Covid-19 Diary : Wednesday 8 April, 2020


I have now published my two part article on what to expect in the future and how we’ll co-exist with the coronavirus until such time as we finally vanquish it.

I’d urge you to please read it and to share it.  Even Travel Insider readers, in my survey last Friday, are massively underestimating the likely impact and duration of the Covid-19 crisis.  While it seems increasingly certain we’ll get this first wave of infection under control, and perhaps with not much more than 60,000 people killed during the event, if we then relax our controls, the virus will return back, and take over our lives again exactly the same as it did the first time.

This was modeled by (I think) Harvard researchers.  As best I recall, they saw the potential for up to twelve cycles of viral outbreak – first relaxing controls, then having the virus back, reintroducing lockdowns, beating the virus, then relaxing controls, then repeating, running between now and late 2022, before we got to a point of achieving sufficient herd immunity, and after having had over half the country infected during the repeated cycles.  That contrasts with currently a 0.1% infection rate.

An extended series of cycles with much higher infection rates would be disastrous for the country, the economy, and for ourselves directly.  We must respond more appropriately.  My two part article explains the various futures that might unfold, and suggests a possible best method to optimize this awkward future.

One more introductory comment/request.  I feel that now I’ve published this pair of articles for the future, I’ve completed the first stage of this diary.  I’m wondering how to continue it for the future, or perhaps just to wind it up entirely.

What do you think?  Are there sections you really like?  Parts you skip?  Additional coverage elements you’d like to see?  Please let me know so I can keep this focused on what you want.

Current Numbers

Here are the rankings for the seven states of any size with the highest infection rates, which have remained in the same order as yesterday :

  • Vatican City/8 cases/9,988 cases per million
  • San Marino/279 cases/the equivalent of 8,223 cases per million people (unchanged)
  • Andorra/564/7,300
  • Luxembourg/3,034/4,847
  • Iceland/1,616/4,736
  • Faero Islands/184/3,766 (unchanged)
  • Gibraltar/120/3,562

Here are the top six major countries, showing death rates per million of population in the country.  Today saw the UK move into this list for the first time, displacing Switzerland :

  • Spain/14,792 deaths/316 deaths per million
  • Italy/17,669 deaths/292 deaths per million
  • Belgium/2,240/193
  • France/10,869/167
  • Netherlands/2,248/131
  • United Kingdom/7,097/105

To put those numbers into context, the death rates per million in the US/Canada are 44/11.

For major countries and/or outbreaks, and in general :

Same Day
Last Week
Total Cases934,2621,431,9731,507,846
Total Deaths/Percent of all Resolved Cases47,174/19.6%82,096/21.4%88,165/21.2%
Active Cases (ie not yet died or cured)693,1241,047,6681,090,139
US Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million214,482/5,093/648400,335/12,841/1,209426,300/14,622/1,288
UK Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million29,474/2,352/43455,242/6,159/81460,733/7,097/895
Canada Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million9,677/114/25617,897/381/47419,195/1,298/509
Worst affected major country/case rateSpain/2,227Spain/3,036Spain/3,170
Second worst country affectedSwitzerland/2,053Switzerland/2,571Switzerland/2,690
Third worstItaly/1,829Italy/2,243Italy/2,306

This saw the first time in weeks that the death percent of all closed cases reduced.  It remains unrealistically high at 21.1%, and should be expected to drop down to 2% or less – much less, hopefully.  Our best guess for this anomaly is that countries are simply not bothering to report closed cases in situations where infected people are now free of the virus.

We still see articles appearing that play down the impact of this virus.  Usually, they have been written some time prior to publication, and make statements like “With only 500 cases to date, clearly this virus is totally unimportant compared to regular ‘flu, which kills about 25,000 people every year”.

That has always been an exceedingly ignorant point to make by people with no concept of exponential growth, and not realizing they are comparing 12 months of deaths for ‘flu with essentially only a month or less of deaths from Covid-19.

It is also always contradicted by whatever reality is out there when the article finally appears and is read.  Especially now.  We have had two days in a row where the US death count for Covid-19 deaths has been higher than for any other disease category at all – more people are dying from Covid-19 than from any other cause.  That is also much more then ten times the daily average death rate for regular ‘flu.

The latest version of the IHME projection is predicting that our worst count for daily deaths will happen this Sunday, with 2,212 deaths.  This is better than the prediction it replaces – the previous projection was outlooking 2,644 deaths on next Thursday, 16 April.

We continue to be very cautious with how much reliance we place on this or any other model.  In particular, we note the model says that the last death will occur on June 14, with no more deaths subsequently.  The model explains this by saying it assumes full social distancing through the end of May.

I don’t know why it makes that assumption, because we don’t have full social distancing today, and are unlikely to get it between now and the end of this May for even a day – especially with a general feeling that things are getting better not worse now, and it seems vanishingly unlikely that our current imperfect social distancing behaviors will mean the virus has been stamped out by 14 June.

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Here’s an interesting article about breathing exercises and how to lie down at times if you think you might be coming down with the virus.  The worst side effect of the virus is lung infections, and the information gives you some breathing exercises to keep your lungs as clear as possible.

Timings And Numbers

US air passenger numbers continue to drop.  Yesterday saw the first day that total passengers counted through TSA screening points dropped below 100,000 – a mere 97,130 passengers flew compared to 2,091,056 a year ago.  That is a 95.4% drop in passenger numbers.

I’ve been thinking for some days now that we surely must be bottoming out in terms of daily passenger numbers, but that has yet to be shown.  After dropping almost 2 million passengers a day, on last Tuesday, 146,000 people flew, which seemed like we were getting to the minimum number.  But this Tuesday, only 97,130 flew, so a drop of another 33% – a full third – in a single week.

Care to guess how low it will go and when it will start to climb up again?

I spent the better part of a day last week trying to find some correlation between viral infection rates and the weather.  There has been an oft-cited claim/hope that as the weather turns warmer, the virus will recede, giving us a relatively virus free summer.

My attempt to confirm this comprised comparing case numbers for different states in the US.  It seemed that by keeping within the US, there were fewer other variables that might impact on numbers, while also having sufficient variation between the cold northern states in the midwest and the hot southern states as to allow weather to influence the numbers, if it was going to.  I tried as hard as I could, and added other variables like population density in the state, urban/rural split, and even tried to adjust for each state’s policies on social distancing, etc.  But there was absolutely no correlation visible at all, no matter how I adjusted and modified the numbers.

My conclusion was “insufficient data” rather than “no weather related impact”.  Here now is another study, and while I could comment negatively on their methodology, they concluded that weather is unlikely to have much or any impact at all, and that’s pretty much what I came up with too.


A Washington Post article (firewalled) today confirmed what I’ve been saying all along.  There’s been no rationing of ventilators yet.

Worth noting is that some states are already starting to pass through their peak equipment needs, and others are rapidly approaching it, and only a very few states (see the IHME study) are projected to have shortages of beds and ICU facilities, so things are more likely to get better than worse now.  Indeed, if I remember rightly, Washington State has just sent 400 ventilators it doesn’t need to New York.

But other shortages still appear from time to time, like this article referring to a “temporary shortage” of Tylenol (aka acetaminophen).  There’s some ambiguity as to how long “temporary” actually means.

We try and also look back “behind” the supermarket shelves to understand what might be happening further back in the supply chain.  There is such a long and largely “invisible” chain of dependencies that are all required to mesh exactly together for our “very efficient” – ie, very interdependent – supply chain to function, and it just takes one interruption at one of the many points to lead to empty shelves.

We’re concerned about what is happening on farms.  Here’s another example of how farm functionality is starting to degrade.

 Logic?  What Logic?

The CDC is considering loosening the guidelines for workers in critical industries who are risking exposure to the virus.  We understand that we need to keep critical industries manned, but we’re not sure if allowing an increased measure of risk is the best way to achieve that!

The huge thing that concerns us is the virus is proving to be most infectious before a person starts to show any symptoms, so the new CDC guidelines that basically say “if you have no symptoms, you’re okay” are a bit on the optimistic side.

We see General Motors is boasting about delivering tens of thousands of ventilators to the national stockpile, later this year.  Philips is also to deliver 43,000 units by the end of the year. That’s probably a good thing, but of no use to us at present.  The peak demand for medical equipment is projected by IHME to occur in three days time, on 11 April.

Virus?  What Virus?

We thought we wouldn’t be writing about this any more, but even now, people are flying in to the US with zero screening upon arrival.

Something else we hoped we’d not be writing about any more – cruise ship perils.  Here’s a ship with an almost 60% spread of the virus among the passengers.

And then there are the things that inevitably are going to continue to occur – idiots who find ways to circumvent restrictions on mass gatherings.

And well-meaning people who feel God wants them to risk themselves and each other by meeting at Easter to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  As best we can prayerfully sense, that is not what God wishes and we feel disappointed in church leaders who allow this to take place.


It was another good day on Wall St, or whatever its virtual equivalent is these days.  The Dow rose a happy 3.4%, to close at 23,434.


The concept of person to pet transfer of the virus is an interesting one.  I could selfishly say “at least it doesn’t seem to be the other way” but even that is not absolutely confirmed.  And now WHO is on the job, to try and understand more about it.

Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again tomorrow


Please click here for a listing of all our Covid-19 articles.

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