Coronavirus

Task Force Member Projects Virus Will Magically Disappear

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

A draft report prepared for the CDC projects that a much wider outbreak of the coronavirus is coming because states are reopening too soon, but I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that the Trump White House doesn't agree with that report and is using their own models.

According to the Washington Post, the White House (or probably just Trump more specifically) is using a model prepared for them by Kevin Hassett, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and current adviser to the coronavirus task force.

The [CDC] forecast is at odds with remarks made Sunday evening by Trump, who said the United States could eventually suffer as many as 100,000 deaths. At 3,000 deaths per day and rising, the national total would quickly outstrip that number if the new report is correct.

A senior White House official said the document would not change the White House planning on reopening.

White House officials have been relying on other models to make decisions on reopening, including the IHME model and a “cubic model” prepared by Trump adviser and economist Kevin Hassett and the Council of Economic Advisers.

You may recognize Hassett (pictured above) as the guy who said getting furloughed because of a government shutdown is like a 'free vacation.' Some workers are even 'better off,' he said.

Anyway -- I personally wouldn't rely on anything that brain genius handed to me, but my name isn't Donald Trump.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model cited by the White House has been revised upwards to project at least 135,000 deaths. That's far fewer than the CDC's latest model is projecting -- and more than Trump is stating publicly -- but Hassett's model is hilariously lower than both.

Hassett's "cubic model," whateverthefuck that is, says the pandemic will magically disappear.

Even more optimistic than that, however, is the “cubic model” prepared by Trump adviser and economist Kevin Hassett. People with knowledge of that model say it shows deaths dropping precipitously in May — and essentially going to zero by May 15.

Despite the White House’s optimistic rhetoric, experts have warned that the country could be living with a sizable covid-19 case load for some time.

“We don’t have the testing. We don’t have the contract tracing. We can’t detect a rebound. It’s a really problematic place to be. This is not where we want to be,” said Jeffrey Shaman, one of the country’s leading epidemiologists at Columbia University.

You know, Hassett isn't even qualified to weigh in on economics, much less pandemics.

None of these models will be exactly correct and the truth will probably be somewhere between the IHME and CDC models. What happens over the next month depends on too many factors for anyone to project the future with complete certainty, but we know that more people having close contact with each other will expose exponentially more people to possible infection. What happens next depends on individual behavior, like wearing masks in public or simply staying home, almost as much as what the government does.

  • muselet

    In 1999, Kevin Hassett coauthored, with James K. Glassman, a remarkable book called Dow 36,000:The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market. 105 days after its publication, the DJIA began a three-year, 37.8% decline.

    I would probably trust Hassett to balance my checkbook, but I wouldn’t turn to him for something more complex. Modeling a pandemic is vastly more complex, and the stakes are vastly higher, than wondering how a bunch of dollars (or euros or yen or renminbi or pounds sterling or whatever) moves from one hypothetical pocket to another.

    Once more, with feeling: “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

    A senior White House official said the document would not change the White House planning on reopening.

    Erm … what planning?

    If anyone’s interested, Kevin Drum provided an only-slightly-nerdy explanation of cubic functions and cubic curves (tl;dr: Drum shows, in his words, “how easy it is to produce the results you want if you’re willing to torture the data a bit. It turns out, for example, that these trend curves are very sensitive to the starting date. So by choosing the starting date carefully and then fitting a cubic curve, you have a lot of leeway to produce what you want.”).

    –alopecia

    ADDING: Dare we hope Kevin Hassett will magically disappear?

  • Draxiar

    Yep…it’s true. The Tooth Fairy will create a vaccine by combining the blood of the Easter Bunny, Moses, and Godzilla. Then they’ll boil it in Vulcan’s Forge until it reaches 0 Degrees Kelvin and it will then be delivered by Santa Claus to all of the brain dead redhats that don’t believe the virus exists.

    The trump “administration” is criminally inept and nothing said by it can be believed.