Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 29 October, 2020


Thursday saw a record for new cases reported in the US.  We had 91,530 new cases reported on Thursday – the previous record was 81,585 on Wednesday, then 81,427 on last Friday.  Is it possible we’ll reach 100,000 cases in a single day some time next week?

I’ll go one further than to say it is possible – I’ll say it is certain.

I commented some months back about the misuse of the word “epicenter”, with many different places boasting of (or being accused of) being the virus epicenter.  The word is reappearing, for example, earlier this week France was being labeled the epicenter of the resurgence of case numbers in Europe.  My major objection to the term was, as is usually the case, the claim is factually wrong.  Belgium and the Czech Republic are and consistently have been for a while now, both much more severely affected than France.

I see reporters are now simply labeling all of Europe as the epicenter.  That is another misuse of the word and even lazier reporting.  An epicenter is defined as being a single point – a tiny little spot – in the center of something.  Europe is not a tiny little spot.

The next thing you know, we’ll be told the entire world is the epicenter.

Another word that is getting overly used, and never appropriately, is “lockdown”.  You and I would think of a lockdown as something that might happen in a prison or a school, where no-one can go in or out of the cells/classrooms.  It is a simple easy concept isn’t it.

So European countries, regions, and cities are all agonizing about the need to reinstitute lockdowns.  But what they are terming lockdown is never what a normal person would understand a lockdown to be.  A lockdown might simply involve closing bars and restaurants earlier in the evening.  Or might restrict people from leaving their homes, other than for “essential purposes” – such as shopping, or taking the dog for a walk, or any of a plethora of other “essential” purposes including many types of jobs.  And, to make it easy for people who are exempt from lockdowns, public transport will still operate (indeed, in London’s earlier “lockdown” the public transport operated for free for a while), as will flights and long distance trains and buses.

Politicians might feel very good at “doing something big” which they then dress up as being a “lockdown”, but the virus is unpersuaded by such empty rhetoric.

There’s also the question, still unanswered after the last lockdowns.  What happens after the lockdown, to keep the virus away and stop it flooding back in again?  What is the point of a lockdown if a couple of months after the lockdown, you need to repeat the entire process again?

I see Costco are selling Covid “at home” test kits for $130 or $140 each.  These are only “at home” in the sense of you can do your own sample swabbing; you then have to send the sample off to a laboratory for analysis, with results promised in one to three days after the sample has been received at the lab.

That is way too expensive for a “I’ll just check to be sure” type test, and way way too slow for results to be of any relevant value.

The frustrating thing is there truly are $10 instant test kits that can be done at home and which are no more complex than a home pregnancy test, both in terms of how to get a sample and how to interpret the result.  But the FDA won’t allow us to test ourselves, because we’re not “medical professionals”.

The virus laughs again, and thanks the FDA for adding several unnecessary extra days for the virus to be passed from person to person due to the delays and cost of these tests.

While the headlines talk about deaths caused by the virus, one has to wonder about the underlying ugly truth.  How many of the deaths every day are avoidable, and are directly due to stupid regulations and profiteering such as this.  Or by the groundless refusal to allow for HCQ and other treatments to be used at doctors’/patients’ discretion?  My guess – more than half.

Think about that, if you dare.  The people in charge of saving us from such things are the people who are causing us to die needlessly.

Many articles have been written about the tragic incompetence of the CDC, WHO, the FDA, and other organizations.  My question is – how many senior executives at any of these organizations have been sanctioned, in any mild way at all, for their incompetence and the lives needlessly lost as a consequence?

Current Numbers

Only minor changes in the minor country list, although Armenia has displaced Montenegro at the bottom of the list.

But major changes in the major county list.  We had wondered if the US would reach the top spot in the major country list.  It did indeed overtake Peru, but the US in turn was overtaken by countries that barely a week ago were way back in the 7th and 8th positions, Belgium and the Czech Republic.  So the US is back in its customary 3rd position again.

There were no changes at all in the death rate list.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
5French GuianaFrench Guiana
6Vatican CityIsrael
7IsraelVatican City


Top Case Rates Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday
2USACzech Republic
8Czech RepublicArgentina


Top Death Rate Major Countries

RankOne Week AgoToday


I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Rand Paul had an interesting suggestion – it has been made before, and whereas it seemed like it might be sensible back then, increasingly it is seeming less so.  He suggested cruise ships and restaurants should be staffed with Covid-19 survivors, because they’d be “safe” as a result of their immunity.

This is wrong for two reasons.  The first reason is that cruise ship passengers and restaurant patrons are primarily at risk from their fellow passengers/patrons rather than from the staff.  It is solving the wrong problem.

The second reason is that increasingly, the concept of immunity is looking less and less convincing.  Not everyone becomes immune, and those who do acquire immunity may not keep it for long.

Although I’ve been pointing out this possibility/probability right from day one, others have been allowing wishful thinking to override scientific analysis and have been desperately clutching at the hope of immunity for way too long.

This article suggests that antibody levels decline over time after a person has had Covid-19.  We’d treat this data with caution, because we don’t really know what level of antibodies are required for effective protection.

Here’s another disappointing finding about antibody protection – a Russian researcher re-infected himself deliberately to prove it was possible, and suffered a more severe experience the second time.  This was particularly brave because he is 69 years old.

We’re also starting to get some perspective on the mysterious way that some people seem to be “long haul sufferers” of the virus, even apparently after they have been cured and the virus is no longer detectably present.

The first category of sufferer – no longer virus present, but still suffering from illness – might be explained by continued runaway dysfunction by one’s own antibodies.

This article compares the phenomenon to lupus, but doesn’t point out that one of the common treatments for lupus, and antibody modification in general, is the drug which the article’s publisher, the NY Times, hates with a vengeance – HCQ.

The second issue is patients who still test positive for the virus long after they are cured.  This article says one in six cured sufferers still test positive for the virus.

A possible explanation there is that the PCR testing used to test the patients is way too sensitive, prone to giving false positives, and also lacks the ability to distinguish between “live” virus particles and “remnant virus RNA”.  We are basing much of our entire healthcare posture on a test of dubious probity.

Another reason to try not to get the virus – this report suggests some people have their brain age ten years as a result of the experience.  In case you can think of a few teenagers who might therefore benefit from a case of Covid, we suspect that “aging” is not the same as maturing!

A Seattle company is developing a spray coating to make regular cloth masks more effective – they say it will make a mask as effective as an N-95 mask.  The spray, expected to be about $1 per application, will last 24 hours.

Call me cynical, but, even though it would be beneficial, I doubt it will be a big seller.

Here’s an interesting story, albeit not very well told, of how 13 people flying on a lengthy international flight to Ireland all ended up testing positive for the virus.  The 7 1/2 hour flight only had 49 passengers on board the 283 seat airplane, which makes the 13 infected a large percentage, even with a plane less than 20% full.  (We also note that not all passengers have been tested subsequent to sharing the flight, so the true total could be higher.)

We’re not told if the passengers actually contracted the virus on their shared flight, or in the boarding lounge before boarding, or even upon arrive in Ireland.  Nonetheless, the result of the entirety of the travel experience, none of which can be avoided, saw 13 of the 49 people with the virus.

I’ve noticed a growing clamor of articles all claiming flying on a plane is wonderfully safe – less chance of catching the virus than being struck by lighting was one memorable phrase, and another statement, very carefully worded, said “the airlines are only aware of very few people known to have caught the virus on a flight”.

Well, of course the airlines will do all they can not to be aware, and equally of course, maybe it is not the flight but the time in the passenger terminal where passengers get infected.  But what difference does it make to us as passengers – the totality of getting from Point A to Point B unavoidably involves time in the departing and arriving passenger terminal as well as time on the plane itself.  If you get the virus, you’re not going to say “well, thank goodness I caught it in the passenger terminal rather than on the plane” are you.

The total act of air travel remains risky.

Oh – is it just a coincidence that quietly, behind the headlines shouting triumphantly “air travel is safe” there are small mentions of airlines abandoning their “middle seats unsold” policies?

Timings And Numbers

I’d said in the introductory comments that I’m certain our daily new case count will continue to rise and will soon exceed 100,000 cases in a single day.  The chart above shows why I feel that way.

Last I wrote, on Sunday, there were only three states that were reporting slowing rates of new cases.  That dropped to only one state on Monday (MS), then back up to three on Tuesday (MS NC ME), Wednesday was only one again, (MS) and today there are two (MS OK).

These are terrifying numbers.  Some states are starting to run short of hospital beds again, and it seems certain this shortage will become more and more severe as the new case counts continue to increase.

I’ve been decrying the concept of first wave/second wave for a long time.  It is nice to see now that Dr Fauci agrees with me.

It is interesting how Facebook and Twitter now censor people who spread what Facebook and Twitter decide are lies about the virus – people advocating “false cures”, or arguing against some of the conventional wisdom of the virus (sounds a lot like me, doesn’t it!).  But another overpaid ball-tosser was able to be widely quoted as making the beyond-stupid claim that more people have died of suicide than Covid-19 over the last two months, and Facebook/Twitter were happy to sit back and let him spread his misinformation.

Closings and Openings

Spain isn’t expecting any good news in its battle against the virus any time soon.  It has announced a state of emergency that currently will run through 9 May next year.


I mentioned on Sunday it might be a good idea to get ahead of the curve for the next round of shortages and lay in stocks of necessary products.  I’m not sure if it was due to an overwhelming response from you, or if others are thinking the same thing, but this article reports growing numbers of people “stockpiling” products.  This article reports on more stockpiling, although of less obvious products.

I have to confess I practiced what I preached myself.  On a trip to Costco this week I bought toilet paper for the first time in seven months (even though I still have plenty to be going on with)!  Plus another box of 50 face masks – they now have them in a choice of different colors, and my daughter decided she’d like some black masks.

Logic?  What Logic?

Here’s something I totally can’t start to grasp or understand at all – mothers who don’t want their children to even be tested for the virus.  I can understand concerns about vaccination, but how can anyone object to testing?


More idiocy by the western states, with WA, OR and NV joining CA in saying they won’t allow any of their residents to be vaccinated until they have validated any new vaccines.

Details of the validation process remain totally absent.  This is all about politicians creating meaningless virtue-signaling immediately prior to the election.  We hope they’ll quietly forget about this crazy idea in a week’s time.  I’ll also wager that if they continue with this nonsense, the validation process will be superficial and will endorse the vaccines with only a few comments to register the “essential nature” of their review.


Talking about crazy politicians and the vaccine, reader Paul has a comment on that.  He says :

We might debate if we are anxious to take the Covid19 vaccine as soon as available but, there is something we can all agree on:

1.  The vaccine should be tested on politicians first.
2.  If they survive, the vaccine is probably safe.
3.  If they don’t survive, the country is surely safe.

There are times when I despair for our nation and its democratic process, and reading this article about a store security guard being stabbed 27 times after asking two sisters to wear masks is surely one such time.

I wonder what these two sisters would do if they found themselves at an airport, subway, or bus station in New York city and were told they’d be fined $50 if they didn’t put their masks on?

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

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



1 thought on “Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 29 October, 2020”

  1. I have refrained from commenting recently because, with all of the poor decisions, bad practices we have seen, and our polarized society, I didn’t want to add negativity to the environment. But I guess I have stumbled onto the core of what upsets me the most about all of this.

    In spite of all of the comments about “follow the science”, much of what I have seen is more about “follow the emotion”, politicize everything, and let self-interest prevail. The things that most attracted me to your Covid Diary is that you are logical, honest, open, and practical. These are all things that we desperately need in all levels of our government and medicine right now. There are so many lies, so much omission of useful information, so much poor research, and leaders who are virtue signaling and/or micromanaging the wrong things, instead of solving the problems.

    Your comments about all the unnecessary deaths really struck home with me. As I was trying to deal with the early symptoms of Covid a few months ago, and thinking about the best approach for me to take, as I was told to stay home, drink fluids and take Tylenol, the thing that stood out most starkly was that I was totally alone in my situation. I could expect no help from my government, no help from my HMO, just whatever I could do for myself, and the help that my friends could offer. I have to tell you, that’s a really awful feeling.

    In any other situation, a person with a potentially serious illness at least has the comfort that there are people trying their best to help, and if not cure, at least to comfort. I felt that I was pretty much just a statistic, collateral damage. and since I was over 60, someone of little value, to be triaged to oblivion. I knew that if I told some people I took HCQ and supplements to try to save myself, people would look down on me, even criticize me.

    Was it really so long ago, that when faced with a common threat, we had a country, a society that tried to pull together with a common purpose? To help the victims, to overcome the challenge, and to make whatever sacrifices were needed for the common good? I just don’t think that highly individualistic, polarized societies, that focus on emotion instead of reason will be able to deal with Covid effectively. We see this with the states that are refusing to accept the Federal evaluation of the vaccine safety and effectiveness, and the high percentage of people who say they wouldn’t take it at all (skepticism makes sense, but completely avoiding it doesn’t).

    This pandemic is really a tragedy for the World. But it is an even worse tragedy for our country that it happened in an election year, where our dysfunction is on display for all to see.

    I don’t know what the answer is for our country. But I know that taking personal responsibility, being informed, preparing and sharing knowledge seem to be the best things we can do right now.

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