Covid-19 Diary : Sunday 26 July, 2020


Did you vote in Friday’s regular newsletter survey?  If you did, thank you very much.  If you didn’t, I’m repeating it below, and would much appreciate you sending in your thought about this concept.  The concept is one element of a broader business plan I’m developing for a new type of tourist accommodation/resort, intended to optimize experiences both during the present troubled times and in general (please do ask if you’d like a copy of the investor introduction memo).

The virus and our eventual conquering of it is proving to be a bit like a flight delay.  First, for a flight delay, we’re told of a 15 minute delay due to paperwork.  Then another 15 minutes due to needing to resolve a minor issue.  Then another 15 minute delay due to needing to get a spare part from the other side of the airport.  And so on, sometimes for hours and hours, with a truly impressive series of always different reasons for the next 15 minutes of delay.

The thing is, if we’d been told up front “this will be a four hour delay” we could all plan accordingly.  Take another flight, go sightseeing, relax in a lounge, have a nice meal, or whatever.  But with the series of 15 minute extensions, we never feel we can leave the gate area for fear of coming back and finding the plane triumphantly pushing back without us.

It is the same with the virus.  If we’d been told in mid-March that the virus would disrupt our lives for a full twelve months, we could make plans accordingly.  But instead we were told of plans to start relaxing the controls at Easter (12 April), then it was going to be in time for May Day, then Memorial Day, then it was going to be definitely in time for July 4th, and so on.  Now we’re at a greater rate of daily new infections than ever before – twice the number of new cases every day than was the case during the first peak in mid April.  If you listen carefully, you’ll hear people like Dr Fauci talking about the virus being with us to stay and our only hope for getting free of arguing about masks every day being a vaccine. If you dig further, you’ll see that while there are 130+ different vaccine “candidates” going through various testing procedures, there’s a terrifyingly tangible degree of risk that none of them will work very well.

One thing is clear.  There is no practical way the US can copy New Zealand and become 100% virus free and allow life to return back to normal.  That will only happen with a vaccine and/or the complete global eradication of the virus.  Until that time, we’re locked into an unavoidable imbalance between masks and social distancing on one side, and the virus on the other side.

While the country as a whole can’t rid itself of the virus, a small private enclave could.  It would restrict access and require quarantining for new arrivals, and would have a range of activities and amenities on-site to make it a pleasant place to shelter within, probably in one’s own free-standing comfortable cabin, with the entire development spanning many tens of acres, set in a beautiful low-density rural area.

Residents could come and go as they please of course, but any exit and return would require a fresh quarantine period.  When through quarantine, and within the enclave, you’d be free to meet, mix, and mingle with the other people there, without masks and without fear.  You could eat in its restaurant and drink in its bar, laugh and joke, invite the neighbors over for a barbeque, and enjoy life as it used to be for us all, everywhere.

What do you think?  Good idea or bad idea?  Would you move to such a haven for some uncertain period of time if one were offered?

Please click the answer that represents your thinking.

Many thanks for taking the time to share your perceptions of this concept.  It is always very helpful; I’ll share the collective wisdom received in this coming Friday’s regular newsletter.

Current Numbers

The surprising thing, for me, is that today there’s no difference in ranking among the minor countries compared to a week ago.  Bolivia has entered the list of top ten major countries.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
2French GuianaFrench Guiana
4San MarinoSan Marino
5Vatican CityVatican City


Top Case Rates Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
6Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia
7SpainSouth Africa
8South AfricaSpain


Top Death Rate Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday


I Am Not a Doctor, But….

People are argue about every element of what is necessary for acceptably safe social distancing at present.  The 6 ft rule in particular has attracted a degree of discussion – some countries limit it to 1 meter (3 ft 3 in); and of course, airlines such as UA and AA tell us that 18″ is plenty far enough apart.

But the unfortunate reality is there is no magic distance.  There’s a curve that shows the greater the distance, the less the risk, but the slope on that curve is gentle and slow rather than sudden and sharp.  This article reports on how the virus has been shown to travel as far as 26 ft in meat plants.  Needless to say, even with “only” six feet of distancing, retailers are struggling to be able to provide a viable service to people, and extending it much further would reduce the customer density to impossibly low numbers.  So there’s a distinct lack of interest in analyzing “Why 6 ft?” and plenty of enthusiasm to consider reductions, rather than increases.

I’m definitely getting the sense that many of our authorities are giving up on creating and enforcing social distancing rules, and are hoping to be saved by the appearance of a vaccine before it becomes too late.  How else to explain the complacent way many politicians and even public health officials are ignoring the rising case rates in most of the US at present?

The clearest example of this is the almost sainted Dr Fauci failing to wear a mask himself, and also, when he was wearing one, wearing it incorrectly (photos in linked article).

But how realistic are the hopes for a vaccine, and when might one appear?  No-one really knows the answer to either part of that double question, but here’s a good article that at least considers some of the variables.

Testing continues to be a terribly messed up process, but some good news this week is that apparently dogs can be trained to detect infected people, at least most of the time.  The error rate remains too high, but as a way of quickly sorting people into “possibly yes” and “possibly no” categories, it can’t be faulted.  A bit like taking a person’s temperature, it is not conclusive either that a person does or does not have the virus, but it helps shift people into higher and lower risk categories, and that enables us to prioritize “real” testing based on up-front assessments of risk.

Another “bad news if true” story, this time about the virus increasing the risk of blood clots forming in leg arteries.

Timings And Numbers

The world passed through the 16 million case count on Saturday, but with each additional million being reached in five or so days, it is not really newsworthy any more.  We’re already, late on Sunday, at 16.4 million cases.  Monday will see the US pass through 150,000 deaths.

There are still people who tell me, in all sincerity, that this virus is no worse than the seasonal ‘flu virus.  But we’ve had almost three times a typical 12-month total for ‘flu deaths, and in only four months, and, most of all, this is the count after having thrown our country into chaos.  Imagine what the count would be if we’d not done everything we have.

Now that we’ve had a chance to see what happens to the virus numbers initially with no interventions, then with national social distancing, then with state by state lifting of restrictions, and now with some states adding back restrictions, it is clear that the various measures do actually have some impact.  If you look at all the curves on the website, there is a huge difference between the initial terrifyingly high rates of virus growth and now the much more modest rates in states that are still growing (according to the site, 32 states are experiencing growing rates of infection currently).

This should not be surprising to anyone.  What is a surprise is why/how it is that anyone, anywhere, has thought it safe to ease-off on restrictions  This article, for example, affects a surprised tone about Germany bracing for a “second wave” of infections.

Closings and Openings

I mentioned above that it seems political leaders wish they could just ignore the virus, pretend it doesn’t exist, and have it all miraculously go away.  This has not worked to date, and of course won’t suddenly start working in the future, either.  This article reports on the crumbling will by so many politicians to take the measures that are needed.

Here’s an article about the nonsense surrounding the concept of “safe cruising” – requiring guests to self-evaluate themselves prior to joining a cruise, and then, even more offensively stupidly, having daily temperature checks of everyone while on board.

The nonsense of the temperature checks is highlighted in the article itself when it talks of ten crew members being officially tested for the virus, with nine of the ten crew members having no symptoms, but still being infected and capable of passing the virus on to others.

In other words, best case scenario, maybe temperature checks catch 10% of infected people (and most of those will be detected only after several days of being infectious).

Needless to say, there’s no way I’m going cruising in the foreseeable future.


We have to say we’re totally dry-eyed and unsympathetic when states or counties start reporting capacities crises in their hospitals again.  Sure, back in March/April, it was barely possible to excuse health-care professionals and politicians for being blind-sided.  Who could blame them for not having the same clarity of perception about the virus threat as a humble travel-writer in Seattle…..  :)

But there’s not a region out there at present who are now risking hospital capacity shortages who haven’t knowingly allowed that to happen as a totally predictable outcome from being too lax at creating and then enforcing social distancing requirements.

That doesn’t stop what can only be described as deliberately over-wrought articles such as this one, suggesting people will be “sent home to die” if they’re deemed too sick, due to needing hospital beds for people who can be saved.

I can understand, albeit unsympathetically, how a county with only one hospital might find its one hospital full.  But in such a case, why not ship patients to another hospital, the next county over?  When admitting Covid-19 patients, it is seldom/never an emergency.  The patient can drive themselves or be driven another hour or however long to the next closest hospital.

Logic?  What Logic?

I find myself struggling to draw a fair balance between being open-minded about the potential value in “non-mainstream” treatments for the virus, but not letting the door open too wide for crackpot treatments.  Goodness only knows that just about every imaginable product has been offered up by someone, somewhere, as a virus cure.

Including plain pure water.

Homeopathy is a branch of non-mainstream medicine that some people support, including for many generations, the British Royal Family.  But it literally makes absolutely no sense – the diluted chemicals originally placed in the water have been diluted down so much that there is less than one molecule of chemical in a dose of the homeopathic medicine.  In case it is not obvious, “less than one molecule” is the polite way of saying “none whatsoever”.

Here’s a great “open letter to Prince Charles” which takes no prisoners in showing up the nonsense inherent in homeopathy.

I should add that homeopathic remedies, even though apparently containing nothing other than pure water, are appreciably expensive.  I’ve no idea why.

Virus?  What Virus?

Delta has so far placed over 100 people on its “no fly” list of people now banned from travel on their flights, due to refusals to wear masks on planes.

We don’t understand this at all.  Maybe you really hate wearing a mask, but when you’re told your choice is to wear a mask for several hours, or else be taken off the flight, and banned from future flights, with no ticket refund either, who would not grumble a bit but don a mask?

We wonder if these are life-time bans or just for a short period.  We hope they’re for life.

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

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


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