Don’t panic . . . but be informed, part two.

I’ve been doing something I rarely do. I’ve been sending out group emails.

“About what?” you ask.

What else? . . . COVID-19.

I wrote some stuff about the virus in Part One, but that was a while ago and the situation is about as dynamic as they come.  Now, I say “a while ago” and these days — the two weeks between the last post about COVID-19 and today’s offering — seem more like two months, if not years.

Despite most people — most sensible people — self-isolating and having lots of time on their hands, I don’t want to make this a super-long read because I’m linking to articles and sites that are far more important than what I have to say.

However, I want to reiterate what I said before. Namely, I’m not in a panic and you should work at also not being in a panic. Concerned, yes.

I am concerned, but for broader reasons than just the infection and mortality rate. We’re looking at yet again the world undergoing a profound change, and doing so rather quickly regardless of how this thing plays out. I can’t point to many quick changes that resulted in betterment of people’s lives.

Because of it, I’m concerned about COVID-19, the under and over-reaction of people and politicians, the economic impact, geopolitical pressures, fiscal policies, and the fact that under stress and difficult periods, even well-meaning people react in ways that have profound negative repercussions long after the threat is gone or managed.

We’ll see how this plays out, but we already don’t recognize the world we live in. The good thing is that we’re getting a more realistic — and stark — view of how things work. The bad thing is that people are going to freak out. The worst thing is that politicians seldom let a good crisis go to waste.

That said, there’s a quote I rather like and keep in mind:

“EVERYTHING WE DO BEFORE A PANDEMIC WILL SEEM ALARMIST. EVERYTHING WE DO AFTER WILL SEEM INADEQUATE”

– Michael Leavitt

Anyway, here are some of the things that I’ve been sending out to my limited email distribution. Much of what I link is not suited to scanning or a quick read. If that’s your mindset and preference, move on to some cat video or something because there are no jokes, levity, or anything other than my COVID-19 references:

Charts: there are three sites I use for following the changing numbers:

The John Hopkins tracking of global cases. This site is useful for quick views.
https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

These next two sites (for me) have much more information with regards to the threat and trends. For each, I’m going to post the global, the US, and the Italy link; clicking on any one of those will get you access to the other two as well as data for any country of interest.

First site:
https://virusncov.com/
https://virusncov.com/covid-statistics/usa
https://virusncov.com/covid-statistics/italy

Second site:
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/
https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/italy/

All the maps track the same things with minor differences. They may also be slightly different depending on when they update. Two things worry me when I look at those maps. Take, for instance, Italy, and specifically this graphic:

The ratio for closed cases has me concerned. Here’s a similar graph from the other chart, this one for the US.

Unless I’m misreading the chart, of the people who have gone through it, we’re zeroing in on 50%. That, by the way, is very similar to Italy’s graph.

What we want to approach or aim for is the latter part of the graph for China.

China’s final (for now) death rate hovers around 4% with the majority of cases resolved.

I can draw my own assumptions about what the graphs mean, and so should readers.

For a while, I was running my own spreadsheets and working out various ratios and trends. For instance, our current infection growth follows pretty closely a curve you get when you begin with one person and an infection rate of around 1.34, meaning, each person infects 1.34 other people.

It doesn’t sound like much but remember two things: that rate gives us 487,000 infected by March 31, and 9 million by April 10. Also, we’re late in starting to test; we likely have a higher infection rate than that.

You can then back-calculate other numbers using data from other countries and the numbers are not good . . . as in, more than 400-thousand-dead not good.

Information: However, at this point, much depends on the steps we take. These two articles — not light reading — do a good job of explaining what we are facing and especially the importance of what has been dubbed “social distancing”. They are at the site Medium.

From March 10th: HERE
From March 19th: HERE

Those are opinions backed up by some existing data (similar to what I was trying to do in my spreadsheet but with a lot more skill and information). If you rather keep to official channels, the CDC’s site on the pandemic is:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

Also, the New England Journal of Medicine has opened up its COVID-19 content so that you don’t need a subscription.
https://www.nejm.org/coronavirus?query=RP

For them who want a math refresher and how it applies to the virus . . .

If you want to see what the front line looks like in Italy, this is a stark and depressing (and scary) look:
https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-they-call-it-the-apocalypse-inside-italys-hardest-hit-hospital-11960597
. . . and if you want the human aspect of that . . .
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/19/generation-has-died-italian-province-struggles-bury-coronavirus-dead

Sam Harris has done two informative interviews with two different experts:
https://samharris.org/subscriber-extras/190-respond-coronavirus/
https://samharris.org/subscriber-extras/191-early-thoughts-pandemic/
They are a little over an hour each, and if you’re only going to listen to one, I strongly suggest listening to the second one.

OK, I’m throwing up links I’ve found useful, and while I realize there’s a lot here to digest, notice I’ve refrained from politics and sensationalism and calling out stupid young people and stupid old people (later, I promise) or dangers from our elected officials on both sides of the aisle because they are never hesitant to take advantage of any crisis that comes along. I’ll try to cover that in another post because that is also a big concern of mine. Look at what happened after 9/11 — and continues to this day.

Anyway, stay safe, keep away from other people (other than your family who, I presume, are not infected), minimize going out, don’t hoard, and most of all, stay informed so that you don’t fall for stupid and possibly dangerous advice.

Lastly, mind your mental health, emotions, etc. By that, I mean be aware of changes in behavior and heightened stress and take steps to minimize the effects of continued stress (one of the articles below covers that aspect).

If people stop being stupid (a big IF), and if they take this seriously, we could “flatten the curve” in the next few weeks and get back to a new normal that — not optimal — will be manageable. If we don’t, the new normal will be . . . well, I think “awful” is a strong enough word.

http://nautil.us/issue/83/intelligence/the-man-who-saw-the-pandemic-coming

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673620304608

https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-photos-why-you-should-wash-hands-with-soap-water-2020-3

VIDEOS about making masks and an article on the best MATERIALS for masks.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-warm-weather-probably-wont-snuff-out-covid-19-180974482

An ARTICLE from the UK’s Imperial College on the best approach to combatting the pandemic.

https://www.howardluksmd.com/sports-medicine/covid-19-update-3-14-2020-concerned-physicians-unite/

https://theintercept.com/2020/03/14/dispatch-from-an-american-nurse-on-the-frontlines-of-the-effort-to-contain-coronavirus/

https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2020/03/the-lasting-effects-of-the-1918-influenza-pandemic.html

https://www.journalofhospitalinfection.com/article/S0195-6701(20)30046-3/fulltext

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it’s copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intentions, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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22 Responses to Don’t panic . . . but be informed, part two.

  1. Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  2. renxkyoko says:

    I can’t get connected here in California. My sister from LA can’t either…. and my Dad too who works at home .

    Like

  3. Good job, Disperser!

    Like

  4. Thank you for all the research you did with this and for sharing with us.
    (((HUGS)))

    Like

  5. Eddy Winko says:

    I think there is a lot to be learnt from China, if only our efforts could be coordinated.
    Lots of info here, thanks for the links, I will refer back when I get some time.

    Like

  6. etinkerbell says:

    Great informative job, Emilio!

    Like

  7. Ggreybeard says:

    This WHO site https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 (then look for a link to the WHO Dashboard) has some similarities to JHU but I found it interesting that it also lists all the cases in every Chinese province.
    After the source province of Hubei (67,800), the one with the highest figures is Guandong with only 1,407 cases.
    My point being that here in OZ our latest daily figures have just surpassed that and of course so many other countries have too.
    For China to have contained every province outside Hubei to such relatively small numbers, they must have hit much harder and hit much quicker than everywhere else has.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Most open democracies can’t do what China did without declaring martial law (something that would worry me). It would be nice if people would be more careful and even anal about washing and limiting contact. Instead, I’m still seeing some people not taking this seriously and that’s unfortunate.

      Thanks for the link, although I’m still waiting to connect because they are updating the dashboard. I’m assuming I’ll be able to see it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      Still can’t see the numbers. However, there are rumors (based on online activity) of the death rate potentially being much larger than what was reported.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ggreybeard says:

      I think after declaring a state of disaster (or state of emergency) most democracies would have such powers – but are afraid to use them too strongly due to public opinion. I agree, the Chinese government would not worry about that – but tough love is the best tool to defeat this virus.
      I agree, there are still many people not taking it seriously. Including some politicians.

      Like

    • disperser says:

      My worry is that historically, governments are very reluctant to “give back” rights to their people, even in a democracy. It’s the nature of governments because it’s the nature of humans. Other than booze, I can’t think of a major reversal of policy here in the US.

      However, I see the potential for reversal of rights that were begrudgingly granted. Even in a crisis, political entities are mindful of the opportunities they provide. For example, rules negatively impacting abortion clinics on the right and rules negatively impacting gun sales on the left. We can argue the merits of the underlying rights, but the fact remains that with the excuse of the virus, special interests bend the rhetoric to enact rules that would normally not gain any traction. Those are two obvious ones, but you see similar examples in other areas, and always to benefit the agendas of the group proposing the changes/rules.

      Let’s face it; organizations (big, medium, and small) are slimy things and the slimiest are governments. In theory, yes, they could be kept in check by the voters; in practice, not as much as one would hope. That’s because people in any organization (and especially governing bodies) have a great deal of contempt for the people they govern . . . despite the fact they come from the same rank and are demonstrably not embued with any special cognitive, moral, or other gifts.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ggreybeard says:

        You are right to be cautious but here in Oz I am happy that our government (yes, it’s a slimy bunch too) has the powers – under declarations of emergency or disaster – to enact necessary draconian measures.

        They are working here because they are seen to be necessary. I see the political leadership (which I dislike) cooperating with medical authorities to reduce the impact of a rampant disease and the Opposition supporting them. They even reduced the sliminess.

        I am confident that these measures will not last beyond the emergency because they are so darn’ keen to keep business going and rescue the economy.

        I’m also even more confident that our government will revert to being slimy again.

        I agree that periodic elections do not always hold governments to account because the last minute offer of tax cuts in an election campaign will always override negative feelings in swing voters.

        I wish your country well but from a distance I see ever rising infections caused by indecisive and contradictory US leadership. I hope that is not overstepping the mark.

        Stay safe.

        Liked by 1 person

      • disperser says:

        There are many things at play here and depending on what side one sits, plenty of bad things to say (often with justification) about the other side (taking care, of course, not to mention one’s own transgressions). We are a nation of arbitrary limitations to two sides whereas life has much more than just two choices.

        As far as power . . . for us, it has been a long road (40+ years) of Congress slowly abdicating power to the Office of the President, with each President pushing the envelope more and more. They do this so that they cannot be held to blame, although failure to act should get you a lot of blame.

        Even the recent vote for relief . . . no one wanted to go on record voting for it (the senate was unanimous, the house went on a voice vote specifically — I suspect — so that praise can be shared by all but each with plausible deniability should things go south).

        Anyway, I’ve never seen anyone overturn restrictions on rights that were meant to be temporary (our Patriot act gets automatically renewed, and often with little goodies enhancing the reach and power of it). I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. And, this is happening all over the world. We will wake up to a different world when this is over. Perhaps it will be better . . . but I take a wait-and-see attitude sprinkled with plenty of skepticism.

        Liked by 1 person

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