S Opening Up The Economy, Case By Case

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Our societies seem stuck in a no-man's land created by severe economic restrictions. These restrictions are hitting the poor and minorities most of all. Data has suggested that these same poor and minorities are most likely to be affected by the virus itself.

Why not unlock this part of the economy through a partial lifting of restrictions. The idea is simple. When people are either diagnosed with COVID or tested and demonstrated to have either antibodies or T-cell based immunity to COVID they would be issued a NFC-programmed SmartBand (or SmartRing) with a government-only pattern built into the bracelet itself. 

If they are newly diagnosed, the SmartBand would display green for 2 months (after a 2 week period of isolation). Otherwise, based on the levels of antibodies in their blood, the SmartBand would be programmed to show green for various amounts of time. As we learn more, these lengths of time could be updated.

Those with green bands would have all restrictions lifted. They would be able to circulate without masks, congregate without restriction, go to work in crowded environments, go to school, teach, visit grandparents etc.... Their lives would be normal. When the 'green' time is up, they could be retested.

With this system, low-risk people might intentionally get infected - but isn't that desirable? We can achieve community immunity through those at the least risk of death and complications. It could also lead previously infected people to be rapidly re-exposed, enabling their immune systems to lock in protections rather than having their anti-COVID shields lapse due to a lack of exposure.

Once a large enough group of people are simultaneously green, all restrictions would be lifted as the virus would have a hard time establishing a foothold in society.

Technologically speaking, NFC-based SmartBands are similar to many travel cards people already carry. They can store data and be updated in proprietary and protected ways. The only change would be that such a band or ring would require occasional recharging while a travel card does not. 

In terms of logistics, bands could be made widely available for purchase. They could be updated via an app able to update the ring via NFC. The app would require personal identification such as a social security number, driver's license or national ID number. This is just like transit apps that can update the money on a travel card.

In terms of enforcement, the unique appearance of the band would be restricted to government issued bands. Police would also be able to verify the bands through NFC, ensuring that IDs and bands match up and that the bands themselves are legitimate.

All in all, this approach would enable us to better track and trace the disease (as people would eagerly get tested for the virus and antibodies) while spreading immunity would open up employment (especially for the poor and minorities), re-enable schooling for the most vulnerable and rebuild important social networks. 

It could also limit some of the vast amount of social shaming and highly restrictive governance being deployed today (and perhaps abused tomorrow).

In the early days of the virus, some suggested Corona Passports. This concept is similar with the one caveat that it 'times out.'

What do you think?

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Frank Underwood 1 year ago Member's comment

Between Trump's ignoring of the coronavirus, and now starting an insurrection, does any one doubt he now deserves to be impeached and barred from ever holding public office again?

Dick Kaplan 1 year ago Member's comment

It certainly seems the majority of Americans feel #Trump crossed a line and that he should now be removed from office. It only took a near insurrection!

Susan Miller 1 year ago Member's comment

@[Joseph Cox](user:127658) Haven't seen any new commentary by you lately, despite all the recent developments. Do you have an opinion on the vaccines?

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

I've been meaning to write a piece, I've just been very busy. Short summary:

1) The vaccine's success raises the value of lockdowns and other measures. With a knowable closing date, these strategies can have their costs defined and allow planning

2) Sweden's pop-up in death rates (after a long hiatus) suggests that the bar for long-term protection is higher. How much higher is unclear. The pop could be due to expiring immunity, movement into communities that hadn't previously been exposed or.... either way they didn't stay at near zero.

3) I'm not going to take the mRNA vaccines at this time. I trust the people involved (my sister runs a statistical analysis team working on the vaccine for one of the companies). It is just that the long-term data is unknown. I would, however, recommend it for older people. Long-term effects (or potential effects on the next generation) are less relevant and the risks are greater. I'm going to wait on either more data or the conventional vaccines.

4) The vaccines will help *tremendously*. By protecting the old and most of the vulnerable they will cut death rates massively. Interestingly, we don't know if they prevent *infection.* We just know they cut symptomatic disease. So they may have little impact on herd immunity. They will, however, cut deaths. The average age of death in Israel is still hovering around 80 - getting to asymptomatic cases for >60s would be a wonderful thing.

5) The big and very very hard question is: when is it enough? When is it enough to open society again. This is a question I have no answer for. It is one we constantly struggle with, and not just with corona. Motorcycles are legal. You can leave the home with the flu. Sugary drinks are legal. Smoking is highly limited. In each of these cases, we've come to some sort of understanding of risks vs. freedoms. Corona will never totally go away, I don't think. So we have to grapple with this. The answer isn't: we can stop when deaths are zero. The world doesn't tend to work that way.

6) The questions surrounding China's role have to be examined. This is on two levels. One: was this very unusual virus engineered? Two: why did Asian countries seem to be so much less impacted? Yes, some are very efficient and organized. But others... well, they aren't known for their highly functional administration.

I'll put this in a post.

Gary Anderson 1 year ago Contributor's comment

China didn't have Trump, Joseph.

Cynthia Decker 1 year ago Member's comment

Very true, Gary.

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

Neither did Belgium, France, Chile, Peru, Italy etc.... etc.... etc.... They all did worse.

Gary Anderson 1 year ago Contributor's comment

Not much social distancing in those nation with their extended families. Trump tried to get more people infected.

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

Extended families? In Belgium and France? France has one of the highest percentages of old people living alone. Belgium is on par with the US. In neither place are families large.

Here are cumulative rankings at this point by country: Belgium, Italy, Peru, Slovakia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Spain, UK, Czechia, US, Bulgaria, France, Argentina, Mexico, Armenia.

The US is in the top 10.

I hadn't checked in a while, I got Chile and France wrong.

That said, it isn't all about Trump.

Ayelet Wolf 1 year ago Member's comment

That may be true, but Trump certainly made the situation worse. He lied to America in the early days about how dangerous it was, and didn't wear a mask, and encouraged others not to. He tried to discredit scientists and doctors and crowded people into rallies. And so on and so on.

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

How many Americans actually got/get their news from Donald Trump? How many will actually get their news from Joe Biden. Or Barack Obama. Presidents are politicians and only in very short and sharp encounters do Americans rely on politicians for anything related to truth. At this point I imagine most Americans don't think their government knows more than the public about any major issue. Even the partisans rely on their partisan news sources rather than a President.

Anybody paying attention knew this was dangerous from January or February onwards.

As far as scientists are concerned, scientists dealing in highly complex models are not very good at getting it right. The highly touted (early on) Imperial College study was written by a guy who predicted 150 million could have died from the bird flu (among numerous other fundamentally flawed predictions). Just because a person has the word 'scientist' in their job description doesn't make them useful or right. As stated above, sciences vary wildly in their predictive power based on the complexity of the system being scienced.

As an aside, BLM crowded people into massive rallies. I would imagine more massive and more sustained rallies. The movement was broadly supported - given a pass, if you will.

What I found most disturbing was that, just because Trump mentioned something, people immediately rushed to discredit it. The UV therapy comes to mind. A real company was working on a real therapy *prior* to coronavirus and they got shut down because of all the bad publicity related to a Trump comment.

This is not useful, folks.

I hope we remember for the future: Presidents, except in cases of short and sharp national emergencies, are not sources of news or information. They are politicians.

Ayelet Wolf 1 year ago Member's comment

Well since over 70 million people voted for Trump, I would say quite a few got their news from him, or one of the news networks that served as his mouthpiece. A recent poll that just came out showed that evangelicals in particular trusted Trump as their number one source for news about Covid.

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

I know lots of people who voted for him who did not consider him a reliable source of information - or a good man for that matter. He just successfully tapped into what was once called a 'reactionary' movement.

I think maybe people got sick of being told what to think and Trump grabbed that and ran with it. The problem the "tell you what to think" crowd has is that their *belief* in their own connection to the truth extends far further than it actually does. They took it too far and in the process they lost credibility. King Solomon was the wisest of men but ran ancient Israel into the ground.

Sadly, instead of seeking leaders with an awareness of their own limits, people chose Trump - whose had almost no awareness of his own very substantial limits. I say 'almost' because he didn't actually centralize power as most such people do. He generally pushed deregulation, greater state self-determination, the US pulling back from the affairs of other nations and so on. His words were the words of a know-it-all idiot but his *actions* were far more modest.

That all said, read the papers of any country afflicted by the virus and you'll see the same 'news'. Where the government is not in line with the media elite, the leadership will be attacked for being responsible. Where the government is in line, then the *opposition papers* will attack the leadership for being responsible. It is the same story in the UK, France, Israel etc... The exceptions are those places where the population can't name their own leaders or those places where criticism comes with jail time or worse (e.g. Russian, Iran).

It is all just political football.

Gary Anderson 1 year ago Contributor's comment

I am shocked that you don't see Trump cult for what it is, Trump brainwashing. It diminishes your authority as an author to be so incredibly naive. Trump had incredible sway over millions of followers. I am very disappointed that you cannot see it! As far as other nations, Italy is a very social country. Israel too. I have not specifically followed France, but it likely has some major weakness that allowed fast progression of the disease.

Michele Grant 1 year ago Member's comment

Gary, I too did not like Trump, but only because I thought him to be racists, misogynist, crooked, hateful and dishonest (I could go on). He certainly was not presidential. But that doesn't mean I was a Trump hater who refused to acknowledge any good he did, nor do I disagree 100% with all of his policies.

I didn't believe in this "Trump cult" nonsense until the aftermath of the election. Too many of my well educated friends are fully convinced that Covid is mostly a Democratic hoax (as Trump claimed) and that the election was stolen from him due to fraud. They believe every word he says, no matter how ridiculous, and despite the fact that there is zero evidence, and that every court threw out his lawsuits. They are convinced that the entire world is aligned against Trump. It is scary how Trump has half the country completely mesmerized. The only thing in recent history that comes to mind as comparable is how Hitler was able to keep his countrymen hanging on his every word and believing every lie, and convinced them to turn on their fellow citizens.

Trump scares me.

Gary Anderson 1 year ago Contributor's comment

I guess we know from recent events that Donald Trump attempted to hurt his own vice president through violence. POTUS is our worst nightmare. It is about him, not necessarily about policy.

Michele Grant 1 year ago Member's comment

Yes Gary, I believe Trump's behavior was even shocking to his critiques. I wonder if he and Pence are even talking. Rioters were chanting "hang Mike Pence." Had things gone badly, Trump could have arranged the lynching of his own VP.

Ethan M. Hunt 1 year ago Member's comment

Thank you Joseph. What is your take on all the positive vaccine news we've been hearing lately. Are we finally at the end of the pandemic? How hard will it be to get these vaccines to everyone? How will we pay for it? And will people be WILLING to take a new vaccine?

Gary Anderson 1 year ago Contributor's comment

I have a friend in another city who is suffering with Covid. She went to restaurants and ate in them! Bad idea. The idea of a scarlet letter wristband is creepy. Masks should be mandatory but hard to wear in the hot summers. We can only hope for better treatments and vaccines. Until then, those who take restaurant food home may be safer. But even then, I like the ones where you can watch the cooks for mask compliance.

Seeking Alpha Reader 1 year ago Member's comment

With the Pfizer vaccine now ready, all will go back to normal soon. Don't you think?

Moon Kil Woong 1 year ago Contributor's comment

Sadly with the case counts rising to new levels and the government doing nothing until a new administration besides trying to start a war in Iran it will be a while.

Gary Anderson 1 year ago Contributor's comment

No. Fauci says it won't eradicate the virus.

Seeking Alpha Reader 1 year ago Member's comment

When did he say that? With 90% efficacy, even if only half the people took it, we'd be in pretty good shape. And Pfizer said that immunity would last a year. Far better than the natural immunity people can get from recovering from the disease.

Gary Anderson 1 year ago Contributor's comment

It was a recent comment. Susan, he also said he would join Biden later. He is still employed.

Susan Miller 1 year ago Member's comment

@[Gary Anderson](user:4798), Good to know,thank you. I hadn't seen that.

Susan Miller 1 year ago Member's comment

I was surpised to see that Fauci was not asked to join Biden's new coronavirus task force. He's the leading expert in infectious diseases. Dr. Birx wasn't asked to join either but I can understand that. She never pushed back on Trump when he told people to inject themselves with disinfectant. But Fauci has always spoken the truth, without politicizing anything. He's a real mensch as some would say.

Jacob Paterson 1 year ago Member's comment

I saw that video online about the people who went out to eat, and had a special gel on their hands to leave traces of every place they touched. The reporter then cast a blacklight and the substance was literally all over everything and everyone! I would not eat out right now, not a good idea.

Paul McGee 1 year ago Member's comment

I see no problem with going to restaurants as long as you get the food to go, or eat outside. But eating inside in such confined spaces seems unnecessarily risky.

Jacob Paterson 1 year ago Member's comment

It's nearly mid-November. Way too cold to eat outside in much of the US this winter.

Paul McGee 1 year ago Member's comment

I recently ate at a place that had these nice, large gas heaters set up outside. It was actually quite comfortable.

Joe Black 1 year ago Member's comment

The US just surpassed 10 million Covid infections. With Biden having won the presidency, do you think the tide will finally turn in our favor? Or that it's simply too late?

Moon Kil Woong 1 year ago Contributor's comment

It will turn but it will be a while. To eradicate it we need therapeutics that kill the virus. The vaccines suppress it but doesn't insure the virus is eliminated and the length of immunity is not expected to last over 2 years if that. Also RNA vaccines are new so who knows their long term ramifications.

Dan Jackson 1 year ago Member's comment

With so many Americans infected, at this point, it might just be better to aim for herd immunity.

Anne Barry 1 year ago Member's comment

With a vaccine so close?? That seems pretty foolish to me. To achieve herd immunity (IF that's even possible), a lot of people would need to die first.

Dan Jackson 1 year ago Member's comment

A vaccine is months to a year away. At least that's what I've heard infections disease specialists say.

Anne Barry 1 year ago Member's comment

It may be much closer than you think based on #Pfizer's big news today:


Dan Jackson 1 year ago Member's comment

I hadn't seen that. It's good news, but that's still a long way from ensuring that everyone who wants a vaccine in the world, can actually get it.

Theo Donaldson 1 year ago Member's comment

Good article.

Rachel Anne 1 year ago Member's comment

Who do you think will be better equipped to tackle Covid, while still safeguarding the US economy? #Trump or #Biden.

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

My basic thought on US politics is that it has gotten seriously South American. We have Caudillos vs. Entrenched Elites. Caudillos are there to ride in and rescue the day but they basically lack any ideology or (often) brains beyond those necessary for caudillo politics. Trump is a caudillo. He is attacked for being racist, anti-Semitic, anti-woman, anti-LGBT etc... but none of that would have been attached to him prior to politics. That's just his opposition painting him with a particular brush. An immoral idiot, yes, but actually closer to the supposed dream of a social liberal and economic conservative than say Romney, Pence, McCain or Bush. All that said, he remains a caudillo. He is flexible so long as he stays in power. And, over time, caudillos end up a part of the entrenched elite or establishing their own. Hillary and Biden represents the "Entrenched Elites." They build up a powerful state of bureaucrats and functionaries and deep deep corruption. They don't have big personalities but they use the state to serve their entrenched interests and they can slowly drag everything down. We saw, economically, that the disruption of a Trump was very effective in economics, foreign policy, regulation and more. Although he spoke like an idiot, he didn't actually handle the virus much differently than Biden or others in the opposition were calling for. The only consistent policy of the left was to call whatever Trump was doing wrong. All that said, you don't want a caudillo for more than one term. They end up warping institutions around themselves. I think Biden and the increasingly hard left - because of their intelligence and well-meaning ideas - will devastate the US economy and actively harm our allies. I prefer stupid to wise. That said, with Biden corona will no longer be a political football and the media will just stop talking about it - because they don't want to criticize Biden. Biden, though, will yield to the temptation to try to make the world predictable (lockdowns etc....) and this will come at a severe cost, although it will be quiet. If we get Trump, we'll end up with a continual ramping up of the political volume. He is seen as the liberal version of the anti-Christ. We'll also see a continued corruption of institutions by those in Trump's camp. I guess one benefit of Trump is that people don't stay in his camp for long. So a more peaceful public forum, accompanied by long-term decline or a noisy forum with the distant possibility of rejuvenation (caudillos almost never succeed). Personally, I think these options are terrible. So terrible that I find myself not really caring. None of this is healthy. All of it is predictable. Even Aristotle wrote about how democracies end up corrupted and people look to a demagogue to rescue them. Personally, I think the only road out is a serious curtailment of Federal power. These singular people, Presidents, just can't be allowed to matter as much as they do. Your town or neighborhood councilperson should have more of an impact than your President should - after all, you're a lot closer to being responsible for them and them for you.

Alexandra Gray 1 year ago Member's comment

Trump! Because according to him, the battle is already won! I'd rather live in that world ;-)

Texan Hunter 1 year ago Member's comment

Are you the same Joseph Cox who contributed to the article about Toobin? THAT must have been interesting to research! :) (see byline at bottom of article).


Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment


Texan Hunter 1 year ago Member's comment

Lol, I thought maybe you were deviating from your go to topics!

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

I deviate, but not quite in that direction :)

Michele Grant 1 year ago Member's comment

@[Joseph Cox](user:127658) and @[DRM](user:130312), you both have had to say about Covid and both supported mask wearing, but lately I've read a lot of information which says they don't help. And if they do, how do you explain these charts:


Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

I've seen data on both sides of this. Obviously masks are not 100%. I still wear one, if for nothing else than to make others more comfortable. I fall squarely into the "I'll follow every regulation while I kick and scream about how stupid they are" camp.

Bruce Powers 1 year ago Member's comment

What happens when people start hacking those bands?

Harry Goldstein 1 year ago Member's comment

What would be the incentive for such an action, Bruce? Not much demand or money to be made for such an activity.

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

You mean like they hack transit cards or bank cards? You can attach a hefty fine to people who alter or modify bands and you can interrogate the band using NFC just as with a transit card.