October 29, 2020

Thoughts on COVID-19 data and where we might be headed

Welcome to another stream of consciousness edition.  I have been doing a lot of thinking this week about the COVID-19 data that I have seen to this point, what it means, and what the future might bring.

For those not familiar with who I am, I make a living doing data analysis, and am especially interested in trying to get a sense of where we are heading with this Corona virus pandemic.

For those hoping to get the third installment of “The Consummate Cockburn Collection”, all I know is that my co-writer said, and I paraphrase, “blah, blah, blah, Financials for Annual General Meeting, blah, blah, blah”.  Or in other words, “You ain’t getting it ’till next week.”

The good news is that today is a holiday, so I won’t have to share my overtime pay with Peter!  I don’t think Peter is too concerned.  He has his Ph.D. in Mathematics and so knows that zero multiplied by anything is still zero!  This is a labor of love, so be kind to me in the comments.

Here are some of my observations from the COVID-19 data that I have seen so far.

Deaths has always been a more accurate measure than cases.

There was evidence very early on that COVID-19 could possibly be transmitted asymptomatically, or that a significant number of cases would go undetected.

There is a possibility (the jury is still out on this) that people may be infecting others before they start to show symptoms. If so it will be very difficult to contain. Lancet warns that “Independent self-sustaining outbreaks in major cities globally could become inevitable because of substantial exportation of presymptomatic cases and in the absence of large-scale public health interventions.” – InternetMonk – February 7th.

This means that…

The number of cases has been significantly under reported.

How much so?  In cases that have been pro-active with their testing and were testing before the virus got well established, deaths (the more accurate measure) are about one percent of cases.  Russia for example at time of writing, had 281,000 cases and 2,600 deaths.  The U.A.E. had 23,000 cases and 220 deaths.   So we know from these numbers that the ration of deaths to cases is somewhere around 1%.  (Note this is different to the fatality rate which is the current rate of deaths divided by the total of deaths plus recovered) Contrast this to the U.S.A., Canada, and the World whose number are 5.9%, 7.5%, and 6.6% respectively.

But… deaths have also been under counted.

The New York Times has been doing a good job of tracking this.  When comparing death rates over the last two months with death rates from previous years, the death rate currently has been significantly higher than would be expected from the reported COVID-19 deaths.  This is likely to be some combination of unreported/untested deaths due to  COVID-19 in combination with increased deaths that have resulted from factors related to decreased access to hospitals, delayed surgeries, increased domestic abuse, suicides, etc.  It is hard for me to determine whether the former is greater than the latter, so for arguments sake let us assume they have relatively equal impacts.  The numbers are all over the place, but my best estimate is that roughly 20% of deaths caused by COVID-19 are being missed.  This is partly borne out by…

Apparently we can’t count on weekends…

When you look at the graph of the daily number of cases, or the daily numbers of deaths, the reported numbers are always lower on Saturday and Sunday (as reported on Sunday and Monday).  This is true both in the USA, Canada, and also seen in the World totals.  There have now been several times where I have heard late on a Monday or on a Tuesday morning, “We have good news to report… We have seen the number of cases [or deaths] decline over the last couple of days.”  It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

The real number of cases.

World wide then, it can be estimated that the real number of cases is approximately 6.6 times the reported number of cases.  Or 100 times the number of deaths.  We can also factor in an additional 20% as mentioned above.  So, instead of the reported 4,800,000 cases world wide, the real number of cases is likely around 38,000,000.

Here is the scary part.

That 38,000,000 just mentioned is only half of one percent of the World’s population.  If that number is correct, then the virus still has 99.5 percent of the population to infect.  I can’t get over the number of people who I have heard say recently that “I hope/think the worst is behind us” usually accompanied by “It’s time to get back to work.”  Even after multiplying the known number of cases by eight, we still don’t get to one percent of the population.  The number of deaths that we have experience so far is just a drop in the bucket compared to what could be coming.  (Note that I did qualify my remark with the word “could” which I will explain later.”

Negative results from testing confirms we have only just begun.

Consider this.  The people most likely to be tested are those who are experiencing symptoms, or are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.  Yet in spite of this the huge majority of tests are coming back negative.  The U.A.E. has tested 16.2 percent of their population.  98.5% of their tests have come back negative.  Canada and the U.S.A. by contrast have only tested 3.5% of their populations, and so the negative results have been significantly lower.    In Canada 94% of the tests have been negative, in the U.S.A. that number has been 87%.  Why are those numbers so low compared to the U.A.E?  Simply because we have tested such a small percentage of our population.  When you consider that the U.S.A. leads the world in the number of cases, and yet less than half of one percent in the U.S.A. have tested positive, we might have a penetration of the virus into the the U.S.A. of maybe 3 to 5%.  (Taking the .5 percent of positive tests and multiplying it by 6 to 10 as referenced above.)  Taking the number of deaths and multiplying that by 120 gives us a penetration of 3.3%, so let’s go with that number for our further analysis.

What is likely to happen – A worst case scenario along with some possible numbers

Let us use a U.S.A. example here.  People with more experience with me in this area are thinking that we need to get to between 60% and 70% exposure to approach herd immunity.  Exposure can happen one of two ways.  You get the virus, or you get the yet non existent vaccine.  For those thinking that the vaccine will come soon, remember we have just started human trials for the first vaccine.  Stage 1 may take as long as six months and there are several stages to go through.  So, worst case scenario is that the number dead in the U.S.A. is 20 times what it currently is.    That is, approximately 1,800,000 people.  Remember this is just the U.S.A. example.  Canadians can divide by ten.

In the U.S.A. there have been 84,500 deaths over the last six weeks.  That has been under close to lock down conditions.  Currently we are averaging about 1,500 deaths a day. If we project that forward for a year we end up with another 550,000 deaths.  So if we keep things relatively controlled and we get an available vaccine in a year, we are looking at ten times the number of deaths than we have now.  While that sounds absolutely horrible, it is a lot better than the maximum number of 1,800,000.   I initially called this section good news, but 634,000 dead can not be conveyed as good news.

The more things are opened up the more that that number will rise above 634,000.

You will note from the graph above, that the number of daily deaths has been declining.  I expect that with opening up the economy we will see that decline stall over the next two weeks, and then start to rise again.  By the end of June we are likely to be back up to 2,000 deaths a day, likely to lead to another shut down.

What about a second wave?

There have been warnings about a second wave, and how it could be worse than the first.  The pandemic of 1918 (which killed my great-grandfather), and the SARS virus, had two waves, the second more deadly than the first.  I don’t think it is that simple.  If you look at the graphs of Canadian provinces, you will see that each pattern is quite distinct.  Some have two peaks, some have one, some have a higher then lower peak, some a lower then higher.    I think what we see in waves is really going to vary from place to place, and from region to region.  Remember the first real wave was China, and now their numbers barely register in the big picture.

There is also a large part of the world that hasn’t even experienced this virus yet.  We are still in the first phase.  There are many many more countries who are still going to be devastated by this.

Final thoughts.

Please continue to pray.  For those who are able, seek to help those who are in need.  Be generous. Be kind.  And be forgiving and gracious to those who may see this differently to you.

As usual your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Update: I have deleted a number of comments that were over the top in terms of rhetoric. I am invoking my updated Godwin rule here.


  1. senecagriggs says

    We are, and always have been, at the Lord’s mercy.

    • Robert F says

      That doesn’t mean you cross the road without looking both ways.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Agree, this statement is utterly meaningless.

        • senecagriggs says

          Adam, I’m not sure what you don’t understand? Sen

          • Robert F says

            So you do cross the street without looking both ways! It’s in the Lord’s hands!

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            I mean that the string of words: “We are, and always have been, at the Lord’s mercy.” has no meaning.

            Or no meaning other than saying: (1) “There will be weather today” or (2) “One can always get hit by a bus” or (3) “Might die today, might not”

            • senecagriggs says

              I think it’s quite simple and straightforwards. At the end of the day, we have very limited control over our lives; God has ultimate control.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                Check back with us if and when you come down with serious COVID and we’ll see about that.

      • Christiane says

        Senecagriggs is not without some insight into the workings of the Kingdom of God.

        a story:

        our first-born child was born with Down syndrome, and loved to try to walk away and needed very careful supervision. . . . . he was also afflicted with many medical anomalies and severe seizure disorder and was on medication for those difficulties

        As a little one, he would kick his covers off at night and so I dressed him in warm head to toe pajamas we called ‘bunny suits’ and this one particular night, my son was dressed in a bright yellow ‘bunny’ suit and was resting quietly in the living room on the sofa when my daughter who had just come in called me into her bedroom to talk;

        as we were talking, I heard my son’s voice loudly making sounds and we went to check . . . . . there at the front door was a lady standing with my boy:

        she worked with disabled children and was driving on our road and saw a child standing in the road in a bright yellow pajama suit, who was recognizably Down syndrome . . . she stopped, and got out of her car and took his hand and saw our home lights . . . she said ‘something told me that was his home’ and she brought him to the front door back to us

        unbeknownst to us, my daughter had failed to latch the glass door in the living room hallway and my son had wandered outside and into the road,
        where that lady was driving . . . right at that moment . . . recognizing him as needing help . . . and responding

        so senecagriggs is on to ‘something’, yes . . . I think about it often and after many years of life and many incidents of ‘chance happenings’, it dawns on me that it is TRUE about ‘Providence’

        what are the chances that woman would be on our road driving right at the moment a disabled child in a bright yellow ‘bunny’ suit’ was seen in her head lights???

        Later, I cried for an hour, realizing the truth of what had happened: that God comes near sometimes in ways we might not realize . . . but sometimes the veil is thinned out and the circumstances are so clear to us that we KNOW, WE KNOW . . . . and I wept with thanksgiving for ‘the gift’ we were given that night.

        • Robert F says

          sencagriggs is not without some insight, but I suspect he’s using that theological slogan in this context to say we as a society should limit how much and/or what we attempt to do with regard to fighting coronavirus, in short, that we should reopen everything now without meeting reasonable criteria for flattening the curve. He’s attempting to short circuit the discussion about what should be done with Deep Faith.

          • Christiane says

            I think where senecagriggs goes off the path is the place where WE are RESPONSE-ABLE for our actions in both what we do and what we FAIL TO DO.

            My young daughter failed to latch the glass door when she came into our home, and so my boy was ‘enabled’ to ‘escape’ and to wander into the way of danger, where by the grace of God, he was saved from harm. . . . .

            my daughter didn’t MEAN to put her brother in harm’s way, but her negligence had done it, no intent was there on her part to hurt him, no

            but senecagriggs may not realize that we have OBLIGATIONS to respond in situations where we have information that
            IF we do not respond with our own efforts,
            THEN people may be hurt and we must assume response-ability for willingly having failed them

            that is an important difference . . . the consideration of the sin of FAILING to do the right thing knowingly and thereby placing others at risk for harm

            does senecagriggs comprehend this Catholic thinking? I don’t know. But I do think he gets it about ‘Providence’ and how sometimes, the ‘chances’ that God may well intervene, as he did in the lives of my young daughter and my son and our family and a lady who stopped and took a little Down syndrome boy by the hand and was ‘told by something’ to bring him back to us safely. . . .

            it’s a great mystery,
            but ‘CREDO’ because how can I not???

        • Thank you for that wonderful story, Christiane.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      We are, and always have been, at the Lord’s mercy.

      Pious Platitude Alert.

      • senecagriggs says

        Not if you’re a believer.

        Pious platitude of the unbeliever; “I’m in control of my own destiny.”

        Hmm, probably not so much.

        • There are plenty of non-Christians who believe that there is nothing to life beyond random chance and events not in any way controllable; and there are Christian believers who do not believe God is micromanaging every facet of creation. Binary stereotyping is not helpful.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I smell one of God’s Special Pets, Serene and Secure in his Unshakable FAITH FAITH FAITH.
          Just like Job’s Counselors.
          Again, check back with us if and when you come down with serious COVID.

  2. senecagriggs says

    A curious, to me, finding.

    My city tested 800 homeless people for Covid 19, NONE had the virus. I have no explanation.

    • Homeless people tend to interact mostly with each other. Other people tend to “socially distance” from them even in non-pandemic circumstances.

    • Michael Z says

      In my city, a month ago they found that 30% of the homeless population had the virus, and it’s only gone up since then. Once the virus gets into the shelters, it’s hard to control.

      On the other hand, if it turns out to be true that you can get immunity to the virus by being infected, the homeless population in my city is well on their way to the herd immunity threshold. But that’s a big if.

      • senecagriggs says

        I would expect at least 30 percent for the homeless pop; if not more. That number actually makes sense to me.

        I would also expect higher death rates due to their lifestyles and associated medical problems among the community.

  3. On my news feed this morning, some official was blathering about “no spike in new cases after reopening!” It’s only been a week.

    Worst case scenario, here we come.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      Yeah, it is ever clearer that Americans [including most journalists] are completely unprepared to understand mathematical and scientific data. I suppose this should not be surprising, but my goodness. It has also never been clearer that most people on read the headlines, not the articles. The things I hear people say…

      Mostly I’ve been just trying to avoid hearing about it and going about my business – this cake is baked, was months ago. Ride it out and see what is still standing on the other side. 🙁

      • senecagriggs says

        “Mostly I’ve been just trying to avoid hearing about it and going about my business – this cake is baked, was months ago. Ride it out and see what is still standing on the other side.”

        Agreed Adam

        • Robert F says

          Ah, I think he’s saying the cake has been baked by American scientific and statistical ignorance and incompetence, not by God’s foreordaining.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Predestination means you never have to take responsibility for anything.

            “Whatever Will Be, Will Be.”

          • senecagriggs says

            Nah, you’re missing it Robert F. – mildly.

            The cat is out of the bag, the horse is out of the barn, we can’t go back.

            • Robert F says

              So why get up in the morning? God will put the cat back in the bag, the horse back in the barn, and the food on my table if he wants to. And don’t bother to ask for someone to pass the salt once
              God puts the food on the table; if he wants you to have it, God will sprinkle it on your food himself.

        • Christiane says

          ” Ride it out and see what is still standing on the other side.”

          AND a lot of corpses, unless we start taking precautions to protect the innocent, the vulnerable, the elderly, the disabled

    • Robert F says

      The other thing is that the standard model of two weeks for the disease to develop after exposure may not be correct. I think some info coming out of the UK is that it is closer to 6 to 8 weeks during which disease may develop after exposure.

      • Iain Lovejoy says

        It’s certainly can be over a month from exposure to a resultant death being recorded, and at least 2 – 3 weeks from exposure to a test being done, since there seems to be definitely 1 – 2 week period from exposure to any symptoms occurring, and a further week or so before, if they are going to, symptoms get serious enough to warrant hospitalisation, which is usually (in the UK at least) the first time people get tested. There is then often a further 2 – 3 days before the case appears in the figures. Even if a person hospitalised dies of the disease, the hospital can most often keep them alive for a week or so before they succumb, and with again several days delay before reporting, numbers of deaths lag a week or so before reporting.
        If the US reporting system is anything like the UK, and the US started dropping precautions last weekend, if this turns out to be a mistake you should expect to see recorded cases on the rise again towards the end of next week, and recorded deaths from the start of June.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        What I understand is 95% of symptomatic cases will surface in one to two weeks.
        The other 5% will surface within three weeks.
        This is probably the rationale between the two-week quarantine periods.

        Once symptoms surface, you usually have a week to either start recovering or decline enough to be hospitalized.
        If fatal, figure another week for the cytokine storm and final crash.
        If recovering, figure 1-2 more weeks before discharge.

        Result is a month-long lag from infection to death or discharge.

        I am curious whether there is any reverse correlation between the incubation period (from infection to showing symptoms) and the severity of the COVID — i.e. the longer the incubation period, the less severe the symptoms. That would explain the asymptomatic carriers; their incubation period was so long they never showed much symtoms. And be explainable by iinitial viral load at time of infection; if low enough, the virus takes enough time to grow to a dangerous level that the immune system has a chance to damp it down before it reaches critical levels. Time for the immune response to kick in would also be a factor; the more severe it is when the response kicks in, the more likely the immune system might be to overreact and do even more damage in a cytokine storm.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      On my news feed this morning, some official was blathering about “no spike in new cases after reopening!” It’s only been a week.

      He is demonstrating LOYALTY, LOYALTY, LOYALTY.

      And remember, if we don’t test, the numbers look better. MAGA!

      • Christiane says

        “And remember, if we don’t test, the numbers look better. MAGA!”

        here is the actual quote:

        “”Don’t forget, we have more cases than anybody in the world. But why? Because we do more testing,” Trump said. “When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases. They [the media] don’t want to write that.””

        • Mike Bell says

          I deleted the four comments following the comment above. #modifiedGodwinsLaw

          • Christiane says

            sorry, Mike

            we are all a bit stressed these days, but your advice was good . . .

            sometimes we ‘vent’ a bit and while self-therapeutic, it may not be the best way to communicate with everyone and I do know this

          • Robert F says

            Hey Mike, the modified law is being all kinda violated down below. Not that I object, but I thought you should know. And you should probably also know that you’re one of the violators….just sayin’…

            • Mike Bell says

              The deleted comments were really ratcheting up the rhetoric which had the potential to ruin the whole discussion.

              It is a somewhat arbitrary line I know, but just an early effort to keep conversation civil.

              • Robert F says

                I’m just ribbing you. You are the moderator, and get to be as arbitrary as you like — that’s part of the job description!

    • David Greene says

      On my news feed this morning, some official was blathering about “no spike in new cases after reopening!” It’s only been a week.

      Since some states have opened and some have not the experiment is now in progress. I expect results by no later than the end of June. Hopefully pressure from lunatics will not cause the remaining states to open up before we know. Even in the liberal left coast state of Washington where I reside there are a lot of loud voices demanding so.

  4. Michael Z says

    One important note: the decline in daily deaths over the past month has been entirely due to the initial spike in New York easing up. If you plot the curve for number of deaths in the US *not* counting New York, it isn’t even clear that it’s plateaued yet.

    Also, Russia is hardly an example of good testing. The reason their numbers match (1% death rate) is because they have intentionally tried to hide the number of deaths, labeling at least 60% of them as other causes. So, you need to multiply their death rate by at least 2.5 to get an accurate figure.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > the curve for number of deaths in the US *not* counting New York

      Yep. I’m waiting for the sudden explosion of stories with titles like “Ravages The Heartland”, etc… So many leaders and officials from ‘small town’ rural Michigan were asking for the quarantine measures to be expanded/maintained/extended while their residents – with no hospitals for miles and miles – were raging against them. It’s gonna be a mess. 🙁

      • Robert F says

        If what is going to happen regarding coronavirus in the heartland doesn’t make clear the need for a nonprofit medical healthcare system in our country, including hospitals in nonprofitable rural areas, then nothing ever will.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          Nothing ever will. I am confident of that.

          Eventually those places will just run out of people.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            Thus reducing the Surplus Population.

            • David Greene says

              While I appreciate the reference to Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” I’m thinking that one possible reason for the cry to reopen is that it primarily comes from more privileged population groups that currently bear a lesser brunt of the pandemic. That likely will not continue to be the case in the long run.

    • Robert F says

      Yes, several whistle blower medical workers/doctors have “fallen” out of windows in Russia in the last weeks. Can’t trust a thing Russia says about how this is developing there, even less than China can be trusted for right info.

      Regarding a plateau: given the far flung character of this country, and that it is in fact sparsely populated, except along the coasts and in urban centers, one can’t expect a single plateau. It will happen at different times in different places, and if the incubation period of the disease after exposure to the virus is longer than 2 weeks, as some data from Europe suggests, the period between plateaus will be greater, and hit at unexpected times.

      • anonymous says

        here, whistle-blowers are falling out of jobs as we speak

        so much for comparisons

  5. “herd immunity”
    Have you seen what is happening on USS Roosevelt? some sailors are getting it a 2nd time after a full recovery. And, it is not a high risk population.

    • Robert F says

      By “getting it” do you mean they are testing positive for the virus again, or they have developed COVID-19 again? From what I’ve read, though a considerable number of people are testing positive for the virus after a first round of exposure and disease, not many, or possibly any, are developing the disease again. And it’s uncertain that these asymptomatic second exposures are contagious. If there is are positive cases of a second development of the disease anywhere that would be very concerning.

      • Michael Bell says

        If currently only 3.3% have it. Then logically the proportion of those getting it twice would be very small.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says


        • Robert F says

          Testing positive again for the virus after a first infection has not seemed to lead to second cases of fully developed COVID-19, however small the reinfection real numbers may be. These reinfections have been asymptomatic, and no evidence yet that those reinfected are contagious. There is still some question about the accuracy of testing in terms of clearing people of an initial infection, especially since there continue to be so many false negative test results; and there is some question that inert coronavirus may continue to exist in the body of someone recovered from infection without being transmissible, but still showing positive in test results. Also, there is evidence in Europe and Asia that the incubation period of the disease may be considerably longer than previously thought, which would complicate the whole matter as well.

  6. Robert F says

    Outside the development of a vaccine and/or better treatments, and the timetable of both of those, this virus, which is here to stay, will spread across more and more of the population until it kills off large numbers in the at-risk categories, until there are, practically speaking, no more or very few people left in those categories. Since I and my wife are both in those categories, I don’t say this blithely, but it’s the lay of the land ahead. I would like to keep the curve flattened as much as possible so that when we eventually get exposed and develop the disease the medical resources will be there to treat us in the best way possible, and maybe there will even be a vaccine and/or better treatment the longer we can delay getting it. But the dice have been cast.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      this virus, which is here to stay, will spread across more and more of the population until it kills off large numbers in the at-risk categories, until there are, practically speaking, no more or very few people left in those categories.

      Check out the first photo in this recent Christian Monist posting:

      P.S. A lot of people I know have bought completely into the four points listed immediately above the photo. Including one who added a fifth point of “demonic activity”/Spiritual Warfare. I have to self-censor in advance almost every word I speak to avoid explosions.

  7. We have been getting takeout on Friday nights at our favorite little restaurant. It’s a family business and we used to eat there every Sunday night and have become friends with the owner and his wife. Our state recently re-opened, but with restrictions. One is that restaurants can have dine-in but only if tables are 6′ apart. When I went in to get the meal (they were bringing food out to the car before dining in was allowed) every booth along the wall was full, and most of the tables were full. In the booths you are literally back-to-back with another party. There were probably 70-80 people (including employees) in a 2000 square foot slip. I was disappointed to say the least. They are not only violating health guidelines but the state orders for restaurants. And I think they were doing well with their take-out only service (though missing the lunch crowd I’m sure).

    A friend posted this on facebook Friday, which I think pretty much sums it up: ‘Americans may have decided they are tired of coronavirus but it doesn’t mean it’s over”. Not at all (despite conservative media and our national leaders having ‘moved on’).

    • To borrow a phrase from Trotsky, “You may no longer be interested in COVID, but COVID is still interested in you.”

    • Robert F says

      I took my wife for her annual oncology follow up appointment the other day. The very large medical campus was packed with cars and people. The provider’s office had asked that only the patients go into the building, so I waited in the car. When my wife came out, she said the situation inside the building was terrible. People were being screened for fever at the door, but it created a logjam of a dozen people going in and out clustered near the table where the screening was occurring, all of them within a foot of each other and talking into each other’s faces. The medical receptionists in the provider’s office were wearing masks — pulled down so they could talk with each other, as they sat side by side a few inches apart. A man stepped into the elevator with my wife as she left, and she, feeling quarters were too close, stepped out — he got mad and yelled at her. If that’s the way it is in a medical facility, it isn’t going to be different elsewhere, it’s going to be worse. To paraphrase you: Americans may be done with coronavirus, but coronavirus is not done with Americans.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Are you in a Red state by any chance?

        I read that sort of thing breaks down pretty clean by political party affiliation.

        Oh, and on the radio the stock market is soaring again. Disposable plastics and anything connected with COVID vaccine is skyrocketing.

        • Robert F says

          I’m in a Red county: Lancaster County, PA. It’s been Red for a long time. PA was also a Red state in the last presidential election, for the first time in a couple of decades.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I have an info source in Adams County, one or two counties over. COVID really hasn’t hit there hard yet.

            • Robert F says

              It has hit Lancaster County hard, because of all the retirement/elder care communities we have. But it hasn’t hit the general population hard …. yet.

  8. read://https_www.tampabay.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tampabay.com%2Fnews%2Fhealth%2F2020%2F05%2F17%2Fin-florida-83-percent-of-coronavirus-deaths-are-people-65-and-older%2F

    This is local to Tampa Bay but it is a good summary with I think a good overview. You can fast read and skip over the filler parts. It is hard just to find unfiltered facts on age range, prior medical history and what actual cause of death is. It appears in Fl. the majority is older people which I am one. For the people under 65 the existing medical condition and actual cause of death gets muddled. So to Mike Bell and others who can decode the data is the info in this article relevant or not. Again it has some personal info but the numbers seem solid.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In Florida, the governor (who opened up the state as quickly as possible) has been described as “A MAGA cult member”.
      Given that and since church assemblies (like Megas) were classed as “essential services” and kept open, I’d place money on him being CHRISTIAN(TM).

      Spring Break II, here we come.

      • senecagriggs says

        Florida governor a Christian? That would be a terrible thing – dryly

        • I’d rather be governed by a competent Muslim than an incompetent Christian.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          A couple years ago there was an item going around that Florida state employees were forbidden to use the terms “global warming”, “climate change”, or “sea-level rise”. The memo giving this order gave its reason as “because BIBLE!” Specifically, Genesis 9:11.

          Yet another of those Litmus Tests of Salvation that multiply faster than any coronavirus.

    • Robert F says

      At this point I think we all know that most deaths from coronavirus are among the elderly and/or those with comorbidity. It’s a well known fact, not hard to come by.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Again, Florida is the Retirement Community for the entire country.

        • Robert F says

          I’ve heard it referred to as “God’s Waiting Room”, long, long before this crisis, from relatives who moved there to retire in the 1980s!

          • To Robert F , Headless Guy, regards my post , yes , Florida has a lot of retirees, that is the point. If it is true as per the Tampa Bay story that the majority of those severely affected by the virus and the mortality rate of seniors, why not protect the most at risk and let those under 60 without any health issues keep working as normal. Protect the nursing homes as the much aligned Fl Gov. did compare to super Mario brother who took it to the homes and let those without risk return to normal.. If you throw out the people over 65 and those with severe health issues is this virus any worse than the flu. I am asking as you cannot follow the trail of facts, well at least I cannot. Thanks for the unknown info that Florida has a lot of seniors, get that over to CNN.

            • Robert F says

              How do we get the money and resources to people like me and my wife — both over sixty and with comorbidity — so they can afford to stay home, for those who aren’t independently wealthy or able to retire to a nonworking life? You know there are a lot of people in that situation, right, dan? Otherwise it’s not a real choice for those people, for me, just one on paper. Tell me: how would you get government assistance to those people? What is the political mechanism you would use,without being vilified as a socialist?

            • Michael Bell says

              Arggghhhh! “If you throw out the people over 65 and those with severe health issues is this virus any worse than the flu.”

              Yes it is. Here is a handy chart to compare.


              And those who have tried that approach (i.e. U.K. and Sweden), have ended up with considerably more dead.

              We have google. You can compare Flu and Corona Virus fatality rates. For those under 65 the death rate is 5 times higher than the flu. For those of 65 it is 12 times greater.

              And evidence to date shows that we have been horrible in protecting the vulnerable.

              I wanted to use stronger words, but I kept in mind my closing comments.

              • Mike Bell, I know I am frustrating you but I am trying to understand the situation based on what we know now. If the great number of deaths and hospitalization are of those over 65 and those younger with obvious health factors , why do we not let those under 60 years old with no health at risk factors return to a normal work world situation. So the amount of death for those under 65 is 1.0 Percent, those with the Covid 19 is 2.0 % , if we protected the at risk under 65 would it be acceptable to return to normal? Yes, your last sentence summed it up, we have been terrible protecting the vulnerable but people with normal health between 1 to 60 years old do not seem to be vulnerable and knowing to stay away from those vulnerable is possible. How are the Wal Mart employees faring so well? Sorry , I am a knucklehead

                • Mike Bell says

                  See the comments further down in the comment section. Returning to normal would result in six times the number of deaths. In Canada we have had 5000 deaths so far. Keeping things relatively locked down will result in 50,000 deaths. Returning to normal would result in 300,000 deaths.

                  • Christiane says

                    ‘” Returning to normal would result in 300,000 deaths.”

                    perhaps it would . . .

                    so it is VERY ‘risky’, but it’s the only way a certain political group can survive is to ‘replicate’ NORMAL for the ‘base’, minus the weaker members of American society of course,
                    and this does not BOTHER evangelical Christians? ???

                    well it used to

                    it bothered the heck out of Christians long ago when it became clear what the ‘values’ were of the ‘government’

                    and yes, I have to cross a line here to explain, but it is a relatively well-known quote, so please forgive me, this:

                    “Niemöller made confession in his speech for the Confessing Church in Frankfurt on 6 January 1946, of which this is a partial translation:[1]

                    … the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians—”should I be my brother’s keeper?”

                    Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it’s right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn’t it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? ONLY THEN
                    DID THE CHURCH AS SUCH TAKE NOTE.

                    Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. “

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                      so it is VERY ‘risky’, but it’s the only way a certain political group can survive is to ‘replicate’ NORMAL for the ‘base’, minus the weaker members of American society of course,
                      and this does not BOTHER evangelical Christians? ???

                      Partially the Heady Thrill of VIctory over their Enemies real or imagined. “WE WIN!”

                      Partially the separation between Spiritual and Physical reality; what does it matter if you die? All that matters is Were You SAVED????? If you want a Verse with that, try Matt 10:28.

                      “So what if I rack him ’til he die? For I shall have Saved His Soul.”
                      — “The Inquisitor”, Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
                      (Though Twain wrote exaggerated that attitude for absurdity. For True Believers, that’s no exaggeration.)

                • Mike Bell says

                  I get frustrated, because these numbers are readily available. But I here conservative commentators continuously parroting other conservative commentary without checking the numbers for themselves. (To be fair, I also hear it from the other side as well.)

                • Firstly, a non-zero chance of severe cases in younger cohorts, when multiplied through an entire population, still means tens of thousands of cases requiring hospitalization – and hospital beds (and medical personnel, and equipment, ad inf.) are a finite resource.

                  Secondly, if you have it, even if your case is “mild”, you can spread it, and there’s no controlling (apart from social distancing and quarantine) who you spread it to.

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                    Just on today’s drive-time radio:

                    A church in Butte County CA which stayed open in defiance of the secular lockdown just had an outbreak exposing 133 of its pewsitters. From one superspreader who attended.

                    Pastor says “But He Didn’t Have Any Symptoms!”

                    • Robert F says

                      When I went to pick up my groceries at curbside around noon yesterday, I passed by the little Mennonite church up the block. The parking lot was filled with black cars — this type of Mennonite only drive black cars — and people were face to face outside, talking. The service must’ve just ended. No masks, no social distancing in sight. Everything is in God’s hand….except of course if God wants you to social distance and wear masks out of love for neighbor.

                    • Robert F says

                      I found out from living here in Lancaster County that many Mennonites of all different kind — and there are over a hundred different kinds of Mennonite, since they have more sect splits than Baptists! — are really evangelicals in-training, with regard to where they will end up in terms of church identity, culture wars, and politics given enough time.

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                      My writing partner described the spectrum as follows:
                      “Mennonites are one step beyond Anabaptists.
                      Old Order Mennonites are one step beyond Mennonites.
                      Amish are one step beyond Old Order Mennonites.”
                      (And Old Order Amish are one step beyond Amish.)

                    • Robert F says

                      And when they go modern, they go evangelical. And they go from being pacifists to being big boosters for the military without losing a beat.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                Arggghhhh! “If you throw out the people over 65 and those with severe health issues is this virus any worse than the flu.”

                The key word being “throw out”.

                • Mike Bell says

                  I was giving Dan the benefit of the doubt, and read it as “throw out [the data for] the people over 65”, but yeah that did strike me as as being a particularly poorly worded comment at best.

                  • Christiane says

                    thank you, Mike Bell

                    my medical family tells me that a covid-19 death for elderly involves a great amount of pain while the lungs are struggling to breath

                    no, it is NOT the ‘flu’

                    no one deserves to die this way

  9. Christiane says

    “Please continue to pray. For those who are able, seek to help those who are in need. Be generous. Be kind. And be forgiving and gracious to those who may see this differently to you.”

    well said, Michael Bell, well said


  10. Well, this is timely. And a little bit cosmic.

    Mike, I was just doing a search on this very thing, and typed in “excess deaths,” which I’d been hearing about. On the CDC website I found data that agrees exactly with your graph.


    Note that normally in the US, weekly deaths for all causes peak around New Years and trough in July, with a range between 52,000/week in July and 61,000/week in January. This year, after January’s peak, the numbers came down as usual, but then began to spike upward in late March, peaking in mid-April at about 76,000/week instead of a normal 55,000 for that period.

    OK, so then I clicked onto InternetMonk and here you are. Cosmic.

    I’ve been folowwing the Coronavirus numbers on Worldometers and have found it interesting that some of the European countries have a mortality rate of about 10%, while Germany has been far lower and the UK significantly higher. This may be from undercounting, or perhaps better testing and treatment in the early stages of the disease, perhaps in Germany’s case.

    I’m also alarmed at the rapid rise in cases in Brazil and Russia, and the apparent undercounting of cases and deaths in my beloved Ecuador. What I’m reading in the news doesn’t add up with the official numbers.

    So, if we can promote a better understanding by looking at current death rate from all causes, and compare with previous years, we might get a better picture. I’m getting annoyed hearing people say, “He died of multiple stab wounds, but oh, yeah, had Covid-19, so they blamed it on that.” Or something stupid like that. I saw it on facebook…

    So thanks for the data and for being cosmic. By the way, last week I forwarded your church affiliation chart to a pastor friend. Also fascinating.

    • Robert F says

      Over at Roger Olson’s blog, he’s been talking the last couple of days about how IFR (infection fatality rate) and CFR (case fatality rate) have been getting confused and misunderstood in the media reporting and the government statistics, with regard to what’s happening in the US and in other countries. They would account for some of the discrepancy in fatality rates from different countries that you mention.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I’m also alarmed at the rapid rise in cases in Brazil and Russia, and the apparent undercounting of cases and deaths in my beloved Ecuador.

      The President of Brazil (who’s been called “The Trump of the Tropics”) is in complete denial; “it’s just a case of the sniffles, nothing more”. One of his ministers is getting out of Dodge before said Prez can make him scapegoat for the pandemic (he said so in so many words when announcing his resignation).

  11. This isn’t going away soon. The CDC has a running chart of deaths (nationwide as well as individual states week by week) with a line indicating what they consider excess deaths at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm#dashboard both nationwide For recent weeks they do weigh the figures given that there is a lag before all deaths get reported; however, the charts for New York and New Jersey are horrifying.
    There is still a lot unknown and in particular how immune and for how long are people who have recovered (note this can vary individual to individual). At least this doesn’t have the mortality rates of Yersinia pestis (prior to antibiotics).

    • Erp, that’s the same page I linked to, and thanks for pointing out the individual figures for states. New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts have 123, 136 and 119 percent of expected deaths, but NY City has 226%. I suspect the figures are old, even though it says updated as of today, because Illinois shows 106% and they’ve now overtaken Massachusetts. My own state of Maine shows 97%, about right for a mild winter with fewer people on the roads and less influenza from the social distancing. There are only 71 covid deaths to date anyway in Maine, and only 11 known cases in my county. So I can understand how people in rural areas like myself would want to relax the guidelines. But the nursing homes would be wiped out; one-half of Maine’s cases are in nursing homes, and a staff member at my mom’s tested positive yesterday. It’s all over the news and facebook, that’s how protected we’ve been.

      • I think we crossed in the posting. My own county in the SF Bay area had early cases but the shutdown flattened things (2453 known cases and 135 known deaths [admittedly the county population is also a bit over 1.9 million]). We’ve also got people antsy about the restrictions (admittedly ours are nothing against what Singapore has) and there has been some easing. Like you some nursing homes have been hit; a former Stanford University president was an early victim. We also have a large homeless population but there has been some effort to see them protected.

  12. Robert F says

    This crisis has changed our long term engagement with the economy. We — my wife and I — will not be going out to eat in a restaurant, maybe forever. We will not be going to indoor movie theaters, though we might try an drive-in theater. We will not be going to concert halls to attend orchestras or other genre music events. We will be saving much more of our discretionary income than before, in the event of job loss; no big ticket items will be purchased for the foreseeable future, and much less for expenditure even on necessaries. If my wife wasn’t a church employee (musician), we would not be going to Sunday services anymore for a long, long time (if we have a long time!) either. New normal, whenever we arrive at that, will mean a new and less intensive, more careful engagement with the economy. If a lot of other people take the same approach, who knows what the economic future will hold for this country or the world.

    • I once read an article in *Christianity Today* (probably 25 years ago now) where the author mused about if a return to classical Christian ethics (prudence, thrift, etc) would cause an economic recession…

      • Robert F says

        Yes. I was just reading an article about how the fact that people are saving so much more now than before the crisis could cause the economy to stall in a big way, even after reopening. The dependence of our economy on a level of consumption that makes people go deep into debt to keep everything going is a serious national — and global — malignancy, even though it has become our normal — at least, until now.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        Contentment would well nigh ruin it.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says

          Yes and no. I have seen interesting changes in my own spending as I handle both the fallout of divorce, as well as a deliberate move to not fall into the spending trap. For instance, I make sure to have some joy while I save money and pay off debt. So a few pints from a local brewery, or buying some costlier ingredients to cook at home (my last shopping list included harissa paste and plantains, and I have ordered Za’tar off the internet).

          That results in changing spending patterns. A lot of that money goes to smaller producers, and some local. Which means we are directing towards a different type of economy.

          Another example, my experience during the lockdown has convinced me I don’t need a vehicle anymore, and I will join the local car co-op – which is both less expense, as well as less stress and responsibility.

          Spending does help our neighbours, by and large. Targeted, responsible spending can help them more, and can propel us towards a more sustainable, equitable economy. I have seen far too many people spend like there is no tomorrow , and far too many people save like there is no today. There is a balanced approach to life in between the extremes.

  13. Klasie Kraalogies says

    A good analysis Mike. An example of the complexities of geographical distribution: We had 2 peaked here in SK. The first was over about 3 weeks ago – then a second peak happened. But the first was by and large confined to southern SK (Saskatoon and Regina), while the second resulted from a single infectious event that happened in northern SK (La Loche). The latter, as it happened in a poorer, Firat Nations- dominated area was a very sharp spike.

    Issues of geography and time are important. Mist people struggle to think in more than 1 dimension – but there are many dimensions to theis virus’ progress: Geography, Time, Poverty, population density etc. These affect the progress of the disease. Unfortunately most elected officials can’t think beyond “how will this affect my reelection”. And for authoritarian, they ask how will it affect my power and prestige. Hence the truth of Robert’s statement, you can’t trust any of the information out of Russia (for instance).

    On the other hand, it is instructive to look at success stories. From NZ’s lockdown, to South Korea’s quick response.

    But, truth be told, this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. Things are not going to be the same for a long time. So mitigation and transformation in a way best to survive and even thrive under the circumstances should be the serious focus. Government assistance is a good and necessary interim measure. But in the long ter. we are going to have to change how we do things so that we can come out of this with a functioning economy. Changing business models – like delivery options, businesses that realise people can work from home, distance education, internet meetings etc etc. Twitter has announced that some employees can work from home forever. I know of SF legal firms that realised that most staff function well working from home, so they don’t need the expensive 3 floors in a downtown high rise.

    But therefore we also need to adjust business expectations- the move by some countries to exclude companies with head offices in tax havens was an excellent start. Some taxes will have to go up- but maybe we can start by hauling back the trillions squirreled away offshore by the greedy and the dastardly.

  14. Klasie Kraalogies says

    One more comment: Diseases have vectors. Thus there is a starting point and a progression. Infection events. They move with people. So in the discussion above about homeless people with Covid-19, one group have experienced and infection event, and the other haven’t. Infection is a game of chance. You can roll high numbers many times in a row – but eventually your luck will run out. But what we are doing by social distancing etc. is bringing probabilities down. Making the vector smaller. Lowering probabilities is what this is all about. And what Epidemiology has shown us is that under the right circumstances, the probability is so low that the disease grounds to a halt.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Is this indeed true? I thought the idea behind ‘flattening the curve’ was not to decrease the overall number of infections but to reduce the number of simultaneous infections to the point where we could care for the infected.

      Pulling out all the stops would lead to an overburdening of our health care delivery system and cause carnage, but the ‘herd immunity’ would take longer to obtain. Basically, you just wait for your turn to get sick.

      Sorry for being so macabre.

      • Mike Bell says

        Yes, both cases are true. A virtual lockdown can (at least temporarily) eliminate the disease. A number of Canadian provinces, for example, have reduced their cases to zero, or extremely close to zero. The Canadian models has total number of deaths varying from 22,000 to 350,000 depending on what measures are put into place. Once the virus gets entrenched as spreading in the general population, the low end of those projections become impossible to achieve.

        This assumes of course that a vaccine can be created.

        • Mike, I was on a Canadian site yesterday and was interested in New Brunswick’s decline in new cases, almost to zero. They’re next door to Maine’s Washington county, which has only 2 cases, but then Washington Cty is Maine’s poorest, and very rural. New Brunswick has a fair sized city (St John) which is bigger than Portland Maine, where most of our cases are centered.

          The reason I went to that site was to investigate Quebec. For our 40th anniversary, our daughters gave my wife and me reservations at an inn in the Old City in June. Turns out Quebec province has HALF of Canada’s covid cases. Nope. Guess we’d better cancel the trip…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Basically, you just wait for your turn to get sick.

        And die after weeks on a ventilator.

        Incidentally, they’re finding that invasive ventilators are not as effective against COVID-induced Acute Respiratory Syndrome as against other causes of ARDS. They’re going to other methods such as proning and CPAP-mask style ventilators, avoiding invasive ventilation as much as possible.With all those crash programs to crank out ventilators, we may have over-produced.

        COVID-19 seems to be shaping up as primarily a general inflammatory infection that first manifests in the lungs, not primarily a respiratory infection. Vitamin D deficiency seems to be a factor in serious-to-fatal (as in ICU/vent) outcomes, which may be a factor in why blacks have a higher COVID death rate than whites (higher chance of Vitamin D deficiency; they tend toward other pre-existing comorbidities, but any help to reduce the odds would be a plus).

        The first trials of Hydroxycholorquine seem to indicate that it does NOT help with the most serious (ICU/vent) cases, but in combination with Zinc may reduce down the proportion of ICU cases. This was an observational study (not a controlled trial) from NYC hospitals, but it seems more sound than the anecdotal cures we first heard about. The next step is trials to see if starting Hydroxy + Zinc earlier in the stream – maybe even before hospitalization is needed – has better effectiveness. (Which would explain the anecdotal stories.) There is also a proposal for using synthesized antibodies (cloned from recovered survivors) as a serum; no further details.

        If we get effective treatments that at least keep patients from dying or getting really severe, we’ll have a breakthrough that we can use until if and when we get a vaccine. Hopefully before the predicted fall spike.

      • Mule, this “herd immunity” people keep touting sounds more like natural selection. And a lot of those touting it are evangelicals who would never admit to Darwin’s theory. It’s gonna take a lot longer than they expect.

        As I understand, true herd immunity comes a great majority having vaccinations so that those not vaccinated have nobody to catch it from.

        • Rick Ro. says

          –> “As I understand, true herd immunity comes a great majority having vaccinations so that those not vaccinated have nobody to catch it from.”

          Which is why the anti-vaxxer crowd is becoming dangerous. By touting their fears of vaccinations and persuading others to fear vaccinations, you lose herd immunity. Thus… we have measles attempting a comeback.

          People are nuts.

        • Yes, use of the term “herd immunity” outside the context of vaccinations is very misleading.

          • Burro (Mule) says

            Not everybody who catches this dies , have antibodies from it. ‘Herd immunity’ also emerges when enough people recover from the illness and, hopefully have antibodies. Or aren’t susceptible to it , or are just plain lucky enough to avoid catching it at a vulnerable time. But yeah , in the absence of a vaccine ‘Herd immunity’ means that everyone who’s gonna die from this virus dies from it unless it mutates into something more benign. absent a vaccine, that’s what’s gonna happen, unless we all sit at home drawing a government check watching Netflix and eating frozen pizza. Even then someone’ll have to harvest the wheat and slaughter the hogs. Maybe Eeyore’s plenipotentiary Committee of Public Hygeine will inscript insurance executives and hedge fund managers to do that

            We know so little about this virus. From all reports it can be a real momzer, but dayum, did the Spanish flu cause this much panic?

  15. Klasie K. I linked a Tampa Bay times article about over 83 percent of Florida deaths are seniors and those with bad prior medical problems. So my question to you is this. If the vast majority of those at risk are over 65 and those with existing high risk medical conditions why not let those under 60 with no prior medical issues return to normal life? What is your analysis of this or is it to simple. So I go to grocery store , the employees there are a good cross section of people under 65, Wal Mart and all stores I go to there is no report of any co worker get sick. What do you think of using the grocery stores open the entire time as a study case? Thanks

    • Mike Bell says

      Why? Because the wider we have spread in the community, the higher the risk to vulnerable populations. The Corona Virus didn’t magically happen in retirement homes. Someone brought it in. And until you have extremely high rates of testing, this plan will not work.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says

        Well said

        • ?Mike B. Klasie K. Thanks for responding to my questions, as you can tell science and statistics not my home court but I did watch Mr. Wizard. Based on my personal little world of going to Kroger grocery , Publix grocery and Wal Mart, as far as the employees tell me , no one they work with has become infected and the age group is between 20 to 60 with a few over 60 years old, I am going by appearance. I would say the average is 40 to 50 years old. Does anyone know how the grocery and Wal Mart infection rate is. They have pretty easy to follow guidelines and most are following. So is there a reason the grocery/Wal Mart people are not coming down with Covid 19? Thanks for helping me out . So do you think doing a study of grocery store Wal Mart infection rate would be a good idea as it could be done easily.

          • Those questions depend entirely on local factors – community spread, local social distancing measures, how seriously people take precautions, etc. A statistic of national-level numbers of cases among retail employees might be of some limited interest, but not of much use in telling us where we are on the curve.

      • Robert F says

        A retirement community here in Lancaster County PA, a very nice one with many amenities, had a major outbreak starting in the middle of April, half a dozen dead, dozens infected. Two of our friends, a couple, had retired there just a few months before. We spoke with them via phone; they said they had been quarantined in their rooms from the middle of March, as were the other residents. Food brought on trays and left outside their rooms (really, upscale apartments). Just a week or so ago, my wife read in the local paper that the whole outbreak had been traced to one member of the staff who was completely asymptomatic, a younger person and nonresident worker who brought it into the community, and never showed a trace of illness.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          And that’s a top end retirement community/assisted living.

          My informant in Adams County PA says that nursing homes in his area are primarily low-end, with two or three he described as “Hellholes”. I’d expect that the worse the nursing home, the more likely an outbreak and the higher the death rate.

          Dr John Campbell on YouTube (who trained nursing staffs in the UK for 40 years) is an advocate of “opening up the windows” and letting buildings air out (as was done in hospitals before sealed windows and universal AC) to dilute the viral load circulating through the ventilation system. Almost all COVID contaigions are from indoors; outside/open air seems to reduce the danger considerably, as the droplets/aerosols carrying the virus airborne dissipate quickly (droplets fall, aerosols rise). He is also an advocate of everyone masking up; Masks also prevent the droplets/aerosols from spreading so far by catching them and reducing the force of the cough/sneeze. You don’t wear a mask to prevent yourself from catching it; you wear a mask to keep others from catching it if you’re a carrier. “Keep your droplets out of my mucus membranes.”

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Covid strikes hardest at people with underlying conditions. See this helpful table: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/coronavirus-age-sex-demographics/

      Of course this means that seniors are most at risk. But that is secondary. It actually means the medically vulnerable are most at risk, regardless of age.

      It is all about framing the statistics. Some well known people my age and younger (so 40’s and younger) have had a terrible experience. And it appears the amount of survivors that have likely permanent health problems is pretty high. Cardiac complications feature high.

      So this is not like a flu you get and it is done. It is a lot more insidious.

      In addition people come into contact with people. Kids ar school come into contact with their parents. A disease vector doesn’t mean you are old and infirm. It does mean that the probability of vulnerable people dying goes up with bigger vectors.

      At the same time, we can open many things PROVIDED we change how we do it. Most grocery shops here have unidirectional shopping aisles. Maximum amount of shoppers. Some require masks (like Costxo). Requisite handwashing stations. Etc. So that is how we do it.

      • Clay Crouch says

        We’ve been ordering groceries online and picking them up at curbside. A store clerk puts the grocery bags in the trunk and we’re on our way. We never have leave the car or worry about some shopper exercising his God given, constitutional right to infect others.

        • So do you have concern about the store clerk who is exposed to all who enter his employment place. Is he younger, healthy or just expendable? What happens when the store runs out of supplies?

          • Robert F says

            If more ordered online, there would be far less exposure for the clerks. It’s the customers that go into the store who put the clerks at greater risk.

            When the store runs out of supplies, they won’t let any customers in.

            • anonymous says

              I’m waiting on an Amazon delivery of 80 rolls of toilet paper due to arrive by 8 pm. Tonight.

              I check the graph and it hasn’t been sent out on delivery yet. They’ve got 1 and a half hours.

              panic-buying around here? toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer

              good ole Amazon, when it finally gets here

              • Robert F says

                Try Staples online. I have a case of 90 rolls that they delivered to my home in about 4 days. Their supply chain is institutional, not retail, so they have access to plenty in non-retail packaging, large quantities. I can’t vouch for the quality, haven’t tried it, but if the WWII GI could get by on 9 squares of crappy toilet paper in his ration per day, we should be fine.

          • Clay Crouch says

            dan my man, wow, what a cheap shot. You need to grab a Snickers Bar.

            No one is expendable.

            The stores here require customers to wear masks and limit the number of customers in the store at one time.

            • Robert F says

              No one is expendable.

              Sadly, a large subsection of the American populace don’t believe that.

              • anonymous says

                I thought we were better than this. We used to be. Guess my time’s gone by.

      • senecagriggs says

        “At the same time, we can open many things PROVIDED we change how we do it. Most grocery shops here have unidirectional shopping aisles. Maximum amount of shoppers. Some require masks (like Costxo). Requisite handwashing stations. Etc. So that is how we do it.”

        The problem is, as I see it, what percentage of the population will adhere to the rules? Now they’re talking about Quarantine fatigue.

        SO, people will continue to do what they think best, the virus will continue to spread, people will continue to die either from the virus or from economic collapse. [ Somebody’s got to produce goods/food, somebody has to pick it up and load it. Somebody has to transport it to stores and somebody has to man the stores and sell it.]

        A total lock down is not realistic; “every man for himself” may well be. Anarchy is a terrible form of government.

        • The problem is, the loudest and highest-profile Christians seem to be on the side of anarchy. I have a hard time reconciling that with anything like what Jesus taught and commanded.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            The problem is, the loudest and highest-profile Christians seem to be on the side of anarchy.

            I chalk that up to the Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation you find among Evangelicals to the point it’s become their Tribal Recognition Marker. Add a Platonic “Spiritual Good, Physical Baaaaad!” and at heart it’s a very Selfish Gospel. They’ve got THEIR Fire Insurance, so why should they care? WHy not Every Man for Himself?

          • senecagriggs says

            I don’t see it Eeyore, but this is a “hate your evangelical” website – dryly. It’s always the Evangelical’s fault.

            • If you don’t see it, visit your optometrist. You can’t dismiss all criticism of evangelicalism as “hatred”, they have actual merit.

            • Michael Bell says

              I don’t hate evangelicals. But when evangelicals come on here and argue to open things up (i.e. Dan) it kind of proves Eeyore’s point.

            • Christiane says

              not ALL evangelical people are trumpists

  16. Rick Ro. says

    I know seven people now who’ve gotten Covid-19. All under the age of 65. All but one have said it’s the worst thing they’ve ever experienced. One told me that he had every symptom you’ve heard – no taste, headaches that make you cry, fever, vomiting, the runs, coughing up blood, blue toes – and was laid up for almost 2 weeks.

    All have recovered, thankfully.

  17. Rick Ro. says

    Mount St. Helens here in WA state blew 40 years ago today. There’s an article in today’s Seattle Times about how the scientists are still astounded by its post-eruption mysteries. When scientists swarmed over the area right after the blast, they expected to find everything had perished, but….

    “Mount St. Helens really punched us in the face,” said Jerry Franklin, then an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service who had traveled to the area 10 days after the blast. “I was overwhelmed by the scale of the destruction, that was my first impression. My second was, there is a lot going on here… I looked down and there was a fireweed shoot coming up through the ash. And all kinds of things crawling around. Ants, beetles. All kinds of activity.”

    The article goes on to talk about the different animals that DID survive the blast, right there in the midst of the destruction. Gophers, frogs… as the article says, “colonizers” that would restart the living.

    I bring this up because of something Franklin says later: That it was a humbling and thrilling moment, all at once. “I love epiphanies. We think we know. We are toing to go out there, it is a moonscape, everything has been destroyed. And then WHACK. OK, we were totally wrong. What brilliant scientists we are. I love that kind of thing.”

    We know so little. Even the experts.

    Here’s a link. This might require a subscription, but keep an eye on if it becomes more widespread/available.


  18. I hate to bring politics into this but it is the elephant in the room. I read an article this morning that said Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Thailand, which implemented strict programs of testing, tracing, and isolation, have all kept deaths below 10 per million population, and most have kept their economies going at the same time (though obviously impacted). The US, by contrast, with arguably the best health care in the world, currently has 271 deaths per million population. The US has 27 times the death per capita. We’re right up there with those s___hole countries the president mentioned a while back. Why? Lack of leadership, lack of coordination, lack of preparedness, lack . . . And of course, the ‘my rights trumps your safety’ attitude (which is quite prevalent among the Christians I see posting on my wife’s facebook page (along with ‘it’s all a liberal media/Democratic conspiracy to bring down the greatest president in history’).

    As I told my daughter this morning, if we all knew what we needed to do, the importance of working together, some timelines and expectations (to give people hope), economic support for those who need it, etc., and most of all, someone who takes this seriously (more seriously than their re-election) I think we (as a nation) could get through it pretty well. We need a Roosevelt, a Churchill, or at least a Reagan. We need someone with credibility, compassion, and organizational skills – someone we are confident can lead us through this, someone who cares about us, someone who will UNITE and inspire us. This happened at exactly the wrong time in our history.

    • “This happened at exactly the wrong time in our history.”

      Just like Ghengis Khan happened at the wrong time in the history of the Song and Khwarazim Empires, and the Spanish happened at the wrong time of Inca history. History does not suffer stupidity gladly.

    • https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/06/health/wuhan-coronavirus-timeline-fast-facts/index.html

      Greg, so what would you have done differently than Trump in the real time situation, not in the hind site mode we are in? The link above is a good overview. So what concrete things could Trump have done that would have gotten us into a better position? Since you brought it up , I believe the voters in Nov. will have a clear choice, Trump vs. Biden, who can handle the ongoing crisis better. Just look at the critical blowback and charges when Trump stopped travel from China in Jan 31 because he was what ? Again , realistic view , what would anyone done different. BTW, I think Gov. Cuomo is in same situation in NY, dealing with a lot of unknown and he made decisions based on what available.

      • Mike Bell says

        Not picking on Trump here. But he constantly downplayed the problem which gave rise to others constantly downplaying the problem. He has constantly expressed the need to open things up which has led to others expressing the need to open things up.

        Canada was no faster moving than the U.S., but at least in Canada they have been playing lip service to the health authorities.

        • Months of warnings were ignored. Time that might have been spent stockpiling medical equipment was squandered. Medical advice from doctors and researchers in the government is contradicted and ignored. The list of what could have been done differently could stretch from sea to shining sea.

          • Eeyore, give us the list that would stretch from sea to sea that is realistic? Look at the link below on the Navarro interview. What high profile Dr. nailed it right from the beginning in the USA? How did WHO and China give ample facts and warning. What is on your list?

            • Are you really interested, or are you just going to continue to post links to sympathizers of the administration? Forgive me, but I am losing confidence in your interest in an actual discussion.

              • Eeyore, where is your list? How do you entertain a discussion without some form of information and opinion.

                • See Greg’s list above, and mine below. No need to duplicate effort, especially if you’re just being obstructionist.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Not picking on Trump here. But he constantly downplayed the problem which gave rise to others constantly downplaying the problem. He has constantly expressed the need to open things up which has led to others expressing the need to open things up.

          Donald Trump is an extremely selfish man. To the point that if it doesn’t personally affect/benefit/threaten him, it does not exist. “There is no ‘you’, There is only ME!” selfish.

          It didn’t affect him personally, it didn’t threaten him personally, so he blew it off for more important things. He is also the type of autocratic boss who can tolerate only Loyal Yes-Men in his presence. Otherwise, “YOU’RE FIRED!” (Morning drive-time radio has been making book for weeks as to when Dr Fauci will be fired.)

          This is not the type of jerk boss who responds well or pre-emptively to a pandemic.

          Yet the Christians are THE most fanatical of his Base.
          Like they’ve Taken the Mark in a bad End Times movie.

        • Christiane says

          Mike, DT wants to be re-elected. That is the reason for his ‘magical thinking’.

          His reality is not our reality . . . this I know.

      • Michael Bell says

        Here are some items that would be on my list of things I would have done differently.


      • Well, to start with, when the IC warned Trump back in January that the Chinese were lying about their numbers and it was much worse than they were saying, and that it would come here, he could have 1) NOT spent 6 days playing golf and 9 days holding campaign rallies (during January and February), where he continually downplayed the issue, even calling Democratic calls for action a ‘hoax’ in mid-February. 2) He could have listened the experts and coordinated with the WHO and pushed the CDC to develop testing and get it available sooner (and not lie to the American people – ‘anyone who wants a test can get one’ – back in mid-March, which still isn’t true). 3) He could have put the government to work acquiring PPE and ventilators, and coordinating their distribution through FEMA instead of having the states fight over whatever they could find. A national crisis requires a national response. 4) He could have started preparing the nation for potential shutdowns and other necessary measures back in January, including the need for social distancing to avoid shutdowns. 5) He could have stayed with the science and not pushed unproven drugs (chloroquine) and foolishness like disinfectants Even now he’s ignoring the science and claiming the virus will magically disappear or that a vaccine is coming soon (which hopefully it is). If he had in early February what he did in March the outcome would likely have been much better. The whole response has been driven by politics and personal concerns rather than what’s best for the nation, and its people. During the daily updates he touted the ‘ratings’ (more important than the death toll?). And most of all, rather than continually politicizing it to fire up his base and accusing Democratic governors of locking down their states to hurt his re-election chances, pushing conspiracy theories about China, etc. all to shift the blame to others, he could have worked to UNITE the country. instead he has supported the ‘protesters’ demanding an end to lockdowns (and praised those who violated their states’ laws – the ‘law and order’ president). This is not the response of a leader facing a crisis that could kill 2 million of his citizens before it’s over.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          What gets me is his Base of Followers from the Militias on capitol steps to the Culture Warrior Christians.

          FANATICS who recite his every Tweet as Inerrant SCRIPTURE, pre-Twittered into 140 character Verses.

          “TRUMP Said It,
          I Believe It,
          THAT SETTLES IT!”

        • Greg, Eeyore, did you look at the CNN timeline , which is basic but a good reference.

          January 23 WHO declares out break no emergency
          January 28 Who meet with China officials,
          Jan 30 WHO declares virus international concern
          March 11 WHO declares pandemic

          Like all opinions based on interpretations we arrive at different conclusions. Did any state run out of protective gear and ventilators? Did any one in the medical field urge a shutdown in January and social distancing. This is hind site management. All political leaders were putting a positive spin on the unknown . Trump is a terrible communicator , vain man with a big ego but he wants what is best for America, Drugs and vaccine studies were included in the response early. The bleach thing is Trump thinking out loud which is stupid for a politician but he did not order nursing homes to take patients. What killed more? China is the beginning and the cause of the pandemic, they stalled on facts, hid numbers and lied , it is their fault the pandemic was not dealt with and contained not anyone else.

          This is the national divide that will be settled in Nov. I putting my money on Trump.

          • But the best intelligence services in the world told the president the Chinese were lying. He chose not to believe them (partly) because of his ‘deep state’ conspiracy paranoia. Instead, he chose to believe a trustworthy foreign dictator. You can lead a horse to water . . .

            • Greg, there is a delicate balance that is ongoing in our China situation that we got ourselves in since 1972. We need so many critical items from China due to our stupid China policy since 1972. There has be a delicate and face saving policy until the USA can disengage its reliance on the Chinese tiger we are on the back of. So much of even our medical supplies come from China and India that is a national security issue. I think Trump is better at handling the Chinese than the alternatives especially the establishment Republicans. Nixon, Regan, Bush 1 and 2 and the Republican Party really pushed the China agenda as did eventually the Democrats. We are paying for it now

              • So what exactly does that have to do with the fact that Trump was told the Chinese were lying about the numbers and he should take action to save American lives? What balancing act with China does it take to get the CDC moving on testing or start checking on stockpiles of PPE?

          • WHO was bending over backwards to not upset the Chinese. This was widely discussed at the time.

            Once the first infected person left Chinese borders (and remember what has been discussed above about asymptomatic transmission), the horse was out of the barn. We can slam China all we want about how they flubbed the initial warning stage and continue to cook the numbers, but they don’t deserve to be blamed for what we have (NOT) done in our own case. There was plenty of warning. The warning signs were ignored.

    • Andrew Zook says

      +1000… especially first paragraph. I see the same thing on social media. There’s a few exceptions (a remnant?) but a lot of that ‘christian’ group with exactly the un-Christlike attitude and words you describe. It’s sickening.

    • https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-adviser-continues-focus-china-amid-criticism-coronavirus/story?id=70723322

      Greg, link to to Nararro interview. Pick it up at 5:32 for a few minutes, however the whole interview is worthwhile, Granted Navarro is a Trump guy for sure and one of the best. What do you think of his talking points, Are they valid . again what would you do ?

      • There is so much spin in that interview that it’s hardly decisive evidence. Trump himself claimed he had never seen the memo that Navarro sent (which is not surprising since many of his advisors say he reads almost nothing). According to Washington Post reporting, the IC told Trump back in January the Chinese were lying about the numbers and that it was coming here and would be serious. As usual, the president went with his ‘gut’ instead of the facts, and as usual chose to believe a foreign dictator over Americans who put their lives on the line to protect us. He was afraid that the news would spook the stock market and hurt his re-election chances. Politics over people.

        • Greg, waiting for your list of what you would have done different based on a realistic timeline. Dr. Fausi got it wrong in the beginning not to knock him, he went with info available. Did you see the CNN timeline, what would you have done. I think Navarro told the Feb actions quite well. The problem from the beginning was the lying and deception from China. They are the problem that lost the world true information.

          • Ordering and distributing testing equipment, masks, medical supplies, etc.

            Actually listening to the reports from overseas that the virus was loose.

            Gearing up aid programs to help those who are quarantined/furloughed.

            Not retweeting denialism and conspiracy theories.

            Actually acknowledging there was a problem back in February.

            How much more do you actually require?

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              Save your bandwidth, Eeyore.
              No matter how much information you provide, it will never be enough.
              Not for a True Believer.

              • Eeyore I replied to Greg above but thanks for your list , it will go from lake to lake maybe.


          • Clay Crouch says

            Hey, dan –

            Do you think Trump has handled the pandemic in an appropriate and effective way?

            Has he demonstrated exemplary leadership?

            Are you satisfied with the results of his policies.

            Were you ever embarrassed or concerned by his erratic comments, behavior, and outright lies over the last three and half months?

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Where did Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, et.al. get the necessary tests for such widespread testing? If I remember, South Korea’s government pressed their private sector into the fray and came up with a ‘good enough’ test pretty quickly. They wouldn’t have sold it to us? Was there a bottleneck in ramping up production from Korean to global levels?

      Also, President Moon was pretty Stalinist in the first few days of the outbreak in February. If our current President had tried any of his moves, we’d have President Pelosi by now.

        • Michael Bell says

          Singapore has had 22 deaths. Total.

          I am not sure what your point is.

          You have certainly enlivened the discussion Dan, but you don’t seem to be willing to consider anything other than what you already believe.

          • Mike Bell, my point is that good or bad due to our society, culture and history as well as politics we could not react like Singapore who swept the immigrant problems under the rug as they need the immigrants. I am here to see the other side that I do not agree with.

            I think based on what is happening that healthy people under 60 with no underlying health issues can return to normal life. They must stay away from those at risk. Use the common sense, mask, social distance etc. protocols in place until a break though. Again forgive me for being thick headed but why not monitoring, testing, research or reporting on the grocery stores, Target, Wal Mart etc that have been ongoing though the crisis. I am sure Wal Mart is a perfect petri dish for contamination with the good , bad and ugly all going there. Monitor and protect nursing homes and those at risk. Either that or when you pull into Wal Mart to pick up your supplies there may be none on the shelf as our credit card was declined as a nation. .

            However, I do appreciate and enjoy your articles and respect your viewpoints even though I do not agree with you in some areas. I thank you for sharing your time and knowledge. I am changing my hat to MAOKA, Make America OK Again, see I have lowered my expectations.

            • “due to our society, culture and history as well as politics we could not react like Singapore who swept the immigrant problems under the rug as they need the immigrants.”d

              Cultures can change. *Must* change, if circumstances demand it.

              “I think based on what is happening that healthy people under 60 with no underlying health issues can return to normal life.”

              Again, being under 60 with no known health issues is NOT a guarantee of either not getting a severe case, or unwittingly spreading it to those who do have. We just don’t have the confidence in how this virus works to blithely make those assumptions – not when possibly hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.

            • Michael Bell says

              In order to isolate the elderly, you also have to isolate the health care workers. Therein lies a large part of the problem. Would you be willing to not see your family for a year? Who is going to look after your kids?

              • This gets back to Seneca’s point at the beginning of this discussion, that we’re all at the Lord’s mercy.

                Infection among those in nursing homes/retirement communities seems inevitable, with staff coming and going three shifts per day. Since yesterday, when a CNA at my mom’s nursing home was reported to have the virus, there has been a lot of chatter from their PR dept to my sister and me via telephone and email, and in local papers. Fortunately, the place is an arm of the local privately-run hospital, so they’ve been on top of things from the beginning. But the introduction of the virus was inevitable. No residents were found positive, thank God, but that’s the next step. Mom needs round-the-clock medical care, though, so we don’t have a plan B.

                • Christiane says

                  Prayers for you, your family, your mother. I know what it is like to worry for someone who is beloved, and how it helps when people support you in prayer on the journey. May God protect your good mother now during this crisis. God Bless!

                  • Thank you, Christiane. Mom is 97, and with her physical challenges the next infection may get her anyway, but this is frustrating. She’s only a few miles away but we can’t visit. The facility had just begun to plan for outdoor visits, with weather becoming springlike, but since the staff member’s infection they’ve been spooked and have canceled plans for that.

                    I hope you’re grieving well. I’ll continue to pray.

                    • Robert F says

                      Prayers for your mom, you, and your and family, Ted.

                    • That’s heartbreaking, Ted. The thing that has bothered me most in this whole shutdown is the inability of families to visit their loved ones in nursing homes and hospitals.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        Well, I didn’t get my question answered, but hey!

        It’s evident to me that there is a direct relationship between economic activity ($$$ made) and death toll. More activity == more dead, so somewhere there is a spot between zero activity/zero dead and hell-bent-for-Stockton/carnage where we could settle. A mixed market-command economy wouldn’t be a bad idea right now ( I can see Eeyore licking his lips from my front porch ), but we’re too polarized right now to pull that off. We’d need much higher levels of either cooperation or fear.

        Right now, in Georgia, it’s very hell getting any significant information. It looks like the ‘Rona has settled into the meat packing plants where it is cutting a swath through the illegal immigrant population that works in them. The prevailing attitude is ‘sucks to be them’, but then they turn around and bitch about meat prices.

        • Michael Bell says

          A crass response from me perhaps but I think what we are seeing is those with low number of cases saying more activity more dead, while those undergoing surges saying less activity less dead.

          There is a middle ground, but I would have to characterize it as an unhappy middle.

          • Burro (Mule) says

            Crass works, and there is not much happy news right now.

            My gut tells me that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and what works for Lafayette County, FL won’t fly in the condo canyons of Broward.

        • “More activity == more dead, so somewhere there is a spot between zero activity/zero dead and hell-bent-for-Stockton/carnage where we could settle. A mixed market-command economy wouldn’t be a bad idea right now ( I can see Eeyore licking his lips from my front porch ), but we’re too polarized right now to pull that off.”

          Probably. But I would feel a lot better about it if the folks who so loudly demand reopening would just admit (like the folks in the photo I linked above) that 1) this is the bargain they are willing to make, and 2) never EVER claim American exceptionalism or Christian ethics again.

          • Robert F says

            That admission would be clear and honest acknowledgment that much of American Christianity is just Social Darwinism in sheep’s clothing. Although lately the sheep’s clothing is looking awfully thin and transparent, as we can see in the photo link.

      • Michael Bell says

        The countries mentioned don’t have testing rates much higher than ours, but they did have the advantage of being island nations. Being island nations they were much able to keep track of new cases coming in. So, I slightly better testing rate, tracing (which has been poor in North America), isolation (which has been poor in North America) were factors which let them virtually eliminate the virus for now.

        The island provinces in Canada have had similar successes.

  19. senecagriggs says

    Bill Maher On OCD Pandemic Overreaction:

    ‘What’s The Point Of Life If You Can’t Live It?’


    Simply FYI

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      Easy to say if you are rich chap (I want to use another word here).

      But also, I am living a great life now. I work at home, concentrate more on cooking interesting things, I expanded may little garden, I have had long and deep conversations with people far away, etc etc. Most of us have limitations, financial, physical and otherwise on how we live our lives. We adapt and enjoy what we can. Mr Maher and others of his ilk would do well in absorbing the wisdom of the ancients in this regards, Epicureans and Stoics alike.

    • The point of life is to help others. If that means staying at home… Stay home.

      • Robert F says

        “But I have MY RIGHTS!!!”, said with a semiautomatic strapped to one’s belly in the state Capitol building.

        • “Their citizens glorified their mythology of “rights”… and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure.” – Robert Heinlein, *Starship Troopers*

    • Christiane says

      maybe the ‘living of life’ is more about how we care for those who fall without our help than looking out for ourselves

      it has taken me a long time to learn this truth

  20. So if you are a working class employee of Chucky Cheese and the government shuts down your business what are you to do? How long can the govt support everyone. Someone once said if you can mine coal you can learn to code, is that true. The top 20 percent will not be greatly affected with this until the bottom 80 percent find the shutdown intolerable.

    • “How long can the govt support everyone.”

      Until we get a vaccine? Seriously, if we’re not going down the “we support everyone as best we can until we can vaccinate or adequately test and isolate” route, then we are going down the “a certain percentage of the population is going to die to maintain business as usual, and we’re ok with that” route.

      Choose one.

      • Christiane says

        why not the strong protect the weak?

        why not those who can, now stand; but not fail to protect and shield those who are helpless ???

        we are who we stand up for, we are who we protect . . . let’s not lose ‘who we are’, good people

    • Klasie Kraalogies says

      See my earlier post.

    • Dana Ames says


      in Germany the government is guaranteeing (through employers) 60% of a person’s income every week for as long as it takes. Even though that is a lot of pressure on the government’s budget, this course will enable them to bounce back quicker, and every laborer has some money coming in every week, not the hit-and-miss jumble we have in the US.


      • Robert F says

        It will also enable at-risk people to stay at home, rather than force them into the workplace to make a living at risk of dying. Here in the U.S. it’s “Let the Weak be Sacrificed”, that’s the solution many here want implemented.

      • https://www.justia.com/covid-19/50-state-covid-19-resources/coronavirus-and-unemployment-benefits-50-state-resources/

        Dana, do you know anyone in your area getting unemployment. Many here in Fl. where I am now have not received their checks yet but they are catching up. Most people will not see a decrease in their unemployment but many will see an increase. More than 60 percent pay replacement on average.

        • Robert F says

          That’s a short term band-aid, not comparable to the comprehensive safety net package available in places like Germany. And it does not come near covering health care insurance, one of the most expensive monthly expenditures that households in the US have.

        • Dana Ames says

          See Robert’s reply, Dan.

          Of course I know people receiving unemployment payments. I’m eligible, even thought I’m part time (substitute teacher), but since my income is “extra” for my husband and me, I haven’t applied. It’s not necessary for me to live, but it is necessary for others, so I’m letting my share, small though it would be, remain in the pool for them.

          And the people who need unemployment payments the most often have a very difficult time with the bureaucratic paperwork.


    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The top 20 percent will not be greatly affected with this until the bottom 80 percent find the shutdown intolerable.

      And then everything blows sky-high in a French Revolution.
      Or worse, a Haitian Jacquerie.

  21. Good article with some interesting numbers. I think we are in for a long slog, and most medical experts are still strongly advising the need for caution. No one knows exactly how we will get out of this.

    I live in California, which has taken an OK approach to the spread, with decent restrictions. At the same time, the politicians are feeling pressure from the relatively small minority that is eager to reopen for business. That make me nervous.

    American culture is not well suited to disciplined collective action. We have some good traits, and some very bad ones, including individualism, selfishness and impatience. This was true long before the pandemic, but now these negative traits just might get a lot of us killed.

  22. Individualism translated to self effort and achievement is good, I would say. Of course it is tempered and we did achieve out of many, one, which is a good motto and goal. Self reliance and working for your family and yourself is not selfish , it is how the world turns. again USA generally got it right more than other countries. Impatience, that is because we are a nation of achievers. So that is the split, these traits in Calf. are negatives. The groups that are granted their individualism and left alone are the homeless and illegal aliens. Am I wrong? The laws and norms that apply to you do not apply to them or am I wrong. I guess it is all how you look at it.

    • Dana Ames says

      No, there have been recent laws that are trying to put an end to this, especially since homeless groups can be large vectors for the disease (see comments above). LA and other cities are mandating that homeless people be housed so that the disease spread among them can be tracked and contained. Search for newspaper articles for details.

      another Californian

    • A nice statement of faith in The American Way. But it’s applicability to the present situation is lacking

  23. senecagriggs says

    Again, if you don’t take into account the reality of human nature – selfish, stubborn, resistant to change, with a bent towards sin – then you will NEVER come close to achieving your goal; be it Climate Change or getting past the latest pandemic.

    IF you’re solution is, “Let’s all pull together,” then we’re screwed. Cause in the history of mankind that has never happened and will never happen. If you require 100 percent of everybody being on board, your plan is dead in the water.

    • So, we may as well not try? That seems to be your default answer to every problem brought up here…

    • Does that apply to abortion as well? Why bother since we can’t stop 100% of it? Why have any laws if someone will always violate them? Why try to make anything better, fairer, if someone will always take advantage of it?

      Sounds rather fatalistic for someone who believes God is in control.

    • Rick Ro. says

      –> “IF you’re solution is, “Let’s all pull together,” then we’re screwed. Cause in the history of mankind that has never happened and will never happen. If you require 100 percent of everybody being on board, your plan is dead in the water.”

      So I just recently finished reading a book on 1942… “The Year that Doomed the Axis.” What was fascinating was reading about the American reaction to going to war and the need to make sacrifices. A vast majority realized we were in it for the long run, that sacrifices had to be made, etc. etc. But even at the beginning of American involvement in WWII, you had a small group of the population complaining about their rights being trampled, about the rationing of gas, tires, metals, and other goods (that led to the unexpected shortages of fairly normal things).

      So… If you think you need 100%, you’re wrong. It wasn’t 100% here in the USA during WWII, yet we essentially rallied as a nation to help fight the Axis. Plus, just look what the Brits accomplished through the early part of the war, essentially going it alone for a bit (as begrudging allies with the Soviets). Heck, even the Soviets during WWII would be a case in point of a nation pulling together to stop the Germans.

      The problem we have here today is no one pulling the nation together as a fairly cohesive “let’s do this” leader. Way too divisive leadership today. And while we don’t need 100%, you probably need greater than 50-60%.

      Our current President does us no favors by making everything about him. He lost the ability to rally us as a nation back when this began. And it could’ve been so easy for him to be a true leader.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Our current President does us no favors by making everything about him

        In the words of the prophet Trent Reznor:
        “THERE IS NO YOU!
        THERE IS NO YOU!
        THERE IS ONLY ME!”

  24. senecagriggs says

    Like I said; if your solution relies on everybody acting as they should; it will fail.

    • And like *I* said – should we not at least try?

    • Dana Ames says

      The question isn’t “Why don’t people act as they should?”

      The question is, “Why do some people – even those we don’t expect, and even inconsistently – act as they should?”

      It’s relatively easy to explain evil. You and many others have observed and experienced it. Why is there goodness? Expound on that, Sen, and maybe we can have some better conversations. 😉


    • Rick Ro. says

      You’re more of a cynic than I gave you credit for!! Which means you’re more like me than I thought!

      • senecagriggss says

        It is almost impossible to over-estimate my cynicism Rick Ro. History pretty much backs my stance.

        I want to be clear; I think Covid 19 is going to continue to bring about the deaths of thousands of people. But so will economic devastation.

        What we’re faced with is the choice of poisons we will be forced to drink. Regardless of the decisions; there will continue to be an immense human cost.

        But there is hope if you are a believer. Not that you won’t die but that you will be with God eternally when you leave this body..

        • Rick Ro. says

          –> “What we’re faced with is the choice of poisons we will be forced to drink.”

          Exactly what I felt last election. Poison A – Trump; Poison B – Clinton.

          I chose not to drink either of those poisons back then. Unfortunately, I don’t see that any of us have the option of choosing a non-poison in the Covid-19 affair.

    • Iain Lovejoy says

      You rely on about 80-90% of people doing what they should, which is usually what happens when there are good reasons for something properly explained. Most of the 10-20% @$$holes generally then get into line through social pressure and persuasion etc, and effective enforcement action against the remaining diehards generally finishes the job enough for it to work.
      If you can’t get 80-90% of the people you need to comply more-or-less on board then, yes, whatever you are trying to do will basically go belly up.

      • Rick Ro. says

        Exactly. See my comment a tad earlier about the USA in 1942. It wasn’t even 100% here in the States when we had the Axis as the Big Bad Enemy.

        But we did have a President who knew how to get to 90%, and a vast majority who knew sacrifices had to be made to win.

    • Clay Crouch says

      Not everyone, just most of us. You really need to do something about your binary world view.

  25. Robert F says

    Guess what Very VIP announced today that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine daily, despite all the experts around him saying it is ineffective, and even dangerous, in treatment or prevention of COVID-19? That’s right, you guessed right, you knew who it was. I bet tomorrow he’ll claim the fake msm made it all up, got it all wrong — he’s actually taking it, but for malaria! What a great example he is!

  26. senecagriggss says

    Dana, let’s have that conversation. Does ANYBODY actually do good out of 100 percent pure motives? I would say no. To incorporate a current phrase; a lot of the “good” we do is simple virtue signaling. “I will do this good thing because it makes me look noble.”

    Mixed or ambiguous motives seem to predominate.

    Another term is “secondary gain.” We do something good because it gains us a hidden or not so hidden desire.

    • Rick Ro. says

      Wow. I mean, I’m pretty cynical but not even I am THIS cynical…LOL.

      Haven’t you had anyone be nice to you, without you suspecting ulterior motives? Haven’t you had anyone be nice to you, without SEEING those ulterior motives?

      I’ve seen plenty of good done by people, without suspecting mixed or ambiguous motives NOR SEEING those displayed later.

    • Robert F says

      You make perfect the enemy of good. [Mod: Edited to keep things civil.]

    • Dana Ames says


      nobody has pure motives all the time, and of course there is virtue signaling and secondary gain.

      Do you think at least a few people do good from the right motives at least some of the time? People who never get publicity? People whose religion or ethical stance calls for it? Do these people exist? And do people exist who, like the son in one of the parables Jesus told, say, “Nah, I won’t do that (good thing)” – and then go and do it? Why did that son change his mind? and Why did Jesus commend him?

      Didn’t Jesus say, “If you, then, being evil [the Greek word carries overtones of “sly” or “cunning”, not “totally depraved”] know how to give good gifts to your children…”? So he expects us to be able to do good, even if the motive is wrong, even if we don’t do good all the time – and he affirms that we actually know what that Good is.

      And Paul writes in 2Cor that yes, we walk by faith (trusting loyalty to Jesus) and try to be pleasing to him, for at the judgment of Christ all will be made manifest, and each one each one will receive according to what he has done by means of his body, whether good or worthless. [The phrase “whether good or worthless” is often placed after “receive”, but that’s not where it comes in the Greek text; it comes after “done”, so as far as I can tell gramatically it’s describing the actions, not the rewards.]

      Years ago I came to the conclusion – from reading Scripture! – that the MAIN thing about being a Christian isn’t having the proper morality or set of rules. It’s about being trustingly loyal to Jesus Christ because he, as the GodMan, has carried away our sin on the Cross (however you want to describe Atonement – in the East it’s not penal in any way) AND in his Resurrection destroyed the power of death to enslave us to sin by fear of death (see Heb 2). He has given us as our ultimate hope eternal communion with the Godhead as complete humans, with Resurrection of our bodies (see 1Cor 15) – which was a very 1st Century Jewish hope.

      Why be a Christian, then? Because uniting ourselves to Jesus, the first Truly Human Being, is the way to recover our full humanity; we do wish to do good consistently but are unable because of “this body of death” (see Rom 7 and 8). Following Jesus to the Cross (whatever that looks like for each of us on any given day) is the way to learn how to voluntarily lay down our lives in love for others, in the bodies we have now. This living out of our baptism into the death of Christ is how we come, little by little, to life as human beings in the image of God: Christ on the Cross is what God looks like – it is the way we can see the kind of God the Father is. Following Jesus ensures us of the safe path of becoming humble, finding deliverance and healing in weakness, and dying before we die, so that when we die we are born to the Life of the Age to Come (that’s what the Greek aionios means, not primarily “unending”) – also a very Jewish hope.

      Of course we should me moral. But morality follows on from our existence. The ontological thing has to come first. It is the ontological problem – deliverance from death and disintegration – that has to be solved first, so that we can do good without fear of the threat of death (of any kind). It’s all there in Athanasius’ On the Incarnation – that’s how the early Christians saw our predicament and its solution, including Paul, if you are able to take off the Reformation-interpretation glasses. As N.T. Wright (a Protestant, and “conservative” theologically) has said, Paul’s questions weren’t the questions of the Reformers. Try on those other interpretive spectacles – you’ll find a Truly Good God, and a view of humanity that is worthy of that God.


    • Clay Crouch says

      Virtue signaling is a term the Christian far right uses as an excuse to condemn other’s good works.

  27. senecagriggss says

    Dana, I’ve read enough of your comments to think that you probably wouldn’t allege 100 percent pure motives for any of the good you have done. I think you are pretty psychologically and theologically sophisticated.

    • Rick Ro. says

      If I’m reading this correctly, you’re telling me you’ve never done a good, kind act without some inner selfish motive, nor do you ever plan on doing a future good, kind act without some inner selfish motive. True?

    • Dana Ames says

      Thanks for the compliment, but for me it’s really simple: God loves us. Because Jesus is human, he judges us kindly – see Hebrews again. Even if our motives aren’t pure, God knows why we do things. And I believe that at least occasionally a person’s motives can be pure. So much depends on the direction in which we are moving.

      Maximos the Confessor, brilliant thinker from the early 600s, crystallized the consensus about this in the Christian East. Basically, nobody does evil because they want to do evil; people do things because they believe at some level that good will come of the action. Their belief may be deluded, and their acts end up being evil, but not because they plan to do evil. They just want to maintain their existence.

      Again, the existence issue comes first.


  28. senecagriggs says

    Dana, a really excellent post;

    Rick Ro, iike King David in Psalms 51,

    5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

    6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

    In those inward parts……..

    I started pondering the question in Jr. College, decades ago, if any altruistic act was from 100 percent pure motives. At least in my case I’d say NO..

    I really like doing things for other people. It makes me feel good about myself.

    • Robert F says

      I started pondering the question in Jr. College, decades ago, if any altruistic act was from 100 percent pure motives. At least in my case I’d say NO..

      It is easy and natural to make the mistake of believing that everyone else is like oneself with regard to motivation. I struggle to resist making that mistake, but still do, and often.

      • Rick Ro. says

        Exactly. What I feel and know about myself isn’t transferable to others. The inability to recognize that others don’t think and feel the way I do is called narcissism. Not a good thing.

  29. Something strange where I live: the peak in deaths came only 10 days after lockdown, even though average time between infection and death is said to be 18 days. Can’t really work out how to square that: was it already slowing down on its own? By what mechanism?

    • Average Joe Christian says

      People were beginning to hole up even before the lockdown went into effect, at least where I live. Before the lockdown began, I treated someone to lunch, much to my mother’s protest, who wanted neither of us eating out that day. There were very few people in the restaurant. The host wanted us to sit at a booth where we would be between one set of people and another set of people. I asked to be seated somewhere away from the other guests. He parked us in the same section, but as far away as possible form the other guests while still seating us in the same section.

      Multiply voluntary actions like that by thousands and thousands of people across your area, and that might explain why peak deaths came ten days after mandatory lockdown began. But it also begs the question: if people brought about peak death more or less on their own, then why did lockdown have to be voluntary?