March 10, 2020

"Cancel Everything/Social distancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus. We must start immediately."

Writes Yascha Mounk (in The Atlantic). He offers "three crucial facts" that show it's wrong to tell people to "stay calm." The right answer is: Change "our behavior in radical ways—right now."

1. The cases are increasing exponentially. For example: "Italy had 62 identified cases of COVID-19 on the 22nd of February. It had 888 cases by the 29th of February, and 4,636 by the 6th of March."

2. It's "deadlier than the flu, to which the honestly ill-informed and the wantonly irresponsible insist on comparing it." We can't calculate exactly how deadly, but "the news from Italy, another country with a highly developed medical system, has so far been shockingly bad... suggest[ing] a case fatality rate of 5 percent—significantly higher, not lower, than in China."

3. Only "extreme social distancing" has been effective. It worked in China. "This suggests that anyone in a position of power or authority, instead of downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus, should ask people to stay away from public places, cancel big gatherings, and restrict most forms of nonessential travel.... Do you head a sports team? Play your games in front of an empty stadium. Are you organizing a conference? Postpone it until the fall. Do you run a business? Tell your employees to work from home. Are you the principal of a school or the president of a university? Move classes online before your students get sick and infect their frail relatives. Are you running a presidential campaign? Cancel all rallies right now."

In my household, we have radically changed our behavior. There's something I'm letting go that I've looked forward to for almost a year. It was a chance-of-a-lifetime experience on the highest level, and I have significant sunk costs. But I'm being rational and not agonizing about it or bullshitting some special rules for me that could make it okay to go ahead and do my special thing. I know it's way harder for most other people to embrace a lifestyle of social distancing, but I think these personal excuses and justifications amount to nothing when you're talking about participating in the exponential spread of a disease that could kill millions.

Don't be part of the problem. Control yourself.

280 comments:

1 – 200 of 280   Newer›   Newest»
Laslo Spatula said...

"...Are you running a presidential campaign? Cancel all rallies right now."

The pea under all of the mattresses, there.

I am Laslo.

rhhardin said...

If it expands exponentially, then it contracts exponentially. You just have to get the infection ratio to less than one. I.e. social isolation, as far as possible.

mockturtle said...

This is what Dr. Fauci suggested on Sunday.

Dave Begley said...

This is total and complete bullshit, but did anyone expect anything less from The Atlantic? I'm sure this guy is all in the Green New Deal and totally transforming our economy based upon fake data and corrupt models about what MIGHT happen in 2100.

Power Line has some sensible posts about this virus.

Freeman Hunt said...

Happy to see that more and more colleges are moving classes online for the rest of this year.

bleh said...

Prove that it's more dangerous than the flu. Thus far the data on lethalness is at best inconclusive since those who've been tested are disproportionately the ones who've been experiencing more severe symptoms. For all we know, there could be hundreds of thousands who are infected but are treating it like a normal cold or flu and not going to the doctor. Which would mean the death rate is really quite low.

Indeed, the data is far likelier to get better than what's being reported.

Pointing to the data coming out of Italy, the famously dysfunctional country, does not change any of that.

Ray Fowler said...

My wife and I are scheduled to go to a conference in Orlando next week. We have been looking forward to it for months, have already paid for it and we are past the refund date, but we are not going. Also sunk cost for us, but not worth the risk. I am a pastor and also need to keep the safety of my congregation in mind. If I get infected that could impact a lot of other people.

pacwest said...

Emergency! Everybody to get from street!

traditionalguy said...

Over 70 with pre-existing pulmonary problems is the only danger zone...like influenza.

Stopping our social contacts by group guilt is an enemy attack like the UN Climate Change Hoax.

derek said...

The expansion in Italy is mostly from increased testing. Not a trend. The average age of death is 81.

I don't believe anything anyone says about this. Yes it can be bad, it will affect older people. When hospitals become disease vectors, as is the case in Italy and Seattle, it can get very ugly very quickly, but that is incompetence.

gilbar said...

well SHIT! if Yascha Mounk says so, it Must Be TRUE!
i mean, not Only is he a fucking DOCTOR! (well, a PhD, in political science)
BUT he's a member of the Social Democrat Party of Deutschland...
Well, he Was; until he left them for not being radical enough

Laurent said...

Forgive me but I am not really a math guy. Is that growth actually exponential growth? Day 1, 62 cases which has a 14X growth rate to 888 a week later. A week after that it is 4,636 which is a growth of 5X. Is that considered exponential growth?

TheDopeFromHope said...

Mounk is a Biden supporter. He wants the 3/15 debate canceled.

gilbar said...

We can't calculate exactly how deadly, but "the news from Italy, another country with a highly developed medical system, has so far been shockingly bad... suggest[ing] a case fatality rate of 5 percent

5 percent? Like HELL! far closer to ONE HUNDRED PERCENT, if you just Do the Math!
Don't be innumerate!!!

great Unknown said...

In Italy, the average age of people who died from the Wuhan Virus is 81.

gilbar said...

Our Beloved Professor Althouse said But I'm being rational
Assumes Facts Not in Evidence

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

We cannot all work from home.

Mark said...

"This suggests that anyone in a position of power or authority, instead of downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus, ...."

So you are suggesting that maybe Trump shouldn't have retweeted his social media director's Photoshop of Trump playing fiddle ala Nero?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I'm an introvert. I was into social distancing before social distancing was cool...

Obadiah said...

Italy is an old country, the oldest in Europe. That's why the death rate is so much higher there. It's demographics.

LYNNDH said...

A lot of fear mongering. Yes, be careful but don't get crazy about it.

Achilles said...

This is obviously coordinated.

This is also obviously stupid.

The death rates are similar to the flu. Orders of magnitude more people are currently dying of flu. 30000 people have died in the US in the last six months.

If the media read off the names of people dying from flu every day I wonder how much more you sheep would freak out.

Bay Area Guy said...

What utter silliness.

In the winter flu season of 2017/2018 (2 years ago), there were 45 Million cases and 61,000 deaths.

Did we cancel everything? Did we socially distance ourselves?

In the winter flu season of 2018/2019 (last year), there were 35 Million cases and 34,000 deaths (perhaps the flu vaccine was working better?)

But did we cancel everything? Did we socially distance ourselves?

We have media loons spreading nonsense to scare the masses into doing things they want (like cancel Trump rallies). It's best to ignore these clowns, and relax. You weren't born yesterday. The coronavirus is not new. It's caused the Common Cold for decades.

Narr said...

So, will there be a big reveal party when it all blows over?

I'd hate to think my travel enthusiasm might have infected you with a desire to get out there,
that has now been written off!

Narr
Missed the Max thread, RIP

Kevin said...

"Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!," eventually has consequences.

When it does, our media is in no position to tell us.

GatorNavy said...

Yascha Mounck is a political science professor at John Hopkins. Not a epidemiologist or infection preventist or any kind of health care provider. So his screed is his opinion and not worth all that much. But hey, it is in the Atlantic!

Achilles said...

Ann said...

Don't be part of the problem. Control yourself.


Were you trying to be ironic there?

Or were you completely oblivious to how ridiculous it was to say?

Bleating sheep have more sense.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Cancel Everything...

You know what causes a lot of social interaction? Elections!

pacwest said...

Good reason to cancel the Dem debate. Hide the Biden dementia. For the good of the country.

I'm Full of Soup said...

I always or oways [as nitiwts pronounce it] take medical advice from political scientists like Yasha Mounk.

Dave Begley said...

I cancel Yascha Mounk. He's a full alarmist. His website says that he's a leading expert on liberal democracy.

And I was right about him being an warmist. He's also Cambridge (UK) and Harvard. He doesn't know shit. He's just a political hack.

Wiki, "Yascha Mounk (born June 10, 1982) is a German-American political scientist specializing in political theory and democracy. He is currently Associate Professor of Practice at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced Studies in Washington D.C. He is also a lecturer on political theory in Harvard University’s Government Department and a senior Carnegie Fellow in the Political Reform Program at New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

He was previously the executive director of the Renewing the Centre team at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change."

hombre said...

Mounk is a political hack. Check his book reviewers. “Populism will be the end of democracy,” right? Presumably, only the elites and corrupt, grifting Democrat pols can save us.

Nevertheless, social isolation appears to be the obvious precaution for us old farts

Dave said...

This:

“There's something I'm letting go that I've looked forward to for almost a year. It was a chance-of-a-lifetime experience on the highest level, and I have significant sunk costs. But I'm being rational and not agonizing about it or bullshitting some special rules for me that could make it okay to go ahead and do my special thing.”

Yeah, it’s hard.

My wife and 3 soccer crazy kids, ages 11, 9 and 7, were headed to Barcelona for a once and lifetime trip to watch Messi play.

Game now will be played without fans. Presumably the club will reimburse the money (fingers crossed). Airline not being helpful. Hopefully we can get them to allow us to change with no fees, but it’s not feeling likely. Probably screwed on the AirBnB.

We have been planning this since July and this feels like a punch in the gut. But at times like these, we have to remind ourselves how lucky we are in the grand scheme of things.

(But seriously, if anyone has any tips on dealing with the Airline—Norwegian Air—I’m all ears.)

Dave Begley said...

I looked at this "expert's" Twitter feed. He's nuts.

If Creighton is sent to the NCAA tournament in STL, I'm going even though our best player might be out due to injury.

Screw Yascha.

n.n said...

Interesting, a social contagion. That said, a quarantine through technology and proximity.

Jersey Fled said...

Here we go again.

As of this morning, Italy had reported 9172 cases of the virus. The population of Italy is 60.4 million.

Therefore the percent of Italians with confirmed cases is 9172÷60,400,000=0.02% of the population.

Balfegor said...

Italy's healthcare infrastructure seems to have been overwhelmed, accounting for the high mortality. Korea failed to contain the spread initially, but they caught up in time and their mortality is way lower, comparable to China's claimed mortality outside of Wuhan, roughly 0.5%. Testing has a huge effect on the denominator though -- many countries have focused testing on people with severe symptoms, and more of that category go on to die than the infected population as a whole.

All that said, local authorities in the US have not taken aggressive steps, and the federal government has not applied pressure. E.g., the LA marathon took place on Sunday with record participation. Meanwhile, the mass race at the Tokyo marathon was cancelled, restricted to just a couple hundred top participants. I just returned to the US from Japan, and while Japan has arguably been somewhat lax in its response, it's way better than here. I entered through LAX and there was no health screening at all.

tim maguire said...

Even though I live in a big city, the only time I'm around crowds is on the subway, and I ride my bike whenever the weather allows, so the only actual change to my behavior that I've embraced is I wash my hands a little more often. And I think that's the only change current circumstances require.

Tomcc said...

Prof. Althouse, sorry that you're cancelling your event. If I were a few years older, I would be more cautious- so I don't think you're overreacting. Personally, I'm healthy at 61 and I work in retail. I've had a cold for the last week, so I avoid close contact with customers and I tell them as much. It's a difficult balance to strike; people have to work! Also, here in the Portland area, there are (I believe) about 9 cases. Also, I rarely do anything radical.

Walter said...

Go. Go see Dylan.

jim said...

Fatality rate 0.2% up 40 years old,

Then explodes: 0.4, 1.3, 3.6, 8.0, to almost 15% for those over 80.

Could be a dramatic culling of the old.

StephenFearby said...

NYT

It Took Me 3 E.R. Visits to Get a Coronavirus Test in New York
Thinking I had symptoms, I got a disturbing glimpse of the city’s chaotic and self-contradictory approach to containing the virus.

By Robin Shulman
Ms. Shulman is a freelance journalist.


"...At that point, I called my primary doctor. He said he had just gotten off a call with the C.D.C. “We’re all going to get it,” he said. “At a certain point, they’re just going to stop testing and assume people with symptoms have it.” Meanwhile, he thought that testing should be happening broadly, in every doctor’s office — but of course there were nowhere near enough tests for that. He advised me to stay home except for grocery and pharmacy runs, and wear a mask.

Just because I wanted to see this through, I made one more call to Mount Sinai and asked where my coronavirus swab was. “It wasn’t sent,” said the same physician assistant I had talked with before. Then she added, “Actually, I really don’t know.”

On Friday morning, my 4-year-old daughter, as well as my son, had a fever. Following medical advice, I had sent her to school throughout the week and potentially exposed other children. I was furious. I should not have had to make that decision on my own, without clear medical directives. But the emergency room doctors giving me instructions were trained to save individual lives, not strategize to head off a pandemic.

When I called the press offices of Mount Sinai Hospital and the governor’s office on Friday to request clarifications for this article, officials at the hospital offered me a Covid-19 test that evening.

On Sunday night I found out it was negative."

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/09/opinion/coronavirus-testing-new-york.html


I know a 31-year-old with eosinophilic asthma (probably the worse kind) who yesterday because of his symptoms (cough, fever) was advised by his primary care physician to go to an emergency room to get tested. So, he was carted away in an FDNY ambulance by EMTs dressed in hazmat suits to NYU. There he was tested for every known virus -- except Covid-19 -- because they still didn't have that test. By process of elimination, he was told he probably had Covid-19, but he couldn't remain at the hospital because he wasn't officially diagnosed.

So he's back in his apartment in self-isolation continuing to take Trader Joe's manuka honey [which contains methylglyoxal] and the pharmaceutical-grade N-Acetylcysteine I had given him.

Drug Discov Ther. 2016;10(4):201-10.
In vitro evaluation of the antiviral activity of methylglyoxal against influenza B virus infection.

"...Therefore, MGO has high potential as a universal anti-influenza agent, including potential for activity against resistant pandemic influenza viruses."

https://dx.doi.org/10.5582/ddt.2016.01045

rehajm said...

It’s hard to change our own behavior while the administration and leaders of other important institutions send the social cue that we should go on as normal.

But since our leaders and institutions are failing, we must change our behavior anyway


It's all (name of your least favorite political) fault!

cubanbob said...

What needs cancelling is stupidity and hysteria and replace both with common sense and calmness. There won't be any carts passing through your neighborhood calling out "bring out your dead".

Ray - SoCal said...

Having everyone wear masks would help...

Except most mask production was in China, and the Chinese are not exporting right now, and have forced all US owned mask factories in China, to not export.

Taiwan has done an amazing job of keeping CoronaVirus infections at only 47 people. Korea finally seems to be getting it under control. US, is still behind on testing. And Taiwan kids are in school, they are just wearing masks.
https://www.voanews.com/science-health/coronavirus-outbreak/why-taiwan-has-just-42-coronavirus-cases-while-neighbors-report

Mark Stein noted, in an article published March 10 (today) that a colleague of his, who attended CPAC, wanted to be be tested, and was told he could only get a test if he had been in direct contact with a person with CoronaVirus. My guess is this issue will be solved in another week.

This person was denied a test 3 times https://twitter.com/danniaskini/status/1236797054371987457

And from her twitter feed, it seems little is being done to trace CoronaVirus infections. Her comment on eldercide is way over the top, my view, just the usual bureaucratic empire building by the FDA and CDC put the US a month behind on testing.
https://twitter.com/danniaskini/status/1236797054371987457

The current plan in the US seems to be allow CoronaVirus to spread, and hope that warmer weather causes it to die down. Typically, Flu Season ends in May. And by October, when Flue season starts, there may be a vaccine.

Stv30 said...

- this guy also wrote “The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It”
More scary stuff.
Populism virus alert!! Panic indeed.

Rob said...

Ann, sorry about your having to cancel your long-cherished plans, but there will be other Trump rallies.

Jersey Fled said...

Likewise Italy has had 463 deaths vs. 2731 recoveries. This equates to about a 14% fatality rate. But this number is out of line with China's much larger sample which indicate a 6% fatality rate. I suspect that this is a result of Italy's small sample size, and the numbers will move toward China's as the sample gets larger.

Six percent is still a high number, so this is a serious virus. But we have two choices here; act responsibly and follow the recommendations of the CDC and organizations like Johns Hopkins, or panic and completely lose your marbles like a typical lefty.

I choose the first option.

jaydub said...

"...Italy, another country with a highly developed medical system." Obviously the author has never stepped foot in an Italian hospital. Unfortunately, my wife had to as the result of a spiral fracture of the upper arm suffered in a fall. She never got out of the hospital corridor that night, took several hours to get the attention of a nurse and never saw a doctor because they don't have specialists on duty. It was a third world experience. When we came back the next morning at 10:00 as instructed, the orthopedist on duty then took some xrays, told her she was going to need screws to set the bone, and, when we told him we were living in Spain, advised us to go there for treatment. After considering the last 18 hours experience with the Italian medical system we decided to cut our losses and return to Spain, although it took us 36 hours to get there. The doctors in Spain were shocked that she had been sent home in that condition.

Stv30 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lloyd W. Robertson said...

Without pretending to be a virologist or epidemiologist (both groups obviously have a vested interest in saying "we have to do a lot more--did I mention money for research?":

1. Whether "be calm" is good advice depends on what country you're talking about. The U.S. shows 2.2 cases per million population. Canada about the same. A very small number of countries have had what their leaders have identified as a big problem. For some reason, even within those countries the infection has not spread like peanut butter, and it has not spread to contiguous countries. I don't know why. By far, the countries with a big problem are the exception rather than the rule--very different from the 1918-19 flu.

2. No one who says "let's turn the economy upside down" likes to mention the demographics: people over 70, if they get the virus (a very hit or miss business), have a great deal to fear; anyone below 50, very little, and children nothing. This I think points to the stupidity of shutting schools. Italy went very bad in a short time--apparently it is kind of a Mediterranean retirement home.https://www.businessinsider.com/italy-coronavirus-old-population-cases-death-rate-2020-3

3. At no time to date, as I understand it, has the global spread of new corona met the definition of "exponential" growth. I believe one threshold to even consider this possibility is "daily growth rate" in cases and/or deaths. Maybe Italy has achieved exponential growth for a few days. Italy is not the world, and China was a much bigger test case where this did not happen.

4. MARS was hardly infectious at all--about 8,000 cases in six months--but highly virulent or deadly--about 800 deaths. No one is talking about a 10% death rate with the new virus. MERS has been around since 2012. It remains confined largely to Saudi Arabia, and largely to hospitals. Hardly infectious at all, but extremely virulent. The new corona is not nearly as infectious as any annual flu--worth repeating--not nearly as infectious, even in China or Italy--but it is unfortunately more virulent. Again there are specific populations that will see severe illness and death; not the general population of any country (as far as we can see now), and not the whole world in the sense that the 1918-19 flu or flu's plural affected the whole world.

5. I'm distrustful of giving more power to bureaucrats--what could possibly go wrong?--and the idea that government must do something is often associated with the idea that "new pathogens must be kept out of our population," and "in ten years we can eliminate all disease." Utter and complete bullshit.

Michael said...

I am in Vancouver BC at the moment. Canadian papers and tv are not in meltdown mode. 5% of the virus coverage in the US. A couple of deaths in the Province. Zero panic. Toilet paper in the stores. U believable difference in attitudes here.

Exponential is a powerful and wrongly used word. The growth of the virus in the US has been anything but.

Airplane full on the way up, expect full on the way back.

Curious George said...

Lunacy. All of it.

mockturtle said...

This is an introvert's dream. Now we have a great excuse to avoid tedious social events. :-D

Inga said...

“It's "deadlier than the flu, to which the honestly ill-informed and the wantonly irresponsible insist on comparing it." We can't calculate exactly how deadly, but "the news from Italy, another country with a highly developed medical system, has so far been shockingly bad... suggest[ing] a case fatality rate of 5 percent—significantly higher, not lower, than in China."”

I’ve heard and read that there are two strains of Covid19, the S strain and the L strain. One of them is supposedly worse than the other, I wonder if Korea doesn’t have mostly the milder station and Italy mostly the deadlier strain? Italy doesn’t have a medical system unlike ours, I really wonder what is driving the higher fatality rate? They are doing the testing, as I understand it.

PM said...

Where's our Salk and Sabin?

Nonapod said...

So, what I'm getting from this... is that the Atlantic would be all for completely closing down our borders?

Calypso Facto said...

"Happy to see that more and more colleges are moving classes online for the rest of this year."

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the virus will be people asking, "Why were we paying for expensive college infrastructure and host of administrative staff, anyways?"

Well that and potentially increased mortality among the elderly extending the viability of Social Security and Medicare a few more days ...

Iman said...

Apologies to Charles Wright and the 103rd Street Rhythm Band...


Control Yourself!
Control Yourself!
You can't grab the cure fo' what ails you
Off the shelf
All you got to do now
Control Yourself!
What ever you do, do it good.
What ever you do, do it good. All right...
It’s not what you look like, when you’re doin´ what you’re doin´.
It’s what you’re doin´ when you’re doin´ what you look like you’re doin´!
Control Yourself!
Control Yourself!
They’re doin´it in Wuhan, yeah...
Them Italians, too.
Everybody on the floor, now.
Dancin' like they got the flu
So let the horns do the thing they do, yo...
Some people have this thing, yeah... and other people don’t.
But everything don’t mean a thing if it ain´t the thing you want.
Control Yourself!
Control Yourself!

gahrie said...

Ann, sorry about your having to cancel your long-cherished plans, but there will be other Trump rallies.

I bet she was planning on running the Boston marathon.

MBunge said...

Yascha Mounk is a political scientist with, as best I can tell, ZERO ACTUAL MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE. In other words, he literally doesn't know any more about this than I or anyone else paying attention to the news.

WHY IS THIS PERSON BEING HELD UP AS SOME SORT OF AUTHORITY?!?!?!

Mike

Iman said...

Yascha "Chip" Mounck is a political science professor at John Hopkins.

tim in vermont said...

It’s not irrational or “panic” to make different choices in the face of unknown odds. It’s like when I was in the UK and the “mad cow” thing was probably over, but you know what? A lamb chop or a pork chop is nice too. Was I irrationally panicking not to eat steak? It seemed like the Brits weren’t all that hot on beef at the time and didn’t seem to be suffering.

Iman said...

"My work here are dun."

-- - Corona Virus

effinayright said...

PM said...
Where's our Salk and Sabin
**************

Polio had been around for years, and it still took years to develop vaccines against it.

The Wuhan virus has been around for about six months, and the Chinese kept quiet about it until they no longer could.

You might as well ask, Where's THEIR Salk and Sabin?

Achilles said...

Italy has a 3rd world medical system.

But you know why the media cites numbers from Italy or from China when it claims the world is going to end. You know why they ignore better examples.

1000 times as many people have died from the flu during this same time period.

tim in vermont said...

Recessions, IMHO, happen with the economy grows in some direction, and then whatever was supporting that growth is taken away and the economy has to re-jigger itself. Well travel is a multi-trillion dollar industry that is going to have to change. People are going to lose jobs, businesses are going to close.

narciso said...

The regular ordinary flu kills how many people, is it more communicable possibly.

Gusty Winds said...

Average age of people who have died of Covid-19 in Italy is...81.

Carol said...

Reddit /medicine is a useful place right now. I had similar questions about "exponential" growth and this was the simplest of the answers.

"It's doubling every 2 days. Any doubling over a constant period is exponential. At some point, over 6 days it goes from 3 billion to 6 billion infected, for example."

Me, I'm happy to cancel Everything. Great excuse to go hermit, yet I can still go outside and walk.

Win-win.

exhelodrvr1 said...

That's not exponential increase in Italy. In fact, if those figures are accurate, the rate of increase is decreasing.

Michael K said...

many countries have focused testing on people with severe symptoms, and more of that category go on to die than the infected population as a whole.

That seems to me to be a rational approach except that the hysteria is fed by the Media. The CDC and FDA have been shown to be largely useless bureaucracies. The CDC spent a lot of time worrying about guns, not viruses.

I agree that those of us over 70 should stay out of crowds. Especially those with immune systems that are not 100%, like my wife.

The remdesivir trial is under way and should be able to deal with most of the severe cases if the bureaucrats will shut up.

The stories about NY City and LA are examples of Democrat cities, sadly most big cities.

The net result when this is over will be the Trump agenda. Closed border, US manufacturing back home, especially Pharm, and seeing China as no friend.

Achilles said...

President Barack Obama has declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients.

"The declaration, signed Friday night and announced Saturday, comes with the disease more prevalent than ever in the country and production delays undercutting the government's initial, optimistic estimates that as many as 120 million doses of the vaccine could be available by mid-October.

"Health authorities say more than 1,000 people in the United States, including almost 100 children, have died from the strain of flu known as H1N1, and 46 states have widespread flu activity. So far only 11 million doses of the vaccine have gone out to health departments, doctor's offices and other providers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials."


Gee. Can't figure out why the media treated swine flu differently than COVID-19.

You know what else you didn't see in 2009?

Republicans acting like fucking jackals breathlessly hoping for people to die.

Birches said...

Yeah, I wouldn't compare Italy and the US at all, especially when we are talking mortality rates of a respiratory virus. One fourth of Italy still smokes! And I wonder how many of them are over 65.

That's looking at things on a macro scale. On the micro scale, I don't blame anyone for dropping plans and being extra cautious.

Rocketeer said...

Italy doesn’t have a medical system unlike ours

Yes, it really does. Just because it's in western Europe does not make it comparable. Italy's health care infrastructure is horrible, seriously, shockingly so given how good neighboring countries' is.

tommyesq said...

Happy to see that more and more colleges are moving classes online for the rest of this year.

Wonder what long-term effect this will have in speeding up the process of moving college education on-line. Most classes do not require physical presence - other than science labs - and it makes much more sense for the best English professor (for example) to be teaching thousands of students instead of the several hundred, at most, they currently instruct. The monetary savings, both for an individual student and as a collective whole, would be huge - no need for extensive living quarters that spend 50% of the year unoccupied, massively duplicative classroom space that probably spends ~ 80% of the time unoccupied, etc., and would save future generations from the crushing college debt that so burdens the present generation. Apparently, we will have at least a one-semester trial run of such a system.

Rocketeer said...

Italy doesn’t have a medical system unlike ours

Yes, it really does. Just because it's in western Europe does not make it comparable. Italy's health care infrastructure is horrible, seriously, shockingly so given how good neighboring countries' is.

Jessica said...

The average age of a person who died of coronavirus in Italy is 81. Seriously -- 81. Italy is also an older country with many more smokers. I honestly truly don't believe it's as big of a deal as people are making of it?

Jessica said...

The average age of a person who died of coronavirus in Italy is 81. Seriously -- 81. Italy is also an older country with many more smokers. I honestly truly don't believe it's as big of a deal as people are making of it?

StephenFearby said...

The Atlantic
The Dangerous Delays in U.S. Coronavirus Testing Haven’t Stopped
Without adequate testing, people with coronavirus symptoms are left to agonize over the right course of action on their own.

ROBINSON MEYER ALEXIS C. MADRIGAL
MARCH 9, 2020

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/coronavirus-testing-numbers/607714/

Fernandistein said...

It looked like

"Cancel Everything/Social dancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus. We must start immediately."

David Begley said...

What if Yascha’s prediction is wrong? Does he get sued? Does he lose his academic job? Did he lose his climate change job because he was wrong there?

He has no skin in the game.

Ann Althouse said...

What is "exponential" growth? Wikipedia:

"Exponential growth is a specific way that a quantity may increase over time. It occurs when the instantaneous rate of change (that is, the derivative) of a quantity with respect to time is proportional to the quantity itself. Described as a function, a quantity undergoing exponential growth is an exponential function of time, that is, the variable representing time is the exponent (in contrast to other types of growth, such as quadratic growth). If the constant of proportionality is negative, then the quantity decreases over time, and is said to be undergoing exponential decay instead. In the case of a discrete domain of definition with equal intervals, it is also called geometric growth or geometric decay since the function values form a geometric progression. If the constant of proportionality is negative, then the quantity decreases over time, and is said to be undergoing exponential decay instead. In the case of a discrete domain of definition with equal intervals, it is also called geometric growth or geometric decay since the function values form a geometric progression.
The formula for exponential growth of a variable x at the growth rate r, as time t goes on in discrete intervals (that is, at integer times 0, 1, 2, 3, ...), is x_{t}=x_{0}(1+r)^{t} where x0 is the value of x at time 0. This formula is transparent when the exponents are converted to multiplication. For instance, with a starting value of 50 and a growth rate of r = 5% = 0.05 per interval, the passage of one interval would give 50 × 1.051 = 50 × 1.05; two intervals would give 50 × 1.052 = 50 × 1.05 × 1.05; and three intervals would give 50 × 1.053 = 50 × 1.05 × 1.05 × 1.05. In this way, each increase in the exponent by a full interval can be seen to increase the previous total by another five percent. (The order of multiplication does not change the result based on the associative property of multiplication.)"

Roughcoat said...

Am I the only one here who finds Atlhouse's tone irritating?

Brody Oaks said...

Get a grip people

https://www.fisherinvestments.com/en-us/marketminder/coronavirus-seeing-through-the-fog-of-fear

Sydney said...

A good source of up to date mortality figures - worldwide and by country. Courtesy of Johns Hopkins' epidemiologists. But yes, it is a little more deadly than the flu. And much more contagious. I worry about the elderly mostly. It will overwhelm the hospital systems which puts other patients at risk due to limited resources. Social distancing stops the spread which will then lower the mortality rate. It is worth heeding the warnings to avoid crowds, travel and cruise ships.

MartyH said...

Worldometers.info has a Coronavirus page with lots of statistics. You can see a logarithmic plot of cases and deaths. Early data is exponential growth; you can see that the newer data is plateauing-maybe a slight recent uptick.

Also, the percentage of serious cases is dropping. It was 20% and is now 12%. Better diagnosis? Better care?

What you should do depends on how old you are and your risk factors. Elderly need to reduce risk of exposure. I won’t visit my eight plus year old mom. But I also will not significantly reduce my other activities.

I

gilbar said...

One fourth of Italy still smokes! And I wonder how many of them are over 65.

I'd pay a dollar, for a breakdown of worldwide fatalities by smokes/doesn't smoke

Other fun breakdowns, that you won't see
Smoggy, dirty countries (like italy)/clear skies, clean countries
Rainy, Cold Shit holes/places that are NOT Seattle

gilbar said...

Remember the Olden Days?
Back there seemed to be a Noticeable difference between the smartness levels of Igna and Althouse?

mandrewa said...

1. The cases are increasing exponentially.

No, they aren't. Not only they are not increasingly exponentially, but on a global basis the number of cases is actually falling. As h pointed out on a previous thread if you go to the John Hopkins summary page, which is being updated all the time, the number of new global confirmed daily cases, is falling. This is the opposite of what should be occurring if this were anything like what some are fearing.

See Coronavirus Covid-19 and look at the graph to the lower right and click the Daily Cases button.

Remember that a much large number of people have been tested for this virus than two weeks ago. We should be seeing a big spike in confirmed cases.

It's "deadlier than the flu, to which the honestly ill-informed and the wantonly irresponsible insist on comparing it."

Hmmm... It seems to me that one of the best sources of data we have is the South Korean data. They have tested a larger percentage of their population than anyone else at this point. For many countries the number of people tested is absurdly few. So South Korea should give the best estimate of the deadliness of this disease. And they are getting 0.6%. (Now that was from a few days ago, and I probably need to check to see what it is right now.) But although that is higher than the flu in recent decades, which has is more like 0.1%, it is in the same ball park. And in fact, influenza epidemics vary in their deadliness, and I'm pretty sure 0.6% isn't that much higher than some modern influenza epidemics.

So who is really making ill-informed comments?

Now I agree that you can argue that it might be much worse, based on some of the data. But that's not the best data we have.

Only "extreme social distancing" has been effective. It worked in China.

Did it work in China? See that's the thing. If this is dying down in China because of the measures China took, then the same thing should work here. But is that actually believable?

Is it believable that what China did would have worked if this thing is as infectious as some claim?

And by the way, if it is believable, then why don't we do the same thing for the flu every year?

There are so many possibilities once open our minds to the probability that China is lying. I mean China is a country that claims it has only had 59 fatalities from the influenza this year. Why should we believe anything they say?

But not believing them doesn't tell us what is happening. There are so many things they could be lying about. We can build completely different narratives depending on what lies we assume they are telling.

It's possible that there are millions of people infected in China with Coronavirus 2019 right now and that tens of thousands of people dying in China from this weekly. How would we know if it were so?

Alternately maybe the whole thing has shrunk to almost insignificance, as in effect China is actually claiming. But if this is the truth, then was it because of the extreme measures they took? Or was it something else?

I believe that regardless of what is really happening China is going to claim to be very successful and to be a model for the world.

FullMoon said...

So, if you go to the doctor when you have the flu, what can the doctor do to hasten recovery or lessen discomfort? Anything other than plenty of liquids and bed rest?

More of a mild cold guy myself. Last serious flu was fifteen or twenty years ago and was way too sick to leave home to see doctor.Very unpleasant, sweating, chills, throwing up, entire body aching (except for the delirious hallucinations that had me doing a duet with Mick Jagger in front of queen Elizabeth.)

Ten or so years ago,young woman in her twenties a couple of blocks away got the flu, went to emergency, was sent home and died within a couple of weeks.

For that reason I personally tend to be concerned every year about catching flu again. I guess the idea now is early diagnosis so you do not spread it while you are showing no symptoms. Now, I wonder, does the more common flu behave the same, contagious prior to serious symptoms?

Fernandistein said...

I'm currently identifying as 8 years old, regardless of the socially constructed date that the white males assigned to me at birth.

Chinese Bat Urine Plague Fatality Rate by AGE:
80+ years old 14.8%
70-79 8.0%
60-69 3.6%
50-59 1.3%
40-49 0.4%
30-39 0.2%
20-29 0.2%
10-19 0.2%
0-9 years old - no fatalities

mockturtle said...

The problem with the comparison to average influenza deaths is this: The COVID-19 virus is much more contagious by a factor of 2-3. The death rate is also higher. So take the number of annual influenza cases and multiply by a factor of 2 or 3 and then by the death rate for a potentially much more deadly disease. However, since it has arrived in the US [and Europe] later in the year than in Asia, the seasonal influence might stop the virus before it reaches its potential.

bagoh20 said...

Overreacting is not a minor risk. It can have a serious cost of it's own. A cost that is not conjecture, but assured. A cost that will affect not just a few, but everyone. A cost that will include deaths as well. Like yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, panic is often more deadly than what the panicked fear. There could of course be a fire, but the panic doesn't care. It kills regardless. I'm not saying to ignore the threat, but rather to keep a clear, panic-adverse mind. There is a reason we have so many metaphors for tragic mistakes of panic: fire in a theater, herd running off a cliff, witch hunt, mass hysteria, etc. Human's are dangerously susceptible to this phenomenon, and history is rife with the disasters it can cause. Our new connectivity could magnify that exponentially in a way never seen before. Keep your head, people.

I think it is a valid question to ask: Why do we not take these actions against the common flu which will certainly kill tens of thousands this and every year, but we will for this one that only has the potential to do so?

Roughcoat said...

A post at American Greatness informs readers that journalists are self-quarantining.

Silver lining.

Douglas said...

The Atlantic is way off on the fatality rate of coronavirus. The 5% figure from Italy is not representative. Coronavirus is mild in most cases and dangerous only to the elderly and those with immune system problems or other serious health issues. Italy's population is the oldest in Europe so it's no surprise that its fatality rates are running high. It's also very unlikely that the numerator includes all of the mild cases that don't require medical attention let alone an ICU.

The real issue is how much economic pain are we willing to suffer (a strict containment policy like China's will cause a lot of pain) in order to try to protect the vulnerable population from getting Coronavirus? God forbid any politician would actually try to discuss those tradeoffs. Certainly the media is not doing so.

David Begley said...

I think Yascha should step out of academic/liberal bubble and read the comments here.

mockturtle said...

A linear rate would show a straight line on a graph where an exponential rate would show an upwardly curved line.

FullMoon said...

askreddit has post asking residents in Italy how things are going.
Best comment in my opinion was guy who said to expect a baby boom in nine months due to massive quarantine.

Openidname said...

Great info here:

https://ncov2019.live/data

Compiled by a teenager. If you appreciate his website, you can buy him a cup of coffee.

I'm one of those who expected CoVid-19 to be not much worse than the flu, but these numbers are sobering.

tcrosse said...

This morning I kissed my wife. I couldn't control myself.

Inga said...

“Yes, it really does. Just because it's in western Europe does not make it comparable. Italy's health care infrastructure is horrible, seriously, shockingly so given how good neighboring countries' is.”

“Healthcare spending in Italy accounted for 9.2% of GDP in 2012 (about $3,200 per capita) of which about 77% is public,[1] slightly lower than the average of 9.3% in OECD countries.[2] In 2000 Italy's healthcare system was regarded, by World Health Organization's ranking, as the 2nd best in the world after France,[3] and according to the World Health Organization, Italy has the world's 6th highest life expectancy.[4] The life expectancy at birth in Italy was 82.3 years in 2012, which is over two years above the OECD average.[2”

Wiki

Jim Howard said...

Keep in mind that as more test kits become available there will be more reported cases. This does not necessarily implie an exponential increase in the actual number of infections.

FullMoon said...

Ann Althouse said...

What is "exponential" growth? Wikipedia:

"Exponential growth is a specific way that a quantity may increase over time. It occurs when the instantaneous rate of change (that is, the derivative) of a quantity with respect to time is proportional to the quantity itself,
(etc. etc.)

Took the words right out of my mouth

Fernandistein said...

Wikipedia:

According to their illustration, everything is pretty cool until you "go to 11". So stay away from groups of more than 10 people.

Ken B said...

Singapore schools? Sounds like his advice conflicts with theirs.

This sounds like good advice. To me I mean, someone who has never studied virology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, who has never staffed a hospital, never calculated the costs. To the uninformed me, it sounds like good advice.

It comes from a guy who studied polisci and makes his living by garnering attention.

My medical school department head brother in law recommends hand washing. So does Canada's top expert on infectious disease.

We will probably cancel our planned road trip in a couple weeks.

BothSidesNow said...

We had a family conference on Sunday and decided to drastically limit contacts with others. We live in the DC area, and the virus does appear to be spreading. That, combined with the lack of testing (as compared to South Korea and other countries), suggests that this may be a large problem. We are immune-compromised, and that is a big driver of our decision. It is true that people under 60 who get the virus will likely do okay, but they will in turn be a vector that will increase the chances of more vulnerable people becoming infected. The hospitals may become overwhelmed, and that will be ugly. Read Five Days At Memorial for a view of how a major US hospital reacted to the stress of Katrina. The book could have been written by Stephen King -- it is that scary. Over a period of centuries, farmers finally learned, though many bad experiences, that locking the barn door after the horse escapes does very little. Here's hoping that that hard-earned wisdom might have a role to play in this crisis.

robother said...

Every flu virus has exponential growth in spreading. But this Wuhan virus is 5-10 times more lethal and creates 5-10 times higher numbers of double pneumonia cases, overwhelming the capacity of even 1st world hospital systems. Read the reports coming out from Italian doctors before blithely dismissing this as just another flu virus. Social distancing on the order this guy is recommending is the only way to slow the exponential growth curve of a virus that is communicable by breath and incidental contact from non-presenting infected patients. We need to cancel all social gatherings and air travel to avoid the Italian disaster here.

Fernandistein said...

Exponential decay is worse than growth: "you never get there from here", even more so than Zeno imagined.

Lincolntf said...

A friend with terminal cancer had been planning to visit for a week, but he has canceled. Between his health and daily contact with bis elderly parents, it just didn't make sense to risk it. Very disappointing all around.

Openidname said...

"Lloyd W. Robertson said...

"This I think points to the stupidity of shutting schools."

The reason to shut schools is not to keep children from dying. It's to keep children from getting the disease and spreading it (e.g., to their grandparents). Kids are filthy beasts, and they swap diseases readily.

I don't think we have good enough data to do the cost/benefit analysis on shutting schools, but that doesn't mean it's stupid. It's at least logical.

Arashi said...

More panic articles.

Yes, folks over 60, especially with underlying health issues should take extra caution - just as they should do anyway, what with regular flu, etc.

Now, if, as this article says, and others like it, that the ChinaFluDuJour is super deadly, then why have not all of the homeless camps on the west coast been decimated by now? We should be seeing artilce after article about the poor homeless and the heartless treatment by the administration in letting them all succumb to the virus.

But that is not happening - I wonder why? Maybe this outbreak is not that deadly after all? Maybe a lot of people are just working the political angle because it is an election year, and anything one can do to hurt DJT is okey dokey. Tank the economy, get people into a 24/7 Sweat Condition 6 (run in circles, scream and shout, while stayin in the same physical location) - all good things to do right now. The WuhFlu should be taken seriously, but no one should be in a total panic about it.

I do find interesting that the Toilet Paper Hoarding Gene is apparntly alive and well in Australia and Germany, not just here in the US.

Char Char Binks said...

"This is what Dr. Fauci suggested on Sunday."

But he's not calling for totalitarian control of society, like any responsible leftist does when given an excuse like this. Self-isolation isn't acceptable, because it implies that people have rights.

"We can't prove how deadly this disease is, but trust us, it's dangerous enough for us to end your Constitutional rights forever."

Yancey Ward said...

I told everyone over a week ago- the virus had already spread months ago, and yet people continue to believe it only broke out in Wuhan, and only in early January. This was always a ludicrous belief, and this is people giving the Chinese government the benefit of the doubt, which is also ludicrous.

If it was first identified in Wuhan in early January, and it was, then it is all but certain that the virus was around for several months at a minimum and had already spanned the planet before anyone knew it existed. If you don't believe me, then go read about how your yearly flu vaccine packet is designed and assembled- the new vaccines aren't developed for flus that don't exist, but are developed for the one that are identified running around in the existing population that haven't been seen before, and at that point it is pretty much always the case that the new strains have already infected several hundred thousand people by that point in discovery.

JPS said...

"it's wrong to tell people to 'stay calm.' The right answer is: Change "our behavior in radical ways—right now."

You can take rational action to mitigate, while staying calm. From my vantage point in northern Italy, they are making radical behavior changes, but no one's panicking.

Rocketeer, 12:21:

"Italy's health care infrastructure is horrible, seriously, shockingly so given how good neighboring countries' is."

I'm surprised at your comment. I'm a guest here for a few months. Maybe it's a function of my getting to know this wealthy northern city and a couple of doctors here very well, but I've been impressed with what I've seen. (Maybe it's awful elsewhere in Italy, I don't know.) For the record I'm no fan of government-run health care as a concept, or as a recommendation for the U.S.

Skeptical Voter said...

I hear you on cancelling things Ms. Althouse. The wife and I just cancelled our flights from LAX to London to see the grandkids at the end of this month--with a planned sidetrip for several days to Paris to visit the Louvre (for her) and the French Air Museum (for me). Easy enough to cancel Paris since the Louvre is closed. Harder to pass up seeing the grandkids--although they'll still be there and fine when the corona virus dies down (as I suspect it will once it gets warmer in Europe and North America).

Cancellation will give us a financial haircut--flights were prepaid and I don't know how much we'll retrieve on our sunk costs.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Not spreading “exponentially” even with her jacked-up out-of-context numbers, since we don’t know the EXPOSURE rate. “Experts” have also said over 90% of afflicted people had mild cold-like symptoms and go undiagnosed. Is she counting THOSE people? Idiots with vibes aren’t just annoying during a ginned up crisis, they are fucking dangerous.

Fernandistein said...

Overreacting is not a minor risk.

They made a documentary about that - Panic in the Streets
"A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague."

Mattman26 said...

A baby boom in Italy? That would be fantastic.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Carol that site was NOT a good explanation. The smallest exponential equation is the power of 2, meaning the original number (16 cases in your example) multiplied by itself: so 16 X 16 = 256; and day two would be 256 X 256 = 65,536 cases day and so on. Very steep growth and NOTHING like we are seeing anywhere. Not exponential.

robother said...

The virus is spreading exponentially, precisely because there are many people getting (and spreading) it who show no symptoms or only mild symptoms. Why would anyone think the fact that many have the virus who haven't been diagnosed REBUTS exponential spread? Math ignorance seems to be spreading in this culture even faster than the flu.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Sorry Mockturtle you have that wrong. Quarantine doesn’t work with flu because it’s too contagious to contain. COvid-19 is not.

mockturtle said...

Mike, you'd better do some more research.

StephenFearby said...

tcrosse said...
"This morning I kissed my wife. I couldn't control myself."

Kiss of death (mafia)

'The kiss of death (Italian: Il bacio della morte) is the sign given by a mafioso boss or capo that signifies that a member of the crime family has been marked for death, usually as a result of some perceived betrayal.[1] How much is based on fact and how much on the imagination of authors, it remains a cultural meme[2][3] and appears in literature and films. Illustrative is the scene in the film The Valachi Papers when Vito Genovese (Lino Ventura) gives the kiss of death to Joe Valachi (Charles Bronson) to inform him that his betrayal of "the family" is known, and that he will be executed.

The "kiss" has also been used as a terror tactic to aid in extortion or debt collection by reducing victims to a state of panic where they will commit to anything to save their lives.[1]'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss_of_death_(mafia)

Clark said...

@Mike (MJB Wolf) -

The Wiki article on Exponential Growth is a not a bad place to get a start on what exponential growth means.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

People who don’t know that the exponent is the superscript numeral shouldn’t use the term exponential. When a number (X to the power of Y) is exponential it is the base number X multiplied by itself Y times. If 16 is your base number and the exponential factor is 2 then 256 is the result, and the new base number for calculating day two infections.

THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. Do the math.

tcrosse said...

Kiss of death (mafia)

I thought it was the kiss that Judas gave Jesus to betray Him.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Yeah, destroying what's left of the economy sounds like a good plan. Let's cancel everything now and figure out to do with the 10s of millions of newly unemployed later.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Yes Clark, let me interpret it for you: the day is the exponent. So day four after a 16 day initial infection call would be 16 to the power of 4, or:
16 X 16 X 16 X 16 or 65,536 cases by day four just like I wrote. Can’t you people even use a calculator?

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Mockturtle please look at the passenger ships and see what an infection rate in a controlled environment REALLY is. And note that even Wuhan with 59 MILLION RESIDENTS of that Province only had 70,000 cases. Much lower infection rate than flu. I’ve studied epidemiologist and am married to a med nerd. I don’t panic.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

You people realize the WHO is refusing to label this a pandemic yet. Right?

stevew said...

Really? This behavior does not seem rational given the facts. But then Im not a precautionary principle sort of guy.

Dave Begley said...

I think Ann did this post as a test balloon and to see what the Devil's Advocates here would say.

Given the above, a rational person in her 60's and in excellent health would attend this event with her Ultimate Husband that has been in the works for a year.

And I AM going to the NCAA BB tournament. This is the year Creighton makes the Sweet Sixteen.

stevew said...

You know what will bring this panic to an end? Electing a Democrat President, that's what.

Clark said...

@Mike, Why are you assuming that the exponent has to be an integer?

gilbar said...

Dave Begley said..
This is the year Creighton makes the Sweet Sixteen.

You REALLY think that the covfefe19 viral panic will adversely affect THAT many other teams?
</snark

gilbar said...

Clark said...
@Mike, Why are you assuming that the exponent has to be an integer?


Why are people assuming that the exponent has to be a positive number
maybe the exponent is -4 ??

gilbar said...

Study of 72,000 COVID-19 patients finds 2.3% death rate

TickTock said...

Mike(MJB). Sorry Mike, but there is a time period involved. For the Corona Virus it is estimated to be 3-4 days, for infections to double. Take that into account and the Italian data looks pretty close.

Of course more social distancing will slow this down somewhat. For those of us with high risk factors, that's a very good thing.

I'm beginning to see the phase, "OK Boomer" taking on deadly implications, so as to translate "I'm OK, and jee, its just too bad you're not. Sorry (but not really)."

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

The argument that this is all the media and the Dems fault seem willfully ignorant of what is happening in other countries. Can someone give me an example of what they believe is an overreaction here that has not happened in another country?

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Rocketeer said...
Italy's health care infrastructure is horrible, seriously, shockingly so given how good neighboring countries' is.


This is nonsense. For starters they did a vastly better job on initial testing than the US did. Vastly better.

Melissa said...

Yancey Ward @12:53
“ I told everyone over a week ago- the virus had already spread months ago, and yet people continue to believe it only broke out in Wuhan, and only in early January. This was always a ludicrous belief, and this is people giving the Chinese government the benefit of the doubt, which is also ludicrous. ”
I agree with this—I think my older sister who is 60 had it in January. She had a cough that turned into pneumonia in just a few days. She said she’d never been so sick. At the time I thought it was strange that it came on so quickly, but in retrospect we both think it might have been Coronavirus. It doesn’t make sense to believe that before the panic began there weren’t many people who had it and just had mild or no symptoms, or people who had it and thought it was the flu or some other respiratory virus.

Dave Begley said...

WHO declared it a pandemic on March 9th.

MayBee said...

Every couple of years, America loves itself a health panic.

Roughcoat said...

Serious/genuine questions for the fellow Catholics who frequent this blog.

Should I attend mass this Sunday and through the rest of Lent and Easter?

PJ said...

Perhaps the most famous illustration of exponential growth involves a bet on a game of chess (not with Death), described here:
http://www.singularitysymposium.com/exponential-growth.html

TickTock is correct to say that exponential growth need not proceed as rapidly as one doubling per day, but may double at a slower pace; the key is a doubling (or tripling, etc.) at a regular time interval, until an externally-imposed upper limit is encountered.

NC William said...

Catholic here. At my parish this last weekend, they had suspended the Rite of Peace, as well as the chalice. So there's that. Also told folks not to hold hands during the Our Father.

I think the pews will get a bit emptied, and people may get told not to attend (with dispensation) if they are not feeling well.

I will probably continue to go, but it may be a 'game time decision" week to week.

Roughcoat said...

NC William: Thanks.

What about confession?

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

You guys are funny.

NC William said...

Those are still happening at my parish. I have not been yet. I did see a story about a priest up in the DC area that has the virus and gave out communion the last two weeks. Hard to know just the right thing.

If there is no line where you attend, perhaps it will be fine. Trying to keep faith and avoid crowds is a matter of subjective risk tolerance, I suppose. I'm in my 50's and am healthy and fit, so feel pretty safe. But, you never know, right?

JaimeRoberto said...

There's a lot to admire about Italy. Well run government services isn't one of them.

Roughcoat said...

NC William:

Thanks again. Food for thought.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

JaimeRoberto said...
There's a lot to admire about Italy. Well run government services isn't one of them.


Northern Italy, which is where the main outbreak occurred, is run as well as any European country. It's health care system is excellent. They have made no major missteps. As already noted, their ability to implement test for the virus was leap years ahead of our own pathetic efforts.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

“Doubling every day” is NOT exponential growth. But like the word “literally” you can use “exponential” however you want, just don’t expect to be taken seriously by anyone who knows math beyond algebra.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

NC William: Catholic here. At my parish this last weekend, they had suspended the Rite of Peace...Also told folks not to hold hands during the Our Father.

Those holy-roller affectations have no place in a Catholic Church, anyway.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

ARM calls the USA response pathetic, even though our immediate efforts in DEC are why the viral reach is so low, and everyone who needed a test kit got one; and praises Italy for achieving an astoundingly high number of cases because they wouldn't close their borders in JAN. Literally a wonderful response by Italy, ARM.

bagoh20 said...

"Study of 72,000 COVID-19 patients finds 2.3% death rate"

And that's out of "patients", meaning people showing symptoms severe enough to call them sick.

So out of people exposed it must be a very small percentage - maybe less than 1% - maybe far less.

I would not cancel attending anything personally in the United States, but if you are responsible for others and the shit will land at your door if you are very unlucky, then Cover Your Ass is the only way to go. That's how you end up with bloated controlling incompetent policy, but that's your problem. I'm not risking my ass, no matter how remote. Basically, fear is a bad leader.

Freeman Hunt said...

"There's something I'm letting go that I've looked forward to for almost a year. It was a chance-of-a-lifetime experience on the highest level, and I have significant sunk costs. But I'm being rational and not agonizing about it or bullshitting some special rules for me that could make it okay to go ahead and do my special thing."

Sorry that you have to miss your event. Sounds like a major disappointment.

tim in vermont said...

We keep hearing from trolls that Italy did such a better job than the US at testing for the virus, which lead me to wonder where they got tens or hundreds of thousands of test kits for a virus that was only just described a few weeks ago. So I was googling around for how they did this miracle, but you know what? It looks like a shit show in Italy.

tim in vermont said...

ll of Italy will be placed under lockdown as the country battles against the spread of the deadly coronavirus, officials said Monday.

Italy’s prime minister said he would extend to the entire nation the restrictions that had already been in effect for 16 million people in the northern “red zone” of the outbreak.

“We all have to renounce something for the good of Italy,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a late night news conference announcing the quarantine, set to start on Tuesday.

“We have to do it immediately.”

The announcement came as Italy reported a big jump in the number of people who have tested positive for the virus — up to 9,172 cases and 463 deaths, the most of any country outside of China.

-snip-

“Unfortunately we’re only at the beginning,” said Dr. Massimo Galli, head of infectious disease at Milan’s Sacco hospital.
- New York Post


Rocketeer said...

I'm surprised at your comment. I'm a guest here for a few months. Maybe it's a function of my getting to know this wealthy northern city and a couple of doctors here very well, but I've been impressed with what I've seen.

I've been a "consumer" of healthcare in France, Austria and Italy. My experience in Italy was third world - horrendous.

PS - I'm no fan of government-run healthcare either, but advocates would do better if they pointed less at Canada and Britain and more at La SecĂș...

Freeman Hunt said...

Hopefully it abates by summer. How many summer camps will go out of business if forced to cancel a year's worth of business?

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

Those holy-roller affectations have no place in a Catholic Church, anyway.

3/10/20, 3:42 PM

Agreed. One reason I go to an old school Tridentine mass when I can is to escape the hugging and hand holding and glad handing.

tim in vermont said...

If the first digit of your your age is >= 6, distancing is not panic, it makes perfect sense.

Governments will not be able to minimise both deaths from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the economic impact of viral spread. Keeping mortality as low as possible will be the highest priority for individuals; hence governments must put in place measures to ameliorate the inevitable economic downturn.. - The Lancet

A lot is known about how diseases grow from tiny beginnings. Look at the ash borer beetle, which started out as a small number embedded in some shipping crates from China. Billions of trees now dead or dying. You can see them driving anywhere in the northeast or midwest along the highway. Just because the number of cases is very small, it doesn’t mean that it is unlikely to grow. If we had patient zero contained, that would be one thing. We need more time before we know whether we can relax or if we have a WWII level national emergency on our hands.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30567-5/fulltext

Hopefully by the Fourth of July, this will all be remembered like Y2K, which was a heavy lift for IT, BTW, to make it into the nothing it turned out to be at the end.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Blogger Clark said...

@Mike, Why are you assuming that the exponent has to be an integer?


You never answered this question. Why not? You appear to believe that you are an expert on a wide variety of topics so this basic math question should be trivial to answer.


Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...
everyone who needed a test kit got one


Curious to see a citation for this claim, given that there are multiple reports of the exact opposite.

bbear said...

That the average age of people who have died of Covid-19 in Italy is 81 begs the question of what is the normal age of death there. According to the latest WHO data published in 2018 life expectancy in Italy is: Male 80.5, female 84.9 and total life expectancy is 82.8 which gives Italy a World Life Expectancy ranking of 8.

tim in vermont said...

The first digit of my age is a six. I just drove about twelve hundred miles, and avoided contact with people as best I could. I packed sandwiches, bottled water, and had wipes to wash my hands in the the drivers side door, which I used after pumping gas or whatever.

All of that is way over the top, I know. But it cost less than not doing it when you add it up. Which if course hurts the economy.

"You never answered this question.”

Ha ha ha ha! You answer questions with insults and maybe a deflection or point to a squirrel of some kind, and that’s if you are feeling generous.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

4000 America a had died from H1N1 swine flu BEFORE Obama declared it a national emergency in October 2009. That was SIX MONTHS after the first reported American deaths from it. How was the testing going then ARM?

PJ said...

@Mike (MJBWolf): I went beyond algebra, but it was a long, long time ago. I would have thought "doubling every day," though not the definition of exponential growth, is an example of it. The connection to exponents would be (in the case of doubling), Two-to-the-zero-power at time unit zero (=1); Two-to-the-first-power at time unit one (=2); Two-to-the-second-power at time unit two (=4); and so on. The length of time per unit is arbitrary, but it could be a day. The exponent increases at a fixed rate per unit time, hence exponential growth.

If that's wrong, please explain. Serious question, asked at the risk of being proved an idiot.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

"The sluggish rollout of the tests has become a debilitating weakness in America’s response to the spread of the coronavirus. By this point in its outbreak, South Korea had tested more than 100,000 people for the disease, and it was testing roughly 15,000 people every day. The United Kingdom, where three people have died of COVID-19, has already tested more than 24,900 people."

And this is a trivial test to implement. Instead of golfing and tweeting, Trump should have been figuring out what went wrong.

tim in vermont said...

"How was the testing going then ARM?”

This should be good.

Lucien said...

Does anyone suppose that the number of deaths resulting from decreased economic and social activity, decreases in paper wealth, panic, and anxiety will be zero?

How will that compare to excess deaths from CoVid 19?

Will canceling once in a lifetime trips, family gatherings, travel, &c, &c be better than doing nothing?

That’s a high standard, isn’t it?

Michael said...

ARM. Italy.

Oh, my. Italy has 122 cases per million of population. We have 1.7 per million. They have 366 dead, we have 22. They have 7000 active cases we have 529.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Mike is now doing his level best to wrest the title of dumbest commenter from Birkel. Certainly has more range than Birkel, who having some sense of his limitations, generally restricts himself to value judgements, rather than venturing into the world of objective reality.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Clarke was being facetious ARM. It was a joke that requires understanding of math. In the same vein as the “whole number” and “negative exponent” comments were. That you are too thick to understand that humor reinforces my preexisting impression of your dullardness. If you must have an answer though, in epidemiology the exponent represents days and we humans DO count days as whole numbers, integers in fact, like 1, 2, 3 ... when a man works in a variety of cutting edge industries around the world as I have, and has a brilliant scientific wife like I do then one garners a certain amount of knowledge and wisdom. I try to share here. What’s your excuse?

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Michael said...
Italy has 122 cases per million of population. We have 1.7 per million. They have 366 dead, we have 22. They have 7000 active cases we have 529.


Your 'argument' only works if we are at the same stages of the epidemic. Could you explain your reasoning for thinking that this is the case?

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

So no actual answer to the question, which only requires basic math skills? You made an assumption that is not necessary, why not just acknowledge that?

Rabel said...

"WHO declared it a pandemic on March 9th."

This is incorrect.

But in defense of Althouse - If you lived down the street from a major university with thousands of international students and faculty and visitors, and cases of the disease had already been confirmed in your town, and you were over 65, then you might be a little bit paranoid yourself.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Clarke was being facetious ARM. It was a joke that requires understanding of math. In the same vein as the “whole number” and “negative exponent” comments were. That you are too thick to understand that humor reinforces my preexisting impression of your dullardness. If you must have an answer though, in epidemiology the exponent represents days and we humans DO count days as whole numbers, integers in fact, like 1, 2, 3 ... when a man works in a variety of cutting edge industries around the world as I have, and has a brilliant scientific wife like I do then one garners a certain amount of knowledge and wisdom. I try to share here. What’s your excuse?

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

So no actual answer to the question, which only requires basic math skills? You made an assumption that is not necessary, why not just acknowledge that?

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

By the way, whataboutism isn't an argument. Most people here learnt that long ago.

Balfegor said...

Re: Inga:

I’ve heard and read that there are two strains of Covid19, the S strain and the L strain. One of them is supposedly worse than the other, I wonder if Korea doesn’t have mostly the milder station and Italy mostly the deadlier strain? Italy doesn’t have a medical system unlike ours, I really wonder what is driving the higher fatality rate? They are doing the testing, as I understand it.

I suspect (1) Koreans have been a lot more aggressive on the combination of surgical masks + hand washing to limit secondary spread, especially by people who don't know they are infected. Meanwhile, Western governments have been advising against masks. And (2) while Italy has been testing more aggressively than the US, Korea has been testing more aggressively than any other country on Earth, so their denominator includes many more cases with mild or no symptoms.

Phidippus said...

"Cancel everything."

I like that idea.

Michael said...

ARM
By “same stages of the epidemic” I presume you mean the point when US deaths equal those of Italy or where the infections per million are the same.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...
The smallest exponential equation is the power of 2


Did you do an online algebra course?

Let me introduce you to the Khan Academy.



Balfegor said...

Re: ARM:

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...
everyone who needed a test kit got one

Curious to see a citation for this claim, given that there are multiple reports of the exact opposite.


Yes -- CDC first screwed up and pushed out a flawed test, then tried to restrict testing only to people who had known contacts/travel history, and blocked other health authorities/labs/whatever from developing their own tests or using tests from overseas. I understand the government has since relented on that last one, so we're finally gearing up for testing, but there is a backlog of thousands -- probably tens of thousands -- of people who need testing and still haven't been tested. I read a couple days ago that California alone had over 8,000 people who needed to be tested and were waiting in the queue.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Well I’m still right and you’re still wrong ARM. Sorry you can’t do math. When I earned my MBA calculus was a requirement, as was statistics (300 level not those classes for English majors), and the skills have come in handy. I certainly wouldn’t fall for doubling and exponential having the same meaning and I never panic, not when evacuating from a fire, not when stopping a bank robbery, and not when every chicken Little like you says the sky is falling. Panic is for losers. Why are you being a sissy over something less lethal than the flu?

Michael said...

First case of the virus in Italy was in January. First case of virus in US also in January.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...
I’m still right and you’re still wrong


Well, that's a compelling argument. Hard to beat logic like that. Although this is close:

Why are you being a sissy over something less lethal than the flu?

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Are we switching to higher math from epidemiology ARM, because I’ve already explained at your request why only whole rational numbers are used in epidemiology. Do you have some weird way of measuring partial days or do you want help in figuring out how to use 1.25 as the exponent? You realize you’re way in over your marble head, right?

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

So my answer at 4:54 didn’t quell your curiosity about big boy math? What a reasonable man!

Phidippus said...

I am continuing to ignore this nonsense, like I ignore all of the nonsense that people get upset about. First one thing, after a while they get tired of that, then another. What boring lives they must have.

It's not the first virus epidemic we've faced, and it won't be the last. Death is inevitable, but every day is a gift. I refuse to waste this one worrying. Ordinary everyday hygiene that you should be doing anyway is all you need. No Vulcan salutes, no obsessive use of hand sanitizer. Just everyday life.

Enjoy your day. I sure did mine (so far at least).

Balfegor said...

Re: Michael:

First case of the virus in Italy was in January. First case of virus in US also in January.

I think the US today may have a natural advantage in retarding the spread of epidemics just because people mostly live isolated in detached housing and commute to work in personal automobiles. Compared to other countries with lots of apartment buildings and public transit, the number of people the average American is in close proximity with over the course of a single day is probably pretty low, unless they're going to a conference or a sporting event or concert or something.

But there are places where that isn't true, and I think that's where our big risk of infection is going to come from. E.g. if it gets into the homeless population in San Francisco and they spray bodily fluids all over BART (as ones does), then potentially huge numbers of people could get infected very quickly. That and, well, all the big sporting events and concerts and whatnot that haven't been cancelled.

Matt Sablan said...

"Following medical advice, I had sent her to school throughout the week and potentially exposed other children. I was furious. I should not have had to make that decision on my own,"

-- What medical advice do you get that says to send a kid to school with a fever? That along with stomach issues are the two things you unambiguously *DO NOT* go to school with--coronavirus or no.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Michael said...
First case of the virus in Italy was in January. First case of virus in US also in January.


On this page is a snap shot of cases on February 29. Not clear to me how you can claim that we were at the same stage as Italy. We had 70 cases they had 1,100. As any statistician will tell you, you can't build an argument around an N of 1. You can however use exponents of 1, or zero, or -3.12, or any fucking number you like, not restricted to 2.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...
big boy math


You stopped learning math while still a boy? That explains a lot.

tim in vermont said...

It’s funny that ARM says that whataboutism is not valid argument after saying whatabout Taiwan.

We still don’t know the facts, and there appear to be two strains, a deadly one, and a not so deadly one, so it’s a little early to be making sweeping statements about any of it.

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