52 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: How not wearing a mask spreads the virus”

  1. The KC Covid Dashboard shows a steady increase in positive cases since the start of the phased reopening. We’re back in the triple digits for new daily cases. Hopefully a concerted effort to wear masks will keep this in check. Remember, the Stay Home Stay Safe mandate was to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system. That system is now more robust. A 100 new cases results in 16 hospitalizations; well within the systems ability to respond. We don’t have good data on the health impacts the quarantine has had but it is significant. Cancer screenings for example have been postponed and statistics are clear early detection improves outcomes. Economic impacts include people losing health care coverage and imposing economic stress on many rural hospitals that may force them to close forever. Let’s be smart and get back to the new normal as quickly as is prudent.

    1. “100 new cases results in 16 hospitalizations”

      Actually, if you look at the bar graph for hospitalizations and deaths the really good news is neither of these metrics has shown an increase due to the phased reopening (~2 hospitalizations and <1 death per day). The overall statistics are skewed from the early onslaught of cases being in nursing homes; a subset of the population that most definitely needs to keep strict protocols in place.

      1. Early cases were skewed towards those in hospitals and nursing homes. Now the opposite is happening (most new cases are young people). What is worrisome is the fact that it is quite likely that more people actually have the disease than ever, meaning that cases could easily continue to increase, at which point we will see an increase in hospitalizations (as they are seeing in most of the country). Hopefully the mask order will force people to take this seriously, otherwise we will be back to where we were fairly soon (and start having more restrictions).

    2. Krystal Ball has repeatedly laid out the relationship between “elective surgeries” and for-profit medicine, and the case that the pandemic has made for Medicare for All (and neither candidate of the two-party Sithdom have gotten the message).

      1. The commentary dismisses an extremely complicated issue as a simple money grab by the providers and insurance companies. It’s wildly misleading and none of the boring facts are allowed to get in the way of sensationalism. Insurance companies make a profit or they cease to exist. There’s a strong market based pricing system based on what doctors want to charge and what insurance wants to pay. That’s why Medicare can be an efficient insurer, they have the most clout. Hospital mergers are driven by the same dynamic. Then there’s companies like Kaiser that are both provider and insurer. Big pharma might be the villain but is also who we’re looking to for a Covid vaccine.

        There’s a few cheap incremental improvements. Control drug prices somewhat like they are able to do in Canada. Stop funding big tobacco. Extend the mandate for uninsured care from only emergency rooms to urgent care facilities and federally fund it. Remove restrictions on insurance companies having regulatory barriers based on State lines.

      2. Biden is just being his moderate/cautious self. The Democrats were scared by the Reagan Revolution (1980), Gingrich revolution in Congress (1990s), the difficulty in getting to and keeping Obamacare (2008-present), and the rise of Trump’s and Republican legislatures’ power (2016-present). Our democracy is now hanging by a thread due to said Trump and legislatures and Mitch McConnell and a large public distrust of facts/science (the anti-facemask movement being a symptom of this). The Democrats need to focus on guaranteeing voting rights, eliminating corruption, and curbing the power of presidents to abuse their positions. If we don’t get those then everything else will be lost too. (Although our future authoritarian overlords might reverse their position on universal healthcare and climate change. You will have Medicare and love it, comrade.)

        So we need to improve the healthcare system somehow without getting too caught up in all-or-nothing crusades to eliminate employer-based insurance and private insurance companies immediately. We can’t risk alienating people who might get turned off by that and oppose more critical things, perhaps due to misleading ads saying the overhaul will do things it doesn’t do.

        The issues of high healthcare costs and excessive elective procedures are very complex, and their effects are uneven across different regions and establishments. The reason costs are high is every part of the system marks up prices to take a cut: doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, drug manufacturers, medical-equipment vendors, ambulance companies. Medicare pays less than other insurers, and doesn’t cover some things most people are used to. Medicare patients find only a subset of doctors will accept them due to the lower payments. if Medicare rates are imposed across the board, especially suddenly, some doctors will leave the profession, some facilities will go bankrupt, and some rural areas may lose the few medical services they have. If the American healthcare business model depends on flush money coming through, then eliminating half that money would cause closures and unemployment and damage to cities’ economies that we’d need a plan to cope with. Transitioning needs to be a slow and carefully-thought-out plan. And it’s hard to do that effectively when there are people in power running around sabotaging it and throwing people through the cracks. We first need to make the political and healthcare systems sabotage-proof, then we can revolutionize them.

        The effects of greedy providers and for-profit hospitals is at different levels in different counties. King County is among the best in the country for cost-effective services and non-excessive services. That’s due to the long patient-centric rather than profit-maximizing traditions of Group Health, Virginia Mason, Harborview, and UW Medicine. Swedish is probably only moderately greedy on a national scale. Different counties across the country have widely different prices and excessive-service levels, even adjacent counties. It depends on what percent of providers are for-profit, whether one organization has a monopoly or near-monopoly, and whether there are too many specialist centers (e.g., MRI centers) per capita. If there are too many for-profit providers or one provider has a near-monopoly, they jack up prices. If there are too many specialist centers per capita, they drum up business through marketing, and directly or indirectly encourage doctors to overperscribe and patients to overdemand. Other countries don’t have these excesses. Doctors are more on reasonable salaries which aren’t directly related to how much the provider can get from insurance claims, and specialty clinics are based on how much the community needs. Any attempt to bring down prices to other countries’ levels will have to address these too.

        The Canadian system is not a bad model. As it has been described to me, Medicare gives you basically a hospital bed and a moderate base of services. Everything beyond that can be obtained through private insurance. That’s where elective procedures come in. Most Canadians have private insurance, he said, to get more procedures covered and better hospital features. It requires thinking in a different way and a different structure than Americans are used to. Two tiers that work together: a base tier and a luxury tier. This works because the skyrocketing costs are in the first tier; that’s what Canada has been able to hold down. My recent dental surgeries, bicep-tendon surgery. and preventative procedures have all been reasonable-cost ($1000-2000) and the cost was fully disclosed before I made the appointment for the procedure. Sky-high costs are concenrated in hospital stays (thousands of dollars per night), emergency rooms, and end-of-life care. Those are what are driving overall premiums and cost-sharing up. And those are what the first tier addresses. (Prescription drug costs are another sky-high factor.)

        Politicians talk about Medicare-for-all but they don’t explain that it would be a lower level of service, or that people would have to pay a second tier to keep getting all the services they’re accustomed to. Americans are used to thinking, “Insurance covers everything.” This especially applies to end-of-life care. Americans expect all the latest exprensive treatments to keep them alive a few months longer. If we’re going to cut costs, then we need to agree on a lower baseline of end-of-live treatments. That needs to be part of any sustainable overhaul too. It takes time to explain these things to the public and get them to accept them, you can’t just rush through it or ignore it.

      3. I agree. There is no reason why Biden should focus on “Medicare for All” (with an end to private insurance) although pushing for an expansion of Medicare (i. e. Medicare for all that want it) is a good approach. That is basically what he has proposed: https://joebiden.com/healthcare/. There is a misconception about public health care — that all systems are similar to Canada’s. They aren’t. The system in the U. K. is dramatically different, as are systems in France, Germany, etc. It is all pretty complex, really, but by no means is the English or Canadian system considered the best. Obamacare is closest to Switzerland — the main difference being that the Swiss do a better job.

        Here is an interesting article comparing some of the different models: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/09/18/upshot/best-health-care-system-country-bracket.html. Here is a measurement by the World Health Organization (skip to page 18 to the ranking — https://www.who.int/healthinfo/paper30.pdf).

      4. Oh, and I would do a couple other things, other than expand Obamacare with more of the public option:

        1) Have dentistry use the U. K. (national health) system. That means each and every dentist works for the government. If you want your teeth cleaned, it is free. Get a root canal, or a new filling — it is free. Dentists would be paid a straight salary — not pay per service. This removes every incentive to do excess work.

        2) Make drugs public domain. Drug companies that produce drugs will negotiate with the U. S. (and other governments) through the courts. Essentially every time you create a drug, the government steps in and declares eminent domain. This would eliminate the money spent on advertising, although drug companies would still lobby Congress, and likely lobby them even more. But compensation (what the government pays the drug companies) would be publicly known, and administered by an agency with watchdog protection. There would still be companies making drugs, but essentially every drug would be generic. If they fail (as they have with insulin) then the government steps in and produces it. The government would also create their own labs — typically in conjunction with universities — to help produce drugs as well.

      5. The “establishment Democrats” are concerned about losing their ownership of the union vote. Union members have extremely good benefits through their employer. They’re against being put on the public dole and on par with welfare recipients. Many union employees are already suspect of the Democratic creeping effort to eliminate the right to own a gun (you can vote for socialism but you have to shoot your way out). The result has been a Polosi lead effort to make sure the economy remains a shambles until after the election. Meanwhile incremental improvements to the healthcare system are held hostage. The result is only things that can be done by executive order are possible. Trump (bless his sole, he needs it) has done a good job of eliminating laws that serve nobody but the donor who got them written. He had some good ideas (and no lack of bad ones) but the poisoned political environment have made incremental change impossible. Anything that improves the plight of the common citizen the Democrats block because they know the voters in November with ask themselves the question, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” If the answer is yes, game over for the Democrats. So obstruct, delay and sabotage had been the mantra.

      6. Can you name a specific bill to improve lives for the common citizen that passed the Senate that Pelosi blocked in the House? Or are you just repeating Republican talking points, without evidence.

        There is the general issue that the party not in power benefits from a down economy, and the president not having accomplishments to brag about; but that’s always true, no matter who’s in power vs. opposition. The Republicans scuttled plenty of bills under the Obama administration simply to deny Obama the accomplishment.

      7. Let’s look at police reform. It’s much more difficult to get something to the floor in the Senate since a minority can still block debate; which is what’s happening with the Tim Scott sponsored police reform legislation. But you only asked for a single bill so S.3178, “Justice for Victims of Lynching Act “.

    3. The economic impact of the virus is huge, whether there is a quarantine or not. Sweden was way more liberal than its neighbors (no stay-at-home order) and yet its economy suffered just as much. Of course the economies that are most likely to recover fastest are those that had the toughest restrictions (along with sufficient testing and tracing). Those countries are largely Asian, although New Zealand and Australia are in the same boat.

      We won’t have an economic recovery until we handle the virus, and that doesn’t look likely until we get a new administration and/or a vaccine.

      1. Hope “co-pay-free” isn’t too much to ask. Call it the medical version of ORCA (at least as originally designed). Leaving my final “Tap Off” to the nurse who “Calls Code” on me.

        Curious, though. Whatever “Medicare for All” means to Joe Biden….aside from billion-dollar for-profit companies, who loses? Problem liberals seem to have is a “tin ear” about bothering people to death.

        Mark Dublin

    4. In Nature and the rest of life, Bernie, “Normal” really boils down to who’s left alive. So it’s good to see how heavily people with masks now outnumber those without, not due to anybody’s coercion, but just because wearing them is so obviously and easily the right thing to do.

      Meaning that it shouldn’t take long to see which group stays alive and on Earth longer, people who pick up their meals at curbs and eat them at home, or those who insist on sit-down meals among a hundred others. Anybody belligerent about their right to endanger my family just to make a point, would appreciate a favor.

      It’s only normal for me to ask you to do your best to die downwind of me and anyone of mine.

      Mark Dublin

      1. The survivalist cosplayers who show up with their assault rifles and confederate battle flags at the capitol get the headlines, but who I see riding the bus without masks are those who can’t afford to blow their meager change on a cloth mask. Some even seem unaware or even ungrateful that well-to-do people around them are wearing a mask, or assume that those wearing a mask are doing so because they have COVID-19. There is a dangerous information divide out there, especially when those experiencing lack of shelter no longer can get their news on the public library computers.

        The totalitarian nations know how to get everyone to wear a mask: Give them away for free, to everyone. OMG, that’s socialism! Do that, and then there is one less excuse for government employees to beat someone up for the crime of going to the corner store to get a snack while black.

        Just one day of putting FEOs and other transit security employees on mask-giveaway duty at all the 3rd Ave bus stops could make a huge dent in the cloth divide. It might even rebuild some badly-tattered trust.

  2. I noticed Gig careshare is now operating and a little surprised to see the coverage area does not include the entire city limit. Did SDOT change their policy on coverage area for free floating care share?

    1. Looks like the Seattle Home Zone covers the core neighborhoods with enough density to be profitable. You can drive anywhere but you have to return the car to where someone else is likely to be able to walk to it.

      1. Another great example of why car share is always going to struggle. The areas where it is most likely to be popular (i. e. areas with a lot of density) are also the areas that have the best transit (for the same reason). It could be handy for picking up groceries, except that most stores deliver. Likewise takeout. And furniture. The places where it would be really handy (https://goo.gl/maps/m4RrDXc4PEMLuQhV9) are just not going to have enough use.

      2. Just some back of the napkin figures I’d guesstimate about 9 hrs per week use is about the break even point vs owning a car. And that assumes you are paying a monthly parking fee which is starting to be a lot more common in new buildings. If your organized and can get shopping done in less than an hour you can break even on the $15 shopping sales. You’ve also got the option of combined trips; the essential dry cleaning, drop off one person at the barber shop and go shoe shopping. That’s when the convenience factor vs transit really pays dividends. For people that can commute by car in 10 minutes it’s certainly time and cost effective vs transit. You’re right, it’s a tough market but I think they’ve got a good start by defining a home zone that won’t require a lot of reshuffling of vehicles. The key will be all day use. the cars will probably need to be driven ~30 miles a day or rented 6 times to break even.

    2. I recently ran through some similar back-of-the-napkin figures myself, as my car renting as increased considerably during the coronavirus, due to no longer being able to carpool to hiking destinations. The conclusion was that one all-day car rental every two weeks is still far cheaper than car ownership, and the numbers aren’t close. There is no Zipcar or Gig out in the Kirkland area, but there is an Enterprise. Compared to carshare, there’s good and bad. On the one hand, the daily rates tend to be considerably cheaper ($45+gas vs. $100 flat, after tax). On the other hand, the process of picking up and returning the car adds up to about an hour per trip, and I’m limited by the store’s operating hours, which sometimes necessitates renting the car for two days, whereas with Zipcar, the same trip could be done with only a one-day rental. Still, with two days of Enterprise costing the same as one day with Zipcar, I’m not complaining.

      Comparing with car ownership, I estimated monthly costs to run at around $300 (depreciation), $60 (insurance), $40 (registration), $30 (gas), plus an unknown amount for maintenance and repairs each month. To hit the break-even point where car ownership starts to make sense, I would either need to rent the car for two days nearly every weekend, or place a value on my time picking up and returning the car in excess $150/hr. For the time being, I’m continuing to stick with renting.

      It would be nice, though, if Kirkland had rental car options closer to the downtown, where someone without a car would be more likely to live. Although, I have a feeling, I’m somewhat of an edge case, that their real business model comes from business travelers and car owners looking for a temporary way to get around while the car they usually drive is in the repair shop. I can only hope that with business travel all but dried up, that they are able to stay in business. If it ever got to the point where I would have to bus all the way to Seattle to pick up a rental car, then I probably would buy one.

      1. I used $550/mo for car ownership. 12k average mileage X $.55/mi. Of course there’s a wide range based on age and model of vehicle. Living in the city insurance is more expensive. And a huge variable is if you have to pay for parking ($150/mo in the Spring Dist IIRC). I thought Enterprise would bring the car to you? They used to offer that. Especially for weekend trips rental makes sense as the highest rates are weekdays to capture the business market. As I’ve previously posted, I see a lot more people if not eliminating at least reducing the car count with a significant shift to at least partial work from home guaranteed to be a permanent change. I also see companies like architectural firms taking advantage of car sharing rather than employees driving a company car or their private vehicle to client meetings. That could be the all day boost needed to be profitable.

      2. I typically rent the car in Kirkland. I live in downtown, but the nearest rental car office is over by Totem Lake. Not super close to where I live, but least it’s off the CKC so I can jog or bike there, rather than having to rely on the bus. They briefly offered a car delivery service during April, but that service is now available only on weekdays, so not useful to me.

        The typical pick-up process involves 15 minutes (bike ride), 5 minutes (pick up car), 10 minutes (drive back), while the return process is 10 minutes (driving), 5 minutes (filling gas tank), 10 minutes (riding bike back). The grand total works out to about 1 hour of overhead per trip.

        (Having a folding bike that fits in the trunk of the car helps).

      3. Enterprise would typically pick you up, but that may have gone away with the pandemic. It still means extra driving (first thing you do is turn around and drive back to the shop) but at least that takes away the hassle of getting there on a bus (or bike).

      4. Thanks. The second part of my question is where somebody who lives in Bellevue or Redmond can rent a car. And, implicitly, whether they’re near a core bus route.

      5. In Bellevue the Enterprise outlet closest to me is on Bel-Red just east of 120th. They share a parking lot with the muffler shop. When I drove for BSD I was always annoyed by them pulling out in front of a bus as if Bel-Red was their private driveway. While tempting to use the big yellow bus (no students on board) as a street sweeper that wouldn’t be professional. The delivery option only being weekdays makes sense. My wife used it for business which would always have been on a weekday and work paid the higher rate. Worth it when you’re paying for an employees time.

        With Covid there’s lots of people looking for gig work and the rental car companies are hurting. It might make business sense to promote weekend use via free delivery. If you aren’t hiring a full time employee with benefits it’s pretty cheap to pay someone hourly and they can do other tasks when not delivering cars. You wouldn’t need the business class service, if you’re going hiking you can drop the employee back at base (mask wearing of course).

      6. At first glance, I would expect the cost of delivering cars to be prohibitively expensive, unless the customer either rents for a week or more straight or pays a large delivery fee- the labor cost of having to pay two people to each make a round trip is just too high. I can see it penciling out on a temporary basis during a big slump in demand, utilizing salaried employees with nothing else to do and an excess car in the rental inventory to take them both back.

        Of course, there are out of the box ways to keep the costs down, for instance, using one employee instead of two and having them return to the office using an electric scooter which folds up and fits in the trunk. But that only works with a very limited delivery radius and, even then, is conditional on the city building a network of bike lanes to allow their employees to make the scooter trip without getting run over.

        If someday, rental cars could drive themselves autonomously to and from the customer, it would completely revolutionize the rental car experience.

      7. No, for corporate rentals the delivery option was already viable pre-covid. It may be limited to zones close to the Enterprise mothership but it worked. Weekend deliveries with masks i don’t see why one delivery employee returned to base by the customer shouldn’t work. Enterprise has a lot of small diverse lots to serve a wide area.

        Weekends we’re talking about inventory that generally results in zero income for the company so perks to make it at least marginally profitable are relevant. Even at a break even point it becomes free advertising.

      8. It’s interesting how the traditional rental companies and Zipcar are completely opposites in terms of their peak/off-peak days of the week. The cars seemed constantly available on weekdays and often booked solid on weekends. Which is not surprising considering their marketing pitch is aimed at people who get to work by walk/bike/transit and want a ride for occasional non-work trips.

        Of course, having their fleet mostly idle for 5 days out of the week is a very inefficient business model and may partly explain why their rates are so much higher than the traditional rental companies, even after accounting for gas.

    3. I appreciate the discussion but it seems like we don’t really have an answer. I’ll guess it’s safe to assume SDOT changed its policy requiring free floating car share to encompass the entire city limit given Gig’s home area.

  3. Thanks for the video. Locally, masks are becoming things of creativity, beauty and fashion, a lot more than elements of coercion. Can envision descendants I might not live to see looking at dusty videos and saying “Oh, Grandma, that is SOOOOOO COVID!”

    But with these very kids in mind, and all my other friends and loved ones, it did my heart a lot of good yesterday to see yesterday’s anti-mask demonstration at Capitol Lake draw about forty people. County sheriff won’t enforce mask laws? Well, guess that’s potential COVID victim’s able-bodied relatives are for. Also the business world.

    Recalling our Founders’ attachment to the ancient Roman and Greek Republics, would be a wonderful spectrum-wide Protest to have solemn ladies in white gowns stand beside a large shiny ceremonial basin washing grass-stained American Flags. Flag code requires they be burned but pretty sure the sheriff won’t enforce that either.

    But as for Health Care: We don’t use private insurance to hold off attack by Russian tanks and missiles. Though wouldn’t put it past some present-day actors to charge co-pays to save individual cities who defy their Executive Orders. This day this minute, COVID control is more National Defense for the money than our every nuclear weapon.

    But same holds ten-fold in spades for Education, and most to the point this morning. NPR and everyplace else, there’s virtual radio silence over some REAL pertinent History. Where in the HELL does the Constitution forbid mandatory response to a public health emergency?

    The Age of Reason in which it was written demanded that Knowledge and Science write the rules, not, like since the collapse of the Roman Republic into an emolument-ridden Empire and many medieval centuries, subservience to Titled Hereditary Superstition.

    In time of PLAGUE in our Founders’ day, if anybody violated quarantine at the head of a mob and the top of their lungs, Thomas Jefferson would’ve ordered his slaves to borrow Ben Franklin’s every hammer to board them up in their rat-infested HOUSE ’til they felt better.

    Handling events like yesterday’s little gathering make me very proud to live here on one score: As the State Capitol, one purpose for our existence is to keep such things, people, and ideas out of other people’s towns and neighborhoods. Glad to be of service.

    Mark Dublin

  4. Could someone confirm if Sound Transit will restart fares on ALL of it’s routes this Wednesday? Including routes operated by Metro, which is still free?

    I passed by a bus stop on route 522 which had a sign up with really confusing wording. It basically had a conditional statement that “when fares are reintroduced, they will be $3.25 instead of $2.75”. But the sign did not explicitly say “Fares will be reintroduced on July 1”. And the ST website also seems to hedge, saying “While Sound Transit expects buses across the ST network will have protections installed by July 1 or soon thereafter, routes that have not returned to front-door boarding due to ongoing installation work will continue to be fare-free. “

    1. I could read the article if it weren’t paywalled. Can you summarize what it says? Otherwise all we can go by is the title and first paragraph, which immediately raise questions about their assumptions, what they’re comparing what to, and whether they’ve looked at the low transmission rates in other countries with high public transit use.

      1. Just USA data, adjusts for income and healthcare rates, and both includes and excludes NYC (same conclusion either way). Article does note that outside the USA, cities that rely on public transit are doing just fine, but those data are not included in the study.

        I thought this was the most interesting finding:
        “Counties with higher shares of people who drove or walked to work versus telecommuting also saw higher death rates, a sign that perhaps some of the greater risk simply comes from leaving the house, they found.”

        It will also be interesting to see if this finding still holds in a few months. It’s possible that the virus simply hit “global” cities harder at first, which correlates with transit use, and as the pandemic works its way into lower tier cities and rural locations over time, the correlation with transit fades.

      2. Trying to infer the effects of public transit on COVID by simply comparing taking county-level COVID data and joining the table with county-level transit ridership is junk science. I can understand why their doing it – figuring out whether the people infected actually rode public transit at the same time as another infected person is expensive and difficult, while taking two publicly available tables and combining them together is nearly free.

        It reminds me of a study I once read which was trying to argue that Democrats and Republicans prefer different dog breeds by comparing popular dog breeds in blue counties vs. red counties. The results of the study showed mostly high-energy dog breeds being preferred by Republicans and low-energy dog breeds being preferred by Democrats. But, when you apply a little bit of common sense, the entire study is utter junk. Of course, people who live in apartments will prefer lower energy dogs, while dogs that need more room to roam around will be preferred by people who live in houses with large yards, where the dog would have sufficient room to roam around. The counties with a lot of houses with yards are (duh) much more Republican than the counties with a lot of apartments, so the study is actually saying essentially nothing about whether one’s politics really affects one’s pets. To answer the question properly, they would have needed to conduct actual surveys to see if there is really any difference in pet preferences between the large-yard Democrats and the large-yard Republicans. But that, of course, costs money, whereas Googling for a couple of free public tables and joining them together is, well, free.

        In here, it’s the same thing. There are numerous differences between the counties that have higher transit use and the counties that don’t which could easily affect COVID behavior and have little or nothing to do with actual transit. Maybe people in denser areas (which have higher transit ridership) are more likely to live in tall apartment buildings and get COVID from elevator rides? Or, conversely, maybe people who live in denser areas with higher transit ridership are more likely to wear masks (including those that never ride transit), while those that don’t, don’t because they subscribe to the Trump/Fox News bullshit that masks are for loser liberals. In order to really measure the impact of transit on COVID you need to actually count the number of infections traced to transit or, at least attempt to do a rigorous comparison between transit and non-transit riders who live in similar settings and visit similar destinations. Just like the party affiliation/dog breed study, blindly combining tables of COVID-cases-by-county with transit-ridership-by-county is junk science that tells the reader absolutely nothing.

    2. Being black is also “associated with” higher Covid-19 rates, but no scientist would argue based on this that it is *physically* due to the color of one’s skin. In fact, counties with more transit use are also “associated with” a larger minority population and larger overall population (mostly suburban sprawl), so there you go. Looking at transit use by county excluding NYC, you’re really not getting more than 10% of the people in the County actually riding transit–and much lower ridership during the pandemic! This kind of thing is exactly why “associated with” doesn’t meet the criteria for scientific peer review–though it unfortunately does meet the criteria for click bait headlines.

  5. For as many years as it’s been in existence, this time of the month I’ve always loaded my next month’s monthly pass on my ORCA card. Does anybody know if there’ll be any changes on that?

    Considering the current availability and reliability of passenger information in general, I think it’ll be at least Fall before conversation with Fare Inspection will be on the subject of citation at all. At least so long as I wear my mask, which might as well be sewed in place. My attitude toward mask-haters is how little I want to die of anything they’ve got.

    Also don’t want to outlive anybody I’ve fatally infected. So. The constant I’m seeing right now is that system-wide and society-wide, the worse systems, agencies, and computers work, the more I owe to the competence, patience, and goodness of the people they hire to help me navigate.

    As long as I’m as kind and polite to them as they deserve…..my bet is that Superior Court will be on worse-curtailed service hours than either KC Metro, Link, or Sound Transit.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The payment methods haven’t changed if that’s what you’re asking. They’re basically in a holding pattern until ORCA 2, whenever that happens. I stopped buying passes in March. When I start again depends on when I start riding more than one or two days a week. I’ll probably use e-purse until I return to commuting five days a week. For my particular trip patterns, my Link use is moderate and would be significantly affected by a fare differential. I don’t begrudge a $1 fare and I would still take Link to the airport rather than get into contortions with the 124+A, but right now Link is both less frequent and more expensive than the parallel buses for getting from Capitol Hill to UW, Chinatown, or Rainier Valley. My ST Express use is once or twice a month to Bellevue (currently almost nonexistent due to covid), a few times a year to Lake City and once or twice a year to Snohomish or Pierce County or Redmond. So if the 522 charges $3.25 while Metro is free, it would significantly affect my decision to use the 522 or even go to Lake City (mainly for Fred Meyer).

      For you I know you have to use Sound Transit every time you come to Pugetopolis, and you do that an unknown number of times a month. I would stick to e-purse until you reach the 22 times/month transfer periods that makes a pass cost-effective. As a bonus, with e-purse you can get a paper Link ticket, which is a sensitive issue to you. That may be better than losing a little bit of money for not having a pass.

      1. Mike, the really nice customer service lady at Tacoma Dome told me the exact same thing a month ago when I went up there for my June pass. Kind of a ritual thing….and whatever I was going to use it for fell through anyhow. Well, no way my e-purse ISN’T really pre-payment too.

        My Bus Buddy Boss thanked me for the afternoon’s route-tracing drive which was Essential to figuring out how to create a cross-platform Tacoma Dome transfer between Tacoma Link and IT 612. Also including discovery that the new Route 1 Express could easily share grooved-rail trackway and signal preempt with the streetcar.

        BIG LOAD OFF, because I was afraid he’d warn me to stay out of the dread Sith-haunted world of Interagency. Quite the opposite. Next time, he wants me to give him receipts for gas and lunch. But, guess I need to start practicing vocals for the new world of ORCA. Here goes. “SIRI? Seattle Link via Sea-tac! SIRI? ST 574 to IT 612!”

        Will still miss holding the card up into the headlights. Though come to think of it, IT also gave me a couple of little reflector lights to clip on my jacket. Like Taylor Swift told me the other day, Mark You Need to Calm Down!

        Mark Dublin

  6. Local aerial photography company. Lot’s of great sample photos from around the region. sky-pix.com. Under the Bellevue section, some really good pics of the path of East Link.

  7. Yeah, I need to be careful myself. I’m pretty 100% sure I haven’t caught COVID, and while I’m far from top of the risk table, I’m not at the bottom of it either. I’ve making sure to keep my mask on outside, though it hasn’t been the easiest thing to adapt to.

    1. Never fear, there’s still time to stop a douchebag.

      0:39 car blocking a bus stop. 0:51 car in transit lane. 1:16 sticker (“I spit on everyone; I park wherever I want.”) and another bus stop. 1:49 / 2:04 / 2:40 fight. 1:56 / 2:18 lots of swearing. 2:58 perp drives off; cops chase him. 3:12 perp repents.

      Bonus repost: the Dr Evil episode.

      1. Thanks, Mike. Lesson for America here, though. Kid who started the fight ends up apologizing. And maybe in Russia’s culture, honor and bravery demand that you don’t need a gun.

        Am I right that Russia still has universal military conscription, albeit for men only? Seem to recall a lot less gun violence back when we did. Add a start in the civil service like the Swedes have, and I don’t think we’d need to send anybody to jail for not going. Problem would be the waiting list.

        Mark Dublin

      2. A few people apologies. Most go away in a huff. Some get caught a second time, and are just as angry as the first time. A few say they support the effort and accept the sticker as getting what they deserve. All the ones I’ve seen who accept the rebuke or later apologize are men; the women have always gone off in a huff.

        I think Russia has male conscription, but I don’t know much about it. Like Europe it’s not a gun society. Putin is keen on promoting Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, but not on giving Russians the right to keep and bear arms.

        I think universal military service or alternative service would potentially be good for the US. It works for Switzerland, Israel, and Italy. But the US is not like those countries so I wounder how effective it would be. There are so many people who look not to what they can do for their country but what their country can do for them, or have a deep-seated us-vs-them attitude (e.g., racism), and I’m not sure a year of military service would substantially reduce it. It might have if it had evolved from WWII and there hadn’t been Vietnam or Iraq.

        But now that those wars have happened, and and there have been forty years without conscription, and society is so polarized, and people are protesting at governors’ mansions over the right to cut people’s hair without a mask and carry assault rifles everywhere, it makes me wonder whether universay service would really be successful or how it could ever be enacted. Wouldn’t those who mumble about freedom from taxes also mumble about freedom from conscription and government indoctrination?

  8. First chance to answer, Bernie, but I don’t program appearance order for these comments. Really could be an age thing, but in my memory, the last time the average person in America could own their own home was when they could last expect to join a labor union.

    Could also be really dense, but just out of curiosity, what’s wrong with preferring a skilled and well-paid job to being “on the dole?” And by any chance does “eliminating laws that serve nobody but the donor who got them written” include the destruction of the apparently widely popular Affordable Care Act? Any chance these evil secret donors are actually the voters themselves?

    And could you please cite me one word of language in any law, passed or proposed, to deny anybody in this country their right to own a firearm? Though since a fair number of the Second Amendment’s drafters were combat veterans of the French and Indian wars and the American Revolution, they would’ve certainly intended that everybody with a weapon would also have a SERGEANT!

    Whose patience with a dirty or mishandled weapon might result in many a modern Owner having to drop and do a hundred push-ups, crawl all over the neighborhood, dig their property up, and get it clean enough that reburial wasn’t necessary. I’ve got legislation in to my own reps for us to imitate Sweden and follow everybody’s high school graduation with three years’ national service.

    Everybody gets enough combat training to actually fight instead of just wave it around the State Capitol scaring legislative staff. Who under my law would, like every citizen, already know how to drop threats in their tracks with one round. But for the full three years, average recruit would be assigned to the civil service, as the Swedes do. A strong beginning for the exact administrative career our country most desperately needs. Doubt we’d need to “Compel” anybody.

    But were the Original Drafters still in both office and uniform, I think they’d give gun ownership and proficiency a long-overdue priority. Since the target of the REAL Boston Tea Party was not Government Spending but Taxation Without Representation, it would not sit well to be forced to obey a President who’d lost his election by three million votes.

    And to settle the score for a couple of centuries’ taxation before they’ve even been allowed to elect their own Representatives, the problem for the IRS would be collecting these Lawfully Armed taxpayers’ money with the Cold. Dead. Fingers. Inside Their Tax Funded Mittens. ‘Til.. People. Can. Finally…..VOTE!!!!!!!!!

    And since my Uniform Firearms Proficiency Program would also have a strong component of history, every graduate will come out knowing the worst Union mistake of our own Civil War: the 1877 removal, under fire, of Union troops from the South. Enabling the return of the slavery that haunts the region to this day. No accident those Prisons are still Private. Good enough for Simon Legree!

    Glad to have you with me, Bernie. We’ll finally have a National Anthem the average football fan can sing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0iyrTNKAOU

    Mark Dublin

  9. Mike, Russia, Israel and Sweden share one really major difference with the United States. Due to their locations, topography, and adjoining powers, throughout their history, they’ve all repeatedly suffered devastating invasions on the ground, and are subject to them still.

    We’ve got Canada to our north, and Mexico to the south. But main thing is, thousands of miles of coastline protected by two planetary-sized oceans. Beach-heads are mass suicide. We barely got away with Omaha Beach, on the relatively tiny English Channel. Nobody can invade us on the surface of the earth. Let alone where they’d park.

    By coupling my plan with training in governing, my main purpose is to see to it that everybody here grows up knowing hands-on how to run a country. Most important purpose of my military program would not only be learning how to use deadly weapons.

    I’m sure that being combat veterans of two wars, French and Indian and our Revolution, Second Amendment drafters would’ve insisted that one condition of owning a weapon be thorough understanding of it, and constant training in its use. But perhaps more important: Know what to tell their Representatives in their planning and deliberations about a possible war.

    No graduate of mine would ever have gotten us into any of the wars we’ve been in at least since Korea. Unless they wanted to be forced to take the course over again if they got home alive. Very much like the things I’ve been advocating for our transit system this last while, along with the rest of Government. We’re not America’s customers. We’re its owners and operators, and none of us “Temps”. And need to get trained lifelong accordingly.

    And another preoccupation: Breaking a very bad habit. Don’t know if Seattle’s the worst for this, but it’s definitely an unwelcome reverberation from the Post-Forward Thrust Days that really did give us the DSTT. The idea that mistakes are irreparable and permanently immune to prevention. One irresistible “draw”:

    If we agree that our bicycle riders just CAN’T learn to negotiate streetcar tracks…..no pressure to make us TEACH them, is there? A permanent problem is just so comforting compared to one that somebody rude just fixed. When COVID’s OV-ER, really tempted to talk the school board into some special on-site training sessions for students with bikes. Come to think of it, since South Lake Union Trolley isn’t running, the track past the Museum should be perfect!

    Same exactly for staffing our military. 1964 was 56 years ago. No chance at all that some people have been born since with an outlook on the military like mine? But behind it all, from the examples I daily see and the way I feel about “The Class of 2020” and their near-age-mates, their survival depends on their NOT believing that the world we’ve screwed up, they just have to live with.

    Isn’t this more or less why Nature keeps letting babies get born?

    Mark Dublin

  10. Has anyone been on the 550 lately? I’m wondering what the occupancy and mask wearing looks like.

    1. Follow up question. If you were commuting from North B’vue to SODO; would you do the 255 to Link or the 550 to DT Metro Xfer. Trip planner shows roughly equal times. Since the train is obviously more posh I’m now leaning toward the 255-UW-Link-SODO Station-Hike.

  11. I saw at least 3 Metro drivers not wearing a mask on my short trip through downtown Seattle today. Most peds aren’t wearing them either.

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