Week Seven Quarantine Report

We’ve reached the “Take Arty Black and White Pictures of a Telephone Pole” stage of the quarantine, so, you know, well done us.

* And just how was this week in quarantine, Scalzi? I mean, oddly enough, it was… fine? Not terrible, not great, and I’ve gotten to the point, I guess, where it doesn’t feel all that weird anymore. Again, it helps that “stay in your house and only see family and pets” is my default when I’m at home anyway, but the existential aspect of “you must stay at home” was not this last week weighing on me with any real urgency. It was just, meh, another week at the house. I do think it helps that the weather is now at a point where it’s consistently not cold — welcome to May! — so being able to step out of the house and not feel the immediate need to go right back in is nice. Yesterday it got up to eighty degrees! I’ll take it!

* I do think, leaving aside the politically-motivated bigoted gun-toting dipshits for a moment, a lot of people have gotten to the “we’re bored with quarantine” moment of things. This is different from the “we’re bored in quarantine” feeling everyone’s had for, what, two months now? This is different; this is the feeling of fuck it, imma see people and if I barf up a lung later, well, that’s on me. Honestly at this point I can’t say that I’m unsympathetic, even if understand that the science of viral outbreaks strongly suggests this will end up with a bunch of people barfing up a lung come Memorial Day.

To be clear: I don’t recommend going “fuck it,” and just dealing with the consequences later. For my own part, my May plans are to stay at home and do what I’ve basically been doing for the last couple months, although with fewer promotional appearances and (hopefully) more actual writing. I am saying I understand why people feel at that point. It’s not all about people being politically manipulated. It does have something with people feeling lonely and purposeless — and also, you know, worried about jobs and money and the future and things like that, which are tied into politics, but are also things which hit on a personal level, too.

* With that said, let’s not pretend that the rush to “get back to business” in defiance of science isn’t rooted substantially in politics. As others have pointed out, a state telling people to go back to work well in advance to it “flattening the curve” in terms of infections and deaths will likely save it from having to shell out more for unemployment, especially in Republican-controlled states where the capacity for handling unemployment has been whittled away to begin with.

Also, it’s becoming clear that the virus is generally affecting poor and/or minority communities substantially more than it’s affecting better off, white communities (this is, no surprise, correlated with those poor/minority communities having more health problems related to less ability to access health care). So lots of white people have been able to delude themselves into thinking that actually this thing isn’t that bad, especially if they live in places where they have not (yet) come into contact with people who have had the virus themselves. Alternately, there are white folks who understand what’s going on but actively don’t care if poor/minority communities are adversely affected because they “need a haircut” and/or just don’t give a shit what happens to those people, because they’re racist fucknuggets.

The science does seem to suggest we’re all setting ourselves up for a second round of infection and death and economic turmoil, but the politics of the moment, most specifically on the right, seems to have landed on the idea that it’s fine if some people die, because those people are probably old and/or poor and/or not white. This isn’t casting unwarranted aspersions, since there are conservative politicians and “thinkers” on record saying that they’re fine with people dying if it gets the economy chugging along again. And, well. They’re going to get their way, at least for a little while. I don’t think it’s going to work the way they want it to. But that’s what happens when you put ideology ahead of logic.

(“But what about Ohio?” Our governor is re-opening the state this month in stages — you can now go to the doctor and dentist again, and later this month retail shops will be open, all with certain procedures in place to protect workers and customers. And, we’ll see; I think DeWine and his people have handled things well to this point, a rarity among GOPers, but I also worry it’s too early. We’ll find out. At the very least I have faith at this point that our governor has been listening to actual scientists and understands the risks they’ve laid out to him.)

* I should just say I want to be wrong with the above — I would be delighted with COVID-19 being managed and more people not getting sick or dying, just with what we have on offer now. I would be happy to be able to sit in a restaurant or fly on a plane or visit friends casually. As I said last week, no one wants quarantine to continue; this isn’t fun for anyone, even the introverts. I would be very happy, in a month, to be the one to whom “We told you so” is being said to, rather than me being the one saying it. Please, please, please, prove me wrong. Just don’t be pissy with me if I’m not.

81 Comments on “Week Seven Quarantine Report”

  1. Thanks for this post; I found this post really interesting and engaging. Your writing voice is very fun to follow and I totally identify with your point that starting at home is your default, but this imposition of having to do it changes the tone entirely. We are the same in that respect.

  2. We’ve reached the “Take Arty Black and White Pictures of a Telephone Pole” stage of the quarantine

    Like that isn’t a thing you might do anyway. :-P

  3. Today, with DeMine withdrawing the mask order just because people don’t like it shortly after Stillwater, Oklahoma backed off its mask order because people threatened people who tried to enforce it, is the day where I’ve basically resigned myself to the fact that this is all going to come raging back and the number of dead is going to be a *lot* more than it should be.

  4. Meanwhile, in Michigan, the fucknuggets brandishing AR-15s, “Arbeit macht frei” slogans, rebel flags, and banners literally calling for “FREEEDOM!!!”, are storming the state office buildings, screaming spittle-flecked slogans in the faces of National Guards members, all because they need a haircut? And in Ohio, terrorizing private citizens with whom they disagree?

    As any fule kno, if these people weren’t white, they’d probably be dead. Coronavirus not only selectively harms people of color and the poor in general, it also spares white people from the consequences of outrageous behavior.

  5. Sorry,; I should have noted that Dr. Amy Acton is Ohio’s Director of Public Health. She’s not a private citizen; but she’s entitled not to be harassed at her home by ammosexuals.

  6. The weather is warming up and people are getting stupid. I expect states will have to reinstitute restrictions. And I expect the Trump Clown Show to continue screwing things up. This is all very far from over.

  7. Oh, I am bored, but also prefer staying alive and not endangering others to the alternatives. I can sit in my yard or stroll around in a mask if I need to get out.

    Honestly, the range of COVID-19 illness, from asymptomatic to mild symptoms to very very sick to dead, terrifies me. Better bored, temporarily, than dead, permanently.

  8. Mississippi relaxed its restrictions on April 24, and was planning to relax them further this weekend, but the case count spiked. Took about 5 days lag time.

  9. Staying at home and only going out as necessary=my life. Here I thought I’ve been a disabled hermit all these years, only to have it be excellent preparation for Ye Olde Quarantine.

  10. Over the past six week, 30,300,000 people have lost their jobs. As of May 2, 64,283 U.S. deaths were attributed to Covid-19.

    For every life the virus has claimed, government mitigation efforts have claimed 471 jobs. That’s a fact. How many lives have been saved? That’s anyone’s guess.

    People are not only losing their fear of the virus in large numbers, they have already lost their jobs in large numbers.

    The stay-at-home status quo is crumbling. People in high risk categories (you know who you are) should stay inside. Everybody else in lower risk categories should be allowed back to work.

    I’m not the state and local tax base. And I did not approve this message.

  11. First reaction to the picture – ‘F*ing bittersweet’. Context, that vine is an invasive species and some friends and I are clearing an area of that, and ‘Russian olive’ and a few other species that are threatening habitat.

    I’ll actually read the rest later when I’m not po’d any more ;-)

  12. Pedro, reminding everyone that if efforts work, it will look like it will all be for nothing, and also conveniently eliding the costs associated with all the people who were sick but did not die. Your attempt to make your essentially political argument look like reasonable moderation is not working as well as you want it to, Pedro. But again, if I’m wrong, you’ll be entitled to tell me so.

  13. I’m glad I actually logged in to see the whole thing on the webpage for a change, because I enjoyed the photo. Went slightly over the top contrasty-wise, but that just fine today.

  14. Yeah, I’ve been of the opinion (and I’m sure shared among certain Colorado politicians right now) that I’d rather the government be “credibly” accused of overreacting and overreaching with a sub-K death count in the state, than to not do enough and have a +10K death count in the state because not only did the case count go nuclear, but because of the resulting hospitalizations overwhelming the system to the point that they had to make tough choices of who should get treatment and who didn’t.

  15. What is likely to happen: places that take the Trump Reopening Strategy, i.e. “No, the numbers aren’t going down and we don’t have testing or tracking, but we have to reopen sooner or later so fuck it, plus it is 90% a hoax to hurt Trump anyway and no worse than the flu” are almost surely going to see big jumps in infected people and, you know, deaths.

    I wish someone could give me a logical explanation why taking an argument that could logically be made (time to reopen?) is dressed up with the inexcusable – assault weapons, Confederate flags, threats of violence.

  16. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the economy can (and almost certainly will) come back, but the dead won’t, ever. Also, of course, the number of gravely ill who will suffer both short-term and (likely, given what we’re learning about the disease) over the long term will be their own drag on the economy. Pushing to restart the economy when the virus has not been contained (or more accurately, successfully managed) will have its own substantial costs in money and people. I’d argue it’s better to get it right the first time than fuck up and have to go back to square one with this, but others might disagree.

  17. Dear Pedro,

    Absolute numbers are factual but they deceive. Currently, the death rate is growing slowly. But even if it were flat or slightly declining, this would not be good! It’s not like getting past the eye of the hurricane– the storm has settled in for an indefinite stay.

    Covid-19 is already the #1 killer in the US. More people, by 50% die from CONFIRMED cases each day than die from heart disease, previously the #1 killer. When likely-but-not-confirmed cases (for which there are numerous lines of evidence) are taken into account, Covid-19 kills as many people as heart disease and cancer combined. Before c-19, they were responsible for about 60% of the deaths in the US. This is not an insignificant change.

    At the present rate, to reach herd immunity requires 20-30 times as many people to die as have already. Assuming there is a herd immunity. The track record on that, for respiratory illnesses is not good. If we’re fortunate, we can get this down to being the #2 or #3 killer, but it likely doesn’t go away.

    Prospects for treatment are looking good, but we don’t know how many months off that is. And “looking good” is not the same as certainty.

    Everyone is hoping for a vaccine, but that’s at least a year off (in any kind of mass production) and that is only if we are extremely lucky. Our track record is very mixed. See SARS-CoV, see influenza, see HIV , see the common cold. It could be more than a year. It could be indefinitely far in the future. Anyone who says they know better has not studied the medicine.

    We are NOT in a good position, medically, and we are not even past the worst.

    Implying that the damage to people’s livelihoods has and will have exceeded the damage done by the pandemic needs more than a quoting of facile, misleading numbers. Show me a sociological/econometric analysis, show me the point at which we minimize the human losses due to plague and poverty combined. Until someone does that, it’s just empty posturing.

    Show me data, show me a model (DON’T show me some random opinion piece; they’re a dime a dozen, even from economists, these days). I’m willing to consider you’re right. But absent an analysis? Nuh, uh.

    You made a sensitive and intelligent observation a few weeks back, about this being a devil’s balancing act and no one had given us a how-to manual. (I’m paraphrasing, ’cause I didn’t look it up, but I trust I got the gist?) Please don’t blow it now.

    pax / Ctein

  18. I really liked the picture. It encompasses my reaction from this side of the pond where our libertarian Prime Minister not only acquired Covid-19 but almost died as a result of it. This came as a bit of a surprise to him since he had hitherto assumed that his innate superiority naturally ensured that he would breeze through with trifling symptoms; it’s a pity that Trump didn’t get a similar reality-check.

    Still, here we are with the third highest death rate in the world and 50% of last week’s new cases were healthcare workers; as I have mentioned before my daughter is a consultant physician in an Acute Medical Unit and thus vulnerable to catching it from the idiots who didn’t realise just how unpleasant barfing up a lung is and now want nice doctors to miraculously keep them alive and with no long term I’ll health consequences, of which there seem to be quite a few. Sigh.

  19. Thank you for the picture. As for myself, I’ll do my best to continue to socially isolate, which comes easily for me, as I am a natural-born curmudgeon. Why I chose to go to work at Parkland Hospital here in Dallas, is rather off for me. Although I do like walking through the halls where JFK and Lee Harvey passed before me. (I work in the old building, where they tried their best to save JFK, and said meh about Lee Harvey). May you, Krissy, and Athena be well, as well as all the dogs and cats.

  20. John, you said, ” the economy can (and almost certainly will) come back”

    I’m not so sure about that, at least not anywhere close to the it was before. The people who are sick and dying in droves – minorities – are the same people who keep the economy going. They work at necessary and thankless jobs at amazingly low wages.

    Now, after perhaps 10-20 percent of those people are left incapable of working, who will perform those tasks? Either they won’t be performed, and the overlying goods and services won’t be available, Or, they will be available, but at a higher cost because well, we have to pay the people more money to get the job done. So, in either case, we’re going to see inflation.

    I remember inflation back in the 70s. It was a real problem, almost as bad as terrible unemployment.

    So, will the economy come back? I’m not so sure about that.

  21. I like how Canada and Britain have five things they have been constantly checking before relaxing the lockdown. And now finally in parts of Canada they have the graphs to show it’s OK to relax in a controlled slow deliberate way. On the BBC they show Blacks in the U.S. having more health problems, and they show the US protestors with guns being white.

    Since the last Scalzi quarantine report I’ve had time to think. The depression part explains some of my behaviour from decades ago, that I didn’t understand at the time.

    Now I wonder: Will I have a lack of interest in the outside world before I’m much older? Is my lack of activity, now, my future when I retire? In three years? Strange how “doing nothing” except for “getting out” can make such a big difference in my life. Maybe for me “getting out” was being used as a distraction, for all this time. Not nice to think about, but there you are.

    Oh yeah, I forgot, but normally I do have weekly hobbies where I mingle with people. Praise the Lord

  22. Unfortunately, we appear to be dealing with human nature. The same rush to return to normal happened after the first wave in 1918, encouraged by the dampening impact of the warmer weather on transmission.

    That part is fact, and this part is my opinion – in 1918, there wasn’t a cultural addiction to sound bites and instant gratification, and I’m not sure we can say the same now. I’m concerned that that will cause an amplification of problem.

    Combine that with the politics, and it’s just a matter of time before we have a second wave (at least two – people often forget that there was a third wave in 1919.)

  23. Opening up the economy is not a one-dimensional measure. There are things that might make sense to open up soon, but may necessarily be tightened up again
    a long time after that in order to loosen up something else. This does not mean any of those decisions were wrong.

  24. I’m here in the center of the storm – NYC. We’re seeing a spike in deaths that dwarfs 9/11 every WEEK. And while it’s slowing, it’s only slowing because of social distancing.

    So at the end of the day I’m pretty sure the “reopen the country” types are massively ignorant, just plain fine with a weekly 9/11 in NYC or both.

    And, Oh, BTW, I’ve had the virus. Everyone in my household has had the virus. I’ve been 18 days without symptoms, and waited until 14 to go out shopping as if was only potentially dangerous . And I’ll bet you $5 that if we “reopen the country” most people reopening it won’t do any of this. They’ll go out after minor symptoms, infect others, and this will spread.

    My limited symptoms were bad enough. One partner has had a whole week of debilitating exhaustion

    AND WE WERE LUCKY. There’s no way for it to always be this way. It could have killed one of us. It could have put all of us in the hospital and left our kid with no parents to care for them

    So, “reopen the country” people, that’s the thing you’re absolutely, incontrovertibly, risking. Not just for yourselves, but everyone you force back to work.

  25. Pedro, epidemiologists have models that can provide estimates of how many lives were saved by current measures. You could make inquiries.

  26. And well, what about low-risk people who have to work that live with high-risk individuals? It’s more common than you think. We’re scrambling to come up with a contingency plan for isolating somebody in this house given that my mother has leukemia and there’s some reports that people with blood cancers really take this virus on the chin. (Luckily, it seems if nobody’s had it yet, but…)

    Besides, even if you’re in a high risk category, if your employer opens back up, you have to go back to work. You can’t get unemployment anymore. So much for high risk people staying home.

    (Granted, I’m taking this whole ‘restart the economy, don’t worry about who dies’ rather personally. I hear ‘We don’t care if your mom dies” which just makes me angry and I don’t really have anywhere to dump that anger out.)


  27. That disturbing picture of a bunch of half-baked armed Yahoos standing on the steps of a Public building in Michigan, especially the one armed with what looked like a powerful assault rifle. One can only wonder if he realizes that the real enemy is a microscopic virus.
    …and then the Big Orange Man egging them on with his idiotic Tweets “:::LIBERATE…!

  28. Dear Ctein,

    Greetings. Confirmed Covid-19 cases passed heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States, sometime during the first half of April, so we agree on that.

    The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) model currently projects 72,433 COVID-19 deaths (mean estimate) by August 4, 2020 (https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america).

    You, however, presented math that would put the death rate somewhere between 1,285,660 and 1,928,490 people before herd immunity is achieved at some point. (20 and 30 x 64,238 as of May 2.) IMHE data does not even come close to your projected totals, and I have no reason to assume they will incorporate the epidemiological equivalent of a mega-tsunami in new cases as time goes on.

    Moreover, do not be surprised if President Trump exploits high-end death projections like yours to claim he “saved millions of lives!” I learned that proving a negative is nigh impossible, but why should he let that caveat stop him?

    As I said before, containing Covid-19 and maintaining basic commercial activity is a “balancing act from hell.” And that balancing act is proceeding: 24 states (mostly Red) partially reopened their economies by May 1. East and West Coast states, not so much.

    We can and should reopen the economy faster than we are in most places. And we can also manage the epidemiological risk in smarter, more flexible ways than we have up to this point. High risk people should continue to avoid crowds. People who live with high risk folks should receive testing ASAP. I could go on, but you get the point.


    P.S. NASCAR resumes on May 17.

  29. Earlier today, Pedro wrote:

    “How many lives have been saved? That’s anyone’s guess.”

    According to a study by the University of Kentucky Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise, without Kentucky’s Healthy At Home policy, “Kentucky would have had 10 times more COVID-19 cases and 2,000 more deaths as of April 25.” Another interesting fact is that the Institute “is funded by the Koch Foundation and home to the same free market philosophy that advocates reopening the economy without delay.”


  30. Dear Pedro,

    You missed the headline on that article:

    “Social distancing assumed until infections minimized and containment implemented”

    Yes, that is what we can hope for *IF* we stay shut down until we’ve met those requirements. It’s not aiming for heard immunity– it’s aiming at sufficient containment that we can track and isolate 90% of the cases. Best medical guess is that requires an incidence rate of 1-2 per million people — it’s very labor-intensive.

    At the present time, no major population center is close to that. We are still on a shallow growth curve *WITH* social distancing– we haven’t rolled over into minimized infections, let alone containment. Since currently only 2-4% of the population has been infected, we aren’t close to the rollover point on the logistic curve. Assuming that herd immunity kicks in (fingers crossed, and I think it will to some degree, but permanent immunity may turn out to be too much to hope for– it’s not the norm for respiratory ailments).

    We don’t want to get to that point! Without maintaining shutdown, the curve will not decline. Not until we get to the logistic rollover which, as I said, is about 30X above where we are today.

    (Also: As Lisa correctly pointed out, you’ve ignored the projections from two months back of what would have happened if we hadn’t implemented shutdown, so your cost/benefit analysis fails. It’s like saying Y2K wasn’t really a problem because disasters didn’t strike, ignoring the millions of programmer hours that were spent to make sure disaster didn’t strike.)

    There is no sound medical grounds for relaxing shutdown at the present time, and really strong reasons not to.

    pax / Ctein

  31. Dear Pedro,

    (apologies to John for the serial post– I accidentally truncated myself. Yes, it was painful))

    I should make it clear that I do not have any disagreement with the IMHE study (which I was familiar with), it’s the best we’ve got to date. But it’s got a lot of caveats– it’s important to read the FAQ. The authors, to their credit, make no secret of its limitations, which is one reason I trust them (aside from looking at the model).

    Note that reality is already deviating. The model as of five days ago had a median scenario of deaths down to 1K/day by yesterday. It’s still over 2K. Within statistical noise, we’ve gone flat, but we’re not declining, and that’s with shutdown measures in place. With 97% of the population still infectable, loosening up the restrictions is NOT going to make things better.

    I suppose I should mention that I’ve got no personal investment in when the shutdown ends (other than wanting to go OUT and see my sweeties). I and my partner have only about a 1% chance of dying if we contract covid-19. We’re only about a tenth as wealthy as our host, but even if the economy went into a complete tailspin we’re at insignificant financial risk. Almost any scenario we come out okay. So, it’s not about me. It’s about what minimizes the death and suffering for everyone.

    pax / Ctein

  32. “no one wants quarantine to continue; this isn’t fun for anyone, even the introverts.”

    Exactly. I’m handling this pretty well, alone in my apartment with a dog, with a paying job I can do from home and my wife on another continent, but I am SO ready for it to be over.

  33. If things remain on track, we should have a vaccine by September and reach herd immunity by November. And that should be the end of the second wave.

  34. There seems to be a different progression to the epidemic going on over there in the US vs. much of the rest of the world. Here in Europe, many places were caught off guard, but we have spent the last couple of months getting better prepared with testing/tracking, more medical equipment, and new health regulations. So we can slowly and carefully now start opening up again. Restrictions can be adjusted as needed, and the systems can handle a temporary increase in cases. Europe and East Asia (and Canada and NZ and Australia and …) also have much healthier populations.

    The US, however, continues to wander around in a daze and is haphazard in its planning, preparation, execution, and messaging. It also has a lot of people who have significant health issues and so it will have many more people in their 40s and 50s who die compared to Austria or Norway. Many “anti-lockdown” commentators are overlooking this.

    But there is a way out (as many places have shown). It just requires some patience and the right methods. The US shouldn’t need 24 months in hard lockdown, and people should stop advocating for that (it just leads to an angry counter-reaction) and start advising that they take Europe’s approach. People respond better to cautiously optimistic messaging!

  35. “[There] are white folks who understand what’s going on but actively don’t care if poor/minority communities are adversely affected because they “need a haircut” and/or just don’t give a shit what happens to those people, because they’re racist fucknuggets”

    You’d be amazed at the number of people who don’t want to admit this, especially about themselves.

    Someone in a previous thread equated harsh criticisms of the pro-covid spreaders to privileged fanaticism.

    The assumption, coupled with the sheer lack of self-awareness that inheres in charges of privilege, would have given me a chuckle if said charge hadn’t also given me the impression that the poster was among the “white folks who understand what’s going on but actively don’t care if” folks from “…minority communities are adversely affected.”

    Now, if this poster is a person of color, his/her sentiments are even more disheartening.

    This person spoke of “balancing acts” with zero thought to how brown people would fair in an unstructured, prematurely re-opened economy.

    This person’s concern seemed to rest primarily with employed folks, though he/she did put forth a halfway convincing condemnation of the mostly conservative protesters.

    The poster’s implication was that people advocating for extensions of stay-at-home orders were willing to cause economic chaos and death in order to “keep themselves from getting sick.”

    I seriously hope the individual in question was speaking from ignorance rather than putting forth a disingenuous argument about poverty being as deadly as covid.

    Leilani Jordan should have been at home and collecting UEI benefits rather than working unprotected among infected supermarket shoppers. I’m sure her family takes great comfort that she died an employed woman.

    On another note, I’m equally sure that the families of the meet-packing plant employees who’ve been forced to go back to work are going to be fine with the consequences. Sure, they and their employed loved ones will either fall ill/and or die, but the checks will roll in.

    One side is going to have to let go of the baby, and it shouldn’t be the one with the more medically vulnerable members of society in mind.

  36. Yes, Joe Hass.

    and One silver-lining will be the brutal scapegoating of the responsible parties. Everyone will know exactly who to blame when the “acceptable deaths” climb into the millions and the economic and societal fallout makes our current situation look like a day at Disneyland.

    I hope they get persecuted into oblivion.

    That these people will receive treatment when they contract the virus is a tragedy.
    And it doesn’t surprise me at all that pro-covid spreaders are proposing that “people in high-risk categories” stay home so that *their* and *theirs’*difficulty settings can go back to normal. This way, public places can become exclusively white spaces where “colored folks” fear to tread because covid.

    Subtle racists are nearly as bad as the blatant ones.

  37. The coming June issue of The Atlantic (now on-line) notes something that a Briton noted a month ago: The US has gone from super-power to major power, back to how it was during my father’s youth, before I was born.

    For comparison, you may recall how Britain was a big deal until, say, WWII, which hit so hard that food rationing had to continue into the 1950’s. What finally made people realize the new reality of diminished world leadership was when British and French forces made a fiasco of landing along the Suez Canal to try to control Egypt. (in 1956, during the Hungarian Uprising against the Soviets)

    The COVID crises has been America’s “Suez moment.” The US cannot no longer coordinate things. If tomorrow the US proposed something big to the world, such as, say, an invasion of Fantasia, they would be a minority of one. Their leadership has passed.

  38. @Pedro saith:

    > The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE) model currently projects 72,433 COVID-19 deaths (mean estimate) by August 4, 2020

    As of yesterday (May 3), there were 67,682 deaths attributed to Covid-19 in the US (per the Johns Hopkins tracker).

    72,433 – 67,682 = 4,754.

    So the IHME model’s mean projection is 4,754 deaths in the next three months, or an average of 52 deaths per day.

    US daily deaths first topped 2000 on April 7, and since then have essentially plateaued (the 14-day moving average has dropped from 2135/day to 2070/day).

    I’d say there’s a >95% chance that the IHME model’s mean projection for August 4 will be exceeded by the end of *this week*. You’ll excuse me if I’m not going to put much faith in it.

  39. Question for those with actual relevant knowledge.

    If we’re extremely lucky and at least one of the proposed vaccines currently in preliminary trials actually is highly effective, what is the earliest plausible date that we could actually have sufficiently widespread immunization for the pandemic to no longer be a major concern?

    (I would be extremely surprised if it isn’t substantially later than this November.)

  40. Quoth ctein:

    >I should make it clear that I do not have any disagreement with the IMHE study (which I was familiar with), it’s the best we’ve got to date.

    I do. Charitably, it is a case of a model designed for one purpose (projecting the peak demand for medical care resources – hospital beds, ICU beds, ventilators) being adapted for a different purpose (projecting cumulative cases, hospitalizations, and deaths) for which it is poorly suited.

    If you’re trying to forecast a peak, you really don’t care what the shape of the curve is once you’ve reached and passed the peak – if the purpose of your model is to project that you need a peak of 9,125 additional hospital beds in New Jersey (so that the NJ public health administration realizes they need to construct or reactivate 1500 beds to meet the demand), it doesn’t matter how long it takes the demand to drop from 9125 to zero – you need those beds a week, a month, a year, or a decade, but if the model is accurate, you won’t need more than 9125 beds.

    But when you decide to use that model to forecast cumulative numbers, then the back side of the curve matters. A lot. If you grow from 0 to 2,000 deaths per day in a month and drop back to 0 in a month, the cumulative numbers are obviously going to be drastically different than if you grow from 0 to 2,000 in a month, plateau at 2,000 for six months, and take another year to decline back to zero.

    And having built models for other, far less important purposes, I know that things that aren’t important to one’s design intent in building the model get, at best, minimal rigor applied (and at worst, assumed away). Which is fine – until you start using the model for something that it wasn’t designed for, and those simplifying assumptions come back to bite you.

    *I* should make clear that (from my very narrow perspective – looking at NJ numbers) the IHME model seemed to do a *very good* job of forecasting what it was designed for. The peak resource forecasts for NJ were very close to the actuals, both in terms of numbers and dates. If anything, the sin I would attribute to the IHME team was hubris – their model worked really well for one thing, so they started trusting it more than they should have.

  41. I guess one good thing about cv19 is it allowed all the sociopaths in the world a chance to self identify. Hope people remember this information in november.

  42. I am reminded of the old joke headline “Earth to be destroyed tomorrow, the poor and minorities hardest hit”. There are idiots saying that the economy is all we should think about. I do not think much more highly of those who think that COVID-19 is only what we should think about. The cost of each needs to be balanced. A global ten year depression will cause enormous human misery and death. It may not happen but the risks do need to be balanced.

  43. I am saddened by the cult following that has grown around trump and his dem hoax that is cv19, or at least saddened by their suicidal deaths. And if that was where it ended, that would be where i would leave it. But it isnt. For everyone of these suicidal cult followers, they spread it to people who are trying to do the right thing, trying to social distance. And worse, the suicidal cult followers dont value the lives of those they killed anymore than they value their own life.

    Our president is a cult leader and his cult followers are killing nor just themselves, but killing innocent people as well. At which point the koolaid suicide cult becomes indistinguishable from a suicide terror organization.


    Real American John McDaniel took to social media on March 15 to rant about the Ohio Governor’s stay at home order, calling it “bullshit,” “paranoid,” and “a political ploy.” He became Marion County’s first COVID-19 fatality on April 15.

    Joe Joyce got his information about COVID-19 from Fox News, where he learned it was at best being blown out of proportion, at worst, a hoax ginned up as stealth impeachment. Against the strenuous warnings of his son, Joyce decided to take a cruise in Spain as that country was entering the worst of its outbreak. He died of COVID-19 on April 9.

    Trump supporter, Karen Kolb Sehlke, had the Fox-inspired wisdom to see COVID-19 for the Democratic hoax that it is. In a lengthy, March 14 Facebook rant she carefully and thoughtfully regurgitated the Fox News talking points. That was her final Facebook post. She died from the Democratic hoax on April 2.

  44. @Pedro:

    People in high risk categories (you know who you are) should stay inside. Everybody else in lower risk categories should be allowed back to work.

    How would you suggest we mitigate the economic impact on those (who know who they are) who stay inside? As our host pointed out, there’s already a disproportionate impact on those with fewer resources. Your suggestion would greatly exacerbate that. Today, if staying home because I’m in a high risk category, there’s at least some chance that I’m collecting unemployment because my workplace is shut down. If you re-open my workplace, I am forced to chose between going to work and having zero income. How tp mitigate that?

  45. In hindsight it was very advantageous that the City of Austin canceled SXSW on March 6, considering the major COVID-19 outbreak in Louisiana after they allowed Mardi Gras New Orleans to happen. UT-Austin, where I work, closed the campus for regular business March 13th, and the City of Austin issued an order for residents to stay at home on March 24th. I have been working from home ever since the campus closed.

    Back home in Michigan my sister’s husband tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks ago, she thinks she may have contracted it from work (an assisted living complex). My brother in-law is 64 with an Asthma condition, had a fever and nausea for a week. Two weeks ago, my sister had a major anxiety attack. This past week both are doing better.

    I have no illusions; I figure I have a 50/50 chance of contracting COVID-19 every time I go shopping. Even though we are wearing face masks and social distancing at 6 feet (2 meters) while standing in line there is no guarantee.

    We still don’t have adequate testing or a vaccine. Until we do there will probably be no large conventions, festivals or sporting events the rest of this year.

  46. @ Pedro
    “ People who live with high risk folks should receive testing ASAP.”
    How? Pence’s promises failed to come true. Trump won’t commit to a federal program, or implement the DPA to do so, so how are low-risk people across the whole country going to get tests? White House unlikely to share its supply.

  47. We’ve tested only about 6.5 million so far. If we tested that many per week, it would take about a year for everyone in the US to be tested. That’s nowhere near fast enough, not even taking into consideration that some people need to be tested multiple times (Mike Pence, I’m talking to you).

    I need a haircut badly. But even if Virginia opens up by May 15, I’ll be 80 then. My hair doesn’t need to be good-looking for a closed-coffin service, and I’m in no hurry for one. I’ll be sheltering in place for as long as medically necessary.

  48. My wife and I decided that the best thing to do for us is:

    Avoid crowds, particularly indoors. If you have to go somewhere that’s crowded, do it as quickly as possible.

    I’m not particularly worried about being outdoors during the daytime. I figure social distancing and sunlight is going to make it harder to transmit. But indoors? It’s going to be a long time before I have a
    a leisurely lunch in a restaurant.

    My wife and I are fortunate in that we’re both retired. I do worry about those who are going to feel compelled to go into an office. I hope those that can telecommute will continued to do so. For those people who work in sales or anything that requires close contact with others, I pray that accommodations can be made.

  49. @ Michael I: There are a lot of assumptions implicit in your question about vaccine development that we just don’t know the answers to yet. Do people become immune to the virus after exposure/recovery? How long does the immunity last? Can we confer immunity with a vaccine?

    Assuming that yes, everyone can become immune, and immunity lasts at least several years in everyone, and that everyone does develop long-lasting immunity with a vaccine, then I think realistic BEST case is 3-5 years. (Assuming one shot would do it. What if you need multiple spaced out shots to get long-term immunity?) Say one of the current vaccines in development would be proved to be effective and safe for the general population. If we get really lucky with the science and the clinical trials show no safety issues at all, I think that puts us near the end of 2021 for an approved general use vaccine. That still would break all records for vaccine development – most take decades to forever. Then manufacture would have to be scaled up to the billions of doses, and supply chains set up for source material and distribution. This doesn’t count post-vaccine surveillance, etc.

    I think the best short term options are widespread testing and infection/disease surveillance, and developing effective therapies/treatments for COVID-19. I think developing therapies will be faster than finding a good vaccine. That will give the world time to develop and implement a vaccine.
    Among other things, that’s what the stay-at-home orders were supposed to help with – to buy us time to implement comprehensive testing and containment in order to minimize the spread of the virus.

  50. To hear the GOP describe it, Democrats want the quarantine to continue because their purpose for existing is to destroy America. It is hard to comprehend how anyone can think that way. There is no one in the US who wants to see the country’s demise.

    Our governor, in Georgia, doesn’t want people to get sick and die, but he does want to run for president in 2024. That means satiating the extreme right, who control the nomination process, and they assert their freedom to infect other people as needed. I don’t think that is what they intend either, they have just learned to ignore science as needed, since it is just another opinion from a liberal interest group. Our governor even said when he announced his decision that he had viewed the science and decided not to believe it. Or something to that effect. Since it is only an opinion, and an inconvenient one at that, he chose to believe alternative facts.

  51. I completely agree with your thoughts. I’m all for things getting back to normalize, however if our politicos fuck this up, we’re going to get hit by a second wave even worse than the initial one. And, let’s face it, when was the last time any politician hasn’t screwed up something they touched…

  52. I am enriched by the term ammosexual. Thank you.
    other than that, it’s been a long month and a half. I have made a half-plan to visit a friend who lives out in the country, plan to keep well apart on her acreage, but at least I’ll be out of the house. I’m trying not to be fatalistic about it but also to figure out ways to occasionally see living humans in the flesh, apart from the furtive others at the grocery store.

  53. How is my 16 year old working at McDonald’s essential but my congressman isn’t?

  54. Well, in November you’ll have elections and then even the dumbest one can figure it out whom they’ll have to send back home from Capitol Hill.

  55. More interesting reading:https://metro.co.uk/2020/05/04/nyc-cop-stripped-gun-badge-brutally-beating-bystander-social-distancing-12653427/


    On another note, the pro-covid spreading protesters are genocidal tantrum throwers who are being rewarded because they’re useful in making America white again.

    If these were black people protesting the lynching of yet one more unarmed and compliant black person by a police officer, they’d be branded as terrorists and held up as examples of how not to behave.

    They’re leaning on white privilege and setting the socio-politically dangerous precedent that they can threaten officials at gunpoint when they want something.

    While BLM gets characterized as a dangerous militant force, the protesters’ whiteness precludes them from the punitive labeling and legal consequences that BLM faces.

    More importantly, the protesters have been deemed “essential” workers and tasked with keeping Trump and his henchmen in power through the removal of minorities and the poor via this virus. This should be obvious to anyone who gives a damn.

    Those minorities who manage to survive will be discouraged from coming into and working in public spaces (see China’s treatment of Africans; those who do not will be counted as victories.

    One thing I can appreciate about these terrorists (if there’s anything to appreciate about terrorists) is that they’re upfront about it. The frightening ones are the ones who pretend not to condone their actions while advocating for hasty, uncoordinated re-opening strategies, the consequences of which are unlikely to impact them or anyone they care about, as far as they know.

    To continue, those who propose that “people in high risk categories” stay out of the public sphere are perfectly aware of the economic fallout; they probably figure that if the virus doesn’t get them, poverty will.

    It won’t matter one iota that going to work could kill them and their entire households because “personal responsibility.”

    I can just hear the Fox News crowd conflating the dangers of covid 19 with those of the daily commute: “I could die in a car accident on the way to work. That doesn’t mean I don’t still have to go in.”.

    The problem with this particular mode of genocide is that whites aren’t naturally immune to this virus. Their access to adequate, even excellent healthcare just means that they’ll have a better chance of being very sick and/or dead under a doctor’s care, even if their healthier.

    Covid will continue to cut a swath through the “undesirable” segments of the population, but unless and until officials are willing to institute laws restricting the movements(and it would be for their own good, of course/sarcasm) of “people in high risk categories” (the political firestorm would be a thing to behold), quite a few white lives will be lost.

    Which one of the people calling for “acceptable deaths” wants to volunteer him or herself for the risk? Are you willing to volunteer the lives of those you care about?

  56. Unfortunately, I think things will get a lot worse before they get better. The non-NY number of cases is still climbing, and the Orange Idiot’s response has (not at all surprisingly) been completely inept and bumbling – basically instead of getting the testing sorted out, he’s just been yelling incoherently at the press and injecting bleach the last 6 weeks.

    I think cases will go back to climbing exponentially, especially in states that haven’t taken it as seriously, and it will be impossible to go back to stay at home because “it didn’t work the first time”, because of all the Real ‘murricans not following it. And hundreds of thousands will die, as we go down the Swedish route of letting the olds die (half of their deaths have been in nursing homes) and whistle past the graveyard.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not going anywhere for a while longer.

  57. https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-coronavirus-20200504-bmo53q2canbvhaidksnprszntu-story.html

    [….]After that, the document, whose authenticity was confirmed by an administration official to the Daily News, projects a sharp spike bringing the daily death count to 3,000 by June 1. The document doesn’t project death tolls beyond June 1, but a graph included in the report points further upward.

    In addition to the grim death projection, the intra-government prediction suggests that the number of new COVID-19 infections per day will shoot up more than eightfold this month, reaching about 200,000 cases per day by the beginning of June, compared to the current level of 25,000. [….]

    I have been attempting to think of any other time in history in which there is something that threatens the people of a nation and the rulers just say, “Don’t care, not going to bother with anything that would improve the condition. In fact, I’d rather they all die. Anyway, as I said, I don’t care. Plus win-win for me — the dead can’t vote and I get to be potus some more.”

    Maybe this news has so horrified and depressed me that my excellent research skills have deserted me, but what else is one to think about Their willingness to see more than 3000 per day die in their nation — maybe more — while saying, well, it’s for the best, let it wash over and through and then we’re done.”

    I see no hope for the future, not even for the young who may survive this. Wars are still continuing — some even clamoring for nukes on China and who knows where else. Climate crash continues merryly unabated. Where is the food coming from? The supply of medical professionals on the front lines is not infinite. Nor is the supply for all the other front line service populations. And they are the ones who are most in line of fire.

    In the meantime, anyone —

    Because that’s what the USA is doing. Our way to deal with this is to let us all get sick. Anyone rational who tries to counter this attitude: medical, scientific, elected official, trying to hold the line at Dollar Stores, is threatened and even shot by gun carrying lemmingthugs.

  58. John, you getting ahead of the deadline curve is the only good news I’ve seen recently.

    Friend from way back started posting school photos from the 70’s just as I was getting antsy wrt hair. Now I see I can last another three months easy.

    The Atlantic put up a long article re the corona viruses last week that is worth a read. However I have since determined that I have lost the math to follow the details. My solution is not to skip the difficult names when the studies are filled with names out of Russian novels, but to dig out my Introduction to Statistics to make sure I don’t step into Neverland.

    Eighteen months to a vaccine? I won’t volunteer for one offered earlier. I think the five year window is better. For those who suggest herd immunity is the answer… you volunteer immediately and that means now.

  59. John, if you get really bored, you can Photoshop that lovely photo until it looks like a pen and ink drawing.

    The object of masks and social distancing is to smooth out the spike in infections. It isn’t really meant to stop transmission, just slow it and hope for some other kind of break to happen.

    It would work better if there were enough supplies to make it all work. I am still on a list to get tested, though the list continues to grow, The lies about testing have come from all along the political chain.

    I still think we will never get a true handle on this thing. A vaccine will be found and everything else will be swept under the carpet. If the virus morphs a little and that vaccine becomes worthless, all the opportunities for knowledge will be sorely needed.

    At least we will have had a chance to get a new President by then. That might not stop the economic hemorrhaging though. It will a long time before the kind of products I design will sell again, maybe I will just retire.

  60. Love the photo.

    Social distancing at its best: the neighbors in the house behind us appear (based on noise, lights, number of people on the porch) to have had a party last night. They have four kids.

    Bored can be dangerous. :(

  61. As far as I’ve seen, the “let the virus race through the population and decimate the mud people and other useless eaters for the sake of the species/nation/economy” crowd is better represented and much more dangerous than the supposed “huddle in our houses indefinitely” brigade.

    As a member of the “keep it shut down until adequate testing and other strategies are in place and not a single second before” camp, guess who worries me more?

    Again, at the very least, the genocidal social Darwinists are admitting who they are, what they want and what they’re willing to do to get it.

    It’s those “I’m not racist but…,”” if those people didn’t drink/smoke/eat/do…,” ““the deaths are tragic but…”” liberals will never acknowledge Trump’s toothless, leader come lately measures so the totally preventable deaths don’t need acknowledgment” folks that really make me weep for the future.

    Even more chilling is the likelihood that the pro -covid protesters are going to make up the bulk of the looters and home-invaders should the second wave take out food supply lines and kneecap the rule of law.

    Also, what do you want to bet that guns will come out when one of these entitled terrorists decides triage doesn’t apply to him?

    Who gets treatment first, the 25-year-old with a better chance of survival or the two-packs-a-day smoker with a pacemaker and assault rifle? Sigh.

  62. Dear crypto,

    Can you site a source for that assertion that we should be on track to have a vaccine by September? That appears insanely optimistic to me, based on the medical papers that I’ve been reading, but perhaps I missed something.

    I’m not quite as pessimistic as watson (below) but seeing that any vaccine needs to be shown to be not only reasonably effective but safer than the infection, we’ve got a ways to go yet. Keep in mind that this is not a particularly lethal disease (just virulent), and any vaccine with more than 1% serious side effects will be a cure worse than the disease.

    As for the claim of being on track for hitting herd immunity by November, that’s about the worst apocalyptic scenario one can imagine, from both directions! That not only results in 1.5 million deaths, give or take, but also implies an incidence of infection high enough that sheltering-in-place has to be the order of the day for the majority of that time or the pandemic runs entirely out of control. That puts a third of people out of work for half a year. The consequences of the resulting widespread poverty would also be devastating and massively fatal.

    The current efforts at control have the goal of suppressing the disease way before that, to a level where we can contain and track on a case-by-case basis and relax the sheltering WITHOUT causing a surge in cases. Because if we can’t get to that point, we are screwed.


    Dear dglnj,

    I don’t disagree with most of what you said, but I don’t see you raising any questions that the authors themselves haven’t raised, both in their supplementary material on the website and in interviews and comments they have made elsewhere. They DON’T trust it. They have said they don’t trust it, for the same reasons you and I wouldn’t trust it. Which is why I don’t have much disagreement with it or with them.

    They are constantly updating the model with new data — there was an update today and the curves look substantially different than they did a week ago. Equally importantly the 95% confidence levels are very large — for just a week from now, they span a threefold death rate and for three weeks from now they span almost a 10-fold death rate.

    I don’t see any problem with the model or with their intentions (see the FAQ). There is a problem with people looking at the mean line and saying, “Well, yup, that’s the answer.” But…

    I just noticed they lost the headline in their update the one that said, “Social distancing assumed until infections minimized and containment implemented”

    That is a serious oops, and I’ve emailed them. Hopefully they will fix that promptly.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 

  63. @ctein: I know the University of Oxford has already started human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine (because they were almost done a MERS vaccine and the viruses are very similar), and they were hopeful to find a North American manufacturer to start a trial in the Us by November (but there were issues about exclusive licensing, ugh).

    So September seems insanely optimistic, but maybe a viable candidate to go into mass production by Q1 2021? The mass production will also be at least partly an issue, but the Serum Institute of India is on board, and they’re the largest manufacturer of vaccines by a long way.

    Folks in my neighborhood have generally been really good, except the teenager who clearly lost what sense she had and was riding around on the hood of a car last week. (I saw her return home apparently in one piece, so that’s something.)

  64. Ctein: Not to speak for crypto, but I suspect anyone talking about a vaccine ready by September is thinking of the report from Oxford that doctors there might have a head start on developing a coronavirus vaccine because of a vaccine-delivery-method they’d been working on for a MERS vaccine. As I recall, the news was that if everything worked out, they’d have a vaccine ready to be scaled up by September. Since then, there have been reports that AstraZeneca (I think; might be a different BigPharma Co.) and the U.S. government (again, possibly; this might be in the planning stages at best) are already committing resources to that as-yet-undeveloped vaccine, on the theory that they’d be ready to go into full production immediately. Of course, if something does go wrong or the vaccine doesn’t work, that preparation will be wasted. Still.

    I also seem to recall a more recent story that the Oxford trial is hoping to be able to demonstrate that the vaccine they are developing is effective by this June . . . google Dr. Joshua Bell and Oxford vaccine, and you may find some relevant articles. I admit I don’t really understand the science, but it does sound as though the researchers believe that they MAY have gotten a significantly lucky break. So there is that, fwiw.

  65. want to balance the economy & saving lives? maintain social distancing & then hire every-damn-body who’s out a job as contact tracers. What’s best for the economy is exactly the same as what’s best for saving lives.

  66. I have had my doubts about that IHME model for quite a while. It had fluctuated over the last month, predicting anywhere from 60,000 to 90,000 deaths. The problem was that they were basing a lot of their model on the results in places that were infected prior to the US.Sadly, that meant they were basing their model mostly on places that got serious about dealing with this. Has everyone looked at the model tonight? They “Americanized” it to better match patterns of results we are seeing in this country. Now they are predicting 134,475 deaths.

    I hope everyone realizes that the point of stay-at-home orders and social distancing is to get the virus down to a level where we can start realistic contact tracing of every single case and track down every single outbreak. You know, levels were were at in March, at a point in time when we had two months to prepare and did not.

    What is astoundingly stupid is that there really isn’t any question of what to do. We were not first. Multiple countries dealt with this pandemic before we did. Some, like South Korea handled it well. Some like Italy did not. For some stupid reason we modeled our response on Italy and not South Korea. South Korea did not have a lock-down! South Korea had an election where 29 million people turned out to vote and there was no flare-up of infections. Of course, the day South Korea heard that Covid-19 was going to be a problem they mobilized the entire country to test and contact trace and wear masks and prevent the spread. We did not and nearly 70,000 are dead because of it. History will not be kind to Donald Trump!

  67. Well, here in Quebec. Our PM has a date but no plan. Pushing for school openings with just one week of preparation and not providing any protection to teachers. It’s a train wreck in development.

  68. For every life the virus has claimed, government mitigation efforts have claimed 471 jobs. That’s a fact.

    Government passing laws to pay employers to retain employees, and to guarantee sick leave for employees so they don’t lose their jobs due to the virus, claimed how many jobs per life saved?

    Dividing the unemployment figure by the number of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and claiming the result is “government stole too many jobs for each dead guy” is such fatuous math I have trouble it was advanced seriously.

  69. Yes; history will show his behavior toward truth-tellers and the threats to and firings of those who tried to actually do their jobs effectively.

    Trump’s ignorance of how government actually works (absolute power, in deed) will be recorded, as will the interception and confiscation of life-saving PPE that was on root to various states.

    Kushner’s remarks about the stockpile and vice president Pence’s bare-face at the Mayo clinic will be documented, as will Trump’s prescription of disinfectants (to be taken orally or intravenously) and UV light for the virus.

    History will frown on his open encouragement of large gatherings of bare faced, heavily armed and potentially contagious protesters.

    Historians will also take note of his financial interest in an anti-malarial drug, one that has yet to be proven to be a viable mode of treatment.

    “What have you got to lose?”

    More importantly, the deaths he helped cause are precisely why the premature push to re-open is so outrageous. The lying, lagging, and obfuscation has resulted in profound in far reaching consequences for which he takes no responsibility.

    Now, when it’s apparent that he and his pals are going to lose some skin, he intends to sacrifice still more lives in order to save it.

    Leadership means owning the situation you’ve created and doing everything within your “total,” “absolute power” to mitigate any and all damage.

    Leadership means disseminating reliable, consistent information and taking decisive action, even and especially when it hurts you personally.

    These are just some of the basics; he failed at all of them. ☹

  70. And what of the jobs of those working for small businesses who lost out on loans to Ruth’s Chris, USC, and other huge entities?

    How many jobs/lives might have been protected under an appropriate lockdown period had the money gone where it was intended rather than into the pockets of hedge fund managers and well to do corporations with the kind of cushions that barbershops, nail salons, and mom/pop restaurants don’t have?

    How many people worried or went hungry while republicans played chicken with democrats as struggling families all across the country lined up at foodbanks and tried to reason with creditors and various utility companies?

    I’ll give you a hint; the number is between zero and one higher than Trump and his supporters will admit.

    But let’s pretend the lion’s share of covid-induced poverty comes down to prolonged stay-at-home orders in blue states rather than to a delayed and inept federal response and republican brand grandstanding.

    I am aware that I’m ranting, but I am livid at what is being done and studiously ignored in the name of power.

  71. Dear Justa and Mary,

    Thank you to both of you! I hadn’t paid close enough attention to this to realize they were THAT far along. September is still insanely optimistic, but November-December is merely very optimistic. That’s if it works and if the negative effects are minimal.

    But it certainly is a promising approach, unlike most of the others which are “let’s throw pasta against the wall and hope some sticks.”

    Under the heading of interesting and maybe-promising is the possibility that oral Truvada (a.k.a. HIV PrEP) may be effective against COVID-19.

    The operative word is *may*; it prevents replication in vitro but that’s very different from in vivo. It’s operating against COVID-19 by a different mechanism than the one against HIV, so one can’t assume.

    What makes it worth paying some attention to is that we get to skip over Phase I and even Phase II; we are already in Phase III. There is a very large healthy population that has been taking oral Truvada for years (raises hand), so we understand how it works with the human body.

    The upside is that it is well-tolerated with minimal side effects, and all that’s needed to study whether it’s effective against COVID-19 is to create a sample population of sufficient size, match it to a control population, and start monitoring.

    The downside is that if it works, it would require regular, possibly even daily doses. Which makes compliance more difficult, making it cheap enough a real issue (boo, Gilead), and it’s contraindicated with a number of other drugs.

    Still, I’d expect a field study pretty soon. If anyone wants to dive into the biochemistry (warning, it’s a deep pool), here:


    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 

  72. Someone sent me a link to a fake news article about herd immunity recently. I explained how HI requires around 3/4 of the pop be immune, the mortality rate of cv19, and the total pop of the US, all together means a couple million people would die before we got to HI. And we dont even know if that will work. We dont know if people who have had cv19 will remain immune to cv19 over a long period of time, or whether it will be like the flu where there are so many mutations and you only get short immunty to one. I explained that the best way to achieve herd immunity is with a vaccine, but we dont have one for cv19, and we might not ever have one. We dont have a vaccine for HIV yet, and its been around for 40 years. Because of all this, i told them that social distancing is the best plan, until we can get enough tests in place and contact tracing so we could then open up sone, but find infected people quickly and quaratine them and test anyone they exposed.

    Their summary response? I was being a coward. I was in a panic about cv19 and was letting fear control me.

    And 2 things about people became really clear for me: if it doesnt affect them personally, it isnt real. They hadnt gotten sick. They didnt know anyone sick. So it wasnt real to them. And secondly, people really do think if they are courageous, then bad things wont happen to them. Like cv19 will only attack people who are afraid. Like they are in some cheesy action/war movie.

    I keep putting too much faith in humanity.

  73. Australia has as much hierarchy and division as any other place, but we have a small enough population that we’ve got maybe 4 degrees of separation between any pair of us, not 6. Consensus seems more highly prized here than in North America, I find. The attitude is “do the right thing”; i.e. heed expert advice, use the hand sanitizer provided, download the phone app, etc. in the interest of stopping the spread. Or at least be *seen* to be doing the right thing, heh. A quizzical eyebrow raised here at the neighbors’ endless parade of visitors. On the other hand, those who raise hell in supermarkets, throw parties on the beach, and spit on cops are rightly skewered on the evening news as the anti-social assholes they are. We look forward to an easing of restrictions – who doesn’t? – but if it isn’t a phased and gradual reopening, it’ll come back to bite us.

  74. ctein: That is good news, on Truvada! I hadn’t heard that one. Thanks for sharing. Whatever the long term outcome of any one study, I am of the opinion that the more possible therapeutics out there to be tested, the better chance one will be amazingly effective . . . or even just really helpful. And even with a vaccine, I have the suspicion that this disease is going to be around for a while, and therapeutics will be needed long-term. So good news.

    Iseesociopaths: Yeah, re: arguments about herd immunity. Me, I keep reminding people that the other way to talk about “herd immunity” is to call it “culling the herd.” Doesn’t help all the time, but it has occasionally taken a few people aback . . . in that framing the process as “herd immunity” tends to focus on those who are left, on the result, not on those who have to die to (maybe) achieve it.

  75. 1) It doesn’t seem like “your job or your life” is a reasonable choice to force people to make.

    If six weeks out of business can kill people’s business, perhaps the lockdown isn’t the problem. We know that lots of poorer people have no savings, but businesses are supposed to have enough capital to do better than that. In some cases, investors have decided they want to make as much money as they can, and capital sitting aside for a rainy day can’t make them money now, so it has to go (Bob Evans selling its real estates and renting its stores). In some cases, people don’t want to raise prices in a competitive market (particularly restaurants with low margins already) and can’t count on others to do the same. Similarly, governments don’t want to raise taxes to build up funds in case something happens and money sitting around not getting spent doesn’t make the bureaucracy happy. We also could have had a better safety net so that the people we’re now expecting to go do things for us (like make and sell our meat and food) can survive OK and a health safety net to detect problems, safeguard health workers, and detect and track infections, but we decided that we didn’t want to pay for these things. That means, though, that anything that happens will hurt a lot more than it probably should.

    Blaming the pandemic and the lockdown for our unwillingness and inability to think of our futures and care for one another (“the common welfare”, as the Constitution put it) is dishonest. We decided that we wanted (or at least, voted or didn’t vote and bought or didn’t buy like we wanted) government that didn’t do lots of things and cost less and businesses that made as much money as possible now. As people have said, decisions have consequences.

    2) Your rights stop when they impinge on those of others (and killing others because you can’t be bothered not to spread your germs about sort of seems like a strong impingement). That’s what societies and governments do – they negotiate between competing claims for the benefit of the whole (or try). If the whole doesn’t exist or has no power, you have as many rights as you can hold, as long as you can hold them, which will probably be limited by your ammo and your garden, and for most will be “not long”. (Your money, after all, secured by the government – so unless you want to go back to barter, threatening the society and government’s existence and life will likely mean that you will find out how edible cotton paper money is.) I guess the protesters mean “I’m white and male and should be able to do what I want” (the motto of the Trump Administration – unfortunately SARS-CoV doesn’t seem to care). Maybe “social distancing” should be rebranded as “time out for adults who can’t be bothered to act like adults”, but don’t think there are enough corners and maybe not enough adults to put them there.