Sunday's New York Times declares, "As Christmas Nears, Virus Experts Look for Lessons from Thanksgiving."
Trained Times readers will spot the dodge instantly: if the "virus experts" are still "looking," then they haven't yet found evidence for their warnings that Thanksgiving would cause a terrifying spike in COVID. You grasp that the article will be a magic show to distract the audience from this essential point, an education in the manufacture of fake-news at the high-quality end of American journalism.
For if they had discovered even a tiny mouse turd's worth of proof for the so-called "Thanksgiving Effect," you know it would have been a page one banner headline, backed by snarling editorials insisting that the government shut down Christmas.
Another clue that the Times has nothing is the absence of what should have been an obvious comparison of nationwide COVID numbers before and after Thanksgiving.
Since the country was already in a COVID "Second Wave" before Thanksgiving, with rising deaths and cases, any national "Thanksgiving Effect" should have caused an acceleration in the growth rate of COVID after the great day. But there was none. COVID deaths rose 47% in the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and 47% in the two weeks after it. (Our World in Data.) There was also no significant change in the trend of the (less reliable) national infection numbers.
Instead, says the paper:
"In the days before Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, infectious-disease experts and elected officials repeatedly warned Americans to limit their travel and family gatherings, fearing the holiday would turn into a nationwide super-spreader event.
But experts and data suggest what happened was something like a micro-spreader, more a tornado picking its spots than a hurricane blowing down everything in its path.
Epidemiologists said coronavirus case numbers and other data show that in many parts of the country, Americans altered their routines during the holiday, staying home instead of traveling and canceling large family gatherings. But there have been regional and isolated surges that can be attributed in part to activity around those days in late November, including in areas of Texas and California."
It's just the sort of pretentious, made-up, faux-smart word likely to impress those Times readers functioning at Dr. Jill-Bidenesque levels of sophistication.
The suggestion, though, is a clever one: COVID went up in those places where the bad, disobedient Americans who don't listen to Dr. Fauci insisted on meeting for Thanksgiving; it fell where the good, obedient Americans stayed home. That could have happened without affecting the US national numbers.
But is that what happened? The Times provides zero evidence for any statistical correlation between places where the number of people meeting for Thanksgiving went up with those where COVID infections later increased.
It's not as if the paper didn't have the data to make that comparison. The article proudly displays several maps that use cell phone data to show the places with more or fewer Thanksgiving meetings and travel. I'd guess that if they did calculate the statistical correlation, it was not the result they wanted to find of a positive link between Thanksgiving and COVID, which would have been a front-page headline.
More likely, they found a zero, or even a negative, correlation, inconveniently for the pro-lockdown advertising campaign most of the American media has been running on behalf of our managerial-expert classes - the Fauci classes, let's call them. Just eye-balling the exhibits in the Times article suggests some such thing. Most of California had some of the steepest falls in Thanksgiving contacts between people compared to last year. Yet COVID infections in the state rose even faster after Thanksgiving than before it. Nebraskans were less successful than Californians in staying away from each other this Thanksgiving, yet Nebraska's infection numbers, rising before, fell steeply after the day.
To be clear, the Fauci classes are not necessarily wrong about the Thanksgiving Effect or lockdowns. It's just that they have little or no evidence for their opinions. That by itself is understandable. The pandemic is much too complicated for anyone so far to have grasped and modeled its workings. Instead, what is disturbing is the managerial-expert Fauci class's insistence on dictating how the country should live, merely on the mystique of their credentials. Rule by pretense. That's an unhealthy way to run a country.
And that is also the place where the NYT article ends up, trading on the mystique of experts:
"Epidemiologists in a handful of communities in and near Los Angeles are linking some of the surge to families who ignored warnings and decided to hold small gatherings during Thanksgiving. Cases in the region were spiking before the holiday, but the widespread transmission that occurred during Thanksgiving gatherings in Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara and other counties was contributing to the pace of spread, officials said."
And that's it! Officials merely assert that, since some Thanksgiving gatherings took place in Riverside as they did in every single part of the country, that must explain the spike in Riverside infections.
Pitiful, pitiful stuff.