands frequently. Sing the happy birthday song twice.
    5) Keep at least 6 feet away from others
    6) Use sanitizer wipes to wipe down your cell phone, keys, wallet, credit card.

    If you follow the items above you won’t get the virus. It’s simple, common sense. There is no need to imprison people inside their houses. We need sub freezing weather to get rid of this virus.

    1. Mike,
      All good advice. Too many people just use a kerchief, rather than a real mask. Too many people make their own masks, but don’t sanitize them. And on, and on.
      All of that, and you still might get the virus. The only guaranties are that you will pay taxes, and die. ( or is it the other way around ?

  15. Just found this on FOX app and first part on Laura Ingraham.

    According to Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, masks are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if individuals are outside their homes.

    When indoors, masks are required even if you are physically distant from members not in your household. This applies to every indoor facility, including homes, retail establishments, gyms, doctors’ offices, public transportation, and anywhere food is prepared, packaged or served.

    Also, Dr Ramin Oskoui, CEO Fox Hall Cardiology “We know and have known that masks, social distancing, and quarantine don’t work. What does work is what Vince said…fear.

  16. There’s a reason why the corrupt Governors are being especially strict about the bars. They know bars are where people gather and talk. They don’t want people gathering and talking. The seeds of the American Revolution were sewn in bars.

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