Georgia Update — it has been a while

I did no such thing.

I did disagree with calling something a random sample when it was not.

And I maintain the only way to get a truly random test is to force the people chosen at random to be tested. How can an honest person deny that?

I designed my first random survey around 1975.

Impervious is really a bridge too far, isn’t it?

Why not set expectations at “reasonable risk given the costs and benefits?”

States doing well at this point have issued strict orders. Masks are required and re-opening decisions are made with the science in mind.

These statements seem not to fit together very well, but I don’t want to make any assumptions. How can these statements be squared, Vance?


I designed my first random study while I was in the military in a B-52 Bomb Wing in Strategic Air Command. Peace is our profession.

I took a printout of the base personnel on those old green and white computer printouts. The first line on each page was the survey participant. People in the military have less freedom to ignore questions than civilians. They already volunteered, with a sworn oath.

Is it clear now, Chris?

Can you admit that a truly random survey of civilians requires forced answers, not just those willing who happen to be at the Piggly Wiggly?


We have no idea if this is the case yet. You might be right and we should hope that you are. But many Europeans were making the same argument to just open everything as normal and voila:

It’s been a painful process for Georgia to get to where it’s at with more unnecessary deaths to follow.

Did you see the link in post 15?

The lack of spread in the Northeast certainly gives us an idea.

Your graph indicates the shutdowns in France and Spain did not work, and perhaps less shutdown and faster movement to herd immunity would have been a better approach (with more protection targeted to the most vulnerable).

By your definition of “truly random,” that would be the case.

The far more common usage of “random survey” in America allows for voluntary participation and freedom not to participate, yet nevertheless is able to provide enough data to make critical decisions. As I have previously mentioned, that is how I have been using the term throughout.


I don’t consider that my personal definition, as I prefer to follow the dictionary. It is very difficult to discuss thinks with people when they make up their own definitions.

I only added the “truly” for emphasis, as you seemed to be defining random in your own special way.

Yes, I’ve read that article. It’s a good one and it highlights how uncertain we are about what the actual herd immunity threshold is. Here is a good graphic demonstrating how you can keep the effective reproductive number of a virus below 1 with a combination of reduced social connectivity and a certain percentage of your population immune.


NY is presently in their ‘phase four’ which still includes less social connectivity than normal:

We would only know if a population has reached herd immunity if we go about life as normal and after several months, no resurgence of cases.


Those in the military are a different breed. :grin: So a random sample of them is not indicative of the general public.

Yes, which implies we should reopen some to find out. And one conclusion that could be drawn is that we benefit from not having a uniform national strategy.

I would hope we could get some indication (albeit imperfect) from antibody tests.

This reminds me of the test procedure that I learned in the Army to determine if chemical or biological agents had dissipated after an attack. There were steps to go through, starting with taking off the gas mask for a few seconds while holding breath, waiting, taking of the mask to take one breath, waiting…

Of course, the survey was about the military at that base, not the general public.

But we were still the same breed, humans.

The truth is, masks, social distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, quarantine, and ventilation work.

On that map a state can have uncontrolled spread (dark red), and then move to trending better (green), and later that same state can slip back into uncontrolled spread mode. Rhode Island is an example.


Would you care to show your math? Vermont, for example, has a total incidence rate 1/7th that of Massachusetts; Vermont is green while Massachusetts is yellow. Within Massachusetts, the hardest hit city, Chelsea, has an incidence almost five times that of the state as a whole – but it still has the highest rate of new cases. How does that square with herd immunity?

By the way, our study of SARS-CoV-2 in the Boston area is out in preprint now:


Steve, when do you think herd immunity will be reached?

Don’t you think some Areas will be sooner than others?

I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows. More importantly, it’s not a binary thing. Effective herd immunity in the presence of wide-spread masking, social distancing, and bans on certain gatherings is going to occur at much lower immunity rates than it will in the absence of those efforts. Similarly for things like population density and mass transit use.

Certainly. As Bill Hanage was quoted saying above, there are undoubtedly pockets with high immunity rates where it should be easy to control further spread. But I haven’t seen any evidence that they’re widespread.


I think the goals should continue to be:

  1. Protect the vulnerable population (old people and those with underlying conditions),
  2. Keep the hospitalizations below the capability of the facilities, and
  3. Keep the economy open to the extent possible.

That’s what we’ve done over here in Alabama via a mask mandate. We are pretty well open and lowering the hospitalization to manageable levels. The masking and social distancing allows us to do that.


Go, 'Tide! :grin:

There is an analogy to be drawn between COVID and polio, if you read the long-hauler article (admittedly, not the most prestigious of sources) or are familiar with the effects from other reading. It’s not the kind of thing you want to let go au naturel without a vaccine. It’s also not like we could expect the same kind of results from a vaccine.

1 Like

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.