Covid-19 Diary : Sunday 16 August, 2020


It has been a crazy/busy time the last few days, in the best and most positive sense.  I’ve been dedicating myself to continuing to publish my “magnum opus” – the PDF containing what I believe and hope to be everything you need to know about the virus, how to avoid it, and what to do if you get it.  Since I published the first partial draft on Thursday, I added another 16 pages to it on Friday, then 22 more yesterday, and today has seen another 12 pages added.

I’d like to say that the final glorious totality of the document is nearing its full release, but I’m adding more to the sections still in draft form as well!  What was originally intended as a two or three pager summary is now likely to end up over 100 pages, but I continue to feel this may be the most important writing and the most valuable advice I’ve offered since starting The Travel Insider 20 years ago.

I’ve been updating the document for you with the latest updates each day, and today is no exception.  You can access it in its most recent version here.

Who’d have thought there was so much to tell about the virus!  🙂

Current Numbers

It is interesting to see how the European countries have been almost completely displaced by American countries in terms of case numbers, but not yet death rates.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
2French GuianaFrench Guiana
4San MarinoSan Marino
8Vatican CityVatican City


Top Case Rates Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
5South AfricaSouth Africa
6Saudi ArabiaColombia
7SwedenSaudi Arabia
10ColombiaDominican Republic


Top Death Rate Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday


I Am Not a Doctor, But….

I’ve been engaged in some “discussion” – reasonably polite, thank goodness – on Twitter.  Some people are trying to silence my diary commentaries (in particular, and inevitably, the HCQ comments), claiming that because I’m not a “medical expert” I’m not qualified to comment.

That’s a point I discuss in great detail in the PDF and on the page linked above.  But I’d like to add a further point just now.  In my definitely non-medical opinion, some of the cleverest ideas I’ve seen so far have come from people who know nothing at all about medicine (and some of the stupidest have come from people claiming to be doctors).  There’s a vast gulf between being a research doctor (I’m not), and being a public health advocate (I am).

Here’s an example.  This is one of the most sensible ideas I’ve come across so far in terms of a solution to an extremely serious problem that the experts seem utterly unable to resolve.  The writer – not a doctor, not even close to being a doctor – suggests a new approach to solving the backlog of tests that are destroying our ability to manage the spread of infections, and ruining the lives of people who are waiting, sometimes weeks, for results.

In some cases, people are required to present a test result that is no more than three days old in order to, for example, fly to a foreign country.  How is that going to work when it takes one week, maybe two, to get a test result back?

The concept offered initially seems both unfair and wrong.  But when you carefully think through the idea of doing the most recent tests first, and throwing away old tests without ever processing them, is actually brilliant.  The old tests are useless.  A person can have gone through their entire infection and been cured by the time a test comes back.  Or, they might have fallen ill and even died before they’ve even been told they have the disease!  Or they could be an inadvertent “super-spreader” and infect another 100 people prior to being told they need to self-isolate.

There are other simple solutions to testing also.  It is better to have an inaccurate test, quickly administered, than an accurate test that takes a week or two to return a result.  It is better to batch half a dozen people’s samples (or even 50 or more) into a single test than to do them all individually.  And so on.

But the “medical experts” persist in a broken model that even they, as criminally stupid as they are, surely must see is fatally and fully broken.  How many more tens of thousands of lives will continue to be lost because of “experts” and their incompetence?

In a perfect world, perhaps discussion should be mainly held between experts.  But when the experts are idiots, it is time for the amateurs to join in.

Meanwhile, there is a subject we wish the experts would focus on.  Masks.  Now that increasingly mask wearing is being mandated, we need to think the issue all the way through and appreciate that some masks are good and effective, and other masks are bad and useless.

Here’s an article that goes further than just saying that some masks work better than others.  It says some masks are actually worse than useless and cause harm.  (Here’s a plain English summary and simplification and another restatement here.)

We keep coming back to the IHME projection that suggests up to 70,000 more lives will be either lost or saved between now and 1 December depending on if we wear masks or not.  (And more lives are at risk, too, in every successive month.)

There was a time, early on in the virus outbreak, when the concept of 70,000 lives lost – in total – was unthinkable and terrible in the extreme.  Now, we’re idly wondering if it is worth the bother of wearing masks to save 70,000 lives in 3 1/2 months – 20,000 lives a month.

What has happened to our sense of proportion?  Why are we not demanding and enforcing 100% mask compliance, and – equally essential – requiring all masks meet minimum standards of efficacy?

Where are the experts?  Why the silence?  When did 70,000 lives ever mean so little, ever before?

Timings And Numbers

The excellent site showed 28 states with shrinking rates of new case numbers on Thursday and again on Friday, then 27 on Saturday and today.  It is nice to see we’ve more than half the states reducing their daily new case counts, but how about the other half?

We still are suffering an average of 52,000 new cases every day (and 1,065 deaths every day).

Closings and Openings

Maybe I am unduly risk averse, but truly, you couldn’t pay me to get me on a cruise at present.  However, there seem to be plenty of people eager to chance the odds and “enjoy” a cruise, with this item highlighting 2,500 passengers about to take a one week cruise around the Mediterranean.

If’ you’ve an appetite for humor, you’ll laugh at how the cruise line proudly states it has limited passenger numbers to 70% of maximum capacity so as to allow for proper social distancing.  We have to wonder what type of “proper social distancing” can be observed with 70% of maximum, ie 2500 passengers (plus an unknown number of hundreds of cruise members).


There are some truly strange shortages still appearing from time to time.  The latest is cheese and pepperoni for pizzas.  Who’d a thought of that!?


Many thanks to reader Fred for this image (something that once seen is now terribly hard to unsee, alas), and to reader Jerry for these observations.

1. So let me get this straight, there’s no cure for a virus that can be killed by sanitizer and hand soap?
2. Is it too early to put up the Christmas tree yet? I have run out of things to do.
3. When this virus thing is over, I still want some of you to stay away from me.
4. If these last months have taught us anything, it’s that stupidity travels faster than any virus on the planet.
5. Just wait a second – so what you’re telling me is that my chance of surviving all this is directly linked to the common sense of others? You’re kidding, right?
6. If you believe all this will end and we will get back to normal just because we reopen everything, raise your hand. Now slap yourself with it.
7. Another Saturday night in the house and I just realized the trash goes out more than me.
8. Whoever decided a liquor store is more essential than a hair salon is obviously a bald-headed alcoholic.
9. Remember when you were little and all your underwear had the days of the week on them. Those would be helpful right now.
10. The spread of Covid-19 is based on two factors: 1. How dense the population is and 2. How dense the population is.
11. Remember all those times when you wished the weekend would last forever? Well, wish granted. Happy now?
12. It may take a village to raise a child, but I swear it’s going to take a whole vineyard to home school one.
13. Did a big load of pajamas so I would have enough clean work clothes for this week.

Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Thursday, and of course, updating the major PDF document probably daily.

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


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