Covid-19 Diary : Friday 8 May, 2020

 

A couple of “public service announcements” to start things off today.  Both are ICYMI items (In Case You Missed It); they were in the regular weekly newsletter this morning as well.

I’ve added a resource page with links to some of the best reference material on the coronavirus.  If you’ve suggestions for other links to add to that page, let me know.

And I’m running the “When do you think things will be back to normal” survey again.  I did this in early April and thought it would be interesting to see how things have changed in the intense month since then.

If you’ve not already sent in your opinion, please would you go to the regular newsletter here; the survey is only a short way down from the top.  Many thanks.

Current Numbers

Here are the rankings for the eight states of any size with the highest infection rates.  There have been no changes in ranking today.

  • San Marino/623 cases/the equivalent of 18,361 cases per million people
  • Vatican City/12 cases/14,981 cases per million (unchanged)
  • Andorra/752/9,733 (unchnaged)
  • Qatar/20,201/7,012
  • Luxembourg/3,871/6,184
  • Spain/260,117/5,563
  • Iceland/1,801/5,278 (unchanged)
  • Ireland/22,541/4,565

Here are the top six major countries, showing death rates per million of population in the country  :

  • Belgium/8,521 deaths/735 deaths per million
  • Spain/26,299 deaths/562 deaths per million
  • Italy/30,201 deaths/500
  • United Kingdom/31,241/460
  • France/26,230/402
  • Netherlands/5,359/313

To put those numbers into context, the death rates per million in the US/Canada are 238/121.  The world average (not a very reliable number) is 35.4.

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

Same Day
Last Week
Yesterday Today
Total Cases 3,398,473 3,913,710 4,009,337
Total Deaths 239,448 270,436 275,986
US Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million 1,131,030/65,753/3417 1,292,623/76,928/3905 1,321,785/78,615/3993
UK Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million 177,454/27,510/2614 206,715/30,615/3045 211,364/31,241/3114
Canada Cases/Deaths/Case rate per million 55,061/3,391/1459 64,922/4408/1720 66,434/4,569/1760
Worst affected major country/case rate Spain/5,197 Spain/5,494 Spain/5,563
Second worst country affected Belgium/4,231 Ireland/4,533 Ireland/4,565
Third worst Ireland/4,219 Belgium/4,437 Belgium/4,488
Fourth Switzerland/3,432 USA/3,905 USA/3,993
Fifth Italy/3,431 Italy/3,570 Italy/3,592

At the risk of stating the obvious, it is noteworthy that the total global counted cases has now passed the 4 million mark.

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

I’ve written about Vitamin D before.  Here are two more articles suggesting that plenty of Vitamin D in your system might be a good thing in terms of fighting off the coronavirus.  See this article and this article.

As I’ve sometimes said, I simply bought a 500 tablet pack of Kirkland brand multi-vitamins at Costco and take one of those a day at present.  Should I get unwell, then I’ll consider adding more Vitamin D, Zinc, and whatever else seems to make sense, but for now, the multi-vitamins seem to be a great first step.

The issue of mask effectiveness continues to vex me.  The problem is we clearly can’t rely on the CDC for honest information about this, because they either lied to us when they first said that masks would not help, and/or they lied to us when they did a 180° change and told us masks were essential.  Their further claim that a made-at-home mask is perfectly good clearly doesn’t pass the laugh-test because if they are perfectly good, why are we told to save the “real” masks for medical staff, who need them more than we do?

There’s actually probably a clue in that latest dissembling from the CDC.  On a continuum, no mask at all is worst, a home made mask is better than nothing, a surgical mask is much better, and an N95 respirator is best of all.

This article merely confirms the controversy about the value of masks, and notes how many “experts” hedge their bets by talking about “correctly worn” masks.  That is a key point.  If all the air you breathe in and out goes through the mask, that is more beneficial than if the air leaks in/out around the sides.  That is the big weakness of a home-made cloth mask – paradoxically, while the mask has a coarser weave than a surgical mask that makes it easier for the virus particles to pass through, the coarser weave also makes it harder to normally breath in and out through the mask, encouraging air flows to leak out around the sides.

My preference is a surgical mask.  I’ve been using the same one for weeks now – that isn’t as extreme as it sounds.  I only go out once a week or so, and only need to wear it for an hour or so per outing (ie while in stores).  At that rate, it will be the best part of three months before it has had the equivalent of a single full day of use.  As long as it doesn’t rip or break, I’ll keep reusing it with the “rest periods” between uses to give time for any trapped virus particles to die.

An even more cautious approach is to wear gloves as well as a mask.  Which then causes one to wonder what might be next – goggles (or at least safety glasses, which aren’t quite as obviously extreme)?  Protective outer layers of clothing?  Head/hair covering?  I wear a cap when I go out, but haven’t gone to adding gloves/goggles/other items.

This item talks about passengers now being required to wear gloves when going through several airports in the UK.  What it doesn’t explain is why.  The limitation with gloves is there is no danger of getting infected just by touching something that has virus on it.  It is only when you then transfer the viral particles from your hand to your mouth/nose/eyes that there is the potential for infection.  That transfer of virus from a contaminated surface to your face is as readily achieved while wearing a glove as it is without a glove.  And, the other way, if you cough into your hand and then touch a hand rail, any viral particles are as well captured and then transferred via a glove as they are from bare skin.

The other side of the glove (non)safety coin is that if you are wearing gloves, you stop obsessing about what you’re touching and you stop using hand sanitizer or washing your hands regularly.  So your gloves are becoming potentially more contaminated than your bare hands would be.

So we don’t think gloves add any benefit at all, and quite possibly, do the opposite.  If they give people the illusion of being safer, that encourages them to engage in riskier behavior.

Timings And Numbers

This article suggests that if the US had moved its social-distancing measures forward four days in time, it would have more than halved the daily death toll we’re currently experiencing.  It reasons that because things leveled out soon after we did introduce the measures, then it would be better to have leveled out at a lower level, earlier.

Mathematically that makes sense.  But sociologically, we’re currently wrestling with a restive population desperate to return to normal and way too much aggressive non-compliance.  If 2,000 deaths a day can be overlooked by such people, how many more people would fail to comply with 1,000 deaths a day?

In other words, without the shock of a rapidly growing casualty rate, we might not have secured the quick compliance needed to stop the virus spreading.

Which isn’t to say that earlier action wouldn’t be have been better, of course.

Logic?  What Logic?

Arizona wants to start relaxing its lockdown laws.  But a team of 23 academics in the state who have been contracted to advise the state’s Department of Health Services advised against any relaxation, saying the state hadn’t yet passed its peak in cases.

So the governor disbanded the advisory group, while pressing on with plans to relax the lockdown requirements.

Medical

Many thanks to reader Jerry who passed in a link to an excellent page on the CDC website about how long someone can be infectious.  The CDC is recommending isolation/quarantine for at least ten days once symptoms have appeared, and continuing at least three days after the person is recovered.

One of the interesting bits of fine print is that a person might test positive for having the disease for up to six weeks, but are usually not infectious three days after recovery, with recovery being defined as resolution of fever and improvement or resolution of any other symptoms.

The issue of transmission of the virus to animals (pets) continues to seem like it could be a thing, and there is now a new study in Washington State seeking volunteers to try and get a better handle on it.

Money

So we lost 20.5 million jobs in April and now have a 14.7% unemployment rate, to say nothing of people like myself who don’t appear in the official statistics.  But as this article reports, the Dow has been blissfully unconcerned.

After a good day today, the Dow closed the day and week at 24,331, a 455 point lift for the day (1.9% increase), and for the week, a gain of 607 points, a 2.6% gain.

Rumors

There’s an unconfirmed report that the UK will be requiring incoming visitors to quarantine for two weeks after arriving.  While other countries have a similar policy, this is surprising because Britain only requires its citizens to self-quarantine for one week if they have virus symptoms.

Perhaps it is a case of a week to see if symptoms appear or not, then another week in case they did appear?

Other

Here’s an interesting bit of trivia on where/how Trader Joe’s managed to secure a supply of toilet paper when it was in such short supply.

And while only very weakly linked to the virus, reader Mark felt – and I agree – this is a nice video to end the (for some of us) working week with.

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.

 

1 thought on “Covid-19 Diary : Friday 8 May, 2020”

  1. Trying to re-use, or make your masks last longer makes good sense. I have been able to use my N95 respirator for 2-3 weeks, by giving it a rest, spraying it with some alcohol, and trying to leave it in the hot sun when I can. So far, so good.

    I only use them in crowded situations. I also try to use a plastic face shield in those situations, but those tend to fog up and making breathing harder. They do feel reassuring to have on at the cashier, however.

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