JP Morgan Study on Lockdowns, The Moral Matrix and Pandemic, and the Viral Upsurge in the Southern Hemisphere

Today I’m going to discuss the JP Morgan study on transmission (among other things), how the Moral Matrix effects how people see the fight against the virus, and the boom stage in many Southern Hemisphere countries.

JP Morgan has produced a study suggesting among other things that lockdowns are ineffective in fighting Coronavirus (see also a summary from Daily Mail).  The reasoning for this is primarily that transmission is most common in households if a member becomes infected. 

Frankly, when I think about anti-coronavirus efforts, I have tended to lump lockdowns and social distancing together, especially since many use these terms interchangeably.  Notably, the study separates these 2 concepts and suggests that will social distancing (staying a distance away from people in public) may be valuable, lockdowns (staying in your home) is not. 

You might say there have been 2 primary models for dealing with the pandemic in the last month after we’ve flattened the curve, but have not brought the numbers down, at least not in the US.  I’ll call those models the Lockdown and the Re-opening models.  Some want to continue the lockdowns to keep everyone safe from the virus, others want to re-open right away without restrictions.  For several weeks, I have been gravitating toward a third Adaptive model.  Of course, there can be many flavors of this model.  Personally, I think masks, even bad ones, are far better than nothing, especially when worn by everyone, and can help us get back out of our houses and help us re-start the economy with reasonable safety.  So I’m very open to the idea that the lockdowns have not been beneficial.  Some of you will disagree.

The JP Morgan study is at odds with the study, which recommends brief, very strict lockdowns.  It could actually be that these 2 studies actually agree, depending on the time frame you’re talking about.  I do think the lockdown was very helpful in the initial “boom” stage of the epidemic here in the US, but may have lost its usefulness later.

The Moral Matrix: ZDoggMD is a physician and medical YouTuber with a very silly screen name, but who posted VERY interesting video on how different people see the pandemic we are all facing.  Using Jonathan Haidt’s work on the Moral Matrix, he talks about how different people’s moral framework shapes how we are viewing different efforts to address the issue.  I was aware of Haidt’s work, but not had yet applied it to the pandemic in my mind.  As someone who is sometimes exasperated with people who disagree with me (as they are with me I’m sure), this video is helping me remember to see their point of view.  If you’re exasperated with your friends or family, I HIGHLY recommend you watch this video.

Upsurge in the Southern Hemisphere: Lastly, I just want to mention that many countries which have been relatively little effected until now, are now experiencing a big upsurge in cases.  These countries include Russia, Brazil, and Mexico, and many are in the Southern Hemisphere, which is in the late Autumn months right now.  Let’s hope they are able to get things under control quickly.

Don’t fear, but be smart!


PS. We went hiking in nearby Calaveras Park today for the first time in months, without our masks. There were a lot of people on the trail, and most were well behaved. When I can’t avoid someone on a narrow trail, I use an old SCUBA diving trick for ascending without getting the bends. Just close your mouth and blow slowly out of your nose as you pass someone. You’ll gently move any virus away from your nose! To maintain my friendliness, I greet people early, with plenty of time to start this little maneuver!

6 thoughts on “JP Morgan Study on Lockdowns, The Moral Matrix and Pandemic, and the Viral Upsurge in the Southern Hemisphere

    1. Not at all! During the initial exponential phase, the lockdown was probably very useful in slowing the boom!


  1. The more I think about it and discuss with Julie and KJ, the more questions I/we have. One – are you suspicious at all that the study was financed by an investment company (i.e. benefits from country opening up)? Two – are there many experts/scientists that agree with Dr. Levitt? Three – if transmission occurs mostly within households from family member to family member, wouldn’t it make sense to stay somewhat isolated rather than risk going out “into the public” and contracting the virus, then bringing it into the home?

    I’m afraid this post/study has raised more questions than it has answered, and drives home the point/fact – we don’t really know all there is to know about this virus. Not even close (in my humble opinion)

    Thanks again for all your work on this!



    1. I am suspicious of a lot of sources. I am suspicious of articles from China, since the Chinese Communist Party has too much control over what they report. I’m also suspicious of practically every news article because so many journalists misunderstand scientific information, or put a political spin on it. But suspicion can be taken too far, and even articles from questionable sources can have good content. They key is to read carefully and understand how the study was done. Of course, many in the public are not able to do this, so they have to rely on someone they trust to interpret it for them.
      JP Morgan represents the investment community, so they have some bias in wanting to maximize investments, but this alone doesn’t necessarily mean the information isn’t good. Investors need to know how this will all play out so they can invest wisely based on the actual facts. Yes, these goals can shade their outlook, but this is true of everyone. They key is to see what the data actually says and compare it to others.
      As to your point number 2, I would say this is still a minority opinion. But there is enough counter evidence to suggest the Morgan study may be correct. States like California had strict lockdowns, but the daily case number is continuing to slowly rise, so we can see that the lockdowns aren’t entirely working, at least not as implemented. Even Governor Cuomo, a proponent of lockdowns, has admitted that 66% of cases in New York came from home infections ( I also pointed out that, promoted lockdowns. So the Morgan piece is not presented as authoritative, but as a reasonable idea to consider with some evidence in it’s favor.
      As for point 3, if everyone in the house stayed inside all the time, they would certainly be 100% safe. But for the great majority of families, someone is leaving the house at some point, for an essential job, to get medical attention, or to shop for groceries. This is how new infections are entering homes. Of course there have also always been those who have ignored restrictions entirely.


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