November 26, 2020

A COVID-19 update: Why schools are being closed, and large events cancelled


A lot has changed in the five weeks since I first wrote about the Corona Virus. With all the uncertainty swirling, and things rapidly changing I thought I would offer an update. One that at least offers a ray of hope.

Most of this post will be about explaining the graph above, which I think is the most important one that I have seen in the past six weeks. You can click on it to view it full size. It was created by Thomas Puyeo. I would really recommend reading his full article and explanation.

When I first wrote about the virus, I quoted a Lancet article that had been written on January 21st, 2020.

To possibly succeed, substantial, even draconian measures that limit population mobility should be seriously and immediately considered in affected areas, as should strategies to drastically reduce within-population contact rates through cancellation of mass gatherings, school closures, and instituting work-from-home arrangements, for example.

We of course have heard about the suspension/cancellation of the NBA and NHL seasons, as well as the delay of the start of Baseball. In my home province of Ontario, all schools are now closed for the next three weeks. This, despite the fact that the whole country has only had 80 cases to date. I will likely be starting to work from home in the next few days.

What I want to try to demonstrate from the above graph why these “draconian” measures are so important, and so effective.

Let me start off by saying that I have long discounted the number of case counts, they seem to be significantly undercounting the number of cases in the community. I could give a number of examples of why I believe this to be true, but what we have currently is huge discrepancies in the ratio of cases to deaths, netting out somewhere around 3.4%. That is why in my last post, my graph displayed the number of deaths, as the number is very concrete.

What we find in the graph at the top of this post, is that the reported number of cases significantly lagged the actual number of cases. The yellow bars are the reported cases in Hubei, China from December 26th to February 11th. But when they asked people “when did you first start exhibiting symptoms?” they got much earlier dates dating back to December 8th as shown by the gray bars. Did you get that? The gray bars represent when the cases actually started, NOT when they were reported.

On January 23rd, the Chinese government shut down Hubei, one day later they shut down 15 other cities. On the day they shut down Hubei they only had 400 reported case of the Corona virus on that day. In hindsight we can see from the gray bars that they actually had 2500 cases on that day, with the number of unreported cases probably adding a significant number.

Although the yellow bars (the reported cases) continue to climb and climb for 11 days hitting a peak of 3500 on February 4th, look at what happens to the gray bars. Once Hubei and the surrounding cities are shut down, the actual cases stop growing, and instead start to decline, quite rapidly in fact. By February 11th, they are down to about 100 cases per day, and today that daily case number is starting to approach zero.

Quarantine works. And it starts to work immediately. That is why Ontario announced their closure of schools today. Even though we only have a total of 60 cases, 18 of them occurred today, and it was time to act before it got completely out of control as seen in many countries. Note: The last case announced today was Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister.

We are seeing more cancellations on a daily basis. My fear is that countries in general are not acting fast enough and it is going to still get worse before it gets better. But at least there is hope. We know what works, and we have the means to stop it, or at least slow it down, before it kills millions of people.

A few final quick notes:

  1. I agree with the American decision to ban flights from Europe. It is getting out of control in most of Europe, Sweden just announced that they are no longer testing unless you are actually sick in hospital. It has moved from a containment phase to a mitigation phase. In North America we are still in the containment phase. Please pray that our leaders act with wisdom.
  2. My son and his fiancee are in self isolation in Seattle. The don’t know if they have contracted the virus, but had symptoms three weeks ago. Please pray that they will remain safe.
  3. I fear for my Dad, he is 80, and is a three time Cancer survivor. He is in a very high risk group. Please pray for him.
  4. The first case in my home town of Hamilton was an Oncologist who is a colleague of a good friend. Please pray for my friend Kevin and his family as well.
  5. The Canadian Deputy Prime Minister stated today that she expected that 30 to 70 percent of Canadians will eventually contract the virus. Please pray that it does not come to that.
  6. Vaccines are still a year or two away. Please pray that they may find an effective and safe one quickly.
  7. My new go-to site for up to date information is: WorldOMeters – CoronaVirus

My final thoughts:

(initial career direction was to become a stockbroker. I eventually decided that programming and data were more up my alley, but I still like to dabble.  I had made a rather insensitive comment on another post that I had sold my stocks at the top of the market crash. My apologies for being insensitive. Soon after writing my first post on the topic on February 7th I started watching the market closely. By the 14th I had decided I was going to sell, but didn’t actually do so until the market started to drop on the 24th. (I acted against the very strong advice of my financial adviser). I have no real idea where the bottom of this market is going to be, although the Toronto Stock Exchange Index (TSX) looks like it has some support another 1000 points down from the close of 12500 today. Click on the graph to see it full size.  I added the lines to the graphs on Wednesday of this past week.  Please do NOT take this as investment advice. It is intended as another ray of hope that the bottom might be in sight.

As usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Comments

  1. Hey Mike:

    Did you see that researchers from Sunnybrook, McMaster and UofT working collaboratively have isolated the virus?
    It will be made available to scientists across the world.

    https://globalnews.ca/news/6670445/canada-research-coronavirus-isolated/

    • senecagriggs says
      • Of course, most people will recover. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that this virus is at least 10 times more lethal than the flu for elderly and already ill victims, and as yet has no cure.

        • People don’t seem to get this. I’m afraid for many people it won’t hit home until numerous older folks and/or folks with chronic illness they know at church and in their own social circles die from it. And people don’t seem to understand how widespread coronavirus critical illness requiring hospitalization/intensive care — between 10 and 15% of those infected — will swamp our health care system, and threaten the health of many beyond the circle of infection, as in Italy. In fact, many of those who have recovered so far only recovered because of having received intensive care in hospital. What if they couldn’t get that care? That’s the terrain we are almost surely going to enter soon, as Italy entered it a few days ago.

        • Most people recovered from Spanish Influenza too.

        • Many in the “most people recover” crowd are just trying to alleviate their owns fears, so I don’t mind those people saying it, and I don’t mind people trying to find hope in it. It’s the “most people recover” folks who are saying it to question the need to shut everything down that bother me, for they seem to be unsympathetic to the fact that many of us will suffer loss of friends or loved ones. Hopefully, all the “most people recover” crowd will be to ready to put that mantra in their pocket when the situation arises.

  2. Mike Bell says

    I hadn’t, no. My oldest daughter’s University.

  3. Mike Bell, Thank you for your informative and sober article about the subject. The site you cited is very professional and seems to be on top of the information available. Now we can only wait and see how this plays out. I got more good information from your post than on the cable news outlets. I am with you on the stocks, got out nearly on top. I think part of it is normal profit taking by the big boys who took advantage of the rational reason to take a profit. I will get back in slowly and in stages. No need to feel apologetic about your stock advice, that was not the man thrust of your article and certainly not your main concern. It was a valid statement as the economics of this will be hard to deal with for all. If you have long term money, buy but make sure it is long term. American and Canadian companies will benefit long term as the China dependency debacle has been exposed but it will be initially costly. Thanks for sharing your knowledge in both areas.

  4. Mike, is it possible to do containment, rather than going to mitigation, in a country as large and populous as the US without having an idea, from massive investigatory/exploratory testing — aside from testing those presenting symptoms and their contacts — of where the multiple clusters (because it is obvious that there will be many centers of outbreak around the country) are? After all, China did not shut down the whole country. In the absence of massive testing, how do we get ahead of the development of the contagion, since what we are seeing now in diagnosed cases is what started happening weeks ago, not what’s happening now — how do we avoid shutting the whole country down, if we don’t know where to focus?

    And let’s say we get on top of this contagion, and reduce the new cases to a handful, as China seems to have done. In the absence of a vaccine, once social movement resumes, what’s to stop the cycle from starting all over again, particularly since it’s recently been learned that the virus can continue to live in the bodies of recovered patients for up to five weeks?

  5. Ohio health officials say that at least 100,000 people in the state –1% of its population — have coronavirus, based on observed community spread patterns, but how many more than that may have it cannot be known without adequate testing. And how many tests were done in the last week nationwide? I think I read yesterday that is was just a few hundred.

    • The testing situation in this country is a travesty.

      • Adequate testing would have raised the ‘numbers’ and upset the powers-that-be. The only way they had to ‘control’ this mess was to stop the mass testing, and they did that for PR purposes.

        • The most unpresidential and worst leadership response I’ve seen in my life in this nation, yes. Ego-driven and partisan response in times of crises is horrible.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Just last Wednesday (when the panic-buying really hit) I got lectured about how “IT’S ALL THE MEDIA! THE MEDIA IS TRYING TO PANIC US SO WE NEVER HEAR ABOUT TRUMP’S SUCCESS IN EVERYTHING!” The day before it was glee over that altercation between Biden and that hardhat in Detroit
            “BIDEN JUST WANTS TO TAKE AWAY OUR GUNS!” and ho nobody can defeat TRUMP.

            My writing partner described this as “Trump is his Security Blanket”.

            • I’m afraid that blanket is infested with a deadly virus.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                I try to tell him that.
                HE WON’T LISTEN!
                To him, it’s ALL FAKE NEWS!

                I have to let workmen into my garage Monday for needed repairs. Since we have no coronavirus tests here unless you just came from abroad, nobody knows if they have it or not until it surfaces, we’re both in the high-risk group, what do I do to keep from any cross-contagion? What do I do?

                I’m going to try to sanitize and disinfect the garage before & after, and have minimal contact with the work crews — open the doors, show them the work area, and retreat into the main part of the house for the duration and come out to hand them the check. Latex gloves and alcohol disinfectant spray all the way. Does that sound like enough?

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                The guy in question was acting a lot more reasonable last night. Still zero trust for mainstream media (All Fake News), but apparently he’s been online-chatting with medical types on his chatrooms and going to actual medical sites.

            • The narrative is changing to “It’s the Democrats fault.” How precisely to foist the blame is tricky. One tack is to claim that Obama dismantled the response system beyond Trump’s ability to repair it. This is, of course, only aimed at the lowest of low-information voters, i.e. the Base. The other tack is to shout that the Democrats are hoping for a pandemic so as to damage Trump. Even apart from the factual issues here, even if we stipulate to the facts this is an attempt to change the subject: always a sign of rhetorical desperation.

          • Norma Cenva says

            Horrible?
            How about also criminal?

        • The testing fiasco is not politician level error. It is low level bureaucrat error, driven by a combination of 1) cover my ass thinking, 2) all that is not specifically permitted is of course forbidden thinking, and 3) regulations that are actually a good idea for normal situations where there is no pandemic disease.

          Read https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/10/us/coronavirus-testing-delays.html to see how many separate regulators choose to get in the way of the testing that first proved there was community spreading in the U.S.

          Normally when there is not a pandemic, the HC regulatory environment’s basic principle of test exhaustively and extensively for safety and efficiency before allowing any actual use is a good idea. But when days count, there is not time for years of testing.

          • Leadership at the top political level would’ve involved taking executive action to get around the hurdles to testing in the bureaucracy, even if that action was challenged, not in saying, “Well, we only have one case of coronavirus in the country and soon we’ll have none!” Right now such leadership would involve officially declaring a national emergency, and having oneself publicly tested for the virus after multiple close exposures, thereby serving as a personal model to the entire nation, and publicly making clear the seriousness of the threat. But we have no such leadership at the top, we have to rely on the governors, mayors, and town councils to do lead locally us in a national crisis.

          • Clay Crouch says

            Not a politician level error? Really?

            The buck stops where? With this president, my guess is Mike Pence. Trump will lay the blame on Pence’s mismanagement.

            Please, God, let this be true:
            https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/peter-wehner-trump-presidency-over/607969/

  6. I agree that we haven’t seen the bottom of this bear market yet. There are too many inherent weaknesses in the global and national economies to support a rally at this time, even setting the coronavirus aside. A bad recession is coming…

    • Michael Z says

      There’s a saying in investment: “Whatever cannot go on forever must end.” Right now we’re in a bear market but not necessarily a recession – but sooner or later, another recession will come. And the way the business cycle works is that companies build up risky investments and unprofitable overhead in the years when business is booming. The longer the boom lasts, the more risk piles up and the farther they fall when things start to collapse. Given that it’s been so long since the last recession, there’s good reason to think that when the next one starts, it will be especially bad.

      • The bear market is just a leading indicator. The plummet in trade, the curtailing of retail activity, the high debt loads in consumers and businesses alike… THAT is what leads me to say a recession is coming, if not already here.

      • Whatever cannot go on forever must end, including profit-taking. The 2017 corporate tax cut was ostensibly for repatriating cash to stimulate investment in long term growth. Instead, many companies opted to plug billions into share buybacks and executive pay packages instead of re-investment. Wall Street likes it because it inflates the price of shares. It worked in the historic profit-taking stretch which saw little volatility with optimistic investors, banks and consumers loading up on risk. It all looked so rosy. Boeing is a case study on how this can all go south in a hurry. A triple whammy of the 737 fiasco, trade war, and now the ripple effects of Seattle as virus epicenter. Who could have expected the company to husband its cash for a rainy day no one ever expected to come? Now its looking to borrow $10 billion, and probably a bailout. Its just one example – I live in Houston and it’s the same sad story all over Oil Town. We finance our First World lifestyle largely through debt. If one thing, Coronavirus is exposing how vulnerable our borrowed decadence is…

    • A quote from an associated press story…

      “During the financial crisis a decade ago, President Barack Obama could look around the room and turn to an economist who served as Harvard’s president, a former president of the New York Federal Reserve and a renowned academic considered one of the world’s authorities on the Great Depression. As President Donald Trump confronts the public health and economic maelstrom caused by the coronavirus, his economic team has a much different background. His top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, is a former financial analyst who was a commentator on CNBC. His treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, is a Goldman Sachs veteran and former Hollywood producer whose credits include the 2016 film ‘Rules Don’t Apply.'”

      • A good president surrounds himself with good people. Smart people. DIVERSE people.

        One of the main issues with Carter’s presidency was an AWFUL staff and cabinet.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        But they’re all Absolutely LOYAL Yes-Men, and that’s what’s Truly Important.

        • For loyal Yes-men, there sure has been a revolving door of them! It’s tough to please a narcissistic ego-maniac.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Trump Tower corporate culture, applied without adaptation to a very different scale and culture.
            (That’s my explanation for it — square peg, round hole, sledgehammer, YOU’LL FIT! YOU’LL FIT! YOU’LL FIT!)

            And in that autocratic corporate culture, LOYALTY is defined as being expected to gladly throw yourself under the bus to protect the Great One.

  7. Klasie Kraalogies says

    An excellent post again, Mike. Both on the virus as well as the markets. People really need to heed this – be careful, practice social distancing, etc. But: Panic is not the answer. Fear well also kill. As well as other negative emotions (hate, greed..). Don’t empty the shelves of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Other need them more. Don’t empty the shelves of face masks. The medical system need them more. Be responsible, but heed the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s advice and Don’t Panic.

    The same goes for the markets. Mike is likely correct in that they could be about to scrape the bottom. As a consultanting geologist I am quote aware of commodity prices. These things, like share prices, only have a loose connection with reality, in that they are more reflective of people’s emotions than of fundamental reality. However, unchecked emotions can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, at least for a while. Just as a record stock market doesn’t mean the economy is sound, a big fall doesn’t mean it is fundamentally broken. Keep that on mind. And for Pete’s sake, stop stoking fear. Realism and pragmatism beat fear every single time. Take precautions. And if the worst comes to the worst, and you die, make people remember you with fondness. Leave the world a better place.

    (thus endeth the atheist sermon for the day… 🙂 )

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Don’t empty the shelves of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Other need them more. Don’t empty the shelves of face masks.

      Too late, KK.
      Face Masks have been GONE for close to a month.
      Hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol, and latex gloves disappeared about a week ago.
      You can sill find an occasional can of disinfecting wipes.

      When I did a topping off run this morning (before the runs could start), here’s what I observed at Smart & Final (local restaurant supply chain): Toilet Paper, Paper Towels totally GONE. Occasional bottled water, bags of rice, pasta. Bleach at about 10-20% of normal, canned goods, paper napkins, meats at about 30-40%, bread at 50-60%, produce at 70-80%.

      Sightings of improvised face masks on drive-time radio include bras cut in half (for single bra cups), bandanas, sweater turtlenecks worn over the face, even bowls held on with a rubber band stretched around the head.

      Have not heard of any runs on guns and ammunition. (And that sort of thing would definitely make the news.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Did a reconnaisance run around 7 this morning (opening time for the stores). Lookout for any perishables and refrigerated stuff.

        Smart & Final: Parking lot jammed, cars & trucks circling the lot trying to vulch any space that might come empty, line to get in extending well down the lot. Did not go in.

        Stater Bros (local supermarket chain): Parking lot mostly full. Went in and walked into a petri dish. Half the shelves stripped bare — meat at 10% (and Stater Bros has a good meat department), juices at 10-20%, canned goods at 30-40%, juices around 30%, bottled water less than 10%, many totally empty shelves. Did not get to the frozen section or produce. Some masks in evidence in the crowd, including improvised hand protection. Tried to top off, but took one look at the sardine-can lines at checkout, put everything back on the shelves, and bailed out hoping I didn’t inhale any virus while in there. Used lysol wipes and alcohol sprayer to decontaminate everything before I touched it, both shopping cart and car controls.

        Tip: lysol wipes and alcohol spray/wipedown doesn’t work too well on steering wheel and shift knob when they’ve got several years of buildup. Turns into sticky black gunk that rubs off on EVERYTHING including your hands. Had to wash twice plus once with alcohol spraydown to get it off.

        Tip: When you wash something down, spraying it down with alcohol dries it faster. Alcohol mixes with the residual water then evaporates fast taking the water with it. Learned this from my old college roomie; it’s a trick used in laboratories for cleaning glassware — first wash in water, then wash in alcohol and let evaporate.

        Topping-off runs no longer practical. Will try local VONS (local branch of Safeway) around midnight tonight and see if there’s another petri dish or just me and the nightstockers.

        • I can’t find any alcohol or alcohol wipes; I have half a bottle, and a couple boxes of wipes my wife needs for her glucose meter. I’ll have to go to some sort of vinegar mixture eventually — if there is any vinegar left to buy, I don’t know because I haven’t checked. Check out this post at Mockingbird for a suggestion about where you might find still well-stocked store shelves, at least until everybody else figures it out too.

        • Clay Crouch says

          We are ordering online, where possible. There are a couple of services that will pick up and deliver your groceries to your home. I think Walmart will pull your order and deliver it to your car at curbside.

  8. Klasie K. all good , solid points. Well said.

  9. Michael Z says

    I’d be interested to hear from other commenters what your churches have decided about cancelling services or not. I’m in Massachusetts, so there’s a good chance we have undetected community transmission going on, and we have a lot of elderly folks in my church. We’re still on the fence about whether to have our service this week or not.

    • My church in central PA is in the process of deciding what to do. We also have lots of older folks in the congregation. I’m in favor of cancelling all services and church-related activities for the next couple-three weeks, at least, until we see how things pan out. I’m going to call the pastor this morning to tell him I think that’s what we should do.

      • Here in NC, the bishops of both conferences of the United Methodist Church have asked their churches to cancel all services and public gatherings for the next two weeks. My mom and I both attend the same Methodist church, small congregation, 100 average attendance. Since my mom is 90, I had already suggested she stay away for a couple of Sundays to minimize her risk. I was glad to see the bishops make the decision they did; I think its very prudent.

        • I just got a message from the parish council president that the church will be closed for at least the next two weeks, in response to advice from the Lower Susquehanna Synod that this was the wisest course. Thank you dear Jesus! Earlier today, I called our lead (and only) pastor to express my opinion to the effect that it should be closed, and he was sympathetic to the idea. Then I called the council president for the same reason, who was also sympathetic and said there would be meeting right after church this coming Sunday to recommend to the congregation that we close for a couple weeks. And then I called the Synod. At the time the Synod representative was sympathetic to the idea, but he did not say that the Synod had made the decision to recommend closings. Many things changed in the interim between this morning and tonight, including the POTUS declaring a National Emergency and the Governor of PA shutting down all public schools for two weeks — is it vain of me to want to believe that my anguished phone call had something however small to do with the decision to recommend closings? However that may be, thank you Lord Jesus.

          • I recognize that this is no guarantee that either I or my wife will survive this crisis. But I cannot help but receive it as God reaching out of the darkness, and saying, “I’m here, in the darkness. I have not nor will I ever abandon you. I will never leave you in the darkness alone, however you may feel I have. However dark it may yet become, know that I am here, and this darkness cannot overcome me.”

    • Michael Bell says

      I have personally decided not to attend church in person until this is over.

      Videotape your sermon and make it available online.

      • I think that is a wise decision. My wife happens to be church musician, part of staff, and I’m her unofficial but necessary helper – it would be hard for her to not be there without loss of job and income, which for us would constitute an existential threat to our household economic viability on top of the health crisis we are facing with the whole country. My wife and I, along with much of the congregation, are at high risk because of age and chronic illness factors. I wish the pastor and church council would choose to discontinue services and all church activities for at least a few weeks.

        As for myself, I work full time in a warehouse setting (actually a medical and dental supply distribution center — we have been busier than ever before in the last weeks), where I come in close physical proximity with many people every day, and touch many common work surfaces. My employer has so far made no provision for additional paid time off in relation to the coronavirus crisis — in fact, they would like us all to work more hours because of how busy we are. Once again, taking time off of work beyond my accumulated PTO — which I’m trying to save in case of quarantine — could result in termination of my employment, loss of employer provided health insurance, and even loss of our home.

        • Yet another example of how our everyone-for-themselves economy and health Care system have left us extremely vulnerable to a pandemic like this.

          • Many people are in a similar situation, especially in the service industry. They have little or no paid time off, they cannot afford to stay home without income, they are likely to be terminated if they don’t show up for work.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I have personally decided not to attend church in person until this is over.

        Same here.

        And I was sponsoring my other writing partner (the self-educated son of a steelworker) to a fantasy con out here over Easter weekend. Even if the venue’s county doesn’t officially ban gatherings of that size, bailing out looks like a better and better idea. Both of us have a lot of sunk costs in it.

    • The large Evangelical church I attend occasionally in Portland, Oregon has cancelled services until further notice. I think it’s a good idea, at least for now.

    • Our church ran at about 140 last week. Those numbers fall below the “shut it down” guideline. I think many people will stay home anyway, and as long as you can keep pockets of people a good distance apart, I say let church attendance be at the discretion of the congregants. I would assume most elderly and at-risk people will already avoid crowds. And as long as you know attendance will be below ~200.

      (Note, our church sanctuary is rather big, so social-distancing is pretty easy.)

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The “shut it down” guideline in the San Francisco Bay Area is now 100, down from 250.

    • The local UMC church is bucking the district guidance (or lack thereof) and shuttering services for the time being.

    • My church in Mass (same town as Biogen HQ) has cancelled services for the next three weeks, with decisions to be made later on later dates. Considerations included A) wide age mix, from infants through elderly, B) advice of our doctor members (one of them an infectious disease specialist), and C) one congregation member two contacts away from a pair of the known Biogen cases, because he attended the Cowen investor conference after the Biogen people did. (Fortunately as of yesterday there were no known transmissions to anyone at/via the Cowen investor conference.)

    • My church in Northern Virginia still plans on holding Sunday services this weekend, though some changes are being made to decrease the possibility of disease transmission. For example, offerings will be collected in containers outside the sanctuary rather than by passing the plates. Youth group meetings have been suspended until further notice, which isn’t surprising considering most area public schools are closed today. An upcoming women’s retreat is also being rescheduled.

      I understand a number of churches in neighboring Maryland have cancelled services this weekend in response to the governor’s order banning large gatherings.

    • Central MD: Both my wife’s church (UMC) and mine (ELCA) have cancelled services. I was part of the email chain on the decision. There was one dissenting voice.

    • Our PCUSA decided late this week to cancel everything for the next two weeks.

  10. My sympathy goes out to all the small business owners and restaurants during this time. We are seeing that impact already here in the Seattle area. Talked to two such folks yesterday. Great fear and concern.

    Prayers that God curbs this thing quickly, and that people find the vaccine quickly.

    • Amen

    • A vaccine won’t be widely available until the end of the year as a best case scenario.

      • God-willing, maybe sooner.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        That one antiviral that shows promise (can’t remember its name) has started Phase 3 field testing, including in Wuhan. They expect results sometime around May.

        If it works, then comes tooling up for production and distribution (when most pharmaceuticals are manufactured in China or India, both of which have stopped all exports).

        No further word on the anti-malaria drug & zinc supplement combination, but that’s still in the test-tube stage.

        Why am I reminded of the “Markab Plague” episode of Babylon-5, where they finally got a vaccine and effective treatment AFTER all the Markab had died?

        • It was all the Vorlons’ fault.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The one antiviral that can go straight to Stage 3 field testing is Remdesevir.

          The anti-malaria drug that shows promise (at least in the test-tube stage) in combination with zinc is either Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine. Its advantage is that’s it’s an existing FDA-approved drug and can be prescribed “off-label”. Doctors in the plague pit of Northern Italy are using it off-label out of desperation.

  11. Chaplain Mike, thank you for the new sidebar links relating to how conscientious Christians and other fellow citizens are responding to this crisis. I need to be reminded of this again and again, that we must respond in ways that support life, while never forgetting that in life and death we belong to Jesus. I get very scared at times.

    • I get scared too. It’s easy to give in to despair. I’m to meditate on Christ’s teachings in Matthew 6 and count on Him to take care of you and all who put their trust in Him.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      You need that to offset the Crazy (including the Christian Crazy) that seems to be everywhere.

  12. I work in a healthcare facility and my duties require me to be onsite. Telework isn’t an option. Until I hear otherwise, I’m expected to report as usual for my 2-10 shift. The facility itself is on lockdown with severely restricted visitation.

    • May God protect and support you, Larry. The work you do, whatever it is, is more important now than ever.

    • Thank you for your prayers. Today was a difficult day as a number of visitors complained loudly about the new rules, as if I had anything to do with them. No visitors under 18 are permitted, which could be tough for some parents now that local schools have closed until after Easter.

  13. “Social Distancing”

    It’s cute how we have to have a buzz word for everything. I hear toilet tissue is going for $5 a roll in some places. Trump is going to declare a national emergency. I guess it’s time to start locking up liberals. A Chinese diplomat has suggested the US introduced the virus into China. I guess it’s comforting to know they’re even more paranoid than we are.

    No I don’t think any of it is funny either. I think we’re out of our frikkin’ minds.

    • –> “A Chinese diplomat has suggested the US introduced the virus into China. I guess it’s comforting to know they’re even more paranoid than we are.”

      Wait, don’t they know that THEY gave it to US???!!! And INTENTIONALLY, no less!!!!

      –> “No I don’t think any of it is funny either. I think we’re out of our frikkin’ minds.”

      Well, you have to laugh at the insanity periodically or you WILL go nuts.

      • Xi can either take responsibility for his government’s screwups, or pawn the blame on us. Guess which route he’s taking…

        • Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Maybe our guy and their guy went to the same leadership classes.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      No I don’t think any of it is funny either. I think we’re out of our frikkin’ minds.

      “Insanity is part of these times!
      You must lean to EMBRACE THE MADNESS!”
      — Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari, Babylon-5

  14. senecagriggs says

    Trust me, I’m plus 70. I’m very aware of what’s going.

    I just gassed up all my vehicles and all my gas cans.

    Me ‘n the misses will be stocking up on canned food today.

    BUT, I continue to trust in the Providence of God who accomplishes his will through even natural tragedies.

    Does this guarantee I survive? Heck no. It may be in the Providence of God that one of his healthier 70 year olds dies.

    I’ll live stream my funeral – just for the I-monkers. It should be hilarious!

    • senecagriggs says

      “Seneca, how can you laugh at this?”

      Crying won’t help. You might as well enjoy life while you can. Laughter helps.

      • Laughter helps me too. I follow someone called Lloyd Legalist on Twitter and get some serious belly laughs about the situation. I try to be sensitive to those who can’t find any humor in this, though.

        • –> “I try to be sensitive to those who can’t find any humor in this, though.”

          Always. That’s why FB and social media posts are so potentially harmful. Funny memes while others are suffering can come across as callous (at best), or hurtful/harmful (at worst).

          Lord have mercy and help us to be graceful and gracious through this time!

      • –> “Crying won’t help. You might as well enjoy life while you can. Laughter helps.”

        I tend to agree. But I must have some Brit blood in me, for I see the value in gallows humor. (I say that because I’ve read accounts of the Brits in the trenches during WWI that suggest they developed a kind of gallows-humor to deal with the likelihood that their next day–or even hour–might be their last. See the show Black Adder, particularly the fourth year “Blackadder Goes Fourth,” for an example.)

        • Baldrick: I have… a plan, sir.
          Blackadder: Really, Baldrick? A cunning and subtle one?
          Baldrick: Yes, sir.
          Blackadder: As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?
          Baldrick: Yes, sir.
          Blackadder: Well, I’m afraid it’ll have to wait. Whatever it was, I’m sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here? [a whistle is heard] Good luck, everyone.

    • >I just gassed up all my vehicles and all my gas cans

      Dude, there will be no shortage of gasoline — the Saudis are flooding the global market with crude….

      >Me ‘n the misses will be stocking up on canned food today.

      ….but there may be slim pickings on your grocery store’s shelves.

    • Clay Crouch says

      That’s the spirit! Do what you can a rest in God’s love. For me, that’s way easier said than done, but we trying. Thankfully, all of our children and grandchildren live close by.

  15. Anyone remember the mind-game of “Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon” for actors? Or for mathematicians, the Erdos Number of a mathematician. We can play the same game with Coronavirus. Contact chains must start with a confirmed case (zero), then someone that case came in contact with after they were infected (one), then someone that a person of degree one came in contact with after they were infected (two), etc…

    I’ve got a three already. And my personal chain is also a tale of why social distancing should be done before significant risk is known.

    Zero for me is a pair of people who attended the Biogen manager’s conference in Boston from 26 to 28 February. On 2 March they attended an investor/firm conference organized by the Cowen investment bank. A set of Cowen and Investor staff there are collectively my “one”. On 4 March a group from another firm, including someone from my church, also attended that Cowen conference and met the ones. That person from my church is the two. On 5 March the first of the Biogen cases were detected. Oops – too late for my one or my two to have taken reactive precautions. Their Cowen attendance wasn’t communicated yet. On 8 March that fellow congregant and I both attended church. Bingo, I and everyone else at church gets a three. On 9 or 10 March that congregant gets told of the connection through Cowen and with spouse goes into self-isolation.

    The good news, such as it is, for me personally is that as of yesterday there were no known cases of Cowen conference spread. For social distancing to have worked best Biogen should have cancelled or virtualized the conference before they knew they had any cases in their employees. Second best would have been Cowen cancelling or virtualizing the conference before it was known there was any spread in Massachusetts.

    We can also have fun with Corona virus parodies of the old song My Sharona. There are at least a pair up on YouTube. I like the one by ZDoggMD.

    • –> “Anyone remember the mind-game of ‘Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ for actors?”

      I posted several days ago that the degrees of separation for COVID-19 affecting a friend or loved one won’t be many. I’m pretty sure this will touch all of us in some way.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Here’s why shutting down gatherings early is so important (by links from Professor Fea’s blog):
    https://microbialmenagerie.com/social-distancing-1918-influenza-coronavirus-covid-19/

    Especially when coronavirus can stay dormant with asymptomatic carriers for one to two weeks. What we’re seeing in confirmed cases is those who were infected one to two weeks ago. (Or would see if we had extensive testing; confiming only blatant cases skews the numbers downward and the apparent virulence upward.)

  17. senecagriggs says

    Symptoms; High fever, then dry cough.

  18. senecagriggs says

    Pumping gas? Good catch by Mike B. Should had gloves.

    “So Seneca, why did you stock up on gas?”

    Good question; I spent 1/2 my live in earthquake country, the other in Hurricane country.

    It’s reflexive. Make sure the tanks are topped off.

    HOWEVER, for those of you who live in Earthquake country – you’ll never have enough warning to top off your tank before the tremblor hits and knocks all your fine china to the floor.

  19. For loyal Yes-men, there sure has been a revolving door of them! It’s tough to please a narcissistic ego-maniac.

  20. I heard the opening part of Trump’s National Emergency address today on the radio. He did not sound well, not well at all. He was slurring his words, and his voice sounded very weak. He’s had close exposure to coronavirus on two occasions, yet he has not self-isolated, and he continues to shake hands, and those hands the hands of the cadre of health experts and other leaders that are supposed to lead us out of this nightmare. It is all too alarming to consider.