I’m going to guess that you’re not filling your days quite so wall-to-wall searching out and pondering virus-related articles as I am. At times I fear this is damaging-to-my-mental-health.
My biggest frustration is that we are now, depending on what date you used to start your “Virus Clock”, somewhere between one and two months into this nightmare, but not really any further forward. For me, I first wrote about the virus in January, did my first major feature piece on 20 February, and started doing daily diary entries on Monday 16 March, so today marks the start of the sixth week of diary entries and nearly three months from the first time I mentioned it.
There have been some changes during this time, of course. We’ve flipped our discussion from “should we close” to “should we re-open”. We’re not so focused on how much worse the daily new cases and deaths will get – they both seem to have more or less leveled out, and now the discussion is more on how quickly they’ll drop down to acceptable levels (whatever they may be) to support re-opening.
But the magic date on the calendar when we can claim to have finally resolved the virus, with no more cases, and no more risk of new cases coming in from other countries – when will that be? It seems as far away and as uncertain today as it was on any previous day. At the same time though, the directly related question – how much longer will our economy survive this disruption – becomes more urgent and more pressing.
The ultimate uber-question is “Which will happen first? We get rid of the virus or destroy our economy and lifestyle back to the stone age?” The early optimism of expecting to be quickly rid of the virus well before fatal damage to our economy is, at least for me, evolving inexorably to a fear that the economic stone age is more likely to be greeting us before we say farewell to the last of the virus.
As well as fear, there is frustration. Much has been made of the leadership of essentially every western country wasting a month or more when they “should have known” the virus was about to hit us. We’re more forgiving than some on that point, and suggest dwelling on that is akin to crying over spilt milk. There’s a more important question that now needs to be asked. How have we spent our time after the reality of the virus has been acknowledged? What have we done and what are we doing to increase survival rates and decrease infection rates?
Never mind January and February. Has any part of March and now two thirds of April been time well spent? What has been achieved, other than tens of thousands of deaths, all around the world? How many more months of living in a limbo must we endure?
The frustrating edge to the question is the knowledge that improving things is not rocket science. All it takes is determination.
An effective lock-down program would take two weeks to end the growth of the virus and three weeks to see a significant diminution in new case numbers. The above chart shows what one could expect, and is all the more interesting because it shows daily new case numbers in South Korea – a country that never instituted a major lockdown but instead used the strategy of tracing cases and alerting other potentially infected people. Their economy, as a result, is still expected to grow this year, albeit by 1% less than before, and of course, depending on just how devastating the global depression we’re creating will become.
But in the US we’ve never had an effective program, neither lock-down style nor contact tracing style. So the virus continues to flourish – another 28,000 new cases today in the US, little changed from two weeks ago or three weeks ago, and more than twice what it was four weeks ago.
And, the amazing illogic is that instead of this causing us to see the error of our ways and now double down on an effective process of reducing the ongoing level of new cases, people are clamoring to lift the partial restrictions that have been in place.
Doing so will almost unavoidably bring us right back to square one, meaning we’ve wasted months of time and trillions of dollars, all for nothing.
Here are the rankings for the eight states of any size with the highest infection rates. There were no changes in ranking today.
- San Marino/462 cases/the equivalent of 13,616 cases per million people
- Vatican City/8 cases/9,988 cases per million (unchanged)
- Gibraltar/132/3,918 (unchanged)
- Faroe Islands/185/3,786 (unchanged)
Here are the top six major countries, showing death rates per million of population in the country :
- Belgium/5,828 deaths/503 deaths per million
- Spain/20,453 deaths/446 deaths per million
- Italy/24,114 deaths/399
- United Kingdom/16,509/243
To put those numbers into context, the death rates per million in the US/Canada are 128/45. The world average (not a very reliable number) is 21.9.
For major countries and/or outbreaks, and in general :
|Total Deaths/Percent of all Resolved Cases||119,598||164,925||170,397|
|Active Cases (ie not yet died or cured)||1,360,249||1,615,093||1,663,778|
|US Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million||586,866/23,621/1,773||763,594/40,527/2,307||792,759/42,514/2,365|
|UK Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million||88,621/11,329/1,305||120,067/16,060/1,769||124,743/16,509/1,838|
|Canada Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million||25,680/780/680||35,056/1,587/929||36,829/1,690/976|
|Worst affected major country/case rate||Spain/3,638||Spain/4,249||Spain/4,282|
|Second worst country affected||Switzerland/2,968||Belgium/3,322||Belgium/3,450|
I Am Not a Doctor, But….
We’ve seen some truly weird and obviously fanciful claims for how to avoid getting infected by the virus – and invariably such claims seen to involve the purchase of an expensive product.
But here’s a fascinating claim that would be great if true. Listening to music that you like might boost your immune system.
Let’s hope it is true.
Who Should Pay?
Yet again, it seems that big business gets the big bucks, while small business gets bupkis. This article tells of a Seattle business owner who has applied to six different private, state and federal assistance programs, and hasn’t received anything from any of them.
The infuriating part of this would probably be how none of us are really surprised. Isn’t one of the key concepts of government to help the needy, not the rich? To redirect “surplus” funds from those who can spare them, and distribute them to those who need them?
But instead we have a government that creates money from nowhere, and gives it to wealthy individuals and businesses.
Timings And Numbers
This is starting to become a well-worn record, although it is interesting how the “B-side” of the record is getting as many plays as the A-side. Some jurisdictions are clearly seeking to over-count and inflate the number of virus deaths they are experiencing, while others are trying to downplay the numbers.
Today’s example is Spain, a country that has a very high death rate (446/million) exceeded by only one other major country (Belgium with 503/million). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Spain is trying to undercount its virus deaths, and this article suggests there might be as many as 50% more deaths that have not been counted.
Here’s good news, if true. Another Californian study has come out suggesting that the actual virus infection rate could be between 28 – 55 times higher than the reported numbers. It seems the study’s authors have a better understanding of sampling errors, too.
There’s that fateful phrase again “out of an abundance of caution” – a phrase which always means “there’s not really any logical reason for this at all, but we’re doing it anyway and don’t you dare criticize us”. This time, the abundantly cautious people are at my local city administration. They’ve canceled all summertime events, both those coordinated by themselves, and any others which require a city permit to be held, through 31 August.
Oh, they also tell us that “the health and safety of the community is our top priority”.
And while they talk about “this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation” it seems their crystal ball is clear enough for them to be able to foretell all the way to 31 August. We wish we had such clarity of vision.
Here’s a stunning statistic that is very hard to adequately comprehend. 96% of world-wide travel destinations are currently closed to tourism. We don’t just mean museums and amusement parks, etc. We mean the cities and countries they are located within.
I made a comment on Twitter yesterday about how grocery stores may be “forced” to close entirely, as reported in this item. I observed that I’d hate to rely on someone else to choose my fruit, vegetables, and meat.
The virtue-signaling folks at Twitter found this outrageous. How dare I denigrate the integrity of store employees, I was furiously asked. Apparently they deemed it outrageous that I’d want to be able to choose between an avocado so overripe that it squashes between your fingers when you pick it up, and an avocado so unripe that it could be used as a wood replacement.
How outrageous I’d want to choose the broccoli crowns that were indeed crowns rather than 90% thick stalk. How outrageous that I might not be happy getting the oranges that have gone rotten and are covered with mold on the side you don’t see in the prepacked bag of oranges. How outrageous I’d prefer to get my $15/lb steak with an appropriate amount of fat on it rather than accept one with a huge layer of fat (the fat of course also costing $15/lb) that I’d immediately trim off the meat before cooking. And how selfish, when buying fixed price cauliflowers, that I’d prefer to buy a big fresh one than accept a small stale one.
The thing is, we already know all of this. Supermarket staff prove to us every day they can’t be trusted when it comes to these products, but now we’re expected to pretend the opposite.
Here’s an article that points out the obvious truth. We might love the idea of airlines keeping the middle seat free at present, but we shouldn’t expect that to last long. As soon as airlines find themselves turning away passengers, they’ll start filling those seats again.
And while we shouldn’t refuse any element of social distancing, if we were to have proper six feet separation, we’d have two people in one row (one in each window seat on opposite sides of the aisle) then no-one in the two rows forward. That would be 16 seats out of every 18 – eight seats in every nine – blocked out. Just taking out the middle seat still has us too close to the person one seat over, too close probably to the person on the other side of the aisle, too close to the people in the next two rows and the previous two rows.
Logic? What Logic?
The US and Canada have extended their border closure for another 30 days. We simultaneously understand and do not understand the calls for border closures. Okay, that’s a fairly crazy sort of statement to make, isn’t it!
My point is this : Border closures can make sense if three conditions are met, but these conditions are generally never met, and so what is the point of going through the charade? The three essential conditions are :
- The closures are absolute and complete
- The closed area has a realistic plan to then eradicate the virus within its borders
- There is a plan to subsequently re-open the borders safely that won’t simply see the virus come flooding back again
Nowhere in the US meets any one of these three conditions, let alone all three. So why do we have such ridiculous things as a closed border with Canada?
It strikes us as a bit of meaningless virtue-signaling which achieves nothing except to create another layer of inconvenience for people on both sides of the border.
Here’s further discussion on the uncertainty about how long any immunity gained from being infected by the virus might last. This is an important issue to understand, because the herd immunity concept is one of our “Hail Mary” hopes for finally getting us out of this mess.
Some more good news if true – further good news about a possible treatment for people with Covid-19 infections.
The week is off to a disappointing start with the Dow dropping 592 points (2.4%) to close at 23,650 today.
Facebook has decided to censor discussion of constitutionally guaranteed rights to assemble and protest, even though the actions are condoned and supported by the President.
I’m not saying that the anti-lockdown protests are appropriate or sensible at all. But I am saying that clearly it is a matter of debate and difference of opinion in our country at present, and refusing to allow this debate and discussion does not help our democracy at all.
Freedom flourishes in the light, tyranny thrives in the dark, and the thought that Mark Zuckerburg can override our legal system and our administration at all levels and unilaterally decide what is right and wrong, what is permissible and what is not, is not a welcome outcome of Facebook’s ubiquity and almost monopoly over online discussion/debate.
Bad news for some people who thought they found good deals for toilet paper online.
When all else fails, try the bagpipes? I did write, above, that music might boost one’s immune system, but I qualified that with the requirement that it be music you like. But we’re sure this father/daughter pair mean well.
Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again tomorrow