Recent Articles

The Lack of Containment Measures: Does It Constitute Senicide?

[This article authored by David A. Swanson with assistance from NWCitizen writer Dick Conoboy]

Senicide, or geronticide, is the killing of the elderly, or their abandonment to death. Because the U.S. was not prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and lacked anything close to a national strategy, states and counties turned to containment measures as a final resort for dealing with it. Had there been comprehensive and accurate testing along with personal protection and other types of equipment for healthcare personnel, and good surveillance and tracking it is unlikely that the most extreme of the containment orders would have been enacted and those who are now without the means to support themselves would not have been forced from jobs. It is also the case that we not now being faced with the other dilemma forced on us by the lack of federal support and the failure of its leadership: Keep the containment measures in effect and condemn those not working to continued economic misery or discard them, which may be, defacto, a policy of senicide.

Although at this point, this hypothesis is in its early stages, there are some limited facts that support this view. Webwallet ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of how aggressively they pursued containment measures as of March 24th. In this ranking, New York was first and Oklahoma was last with Washington coming in at ninth. Because of variations in the groupings across states that report deaths for the oldest age group (e.g., some states provide 60+ others 65+, and still others 80+), it limits direct comparisons.

However, we can compare Oklahoma and Washington. For Oklahoma, 81% of its COVID-19 deaths are to those aged 65 years and over. Washington does not report deaths for “65+ but with some standard demographic finagling (called the Karup-King Method), I was able to convert its age group reports into one that matched Oklahoma’s. It resulted in finding that 74% of its deaths were to those 65 years and over. Importantly, the percent of the population 65 years and over in both states is very close. For Washington it is 15.4% and for Oklahoma, it is 15.7%.

So, to summarize, this very incomplete evidence suggests that removing containment measures may, in fact, amount to a defacto policy of senicide. If so, it is likely also to involve defacto genocide in terms of the poor, African-Americans, Latinos, Native-Americans, such as the Hopi and Navajo and those with compromised health, not to mention workers at meat plants, and prison populations, which tend to the “elderly” end of the age spectrum.

Of course, there will be “counterfactuals,” states with high proportions of deaths to those 60 and over that were ranked on the aggressive end of the containment policies, and vice-versa. These will need to be resolved by examining more details – population densities, number of nursing home outbreaks and the like. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that this issue deserves further examination.

In what is the clearest support for the senicide hypothesis, we can compare Sweden and Finland. Sweden opted for a “no-containment policy” in search of the mythical “herd immunity” and 95% of all COVID-19 deaths (2,853) in Sweden are to those aged 60 years and over and 96% of all COVID-19 cases (11,857) are to those aged 60 years and over. Contrast this with Finland, which instituted rigorous containment measures: Only 23 percent of its cases (5,412) are to those aged 60 and over. Finland does not report COVID-19 deaths by age, but it has a total of 246 COVID-19 deaths (/). It is likely that Finns would experience approximately the same ratio of percent deaths to percent cases as Sweden, which leads to the estimate that 22 percent (54) of all COVID-19 deaths in Finland are to those aged 60 years and over.

Importantly, the age structures in Sweden and Finland are very similar, which means that the differences in case counts and deaths are not due to age differences. In 2018, 20
percent of the population of Sweden was aged 65+. In Finland, it was 22 %. So, here we have two countries with similar socio-economic and demographic characteristics as well as societal institutions, but one that opted for the “herd immunity” approach the while the other chose to impose strict containment measures: In the former, 95% of all COVID-19 deaths are to those aged 60 and over and in the other, only 22 percent.

In the Viking era, getting rid of the elderly was known as “Ättestupa,” which translates literally as “over the cliff.” We all hope that as Sweden reverts to its Viking heritage, it will not be sending youthful raiding parties to Scotland, England, and Ireland to loot and pillage among the survivors of this pandemic. If it does, I advise Sweden to avoid sending youthful raiding parties to Finland, where they are not likely to succeed because they will be facing an unfamiliar adversary: Well-trained regiments of experienced, tough, crusty elders, fully prepared to defend themselves and “kotimaa” to the death with, among other weapons they know how to use, the traditional “puukko.”

As you have likely guessed, this is simply a metaphor for the possibility that once Sweden has shed much of the burden of taking care of its elderly, it will attempt to take advantage of nearby economies weakened by containment measures by seeking to purchase businesses at bargain prices and eliminate others using the Wal-Mart approach. If they do, the “youthful Swedish raiding parties” will face a tough opponent in those experienced, old, crusty Finns who have been through more bad times than the Swedes could ever imagine and somehow held themselves and their country together. In Finland, this kind of character is known as “sisu”.

Those of us who have the wherewithal (able to work from home, are retired, living off a trust fund or super wealthy) are probably thinking we can “wait it out” for the vaccine. However, like everything else, especially in this poorly prepared county, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding when such a vaccine might be available... if at all.

Of course, you are thinking to yourself, it will never come to this. Sweden’s policy of defacto senicide could never happen here, not in the birthplace of the eugenics movement, an ideology based on a gross misinterpretation of Darwin that was aimed at “cleansing the unfit” from society. It made the jump across the Atlantic and into the mind of guess who? Adolf Hitler. We know how that worked out.

Comments by Readers

Bernie Housen

May 07, 2020

If you go to the data tables on the WA DOH site you linked to, you will find a breakdown of both cases and deaths by age. For Washington, 90% of deaths are of folks older than 60, with a significant proportion being in those older than 80. The Seattle Times has a good daily summary on their covid update section.

Read More...

David A. Swanson

May 07, 2020

Thanks. there are reporting differernces acrosss states, etc. which is why I use the Johns Hopkins University site for data whenever possible. 

Read More...

Ralph Schwartz

Jun 01, 2020

Interested to see that you would mention prison population as a demographic that skews elderly but not nursing homes. The Washington Post reported today (June 1) that more than 26,000 US deaths, about one fourth the total, happened inside nursing homes. Incidentally, the prison population is not older than the US population overall. Median age in prisons is about 39 https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_age.jsp, compared to a median age of 38 nationwide. Even the “39” result for prisons is misleading when compared with the US population generally, because prisons have virtually no one under 18. Fair to say the prison population is somewhat younger than the US adult population generally.

Read More...

The Lack of Containment Measures: Does It Constitute Senicide?

By David A. SwansonOn May 07, 2020

[This article authored by David A. Swanson with assistance from NWCitizen writer Dick Conoboy] Senicide, or geronticide, is the killing of the elderly, or their abandonment to death. Because the [...]

3 comments, most recent 3 months ago

Still a Dormitory, Still in Non-Compliance

By Guest WriterOn May 06, 2020

[Our Guest Writer, Linda Diebert, spent the first years of her career teaching young children here in Bellingham. She changed careers and became Transit Planner, Principal and Co-owner, TransitPlus, LLC, [...]

9 comments, most recent 4 months ago

WWU - Western - Dislikes Trees

By John ServaisOn May 04, 2020

​In a classic case of “cut down the trees to put up a parking lot,” Western Washington University (WWU) has for decades removed mature trees from its campus very quietly. [...]

9 comments, most recent 4 months ago

Monitoring the COVID-19 Pandemic in Benton County: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

By David A. SwansonOn May 04, 2020

The COVID-pandemic in Benton County has played out differently than in Whatcom County. The baseline forecast for its expected peak on April 29th was a total of 17,716 confirmed cases, which [...]

Whatcom County COVID-19: The Final Report

By David A. SwansonOn May 01, 2020

Modeling even simple aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is more than challenging in the United States because of the sparsity of data.There is no comprehensive testing, and an active [...]

4 comments, most recent 4 months ago

CityView Apartment Development - Update IV

By Dick ConoboyOn Apr 26, 2020

Morgan Bartlett, the developer of CityView, the student rental dormitory project in the Puget Neighborhood, submitted his final application to the city and the city has deemed the application complete. [...]

5 comments, most recent 4 months ago

Fairhaven Flag To Remain At Half Staff

By Dick ConoboyOn Apr 25, 2020

The American flag located in front of Bellinham’s Fairhaven Library has been lowered to half staff to recognize those who have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic [...]

My mask protects you. Your mask protects me.

By Jane BrightOn Apr 24, 2020

“We’re all in this together,” means what exactly? The new PSA should be: “My mask protects you. Your mask protects me.” PSA announcements keep repeating the mantra, “We’re [...]

17 comments, most recent 4 months ago

Modeling and the Covid-19 Pandemic:  A Local Area Perspective

By David A. SwansonOn Apr 23, 2020

Modeling even simple aspects of the covid-19 pandemic is more than challenging in the United States because of the sparsity of data. There is no comprehensive testing and little is [...]

5 comments, most recent 4 months ago

Monitoring the COVID-19 Surge Peak in Benton County - Update Possible?

By David A. SwansonOn Apr 20, 2020

On April 7th, I wrote that the COVID-pandemic in Benton County appeared to be playing out differently than in Whatcom County. Its surge peak was expected on April 29th, four [...]

2 comments, most recent 5 months ago

When Did The U.S. Know About the COVID-19 Outbreak in China?

By Dick ConoboyOn Apr 18, 2020

Having worked for three years at the level of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at what now is called the National Military Joint Intelligence Center (NMJIC), I can tell you [...]

16 comments, most recent 4 months ago

Monitoring the COVID-19 Surge Peak in Whatcom County - Update 3

By David A. SwansonOn Apr 17, 2020

On March 30th, Northwest Citizen published a baseline COVID-19 surge peak forecast I did for Whatcom County. The forecast used March 28th as its launch point. It showed 6,151 total confirmed [...]

4 comments, most recent 5 months ago

Just When You Thought it Couldn’t Get Worse

By Deb GaberOn Apr 15, 2020

In case you missed the small article in the 4/13/20 Seattle Times, apparently there have been four sightings (two unconfirmed but probable) of the giant Asian hornet in Washington recently. All [...]

1 comment, most recent 5 months ago

How Many Unconfirmed Cases of COVID-19 are in Whatcom County?

By David A. SwansonOn Apr 14, 2020

[Co-author of this article is Ronald E. Cossman, Ph.D., a Research Professor and Research Fellow at the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University. He also directs the [...]

10 comments, most recent 5 months ago

Social Policy for COVID-19

By Richard KelloggOn Apr 13, 2020

[Reposted with permission from the website of Dr. Richard Kellogg (where details of his analysis techniques can be found) a physicist at the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nuclé[...]

9 comments, most recent 4 months ago

Monitoring the COVID-19 Surge Peak in Whatcom County - Update 2

By David A. SwansonOn Apr 10, 2020

On March 30th, Northwest Citizen published a baseline COVID-19 surge peak forecast I did for Whatcom County. The forecast used March 28th as its launch point. It showed 6,151 total confirmed [...]

5 comments, most recent 5 months ago

Monitoring the COVID-19 Surge Peak in Benton County

By David A. SwansonOn Apr 07, 2020

Introduction: The COVID-pandemic in Benton County appears to be playing out differently than in Whatcom County. Its surge peak is expected on April 29th, four days after the peak in [...]

PeaceHealth Sets Up Straw Man of Dr Lin

By John ServaisOn Apr 06, 2020

The letter from PeaceHealth that appeared in the Sunday Bellingham Herald attempts to counter the efforts of an unnamed physician, but obviously it’s Dr. Ming Lin. To wit: “And [...]

5 comments, most recent 5 months ago

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Whatcom County

By David A. SwansonOn Apr 05, 2020

[Updated 4/6/2020: From a friend in Kennewick, I discovered that a long-time hospital in Pasco (Franklin County) is still open, contrary to the data from the American Hospital Directory I found [...]

13 comments, most recent 5 months ago

Monitoring the COVID-19 Surge Peak in Whatcom County - Update I

By David A. SwansonOn Apr 03, 2020

On March 30th, Northwest Citizen published a baseline COVID-19 surge peak forecast I did for Whatcom County. The forecast used March 28th as its launch point. It showed 6,151 total confirmed [...]

12 comments, most recent 5 months ago