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John Lam's Blog


This is a fantastic piece from NYT Opinion that asks a simple question: in the 18 states in the US where Democrats have absolute power, do they live the values espoused by their party? It examines three key issues: affordable housing (California), progressive taxation (Washington), and education (Illinois). The results will be surprising to you. I didn't know that Washington state is the most regressive taxation state in the nation.

We continue to focus on cases now that Omicron is raging across the country. But is this the right metric for us to be looking at? We're saying "OMG, Omicron is setting new daily records". But given that Omicron is much less virulent:

and the recent data from South Africa shows a dramatic decoupling in deaths and cases compared to previous variants:

Why are we continuing to scare people with hyperbolic language like "global dominance"?

It's meaningless to compare case numbers from a more virulent but less transmissible variant to a less virulent but more transmissible variant unless you're just trying to scare people. Perhaps it's time for a better metric - it seems like hospitalizations are a much more reasonable metric to be looking at to a first approximation. Here is Bob Wachter's more reasonable look at hospitalizations (which of course is a lagging metric to cases):

Also, Bob has a hopeful take on Omicron. Hopefully Omicron continues to outcompete Delta and becomes the variant that becomes endemic in the population. Maybe, as Bob suggests, COVID becomes "just like a bad flu" by the Spring. We can only hope.