In other words, he knows numbers.
Which brings me to a series of tweets from Reeves earlier this week in which he systematically destroyed the argument that everyone should just get Covid-19 now so that we build up a herd immunity. (The geniuses behind that theory of the case are some of the same ones pushing for young people to have coronavirus parties so everyone there gets exposed.)
Here’s Reeves’ data-driven argument against that thinking — in seven tweets.
1) “Let’s talk about herd immunity. I’ve listened to some people argue that the rapid spread of cases is a good thing, and we need to reach herd immunity in Mississippi and elsewhere to survive. I’m not a health care expert by any means, but I am a math guy. And I have thoughts:”
2) “The experts say we need 70-80% of the population to get COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity. Let’s assume they’re wrong (it’s certainly possible, they have been before.) Let’s assume they’re being way overly cautious and we actually only need 40% infection for herd immunity.”
3) “In Mississippi, our population is 3 million. We’ve had 36,680 cases so far. We’d need 1.2 MILLION infections to achieve that hypothetical 40% threshold. (Remember, experts say it’s double that.)”
4) “Over the last two weeks, our hospital system has started to become stressed to the point of pain. We are seeing the early signs and effects of it becoming overwhelmed. We had to suspend elective surgeries again.”
5) “On our worst day of new cases, we had just over 1,000. It has typically been between 700-900 during this most aggressive time. To get to 40% infections, we’d need 3,187 new cases every day for a full year from today. We would need to TRIPLE our worst day — every day — for a year.”
6) “I’m not one of these guys that immediately dismisses any idea that challenges the expert status quo talking points. I’m pretty skeptical by nature. That’s healthy. But herd immunity is not anything like a realistic solution in the short or mid-term. I wish it was.”
7) “Unless you’re willing to go without hospitals after a car wreck or heart attack, we need a different approach. Right now, despite mixed messages at the beginning, it seems like masks are the best bet. They’re a hell of a lot better than widespread shut downs. Please wear one!”
Yeah, all of that.
What Reeves is doing is what we all should be doing — pushing back against the wild theories of how the coronavirus is either overblown or not that bad with cold, hard facts.
The idea that we can all somehow develop herd immunity without drastically overtaxing the hospital system is a fantasy. Even if you assume — as proponents of the herd immunity idea do — that many more of us have had coronavirus (and not even known it) than testing shows, you are still talking about a number of cases requiring hospitalizations that would overwhelm the system in virtually every state.
Rather than looking for some magic bullet to get us through this pandemic — or, as President Donald Trump has done, declaring the fight won when it obviously isn’t, what we should do is exactly what Reeves recommends: Wear a mask when in public! Because, unlike crackpot theories around herd immunity, the scientific community has concluded that masks help mitigate the spread of the virus.
“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield on Tuesday. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”
Reeves isn’t the only Republican governor using logic — and data — to help limit the recent surges in the virus. On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced a statewide mask mandate. “We’re almost to the point where our hospital ICUs are overwhelmed,” she said. “Folks, the numbers just do not lie.”
Unfortunately, not all Republican governors are being as reasonable. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), who has resisted mandating mask-wearing in his state, announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for coronavirus, the first governor in the country to do so. “I was pretty shocked that I was the first governor to get it,” Stitt said.
He shouldn’t be.