Random Thursday Morning thoughts

  • The Board. 13,355 new cases bringing the total to 68,211.
  • I can't remember anything that has caused so many internal shifting opinions in me than the coronavirus. And, along those lines, this thought really began to bug me yesterday: Do the "total number of diagnosed cases" have any significance at all?  Admitting that I don't know what to think, let me be a Devil's Advocate to those who believe this is the apocalypse. 
    • We know that the number of people tested in America is incredibly small. And, as a result, we all expect the number of diagnosed cases to skyrocket over the next two to three weeks as testing becomes more widespread. But let me ask this seemingly shocking question: So what if they do? Stay with me here. 
    • What would change if everyone were to magically get tested right this second and we determined that 50% of the population has the coronavirus. Just assume for the sake of argument that it turns out that half of us are walking around have the virus but almost all of us don't have any symptoms. Seriously, how would that change the seriousness of the virus? The number of people who currently feel sick, the number of people who are currently at the hospital, and the current number who have died would be exactly the same. The true impact of the virus would not change.
    • And if we knew the true, and much larger, number of people who have the coronavirus then the actual death percentage rate actually would go down. That's simple: One number (the diagnosed cases) goes up, and one number (the actual deaths) stays the same. Then this doomsday number of a 4% death rate would become absolutely a farce.  And if the death percentage goes down to well under 1%, this thing turns into, dare I say it, "just the flu" after all. Smarter people than me, who question our reaction to the virus, put it like this:
    • And I'm not alone in this Devil's Advocate position: There's an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal today, titled "Is the Coronavirus as Deadly as They Say?", which says: "The true fatality rate is the portion of those infected who die, not the deaths from identified positive cases.” And the graph I post every day shows the number of identified positive cases. So, to bring it back to the beginning, does that chart mean anything at all? 
    • Shouldn't the only numbers we care about be the number of deaths or those who require hospitalization?  And, everyone calls you heartless if you say it, aren't those numbers in the grand scheme of things shockingly small in a country with a population of 320 million?
  • Those current death numbers: 247 new deaths yesterday bringing the total to 1,027. 
  • More Devil's Advocate with a very simplistic "Look out that window" approach: When I was in sixth grade at Bridgeport Junior High school, one Monday I went to school only to find out that half of my class wasn't there. Where were they? They were all home throwing up with the flu. Everyone was a sick as dog because an epidemic had swept the town. Bridgeport ISD then took the dramatic step of shutting down the entire school for the rest of the week.  I thought about that yesterday when it occurred to me I hadn't heard one single person say to me, "There sure are a lot of people sick out there." One year from now, if someone asks me what's the worst outbreak of sickness I had ever experienced in my entire my life, I'll tell them about my experience in sixth grade on the mean streets of Bridgeport. Right?
  • Hey, I'm just a simple country lawyer, but that's the stuff I've thought about. I don't know what to think. Next week I'll think the world is ending. 
  • Speaking of being a simple country lawyer, I have a clarification from yesterday: Yes, a Texas county judge does trump city mayors on declaring what goes down once an emergency is declared. The Star-Telegram's Bud Kennedy pointed out to me - way too nicely, by the way - that it's right there in the statute: "[T]o the extent of a conflict between decisions of the county judge and the mayor, the decision of the county judge prevails." And that's why I need to stick to criminal law. 
  • But how then did the McKinney mayor declare a stay-at-home order yesterday when the Collin County Judge did not?  There's probably a workaround argument that a mayor can impose greater restrictions than the county judge. His position would be "I'm not in 'conflict' with the county judge at all. I agree there's an emergency, and I'm just imposing additional protections consistent with that emergency."
  • I've noticed the local food bank, W.A.R.M., was seeking actual food donations during this coronavirus shut down. I've been meaning to mention this for a long time: That organization has to be drowning in cash. It's been the policy of Wise County Probation - a policy a fully support - to allow someone to "buy out" their imposed community service hours by making a donation to W.A.R.M. And that's no small chunk of change. A standard probation order for being caught with weed legally bought in Colorado might impose 240 hours of community service. A person can buy that out at a rate of (I think) $8 per hour. So W.A.R.M. would collect over $2,000 from that one case alone.  Heck, look at a screenshot from its website below which allows a person to choose the an option of $1,000 to make the donation. And considering there are a ton of people on probation buying out their community service each year, that's an equal ton of money. They are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization so I suppose I could find out easily how much they collected last year. I'd like to know. 
  • The lawyer in the Wichita Fall's Sexual-Assault-Mom-Won-The-Lottery, whose strategy was to not put on a defense at trial, has withdrawn from the case which is now pending on appeal. Recall this is the case where the lawyers were reportedly paid $600,000 according to the Times-Record News.