Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 10 September, 2020


Worldwide, virus cases passed the 28 million mark on Wednesday afternoon.  India is now almost at the point of recording 100,000 new cases every day (97,000 today).  And some time next week, the US will pass the 200,000 death point.

Other than that – oh, and a few forest fires up and down the west coast – all is well with the world.  More good news on my book front – there are now the first 215 pages of the book in pre-release form for Travel Insider Supporters, and a redone “sampler” of 52 pages for everyone else, too.  A new chapter has been added on “Have the Sacrifices We’ve Made So Far Been Worth It” – I truly wrote it while not knowing what the answer would be, although an answer did emerge during the course of writing the 15 pages.  It might change when I return back to revise and improve it!

Talking about changes, I’m keen, during these pre-releases, to get any thoughts/comments/criticisms.  That helps me strengthen the ultimate content.

Will I make the self-imposed 1 October date for a release on Amazon?  The thing is, the book keeps growing – it has been at “only 30 pages to go” for several weeks now, even though I’m adding over 20 more pages every week to it, and I’m now starting to worry it might become too big (91,300 words so far).  Better too much than too little, I hope.

Current Numbers

Not a lot of changes today.  Brazil and the US swapped places on the major country case list, and Spain continued its rise.  On the death list, Italy fell four places, and both the US and UK fell one place.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
3French GuianaFrench Guiana
5San MarinoPanama
7KuwaitSan Marino


Top Case Rates Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
6South AfricaSpain
8BoliviaSouth Africa
10Saudi ArabiaDominican Republic


Top Death Rate Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday


I Am Not a Doctor, But….

One of the most promising vaccine candidates, currently in early stage three trials, had to put their trial on hold earlier this week, after one of the test subjects appeared to suffer a severe and unexpected adverse reaction.  This is the second time they’ve paused their trial.

The company, AstraZeneca, is being a bit vague about the issue, but it seems to be some sort of neurological condition in a woman, briefly admitted to hospital.

The US government has contracted with AstraZeneca under its “Operation Warp Speed” program for 300 million doses of its vaccine.  The doses are being made at present.  We wonder who pays whom if the vaccine needs to be junked.

Talking about vaccines, the “officially approved” Russian vaccine has now had some disclosures about the “success” of its Stage Two trial.  The vaccine was approved before the Stage Two results had been officially released, and before the Stage Three trial had even started.

Our good friends at The Lancet published a refereed article about the positive Stage Two results.  The Lancet, you may recall, is the formerly prestigious UK publication that has several times in the recent past had to withdraw high profile refereed articles that turned out to be wrong, most notably a damning study on HCQ that it transpired was based on obviously fraudulent data.

It seem The Lancet and its referees may have messed up again.  This article, cosigned by many doctors and scientists, points out that some of the individual patient data in the Russian trial that was released looks suspiciously like duplicates of other patient data.

And the latest bad news about virus effects – prolonged gut infections.  It continues to surprise me how we’re still finding out things like this about the virus, even in mid September.

Timings And Numbers

We continue to have more states with increasing rates of infections, and fewer states with reducing infection rates.  The “good state” count was 21 on Monday, 19 on Tuesday, 21 on Wednesday, and 19 again today.  Our poster bad-child state of SD is returning back to normal, as the impact of the Sturgis motorbike convention (currently estimated at creating 260,000 new virus cases) starts to smooth out.  It was the 6th worst state on Monday, 7th on Tuesday, 13th on Wednesday and 15th today.  West Virginia has been first every day, and on Thursday moved ahead to a terrifyingly high rate of new case growth.

It is interesting to compare the US and UK.  We allowed a gathering of 460,000 mainly maskless motorbikers to squeeze into the small town of Sturgis for ten days.  England and Scotland have banned gatherings of more than six people, made up of people from no more than two families.  The UK is reporting 39 new cases per million people every day.  The US is reporting 101 new cases per million a day – two and a half times as many.

Closings and Openings

We’re all for caution when it comes to deploying (and relaxing) measures to control the spread of the virus, but we wonder if LA County is over-reacting a bit by deciding to ban trick or treating this year.  One could even observe that many Halloween costumes already include a mask!

Seriously, a largely outdoor activity is much less dangerous than anything indoors, and with only very brief interactions at each door (that’s certainly the case here – the kids appear, chant “Trick or Treat”, I utter the compulsory statement admiring costumes, they grab as much candy as they can get away with, and are off again with no further delay), the risk would seem acceptably low.

Good news – the US has finally admitted that it makes no sense to restrict people arriving from countries with lower virus rates than here in the US.

United Airlines have published a helpful guide which they hopefully will keep up to date.  It shows the travel restrictions and some information on what is open and closed in each state.

I try to be conscientious and well informed about these things, but I find it so very confusing, even simply understanding what is happening here in the different counties in Washington state, let alone elsewhere in the country.  It is close to impossible to conform to guidelines when they are so hard to identify, and so regularly changing.  United’s site at least helps a bit; thank you, UA.

Who Should Pay

I mentioned the Sturgis motorbike rally above, and the claim that 260,000 new cases of the virus may have occurred as a result of that event.  The researchers went on to estimate the cost of this might be $12 billion.

The reasoning and justification for these numbers is empirical rather than exact, but – plus or minus a zero – are probably not too far from the actuality of what has happened (and is still happening – an event like this spreads like ripples in a pond).

The Sturgis event proceeded for two reasons – a general denial of the reality of the coronavirus all the way up to the Governor’s office in SD, and a desire to enjoy the economic benefits that a ten day street party of almost half a million people bring to a small town of 6,950 people.

We can understand how the event can make or break the annual profit or loss of some businesses in the town.  And seeing as how they decided to allow it to proceed for financial reasons, should those same companies now be billed for the estimated $12 billion cost arising from the event?

With 6,950 people in Sturgis, that would be a bill of $1.73 million per resident.  Or, if spread over the entire state of SD (885,000 people) it would be a mere $13,600 for every man, woman and child in the state.

Why should those of us living careful prudent lives at present have to subsidize the idiots who act irresponsibly?  And, by “idiots” I mean both the 460k bikers and too many of the 885k residents of SD.

I ask this question in all seriousness.  If we made people financially accountable for the harm they cause, both directly to themselves and indirectly to others, might that be the missing ingredient that encourages good behavior?  Appealing to people’s better nature and common sense doesn’t seem to be working consistently.


The not-sufficiently-spoken-truth of the mask shortage that the nation continues to wrestle with is that American masks cost several times more than Chinese masks (from memory, more than double and more like quadruple), and so almost no-one ever buys the American masks normally.  But American companies are now being pressured and “guilt-tripped” into increasing their manufacturing capacity.

Mask manufacturers say, and quite fairly, that it makes no sense for them to install new production lines at great capital cost, only to have their orders dry up again just as soon as the desperate shortage ends, and buyers switch back to the cheapest sources of supply.  Some companies geared up to produce more masks after desperate pleas and promises during the last virus scare, only to have all the buyers vanish again the minute the scare ended.

Of course, there’s no guarantee US manufacturers would be investing in new production lines, even if they were the sole sources.  Instead, they’d likely be saying “Why should we invest in new machinery if the demand will drop again as soon as this pandemic goes away?”.  And, of course, demand will drop.  Nothing is more certain.

If only there were something like a – oh, I don’t know, call it a National Emergency Stockpile – of such gear so that if there is a crisis, we have an adequate supply of PPE already in inventory?  Oh, wait – there is such a thing.  But we let its stock holdings reduce, year by year (and not just during the present administration).

Also, noting all the trillions of dollars being spent on other things, shouldn’t the government step in and buy a few mask making machines and rent them to the manufacturers who are prudently unwilling to commit to capital purchases, themselves?

This is an interesting article on the topic.

Virus?  What Virus?

We have to say that surfers on a not very crowded beach are probably one of the least likely groups of people to pass the virus on to other people.  But if you already know you are infected, and subject to a stay-at-home quarantine order, that’s not really the point, and there’s still the issue of how you’d get from home to the beach and back again.

So in cases like this, where there seems to be a 100% willful and deliberate decision to flout the law, we’re delighted to see the surfer girl arrested.  We hope they lock her up somewhere nasty for the balance of her quarantine.


One of the big hopes, now collapsed down to the empty remnants of desperate but naïve optimism, was that anti-body testing would help us understand who had acquired immunity from the virus, allowing them to safely be returned to work.

Two problems with that.  A lack of reliable antibody testing, and a total lack of certainty as to what level of protection antibodies might provide.  This is a good article on the topic.

This is an interesting survey on whether people would be keen to get vaccinated if, indeed, a vaccine did appear in early November – “in time for the election”.  I’m in the “No” category, along with most of the rest of the population.


At least during its golden years, Apple was first and foremost a design company.  In truth, its hardware was ordinary; the distinguishing features were all design-related.

So we were very interested to see that Apple has designed its own special face mask for its retail store employees (why only the retail store employees – why not all employees, whatever their duties?).

We can’t say the design is quite as transformational as was, say, the iPod, iPhone and iPad designs, but it still looks good and much better than some of the despicable nonsense products masquerading as masks out there.

Good for them.

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

And if you’ve found some value in this update (and the 126 previous ones) please help ensure their continuance and consider joining with your fellow Travel Insider readers and becoming a Travel Insider Supporter.

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



2 thoughts on “Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 10 September, 2020”

  1. I’m disappointed to see that you accepted an article In Mother Jones at face value for your Sturgis SD statistics. A follow-up report in the WSJ noted that the actual cases that could be traced back to the the rally was in the low 100s and the Mother Jones numbers came from modeling done by San Diego State University. We all know how accurate modeling data has been during the pandemic.

    1. Hi, Henry

      Mother Jones???? I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. This is the study I linked to :

      As for accepting anything at face value, the words I used were

      The reasoning and justification for these numbers is empirical rather than exact, but – plus or minus a zero – are probably not too far from the actuality of what has happened (and is still happening – an event like this spreads like ripples in a pond).

      I’m happy to consider reasoned rebuttal, but referring to a Mother Jones article (and a WSJ article) that I’ve never seen is not really very helpful.

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