In the ICS Classroom … a Guest Post by Tom Cox (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.


Along with the tried-and-true strategies of vaccines, masks, disinfectants, border closings, limiting gatherings, quarantines, and thoughts-and-prayers, we have the following added dimensions that reduce the effectiveness of each strategy.    All of these occurred in the last two days:

  • Politicians travelling when telling citizen to avoid non-essential travel.
  • Pharmacist deliberately destroys 500 vials of the vaccine.
  • Citizens deliberately sneaking past border closures to get in or out.
  • Businesses and churches refusing to follow group size restrictions.
  • Students and tourists holding parties while ignoring group size restrictions.
  • Nurses and doctors refusing to take the vaccine because they do not feel it is safe.
  • People paying to get ahead of others in order to get the vaccine.
  • Making elderly patients line up outside for up to nine hours to get the vaccine
  • Keeping New Years celebrations (and Christmas activities the week before) open because people will ignore any restrictions anyways.   
  • Keeping big-box stores open but closing most small local businesses.   
  • Businesses refusing to enforce mask or group-size guidelines.
  • People deliberately breaking quarantine, including ones who know they are infectious. 
  • Police refusing to enforce health restrictions and health officials who have no training. 
  • Security guards at quarantine facilities that have no authority or training to stop anyone leaving.
  • The virus is mutating and measures such as vaccines may be ineffective or less effective.
  • We still don’t know how it is transmitted and how far we should stay apart.   
  • We don’t understand “high risk” doesn’t explain high risk of catching it, high risk of spreading it, or high risk of dying from it and each of them is a different issue requiring different strategies.   


The key understanding is that strategies are great when they are 100% effective.   The Covid-19 response shows that selecting the best strategy is impossible when you don’t know the exact danger, the amount of spread, no mitigation is 100% and some may be as little as 5% effective (wiping surfaces), people ignore recommendations, enforcement is not possible, leaders aren’t leading and the virus is changing before we even understand what strategy worked best on the old version.

We have literally had 12 months of discussion on a world-wide basis by every elected politician and health expert of what strategy or strategies work best.    From herd immunity to “it will simply disappear”, the overwhelmed hospitals, exhausted health staff, and nursing home death rates demonstrate that selecting the most effective strategy is not as simple as it seems.   There are trade-offs (economy versus health), unknowns, changes, and people deliberately trying to reduce the effectiveness of the best of a variety of strategies of varying degrees of effectiveness.

Which strategy(s) would you recommend knowing that people will deliberately ignore your recommendation?  Now … let’s have that ICS Planning P Strategy Meeting!   

Author: Alison Poste

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