"The clear trend across Europe is towards some form of normalisation"
April 21, 2020 5:06 AM   Subscribe

 
[An encouragement to keep a high signal-to-noise ratio in this thread, with lots of links to news, facts and analysis and a de-emphasis on opinion, drive-by jokes/snark, and furious arguing. Perhaps we can keep the usefulness of the March 21st thread alive for another month.]
posted by mediareport at 5:07 AM on April 21 [14 favorites]


Long video interview with a Swedish epidemiologist on why they're doing things differently.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:25 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


I think it's good that there's one place for all the news in one thread (for a little while).

I still watch and toggle this tracker on a daily basis: It looks like Turkey, Russia, Brazil & Belgium(?) are the next hot spots - India, Pakistan & Bangladesh are the next wave after them - and New Zealand is absolutely the country that did the best so far. Also, this
posted by growabrain at 5:42 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Long video interview with a Swedish epidemiologist on why they're doing things differently.

For folks who prefer reading to video, here's an interview posted today in Nature with Andres Tegnell, the Swedish scientist linked above. It also includes this:

The approach has sharp critics. Among them are 22 high-profile scientists who last week wrotein the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that the public-health authorities had failed, and urged politicians to step in with stricter measures. They point to the high number of coronavirus deaths in elder-care homes and Sweden’s overall fatality rate, which is higher than that of its Nordic neighbours — 131 per million people, compared with 55 per million in Denmark and 14 per million in Finland, which have adopted lockdowns.

The part that stood out most was Tegnell's response to the question about asymptomatic carriers:

Researchers have criticized the agency for not fully acknowledging the role of asymptomatic carriers. Do you think asymptomatic carriers are a problem?

There is a possibility that asymptomatics might be contagious, and some recent studies indicate that. But the amount of spread is probably fairly small compared to people who show symptoms.


"Probably"?
posted by mediareport at 5:50 AM on April 21 [15 favorites]


The video interview is with Johan Giesecke, who is a different Swedish epidemiologist.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:55 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Sweden's approach is seriously blowing my mind, TBH. The fact that my backwater state is appealing to actual science more than a leading socialist country...IDK what reality is anymore.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:56 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


The USS Roosevelt is an interesting epidemiology sample . . . only 600 of 4800 tested positive, and 60% of them were asymptomatic.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 5:56 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Uh, the superspreader events that kicked off every major US hotspot all or nearly all had one thing in common: The people who infected the group that went on to infect the community were asymptomatic at the time. It's possible they had a mild fever, since we didn't bother to do any real screening until it was too late, but the evidence we actually have points to asymptomatic transmission being a significant part of this pandemic.

(Sorry I don't have specific links..I'm on my phone right now.)
posted by wierdo at 5:57 AM on April 21 [21 favorites]


Hogan administration officials said they decided to keep the developing operation quiet after Massachusetts reported 3 million masks it ordered were impounded in March at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
pamela wood & luke broadwater in the baltimore sun.

and don't miss furtive_jackanapes' more-thorough post about gov. hogan acquiring 500k tests from republic of korea company labgenomics toward the tail end of the expiring thread.
posted by 20 year lurk at 5:59 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Lots of well presented Australian data at https://www.covid19data.com.au
posted by flabdablet at 5:59 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Apologies for mistaking the Swedish epidemiologists. Does the first one also think asymptomatic spread is only a possibility at this point too?
posted by mediareport at 6:00 AM on April 21


The Sweden/Norway dichotomy is stunning. Sweden has nearly 5x the deaths/million than Norway and they call it a success?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:02 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


"Success" at this point I guess is everyone isn't dying?

That we know of.
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:05 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]




> "It looks like Turkey, Russia, Brazil & Belgium(?) are the next hot spots ..."

I asked a friend who lived in Belgium about this the other day (so, beware that this is anecdotal.) He said that the Belgium is counting deaths differently from other countries in a way that makes their death count appear to be higher.
posted by kyrademon at 6:09 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


The economist has an updated page now on excess mortality for different countries. That is, if you cannot trust anything else you can look at how many more people are dying right now than in past years.

Page from Emma Hodcroft, showing where to find this data for different countries. Portugal updates theirs daily and it is already dropping. The Netherlands reports it weekly and the mortality last week was the same as the previous week which shows that it is flattening.
posted by vacapinta at 6:14 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]




The primer from STAT is very good re:antibodies & testing. One thing that people should be aware of is antibodies are generated by the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system also has a role to play, and is probably one of the reasons why young people aren't fucked by COVID19. A (VERY SIMPLIFIED*) primer on the difference from In the Pipeline.


*Seriously! You could do ~5yrs fulltime degree level study on JUST the mammalian immune system (after a good undergrad degree in biology). It is one of the marvels of the universe.
posted by lalochezia at 6:24 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


Why We Don’t Know the True Death Rate for Covid-19 — Determining what percentage of those infected by the coronavirus will die is a key question for epidemiologists, but an elusive one during the pandemic., New York Times, Amy Harmon, 4/18/2020:
Coroners in some parts of the country are overwhelmed. Funeral homes in coronavirus hot spots can barely keep up. Newspaper obituary pages in hard-hit areas go on and on. Covid-19 is on track to kill far more people in the United States this year than the seasonal flu. But determining just how deadly the new coronavirus will be is a key question facing epidemiologists, who expect resurgent waves of infection that could last into 2022.

As the virus spread across the world in late February and March, the projection circulated by infectious disease experts of how many infected people would die seemed plenty dire: around 1 percent, or 10 times the rate of a typical flu. But according to various unofficial Covid-19 trackers that calculate the death rate by dividing total deaths by the number of known cases, about 6.4 percent of people infected with the virus have now died worldwide....
“Everyone in the whole country is vulnerable to this,” said Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of public health at the University of California, Irvine. “Nobody has pre-immunity. That’s totally unlike flu. So New York had some early cases, it spread like crazy. But why is Des Moines not going to have a Covid epidemic? What’s so special about Springfield, Ill.? Social distancing will end. And people will start getting it again and dying.”
posted by cenoxo at 6:25 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


There's a partial, amateur transcript of the Johan Giesecke interview here. He doesn't mention asymptomatic transmission but believes there are very large numbers of asymptomatic people:
Interviewer: So you think millions and millions in Britain already have it?
Giesecke: Yes. I’m rather certain of that actually. In both Sweden and the U.K. at least half the population has had the virus.
Basically he seems to think that Sweden will get most of its deaths over with early, but the more locked-down countries will get the same number of deaths after they lift the lockdown. It's not that he thinks the Swedish approach is any better at reducing the total death toll, but that they've successfully flattened the curve to within their healthcare system's capacity, without any more deaths and with less disruption. He acknowledges that there were failures with their care homes and they should have done more to protect the elderly.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:26 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


mediareport, thank you for starting this thread and posting those news links to kick it off. I hadn't heard much about Ecuador in recent days and was appalled to learn of the conditions in Guayaquil that are described in the article you posted. This article about the potential toll of the virus in Africa is equally sobering. Up to 3.3 million deaths? 300,000 as a best case scenario?
posted by cheapskatebay at 6:26 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


A state-by-state tracker of the R0:
rt.live (No relation to Russia today.)
posted by From Bklyn at 6:29 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


Why would North Dakota and South Dakota have such different R0's? Is it just statistical weirdness because of their small populations?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:43 AM on April 21


"Success" at this point I guess is everyone isn't dying?

I think it's useful to keep some perspective on the impact of covid-19 on mortality rates. Across the large European countries that were hit hardest by coronavirus (Spain, Italy, France, UK) so far ~82,000 people have reportedly died out of a population of ~240 million. Even if the number of deaths were to increase ten-fold (which might very well happen in the next six to twelve months), that is still less than 0.5% of the total population. The hardship, suffering and death caused by covid-19 are heartbreaking and must be minimized, but it's not like covid-19 decimates populations.
posted by dmh at 6:44 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Gov Kemp is reopening much of Georgia. He is not even following the President's plans.

Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated because ain't nothing else gonna help us at this point.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:44 AM on April 21 [30 favorites]


Populations are made up of people. We all know this isn't an extinction event. I am not in the mood to "keep perspective" on this horrifying time. It is still suffering and death and fear.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:47 AM on April 21 [43 favorites]


Seeing and reading what's going on in the rest of the world, and comparing it to the very much non-social distancing I'm witnessing here in Sweden is very discouraging. My daughter's (charter) school closed about a month ago, but today it was back to the classroom due in part to negative media attention for the school not following the advice of the public health advisory board. Meanwhile, as asymptomatic kids are busy infecting each other and their parents, who go on to work at retirement homes and spread the disease like wildfire.
posted by St. Oops at 7:04 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


Basically he seems to think that Sweden will get most of its deaths over with early, but the more locked-down countries will get the same number of deaths after they lift the lockdown. It's not that he thinks the Swedish approach is any better at reducing the total death toll, but that they've successfully flattened the curve to within their healthcare system's capacity, without any more deaths and with less disruption. He acknowledges that there were failures with their care homes and they should have done more to protect the elderly.

I think he is wrong. I'm not a doctor, at least not a medical doctor, but I think there is more to it than just flattening the curve, although that is important. Can we keep the infection rate lower until there is either a cure or a vaccine?Just to state the obvious. But also, what is capacity? Is it treating people in normal ICUs inside normal hospitals, or do tents count? After five weeks now, Denmark is opening the healthcare system for other non-emergency treatment including elective surgery like hip replacements, and for me personally, BRCA2 related surgery. I feel the "draconian measures" have done us well.

I'm also quite scared about the Swedish approach because I've heard from several idiots that going to Sweden to holiday is the next big thing. I'm scared they'll bring the virus back home with them, and create a second wave at the end of summer, overwhelming the system this time because there are so many of them.
posted by mumimor at 7:09 AM on April 21 [19 favorites]


Gov Kemp is reopening much of Georgia

It's hard to see this as anything but a convenient way to kick people off the unemployment rolls, since it's such an odd mix of businesses he's allowing back open.
posted by mittens at 7:13 AM on April 21 [30 favorites]


Hey, things aren’t that bad—people are cooking more! Seriously, if you find yourself about to say, well, it’s bad that hundreds of thousands of people are dying by drowning in their own lung fluids but it’s also actually kind of good because [my pet issue]...maybe don’t? At least I haven’t heard social conservatives applauding the rise in homeschooling yet.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 7:14 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


Populations are made up of people. We all know this isn't an extinction event. I am not in the mood to "keep perspective" on this horrifying time. It is still suffering and death and fear.

I don't really understand the need to remind me that populations are made up of people, but it makes me very sad. I am sorry if my comment upset you. These are terrible times for all of us. Personally I am overwhelmed by waves of fear and grief, but buoyed to know that almost all of of us will make it through. Take care.
posted by dmh at 7:29 AM on April 21 [17 favorites]


Israelis demonstrate how to demonstrate during an infectious disease outbreak

The person-to-person spacing shown in that drone shot is all very well, but there are still two thousand protesters in that gathering.

Imagine walking down the street as somebody smoking a cigarette approaches from the opposite direction. You know perfectly well from personal experience that you will be smelling that cigarette for many, many metres as you walk through that person's wake; a few seconds of thought will tell you that the smoke you're smelling is acting as a marker for how much of what you're breathing is made up of that other person's exhalations.

The point is that everybody trails a wake like that, even if you can't smell it because they're only loading it up with their own personal aerosol and not with smoke.

Put two thousand people in a parking lot and they are going to be inhaling each other's exhalations, two metre separation be damned.
posted by flabdablet at 7:32 AM on April 21 [55 favorites]


Coronavirus attacks lining of blood vessels all over the body, Swiss study finds: • Researcher says virus enters ‘defence line’ and causes circulation problems, which can lead to multiple organ failure • In addition to a vaccine, he suggests strengthening vascular health may be key to tackling Covid-19; South China Morning Post, Holly Chik, 4/21/2020:
The coronavirus attacks the lining of blood vessels all over the body, which can ultimately lead to multiple organ failure, according to a new study published in The Lancet [*].

“This virus does not only attack the lungs, it attacks the vessels everywhere,” said Frank Ruschitzka, an author of the paper from University Hospital Zurich. He said the researchers had found that the deadly virus caused more than pneumonia. “It enters the endothelium [layer of cells], which is the defence line of the blood vessels. So it brings your own defence down and causes problems in microcirculation,” said Ruschitzka, referring to circulation in the smallest of blood vessels.

It then reduces the blood flow to different parts of the body and eventually stops blood circulation, according to Ruschitzka, chairman of the heart centre and cardiology department at the university hospital in Switzerland. “From what we do see clinically, patients have problems in all organs – in the heart, kidney, intestine, everywhere,” he said.
*Endothelial cell infection and endotheliitis in COVID-19, The Lancet, Published:April 20, 2020.

From the previous thread, see also: How does coronavirus kill? Clinicians trace a ferocious rampage through the body, from brain to toes; Science; Meredith Wadman, Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Jocelyn Kaiser, Catherine Matacic; 4/17/ 2020.
posted by cenoxo at 7:35 AM on April 21 [16 favorites]


Smithfield Foods Is Blaming “Living Circumstances In Certain Cultures” For One Of America’s Largest COVID-19 Clusters (via)
“Living circumstances in certain cultures are different than they are with your traditional American family,” she explained. The spokesperson and a second corporate representative pointed to an April 13 Fox News interview in which the governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem, said that “99%” of the spread of infections “wasn’t happening inside the facility” but inside workers’ homes, “because a lot of these folks who work at this plant live in the same community, the same buildings, sometimes in the same apartments."

But internal company communications and interviews with nearly a dozen workers and their relatives point to a series of management missteps and half measures that contributed significantly to the spread of the virus. A BuzzFeed News investigation has uncovered new information showing the company did little to inform or protect employees during the critical two weeks after the first case at the plant surfaced. Then, with confirmed cases rising quickly, Smithfield introduced new safety protocols but applied them unevenly across the plant’s departments, leaving hundreds of workers exposed. [...]

Presented with a detailed list of questions, the spokesperson said that it was “purposefully misleading” to portray Smithfield “as reacting to a positive case rather than the very proactive approach” that the company took to the pandemic when it began, but she did not contest any specific facts.
Why bother contesting specific facts when you can just blame your workforce by invoking racist tropes?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:36 AM on April 21 [59 favorites]


Gov Kemp is reopening much of Georgia

It's hard to see this as anything but a convenient way to kick people off the unemployment rolls, since it's such an odd mix of businesses he's allowing back open.


The oddest part is that seems to be his goal, but it’s likely not to work since all those furloughed shops will just go belly up anyway since there will be no customers to buy things and the laid off workers will just go back on the unemployment rolls.

Even the states that didn’t close, like South Dakota, have seen all economic activity drop off the cliff as people take the virus seriously even if the local government does not.
posted by jmauro at 7:37 AM on April 21 [17 favorites]


I reminded you that populations are made up of people because it comes off really crass to me to come into a thread like this and remind us that ONLY this many people have died. That is not a comfort, or anything that even approaches a comfort. Thank you for your apology.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:39 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


it comes off really crass to me to come into a thread like this

This is a thread to discuss news, facts and analysis. As such I don't agree it's crass to address the impact of covid-19 on mortality, and I personally do find that information comforting.
posted by dmh at 7:54 AM on April 21 [48 favorites]


Gov Kemp is reopening much of Georgia

It's hard to see this as anything but a convenient way to kick people off the unemployment rolls, since it's such an odd mix of businesses he's allowing back open.


It's threefold. First is your point.

Second is that landlords will now be able to demand rent from these businesses, because they're not being forced to close anymore.

Third is... well, note the timing. Two weeks of relatively little complaining about shutdowns and stay-home orders. Then a week where it was widely reported that Black people are suffering much worse outcomes due to COVID-19. Then a week of hyped-up protests demanding a reopen.

I'm not calling this an intentional biowar phase. But I'm not pushing back against anyone who does.
posted by Etrigan at 7:58 AM on April 21 [46 favorites]


WaPo: Trump says he will issue order to suspend immigration during coronavirus crisis, closing off the United States to a new extreme
If such an order were in fact signed, it would be unprecedented in American history, Nowrasteh said. During the height of the 1918 flu pandemic, the United States allowed more than 110,000 immigrants to enter the country.

And during World War II, the United States accepted more than 170,000 immigrants with green cards and more than 227,000 temporary agricultural workers, mostly from Mexico, on the bracero guest worker visa program. [...]

Alex Nowrasteh, the director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said that the president likely does have the authority to issue such an order during a time of crisis. [...]

Nowrasteh said he was surprised that it took Trump so long to use the pandemic and the cause of public health as justification to achieve one of his highest policy priorities.

“The president has been opposed to legal immigration for his entire administration,” he said. “This is an opportunity to close it down entirely, and this is about as legitimate as you can get in terms of a broad justification for doing so.
Sure, let's use a Libertarian think-tanker as the only source of "expert" opinion on the legality and legitimacy of Trump's racist decrees. Or maybe they could fucking google "covid-19 community spread" and realize he's completely full of shit to say that stopping a handful of people from coming here will do anything significant to change the equation.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:02 AM on April 21 [18 favorites]


Gov Kemp is reopening much of Georgia. He is not even following the President's plans.

Texas, too. I'm so tired.
posted by sciatrix at 8:27 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Sure, let's use a Libertarian think-tanker as the only source of "expert" opinion on the legality and legitimacy of Trump's racist decrees.

The Cato Institute, for whatever faults it might have, is pretty strongly in favor of immigration:
Immigrants should also be able to work and live here with the same rights and legal protections as American citizens and, eventually, naturalize.

Expanding legal immigration, avoiding harsh enforcement policies, legalizing illegal immigrants who are not a security or health threat, protecting Americans from foreign‐​born threats, and extending due process rights to those who run afoul of immigration laws are our primary policy concerns. Immigrants today should continue to culturally assimilate and integrate into American society as they have throughout American history, but that process can be hastened by legalizing illegal immigrants and protecting birthright citizenship.
(yeah, I know, it's a bit rich that they claim that position but still use the phrase "illegal immigrant"). Anyway, I read Nowrasteh's commentary as saying "unfortunately, Trump can in fact probably do this, and it's only surprising it took him this long to use the pandemic as a fig leaf."
posted by jedicus at 8:29 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Even more to the point: Nowrasteh co-wrote a piece arguing "No, Mr. President, Immigration Is Not Correlated with COVID-19 in the United States".
posted by jedicus at 8:31 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


[Folks to prevent the garbage tornado from taking over all discussion, maybe we should section off Trump bullshit/evil into the thread about Trump's failures on the virus, and keep this thread for virus updates that aren't Trump-centric?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:34 AM on April 21 [37 favorites]


Can we keep the infection rate lower until there is either a cure or a vaccine?Just to state the obvious. But also, what is capacity? Is it treating people in normal ICUs inside normal hospitals, or do tents count?

In NYC, at some point the ambulances just stopped taking most ill people to the hospital and hospitals functionally were not getting those people in. Many, many people died at home. There was still "capacity" here in some sense but the logistical flow of patients from home to appropriate hospital care was messed up and a lot of people died.

So in addition to hospital capacity, you have emergency transport capacity, logistical capacity (getting people to the right hospitals), triaging capacity/knowledge.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:41 AM on April 21 [20 favorites]


Cutting and pasting a friend's Doscord observation about Georgia:

"It's been pointed out in various social-media outlets that by re-opening those place, GA no longer has to pay unemployment to their employees.

And I'm sure it's no coincidence that the places Kemp is re-opening are (1) close-contact and hands-on services by their nature, (2) tend to have middle- and upper-class people as clients, (3) tend to hire low-income and diverse workforces.
It's absolutely despicable. Given this ghastly choice between unsafe work and zero income, I hope some of these people have legal recourse at some point."
posted by ocschwar at 9:05 AM on April 21 [31 favorites]


Here in the Netherlands, the blood bank has conducted a study of about 4000 blood donors (18-75 yo, all subjects were 'healthy' for 2 weeks prior to the measurement). The preliminary results show that 3% of those adults had antibodies against the virus (so had recovered from Covid-19). They will repeat the study in a few weeks, in total there will be 7000 subjects so it will be interesting to follow it.

So I don't believe large percentages of people have had it in other countries, maybe only in very specific regions like Lombardy.

Re: Belgium, they count deaths in nursing homes, we don't unless they have tested positive (and we test very few cases). Feels like they're just more accurate in their count.
posted by kwartel at 9:13 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


Smithfield Foods Is Blaming “Living Circumstances In Certain Cultures” For One Of America’s Largest COVID-19 Clusters

Smithfield appears to be suffering from economic anxiety.
posted by JackFlash at 9:17 AM on April 21 [24 favorites]


kwartel... do we know if people can have recovered without also having antibodies that show up in a test?
posted by kokaku at 9:19 AM on April 21




kokaku, good question, I'm not sure as I'm not a virologist :) The article doesn't mention it, though they do link the presence of antibodies to future immunity.

Maybe, if you had the virus but were not very ill, you might not have enough antibodies for them to show up in a test. But in that case, are you immune or could you get covid again?
posted by kwartel at 9:27 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


This herd immunity stuff is just bullshit. It takes about 80% immunity to stop an epidemic through "herd immunity." If the Netherlands is only at 3%, they need at least 25 times as many cases and 25 times as many deaths before they get to "herd immunity." And the Netherlands already has one of highest case rates in the world.

In the U.S. that means over 1 million deaths, as many as all the U.S. war deaths in history combined.
posted by JackFlash at 9:29 AM on April 21 [25 favorites]


fyi, there is an AskMe collecting links about the need for additional data, testing, and studies to answer questions related to antibodies and immunity.
posted by katra at 9:30 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


Nearly any article that talks about antibody tests is careful to mention that we don't know whether antibodies necessarily confer immunity. What is the process for gaining that knowledge? Is there any kind of meaningful study that could be conducted in vitro, e.g. using blood that's tested positive for antibodies? Or do we just have to wait and see via "natural experiment" where we carefully monitor a population of antibody-positive people and track their future infection rate?

Also here is an interesting article in yesterday's NYTimes about a potential early warning sign for people who are about to have serious COVID-19 complications. It's in the opinion section but it's by an an actual ER doctor, so it seems promising. To summarize, COVID-19 patients often develop dangerously low blood oxygen levels even before they perceive noticeable respiratory distress, but they tend to go downhill quickly after that happens. If this is a consistent signal, that would be good news because this oxygen level can me measured with inexpensive, non-invasive electronic devices - some pulse oximeters are as cheap as about $40 at Walgreens or CVS (though of course they're all sold out at the moment). Seems like this could be really useful both for triage of hospital admissions, and for signaling to potential patients when they should actually go to a hospital before their condition really collapses.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:46 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]


And the Netherlands already has one of highest case rates in the world.

Could you point me to a source of this fact ?
posted by Pendragon at 9:50 AM on April 21


from earlier in the thread. Scroll down a bit and you'll see a bunch of comparative numbers.
posted by philip-random at 9:58 AM on April 21


My company has an office in Atlanta and our official corporate communication is that one of our primary missions is the wellbeing of our employees and that we'll be keeping the office closed until the science proves it's safe despite what the governor says. This is going to set up a lot of weird tensions with companies like ours who are not based in Atlanta but have been enticed to base offices there for various reasons. This is transparently a case of putting people's lives at risk from the perspective of the leadership of at least my company. Is this what business friendly means?
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:00 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


Nearly any article that talks about antibody tests is careful to mention that we don't know whether antibodies necessarily confer immunity. What is the process for gaining that knowledge?

Getting enough study subjects to let you measure their antibody concentrations in quatloos per deciliter, and then seeing how many of them get re-infected, and with what antibody levels.
posted by ocschwar at 10:02 AM on April 21


I think it's useful to keep some perspective on the impact of covid-19 on mortality rates. Across the large European countries that were hit hardest by coronavirus (Spain, Italy, France, UK) so far ~82,000 people have reportedly died out of a population of ~240 million. Even if the number of deaths were to increase ten-fold (which might very well happen in the next six to twelve months), that is still less than 0.5% of the total population. The hardship, suffering and death caused by covid-19 are heartbreaking and must be minimized, but it's not like covid-19 decimates populations.

Yeah I know I was just being a smart ass.
posted by Young Kullervo at 10:06 AM on April 21


Thanks, phillip-random. But I can't really find where it states that the Netherlands has one of the highest case rates in the world. It's 14 in total cases and 23 in total cases per million pop. I wouldn't classify that as one of the highest case rates in the world.
posted by Pendragon at 10:06 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


[A few comments deleted; please drop the sidebar about whether it's ok to talk about mortality rate in terms of being lower than one might expect or if that's callous. Points made all around, people have different expectations and different emotional responses to that info and it's good to be considerate. But let's not get into a protracted exchange about it; let's aim to stick to updates/info in here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:06 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker is in some ways a subtle speaker - he will rarely outright call somebody a moron. But if you're attuned to Bakerese, you can hear him doing that about officials in other states that are re-opening now, at his daily press update today (at which he announced schools are shut for the rest of the year):
When we're ready to come back, we'll start to do that. This is like the third or fourth quarter and we are holding our own here. Don't let the virus win the game. Play it all the way to the end.
Also, his very last answer was about the latest immigration statement. He didn't use the word "stupid," but it was implied.
posted by adamg at 10:28 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Why would North Dakota and South Dakota have such different R0's? Is it just statistical weirdness because of their small populations?

My guess, based on the really good documentation of the model they're using, is it's a combination of small populations, small testing regimes, and how singular hotspots largely contribute to each state's numbers. About 33% of SD's cases are from the Smithfield plant outbreak, about 20% in ND involve an outbreak at a wind generator factory. The discovery and public health intervention at ND's LM Wind Power hotspot happened about a week after SD's Smithfield hotspot, so ND's effective reproduction rate according to this model is falling roughly a week behind SD's. The rt.live number is calculated on a seven day rolling average and is responding to the timing of each state's surge then decline in newly reported positive cases; so I think the difference between ND and SD is caused by when widespread testing and control efforts were implemented at each state's big hotspot.

Compare these states to Nebraska, which this model currently shows as the nation's highest effective reproduction rate at 1.99. Same factors as ND and SD, small population and small testing regime, but there's currently a surge in reported cases centered in a newly discovered hotspot in the small city of Grand Island, NE involving a frozen food plant and a meatpacking plant. This ongoing surge in positive cases accounts for ~25% of the state's total and is having a large effect on the model, pushing the entire state's calculated effective reproduction rate sharply upwards. Just like ND and SD, one big spike dominates this model's calculation, but NE is currently on the upswing in reporting their hotspot's new cases instead of the decline like ND and SD.

tldr, I think big clustered outbreaks in small populations cause the rt.live model to fluctuate.
posted by peeedro at 10:42 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]


I wouldn't classify that as one of the highest case rates in the world.

Death rate would be more accurate since case rates vary between countries by the amount of testing. Netherlands is number 6 behind Belgium, Spain, Italy, France and the UK. The death rate is nearly twice the U.S. The point being if the Netherlands is showing 3% immunity in antibody tests the U.S. should be significantly less and even farther from herd immunity.
posted by JackFlash at 10:59 AM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Deaths per population size (Death rate) is meaningless as the outbreaks are fairly regional. In the US, one third of people tested in Chelsea, Mass had antibodies! That is pretty high but I wouldn't extrapolate to the whole US.

Here in the Netherlands, Amsterdam has been mostly untouched. Nearly half the cases are in the province of Brabant in the south. Regulations of course are country-wide which means that it is an early preventative measure in some areas while a bit too late in others.
posted by vacapinta at 11:05 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Here in the Netherlands, during the weekly Corona briefing, our prime minister has just told us that most of the current measures will stay in force until May 20.
Some changes: young children will be back in school when the spring break ends, that's May 11. Part time for most of them, full time for those in special education.
Children of 12 - 18 years old are allowed to play and do sports together as long as they can stay 1.5 meters apart. Children up to 12 don't have to adhere to the 1.5 meters rule.

We're still not allowed to visit the elderly in care homes. The risk of outbreaks amongst vulnerable people is just too great. We're also still not being advised to wear face masks. There is a ton of debate going on; the main reasoning against seems to be that they're scarce and needed in the medical system, that they give a false sense of security, and that people don't know how to use them properly. The reasoning pro, well, I guess we all know that by now.
Personally I wear a home made mask inside the supermarket. I'm used to getting stares anyway.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:07 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


My state, Iowa, has one of the highest retransmission rates in the country. Things are getting worse here daily. We were pretty steady at about 100-130 new cases a day. The past three days 389, 257, and 482 new cases, respectively. Despite this, Gov. Kim Reynolds refuses to order a stay at home, as she has claimed we are "essentially doing the equivalent" (we aren't). We are also a rural state, with lots of distance built into our communities, and yet our retransmission rate is higher than other states with large metro areas and much greater population density. Kim Reynolds refuses to answer questions about this, or to be transparent in any way about the numbers. She has doubled down on her refusal to ask people to shelter in place. Without that, Iowans are still acting like idiots. 200 people gathered at a Hy-Vee the other week because they were releasing a special bottle of whiskey. There were hundreds gathered at a horse auction recently.

A lot of our increase (or, as Gov Reynolds says, "only 33%") has been at pork production plants (which, as you might imagine, are primarily staffed by immigrants and whose owners have taken no action to protect workers). We provide something like 30% of the nation's pork supply. It would be a serious food supply chain issue to shut down the plants, and probably lots of pigs would have to be euthanized. I'm not an expert in plant management, but it seems to me there ought to be some middle ground between "cease all pork production" and "carry on as normal and let people die." The workers are powerless because ICE raids on the plants here are notorious.

Almost makes me long for the days when the caucus was the biggest fiasco here. It's been a very backwards, piecemeal, lackluster response. I shouldn't have expected better but still.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:23 AM on April 21 [23 favorites]


My company has an office in Atlanta and our official corporate communication is that one of our primary missions is the wellbeing of our employees and that we'll be keeping the office closed until the science proves it's safe despite what the governor says. This is going to set up a lot of weird tensions with companies like ours who are not based in Atlanta but have been enticed to base offices there for various reasons. This is transparently a case of putting people's lives at risk from the perspective of the leadership of at least my company. Is this what business friendly means?

This seems linked to the intellectual dishonesty of Reopen folks when they talk about determining individual risk: "If you feel unsafe, you should stay home! But don't tell me I have to stay home!" If one believes that, without official orders, most service-industry employers will allow people to stay home if they feel unsafe, without termination or (at the very least) blowing through one's meager PTO, is delusional at best and maliciously ignorant at worst. Without the government stepping in to legally compel people to stay home, everyone is effectively expected to show up to work now. It's a garbage premise that (for example) salon owners will suddenly become benign and flexible re: worker safety.
posted by witchen at 11:42 AM on April 21 [27 favorites]


Why would North Dakota and South Dakota have such different R0's? Is it just statistical weirdness because of their small populations?

*Bruce Willis voice* welcome to the lognormal distribution pal
posted by Jpfed at 11:51 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


Not to mention all those salon employees will be sternly ordered not to wear masks if that's deemed detrimental to the customer's experience.
posted by ocschwar at 11:51 AM on April 21 [16 favorites]


At Least Seven in Wisconsin Contract Coronavirus During Voting (NYT / MSN reprint)
The seven people were the first identified by Milwaukee officials, who contend that the number may be higher as they are still conducting testing. Other cities have not reported any cases tied to voting yet. [...] Before the election, thousands of poll workers, many of whom are older and are considered high risk for the coronavirus, said they would not be able to work during the in-person election, resulting in a severely depleted election staff in many parts of the state. In Milwaukee, that meant its 180 polling locations were drastically reduced to just five. Voters across the city cited waits of well over two hours throughout the day.
posted by katra at 11:53 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]




Couple more links. Woman Who Claimed Coronavirus Was ‘Media Driven’ Hoax Dies From COVID-19. (Snopes confirms).

Memories of the 1957 Flu:
More than sixty years ago, puffing on an untipped Senior Service (we were allowed to smoke in those days) to cover up the reek in a dissecting room at St Thomas’s Hospital, I was struck down by a pandemic virus that had recently evolved in China. By the time I fell ill (its onset was very sudden) the virus had already killed more than 20,000 people in the UK, with 1150 dying every week at its peak, and 80,000 in the US...

Political memoirs, hospital histories and accounts of the NHS don’t mention it. It put no pressure on Intensive Care Units because none existed; ventilators were in their developmental infancy and were used mainly to treat patients with polio, as well as a few with tetanus, barbiturate poisoning or chest injuries; and there were no arguments about testing because tests were so slow that when the results were reported the patient was either better or dead.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:09 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


I have this neighbour, he's an old guy, he doesn't get out much. He can't, he has mobility problems. For years I've taken his bins out to the street, I gave him my wifi password. Otherwise I've left him alone.

He asked me to go shopping for him, when this all started. He wanted instant noodles and sustagen. I couldn't get either. Sustagen is a kind of meal replacement powder? I think it's what they feed people in comas. The noodles, they'd only sell me two cups, he needs them because boiling water is the limit of his cooking ability.

I felt bad about coming back empty handed, I told him not to worry, I'd bring him a plate from my kitchen. He's had my pot roast, chicken tikka, beef goulash, my personal chili. I don't mind, he's good company. We've watched all of The West Wing and Breaking Bad together. It's not like I have anywhere to go.

The truth is, he was eating noodles and smoothies for years before this crisis. And watching TV alone. I thought I was good enough for sharing the wifi, but I was just ignoring him. He needed more than that. He told me that his life has been better since before the virus, because I started to care. He's not so lonely.

We have to do this on an international scale. We can't ignore our neighbours anymore. This thing only stops if we stop it everywhere. We can't let any country be alone. We're all humans from Earth, it sucks that we have to learn this way, but maybe we'll see who needs help by looking beyond our borders.
posted by adept256 at 1:27 PM on April 21 [150 favorites]


More about Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods (WP)...
ah, yes. "Chinese-owned", as if that's the important thing here, not the fact that this global company is still headquartered in the US, not the fact that the racists blaming living conditions were all American, not the fact that the entire C-Suite leadership is American, not the fact that the people dying are all American, undocumented or not.

Gotta do the jingoistic thing and mention the CHINESE!!!!!!!!!!! ownership. Congratulations on being part of the crowd. Because that sort of dogwhistly shit only contributes to the hostile, racist atmosphere that's imbuing the air, ostensibly targeting the Yellow Peril.
posted by anem0ne at 2:02 PM on April 21 [77 favorites]


I have a grad school thesis crossing machine learning and the contemporary pandemic model -- medrxiv.org is pre-print/not yet peer reviewed -- but using data to 1st April they estimate USA (overall, I'm looking at you Georgia) peaks today.
Note though that they use data from Singapore and South Korea to warn against resuming full-outside access because of a resurgence predicted by their model (again, I'm looking at you Georgia).
Quantifying the effect of quarantine control in Covid-19 infectious spread using machine learning
posted by k3ninho at 2:13 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


[In case there is any confusion, I deleted the comment anem0ne is referring to. It's a good reminder to be extra vigilant against ambient or subtle anti-Asian racism at a time when some politicians etc are trying to stir up anti-Chinese feeling in the US as a distraction.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:14 PM on April 21 [20 favorites]


We're also still not being advised to wear face masks. There is a ton of debate going on; the main reasoning against seems to be that they're scarce and needed in the medical system, that they give a false sense of security, and that people don't know how to use them properly.

Germany is slowly changing to pro-mask. My state (Hessen) said today that from Monday everyone (over 6) should wear a mask on public transport or in shops/banks/etc. In the message that I got from the chancellory, they were clear that (a) this should be "everyday" masks not medical grade ones as they were needed, and a scarf or such like would do in a pinch (b) wearing a mask is more about protecting everyone else, not so much about protecting yourself.

Some school classes are reopening here from Monday too, so they are expecting higher public transport usage again from next week. Other towns and states have already made wearing masks compulsory.
posted by scorbet at 2:44 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


More about Smithfield Foods (WP), the largest pig and pork producer in the world. Their meat products are sold by Harvest Foods Northwest supermarkets in Idaho, Montana (where Mrs. cenoxo and I shop: it's our town's only supermarket), Oregon, and Washington.
posted by cenoxo at 3:07 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


US anti-lockdown rallies could cause surge in Covid-19 cases, experts warn (Guardian)
Anti-lockdown rallies have also been seen in states including Texas, Wisconsin, Ohio, California and Minnesota. Some epidemiologists predict such protests could cause a surge in Covid-19 cases. [...] Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and public health scientist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, tweeted: “2,500 anti-lockdown rally in Olympia, Washington.

“I predict a new epidemic surge (incubation time ~5-7 days before onset symptoms, if any, and transmission to associates around that time, even among asymptomatics)… so increase in 2-4 weeks from now.”
posted by katra at 4:16 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


Coronavirus’s ability to mutate has been vastly underestimated, and mutations affect deadliness of strains, Chinese study finds: • The most aggressive strains of Sars-CoV-2 could generate 270 times as much viral load as the least potent type • New York may have a deadlier strain imported from Europe, compared to less deadly viruses elsewhere in the United States; South China Morning Post, Stephen Chen, 4/20/2020:
A new study by one of China’s top scientists has found the ability of the new coronavirus to mutate has been vastly underestimated and different strains may account for different impacts of the disease in various parts of the world. Professor Li Lanjuan and her colleagues from Zhejiang University found within a small pool of patients many mutations not previously reported. These mutations included changes so rare that scientists had never considered they might occur.

They also confirmed for the first time with laboratory evidence that certain mutations could create strains deadlier than others. “Sars-CoV-2 has acquired mutations capable of substantially changing its pathogenicity,” Li and her collaborators wrote in a non-peer reviewed paper [Patient-derived mutations impact pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2] released on preprint service medRxiv.org on Sunday.

Li’s study provided the first hard evidence that mutation could affect how severely the virus caused disease or damage in its host....
Details in the SCMP article.
posted by cenoxo at 4:26 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


What the world can learn from Kerala about how to fight covid-19
The inside story of how one Indian state is flattening the curve through epic levels of contact tracing and social assistance.
posted by adamvasco at 4:58 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


Sweden's approach is seriously blowing my mind, TBH. The fact that my backwater state is appealing to actual science more than a leading socialist country...IDK what reality is anymore.

Well the leading socialist country has a lower mortality rate than the UK, US, Spain, Italy etc etc etc . I wouldn't be so fast to brand one particular approach as "actual science" - Sweden's response has been lead by one of the world's leading epidemiologists. I don't have the expertise to assess their approach, and neither do you. Epidemiologists themselves seem split on it.

Reality is, no one knows what the right approach to take is. This is a new situation and the information we have available is limited. Authorities are reluctant to admit to this uncertainty - presumably because they think the populace might disregard any advice they offer subsequently, but that's the reality.

Anyone talking about COVID-19 like they know what the best thing to do is, or they know what's going to happen, likely doesn't know very much.
posted by smoke at 5:37 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


Tracking the virus may require 300,000 workers. We're nowhere close. (Politico)
The National Association of State and Territorial Health Organizations estimates that the [United States] may need to hire as many as 100,000 such "disease intervention specialists" at a cost of $3.6 billion. Frieden thinks the number could be as high as 300,000.
posted by katra at 5:39 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


StatNews: New analysis recommends less reliance on ventilators to treat coronavirus patients

Unique features of COVID-19 may mean doctors are putting patients on ventilators too quickly, using indicators that work for other respiratory illnesses but not as well for the new coronavirus disease:

“There is mounting evidence that lots of patients are tolerating fairly extreme” low levels of oxygen in the blood, suggesting that such hypoxemia should not be equated with the need for a ventilator. If a Covid-19 patient is clearly struggling to breathe, then invasive ventilation makes sense, wrote Marcus Schultz of Amsterdam University Medical Centers and his colleagues.

But using low levels of blood oxygen (hypoxemia) as a sign that a patient needs mechanical ventilation can lead physicians astray, they argue, because low blood oxygen in a Covid-19 patient is not like low blood oxygen in other patients with, for instance, other forms of pneumonia or sepsis.


The part that discusses hospitals focusing on CPAP and BiPAP machines instead of ventilators for more patients will probably make Elon Musk fans happy.
posted by mediareport at 6:05 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


Tracking the virus may require 300,000 workers.

Make them a division of the U.S. Census Bureau, and call them the CCC (Coronavirus Census Corps).
posted by cenoxo at 6:11 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


What Doctors on the Front Lines Wish They’d Known a Month Ago (NYT, Apr. 14, 2020)
The biggest change: Instead of quickly sedating people who had shockingly low levels of oxygen and then putting them on mechanical ventilators, many doctors are now keeping patients conscious, having them roll over in bed, recline in chairs and continue to breathe on their own — with additional oxygen — for as long as possible.

The idea is to get them off their backs and thereby make more lung available. A number of doctors are even trying patients on a special massage mattress designed for pregnant women because it has cutouts that ease the load on the belly and chest. [...] Some patients, by taking oxygen and rolling onto their sides or on their bellies, have quickly returned to normal levels. The tactic is called proning. [...] No one knows yet if this will be a lasting remedy, Dr. Caputo said, but if he could go back to early March, he would advise himself and others: “Don’t jump to intubation.” The total number of people who are intubated is now increasing by 21 per day, down from about 300 at the end of March. The need for mechanical ventilators, while still urgent, has been less than the medical community anticipated a month ago.
posted by katra at 6:17 PM on April 21 [23 favorites]


One of the most important reasons for flattening the curve is to give medicine a chance to find the best treatments.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:17 PM on April 21 [38 favorites]


Without the government stepping in to legally compel people to stay home, everyone is effectively expected to show up to work now. It's a garbage premise that (for example) salon owners will suddenly become benign and flexible re: worker safety.

In the US, workers who face health and safety risks at their workplace in states that reduce stay-at-home restrictions will need legal advice about how to communicate with their employers about temporary leave or accommodations, as well as the unemployment insurance system. For example, as a general matter, according to the National Employment Law Project, "If your immune system is compromised because you have a serious health condition and you have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine in order to avoid the greater-than-average health risks if you were to contract COVID-19, you should be able to remain home and apply for unemployment insurance." At the link, NELP offers a variety of resources, including a brief overview of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which has many qualifying provisions, such as, "You have primary caregiving responsibility for a child or other person in your home who is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and that caregiving prevents you from working" or "You are unable to reach your place of employment because you have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19." NELP links to the LSC's Legal Aid directory, and Lawhelp.org also offers a directory of free legal services in each state and territory.

In the meantime, New York AG opens inquiry into Charter Communications’ coronavirus response after hundreds reportedly catch virus (CNBC)
New York Attorney General Letitia James opened an inquiry into Charter Communications after the telecom company continued to require some employees to report to corporate offices amid government calls for employers to allow remote work where possible.
posted by katra at 9:37 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


Proning is not exactly new. One of the things I remember from being a tiny child is hearing my grandfather, an ex-missionary doctor, advising my parents that the best thing for any lung disease was to get face down on the bed with the upper body hanging over the edge during any episode of coughing.
posted by flabdablet at 9:47 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


Lawsuits piling up across US amid coronavirus pandemic (NY Post, Apr. 3, 2020)
In one, the Corrections Officer Benevolent Association — the union representing more than 8,000 corrections officers — charges that the city needs to provide guards with face masks and hand sanitizer to keep them safe from coronavirus. [...] “Being required to work in an atmosphere of absolute terror that one might be exposed to this disease or contract it, or pass it on to family and friends, is itself a harm that no amount of damages can cure,” the lawsuit states.

[...] Robert Sullivan, a Manhattan attorney whose firm represented New York City firefighters who worked at Ground Zero following 9/11, said that businesses deemed nonessential that made employees show up for work in the midst of the crisis could be held liable in personal injury suits if employees got sick or died. “It’s all uncharted waters,” Sullivan said. “Lawyers are very creative. There will be lawsuits, no doubt about it.”
Walmart employee’s family files wrongful death lawsuit after man dies of coronavirus complications (CNBC, Apr. 6, 2020)
The lawsuit alleges Walmart was negligent because it did not adequately clean the store, enforce social distancing, notify employees about colleagues who were showing coronavirus symptoms and provide protective gear, such as gloves and masks.
Resolution of Regulatory and Legal Liability Issues (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Apr. 13, 2020)
A reopening plan that is medically based and relies on social distancing and other best practices for public health may raise significant regulatory and legal liability risks. These are in addition to numerous lawsuits already filed as a result of COVID-19 and litigation risk that will become exacerbated during a reopening.
posted by katra at 10:18 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


I still want to know who in the US government said no to using the WHO's test. I wish some reporter would ask that again and again and again and FOIA until there's an answer. Whose decision was it to have the CDC make its own test and forgo one that was already in the field?
posted by RakDaddy at 10:51 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


There's an AskMe for that question: Point me to reporting on CDC’s shunning of WHO-approved COVID-19 test
posted by katra at 10:56 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


"Well the leading socialist country has a lower mortality rate than the UK, US, Spain, Italy etc etc etc" .

Let's check1:

     Cases   Deaths  CFR   Deaths/100k
ES  𝟸0𝟺,𝟷𝟽𝟾  𝟸𝟷,𝟸𝟾𝟸 𝟷0.𝟺%  𝟺𝟻.𝟻𝟻
IT  𝟷𝟾𝟹,𝟿𝟻𝟽  𝟸𝟺,𝟼𝟺𝟾 𝟷𝟹.𝟺%  𝟺0.79
FR  𝟷𝟻𝟿,𝟸𝟿𝟽  𝟸0,𝟾𝟸𝟿 𝟷𝟹.𝟷%  𝟹𝟷.0𝟿
𝚄𝙺  𝟷𝟹0,𝟷𝟽𝟸  𝟷𝟽,𝟹𝟽𝟾 𝟷𝟹.𝟺%  𝟸𝟼.𝟷𝟺
--------------------------------
SE   𝟷𝟻,𝟹𝟸𝟸   𝟷,𝟽𝟼𝟻 𝟷𝟷.𝟻%  𝟷𝟽.𝟹𝟹
--------------------------------
IE   16,040     730  4.6%  15.04
US  𝟾𝟸𝟹,𝟽𝟾𝟼  𝟺𝟺,𝟾𝟺𝟻  𝟻.𝟺%  𝟷𝟹.𝟽𝟷
DK    7,891     370  4.7%   6.38
DE  148,291   5,033  3.4%   6.07
CA   39,401   1,908  4.8%   5.15
NO    7,191     182  2.5%   3.42
FI    4,014     141  3.5%   2.56


Those are ordered by mortality rate (in deaths per 100,000 total population). I assume that's the number you are referring to, as it arguably reflects both their particular Reffective reproduction number in combination with the nationally specific case fatality rate.

By that measure, Sweden is doing worse than Ireland, USA, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Norway, and Finland...which includes all its neighbors. And in terms of just the case fatality rate, it's even worse than Spain's.

But Sweden's strategy was never intended to reduce the initial number of infections nor the early mortality rate. Rather, those were expected to be somewhat higher than in the cases of those nations that pursued a stricter protocol. The expected virtue of its strategy was that it would possibly lower the long-term mortality rate and lessen the economic impact by avoiding the otherwise likely subsequent multiple waves as stringent restrictions were repeatedly loosened and then re-tightened.

The crucial assumptions were twofold: First, that the larger initial wave would not overwhelm the health care system. This has largely (so far) proven to be true. Second, that the restrictions put in place would sufficiently protect the most vulnerable, such as the elderly in care homes.

The latter has not been the case, and this is because the protocols assumed that asymptomatic transmission was negligible and therefore only those who were symptomatic were of concern (and should be isolated). Otherwise, including in care homes, staff were not advised to use PPE. Apparently healthy people were thought to be able to go about their business with little risk of spreading infection. In particular, the case fatality rate should have been lower than elsewhere, given the assumption that it would spread relatively freely through the healthier portion of the population while, in concert, the health care system was well able to keep up. That its CFR is relatively high strongly calls Sweden's strategy into question.

And, as a note, one needn't be an epidemiologist to evaluate Anders Tegnell's long-held and oft-stated belief that asymptomatic cases are negligibly contagious. There was evidence that this wasn't the case early on in China, and it's become increasingly apparent that this simply isn't true. His opinion is outside the consensus.

Furthermore, Johan Giesecke was quoted (see above) as asserting that "in both Sweden and the U.K. at least half the population has had the virus", an estimate which is wildly above what other experts have made elsewhere.

Prevalence is the portion of a population that is infected by a pathogen at any given moment in time. Prevalence can be estimated with proper statistical population sampling using viral RNA testing.

Incidence is the portion of the population which has been infected with a pathogen over a specific interval of time. Incidence can be estimated with proper statistical population sampling and, say, time-series viral RNA testing or a sufficiently reliable and specific antibody test. The former hasn't really been done at scale anywhere, and neither has the latter—with the additional problem of many unanswered questions about the reliability of the current antibody tests.

The highest estimate of prevalence I've seen reported is the 30% rate for Chelsea in MA (mentioned earlier)...and I've found only one reference to it elsewhere and the results are not yet available as a preprint. The Santa Clara study, which is a bit shaky, estimated a prevelance closer to 4%. That's more in line with what's implied by, for a few examples, the New York hospital maternity wards testing (15%), the testing of a group of Singapore folks evacuated from China (3%), or those on the cruise liners (17%). Note that one would expect the prevalence to be especially high in both New York City and Santa Clara County. You don't need to be an epidemiologist or even a scientist to evaluate a claim of a magnitude which is far larger than all the others around the globe by equivalently credentialed experts.

It is demonstrably true that it will be difficult if not impossible to keep a large population under lockdown for, say, six months or more. Sweden may well be proven correct in anticipating and attempting to avoid this hurdle, but a relatively high CFR and mortality rate undermines the argument for their strategy, especially if the ultimate economic impact is not greatly reduced.

1. Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, 2019-04-21
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:13 PM on April 21 [34 favorites]


The part that discusses hospitals focusing on CPAP and BiPAP machines instead of ventilators for more patients will probably make Elon Musk fans happy.

There was an article in the Miami Herald in the last week or so discussing ventilation strategy. One of our local hospitals was able to reduce ventilator use by a substantial amount by simply not intubating people who weren't showing signs of distress beyond the low O2 value and telling them to lie prone and play games on their phone.

Having now learned that there are now several variants of the virus, some of which are less deadly, it makes more sense to me than it did at the time.
posted by wierdo at 11:25 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


Since it was referenced in the astroturfing the U.S. anti-covid lockdown thread:

There is no evidence supporting claims about a government-run network of fake NHS Twitter accounts


In the past few days, a series of claims have gone viral on social media claiming to have uncovered a network of fake Twitter accounts created to post pro-government messages. These accounts are supposedly being run by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) or a marketing firm linked to them. One tweet making these claims has been retweeted over 20,000 times at the time of writing.

The claims were originally made by John O’Connell, who runs the “Far Right Watch” website.

The DHSC has said on Twitter that “these claims are categorically false”. Twitter said in a statement that its “specialist teams currently do not see evidence of large-scale coordinated platform manipulation surrounding the Covid-19 conversation, including suggested coordination associated with the UK Government.”

Currently, there is no publicly available evidence to support these claims.

...

The DHSC told Full Fact that Mr O’Connell had contacted them, and that they had asked him to provide his evidence. They said that he did not do so.

Full Fact has also contacted Mr O’Connell via Twitter DM asking him to share his evidence. He told us that currently that data was “not in a presentable form as yet”, and that it was “way too data-heavy for non-geeks”, but that he would keep us updated.

...

For the record, this is not the first time we have fact checked a claim that Mr O’Connell has made. His was the first account we were able to find that shared a false quote that went viral during the 2019 election campaign. The quote (in a now-deleted tweet, still available on the Internet Archive) was claimed to be from the leaked US-UK trade documents, and supposedly said that the US reserved the right to “withdraw all trade” if the UK did not agree to discussions about “the sale of all assets within and partnered with the National Health Service”.

posted by lovelyzoo at 11:54 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


This article from the New Zealand Herald discusses the modelling that underpins New Zealand's approach but also has some nifty interactive tools to compare infection rates and case number in different countries over time. Infection rates are particularly interesting because once you get a "R" number below 1 (ie one person infects on average one other person) you start to have a chance of eradicating the virus.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:11 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


Also some pretty nice charts here.

We've been blessed with a number of advantages, I think:
- a unitary government with no upper chamber and no states and weak local government
- a legislative framework and constitutional arrangements that mean the state can act fast within the law
- geographic isolation
- the experience of other countries to evaluate and learn from
- really good leadership from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who is demonstrating that "communciations studies" may be a joke university major to some but it's really awesome when your main job turns out to be, ya know, communicating

Against which, the public health system has been run down over many years, and is fragmented locally. We've been in very tight lockdown for four weeks and have another to go and it's all about building up contact tracing capability that just wasn't scaling to cope with a large-scale outbreak.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:17 AM on April 22 [13 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich, with regards to estimates of prevalence, you might also be interested in the results from antibody testing of 1000 randomly selected individuals in Los Angeles County (the current hot spot in California). Their plan is to test a different group of 1000 randomly selected individuals every several weeks. The results from the first group is an estimate that approximately 4.1% of the county's adult population has antibody to SARS-CoV-2 (with a margin of error from 2.8% to 5.6%).
posted by RichardP at 12:27 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


A followup to my earlier comment: The NYtimes also has data up now on excess deaths across various countries.
posted by vacapinta at 1:43 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


It seems many people out there (perhaps even most of us) are asymptomatic in the face of the virus . I am not talking about those who are resistant to contracting Covid-19 but rather those who do pick it up, carry it around with them for a while and and up with only detectable antibodies to it in their blood to show anything happened.

That is a very valuable trick to be able to pull off - and I would love to see any research that looked at why some are able to accomplish it. Is there any - and if not then when might we see some?
posted by rongorongo at 5:03 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


It seems many people out there (perhaps even most of us) are asymptomatic in the face of the virus.

A policy of quarantining symptomatic people and not quarantining asymptomatic people (because you can't recognise them, because you're not testing them) is going to select for viral strains that present less obviously. I suppose that's a good thing, because those strains are presumably less lethal. If we're really super lucky the less-lethal strains will give carriers immunity against the lethal strains, and we'll have won the jackpot and can get back to important things like reality TV and game streaming.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:40 AM on April 22 [8 favorites]


rongorongo: Here is a roundup of some estimates of the number of asymptomatic cases.

As to why? I don't think it is clear. Hopefully some of the above studies, especially the one in Iceland can start to determine what special trick this, although the asymptomatic generally tend to be children and young, healthy people.

Data from many countries have shown that the biggest risk factor for ending up in the hospital is having a comorbidity. 50% of those hospitalized in Italy, for example, had been previously diagnosed with hypertension. Cardiovascular disease and Diabetes were other common problems.
posted by vacapinta at 5:42 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


It seems many people out there (perhaps even most of us) are asymptomatic in the face of the virus .

There's also the possibility that some of the symptoms just haven't been recognised yet. For example, it took some time before it was realised that people losing their sense of taste was linked to the virus. There could be other more minor symptoms that are either not really noticed, or are being masked by the whole situation. (For example, fatigue, lack of appetite etc. could easily be chalked up to anxiety and changed daily routines.)
posted by scorbet at 6:19 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Regarding asymptomatic numbers. I went through the CDC and Nature's reports regarding the Diamond Princess and found these numbers.

The link provided a couple of posts above by vacapinta didn't give context. It says 18% of the Diamond Princess cruise positive tests were asymptomatic. It goes on to cite a paper that described the sampling early on: the results with 634 positive of those aboard as of February 20 (the number eventually went up to 712). Furthermore, the paper cites the outbound number aboard the ship (3711) and not the number who were on the return journey and who were among those tested (3571).

So, to make a long story short, the 18% figure were those who were asymptomatic and remained asymptomatic. The figure for those who were asymptomatic at the time of testing was 46.5%.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:40 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


Correction. The 3571 figure was from the inbound of the Grand Princess.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:54 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Washington state is talking about how and when the state will start to open again. I like this graphic about how that will happen.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:40 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Foreign Policy article on Sweden's policy:
The Hidden Flaw in Sweden’s Anti-Lockdown Strategy

As has been pointed out in other articles, not all ethnic groups in Sweden have been equally affected by coronavirus.
posted by needled at 9:00 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


'They are leading us to catastrophe': Sweden's coronavirus stoicism begins to jar (Derek Robertson, Guardian, Mar. 30, 2020)
Panic, though, is exactly what many within Sweden’s scientific and medical community are starting to feel. A petition signed by more than 2,000 doctors, scientists, and professors last week – including the chairman of the Nobel Foundation, Prof Carl-Henrik Heldin – called on the government to introduce more stringent containment measures. “We’re not testing enough, we’re not tracking, we’re not isolating enough – we have let the virus loose,” said Prof Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, a virus immunology researcher at the Karolinska Institute. “They are leading us to catastrophe.” [...] “The government thinks they can’t stop it, so they’ve decided to let people die,” Söderberg-Nauclér said. “They don’t want to listen to the scientific data that’s presented to them. They trust the Public Health Agency [Folkhälsomyndigheten] blindly, but the data they have is weak – embarrassing even.

“We are seeing signs of a higher doubling rate than Italy, Stockholm will soon have an acute ICU shortage, and they don’t understand that by then it will be too late to act. All of this is very dangerous.”
posted by katra at 10:06 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


Big unknowns about virus complicate getting back to normal (AP, Apr. 21, 2020)
Doctors assume people who had COVID-19 will have some immunity against a repeat infection. But they don’t know how much protection or how long it will last. Another key question: Do people who survive a severe infection have stronger immunity than those who had mild symptoms — or those who had no obvious symptoms at all? [...] As they test more people, researchers will look for the level of antibodies that seems to be the key threshold for protection. They’re also trying to tell if having certain types of antibodies are more critical than an overall count. “How long is the protection — one month, three months, six months, a year?” Fauci said. “We need to be humble and modest that we don’t know everything.”

[...] One early warning has borne out: Older adults are especially susceptible to COVID-19. So are people of any age who have certain health troubles, such as lung disease, heart problems or diabetes. But being young and apparently healthy is no guarantee. Plenty of 20- and 30-somethings, and even some children, get infected and occasionally die. “Some people do extremely well and some people completely crash,” Fauci told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “It’s something more than just age and underlying condition.” There are theories. Maybe genetic differences play a role in how the body responds to this infection, particularly the overactive immune response — what’s called a “cytokine storm” — that is blamed for many deaths. Some scientists are looking into variations in cell receptors, the docking ports that allow the virus to stick to a cell and burrow inside. Whatever the culprit, there’s no way to predict who’s going to crash.
posted by katra at 10:50 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Even if you test negative for COVID-19, assume you have it, experts say (LiveScience, April 3, 2020): "Conventional diagnostic tests for the novel coronavirus may give false-negative results about 30% of the time, meaning people with an active COVID-19 infection still test negative for the disease, according to news reports."

India's apex medical research body ICMR on Tuesday advised states to stop using the rapid antibody test kits for next two days till it examines their quality in the wake of complaints that they are not fully effective. (Telegraph India April 21, 2020).

In the US, Study Raises Questions About False Negatives From Quick COVID-19 Test (NPR, April 21, 2020) with Abbott's ID NOW (false negatives issue) and DiaSorin's Simplexa ("only detected 89.3% of infections" in the study) called out. Only last week, Abbott posted this ID NOW update on its site: "We have shipped more than 1 million tests to customers across the U.S. We're also shipping these tests to customers throughout the world."
Wired delved into antibody surveying issues just yesterday.

Not enough testing is being conducted, false negatives are a given, faulty tests were produced and circulated, asymptomatic people aren't usually tested but can infect others, and some people are re-testing positive after recovery -- not that it's known what that means for transmission. We may be inputting garbage, and yet we expect gold.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:06 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


[One deleted; please put Trump stuff in Trump virus stuff thread and keep this thread for not-specifically-Trump virus updates, thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:17 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Highlights of Anderson Cooper's CNN interview with Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I-Las Vegas):

She wants to re-open all the casinos. "So you don't believe in social distancing?" "Of course I do." "How do you do that in a casino?" "I have no idea, I don't know anything about casinos."

"But don't you think social distancing has reduced the number of deaths?" "You don't know that! You need a control group. I wanted Las Vegas to be the control group, with the placebo, but I was told we couldn't do that because people come into Las Vegas to work from all around southern Nevada."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:11 PM on April 22 [11 favorites]




Highlights of Anderson Cooper's CNN interview with Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I-Las Vegas):

'Highlights'
posted by mazola at 12:41 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


“We are seeing signs of a higher doubling rate than Italy, Stockholm will soon have an acute ICU shortage, and they don’t understand that by then it will be too late to act. All of this is very dangerous.”

I'm living in Sweden and have gone from being stunned by their strategy to a kind of cautious optimism, mostly because these statements haven't (yet) come true. That article was written three weeks ago, and so far the number of new cases per day is staying steady, rather than going exponential. It still feels scary, especially with so many friends living in places with lockdowns (and seeing their case numbers drop), but I hope that in the long run it will prove to have been a reasonable choice (as lockdown may well be elsewhere!).
posted by twirlypen at 1:40 PM on April 22 [8 favorites]


Article that explains the difference in how Belgium counts coronavirus deaths compared other countries.

From the article:

Belgium is considering changing the way it calculates coronavirus deaths. Federal health minister Maggie De Block said on Thursday: "No other country in Europe counts in the same way as us. We used the most detailed method - we count deaths not only in hospitals but also in nursing homes, even if there is no test, just a suspicion." Federal health institute Sciensano has been asked to develop a new calculation system "which will allow us to compare ourselves with other countries", De Block added.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:59 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I put up some numbers on my blog regarding the undercounts of deaths in the UK, specifically England and Wales (their statistics are combined), Scotland and Northern Ireland.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:01 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Chile Charts New Path With Rolling Lockdowns, Immunity Cards.
posted by adamvasco at 3:11 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


AP Exclusive: 2 cats in NY state test positive for virus (AP)
Two pet cats in New York state have tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the first confirmed cases in companion animals in the United States, federal officials said Wednesday. The cats, which had mild respiratory illnesses and are expected to recover, are thought to have contracted the virus from people in their households or neighborhoods, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. [...] “We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets” or to rush to test them en masse, said Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC official who works on human-animal health connections. “There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.” Still, the CDC is recommending that people prevent their pets from interacting with people or animals outside their homes -- by keeping cats indoors and dogs out of dog parks, for instance. [...] The agencies have recommended that any pet owners with COVID-19 avoid petting, snuggling or other contact with their animals as much as possible, including wearing a face covering while caring for them.
posted by katra at 4:16 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


AP Exclusive: 2 cats in NY state test positive for virus (AP)

animal shelter empty after all pets were adopted amid coronavirus (independent)

An animal shelter is celebrating after all of its adoptable pets found homes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, Riverside County Department of Animal Services (RCDAS) in Southern California shared a video of shelter employees standing next to empty cages and cheering.

“We cleared the shelter!” the adoption centre captioned the video. “All of our adoptable animals have been adopted! Thank you to everyone who adopted or fostered an animal.”
'

Well I guess that's over. It was a silver lining for a while, the uptick in adoptions. Now we might see them filling up again, when people hear that pets can get it.

I dunno, fuck it all
posted by adept256 at 4:37 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


That Las Vegas mayor interview was stunning. She clearly has no fucking idea what she's doing and is just trying to bullshit her way through it. (Both the interview, and being mayor)
posted by ctmf at 4:39 PM on April 22 [16 favorites]


If it makes people feel any better, I think the Mayor of Las Vegas is a figurehead position, since she's not the City Manager or on the Council. Her primary role appears to be promoting disease

EDIT: never mind, she does appear to have actual political power
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:42 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Oh, I see. Well, good luck Las Vegas.
posted by adept256 at 4:55 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


The strip and the airport are in Paradise, NV rather than Las Vegas, NV.
posted by mmascolino at 4:57 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


The first U.S. COVID-19 death has now been moved back 3 weeks to February 6, when a woman in Santa Clara County (home to Silicon Valley) died at home:

Previously, the first recorded coronavirus deaths were Feb. 26 in Washington state. The new fatality was three weeks earlier. And given what’s known about how much time passes between the initial infection and death, the woman was probably infected in early January. Her death became linked to the pandemic because the medical examiner had questions about unidentified viral infections that killed the woman and two men, and thought to save their tissue...

It’s important to note that these early cases do not appear to have sparked a large outbreak — and understanding why not could offer clues to controlling the virus over the coming months.

posted by mediareport at 5:04 PM on April 22 [5 favorites]


Still, she is the mayor, can you imagine your mayor saying, let's just let loose and see how many die?

"But as you see it's a beautiful day, the beaches are open, and people are having a wonderful time." Just a reminder that in two months, Jaws will be celebrating the FORTY-FIFTH anniversary of its premiere. We're so much smarter now.
posted by hangashore at 5:13 PM on April 22 [12 favorites]




Indian officials have rescued six tourists who were living in a cave in India following a lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The four men and two women had moved to a cave in Rishikesh in northern India after they were stranded in the country with very little money. (BBC.com, April 21, 2020) The foreign nationals are from Ukraine, the US, Turkey, France and Nepal, and had arrived in India separately last year - they had been living in small hotels and private lodges in Rishikesh, which is a popular tourist destination in the foothills of the Himalayas. They lived in the cave for 25 days before local people spotted them and informed the police. The tourist from Nepal knew Hindi, and helped the others in the cave to go out and buy provisions with whatever little money they had, police said.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:47 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Highlights of Anderson Cooper's CNN interview with Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I-Las Vegas):


Well, she has got that 2.3 million number down cold.

Even before she got to the point where she let us know that she had offered up, what was it, 2.3 million people as a control group*, the bit early on where she boasted that these owners are very committed to cleanliness**, I was really wondering if this is a new recruit to the Yes Men.

*But she hadn't, except she had, but she didn't and don't put words in her mouth, Anderson, except she was told she couldn't do that when she did that.

**So best to bring everyone back into the casinos and shows and major league sports and let the market sort it out because southern Nevada's 2.3 million people believe in freedom.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:55 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


That Las Vegas mayor interview was stunning. She clearly has no fucking idea what she's doing and is just trying to bullshit her way through it. (Both the interview, and being mayor)

One thing that occurs to me is that currently sports leagues are thinking about how to restart. The general consensus is that they'll start in empty facilities, because the risk to thousands of fans is obviously not on the table. (Even a gathering of two teams, plus coaches, staff and media is over 50 people.)

The next thought is that if they're playing in empty facilities, then teams should centralize in one or a small number of locations. If fans could attend, it would be unfair to play every game in, say, Boston, because then Boston teams would have an unfair advantage* due to the crowd. But that wouldn't be an issue, and by playing in one location, it would keep travel costs and risks down, and permits more frequent play with less travel time (since all leagues are going to try to cram in games more frequently since they've lost months).

There are rumours around the different leagues; the NHL is considering Grand Forks, ND of all places (it has a very nice arena and very low population density). MLB has talked about the Phoenix area, which has 10 spring training facilities as well as the Diamondbacks park. The NBA -- who was the first league to cancel due to coronavirus -- has been rumoured to be considering playing the playoffs in the Bahamas, Atlantic City or Louisville. But the top of their list, it was generally agreed, is Las Vegas. Whichever location(s) are picked will get presumably some sort of promotion boom -- TV is desperate for live sports -- in addition to 16+ teams (and media) worth of demand in the massively struggling hotel and food industries.

I wonder if a certain mayor has just gotten her city's name crossed off the list due to her loose cannon interviews.

* more than the traditional unfair advantages often employed by Boston area teams.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 7:25 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


You mean cheating?
posted by Windopaene at 7:53 PM on April 22


More tourists sheltering in place in a cave, Russian couple found living in cave in Krabi, Thailand.
posted by peeedro at 7:58 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


States rushing to reopen are likely making a deadly error, coronavirus models and experts warn (WaPo / MSN reprint)
As several states — including South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida — rush to reopen businesses, the sudden relaxation of restrictions will supply new targets for the coronavirus that has kept the United States largely closed down, according to experts, math models and the basic rules that govern infectious diseases. “The math is unfortunately pretty simple. It’s not a matter of whether infections will increase but by how much,” said Jeffrey Shaman, a leading epidemiologist at Columbia University.

[...] A recent case study — published by the CDC — examined how a single patron infected nine others at an air-conditioned restaurant in China. The infected person, a 63-year-old retired woman, did not begin running a fever and coughing until after her lunch Jan. 24 at the Guangzhou restaurant. But over the next two weeks, it became apparent the virus had spread to four diners at her table and to five people sitting at adjacent tables roughly three feet away. Researchers studying the seating arrangements believe an air-conditioning unit propelled tiny viral droplets over distances that are normally safe between the tables.
posted by katra at 8:33 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


I propose that some cities are given a competent elected Mayor, while others receive a placebo
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:37 PM on April 22 [27 favorites]


(Previously.)

Update: Bronx Zoo Tigers and Lions Recovering from COVID-19, World Conservation Society; Bronx, NY; 4/22/2020:
On April 5, 2020, we reported that a four-year-old female Malayan tiger had tested positive for COVID-19 and three other tigers and three African lions were showing similar symptoms.

Samples for testing from the tiger, Nadia, were collected from her nose, throat, and respiratory tract while she was under anesthesia. Subsequently, we can confirm that the three other tigers in Tiger Mountain and the three African lions that exhibited a cough have also tested positive for COVID-19.

This testing was done by using a fecal sample test [*] developed by our laboratory partners that does not require the animals be placed under anesthesia. The fecal tests confirmed our suspicion that all seven cats had the infection, and also determined that one tiger at Tiger Mountain that never developed a cough was also positive for the disease.
...
All eight cats continue to do well. They are behaving normally, eating well, and their coughing is greatly reduced.
...
None of the zoo’s snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma or serval are showing any signs of illness. Our cats were infected by a staff person who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms. Preventive measures are now in place for all staff who are caring for them, and the other cats in our four WCS zoos, to prevent further exposure of any of our felids in our zoos to the disease.
...
There is no evidence that animals play a role in the transmission of COVID-19 to people other than the initial event in the Wuhan market, and no evidence that any person has been infected with COVID-19 in the US by animals, including by pet dogs or cats.
*Interesting that this latest diagnosis was made from fecal samples. Would this (or a modified test) also work with humans?
posted by cenoxo at 9:34 PM on April 22


SARS-CoV-2 in animals, American Veterinary Medical Association; Updated on April 22, 2020:
On April 22, the CDC announced the first National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL)-confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in two pet cats. [*]

These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. Currently we have no information that suggests that pets might be a source of infection for people with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

To date, globally, the only pets incidentally exposed to COVID-19 that have tested positive, with confirmation, for SARS-CoV-2 are two pet dogs and a pet cat in Hong Kong, and two pet cats in in the United States. The two pet cats in the United States both had signs of mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. The pet cat in Hong Kong did not exhibit clinical signs of disease. Another pet cat in Belgium tested positive, but details around that case are less clear. The dogs and cats in Hong Kong were each in the care of and had close contact with a person who had been confirmed to have COVID-19. In the case of the cat in Belgium, other diseases and conditions that could have caused those same signs of illness were not ruled out and there are also questions about how samples demonstrating the presence of SARS-CoV-2 were collected and evaluated. That cat recovered.

Until more is known about this virus, if you are ill with COVID-19 you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just as you would restrict your contact with other people...
More discussion about previously known instances (and studies) of COVID-19 in cats, tigers, and dogs follows in this AVMA article.

*Confirmation of COVID-19 in Two Pet Cats in New York, United States Department of Agriculture — Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:
Washington, D.C. April 22, 2020 – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) today announced the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The cats live in two separate areas of New York state. Both had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19.

At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended. Should other animals be confirmed positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States, USDA will post the findings at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/SA_One_Health/sars-cov-2-animals-us. State animal health and public health officials will take the lead in making determinations about whether animals should be tested for SARS-CoV-2....
More details follow in the USDA article.
posted by cenoxo at 10:11 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


that study on mutations you posted yesterday, cenoxo, noted samples were collected from "sources including sputum, nasopharyngeal swab, and stool." also, hosts and guests on this week in virology have sometimes discussed possibility of fecal sampling. can't recall which episodes, sorry: have listened to a lot of these in recent weeks; think it would have been episode 591 or later. (episode 598, e.g., includes some discussion of this Presence of SARS-Coronavirus-2 in sewage by medema et al. in the netherlands, and in 599 hosts receive a letter about detecting, but not replicating, the virus in feces of cats. see shi et al.). do think i recall that they generally speculate that virus could not be cultured from such samples, although dr. li et al. report doing just that.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:19 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I propose that some cities are given a competent elected Mayor, while others receive a placebo

I mean, Goodman reminds me of a really inept substitute junior high school teacher who has no clue how power is derived, let alone any familiarity at all with course subject matter.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:20 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


20 year lurk - Have you seen any information/studies about whether novel coronavirus is filtered out (or rendered inert) during normal wastewater treatment?
posted by cenoxo at 10:25 PM on April 22


Only 3 new cases in New Zealand today, the lowest total since we peaked. We appear to be on track to eradication. We're going down to COVID19 Alert Level 3 on Tuesday for two weeks, and fingers crossed Level 2 after that.

(The Alert Level system has been credited as major factor in changing public behaviour as it provided great clarity about what to do and when to do it).

Meanwhile yesterday there were no international arrivals in NZ at all
. Zero. Where the normal daily number would be around 10k. It is impossible to overstate what this means in a country in a country where tourism is almost 6% of GDP.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:19 PM on April 22 [14 favorites]


Anyone talking about COVID-19 like they know what the best thing to do is, or they know what's going to happen, likely doesn't know very much.

I think we do know what's going to happen. Unchecked this disease will kill millions of people very quickly. Preventative measures can slow the rate of infection so that (A) hospitals are not overwhelmed, and (B) we can likely find a vaccine or drug treatments before those millions die.
posted by xammerboy at 12:26 AM on April 23 [12 favorites]


20 year lurk - Have you seen any information/studies about whether novel coronavirus is filtered out (or rendered inert) during normal wastewater treatment?

Australian researchers trace sewage for early warning COVID-19 spread (University of Queensland)

A proof of concept study has been completed using wastewater samples from two wastewater treatment plants in South East Queensland, representing populations living in the Brisbane region.

UQ and CSIRO researchers found RNA fragments of SARS-CoV2 in untreated sewage which would have been shed in the wastewater stream by COVID-19 infected people.


The cool part is that this will utilise the monitoring infrastructure we use to test drug abuse in populations, it covers more than half the population and is already in place. It's worth noting that this is publically funded research, an innovation unique to Australia thanks to government funded science. There's no motive for the private sector to do anything like this.
posted by adept256 at 12:43 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


adept256 A nice idea, and I'm far from a geneticist, but is there a risk here from mixing up public health and crime-tracking (illegal-drug interdiction)?.

At this point they are looking at a fairly coarse grain, but with data-matching I imagine this could get very fine-grained, like down to street level.

and yes i_am_joe's_spleen we're going to have a very, very different tourism industry, an opportunity to shift to a low(er) carbon future maybe.
posted by unearthed at 1:02 AM on April 23


unearthed: I sincerely hope so.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:40 AM on April 23


The testing is at municipal level, thinks suburbs not streets. There was an assumption that meth was a city problem, because that's where all the busts are, but they found that rural communities use meth at a far higher rate, but with fewer police in those communities it hasn't been detected so far. So, useful results!

Of course, if they were testing waste per household, no one would stand for that. That project would be over very fast.
posted by adept256 at 1:49 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


At the risk of derail: " rural communities use meth at a far higher rate, but with fewer police in those communities it hasn't been detected so far" <-- possible evidence that police deter meth use. Also suggests that policing is not evidence-driven.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:49 AM on April 23


...we're going to have a very, very different tourism industry, an opportunity to shift to a low(er) carbon future maybe.

In the medium term - before travellers can be asked to carry a certificate of vaccination - I predict that there could be an industry that isolates people somewhere reasonably pleasant for a 2 week quarantine and then escorts them on a flight to some country low-infection country that demands this as a condition of entry. It would be much better to allow people to complete quarantine before departure - then fly on "virus free flights" and arrive to start their course/holiday/business trip - than it would be to do this on arrival.
posted by rongorongo at 3:20 AM on April 23


It is impossible to overstate what this means in a country in a country where tourism is almost 6% of GDP.

Tourism is 12.5% of Spain's GDP, 9.7% of France's and 13% of Italy's. Greece's is 18% and Egypt's 13%. And this year nobody will be moving around.
posted by sukeban at 4:29 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


there's a terrible thought, cenoxo. i have seen no such coverage. maybe by implication from some of the twiv discussions insofar as lots of virii are shed in feces but we live. and maybe by the antibody prevalence stories, which would surely return higher results if we were all getting it through municipal water.
posted by 20 year lurk at 5:03 AM on April 23


There are reports that smoking reduces the chance of getting COVID-19. Seems unlikely but they quote two studies.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:27 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


About coronavirus in wastewater, the CDC says "The available information suggests that standard municipal wastewater system chlorination practices may be sufficient to inactivate coronaviruses, as long as utilities monitor free available chlorine during treatment to ensure it has not been depleted." Viruses that normally spread by a fecal-oral transmission route generally have a protein shell structure that is more robust than the lipid membrane of the coronavirus; municipal disinfectant processes destroy those tougher viruses, so the coronavirus should be made inert as well.

Trials monitoring wastewater for coronavirus are underway in many places, like Arizona, Boston, the Netherlands, and Paris. But wastewater epidemiology dates back to at least the late 1980's to as one of the strategies in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, for example there was an outbreak in Israel in 2013 that was stopped from becoming epidemic because of regular wastewater surveillance. I worked in a wastewater treatment plant in the early 2000's and monitoring of viruses like polio, hepatitis, and norovirus was common in the industry then, the monitoring for illicit drugs was developed in the late 2000's from my understanding.
posted by peeedro at 6:45 AM on April 23 [14 favorites]


New Statesman: The quiet crisis of Britain’s missing patients:
Since the beginning of March there has been a 50 per cent drop in the number of people attending A&E with suspected heart attacks in England, according to hospital data analysed by the British Heart Foundation...

“People are thinking that hospitals are bound to be far too busy with coronavirus cases, and so we’re very concerned that the net result of that is that they are not coming forward and not being treated,” he says. “There’s a big worry that we’re storing up trouble for the future.”
Which links to: NHS hospitals have four times more empty beds than normal:
Figures from the national NHS operational dashboard, seen by HSJ, show that 40.9 per cent of NHS general acute beds were unoccupied as of the weekend — 37,500 of the total 91,600 relevant beds recorded in the data. That is 4,500 more than the 33,000 the NHS said had been freed up on 27 March, and nearly four times the normal amount of free acute beds at this time of year.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:11 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


I can't find the comment above, but someone mentioned that the virus is hitting harder in immigrant communities in Sweden, and today doctors reported it is the same here in Denmark. Experts on the radio said that here, it is most certainly not because of lack of information, the authorities have sent out folders in dozens of different languages and religious leaders have generally been responsible and been out to tell people what to do.
But the thing is that after 25 years of anti-immigrant rhetoric from different Danish governments, lots of immigrants and refugees don't trust any official communication. They just ignore it, or imagine it's a conspiracy.
Another thing is that families are larger, often three generations live together, and the young live at home until marriage, all of this sometimes in less space. This means that it's harder to keep sick people isolated, but it also means that people go more stir-crazy than in smaller households where each individual can have some privacy and computer time. So there are secret parties for the young and clubs for the old.
And now the Ramadan begins. One of the people interviewed feared there would be a new big wave within a couple of weeks.
posted by mumimor at 7:18 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]


New Statesman: The quiet crisis of Britain’s missing patients:

This has become an issue in Massachusetts, too. Gov. Baker now has a segment in his daily press conferences urging people with heart, stomach, kidney, stroke issues to call their doctor and go to the ER in an emergency. Boston's six major hospitals have created a PSA, that will begn playing on local stations, with the same message. Today, one Boston hospital official joined Baker to say that admissions for heart and stroke patients have dropped dramatically, like 50%, that kids are now showing up with ruptured appendixes because their parents didn't call their doctor when the kids developed symptoms. Newton-Wellesley Hospital has seen its stroke census drop from 20 a month to 7; said hospital is seeing a record number of amputations due to people putting off talking to their doctors.
posted by adamg at 9:24 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Per peeedro's CDC link:
CDC > Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) > Water and COVID-19 FAQs > Information about Drinking Water, Recreational Water and Wastewater

Q (2nd). Is the COVID-19 virus found in feces?
A. The virus that causes COVID-19 has been detected in the feces of some patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The amount of virus released from the body (shed) in stool, how long the virus is shed, and whether the virus in stool is infectious are not known.

The risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person is also unknown. However, the risk is expected to be low based on data from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). There has been no confirmed fecal-oral transmission of COVID-19 to date.

Q (4th). Can the COVID-19 virus spread through sewerage systems?
A. CDC is reviewing all data on COVID-19 transmission as information becomes available. At this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewerage systems is thought to be low. Although transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewage may be possible, there is no evidence to date that this has occurred. This guidance will be updated as necessary as new evidence is assessed.

SARS, a similar coronavirus, has been detected in untreated sewage for up to 14 days. In the 2003 SARS outbreak, there was documented transmission associated with sewage aerosols. The available information suggests that standard municipal wastewater system chlorination practices may be sufficient to inactivate coronaviruses, as long as utilities monitor free available chlorine during treatment to ensure it has not been depleted.

Wastewater and sewage workers should use standard practices, practice basic hygiene precautions, and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as prescribed for current work tasks.
There's so much we don't know, yet we're so eager to 're-open America' that we're willing to take the risks.

See also Why You Should Flush With The Lid Down: Experts Warn Of Fecal-Oral Transmission Of COVID-19, Forbes, Alexandra Sternlicht, 4/2/2020 [alternate link]. One problem with this is that so many "public" toilets (in supermarkets, gas stations, big box stores, theaters, schools, sports stadiums, hospitals, government offices, work offices, etc.) don't have lids. It's also not unusual in crowded conditions to find unflushed toilets: talk about taking care of risky business.
posted by cenoxo at 9:54 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


2013 American Journal of Infection Control. Lifting the lid on toilet plume aerosol: A literature review with suggestions for future research.

twiv host racaniello (in i know not which episode) memorably observed that when one flushes a public toilet one is breathing an aerosol of ones predecessors there. there was also disgusting discussion of aerosols created by vomiting and diarrhea in a norovirus context.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:03 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


It is impossible to overstate what this means in a country in a country where tourism is almost 6% of GDP.

not Europe but I live in a community for which tourism is by far the biggest revenue generator, with a population on August 1st that's at least five times the mid-winter total, some years closer to ten.

So you could say we're divided, or about to become so. Those who are determined to stand firm with the staying-in-place, social-distancing vs those saying (or about to) "Enough already."

It's a small room. It's a big elephant.
posted by philip-random at 10:32 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


The tourism issue a vexing one. Even when states and countries ease social distancing restrictions, tourism will not recover until people feel safe. That could be quite a while. The other aspect is the general downturn in the world economy. People without money will not travel, and that will be another blow to the tourism industry. Difficult times ahead no matter what.
posted by haiku warrior at 10:56 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


..when one flushes a public toilet one is breathing an aerosol of ones predecessors there.

Then, after washing your hands, use a 'sanitary' hot air blower to dry them off.
posted by cenoxo at 11:03 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


I live in a town of 12,000 that has been, until now, getting 1,000,000 tourists a year. From cruise ships.

They're not coming this year, nor should they. They couldn't come even if we wanted them to, which is something of a mercy because it saves us from having one economically desperate portion of the town pitted against everybody else.

Everybody knows we're going to crash, hard, but nobody is quite sure yet what that will mean. But our state was already in economic crisis before tourism and oil, its two largest economic engines, suddenly became worthless. It's going to be grim even in the best case and if (when?) SARS-CoV2 spreads to some of our geographically isolated communities it's potentially going to be horrific.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:11 AM on April 23 [11 favorites]


I live in a suburb that relies on hospitality,

Amplified music venues are regulated by the Amplified Music Venues Local Law 2006. The object of this law is to regulate noise from amplified music in core areas of Special entertainment precincts of the city.

This law only applies to one suburb in all of Australia. It was designed for us. We had some residential developments that complained about the noise from the clubs, so we changed the law to protect the clubs.

We had big crowds, about 50000 per weekend, more if there's a festival. That's obviously over. It's strange to see the place empty but what makes it truly eerie is the silence. There's no music at night. We literally changed the laws so we can be loud as fuck with no consequences, and now it's so so quiet.

I suppose if you live by the ocean, you forget that the ocean is noisy, you tune it out. When you stop hearing the ocean? Something feels deeply deeply wrong.
posted by adept256 at 11:18 AM on April 23 [11 favorites]


SARS, a similar coronavirus, has been detected in untreated sewage for up to 14 days

Here's a citation for that: "In this study, we found that the virus can survive for 14 days in sewage at 4 degrees C, 2 days at 20 degrees C, and its RNA can be detected for 8 days though the virus had been inactivated."

14 days is eye-catching, but these are laboratory tests not environmental surveys. Holding sewage at 4 C is going to be uncommon in most real-world conditions (and if you're holding sewage for 14 days you have bigger problems). With modern sewage infrastructure you'd expect sewage to be the same temperature as groundwater (~10 C), and in places with open sewage systems you'd expect sewage to be closer to ambient air temperatures. So, except for sparsely populated high latitudes, shorter survival times should be expected. How long, what concentration, and what's the risk of infection are all still unknown.

When it comes to surveys of real sewage, this study says:
To explore whether the stool of SARS patients or the sewage containing the stool of patients would transmit SARS-CoV or not, we used a style of electropositive filter media particle to concentrate the SARS-CoV from the sewage of two hospitals receiving SARS patients in Beijing, as well as cell culture, semi-nested RT-PCR and sequencing of genes to detect and identify the viruses from sewage. There was no live SARS-CoV detected in the sewage in these assays.
So while we're pretty sure that sewage aerosols can transmit SARS because of the Amoy Gardens outbreak, but this study was unable to confirm that mechanism. More unknowns for us to ponder.
posted by peeedro at 11:26 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]



tourism will not recover until people feel safe

When this was starting, what happened in Hawaii is that the people with poor risk perception came out on cheap flights. A friend was told by a tourist that they were here from New York to get away from a roommate who tested positive. Even since the mandatory 2-week quarantine upon arrival, we have had some people who have just been...not doing it.

So, the earliest tourists seem like they're going to be the most vectory of vectors, running around Target in herds letting their kids touch everything.

I think there will be a market for luxury quarantine, and I hope some of the hotels are figuring out how to make that work.

1/3 of our population is out of work. The governor is talking about 20% pay cuts for government workers because of the downturn in revenue. The re-opening fight is going to be a nightmare when it comes, and it'll be coming soon.
posted by DebetEsse at 11:34 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


Even since the mandatory 2-week quarantine upon arrival, we have had some people who have just been...not doing it.

This is a story from a month ago but I think it shows why New Zealand is doing so well with stopping the outbreak: a helicopter tour pilot learned that two of his passengers were breaking the mandatory 14 day self-isolation rule. Instead of continuing their glacier tour, he flew them to the police.
posted by peeedro at 12:09 PM on April 23 [17 favorites]


Hidden Outbreaks Spread Through U.S. Cities Far Earlier Than Americans Knew, Estimates Say (NYT)
By the time New York City confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on March 1, thousands of infections were already silently spreading through the city, a hidden explosion of a disease that many still viewed as a remote threat as the city awaited the first signs of spring. Hidden outbreaks were also spreading almost completely undetected in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, long before testing showed that each city had a major problem, according to a model of the spread of the disease by researchers at Northeastern University who shared their results with The New York Times. Even in early February — while the world focused on China — the virus was not only likely to be spreading in multiple American cities, but also seeding blooms of infection elsewhere in the United States, the researchers found.

[...] The research offers the first clear accounting of how far behind the United States was in detecting the virus. And the findings provide a warning of what can recur, the researchers say, if social distancing restrictions are lifted too quickly. [...] Unseen carriers of the disease, many of them with mild symptoms or none at all, can still spread the virus. For that reason, by the time leaders in many cities and states took action, it was already too late to slow the initial spread. A few cities with early outbreaks, notably Seattle, are believed to have avoided enormous growth later by heeding the models available at the time and taking action well ahead of the rest of the country.
posted by katra at 12:19 PM on April 23 [7 favorites]


Sharing something I just saw posted on Facebook:

"The Insane Clown Posse has cancelled the Gathering of the Juggalos this year due to COVID-19. Lotta governors, talking heads, and protestors in this country need to step back and consider this new reality where they are less responsible and level-headed than The Insane Clown Posse."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:56 PM on April 23 [61 favorites]


Merkel issues warning over coronavirus lockdown exit (Guardian)
Angela Merkel has said the coronavirus pandemic is “still at the beginning” and parts of Germany may be rushing their exit from lockdown, as divided EU leaders clashed at a video summit over a desperately needed Europe-wide recovery fund. Worried that Germans were relaxing physical distancing efforts amid the reopening of smaller shops this week, the chancellor said some of Germany’s 16 states were moving too fast and the country remained “on the thinnest ice” despite its early achievements. [...] “It is precisely because the figures give rise to hope that I feel obliged to say that this interim result is fragile,” Merkel told parliament. “We are still far from out of the woods. We are not in the final phase of the pandemic, but still at the beginning.”
posted by katra at 12:58 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Another data point on antibodies: the first phase of a study in New York (NYT) found that 21% of people in New York City, 17% in Long Island, 12% in Westchester/Rockland, and 3.6% in the rest of the state tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. That would extrapolate to about 1.7 million cases in NYC (compared to about 150,000 confirmed cases) and 2.7 million in the state (compared to about 270,000 confirmed).
posted by ectabo at 2:04 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


The good news is that means is a lot less deadly than thought (Iceland is showing similar results), but the bad news is that more people have it so it will spread much more stealthily.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:17 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Still a lot of uncertainty about the antibody test, as noted in the NYT piece.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:19 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Another data point on antibodies: the first phase of a study in New York (NYT) found that 21% of people in New York City, 17% in Long Island, 12% in Westchester/Rockland, and 3.6% in the rest of the state tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.

The bad news is that it means you need at least 4 to 20 times as many as infections and deaths to achieve "herd immunity."

That's at least 80,000 more deaths in NYC.
posted by JackFlash at 3:31 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Al Jazeera: How will the coronavirus pandemic change Ramadan for Muslims?

Major religious authorities' reaction to the epidemic has been surprisingly pragmatic. We hear a lot about sectarian outliers breaching social distancing laws, but I see more pushback coming from sporting associations than from religious organisations. What's even more surprising is the way individuals have accepted religious directives to change their behaviour. There's Muslims with Ramadan, as mentioned above, and previously the Jewish celebration of Passover. Also, the social and personal lives of many people of all faiths revolve(d) around communal religious gatherings. The absence of these has left a huge void which is possibly hard for outsiders to appreciate.

None the less, I was surprised to read the story below: apparently there's a big push among Orthodox Jews in New York to donate plasma containing antibodies against COVID-19, to the extent that Big Name Rabbis have instructed donors to drive to medical centers on the Sabbath. I'm not sure how solid the medical basis for transferring immunity this way might be, but that just makes their instructions more remarkable.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:26 PM on April 23 [9 favorites]


We literally changed the laws so we can be loud as fuck with no consequences, and now it's so so quiet.

The reason I live where I live and hang out with the people I do is, like, 80% predicated on regular and wide availability of live music. I cannot tell you how completely fucking weird it is that I can't just go out and see a band play, but I can tell I've learned that lack will be a feature of hell if I land there.
posted by thivaia at 5:00 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


> The bad news is that it means you need at least 4 to 20 times as many as infections and deaths to achieve "herd immunity."

How so? I seem to recall that there's a relationship between the reproduction number and herd immunity, but I don't see how we can infer anything specific about the reproduction number from these results.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:04 PM on April 23


What we can (and can't) take away from New York's antibody testing results (NBC News)
It might be good news. The data suggest that the state's mortality rate could be lower than previously thought, albeit much higher than for seasonal influenza. But it's still too early to reach that conclusion — or any other extrapolations people might want to make about easing lockdowns, experts say. [...] The numbers were from a preliminary analysis of a study that wasn't released publicly, so most of its methodology remains unknown.

[...] "There's a risk of really serious misinterpretation here," said William Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. "But the most basic conclusion — that quite a large number of people may have been infected and are not turning up in the official case counts — that's extremely plausible and something we have been suspecting all along." [...] Experts caution that preliminary findings from the study, as well as similar research that was released in California in the past week, could be skewed by statistical issues, unreliable test results and questionable ways the studies were designed.

[...] Although the early results suggest that infections in New York have been much more widespread than the official counts indicate, experts say that getting a clear picture of the true number of coronavirus cases is extremely complex and that it's still not known whether, or how, antibodies translate into immunity from the virus.
posted by katra at 5:32 PM on April 23


All the focus on mortality rates takes away from getting the virus badly enough, even without hospitalization, is a pretty traumatic experience that lingers in the body - worse than a flu from what I understand.
posted by kokaku at 5:35 PM on April 23 [10 favorites]


There is an AskMe that includes a collection of links about Covid-19 experiences: Blogs or journals from people who have COVID-19?
posted by katra at 6:13 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


luxury quarantine

That's brilliant. Not even being sarcastic. That sounds like a good vacation, even if you would have to reserve a section of the beach for only a couple of hours in your weekend, scheduled in advance. But you could have a little yard with some sunshine, a view, and a cool breeze, and have everything you need delivered to your door. Sounds crazy expensive.
posted by ctmf at 6:30 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I'm concerned that choosing between feeding the family and exposing to coronavirus is driving some of the plans to open the economy. Those conservative states probably have incomplete systems for providing food during the lockdowns (and an incomplete will to do so).
Here's a story about the choice in Italy.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:30 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


They want to stop paying unemployment. That's it.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:38 PM on April 23 [22 favorites]


I seem to recall that there's a relationship between the reproduction number and herd immunity

I presume the R0 should go down in proportion to the percentage of people who are immune. But we still don't know how effective immunity is for COVID-19, which would make any speculation premature. As for the reproduction number, any such figure must vary wildly across different communities. People working in factories and abattoirs are much more likely to spread the disease than, say, an unemployed person who only has casual exposure to potential carriers. So even if there's a low R0 overall, that figure includes groups with a high R0. "Herd immunity" will only protect members of those groups when it's too late, because everyone has been exposed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:57 PM on April 23


Antibody surveys suggesting vast undercount of coronavirus infections may be unreliable, Science, Gretchen Vogel, 4/21/2020:
Surveying large swaths of the public for antibodies to the new coronavirus promises to show how widespread undiagnosed infections are, how deadly the virus really is, and whether enough of the population has become immune for social distancing measures to be eased. But the first batch of results has generated more controversy than clarity.

The survey results, from Germany, the Netherlands, and several locations in the United States, find that anywhere from 2% to 30% of certain populations have already been infected with the virus. The numbers imply that confirmed COVID-19 cases are an even smaller fraction of the true number of people infected than many had estimated and that the vast majority of infections are mild. But many scientists question the accuracy of the antibody tests and complain that several of the research groups announced their findings in the press rather than in preprints or published papers, where their data could be scrutinized. Critics are also wary because some of the researchers are on record advocating for an early end to lockdowns and other control measures, and claim the new prevalence figures support that call.

Some observers warn the coronavirus’ march through the population has only just begun, and that even if the antibody results can be believed, they don’t justify easing controls. “You would have hoped for 45% or even 60% positive,” says Mark Perkins, a diagnostics expert at the World Health Organization. “That would mean that there is lots of silent transmission, and a lot of immunity in the population. It now looks like, sadly, that’s not true. Even the high numbers are relatively small....”
Also from Science, Coronavirus found in Paris sewage points to early warning system, Christa Lesté-Lasserre, 4/21/2020:
By sampling sewage across greater Paris for more than 1 month, researchers have detected a rise and fall in novel coronavirus concentrations that correspond to the shape of the COVID-19 outbreak in the region, where a lockdown is now suppressing spread of the disease. Although several research groups have reported detecting coronavirus in wastewater, the researchers say the new study is the first to show that the technique can pick up a sharp rise in viral concentrations in sewage before cases explode in the clinic. That points to its potential as a cheap, noninvasive tool to warn against outbreaks...
posted by cenoxo at 6:59 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


They want to stop paying unemployment. That's it.

Absolutely this, but also there are a lot of companies, many of them Republican donors I'm sure, who have been conducting stock buybacks with their profits for years. This money would otherwise be their emergency cushion, and now a lot of companies do not have that kind of resilience. So, financially engineered companies are likely on a precipice...and Mitch wants states to consider bankruptcy. Surely because Mitch & Donald want to give money to float corporations with cashflow problems, which would otherwise go to help the states. So we see the priorities: not only party over country, but profits over country, too. Hell, these companies probably have both Mitch's and Donald's nuts in a vice, so of course they're going to move heaven and earth for them. [spit]
posted by rhizome at 8:09 PM on April 23 [10 favorites]


The Republicans are just so terrible.
posted by Windopaene at 9:13 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


They want to stop paying unemployment. That's it.

While they certainly seem to want to stop paying unemployment insurance claims, it also seems like the way they are trying to accomplish this is by relying on misunderstandings of how the expanded unemployment insurance programs work, and particularly by vulnerable people who may lack access to health care, so people think that they can't claim unemployment and don't try when they may still have a right to even after stay-at-home orders are rescinded.

‘Really dumb’: Governors assail McConnell over bankruptcy comments (Politico)
Governors on Thursday assailed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's suggestion that state and local governments should pursue bankruptcy rather than ask for more federal assistance — an approach New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called "one of the really dumb ideas of all time."
posted by katra at 9:40 PM on April 23 [6 favorites]


Cuomo Reminds McConnell That KY Takes More Money Than NY: ‘Who’s Getting Bailed Out Here?’ (Cristina Cabrera, Talking Points Memo)
During his daily press conference, Cuomo pointed out that not only does New York chip in more money than Kentucky, the Empire State also takes less from the federal coffers than it contributes – unlike Kentucky.

“Senator McConnell, who’s getting bailed out here?” Cuomo asked.

“It’s your state that is living on the money that we generate,” he continued. “Your state is getting bailed out. Not my state.”
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:53 PM on April 23 [34 favorites]


Texas will not release information about coronavirus clusters at state-run homes for Texans with disabilities

Texas officials, citing medical privacy laws, are refusing to disclose comprehensive data on the number of cases among staff and residents at state supported living centers, where 43% of residents are medically fragile and more vulnerable to COVID-19...

But legal experts say the state can choose to disclose aggregate counts from facilities...

Meanwhile, family members of residents at other centers say they have repeatedly asked administrators and local health authorities how many cases are on campus but have gotten no answers. They worry about rapid spread because, depending on the severity of their disabilities, residents may not understand rules about hand-washing or maintaining a safe distance from others.

posted by mediareport at 5:22 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


COVID-19 brings a ‘perfect storm’ of suicide risk factors: economic stress, isolation, gun sales; Fast Company, Arianne Cohen, 4/22/2020:
Researchers are raising alarms about high suicide risks during the pandemic. A new report [PDF] in JAMA Psychiatry says that COVID-19 has brought with it a “perfect storm” of risk factors: social isolation, low community support, limited treatment access, nationwide anxiety, increased firearm sales, and poor seasonal timing (suicide rates tend to peak in late spring and early summer). Suicidal thoughts are widely known to be temporary and treatable with support, therapy, and coping behaviors.

Media outlets are reporting upticks in calls to suicide hotlines, and social distancing may already be having a devastating impact. The report notes that weekly attendance at religious services is associated with a five-fold lower suicide rate and that social connections play a key role in suicide prevention. “Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are associated with social isolation and loneliness,” write the researchers. “Therefore, it is concerning that the most critical public health strategy for the COVID-19 crisis is social distancing.”
You can help both yourself and others through social connection via telephone or video, or tele-therapy. Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo opened the New York State COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline at 844-863-9314 (8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET). If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).
posted by cenoxo at 6:42 AM on April 24 [7 favorites]


Braskem petrochemical plant takes a unique approach to keeping factory workers safe and to also produce materials to make protective gear on a new scale. They asked who would be willing to live in the factory for 28 days, working 12 hour shifts, day and night. They paid workers for the entire time they were in the factory. The factories produced 40 million pounds of polypropylene, to make masks and gowns.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:01 AM on April 24 [20 favorites]


This editorial in Science Magazine makes a strong (albeit technical) plea saying that SARS-CoV-2 research should not be treated with exceptionalism.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:56 AM on April 24 [5 favorites]


Coronavirus detected on particles of air pollution — Scientists examine whether this route enables infections at longer distances, The Guardian, Damian Carrington Environment editor; 4/24/2020:
...The work is preliminary [preprint link] and it is not yet known if the virus remains viable on pollution particles and in sufficient quantity to cause disease. The Italian scientists used standard techniques to collect outdoor air pollution samples at one urban and one industrial site in Bergamo province and identified a gene highly specific to Covid-19 in multiple samples. The detection was confirmed by blind testing at an independent laboratory.

...Previous studies have shown that air pollution particles do harbour microbes and that pollution is likely to have carried the viruses causing bird flu, measles and foot-and-mouth disease over considerable distances....
posted by cenoxo at 9:23 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


“Hair can wait”: A stylist on what it’s like to go back to work in Georgia
What sort of directions are you getting in terms of how to stay safe?

Well, we didn’t get anything until they put the four-page document out, and I feel like there are some stylists that haven’t even seen them. But I don’t know.

Here’s the basic thought on it: that honestly it’s out there, they put it out there, but really there’s no enforcing whether anything’s going to be adhered to. And I promise when the salon opens, there are going to be things that are being done that — I wouldn’t feel comfortable being there, I wouldn’t feel like it would be a safe situation, as a client or an employee.

And those four pages of instructions, are they easy to comply with?

It’s really impossible to comply. The PPE [personal protective equipment], a new smock between every new client for the stylist, the cleaning, the time constraints, just the availability of the product that they’re requiring us to have. You can’t find them right now. Cleaners, hand sanitizer, you can’t find that stuff anywhere.

So there’s no way you’re going to be able to do all the things you need to keep yourself safe.

Absolutely.
These ghouls are conscripting desperate people as pawns in their ideological war.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:54 AM on April 24 [17 favorites]


> EmpressCallipygos: "The Insane Clown Posse has cancelled the Gathering of the Juggalos this year due to COVID-19. Lotta governors, talking heads, and protestors in this country need to step back and consider this new reality where they are less responsible and level-headed than The Insane Clown Posse."

I clicked over to the Gathering of the Juggalos website and their statement about the cancellation (for some reason posted as a giant wall-of-text .jpg) is even more amazing than I could imagine. I hope you'll indulge me to reproduce it here in full:
Psychopathic Records and the Insane Clown Posse LIVE for the Juggalo Family! For 20 consecutive years, the Gathering of the Juggalos has been the biggest family reunion on the planet, generating untold levels of freshness for thousands and thousands of attending Juggalos from all walks of life, all around the world. With the global pandemic that is now affecting us all, we are dedicated first and foremost to the safety and health of our family. That said, at this juncture, it is with a heavy heart we announce that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have no choice but to postpone the Gathering until next year. This is not only a call we had to make but one that the owners of the Nelson Ledges Quarry park (where the Gathering was to take place) regrettably had to make as well. With tens of thousands of deaths due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we can't possibly in good conscience even consider trying to put on a Gathering during these difficult times. Aside from the serious health concerns, there are numerous other factors that have destroyed any possibility of the Gathering taking place this year. The entire music industry is at a dead halt due to the quarantine, and this, along with the uncertainty of how things will eventually pan out, has made it impossible to move forward with a 2020 GOTJ. That aside, the bottom line is simply that we REFUSE to risk even ONE Juggalo life by hosting a Gathering during these troubling times.

In closing, we want everyone to heed the words of Fred Fury and Flip the Rat: "BE SAFE: Watch your step and take it easy. You can't replace what you mean to our team. Without you, tell me where the fuck we'd be?"

We will endure this together as a Family, and the Gathering of the Juggalos will return in 2021, stronger, bigger, and better than ever! Whoop whoop!
posted by mhum at 10:24 AM on April 24 [32 favorites]


Coronavirus, pregnant women and infants – new research, The Conversation; Mehreen Zaigham (PhD, MD, Dept. of Obstetric & Gynecology, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital, Sweden, Lund University) and Ola Andersson (Neonatologist, Senior Researcher, Skåne University Hospital, Lund University); 4/22/2020:
Being under lockdown in the middle of a global pandemic is stressful enough, so imagine the added burden of being pregnant. Scientists are only beginning to understand how COVID-19 can affect pregnant women and their unborn babies and, while the world focuses on protecting the elderly and other vulnerable groups, pregnant women might be overlooked....
Normal physical and chemical changes in pregnant women make them more vulnerable to viral infections. From the cases reviewed by the authors, no evidence was found that mothers infected their foetus, nor were traces of novel coronavirus found in the placenta or umbilical cord.

Note the additional details and recommended precautions in the article.
posted by cenoxo at 11:10 AM on April 24


I find this article relevant. It discusses the swine flu number of deaths (2009-2010 flu season) and how the initial number of flu deaths worldwide was set at 18,449. Three years later the numbers were increased by over 10-fold and double that if flu-induced heart attacks were counted.

The higher numbers seem to be in line with what the CDC now reports. I don't know when their numbers officially changed, but the link includes citations from 2012.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:32 AM on April 24


@DWUhlfelderLaw

Many of you have asked if I am willing to travel around Florida wearing Grim Reaper attire to the beaches and other areas of the state opening up prematurely. The answer is absolutely yes. Beginning May 1 we will hit the road here in state. Please retweet and spread the word.

Worth a look for his cosplay game, it's pretty strong. Also a good metric for social distancing is 'scythe-reach'.

It's difficult to counter-protest the pro-virus crowd. Crowd? Not really. I've heard flu-klux-klan and moronavirus. It's a handful of fuckwits that are famous for their stupidity. Thank the media for that I suppose. They've given new energy to the Ghana pallbearers meme.

Looking at the photo, I think of the Death of Discworld, and I'm all in.
posted by adept256 at 1:25 PM on April 24 [9 favorites]


Normal physical and chemical changes in pregnant women make them more vulnerable to viral infections. From the cases reviewed by the authors, no evidence was found that mothers infected their foetus, nor were traces of novel coronavirus found in the placenta or umbilical cord.

I don’t know why they didn’t find this because it is happening here in the US. What is not great is that the covid positive moms and the covid positive babies are being separated immediately after the birth. We’re going to see a lot more moms with postpartum depression.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:36 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Singers:

Dina Gallacher, The California Aggie, "UC Davis Researchers Study The Role Of Speech Aerosols In Coronavirus Transmission": "[William D. Ristenpart:] Since singing is typically at a pretty loud volume, [the choir in Washington State] would have been emitting a lot of aerosol particles in the air. Other people breathe in those particles, then it goes deep into their lungs and they get infected. . . . For unclear reasons, there is some fraction of . . . individuals that emit a lot more particles than other people. There is no clear correlation with gender, body weight, or height [in superemittors]. The hypothesis is that, if there is an airborne disease transmission mechanism, people who are superemittors are emitting far more particles than others. . . . [Asadi:] I myself am a super-emittor.”

The following is about tuberculosis, but I don't see why the physics of singing and droplet or aerosol production would make viruses less transmissible than bacteria:

@linseymarr, engineering prof who specializes in airborne transmission of viruses: "From "Singing and the Dissemination of Tuberculosis," 15 coughs, say numbers 1-100, sing 1-100: fewer total droplets from singing but more of smaller size. Total <11.2 um: coughing=50, talking=8, singing=39. Singing more like coughing than talking."

(Smaller size droplets means that infectious particles are more aerodynamic, and more likely to for other people to breathe deep into their lungs, where they can cause more damage than if they land and stay in the upper respiratory tract.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:00 PM on April 24 [7 favorites]


Reuters: World leaders launch plan to speed COVID-19 drugs, vaccine; U.S. stays away

From reporting elsewhere, the countries that participated agreed to the following pledges
• Provide access to new treatments, technologies and vaccines across the world.
• Commit to an unprecedented level of international partnership on research and coordinate efforts to tackle the pandemic and reduce infections.
• Reach collective decisions on responding to the pandemic, recognising that the virus’s spread in one country can affect all countries.
• Learn from experience and adapt the global response.
• Be accountable, to the most vulnerable communities and the whole world.
posted by jedicus at 4:01 PM on April 24 [7 favorites]


Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes (WaPo / MSN reprint)
Oxley, the interventional neurologist, said one striking aspect of the cases is how long many waited before seeking emergency care. [...] Oxley said the most important thing for people to understand is that large strokes are very treatable. Doctors are often able to reopen blocked blood vessels through techniques such as pulling out clots or inserting stents. But it has to be done quickly, ideally within six hours, but no longer than 24 hours: “The message we are trying to get out is if you have symptoms of stroke, you need to call the ambulance urgently.
posted by katra at 4:40 PM on April 24 [9 favorites]


re strokes & other clots, there was good discussion about covid-19 hypercoagulability on twiv 603 (circa 10:30) with clinician daniel griffin.

also, remember FAST stroke symptom mnemonic: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time is of the essence.
posted by 20 year lurk at 5:24 PM on April 24 [8 favorites]


Antibody testing news, this time from Miami.

The article gives a top line number of 6% from two weeks worth of randomized sampling, and even explicitly notes the statistical nature of the finding, giving upper and lower bounds. It also discusses the results of, and possible shortcomings in similar monitoring done in other US cities.

In other news, Florida's case count has been showing striking increases of late, now that they are beginning to include the results of tests done by private labs. Funny how the numbers showed a decline in the rate of spread just long enough to get people to start talking about easing some restrictions.
posted by wierdo at 5:27 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking "Trump is less responsible than the Juggalos" might have some legs.
posted by rhizome at 6:42 PM on April 24 [10 favorites]


Brazil becoming coronavirus hot spot as testing falters (AP)
Cases of the new coronavirus are overwhelming hospitals, morgues and cemeteries across Brazil as Latin America’s largest nation veers closer to becoming one of the world’s pandemic hot spots. Medical officials in Rio de Janeiro and at least four other major cities have warned that their hospital systems are on the verge of collapse, or already too overwhelmed to take any more patients. Health experts expect the number of infections in the country of 211 million people will be much higher than what has been reported because of insufficient, delayed testing.

Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro has shown no sign of wavering from his insistence that COVID-19 is a relatively minor disease and that broad social-distancing measures are not needed to stop it. He has said only Brazilians at high risk should be isolated. [...] Bolsonaro has continued to dismiss health officials’ dire predictions about the virus’s spread in the country. Last week, the president fired a health minister who had supported tough anti-virus measures and replaced him with an advocate for reopening the economy.
Guardian: South and Central America is experiencing a significant crisis with the virus. [...] Here are some more updates from the region:
[...] Honduras has reported nearly 600 confirmed coronavirus cases to date, as well around 50 deaths. An estimated 40% of the population already live in extreme poverty and the pandemic has also pushed many more into homelessness, Reuters reports. [...] In Ecuador, which has been hit particularly hard in Guayaquil on the coast, the official reported figure more than doubled after the release of delayed test results on Thursday. Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said it wasn’t a “rebound” of numbers, but a reflection of an increased capacity to test. [...] Indigenous tribes in Peru’s Amazon say the government has left them to fend for themselves against the coronavirus, risking “ethnocide by inaction,” according to a letter from natives to the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. [...]
posted by katra at 7:57 PM on April 24 [5 favorites]



Braskem petrochemical plant takes a unique approach to keeping factory workers safe and to also produce materials to make protective gear on a new scale. They asked who would be willing to live in the factory for 28 days, working 12 hour shifts, day and night. They paid workers for the entire time they were in the factory. The factories produced 40 million pounds of polypropylene, to make masks and gowns.


Not quite unique. The electric grid relies on facilities going into sequestration for pandemics, and a PPE factory in Tunisia did this a month ago.
posted by ocschwar at 8:25 PM on April 24 [3 favorites]


Social distancing may have prevented 70,000 infections in Oregon, analysis says (WaPo live blog)
An analysis released Friday by Oregon health officials shows that state’s aggressive social distancing measures may have prevented more than 70,000 coronavirus infections since early March, including an estimated 1,500 hospitalizations. “Our modeling continues to show that our collective efforts are working,” state epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger said in a statement.

The findings bolster arguments from a chorus of public health officials and medical experts, who have urged officials nationwide to maintain stay-at-home orders, warning that a premature reopening could lead to new waves of infection and death. [...] The authors cautioned that the projections were intended for planning purposes and should be considered preliminary, saying data on covid-19 cases may lag in ways that were not accounted. They also stressed that strict social distancing will need to continue to drive down the number of active infections, and said that testing and contact tracing should be vastly expanded before the state considers reopening.
posted by katra at 11:15 PM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Euromomo maps excess mortality in the European countries that are part of the network. This week it is clear that some countries stand out with high peaks, others have normal rates for this time of year.
There aren't any big surprises*, but it is a way of collecting and comparing data independently from testing and other forms of diagnosis.

*The single thing that caught my eye is how NI seems to doing better than the rest of the UK
posted by mumimor at 2:25 AM on April 25 [4 favorites]


"Immunity passports" in the context of COVID-19, WHO Scientific Brief, 4/24/2020:
...
Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could serve as the basis for an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate” that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection. There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.
...
At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate.” People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission.
...
Details and references in the brief.
posted by cenoxo at 6:53 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Other than New York, what few antibody studies we have seen indicate positive rates of three or four percent of the population. How do you open an economy with three or four percent? Those restaurants and movie theaters and airplanes are going to be pretty empty.
posted by JackFlash at 7:33 AM on April 25


@ThisIsMboya: Columbia Police imitating the famous dancing pallbearers from Ghana. The objective of all this is to remind the people to strictly adhere to the STAY AT HOME directive from the Government of Colombia.

The dancing pallbearers meme explained.
posted by peeedro at 8:45 AM on April 25 [6 favorites]


yeah .... as someone who was involved in arranging just such a funeral for an incredibly well-loved and respected elder some years ago it's a little jarring to see this meme take hold and be interpreted in the way it is. I can assure you 'macabre' is the furthest from anybody's mind at such a celebration; you don't get such a joyful goodbye party without having had an incredibly respected, successful, happy, and long life. Kind of the opposite of how anyone feels about covid-19 deaths.
posted by glasseyes at 10:16 AM on April 25 [15 favorites]


Nobody's going to go around dancing with happiness at the death of a young person.
posted by glasseyes at 10:19 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Online orders could save desperate retailers, but workers say they are risking their safety to fill purchases few need (WaPo) (previously)
[...] the precautions have done little to assuage employees’ fears, according to the worker. Last week, they were notified someone at the store had tested positive for coronavirus. Seikaly, the Neiman Marcus spokeswoman, said the company is limiting the number of employees who work at one time and is regularly cleaning and disinfecting its stores. Employees who don’t want to work, she said, can take unpaid leave. “Those who are not comfortable with coming in are not required to report into work.”

[...] Erin Santy, a spokeswoman for TheRealReal, said the company has reduced the number of employees at its warehouses and is staggering work shifts. It also is giving workers two additional weeks of paid leave and approving all requests for time off. “None of these jobs are public-facing roles, they are in a controlled, sanitized environment,” she said in an email. “Any employee can meet with their manager and ask to be laid off and then collect unemployment.”
posted by katra at 11:52 AM on April 25 [3 favorites]


There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.

To be clear: there is also no evidence yet that they aren't protected. This is about a lack of evidence either way, not evidence in one direction or the other. The brief from the WHO, though important and correct as far as it goes, has led to badly twisted headlines like "WHO Warns You May Catch Coronavirus More Than Once" and "WHO Warns Against Idea of 'Immunity Passports'", as opposed to the more accurate "More Study On Coronavirus Reinfection Needed" or "WHO Says It's Too Early for 'Immunity Passports'". It's very frustrating.
posted by jedicus at 12:16 PM on April 25 [14 favorites]


also cybercoitus interruptus re Smaller size droplets means that infectious particles are more aerodynamic.

A different field but from herbicide chemistry I know that a consistent droplet size also increases efficacy of an agent as organism response is more consistent.
posted by unearthed at 2:13 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Guardian: “It’s been 56 long days,” Cuomo says. “Generations are called upon to deal with high levels of difficulty. We are called upon to deal with this crisis. Day 56. [...]
“Fifty-six days, all this inconvenience. Think of it this way: what you’re doing is actually saving lives. That’s not rhetorical, that’s not overly dramatic. You are saving lives. What we have done has saved lives. Every expert, every expert – CDC, White House task force, Cornell University, Columbia University, McKinsey, that group that Bill Gates funded – every one of them projected that there would be at least 100,000 more serious infections in state of New York. One hundred thousand more serious infections, more hospitalizations. What happened? We did what we had to do, which was hard and is hard. Well, what did we accomplish? One hundred thousand fewer serious infections. That’s what’s 56 days of our relative living through hell has accomplished. And that is a hell of an accomplishment. So yes, it’s not for naught: 100,000 fewer infections.
posted by katra at 3:27 PM on April 25 [8 favorites]


Cleaning a floating petri dish: How is a cruise ship sanitized after a coronavirus outbreak?, USA Today, Morgan Hines, 4/25/2020:
Earlier this year, coronavirus lurked on Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess cruise ship [WP]. It eventually infected 712 people on board and killed 13, according to Johns Hopkins data. [The ship was quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan, from Feb. 5-19 after the first cases were diagnosed.]
...
After the final passengers and crew disembarked with the ship's captain being the last person to depart the ship on March 1, according to a Princess Cruises Facebook post, cleaning was delayed. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then conducted an investigation on how the virus spread through the ship.

Then on March 31 – nearly a month after the chaos on board ended – Princess spokesperson Negin Kamali shared a statement with USA TODAY announcing that the vessel had been sanitized by BELFOR Property Restoration [WP], which touts itself as "the world's largest disaster restoration company."
...
Cleaning the ship's 18 decks, 1,300+ cabins and numerous common areas on Diamond Princess took the efforts of 240 workers from the company's Japan and North American operations, including its environmental, HVAC and marine divisions. Yellen says all wore disposable biohazard suits, along with booties, gloves and full-face respirators. And it took nearly all of March to fully disinfect the ship....
Cleanup details follow in the article: "Princess Cruises would not disclose the cost of the project."
posted by cenoxo at 5:30 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


And are you ready to go on that ship? Who is?

This is the problem with the "reopen" shit. Who is going to?
posted by Windopaene at 5:32 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


I'm not—and never would—but lots of people are.
Cruise ship bookings for 2021 are already on the rise despite multiple COVID-19 outbreaks

posted by Ahmad Khani at 5:37 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


How cruise ships exposed thousands on board and helped spread virus globally (WaPo)
A Post review of cruise line statements, government announcements and media reports found that the coronavirus infected passengers and crew on at least 55 ships that sailed in the waters off nearly every continent, about a fifth of the total global fleet. The industry’s decision to keep sailing for weeks after the coronavirus was first detected in early February on a cruise ship off the coast of Japan, despite the efforts by top U.S. health officials to curtail voyages, was among a number of decisions that health experts and passengers say contributed to the mounting toll.

[...] “People on a large ship, all together, at the same time, all the time — you couldn’t ask for a better incubator for infection,” Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert, said in February.
Guardian: "Nearly 60 new cases of coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Nagasaki among crew members of an Italian cruise ship docked there for repairs, Japanese domestic media has reported. With testing of all crew members complete, the new number brings the total infections onboard the Costa Atlantica to around 150, roughly one-quarter of the vessel’s 623 crew members"
posted by katra at 5:46 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


Now imagine you're in any country's Navy, and must board a disinfected ship to deploy on a new mission.
posted by cenoxo at 5:57 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


There's been a fair bit of time devoted by the Australian media-political complex over the last week or two to various people's expressions of disappointment over the WHO position on re-opening wet markets.

I find it completely unsurprising that the same foghorns so keen to shut down China's internal food supply chains have not been making similar calls about our own wet markets or the global virus delivery industry.

Remember, kids: if it makes money in our own country, it's perfectly fine because we have safety standards. If we notice it being done somewhere that speaks a different language from us, it's backward and wrong and ought to be shut down because they are essentially uncivilized and can't be trusted to do it properly.
posted by flabdablet at 8:06 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


‘Quarantine fatigue’: Researchers find more Americans venturing out against coronavirus stay-at-home orders (WaPo / MSN reprint)
Researchers tracking smartphone data say they recently made a disturbing discovery: For the first time since states began implementing stay-at-home orders in mid-March to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, Americans are staying home less. The nationwide shift during the week of April 13 was relatively slight. However, any loss of momentum, particularly when stay-in-place orders remain in effect across most of the country, has some public health experts worried about “quarantine fatigue.” Any increase in travel, they say, is premature when staying home remains the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus until widespread testing and contact tracing become available. [...] public health experts say convincing people to stay in will become harder as the weeks pass. The more effectively such orders lower rates of infection, they say, the more some people will incorrectly assume they’re no longer necessary.
posted by katra at 8:16 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


Now imagine you're in any country's Navy, and must board a disinfected ship

In the Navy the people who would have to disinfect it are YOU.
posted by ctmf at 9:08 PM on April 25 [11 favorites]


I find it completely unsurprising that the same foghorns so keen to shut down China's internal food supply chains have not been making similar calls about our own wet markets

Australian wet markets mostly don't sell live fish, let alone other living animals. They also don't sell wildlife, including the ones thought to have been vectors through which COVID-19 passed before infecting humans. The meat sold in wet markets is slaughtered in licensed abattoirs, not at the market.

But here's the thing: according to the two articles you linked pretty much everybody quoted (including our PM, and including WHO) seems to agree that it's the wildlife and live animal trade that is the problem. From the BBC's report:
"WHO's position is that when these markets are allowed to reopen it should only be on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards," [Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO,] said. "Governments must rigorously enforce bans on the sale and trade of wildlife for food."
So I don't really see the controversy here? Everybody apparently agrees that we'd be better off if the wildlife trade was banned and Chinese vendors in wet markets had access to things like refrigeration and sanitary facilities.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:39 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


Dr Fauci has said he'd like Brad Pitt to play him in the inevitable movie.

Brad Pitt provides.
posted by adept256 at 12:44 AM on April 26 [16 favorites]


I feel compelled to point out that viruses can only reproduce in living cells and so cruise ships, in this kind of metaphor, cannot be a petri dish. Perhaps they are a cell culture. Since the occupants live in what are effectively cells (cabins) this strikes me as rather nice.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:48 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Oh crap I looked it up. Actually while you don't culture viruses in agar, you can of course keep your cell culture in a Petri dish, and grown the viruses in the cell culture. Then it's barely a metaphor, because the passengers are providing the cells for the cell culture.

Carry on!
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:51 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


But a cruise ship that has been empty for months is not a petri dish because there were no cells on board in which the virus could replicate. There is some evidence that coronavirus can live on surfaces for a few days, but that's it. If all life (life has cells) has long been absent from the boat, it really is safe to go back on board. This is different from bacterial pathogens, which can survive and reproduce on a boat with no people.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:21 AM on April 26 [5 favorites]


Of course, once you reintroduce people, in our current conditions, you are also reintroducing the virus along with the cells for it to replicate. But once people can really and truly be tested before boarding, it should be safe for both cruise ships and navy ships.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:22 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]




I'm not going to link or mention the person's name for doxxing reasons.

Apparently when those astroturfing websites went up, named like reopenmd.com and reopenct.com, someone saw what was happening and quickly bought up the remaining domains associated with all fifty states. They did this to make them unavailable for the protest movement. This supposedly cost about $6000. Then they were doxxed by people who believed he was part of the protest movement, and also by the protesters who were upset that they were squatting on the domains.

So they paid to shut down an astroturfing campaign, got doxxed by both sides, and now their life is fucked.
posted by adept256 at 7:57 AM on April 26 [16 favorites]


public health experts say convincing people to stay in will become harder as the weeks pass
Something I wish the US government would do: Produce massive amounts of upbeat propaganda to make people feel good about doing their part to fight the pandemic. When I turn on the TV or watch a YouTube video, I should see constant ads with Dwayne Johnson and LeBron James showing how and why to wear masks, or Ariana Grande talking about keeping grandparents safe, or Dan Rather narrating an ad about sacrifices Americans have made through history.

I’m not saying this is the main thing that we’re missing, but it’s one more thing that could help. People need reminders that we are working alongside each other, not being imprisoned.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:35 AM on April 26 [42 favorites]


Something I wish the US government would do: Produce massive amounts of upbeat propaganda to make people feel good about doing their part to fight the pandemic.

I'm sort of afraid of what this administration would produce if it tried, though. Can you imagine what the Trump presidency thinks is upbeat propaganda to make people feel good about doing their part?
posted by sciatrix at 9:18 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]


Honestly, if Trump could just get some of his pro wrestling buddies to deliver some basic PSAs written by the CDC, it would go farther than anything else I can think of toward reaching the people who need the most convincing.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:37 AM on April 26 [8 favorites]


Donald Trump set to fall back on xenophobia with re-election plan in tatters (Guardian)
Neil Sroka, communications director for the progressive group Democracy for America, added: “What we should expect in 2020 is, because of the economic implosion, because of his massive mishandling of this crisis, he will pursue a xenophobic campaign that makes the 2016 effort look like patty cake.”
Guardian: Over the weekend Politico published details of a 57 page Republican party attack memo, which advised GOP candidates to aggressively target China in their public remarks on the coronavirus pandemic.
posted by katra at 10:46 AM on April 26 [8 favorites]


Economist now also reporting excess mortality across different countries and regions.

The UK is one of the few countries where the death toll is still rising.
posted by vacapinta at 11:02 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


At this point, Europe remains a larger problem than North America: see graph Coronavirus Total Confirmed Cases By Continent.
posted by cenoxo at 11:13 AM on April 26


This would be completely fascinating if it weren't so terrifying and bewildering. CW for scary stuff; I'm glad I read it but it will be in my nightmares also. David Wallace-Wells for NYMag: We Still Don't Know How the Coronavirus is Killing Us
“Despite the more than 1,000 papers now spilling into journals and onto preprint servers every week,” Science concluded, “a clear picture is elusive, as the virus acts like no pathogen humanity has ever seen.”
And I won't paste it here because it feels like too much, but check out that description of a stroke treatment if you're feeling brave. This virus is from hell.
posted by witchen at 11:20 AM on April 26 [7 favorites]


This would be completely fascinating if it weren't so terrifying and bewildering. CW for scary stuff; I'm glad I read it but it will be in my nightmares also. David Wallace-Wells for NYMag: We Still Don't Know How the Coronavirus is Killing Us

It is completely unsurprising to me as a former virologist that we are at this stage of understanding a few months in.

I think it was Bernard Roizman who said that progress on a virus is obtained when there is one PhD researcher per nucleotide of the virus (in reference to HIV, which was unravelled over the course of 15 or so years by an army of thousands).

It is important to remember that in a novel scientific crisis or discovery, the worst experiments are done the fastest by the least careful experimenters and are usually the least trustable (see Pons and Fleischman's cold fusion furor for a good example of this -- it was "replicated" early on by others who made the same mistakes before being debunked by actual experts in measuring energy output carefully). Look to the labs which have done coronavirus research for a decade and trust those results more than an MD who decides to do a shitty non randomized study with retrospective data. Papers which normally would be sent back and redone several times are now making headlines in the NYT if they mention covid19.

Also: Physiology is really hard, virus effects on physiology moreso. Animal studies with human viruses are not very predictive unless you make extremely humanized mice and there are limits to how far that can go; there are also scaling issues to consider, hypoxia or edema may proceed quite differently in a small mammal va. A large one. Just because drugs work in a cell culture does not mean they will do anything in a patient. A drug may be capable of killing the virus but will never get to high enough concentrations in the lungs to do anything, for example. While we have hypertechnology at the molecular level to sequence things and check molecular structures animal studies are still slow and laborious.

I ecommend that anyone actually interested in the science listen to the TWiV podcast which has been doing virology podcasts for over a decade, they have actual experts debating the science without any hype.
posted by benzenedream at 12:11 PM on April 26 [50 favorites]


Christian Drosten, who directs the Institute of Virology at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, was one of those who identified the Sars virus in 2003. As the head of the German public health institute’s reference lab on coronaviruses, he has become the government’s go-to expert on the related virus causing the current pandemic.
In an exclusive interview, Drosten admits he fears a second deadly wave of the virus. He explains why Angela Merkel has an advantage over other world leaders – and why the “prevention paradox” keeps him awake at night.
posted by adamvasco at 1:41 PM on April 26 [16 favorites]


Droste is also on the NDR Coronavirus Update podcast. It’s in German, but Droste speaks clearly, intelligently and well and is relatively easy to understand. Even if most of what he has to say is a touch chilling.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:35 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Christian Drosten, host of Das Coronavirus podcast, conversed at length with This Week in Virology host Racaniello on TWiV episode 601, April 14.
posted by 20 year lurk at 7:04 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Most Americans Who Carry the Coronavirus Don’t Know It (Shan Soe-Lin and Robert Hecht, NYT Opinion)
To suppress Covid-19, we need to test those with no symptoms.
Those in high-risk asymptomatic groups who must be urgently targeted include health workers, especially those in long-term care facilities; the homeless and those working in shelters; grocery store employees and delivery drivers, taxi drivers, emergency workers, employees in high density workplaces like delivery warehouses and meat processing plants; and anyone who has had close contact with a known Covid-19 patient. These high-risk groups need to be tested as often as every five days, given what we know about the time it takes to develop symptoms after becoming infected, and those found to be infected should self-isolate immediately while their contacts should be quarantined for 14 days.

Testing will need to be expanded at least fivefold and made as accessible and convenient as possible, without the need for a doctor’s referral, and free of charge. [...] If we can’t prevent the spread of Covid-19, the economy will not be able to reopen. Rapidly finding and isolating all infected patients, focusing particularly on the large pool of infected asymptomatic people, and quarantining their close contacts before they have had a chance to infect others is the only way that the pandemic can be controlled until an effective Covid-19 vaccine is found.
posted by katra at 8:18 PM on April 26 [6 favorites]


There is talk of various European countries easing their lockdowns and the reporting around this is spectacularly bad. For example, that graphic shows NL and UK as not easing their lockdowns.

What it fails to show is that the other countries have had much stronger lockdowns and are merely 'easing' them to be closer to Netherlands soft lockdown for example. In NL, shops and businesses remain open and people are allowed to circulate freely. Compare this to Italy which shut down manufacturing and Spain which shut people in their homes.

So when you see people in the UK asking "Should we ease our lockdown too?" well it is a question full of really bad assumptions.
posted by vacapinta at 1:17 AM on April 27 [14 favorites]


With poker machines offline, Australia’s gamblers hit the jackpot

The COVD-19 crisis is causing widespread economic chaos, but the closure of the multibillion-dollar poker machine industry is actually helping Australian gamblers save $34.2 million a day.

Hopefully the victims will notice they suddenly seem to have a lot more money since the venues shut.

I hate poker machines so much. They destroy people. The government is addicted to the revenue so they won't do anything. Population wise, we're tiny, just 0.33% of the world's population. Yet we have 20% of the poker machines. It's fucking crazy.

I keep looking for silver linings. If gamblers can get a taste of what life is like without gambling, that's not such a bad thing.
posted by adept256 at 2:33 AM on April 27 [15 favorites]


So when you see people in the UK asking "Should we ease our lockdown too?" well it is a question full of really bad assumptions.

This is why I really dislike the term "lockdown", it flattens important distinctions even within countries over time.

For instance, in the early part of what was already being described as a "lockdown" in Italy, cafes were allowed to open but with restricted hours whereas in the UK people were discouraged from going relatively early (and that was about 60% effective, then they were closed, and shortly after that the package of measures we call the "lockdown" was introduced. In Italy, there was an extended period were people were permitted to go to work, just not to socialise, and only later in the process was manufacturing closed.

As you pointed out, Spain actually required people to stay in their homes which nowhere else in Europe has done in quite such an absolute way.

If you really want to evaluate measures, you need a few data sets:

First you need a timeline of official government requests and legal measures and you need that to be granular enough to compare meaningful implementation differences between countries.

Then you need compliance numbers. If you tell people they can go outside only if they stay a large distance away from others and they actually comply, that is functionally the same as legally requiring them to stay inside (probably). A lot of measures were taken not just for their own sake but to aid enforcement (printing out a piece of paper doesn't stop the virus, but it does allow you to enforce rules intended to prevent people walking to their friend's house and socialising with them).

You need to understand national sub-national settlement patterns. The same behaviour that is harmless in low density areas can cause serious issues in high density areas. For instance, I live surrounded by meadows and forests. If someone wanted to go and sunbathe, it would be harmless. If I did that where I used to live in South London, I'd be using up a big "bubble" of space on one of the commons. Since density is an ensemble rather than an individual property, it can become extremely difficult to maintain distance when there are too many people trying to use a space, especially when some fraction are stationary. I suspect that one reason that Spain has restricted movement more than anywhere else is the density at which many Spanish people live.

Finally you need measured or calculated infection counts, calculated Rt, and from there you can measure the time varying effectiveness of various policy measures.
posted by atrazine at 5:05 AM on April 27 [12 favorites]


We regret to inform you that your inflatable T. rex costume is not virus-proof (WashPo)

Well, ok. But grant me this: I'm going to a place in my mind where inflatable t-rex costumes are the most ideal virus protection, and that becomes the de facto attire for public activities.
posted by adept256 at 5:14 AM on April 27 [20 favorites]


WaPo: U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19

Similar in scale to the excess deaths numbers in other countries linked to above.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:17 AM on April 27 [10 favorites]


U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19

My impression is that all of the numbers throughout this entire emergency are low estimates at best, and flatly imaginary at worst. There will never be enough tests for everybody to get tested, and I feel that a big part of that is political. Globally.

There are entire systems of government at risk here (hello BoJo+NHS), the interests in legitimizing their responses at all costs are numerous. This is why (in the US) only corporations get trillions, why public companies get PPP loans, why unlivable pittances go to regular people, why grocery and fast food workers will not be compensated for the risks they've been taking.
posted by rhizome at 12:32 PM on April 27 [8 favorites]


With poker machines offline, Australia’s gamblers hit the jackpot

meanwhile, in Japan...

Osaka to name and shame pachinko parlours defying coronavirus lockdown

Ah, name and shame. How quaint. That hasn't worked in the US for many years now, because it requires the target to be capable of shame.
posted by ctmf at 6:42 PM on April 27 [3 favorites]




Makes sense to me. My kid was born 3-months premature and spent time on a variety of machines to help him breath. Each was a step down in assistance and going from a ventilator to a high flow nasal cannula was one of those steps. Next step was a CPAP machine I think. He'd spend time getting less assistance each machine before taking the next step down. And now he's fine.
posted by VTX at 7:49 PM on April 27 [6 favorites]


First day of "Alert Level Three" here in New Zealand. Three new cases reported, all traceable to existing known cases.

Some big excitement because takeaway food is permissible if contactless pickup/delivery and payment can be arranged, and some kinds of workplaces can reopen if social distancing can be maintained. There is traffic on the roads once more, people are queueing for coffee, some fear that this is too much too soon, others that it's too little too late.... we'll see.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:44 PM on April 27 [7 favorites]


Regarding New Zealand, let's look at these recent poll numbers:

Overall, the government’s response to Covid-19 has been:
80% positive
9% negative

The government has now said that we all need to stay at home; not go to school or work; not travel or socialise with people outside our home for at least 4 weeks. Do you plan to comply?
91% yes
9% no

The government has said it will enforce this quarantine and those that break it may be arrested and prosecuted. Do you agree this is necessary?
80% agree
7% disagree

It seems like everyone is united behind the government. Actually that's an understatement, those numbers are fantasy land daydreams for most leaders of western democracies. That kind of unity is unheard of. And for a certain new breed of politician that thrives on divisiveness and partisanship, strictly impossible.

If New Zealand's performance in this crisis is worth learning from, look to their solidarity for lessons.
posted by adept256 at 12:35 AM on April 28 [25 favorites]


I think NZ's response has been brilliant. The distance from the rest of the world and the way NZ is integrated with global trade (only at a small number of ports which is an easy attack surface to protect) means that I think NZ has a real chance at achieving and maintaining complete elimination for the duration of the pandemic.
posted by atrazine at 12:55 AM on April 28 [3 favorites]


The Guardian has a long-read on How the Face Mask Became the World's Most Coveted Commodity - fascinating if you want to know about the importance of meltblown or the choice of Balanciaga, Vogmask or re-purposed boxer shorts.
posted by rongorongo at 1:01 AM on April 28 [3 favorites]





The Guardian has a long-read on How the Face Mask Became the World's Most Coveted Commodity -


Very few people wear masks here, because it's illegal. It doesn't matter much right now when we are still shut down, but I wonder what will happen when the gradual reopening really gets going.
The prohibition against covering your face is a racist measure against Muslim women, and along with forced hand-shaking when you get your Danish citizenship, it's a rule that is suddenly challenged by the virus. Both laws are completely ridiculous, the numbers of muslims who cover their faces or refuse to shake hands in this country are below 1000, and perhaps that is even a high number. I hate that kind of hate-mongering policies, and I find it amusing that both will probably have to go.
(Also, most of the women who cover their faces here are ethnically Scandinavian converts and half live in my neighborhood in Copenhagen).
posted by mumimor at 3:08 AM on April 28 [15 favorites]


New Zealand as portrayed during another not-so-fictional apocalypse: On the Beach (1957 novel by Nevil Shute and 1959 film):
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
posted by cenoxo at 6:22 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]


New Zealand Australia, apologies.
posted by cenoxo at 6:33 AM on April 28 [3 favorites]


I'm interested in these non-covid death rate statistics. WaPo won't let me see the whole article, but are there good trackers of deaths over time for different countries or states? If general mortality is rising, what does that look like?
posted by rebent at 8:53 AM on April 28


rebent: Is this what you mean? I've been posting links about this topic in this thread.
posted by vacapinta at 9:09 AM on April 28


If you Google

[state name] covid-19 deaths

You'll get back a chart (you can swap in "cases" for "deaths").

Massachusetts, which now has way more deaths than California, despite being a fraction of its size, has been posting data and graphs (download the daily "dashboard" file; updated daily around 4 p.m. ET).
posted by adamg at 10:13 AM on April 28 [3 favorites]




Good tip, adamg, thanks!

Example: if I Google "Montana covid-19 cases" (w/o quotes), I see a New Cases chart for the state, followed by a Cases table listing all Montana counties.
posted by cenoxo at 11:22 AM on April 28


How coronavirus charts can mislead us A sharp, useful 5-minute visualization from Vox that explains four things you need to remember as you look at all those charts of coronavirus infections over time in various countries.
posted by mediareport at 11:30 AM on April 28 [9 favorites]


NPR: China Lifts Lockdown, But Strict Controls Still Curb Residents

SF Chronicle: U.S. restaurants will reopen with a different look. China gives clues as to how

Marketplace describes what reopening looks like in Shanghai:

Face masks are still required before entering malls and office blocks or getting on public transport...[Some businesses] depend on a city health app that assigns residents a color QR code: green, yellow or red...The app states that it uses government data to assess our health, but it doesn’t specify which data exactly. At a shopping mall in the trendy Xintiandi district, I show my green QR code before the security guard will take my temperature. Once he is sure I don’t have a fever, I am allowed in.

...At one restaurant, I’m not allowed to dine in unless I scan a QR code that connects to my telecom company. Once I receive a message indicating I’ve not left Shanghai in the last two weeks, a server squeezes a glob of hand sanitizer onto my hands before seating me at a table. The Shanghai subway system has a separate QR code on each train, where I scan to input my contact details. Registration is voluntary, for now.

posted by mediareport at 4:23 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Beware of studies claiming covid-19 death rates are smaller than expected (George Q. Daley, Stephen Elledge, Galit Alter and Michael Springer, WaPo Opinion) George Q. Daley is the dean of Harvard Medical School. Stephen Elledge is a professor and researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Galit Alter is a professor and researcher at the Ragon Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital. Michael Springer is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.
Two recent studies from California, using antibody tests designed to look for immune markers of previous infections, seem to suggest that the virus is much less deadly than many previously thought. But beware of these findings: They have not been vetted and should be recognized as such. [...] Neither of the two studies has been peer-reviewed. One of the papers appears on a pre-print server; the other one, no longer available online, was summarized in a news release.

Unfortunately, such unverified findings have been widely covered in the news and welcomed by those seeking to hasten the relaxation of current social distancing measures in their rush to reopen the economy. This could erode public confidence in current protective measures. Given the disastrous impact of reigniting a lethal epidemic that could result in millions of deaths, preliminary findings must be handled with great care — no matter how alluring their implications.
April 23: PolitiFact: Did other countries that reopened see an increase in coronavirus infections? Yes (Politifact, via Harvard Chan School of Public Health news updates)
This article rated as “true” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent claim that other countries experienced an uptick in coronavirus cases after relaxing lockdown orders for people, schools, businesses and borders. Areas that have seen a resurgence include Singapore, Hong Kong, and Hakkaido, Japan. “We are definitely seeing rises in cases in those places,” said Stephen Kissler, research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.
Germans urged to stay at home amid fears Covid-19 infection rate is rising again (Guardian)
[Lothar Wieler, president of the German government’s disease control agency, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI),] appealed to the German public to “preserve our success” of having prevented health services from being overwhelmed by continuing to apply physical distancing even though federal authorities have already begun to relax restrictions on social movement. “Let us continue to stay at home as much as possible, keep observing the restrictions and keep a distance of 1.5 metres from one another,” Wieler said.
posted by katra at 4:35 PM on April 28 [11 favorites]


Putin Extends Russian Lockdown After Virus Cases Surpass China

[Putin:] “The peak has not yet been reached. We are facing the most intense stage of the fight against the epidemic.” The head of Russia’s public health watchdog, Anna Popova, called the holidays a “major risk” that could lead to a spike in infections...Russians traditionally flock to parks and public spaces for a series of holidays that celebrate May Day and its World War II victory on May 9.

Russians have been increasingly flouting orders to stay at home, according to a self-isolation index based on location data...Moscow, which requires a digital pass for anything but walks near residents’ homes, ranks the most isolated among major Russian cities, according to the data. At least a quarter of Russia’s regions plan to institute a similar system.

posted by mediareport at 4:40 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Is Far Higher Than Reported, C.D.C. Data Suggests (NYT)
Total deaths in seven states that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic are nearly 50 percent higher than normal for the five weeks from March 8 through April 11, according to new death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is 9,000 more deaths than were reported as of April 11 in official counts of deaths from the coronavirus. The new data is partial and most likely undercounts the recent death toll significantly. But it still illustrates how the coronavirus is causing a surge in deaths in the places it has struck, probably killing more people than the reported statistics capture. These increases belie arguments that the virus is only killing people who would have died anyway from other causes. Instead, the virus has brought a pattern of deaths unlike anything seen in recent years.
Antibody tests support what’s been obvious: Covid-19 is much more lethal than the flu (WaPo)
Results from coronavirus antibody tests have started to trickle in, and they bolster the consensus among disease experts that the virus is significantly more lethal than seasonal flu and has seeded the most disruptive pandemic in the past century. “I think it is the worst pandemic since 1918,” said Cecile Viboud, an epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center, alluding to the “Great Influenza” pandemic that claimed an estimated 675,000 lives in the United States. The new serological data, which is provisional, suggests that coronavirus infections greatly outnumber confirmed covid-19 cases, potentially by a factor of 10 or more.

[...] “Do the math!” said Jeffrey Shaman, a Columbia University epidemiologist who has been studying the coronavirus since early in the outbreak. Shaman and his colleagues have developed a model of the coronavirus spread that estimates that only 1 in 12 infections in the United States have been documented in official counts. That leads to an infection fatality rate of 0.6 percent, he said — a figure that roughly matches what has been seen in New York City. At that rate, the United States could potentially experience 1 million deaths if half the population became infected and no efforts were made to limit the contagion through social distancing, a vaccine or proven therapeutics, Shaman said. “That’s 20 times worse than a bad flu season,” he said Monday.
posted by katra at 9:58 PM on April 28 [9 favorites]


'Do the math!' said Jeffrey Shaman...

That's what I'm thinking every time I encounter one of these "lots of uncounted infections --> lower fatality rate --> let's party!" arguments.
  • Even the highest reported estimates still make it much more deadly than the flu
  • Even the highest reported estimates still leave at least two-thirds of the population vulnerable
  • Even the highest reported estimates are not even close to sufficient for herd immunity
  • Even the highest reported estimates would mean that, unchecked, twice as many people will die in addition to those who already have
  • As the estimate of uncounted infections rises, so too must the estimate of R0, the base reproduction rate...it's more infectious than we thought, i.e., harder to control
  • The higher the number of infected, the larger and more widely distributed is the pool for producing more infections
  • Which is even worse than it sounds because, as I said, R0 will also be higher—so it'll flare up more quickly if uncontrolled
So, yeah, if we discovered that 60% or more of the entire US population, distributed fairly evenly, had already been infected, then that would be cause for relief. But we haven't. Not even close.

Therefore, a prevalence now of between 10% and 30% is arguably the worst of all worlds. Still very deadly and not close to herd immunity, but enough that there's a large reservoir of infection out there for the uninfected to interact with when social distancing is lessened—meaning that uncontrolled we're looking at least at another 100,000 deaths in addition to the 60,000 we've already had. (That's assuming we're not undercounting the deaths—and there's abundent evidence we are.)

People seem to be thinking that because the rate of new infections and deaths have peaked, things are necessarily going to get better from now on and that it's safe to lessen restrictions. That's not at all true.

This is a novel virus—people have no immunity. Most people haven't been exposed yet. There is no sense in which the threat has lessened.

Social distancing measures have been hugely varied, implemented at different times, and we don't have a very good idea of what has been effective and what hasn't. The virus's rate and breadth of spread differs regionally, between cities, and between urban and rural communities. This means that the current loosening of restrictions is unlikely to produce some kind of uniform national or international resugence, so be careful about predictions. The second waves will probably be as diverse as the first were. But they will arrive. They will. And I think practically no one is prepared for this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:13 AM on April 29 [31 favorites]


South Australia records seventh consecutive day of zero COVID-19 cases

[Prof Spurrier said] “I think many people are surprised in Australia at how well we have done. Really, this is the safest place to be in the world, perhaps other than New Zealand,” she said.

“It’s taken a lot of work and it’s meant that everybody has had to play their part and I absolutely understand how difficult the restrictions have been. But it has paid off.”


Fantastic news! South Australia is a state of 1.7m people. In total Australia has lost 88 people. We are very very lucky. Most of it's geography, we have a big island with a population spread out around the coast. Where it is us, it's our robust public health system and our cooperative public.

It's far from over of course. Very early days, but we're on the right track.
posted by adept256 at 12:54 AM on April 29 [11 favorites]


Meanwhile in New York the Mayor does his best to make the lockdown protestors seem reasonable:
@NYCMayor
My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:08 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


He's responding to this.
posted by rdr at 4:12 AM on April 29 [7 favorites]


Yep. Last night there was a huge funeral for a rabbi who died from the coronavirus, during which the crowd ignored social distancing requirements. This has been an ongoing issue with the Hasidic community; here's an April 7 article about - wait for it - a huge funeral for a rabbi who died from coronavirus, during which the crowd ignored social distancing requirements. For context, it's worth remembering the Hasidic community in Brooklyn has been hit particularly hard by the disease.
posted by mediareport at 4:40 AM on April 29 [9 favorites]


I can only imagine the petulant outrage these people who are protesting would display if we had to start using ration books to get meat or other things. They'd call it unprecedented and unconstitutional and whine about teh freedom(!), never you mind that there is both precedent and constitutional basis.

The question you have to ask is "could the government have done this during World War II?" If you think the answer is yes, then it is almost certain that they can do it during a public health emergency. The sooner the emergency passes, the sooner you'll have a leg to stand on. If you don't like it, maybe try not helping to spread the disease so that the emergency can pass rather than doing everything you can to prolong it, eh?
posted by wierdo at 4:41 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile in New York the Mayor does his best to make the lockdown protestors seem reasonable:

Sorry Joe, but I do not agree with you. Certain subsets of the Jewish community in the US as well as in Israel - and I think we both know exactly which subsets - have completely ignored social distancing rules. The cabinet had to literally throw up their hands and isolate Bnei Brak as well as several Jerusalem neighborhoods. I haven't seen that kind of behaviour here in the UK luckily.

You could argue that the mayor shouldn't single any groups out, but when a group - any group - disobeys important public health rules so flagrantly then I see no reason not to be clear and public about that.
posted by atrazine at 4:47 AM on April 29 [13 favorites]


In A Crisis, A Fumbling America Confirms Europe’s Worst Fears, War On The Rocks - Commentary,
Julianne Smith & Garima Mohan, 4/23/2020:
Europeans have been watching America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic with alarm. Last week’s news that the United States plans to freeze funding for the World Health Organization was seen as yet another piece of evidence that the United States is shedding its traditional, global leadership role.

In over one hundred interviews, emails, and texts with policymakers, analysts, and colleagues across the European continent, we have found universal shock and disappointment over both America’s failure to lead in this crisis and its systemic failures at home. The COVID-19 crisis is raising questions about American power, reliability, and trustworthiness that stand to shape the future of the transatlantic relationship....
...the way in which the United States responds to this crisis now will have a direct impact on much bigger questions about American power and influence over the long term. As this situation is a test of American leadership, a failing grade will be of great cost for years to come.

If Europe cannot trust the current President of the United States, can it trust the United States?
posted by cenoxo at 4:48 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


Um. No, it can't, and it doesn't, and hasn't for years.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:57 AM on April 29 [7 favorites]


I can only imagine the petulant outrage these people who are protesting would display if we had to start using ration books to get meat or other things.

I refer you to the comment I made over in the American thread just now about that.

The interesting part is that people stopped dying from heart disease when they rationed meat.

I don't think rationing will be necessary or politically possible.
posted by adept256 at 5:09 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


> This herd immunity stuff is just bullshit. It takes about 80% immunity to stop an epidemic through "herd immunity." If the Netherlands is only at 3%, they need at least 25 times as many cases and 25 times as many deaths before they get to "herd immunity."

And when people invoke "herd immunity", that harkens back to the flu or somesuch, where it's herd immunity through mass vaccination. Where right here, right now, it would be herd immunity through mass infection with an occasionally lethal virus.

tldr: this isn't your grandparent's herd immunity.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:23 AM on April 29 [4 favorites]


Part of the idea behind herd immunity is that there's overlap between antibodies for one strain and antibodies against another. And while that does not render you immune against the next season's flu, it does mean if you catch it before getting the flu shot, your bout with it will be shorter and milder (as opposed to the typical barely-contacted indigenous Amazonian, who's liable to die.)

Which of course does not apply with zoonotic viruses. SO we are all indigenous Amazonians today.
posted by ocschwar at 5:31 AM on April 29 [5 favorites]


As katra pointed out upthread: GOP memo urges anti-China assault over coronavirus (Politico, 4/24/2020).

Now, Trump administration asks intelligence agencies to find out whether China, WHO hid info on coronavirus pandemic - A specific "tasking" seeking information about the outbreak's early days was sent last week to the Defense Intelligence Agency. The CIA got similar instructions. (NBC News, 4/29/2020).

Don’t play the blame game, stay focused on Dear Leader.
posted by cenoxo at 5:47 AM on April 29 [5 favorites]


It doesn't matter if it came from the moon. Once it's in your country it's your responsibility, there's no point blaming moonmen for what you did next.
posted by adept256 at 6:52 AM on April 29 [14 favorites]


Yes, and blaming China is pretty much an admission that Trump and Company have failed in that responsibility and stoking their base's xenophobia is all they have, but here we are.
posted by Gelatin at 6:55 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


Sorry Joe, but I do not agree with you. Certain subsets of the Jewish community in the US as well as in Israel - and I think we both know exactly which subsets - have completely ignored social distancing rules. The cabinet had to literally throw up their hands and isolate Bnei Brak as well as several Jerusalem neighborhoods. I haven't seen that kind of behaviour here in the UK luckily.

Subsets, yes, but calling out the entire "Jewish" community on Twitter, a huge platform but also a site that the people attending that funeral are unlikely to use, is anti-semitic.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:55 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]


Sorry Joe, but I do not agree with you. Certain subsets of the Jewish community in the US as well as in Israel - and I think we both know exactly which subsets - have completely ignored social distancing rules.

I'm astonished that I should have to remind people that it's antisemitic for a mayor (or anyone else) to issue threats against "the Jewish community" but it's 2020 and I guess here we are. And yes, it's still antisemitic if you feel very angry about some particular Jews.

There are more than a million Jews in NYC. They're not some undifferentiated mass; they're very diverse. I know nothing about the Tola'as Yaakov community and their compliance with social distancing rules, and I bet you don't either. So please don't try to make me complicit in your prejudice.

As it happens, there was an airshow in NYC today that looks to have attracted way more people than this funeral. De Blasio couldn't have issued a similar threat against these sightseers because they're unmarked; they're just regular people, not members of a minority group. Jews, on the other hand, are an identifiable target. I don't expect Jews, on average, are especially likely to breach social distancing rules; they're certainly not collectively responsible for any individual breaches. de Blasio is taking particular instances to justify his attack on Jews collectively, and that is exactly what prejudice is.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:21 AM on April 29 [10 favorites]


The airshow spectators appear to be standing further apart than the mourners at the funeral.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:55 AM on April 29


Barely. Those air show photos are scary. Way too many people way too close together.
posted by tiny frying pan at 9:04 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Both the air show and the funerals were bad. The air show should not have taken place at all: it (entirely predictably!) encouraged people to gather, it was a waste of resources, and it incurred a completely unnecessary risk of an accident. The funerals should not have been large public gatherings.

But de Blasio's messaging was objectively terrible. He should have left it at "My message to all communities..." and omitted the specific mention of the Jewish community, much less leading with it.

The whole thing reinforces my view that politicians shouldn't have Twitter accounts.
posted by jedicus at 9:11 AM on April 29 [14 favorites]


People are questioning photos showing crowded public places, saying basic camera tricks are making it look like people are ignoring social distancing orders

Demonstrating with examples how a telephoto lens at ground level can make things look closer together than they really are. Not saying that's what's happening here, but perspective tricks have been used by the media to make stupid people loo even stupider. Just be aware of that.
posted by adept256 at 9:22 AM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Demonstrating with examples how a telephoto lens at ground level can make things look closer together than they really are.

Chiming in from New York City to say that nevertheless there are plenty of times my walk home from work (essential business) or walk to the supermarket requires dodging and weaving and plastering myself alongside walls of buildings or stepping into the streets in an effort to maintain 6-foot clearance in patches where sidewalks are indeed this crowded, and I can assure you that it is not due to perspective trickery.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]




Not saying that's what's happening here, but perspective tricks have been used by the media to make stupid people loo even stupider. Just be aware of that.

Be aware of what, that Photoshop could also be used to duplicate people and make a crowd seem denser?

"I'm not saying..."
posted by rhizome at 11:27 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Chiming in from New York City to say that nevertheless there are plenty of times my walk home from work (essential business) or walk to the supermarket requires [all sorts of things it shouldn't].

Amplifying that message: Within one mile of where I sit are three areas where CoVid patients are being treated, as well as two lab areas that are analyzing specimens to determine if people have the virus. One would think social distancing is performed at a consistently high level here. Unfortunately, that is not the case. At least daily, I see doctors walking shoulder to shoulder occupying the entire width of a hallway. Doctors. I guess the six foot rule is only front and back and not side to side? Regardless, they generally don't move over until they are about to run into you. It is frustrating to say the least.

MSN should not have run that story, imo. Yes there are optical illusions. No, we do not have to give credibility to these people who insist that's why people are looking like they are too close to each other.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 11:35 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Thousands IGNORE stay-at-home order and cram along banks of the Hudson

Well, that didn't take long: While Trump said Wednesday evening that “air shows” will be performed, the senior military official said that there would be no air shows, and that squadrons would perform flyovers. They will avoid flying over areas where people can congregate, the senior official said. (Pentagon plans to dispatch Blue Angels and Thunderbirds in coronavirus tribute, WaPo, April 22, 2020)
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:11 PM on April 29 [4 favorites]


A monstrously stupid event. They're pointless if people don't see them, and they're dangerous if people do. People will almost certainly die because of these goddamned airshows. But Trump has to get his military parades.
posted by jedicus at 12:31 PM on April 29 [8 favorites]


Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing

A sharp longread dense with informative links exploring the factors that make it difficult for citizens to grasp the various scientific and journalistic uncertainties about the pandemic. From section III:

This is how science actually works. It’s less the parade of decisive blockbuster discoveries that the press often portrays, and more a slow, erratic stumble toward ever less uncertainty. “Our understanding oscillates at first, but converges on an answer,” says Natalie Dean, a statistician at the University of Florida. “That’s the normal scientific process, but it looks jarring to people who aren’t used to it.”

From section VII:

Deaths are hard to tally in general, and the process differs among diseases. The CDC estimates that flu kills 24,000 to 62,000 Americans every year, a number that seems superficially similar to the 58,000 COVID-19 deaths thus far. That comparison is misleading. COVID-19 deaths are counted based either on a positive diagnostic test for the coronavirus or on clinical judgment. Flu deaths are estimated through a model that looks at hospitalizations and death certificates, and accounts for the possibility that many deaths are due to flu but aren’t coded as such. If flu deaths were counted like COVID-19 deaths, the number would be substantially lower. This doesn’t mean we’re overestimating the flu. It does mean we are probably underestimating COVID-19...

“I think people underestimate how difficult it is to measure things,” Dean says. “For us who work in public health, measuring things is like 80 percent of the problem.”

posted by mediareport at 2:09 PM on April 29 [12 favorites]


'Totally Absurd': Spanish Officials Douse Beach With Bleach to Fight Coronavirus - George Dvorsky, Gizmodo.
The beach, Zahara de los Atunes, was doused in bleach last week in preparation for an easing of lockdown measures brought on by the covid-19 pandemic. Speaking to the BBC, local official Agustín Conejo said the decision to spray the beach with the powerful disinfectant was “a wrong move” and a “mistake,” but that it was “done with the best intention” to protect children. [...]

In preparation for [easing of lockdown measures], Spanish officials sanctioned spraying disinfecting chemicals onto streets, buildings, railway stations, and cars in an attempt to cleanse the environment of the virus. Spain has even resorted to using snow cannons normally used to pepper the slopes with snow to spread disinfectants.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:24 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


Curious to see what environmental shitshow results from salting the beach of a tourism-dependent village.
posted by rhizome at 2:41 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Jesus do they think covid19 is anthrax spores? It's not that hardy guys. Sunlight is just fine.
posted by benzenedream at 2:56 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: ...a slow, erratic stumble toward ever less uncertainty.

Nevertheless, stumbles in the right direction are progress.
posted by cenoxo at 4:59 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


Trump administration asks intelligence agencies to find out whether China, WHO hid info on coronavirus pandemic

He asks the same intelligence agencies who told him all about it in January, to find out if someone hid the information they reported to him? Does that make any sense?

Plus, doesn't matter if they hid it for a year. You didn't do anything once you had the information, so what's the difference?
posted by ctmf at 6:46 PM on April 29 [18 favorites]


He asks the same intelligence agencies who told him all about it in January, to find out if someone hid the information they reported to him? Does that make any sense?

Plus, doesn't matter if they hid it for a year. You didn't do anything once you had the information, so what's the difference?


gotta gin up more reasons to hate the yellow peril, i suppose.
posted by anem0ne at 8:59 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


"Studies into the impact of Covid-19 on young children suggest they 'do not play a significant role' in spreading the virus and are less likely to become infected than adults.... No child has been found to have passed coronavirus to an adult, a major review of the evidence about the virus has found."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:15 PM on April 29 [3 favorites]


Right now I'm particularly skeptical of "it's proven not to be so bad, guys" stories because there are strategies operating to influence the media and, by extension, voters.
posted by rhizome at 10:29 PM on April 29 [11 favorites]


More cases of rare syndrome in children reported globally (Guardian)
Nearly 100 cases of the unusual illness have emerged in at least six countries, with doctors in Britain, the US, France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland now reported to be investigating the condition. [...] Dr Nazima Pathan, a consultant in paediatric intensive care in Cambridge, said the number of children admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 was relatively low, but that some were presenting with what looked like toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease. “These children have had a severe and prolonged inflammatory response to Covid-19 infection and they have not had severe lung disease, unlike the majority of cases in adults,” she said.

“Whilst this is an evolving situation, it is clear that these symptoms are reported in only handfuls of cases,” Pathan added. “The important message is that if parents are worried about their children’s health, they should seek medical advice.”
posted by katra at 11:33 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]


seen a few of these articles describing children "presenting with what looked like toxic shock syndrome and kawasaki disease" and not one yet describing symptoms of those conditions. that guardian article at least provided links to descriptions.

common symptoms: high fever, rash, bloodshot eyes.
kawasaki symptoms also include "strawberry tongue," cracked, dry lips, redness of fingers/toes, swollen glands in neck;
tss symptoms also include flu-like symptoms (headache, body ache, fatigue, cough, sore throat), diarrhea, bright red lips/tongue, dizziness/fainting, difficulty breathing, confusion.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:54 PM on April 29 [6 favorites]


Oops, meant to link to the study too.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:54 AM on April 30


The Bipartisan Appeal of “Yellow Peril” Politics — The coronavirus pandemic is exactly the excuse Washington has been looking for to start a conflict with China, New Republic, Adam Weinstein, 4/29/2020:
Kaiser Wilhelm II did not originate the term “Yellow Peril,” but after his “Hun speech” of 1900 [WP], he became forever synonymous with it. The German monarch was addressing soldiers who were shipping off to China to help put down the Boxer Rebellion, and what he said was so crass—even for the notoriously half-witted, insecure, and capricious heir—that the Prussian foreign office’s official transcript of the speech omitted its most “diplomatically embarrassing” paragraph. “Just as a thousand years ago the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one that even today makes them seem mighty in history and legend,” the kaiser had said, “may the name German be affirmed by you in such a way in China that no Chinese will ever again dare to look cross-eyed at a German.”

One hundred and twenty years later, partisans of Donald Trump—like the kaiser, a “bad-tempered, distractable doofus” who inherited an increasingly precipitous empire—are turning to Yellow Peril rhetoric to rally support for their regime as it faces an existential crisis....
The Imperial Donald — always the one true victim blaming others first and whining for sympathy — can have no lesser enemy than China, the world’s most populous country. The worst offense they could commit against Trump would be to ignore him. At the rate he’s going, he won’t need any help losing his 2020 re-election.
posted by cenoxo at 4:21 AM on April 30


No child has been found to have passed coronavirus to an adult, a major review of the evidence about the virus has found."
No child under 10, which is a significant caveat when you're talking about how to manage schools in general. Still, that's good news.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:43 AM on April 30 [6 favorites]


I don't really come on these threads because I find them too depressing, but now that there's at least some talk in the UK that the lockdown won't continue forever, something is baffling me. Why is all the focus on shops? Whenever commentators or politicians in any country talk about lifting the lockdown, it's always a list of businesses that will be allowed to trade on a certain date.

I just want to be allowed out into the countryside for walks and to drive to another town to see my friends and family face-to-face every so often. Even if we've got to sit two metres apart, not hug and wear masks, it'd be better than the complete isolation I'm in at present. I don't give a shit whether or not I'm able to go and queue up outside Next or get a fucking McDonald's, but that seems to be the main thing others are concerned about.
posted by winterhill at 5:34 AM on April 30 [21 favorites]


The idea is that opening businesses will magically stop the economic catastrophe currently underway. Of course this is a delusional idea, since people (like you) want other things more than in-person shopping.
posted by medusa at 5:45 AM on April 30 [7 favorites]


Yeah, the authorities don't seem to care about the emotional trauma or the disruption to education or the isolation. They just want to get people back into shopping malls etc as the first and highest priority to preserve the profits of particular large corporations The Economy.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:16 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Well, that plus get millions off of unemployment.
posted by HyperBlue at 6:30 AM on April 30 [5 favorites]


No child has been found to have passed coronavirus to an adult, a major review of the evidence about the virus has found.

It is possibly relevant that The Independent has been owned by Russian businessman and former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev since 2010. (source: Wikipedia)

(Doesn't mean it couldn't still be true, obviously.)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:16 AM on April 30


The study was in several newspapers, the one I linked to was the Irish Independent, the full study is here.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:38 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


‘Frostbite’ toes and other peculiar rashes may be signs of hidden coronavirus infection, especially in the young
One of the clearest findings of the new paper is that most patients with “covid toes” were asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms. Another is their age. Nearly all were children or adults in their 20s and 30s – a group that as a whole tends to have a less severe bodily response to the disease than their older counterparts.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:21 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Well, that plus get millions off of unemployment.

Sorry, but everytime GOP propaganda gets promoted here without the qualification that workers need to seek legal advice about their rights under the CARES Act, I will try to note “they may be essential employees, but they’re not sacrificial employees.” It is true that there is a massive campaign underway to try to push workers back into the economy, but that doesn't mean that labor rights organizations, including attorneys, aren't trying to fight back.
posted by katra at 10:20 AM on April 30 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure HyperBlue was promoting GOP propaganda... they can speak for themselves but it read to me more as a damnation when combined with the prior comment. That said those are still great links and trying to push people back into an unsafe situation is the depths of inhumanity and these assholes need to be held to account for all this.
posted by cirhosis at 10:43 AM on April 30 [11 favorites]


To clarify, I am not trying to say that HyperBlue is intentionally promoting GOP propaganda. It is more that it just seems too easy, when we talk about All Of The Bad Things, to use a shorthand that favors a hopeless narrative and also happens to support what the GOP seems to be trying to accomplish, and one that could inadvertantly harm people if it continues to gel as a common understanding. I have been trying to push back against this narrative in a variety of comments that point to legal information and links to free legal services, because the assumption that there are no ways to fight this does seem to be widespread.
posted by katra at 11:00 AM on April 30 [8 favorites]


Russia’s coronavirus outbreak is getting bad. Putin says the worst is yet to come. • Vox, Alex Ward, 04/29/2020 • "The crisis continues to be a massive challenge for the Russian dictator."
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:10 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


To clarify, my (asshat) governor specifically stated that as a reason for reopening. Welcome to Oklahoma. I'm not lauding it. I'm weeping because of it.
posted by HyperBlue at 11:31 AM on April 30 [10 favorites]


Swedish town uses chicken manure to help stop spread of coronavirus (Reuters, April 30, 2020) The university town of Lund began spreading chicken droppings in its central park to put off would-be revellers who would usually come on April 30 to celebrate Walpurgis Night. “This is a park where usually 30,000 people gather, but with COVID-19 this is now unthinkable,” the town’s mayor, Philip Sandberg, told Reuters. “We don’t want Lund to become an epicentre for the spread of the disease.”

Sweden has taken a softer approach than many other countries to preventing the spread of the respiratory disease that the coronavirus can cause, asking rather than ordering people to maintain social distancing. In line with this policy, authorities have requested people avoid gathering for this year’s Walpurgis Night, but have not banned festivities.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:34 AM on April 30 [4 favorites]


To clarify, my (asshat) governor specifically stated that as a reason for reopening. Welcome to Oklahoma. I'm not lauding it. I'm weeping because of it.

I know you are not lauding it, and I am one of thousands of attorneys trying to encourage you to not give in to the GOP messaging, but typically posting about it in the Trump-related thread.
posted by katra at 11:44 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Reuters: South Korea on Thursday reported no new domestic coronavirus cases for the first time since February

BBC: Coronavirus and South Korea: How lives changed to beat the virus

Korea Herald/Asia News Network: Tests in recovered patients in S. Korea found false positives, not reinfections, experts say

South Korea’s infectious disease experts said Thursday that dead virus fragments were the likely cause of over 260 people here testing positive again for the novel coronavirus days and even weeks after marking full recoveries...committee members found little reason to believe that those cases could be COVID-19 reinfections or reactivations, which would have made global efforts to contain the virus much more daunting.

“The tests detected the ribonucleic acid of the dead virus,” said Oh...He went on to explain that in PCR tests, or polymerase chain reaction tests, used for COVID-19 diagnosis, genetic materials of the virus amplify during testing, whether it is from a live virus or just from fragments of dead virus cells that can take months to clear from recovered patients. The PCR tests cannot distinguish whether the virus is alive or dead, he added, and this can lead to false positives.


Newsweek: South Korea Experts Say Recovered Coronavirus Patients Retested Positive Because of 'Dead' Virus Parts
posted by mediareport at 12:00 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]


Swedish town uses chicken manure to help stop spread of coronavirus...

Well, there's plenty of chickenshit in Washington, DC already, but I don't think it's helped things much.
posted by cenoxo at 12:10 PM on April 30 [6 favorites]






China Says We’re a Joke. And, Alas, We Are. • Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall, 4/30/2020

This editorial piece references this tweet from Xinhua News Service from 4/30/2020.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:26 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Danes and Czechs say easing lockdowns has produced no Covid-19 surge — Encouraging signs from EU states who acted early, as South Korea reports no new cases, The Guardian, Jon Henley, 4/30/2020:
Denmark and the Czech Republic have said partially easing their lockdowns has not led to a surge in new coronavirus infections, as the WHO continued to urge extreme caution and Germany relaxed some restrictions but extended others.

As EU governments grappled with the complex and conflicting imperatives of easing the lockdowns crippling their economies while avoiding a disastrous second wave of infections, meanwhile, South Korea reported no new cases for the first time.

Of the 44 European countries to have imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, 21 had started easing some of them and a further 11 were planning to do so soon, said Hans Kluge, regional director of the World Health Organization in Europe....

[Details follow in the article.]
There's cautious, watchful COVID-19 monitoring in Germany, Spain, and France, but several EU states are expecting their worst recessions since the post-WWII period.

Mumimor — What's your sense of things in Denmark?
posted by cenoxo at 5:06 PM on April 30


WRT casting stones at China, the United States definitely has the advantage of higher ground to do so.
posted by cenoxo at 5:21 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Higher ground? China includes part of the Himalayas.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:02 PM on April 30


Tibet? They stole that part
posted by Windopaene at 6:19 PM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Details follow in the article.

I’m having a major reading comprehension fail, or the article has no details about what measures were lifted, or when. From another source it seems like Czech Republic lifted a few very specific restrictions a week ago. This seems too soon to tell, and the changes don’t seem equivalent to a real opening up.
posted by snofoam at 6:25 PM on April 30 [1 favorite]


• d_w_s — Perhaps I was too subtle. I was comparing the appearance of the linked graph showing the United States' current (and climbing) peak of +1 million confirmed cases, towering over China's plateau of ~80,000 cases.
• snofoam — No fail, I was too specific about a general article. Perhaps it should have been "More follows in the article."

posted by cenoxo at 6:44 PM on April 30


I got what you were saying. It is more likely that my comment was too jokey.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:49 PM on April 30


Countries around the world must be prepared for a “second or third wave” of the coronavirus until a vaccine is available, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.
Europe remains ‘very much in grip’ of pandemic despite signs of passing peak.
posted by adamvasco at 7:04 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Perhaps I was too subtle. I was comparing the appearance of the linked graph showing the United States' current (and climbing) peak of +1 million confirmed cases, towering over China's plateau of ~80,000 cases

I get the joke.

But.

Correct me if I am wrong, but that graph is per person, not per capita. Also, if you scroll way down, it appears that less than 3% of US population has or had a confirmed case of CoVid.

Is even that an accurate piece of information? Remove the top 5 by testing % of population, and NO COUNTRY is testing more than 5% of the population. Of the top 5, only one has a million ppl, and that's just barely.

So, who the hell knows how many have it? It seems like every day we are learning new info about CoVid. TSS in kids, funny looking toenails, pets actually can get it, kids are carriers, but maybe aren't transmitting.

This all sucks.

Let's get through it together y'all. On the other side, I'll buy all the cakes everyone was supposed to eat in the (don't say it thrice) Megathreads.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:09 PM on April 30 [7 favorites]


This all sucks.

And we're all trapped in it (or on it: Pale Blue Dot).
posted by cenoxo at 7:23 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Countries around the world must be prepared for a “second or third wave” of the coronavirus until a vaccine is available, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

There's presently a COVID-19 outbreak in north-west Tasmania that has been traced to two passengers from the Ruby Princess whose infection spread to other patients and staff, and then to others. That part of the state has been placed into lockdown; "non-essential" businesses have been closed; and so have two hospitals. Residents had just three hours' warning. Eleven people have died from the outbreak so far.

A preliminary report [PDF] has been prepared on the incident which makes great reading if you're interested in how an outbreak can occur, and the infection be spread in a relatively rural and isolated region. The Guardian's coverage.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:49 PM on April 30 [8 favorites]


Coronavirus: scientists caution against reopening schools — Study finds children may be as infectious as adults, Guardian, Hannah Devlin and Richard Adams, Thu 30 Apr 2020:
Scientists have cautioned against the reopening of schools after findings suggested children could be as infectious as adults.

The study, which was carried out by the team of leading German virologist Christian Drosten, found that even though children tended to have far milder symptoms, those infected appeared to have the same levels of circulating virus in their body as adults. This suggests schools and nurseries could act as hubs of Covid-19 transmission if current restrictions are lifted.

“We have to caution against an unlimited reopening of schools and kindergartens in the present situation, with a widely susceptible population and the necessity to keep transmission rates low,” Drosten and colleagues concluded. “Children may be as infectious as adults.”

[...] The German study, which was published as a preprint[PDF] that has not yet been peer reviewed, screened nearly 60,000 patients for Covid-19, of whom nearly 4,000 tested positive. When the team compared the viral load across age groups, they found similar levels throughout, ranging from one to 10 years to 91 to 100 years.
With regard to the article and study posted yesterday, note that it's not even a preprint, but an informal literature review of pediatric covid-19 published to a web site.

Here's a quote by Dr Alasdair Munro included in that earlier linked story:
"Covid-19 appears to affect children less often, and with less severity, including frequent asymptomatic or subclinical infection. There is evidence of critical illness, but it is rare.

"The role of children in transmission is unclear, but it seems likely they do not play a significant role."
I think the problems with this are self-evident, especially in the context of the German study which tested 60,000 people.

If covid-19 is unusually less virulent in children, then over the course of this pandemic children would have rarely be seen by physicians, irrespective of their infection status. Furthermore, there is a great deal of cumulative research that a large portion of the infected are asymptomatic, or nearly so, and increasing evidence that those with SARS-CoV-2 are infectious even when asymptomatic.

True, if shedding the virus is, on average, proportional to the severity of symptoms, then, on average, children would be less infectious. But that's far from an argument that they're negligibly infectious, especially given the much different conditions in which children interact with each other (such as in school).

The cavalier attitude about SARS-CoV-2 and children, and the reopening of schools worries me. Especially given the increasing international awareness of this newly discovered—though still apparently very rare—syndrome in children infected by the virus.

We should keep in mind that SARS-CoV-2 is behaving in very surprising ways in addition to the well-known respiratory involvement. Clotting, strokes, GI inflammation, and damage to heart tissue are (so far) most notable; but this indicates that we are only beginning to learn how the virus attacks the body.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:00 PM on April 30 [17 favorites]


It's a nasty fucking virus...
posted by Windopaene at 9:27 PM on April 30


In the newly-identified first Covid-19 death in the US (in Santa Clara County, CA), on February 6th, Coronavirus triggered a 'ruptured heart' (Livescience, April 27, 2020).
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:23 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]


The thing about children infecting adults is there are an awful lot of dogs not barking. A million people have recovered from the virus. Schools stayed open throughout in Sweden and Korea. If children were a significant vector there ought to be a bunch of hotspots around particular schools. There ought to be masses of data showing it.

I think children are getting a bit left out of the debate. Conservatives want to reopen everything that makes profits for private sector corporations, but they don't particularly care about schools.

Here in the UK, the schools closed before the pubs. Then the pubs were unofficially told to close, mostly stayed open, until a law was finally passed. I strongly suspect that's because the owners of pub chains are often big political donors. I'm concerned decisions about what to reopen first are going to be influenced by that too, and schools will be left behind because they don't make big money for the private sector.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:27 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


Mumimor — What's your sense of things in Denmark?
posted by cenoxo at 5:06 PM on April 30 [+] [!]


It's true you can't see anything on the daily graphs yet, but it would be a few days too early for that, I think. Technically, there was a very tiny reopening the 14th of April, but very few of the schools and businesses who were allowed to open actually did so on the date.
Today it was announced that the nursing homes are reopening, that will be a huge test. I'll probably get instructions from the management at my mother's home soon, since I can't imagine they'll just let us come unannounced. By far the most deaths here are in nursing homes, so I feel this is quite risky. On the other hand, to be in a home here in Denmark, you almost always have to have dementia (or like my mother be a danger to her surroundings in other ways), and the residents must be terribly confused and lonely at this point.

The PM basically said in her Mayday speech that they don't know how it will work out, and that we won't be told about the next level of opening before on the eve of the 10th of May, which is when the lockdown was originally set to end.

They are building some huge test facilities all over the country, so I imagine the next level of opening will be with a much higher level of testing and tracking.

The political unity is beginning to break up a bit, but since the government has the highest approval rate since they began measuring approval rates in this country, it doesn't really matter: if the government wants us to stay at home, we are going to stay at home.

Another thing the PM announced in the speech is that there is going to be a green stimulus package, focused on energy renovation and improvement of homes.
posted by mumimor at 2:19 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


I think children are getting a bit left out of the debate.

Moreso teachers, staff, and parents and family members. Unless we're going full Lord-of-the-Flies, we'll be exposing adult teachers and staff to an occasionally lethal virus. Plus kids will get infected at school and bring it home to their family members. Some of whom will die. Others will just lose a chunk of lung capacity or something.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:21 AM on May 1 [8 favorites]


One of the reasons the schools and kindergartens in Denmark didn't open on the 14th as planned was that they are not opening to normal capacity. There has to be 4m2 for each person (child and adult) and there are a lot of other rules for the opening, all of which had to be negotiated with the parents. So your child can maybe be at school or kindergarten or daycare for 12-16 hours a week at most unless you work at a hospital and the first week of the opening, they were just readying the spaces and communicating on mail about who could go when.
I think there will be similar rules in other places. The class I'm supposed to teach during the autumn semester has 90-100 students, and I don't think gatherings that large will be permitted. So I wonder what the university is going to do. And it's what the uni defines as lab-work, which will be far more difficult to teach than the lecture based class I have now.

TLDR: opening again here is not "back to normal" at all.
posted by mumimor at 2:31 AM on May 1 [3 favorites]


I think one bit from the link Iris Gambol posted needs to be highlighted. I doubt the true incidence is quite this high, but even 1 in 10 would add up to some serious shit across the entire population.
Previous studies have noted a connection between COVID-19 and the heart, with one small study in China finding that more than 1 in 5 COVID-19 patients develop heart damage as a result of the infection
That's a lot of life long heart issues, even for a place like the US where they are already widespread. That could mean an awful lot of people whose work involves strenuous activity (say, people working in Amazon warehouses) that will be incapable of doing the work they did previously. Even the nutty right wingers should be capable of understanding how economically disruptive that could be even before considering the toll on the patients themselves.
posted by wierdo at 3:13 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]


BoscoMom's post about Barcelona group The Stay Homas - is now closed for comments. So - a note to say they have now written and performed a total of 24 "confinement songs" from their roof garden. They've also released a studio version of the canonical Covid-19 lock-down song: "Stay Homa".
posted by rongorongo at 3:29 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Here in the UK, the schools closed before the pubs. Then the pubs were unofficially told to close, mostly stayed open, until a law was finally passed.
I was walking on the Yorkshire coast that weekend. Passing through Whitby, it seemed like business as usual. The pubs and beer gardens were packed, there were groups of lads who looked like they were on stag weekends. Shops, cafés and restaurants were open with no social distancing in place. I was walking back through the town the moment the PM announced that the pubs were being "told, not asked, told" to close, although I didn't know that was happening at the time. Signs were being chalked outside saying "all pints £2 'til we run out" and the pubs were busier than previously.

On the Sunday, the first "Tourists Go Home" signs were starting to appear, scrawled or sprayed on cardboard and tied up to road signs and roundabouts. The DJ on Yorkshire Coast Radio was ranting away about how if you weren't from round 'ere you should sod off, between Ed Sheeran and Maroon 5 records and ads for now-closed clifftop restaurants. Obviously, we now know that full lockdown was about a day away at that point and on Monday night, the PM shut everything down. I've been at home on my own since. It's amazing how quickly we went from business as usual to no business at all.
posted by winterhill at 4:00 AM on May 1 [10 favorites]


We Will Never Agree On What Happened During The First Wave Of The Pandemic — And That Will Make It Harder To Survive The Second.
Hokkaido has already been hit by second wave of coronavirus after ending lockdown early.
The Lancet advised this probabilityback in early April
Most scientists in Europe think there will be a second wave of the novel coronavirus, most likely again in the latter half of this year.
But hey press on all you conservative governments, economy before lives. I hope we are still around to hold you all fully responsible for your greed.
posted by adamvasco at 8:31 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]


FiveThirtyEight now has a page where you can view US forecasts from multiple COVID-19 models at once, nationwide or state-by-state. They currently show data from the forecasts published by groups at Los Alamos National Lab, Columbia, Northeastern, University of Texas, IHME (University of Washington), and MIT.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:47 AM on May 1 [7 favorites]


Has Sweden's coronavirus strategy played into the hands of nationalists?

I find this interesting because in my earlier comment about the situation in Denmark I wrote a bit about how nursing homes are where the wealthy ski holiday population meet the vulnerable immigrant population and I deleted it because I realized it could be misunderstood. I was not wrong, it seems.
For the record, I obviously don't think the hard-working and generous person who sends me texts about my mum, who can't text, is "non-compliant". WTF?!
posted by mumimor at 9:02 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


Nearly seven weeks into the shutdown, here’s why so many are still getting sick (WaPo, Apr. 30, 2020 / MSN reprint)
Doctors and public health officials said it increasingly is infecting people who cannot afford to miss work or telecommute — grocery store employees, delivery drivers and construction workers. Sometimes they, in turn, infect their families. [...] “It is community spread, then taking it home,” said Sonja Bachus, chief executive of Greater Baden Medical Services, which has locations in Charles and Prince George’s counties in Maryland. “It is disheartening.” The decisions to close schools and ban large gatherings in mid-March, and issue stay-at-home orders in the District, Maryland and Virginia two weeks later, have helped slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, experts say. But that doesn’t mean no one is getting sick.

While some of the first known victims in the greater Washington area had traveled on international cruises and to professional conferences, it is now more common to hear about police officers, firefighters and health-care workers contracting the virus. [...] State and local health departments do not publish the occupations and living conditions of everyone who tests positive, so there is no comprehensive analysis of who is getting sick. But interviews with doctors and public health officials, and data that has been made public, paint a portrait of a pandemic that increasingly is infecting those who have limited ability to socially distance.
posted by katra at 9:37 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]


This is our Irish PM. I never voted for him. I don't agree with his policies. But his leadership during this crisis makes me grateful and proud.
posted by night_train at 11:50 AM on May 1 [8 favorites]


This is our Irish PM. I never voted for him. I don't agree with his policies. But his leadership during this crisis makes me grateful and proud.
That was indeed very powerful
posted by mumimor at 12:25 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]


But his leadership during this crisis makes me grateful and proud.

I'm really surprised and pleased that I can say the same about my (R) governor. I'm never going to be happy about his 'rain tax' bullshit when he was running, but Hogan has handled this as well as any Democratic governor and better than some.
posted by nonasuch at 12:36 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]


it is more than a little disappointing that the celebrated IHME model dated today (from that fivethirtyeight page mbrubeck linked above) projects u.s. deaths by may 23 -- more than three weeks from now -- in a range from 57K to 117K, when we passed 57,000 last week, on or before april 27.

buddy via text just noted "30 days ago there were a million reported cases and 50K deaths in the whole world." today, worldwide are 3.3 mil. cases and 236K deaths, with more than a million cases and 64K deaths in the u.s. alone.
posted by 20 year lurk at 12:52 PM on May 1


Schools stayed open throughout in Sweden and Korea.

Schools didn't, though, in Korea.
posted by anem0ne at 3:06 PM on May 1 [4 favorites]


Re: the Taoiseach's address; he spoke of people "cocooning" at home. Googling about, Varadkar first used this term (for medically-vulnerable people "self-isolating / social distancing" by remaining at home) in a speech on St. Patrick's Day, saying: “At a certain point . . . we will advise the elderly and people who have a long-term illness to stay at home for several weeks. We are putting in place the systems to ensure that if you are one of them, you will have food, supplies and are checked on. We call this ‘cocooning’ and it will save many lives . . . particularly the most vulnerable.” (Coronavirus ‘cocooning’: the community wraps a soft blanket around its most vulnerable, Irish Times, March 28, 2020).

The number of countries willing and able to perform that check-in & support is too low, and it's probably too late for 'cocooning' to catch on around the world, but how brilliant.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:13 PM on May 1 [11 favorites]


My personal opinion is that Sweden's strategy will be partially vindicated by next year, if not sooner.

To be sure, I think that their confidence in their cultural exceptionalism was excessive and their particular culpability is with regard to the elderly care homes.

That said, I think they are correct about one key assumption: people will not tolerate lockdowns indefinitely. I think that to varying degrees (at different times and in different communities) what we're going to see around the world are a series of waves, oscillations around the smoother curve the Swedes are aiming for, as authorities under- and over-correct in a complicated relationship with the lag of the changes in the effective reproduction rate and shifts in public opinion.

Wording it that way perhaps understates the negative consequences, as you might think oscillations around a trend would result in a roughly comparable ultimate outcome, but that reasoning doesn't account for the ways in which the peaks will stress weak parts of the social and economic structure, and how that will contribute to social anxiety, fear, and resentment which will, in turn, aggravate political unrest—this collectively could result in, worst case, systemic catastrophic failure and, best case, an excess of fatalities and immiseration.

The US, at present, looks to likely become the most severe example of this pattern, but this will happen elsewhere at varying degrees of severity.

If those assumptions and predictions are true, it very likely could be the case that Sweden ultimately weathers the pandemic notably better than elsewhere because it won't be periodically stressing its society but, instead, slowly settling into a new normal of suppressing the virus until a vaccine becomes available. Or herd immunity is reached. Or the world adjusts to the virus becoming endemic.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:55 PM on May 1 [4 favorites]


The U.S. wants Mexico to keep its defense and health-care factories open. Mexican workers are getting sick and dying. (WaPo)
After decades of increasing economic interdependence, the pandemic is challenging the premise of globalization, leaving countries more clearly prioritizing their own interests. Governments around the world are reopening their economies on different timelines and under disparate policies, threatening longtime trade relationships. [...] But as the first coronavirus cases hit Mexico, workers here began raising concerns that they were risking their lives to provide for the U.S. defense and health-care industries, along with other sectors north of the Rio Grande. Demonstrators fanned out to factories across Mexico’s industrial corridor.

As the United States seeks to reopen its economy, U.S. companies want their Mexican factories to come back to life — but Mexico’s coronavirus outbreak continues to worsen. [...] The NAFTA bylaws allow its members to act in their own interests “in times of war or other emergency in international relations.” But until now, that contingency has rarely been tested. [...] Mexico is several weeks or more behind the U.S. epidemiological curve. U.S. companies worry that what initially appeared to be a temporary setback could be a long-term one, threatening the future of the North American supply line.
As Workers Fall Ill, U.S. Presses Mexico to Keep American-Owned Plants Open (NYT, Apr. 30, 2020 / MSN reprint)
The Trump administration and major U.S. manufacturers have successfully pressured Mexico to keep factories that supply the United States operating during the coronavirus pandemic, even as outbreaks erupt and waves of cases and deaths sweep the companies. [...] And in a blunt warning, the U.S. ambassador said that if Mexico did not respond to American needs, it would lose the jobs these factories provide. [...] Mexican officials have closed many factories and threatened legal action against those that remain open. But the dispute highlights how much the two countries depend on one another — and how unequal that relationship remains.
posted by katra at 4:10 PM on May 1 [8 favorites]


Protests sweep California as governor promises changes to lockdown (Guardian)
Some protesters held signs questioning whether the coronavirus is real or promoting anti-vaccine conspiracies, while others protested the closure of businesses during the pandemic, arguing that all jobs are essential. Almost none of the protesters were wearing masks, according to reporters and photographers at the scene. [...] The rallies across California against Newsom’s stay-at-home orders came as a rural county in northern California became the first to defy statewide orders by allowing nonessential businesses to reopen and diners to eat in restaurants. Modoc county, in the state’s far north-east corner, near Oregon, had no Covid-19 cases, a local official told the Associated Press.
Protests mark growing unrest with California stay-home order (AP)
Newsom hinted that change was coming soon. He has previously outlined a phased approach in which the economy would gradually return to normal. But at the same time he warned of troubling signs, including a lack of testing in rural areas that might be concealing a lurking threat from the virus. He recognized the right of residents to protest, saying he welcomed diverse viewpoints, but also warned that crowding posed a health threat.
Rural Counties Seeing Faster Growth in COVID-19 Cases, Deaths (US News & World Report, Apr. 30, 2020)
The new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that while rural communities have fewer COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people than urban areas, rates of both coronavirus cases and deaths have surged at a faster pace in more rural counties in the last two weeks. The average number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people rose 125% in non-metro counties – or those that are largely rural, according to the analysis – and by 68% in metro counties between April 13 and 27, according to the analysis. Deaths rose 169% in more rural areas and 113% in the more urban counties, reaching respective rates of 4.4 and 17 per 100,000.

Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, says the risk the virus poses to rural America has been readily apparent. "You can see this coming," he recently told U.S. News. "Those communities most at risk for this COVID-19 are concentrated in small towns all across the U.S."
posted by katra at 7:16 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]


In California: By 70% to 30%, the state’s voters say they’re more worried that shelter-in-place orders will end too soon, causing the illness to spread more, than they are that such orders will continue for too long and damage the economy.

Most of the pro-opening protest have been small. The largest so far has been 3,000 people and that's exceptional. The news coverage doesn't make that obvious. I think some people are actually pretty pissed about the beaches being closed.
posted by rdr at 9:19 PM on May 1 [10 favorites]


Maybe the people who are angry about stay-at-home orders should do things like wear masks and take other precautions to reduce the likelihood of transmission when they are protesting, rather than literally demonstrating the necessity of the order by milling around in large groups with no protection and without bothering to even attempt to maintain space between each other.

I'm pretty sure exactly nobody wanted strict stay-at-home orders, but they were (and are) made necessary by the obstinate and the stupid refusing to take any steps to protect themselves and others.

Personally, I'd prefer they all have been fined for failing to maintain appropriate distance between themselves. Restrictions on time, place, and manner of protest have long been allowed by the Supreme Court, after all. Protest all you want, so long as you remain at least six feet away from anyone you don't live with.
posted by wierdo at 9:41 PM on May 1 [8 favorites]


Sorry, that last paragraph was overly US-centric, though the underlying sentiment is applicable globally.
posted by wierdo at 9:42 PM on May 1


With quirks and restrictions, many states lift lockdowns (AP)
With the crisis stabilizing in Europe and in many places in the U.S., countries and states are gradually easing their restrictions amid warnings from health experts that a second wave of infections could hit unless testing for the virus is expanded dramatically.

[...] Texas’ reopening got underway with sparse crowds at shopping malls and restaurants allowing customers to dine in, though only at 25% capacity in most places. A video posted on social media showed a city park ranger in Austin getting shoved into the water Thursday while asking people in a crowd to keep 6 feet (2 meters) apart from each other. Police charged a 25-year-old man with attempted assault.
States reopen theaters, restaurants amid coronavirus outbreak as experts warn of second wave (LAT / Yahoo)
The decentralized process of reopening the economy has led health experts to warn of a second wave of coronavirus cases, particularly since some of the states reopening parts of their economies have not had consistently declining numbers of confirmed cases. Federal guidelines for easing restrictions recommend there be a 14-day decrease in cases, improved testing and a return to normal conditions in hospitals.
States moving fastest to reopen lack enough health workers to track new outbreaks (Politico)
Ultimately, health experts say contact tracing alone won’t be enough to stamp out Covid-19. The virus is still moving too quickly and an ongoing lag in testing will make it difficult to quickly identify new infections, especially since many people are carriers without showing symptoms. “A virus will outpace the contact tracers — always,” said Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “I don’t want to say it’s futile, but it’s difficult.”
posted by katra at 10:22 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


That said, I think they [the Swedes] are correct about one key assumption: people will not tolerate lockdowns indefinitely. I think that to varying degrees (at different times and in different communities) what we're going to see around the world are a series of waves, oscillations around the smoother curve the Swedes are aiming for, as authorities under- and over-correct in a complicated relationship with the lag of the changes in the effective reproduction rate and shifts in public opinion.
I agree. I think that from a purely behavioural point of view, the Swedish system is the most sustainable on a long-term basis, and I believe that a long-term change is what is needed here. We aren't going back to normal, but we can't persist with indefinite lockdown. It affects different people to different degrees. If you're locked down with people you love and can get along okay, and have family walks and board game nights it's different to my situation where I'm locked down alone and have now gone nearly seven weeks without seeing another human socially, which is different again to the worst-case scenario where you're locked down with someone abusive or violent. The first group are the loudest - the people for whom it's a bit of a family staycation are those with the newspaper columns and TV shows, the people stuck at home alone are by definition invisible and voiceless.

We (the UK) may have succeeded in pushing the number of cases and deaths slightly downwards, but at a great cost to the well-being of everyone in this country. I had succeeded through many years of hard work and major life changes to push away my suicidal ideation, which is now back on a regular basis. With all the caveats that come from comparing such data, the Swedish rate of deaths per 100,000 population is far lower than the UK and a number of other European countries, which makes me wonder whether the total lockdown was worth it. There is early evidence in the UK that the number of suicide attempts is on the up - barely a day goes by without a local radio traffic report mentioning a road closed because someone's on a bridge. This country has never cared much about mental health - we pretended to for a while, but as soon as this virus came along it went back to being an irrelevant "snowflake" concern, which was the real UK attitude all along.

It concerns me that the UK is now the last country in Western Europe not to have announced some kind of potential easing of the complete lockdown. Ireland was up there with us, but they announced quite detailed proposals last night. Where I live, car traffic is noticeably up, neighbours are having friends over on a regular basis, shops that you would consider "non-essential" are starting to open themselves back up for business and I even saw a café with people sitting inside with cups of tea reading the paper yesterday. In the absence of any official guidance from government other than endless radio ads that say "stick with it, keep going", people are lifting their own personal lockdowns which is the worst of all worlds. Those of us who are sticking to the rules remain in endless lockdown while the people who don't give as much of a shit are pushing that R number back up.
posted by winterhill at 2:47 AM on May 2 [7 favorites]


Cholera and coronavirus: why we must not repeat the same mistakes
A Guardian long read by Neil Singh (primary care physician and senior teaching fellow in the department of primary care and public health at Brighton and Sussex Medical School)
In the two decades after cholera first reached Europe, individual European nations, acting in isolation, tried in vain to prevent and contain it. But there was no point cleaning up port cities at great expense when you could not vouch for the sailors and cargo flowing through it. They eventually realised that a problem caused by globalisation required an international solution.

This led to the first example of global cooperation in order to combat a disease. In 1851, the first International Sanitary Conference, convening the major European imperial powers, was held in Paris. Still, it took time for all those gathered to reach a consensus, and the first International Sanitary Conventions were not adopted until 1892.

According to Anne-Emanuelle Birn, a professor at the University of Toronto School of Public Health, trade was the driving motive of these meetings, and public health just a necessary means. They proved successful: transnational interventions, such as quarantine and disease surveillance by international health bureaux, did bring down cholera deaths. These International Sanitary Conferences proved the power of international cooperation to improve health and boost the economy, and provided the blueprint for the Health Organization of the League of Nations, and later the WHO.
posted by mumimor at 2:48 AM on May 2 [13 favorites]


The Curious Case of the Coronavirus Commercial — As the pandemic rages on, brands are trying to sell peace of mind—as well as their products., Vanity Fair, Jane Borden, 4/22/2020:
Don’t try to escape COVID-19 by watching prime-time TV: Commercials will snap you right back to reality. As “Safer at Home” orders cascaded across the country last month—and concern and fear about the pandemic peaked—brands quickly began executing their own responses. First came the cancellations of existing campaigns that suddenly felt insensitive or tone-deaf; think resort and cruise ads, and most famously, a KFC commercial in which someone licks someone else’s finger. Next came a round of ads recontextualizing services within the new normal, either by acknowledging it (“If you’re over mac and cheese and PB&J’s,” Pizza Hut says it can provide contactless delivery; an ABC promo invites you to social distance with The Goldbergs) or offering help (Ford, Hyundai, and Citibank, among others, all announced leniency on interest or payments).

But the brands getting the most attention as the pandemic drags on are doing something different: They’re selling nothing. In these ads, soaring music accompanies pictures and videos—much of them generated remotely—of empty cities, hands touching hands through plates of glass, and/or essential workers wearing masks, before the spots end with words of support. Walmart: “Here for you.” Facebook: “We’re never lost if we can find each other.” Uber: “Stay home for everyone who can’t.” Actual products are nowhere to be seen.

“It’s more of an awareness play,” said Joseph Kang, a senior project manager at P.R. and marketing firm Edelman. “They’re not doing hard advertising per se. They’re just saying, ‘Hey, look, we’re a brand and we care.’”

Judy Salzinger, a professor of advertising and branded entertainment at SCAD, agreed: “Brands are putting out messages right now to bring people together. And people will become a little more loyal to brands that make them believe it’s all going to be okay.”

To respond to this trend with cynicism, however, would mean missing the point....
...Kang added, “it’s important that brands also have a heart, have emotions and compassion”—you know, just like our friends do. In that way these PSAs are simply brands’ way of doing what friends all over the world are doing right now: checking in to say they hope you’re okay.

Can’t We can all just get along (and continue to buy stuff like always). Don’t worry, be happy, everything is gonna be all right.
posted by cenoxo at 5:58 AM on May 2 [3 favorites]


2 more California counties set to defy Newsom lockdown as pressure builds (Politico)
Newsom on Friday said the state could start easing its restrictions within "many days, not weeks," but has made clear that counties cannot allow activities to resume that are prohibited by the state order. Some of the Yuba-Sutter businesses slated for reopening are not even considered safe enough for Newsom's initial reopening stage; the governor indicated Tuesday it could be a while before salons and gyms can open. [...] Sutter and Yuba counties — which have a combined population of about 173,000 people — are not only much bigger [than Modoc county], but have had some deadly cases of the disease. The counties are situated just north of Sacramento County, and many residents commute to jobs in the capital region.
posted by katra at 7:13 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Texas’ reopening got underway with sparse crowds at shopping malls and restaurants allowing customers to dine in,

Anecdata, but this is definitely not what I saw leaving the tourist town I work at in Texas yesterday. Traffic coming on to the island was easily triple what I have been seeing any day, including Fridays when you would expect it. Literally, the first thing I saw as I turned on to the road to get out of town was a half dozen bikers at a stop light high-fiving and other physical contact while they were waiting for the green light.

Uber: “Stay home for everyone who can’t.”

I am no fan of Uber, but I am 100% behind this message.

All y'all. I am begging. Please, please, please stay home when you can. If you can influence ANYONE to stay home, please do. I know it sucks. I know y'all are going stir crazy and I encourage y'all to go for a walk or whatever you can do to get some time outside of your domicile.

But, FFS, those of us who are in health care areas? After stressing out all day about potential infection, the last thing we want to see when we finally get to punch out is a bunch of people deciding (against CDC recommendations) that it's a great idea to just get out and party. In the clinics and hospitals I work for, we at least have a vague idea of attack vectors. Once the randos from $major_city show up, we have no idea.

I'm tired. I'm stressed. I am more than a little upset with our governor for just being, "meh. I said Texas is closed until the end of April. Not revisiting. Who cares?" I am also really just dumbfounded by the sheer volume of people who think now is the best time to go on a weekend getaway.

I will not be surprised if there is an explosion of cases starting from the barrier islands on the Texas coast. It won't be a second wave. It will be a mismanagement of the first wave.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:14 AM on May 2 [27 favorites]


Protests spread, fueled by economic woes and Internet subcultures (WaPo, May 1, 2020)
In many cases the protests, which have been supported by conservative megadonors, have ties to a host of darker Internet subcultures — people who oppose vaccination, the self-identified Western-chauvinist Proud Boys group, anti-government conspiracy theorists known as QAnon, and people touting a coming civil war. These groups see the coronavirus crisis as a vehicle to spread their beliefs, said Devin Burghart, president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, a nonprofit group that monitors far-right activity and has been tallying the protests. More than 100 such events in 32 states are planned for the coming days, Burghart said. But he added that it was unclear how many were actual events or merely the work of local and far-flung activists throwing up a Facebook page to try to build more momentum for their causes. [...] Even though the hate group Proud Boys were not early protest organizers, they have shown up at protests to spread their ideas. Members have appeared or spoken at rallies and demonstrations in Michigan, Colorado, Nevada and Florida, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Group members have spread xenophobic messages, including blaming China and Chinese people for the virus.
posted by katra at 7:56 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Still waiting for your U.S. coronavirus relief money? Some good news: even if you haven't previously given the IRS your bank routing info, all you have to do is enter your bank routing info before noon on any Tuesday and you’ll see your payment date on the following Saturday:

In an update posted Sunday, the IRS said that if you have successfully entered your bank information “any day until noon on Tuesday, your payment date will be available beginning the following Saturday.” If you miss the Tuesday deadline, you have to wait another week to get a payment date. Or, if your payment has already been processed, you’ll get a check that could take up to 14 days to receive.

For what it's worth, the IRS had not yet processed my 2019 tax return, but last Monday I was able to visit the "Get My Payment" page and enter my bank routing and 2018 tax return info (all you need is gross adjusted income and your refund or payment amount), and this morning got the message that my payment will be direct-deposited this coming Tuesday.

(For weeks there was a bug where the site spit out a “payment status not available” error message if you didn't use ALL-CAPS to enter your street address (no, seriously) but that's now been fixed. I'd still use all-caps just in case.)
posted by mediareport at 9:06 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]






Russia now has second-highest rate of Covid-19 spread as other countries ease restrictions (Guardian)
Up to 2% of Moscow’s population may be infected with coronavirus, the city’s mayor warned on Saturday, as hospitals in the Russian capital were overwhelmed and another top government tested positive. Covid-19 took hold relatively late in Russia, but is now growing fast, with the country showing the second-highest spread of the disease in the world. A record 9,623 new cases on Saturday indicated infections have not yet reached a plateau. If Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s estimate is correct, that would mean more than 240,000 people may have the virus, four times official figures for the city.
Somali medics report rapid rise in deaths as Covid-19 fears grow (Guardian)
Concerns that official mortality counts in African countries are a big understatement
Earlier this week, Dr Benjamin Djoudalbaye, head of policy and health diplomacy at the African Union’s Centre for Disease Control, said the spread of Covid-19 was “not something you can hide”. “You see what you can see. You go to the hospital and you will see the [people there]. As the capacity of testing increases, so we will see the real situation,” Djoudalbaye told reporters.
posted by katra at 11:43 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


people will not tolerate lockdowns indefinitely.

Yes, I agree with that, but are the reasons why Sweden believes people will not tolerate an indefinite lockdown the same public debate reasons given to open up in the US? Winterhill's post touched on why from a behaviorial POV why a lockdown is not sustainable and that make sense. But in the US, most of the public debate I've heard for ending the lockdown is over economic reasons, and that argument isn't as strong. Sweden's economy looks like it's hurting too, at least comparable with how other European countries and probably also how the US will be affected. I think in the US framing the public debate as a conflict between economics vs. health is not only the wrong way to do it, but it's also made that decision to whether or not lift the lockdowns more difficult to make.
posted by FJT at 1:00 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing (Ed Yong, Atlantic)
A guide to making sense of a problem that is now too big for any one person to fully comprehend
The coronavirus not only co-opts our cells, but exploits our cognitive biases. Humans construct stories to wrangle meaning from uncertainty and purpose from chaos. We crave simple narratives, but the pandemic offers none. The facile dichotomy between saving either lives or the economy belies the broad agreement between epidemiologists and economists that the U.S. shouldn’t reopen prematurely. The lionization of health-care workers and grocery-store employees ignores the risks they are being asked to shoulder and the protective equipment they aren’t being given. The rise of small anti-lockdown protests overlooks the fact that most Republicans and Democrats agree that social distancing should continue “for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus.”
posted by katra at 1:23 PM on May 2 [12 favorites]


Gridlock as North Staffordshire shoppers queue up to get on retail park
Chaos and huge tailbacks at rammed Costa Coffee drive-thru in Yorkshire
Drivers ignore lockdown to sunbathe and have a picnic at Leeds beauty spot

This is what happens. There are two parallel countries in play here - there are those of us following the rules, going out once a day for exercise in walking distance from our houses and once a week for grocery shopping to the nearest supermarket. And then there's a whole country running in parallel, of people queuing down the main road to get a Costa Coffee or fast food, or visit a B&Q on the retail park. There should not be traffic jams for drive-through coffee or lengthy queues for home improvement stores in a lockdown!

I hate the lockdown. It's fucked my life up in so many ways and it's making me seriously ill. I'd love to go back to my previous life. I'd settle for just seeing my parents. But I'm sticking to the rules - stay at home except for very specific set reasons. If people persist with this crap - and if blatantly non-essential businesses continue to open to encourage them - then the virus will continue to spread and the lockdown will be extended again, and again, and again. And those people who are treating it like a free holiday off work paid for by the taxpayer will barely notice, and those people who are stuck alone or in shitty situations will continue to deteriorate mentally and physically, and those people at risk of the virus will be at greater risk. It's shit for everyone, but the more we stick to it the faster it'll pass and we can ALL get back to our friends and family, not just the selfish people.

The government are not blameless here. The indefinite lockdown with no potential end date is partly to blame for causing this gradual disintegration of the restrictions. Perhaps by giving people and businesses a little hope that there might be a chink of light at the end of the tunnel, the government could have avoided this, but it's going to be hard to get these people back home.
posted by winterhill at 2:30 PM on May 2 [13 favorites]


of darker Internet subcultures — people who oppose vaccination, the self-identified Western-chauvinist Proud Boys group, anti-government conspiracy theorists known as QAnon, and people touting a coming civil war.

Alex, who are groups that are controlled by both Putin and Trump?
posted by benzenedream at 3:06 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


Ah, man, pretty soon the new pre-taped episodes of Jeopardy! will be running out and then it’ll be reruns.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:20 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Ah, man, pretty soon the new pre-taped episodes of Jeopardy! will be running out and then it’ll be reruns.
A lot of broadcasting is going the same way. The Archers has been a staple of BBC radio since 1951 and has aired non-stop ever since. It's the world's longest running drama serial. They'd already reduced the number of weekly broadcasts to prolong the lifespan of the pre-recorded episodes (which had the bizarre effect of making Ambridge the only place in England untouched by Covid 19) but have now run out. For the first time since 1951, they're having to go off the air. "Classic" episodes are being broadcast over the next three weeks while they go through the process of recording slimmed-down new episodes in the actors' homes.

It's (relatively) straightforward to do that with a radio drama, but TV is going to struggle even more. I understand that they've got episodes of Coronation Street (on the air non-stop since 1960) in the can until the end of May, again with a reduced schedule of three episodes per week rather than six, but social distancing means they're unlikely to be able to do any filming for some time to come so "Corrie" will fall off the air for the first time in 60 years soon. These will be big gaps in people's lives - shows audiences have listened to or watched in many cases for their entire lives.

TV takes time to produce, stuff being filmed now would normally be going out in early 2021, so the schedules are going to look rather bare for a year or two.
posted by winterhill at 3:43 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


771 lawsuits — and counting: Wave of virus litigation hits businesses across the U.S. (WaPo, May 1, 2020 / reprint)
Hundreds of lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus pandemic are rapidly amassing in state and federal courts, the first wave of litigation challenging decisions made early during the crisis by corporations, insurance companies and governments. [...] Complaints reach across industries and state lines. Some seek significant monetary damages. Others ask for a judge to correct actions alleged to be harmful or in violation of contractual agreements.

[...] In California, customers have gone after a yoga studio and a massage parlor. A ski resort chain based in Denver also has been sued in the Golden State. [...] Lawyers there put out a call for potential clients in “essential” jobs — grocery store personnel, delivery drivers and bus operators — where the lack of personal protective equipment has been an issue. Kiley Grombacher, whose firm has sought class-action claims, said the response has been “unbelievable” and includes people “in almost all the major industries,” including transportation, retail and health care.
posted by katra at 8:56 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]


In some states, local jurisdictions are defying governors’ stay-at-home orders (WaPo live blog)
In Colorado last week, Weld County said it would not get in the way of local businesses wanting to reopen, despite Democratic Gov. Jared Polis’s orders to remain closed. “The governor’s been pretty clear all along that his orders are unenforceable,” Mike Freeman, chairman of the county’s board of commissioners, told KFKA-1310. Businesses that reopen would have to adhere to social distancing rules and several other restrictions set by the county. Weld is the location of a JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley, the site of a recent coronavirus outbreak.

In North Carolina this week, Gaston County officials said they would allow businesses to reopen, defying Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s orders. Hours later, however, the county backed down and said residents must comply with state guidelines.

In New Mexico, Martin “Modey” Hicks, the mayor of 9,000-strong Grants, ordered city employees back to work and encouraged businesses to reopen. On Thursday, he was ordered by the state Supreme Court to comply with health guidelines, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
Excess U.S. deaths hit estimated 37,100 in pandemic’s early days, far more than previously known (WaPo)
Examining the number of excess deaths is a vital exercise for understanding the extent of the pandemic, said Eleanor Murray, a professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health, who was not involved in the Yale team’s analysis. “We know because we have not been doing enough testing that we are absolutely missing covid cases,” she said. “So whatever death counts we have are certainly going to be underestimates of the people dying from covid.”

State and local leaders should be studying the estimates of excess deaths in their communities and basing consequential decisions about reopening businesses and social activities on those figures, rather than strictly using reported coronavirus infections and covid-19 fatalities, figures that are often incomplete and misleading, Murray said. “If you’re basing your decision to open on your reported case numbers or your reported covid deaths, you’re making the wrong decision because those numbers aren’t reflective of what’s actually happening out in your community,” she said.
posted by katra at 9:19 PM on May 2 [9 favorites]


This is what happens. There are two parallel countries in play here - there are those of us following the rules, going out once a day for exercise in walking distance from our houses and once a week for grocery shopping to the nearest supermarket. And then there's a whole country running in parallel, of people queuing down the main road to get a Costa Coffee or fast food, or visit a B&Q on the retail park. There should not be traffic jams for drive-through coffee or lengthy queues for home improvement stores in a lockdown!

My goodness, so much THIS!

I work for a hospital, so the majority of people I deal with are conscientious of distancing, wearing mask, etc. But, geez, the instant I punch out....

We have some issues going on at the house which have required weekly trips to a home improvement store. I am struggling to understand why people are dressing up, not wearing masks just to be out. To go to a home improvement store. We have plenty of parks and nature areas they can do this. Why do they need to be in a retail setting?

Food. I don't have the energy any more. I am not going grocery shopping until my next (mandated. yay pandemic cutting my hours!) day off. Last weekend, "dudebro" grabbed a pineapple and SMELLED IT. He determined from the smell it was ripe and decided to purchase it?

Oh, no. He didn't. After watching him literally strut through the produce area, he set it down near the bakery. But, hey, he had gloves on and no mask. So, he is only spreading germs, not contracting them.

I am really fucking tired of the people that think, "CoVid won't affect me" and I'm already scared as hell that they will think they are even more immortal after this. "I survived CoVid without wearing a mask! That proves I can drive without a seatbelt after 6 drinks at 90 mph!"
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 6:40 AM on May 3 [18 favorites]


The US just reported its deadliest day for coronavirus patients as states reopen, according to WHO (CNBC)
The U.S. saw 2,909 people die of Covid-19 in 24 hours, according to the data, which was collected as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday. That’s the highest daily Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. yet, based on a CNBC analysis of the WHO’s daily Covid-19 situation reports. [...] Public health officials and epidemiologists have warned that as the public grows fatigued by restrictions and businesses reopen, the virus could spread rapidly throughout communities that have yet to experience a major epidemic. [...] Dozens of states have unveiled reopening plans and several, including Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, have already begun to allow nonessential retailers to reopen.

[...] The WHO data differs from data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which does not report historical daily Covid-19 deaths. The CDC’s site says that 2,349 people died in the U.S. of Covid-19 on May 1. However, the agency warns that its data might not be complete. CDC spokeswoman Kate Grusich told CNBC that the agency’s data is “validated through a confirmation process with jurisdictions.” “CDC does not know the exact number of COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths for a variety of reasons,” the agency says, adding that asymptomatic patients, delays in reporting and limited testing make it difficult to accurately track the data. [...] The CDC warns that all data right now is “provisional” and the agency might not have a more accurate count until December of next year.
posted by katra at 9:30 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]


Black Death historian: 'A coronavirus depression could be the great leveller'
Walter Scheidel explains how the fallout from coronavirus could be the catalyst for a more equal world. It’s happened before. Here’s what it would take to happen again
posted by adamvasco at 9:43 AM on May 3 [4 favorites]


It is an interesting notion. It seems like a massive social change is inevitable as inequality gets worse, and there will be some trigger. I think the near global lockdown is a much bigger factor than the actual deaths as far as changing notions of what is right and what is possible.

Had to chuckle at this:
Low-paid healthcare workers, bin collectors, bus drivers and supermarket shelf stackers, not hedge fund managers or venture capitalists, have kept us from falling apart.

Who in their right mind would think that we would be helped in any way, much less saved, by those hucksters and parasites?
posted by snofoam at 10:59 AM on May 3 [6 favorites]


I think it's pretty certain that the consequences of COVID-19 will leave more unequal world.

Women are taking the brunt of home education.
Black and minority groups are more heavily hit by the virus.
The stock market is betting on giant companies.
The vulture capitalists are planning for distressed debt sales to acquire as much as they can.
In the US environmental laws have been relaxed.
In the UK, tenants are still liable for rent but landlords can take mortgage holidays: the smart ones are saving their money for an acquisition spree afterwards.

Home education is massively dependent on class. In the UK, private schools are carrying out nearly full curricula online. The worst state schools sent their kids home with a handful of worksheets and went silent, the others are doing various amounts. When the schools go back, the rich kids will be months ahead, the worst off kids will be out the habit of education: it's bad enough after the summer holiday but this will be worst. That's going to echo through the labour market for decades.

The left are amiably dreaming of a better world after coronavirus. The right are actively building their worse one right now: more unequal, more dominated by large corporations than ever.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:41 PM on May 3 [30 favorites]


Here's the thing: If the right wing nutjobs fully get their way, enough people will be dead or disabled by the time all this is over to significantly reduce the available labor pool. That's how the plague ended up increasing the power of labor. (and created we now refer to as the petit bourgeois)
posted by wierdo at 3:40 PM on May 3 [7 favorites]


Good explainer from Scientific American about the very slightly promising results from the handful of remdesivir studies that have been done:

a clinical trial of more than a thousand people showed that people taking remdesivir recovered in 11 days on average, compared to 15 days for those on a placebo...The news comes after weeks of data leaks and on a day of mixed results from clinical trials of the drug. In a trial run by the drug’s maker, Gilead Sciences of Foster City, California, more than half of 400 participants with severe COVID-19 recovered from their illness within two weeks of receiving treatment. But the study lacked a placebo controlled arm, making the results difficult to interpret...

Fauci said the finding reminded him of the discovery in the 1980s that the drug AZT helped to combat HIV infection. The first randomized, controlled clinical only showed a modest improvement, he said, but researchers continued to build on that success, eventually developing highly effective therapies...Researchers are furiously testing a wide range of therapies, but early results, while not yet definitive, have not been encouraging.

posted by mediareport at 3:52 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


Friend of mine works for Gilead. He's been on quite the roller coaster of late, having stock options and such. Hope it can help.
posted by Windopaene at 4:49 PM on May 3


Today for the first time since going into lockdown, New Zealand reported zero new cases.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:07 PM on May 3 [10 favorites]


Masks Become a Flash Point in the Virus Culture Wars

"In Flint, Mich., a security guard at a Family Dollar store was fatally shot on Friday afternoon after an altercation that the guard’s wife told The New York Times had occurred over a customer refusing to wear a face covering, which is required in Michigan in any enclosed public space."
posted by NotLost at 9:25 PM on May 3 [16 favorites]


At a Dollar Store.

In Flint.

Jesus wept

And having now read the article. What a huge number of asshole, selfish, dumbasses live in the US. Holy shit. It's going to be a long summer.
posted by Windopaene at 9:49 PM on May 3 [15 favorites]


And what a bunch of cowards the Govenors of Oklahoma and Ohio are.
posted by Windopaene at 9:54 PM on May 3 [6 favorites]


Today for the first time since going into lockdown, New Zealand reported zero new cases.

My home state (Victoria, with a population around 1 1/3 of NZ's) ought to be at zero, other than returnees and other imported cases, but we keep getting these unexplained individual cases of unknown origin. IIUC we've had five in the past seven days. Social isolation is still pretty strong here, so the fact that these cases keep popping up is quite troubling.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:41 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


Capitalistic capitalist bails out — Berkshire sells entire stakes in U.S. airlines: Buffett, Reuters, David Shepardson & Jonathan Stempel, 5/2/2020:
Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) sold its entire stakes in the four largest U.S. airlines in April, Chairman Warren Buffett said Saturday at the company’s annual meeting, saying “the world has changed” for the aviation industry.

The conglomerate had held sizeable positions in the airlines, including an 11% stake in Delta Air Lines (DAL.N), 10% of American Airlines Co (AAL.O), 10% of Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) and 9% of United Airlines (UAL.O) at the end of 2019, according to its annual report and company filings. The conglomerate was one of the largest individual holders in the four airlines and in 2016 disclosed it had begun investing in the four carriers after avoiding the sector for years.
...
U.S. airlines are cutting hundreds of thousands of flights, parking thousands of planes as U.S. travel demand has fallen by about 95% and there is no clear timetable for passengers to return to flights at pre-crisis levels.
It's not personal, it's business.
posted by cenoxo at 10:58 PM on May 3 [6 favorites]


Social isolation is still pretty strong here, so the fact that these cases keep popping up is quite troubling.

I'm in Victoria too. On my fortnightly trip to the stupormarket I see very little evidence that most shoppers are taking social distancing the slightest bit seriously. Loads of people ignore personal space rules, the taped Stand Here marks on the floor are almost never where people wait, there are very few masks visible and there's a lot of gratuitous surface grabbing and product handling without subsequent purchase.

Frankly I'm really pleased to find that such social distancing as is being practised is proving effective. There is no way on God's green Earth it will ever be 100% effective, though. Not as long as people are people.

We're so fucking stupid in mobs, and we don't seem to be capable of paying continuous attention to any kind of inconvenience for months at a time.
posted by flabdablet at 11:59 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


Capitalistic capitalist bails out — Berkshire sells entire stakes in U.S. airlines: Buffett,

It's going to be interesting how the perception of what is essential infrastructure and who should own it will change.
SAS is majority-owned by the Danish and Norwegian governments, but it was going badly even before the virus because it couldn't compete on a market where air travel was seen as a cheap commodity. Now, it's hard hit, but the competitors are more than hard hit, they are going bankrupt. The world will look different on the other side, and maybe there is a new space for a (partly) state owned airline.
I think that in the future, people will fly less, but there will still be a need for air travel. This is a digression, but sometimes my gut feelings are quite reliable: yesterday I spent too much time reading all the comments on this article by Jay Rayner. They are delightful! And they got me planning a road-trip down through Europe when all this is over. I don't want to fly directly to Malaga, I want to stop everywhere on the way at little cafés and restaurants and sleep at real old-school BnBs like the ones we stayed at when we were on road trips with our parents in the -70's or on interrail in the -80's. I think a lot of people feel that way now. My 21-yo daughter got a gift card for a plane ticket for her birthday, and she wants to go by train instead, when she can. Slow travel instead of cheap air travel. If the discount travel companies even survive the lockdown, they may find themselves with much less to do.

Back to the subject: Some years ago, the Danish government sold the publicly-owned vaccine factory to an investor from a Gulf State, and to me, it felt weird at the time. Now of course there is a lot of discussion about the wisdom of that decision. A state owned vaccine factory would mean that any vaccine developed by the research department (which is still publicly owned) would have a cost-based price. Instead, they created a perfect asset with a guaranteed steady income of Danish taxpayer money and sold it off to someone with no interest in the public good. Was that a good idea? Really?
posted by mumimor at 12:22 AM on May 4 [11 favorites]


Today for the first time since going into lockdown, New Zealand reported zero new cases.

South Africa went into lockdown 3 days after NZ and we just had our worst day ever with 447 confirmed new cases.

The growth in cases is now predominantly in extremely poor areas where practising social distancing is increasingly difficult.
posted by PenDevil at 1:20 AM on May 4 [13 favorites]


Now, the small uptick after the loosening up in Denmark has begun. It'll be *interesting* to see how it develops. It's pretty much exactly two weeks after, if you take into account the delays in opening I mentioned above.
Also today, the official guidelines have been revised. I think the main point is that it is much more specific about who is at risk, now that they know more, and they are advising those who are not at risk to go out for exercise so they remain in good shape.
The police have sent out a list of hotspots to avoid. They are mainly places where young people gather, though the place closest to me (20 KM away) is more of a family place, for rich people. It might be that young people gather there now, though. I'm not going to check it out. At the store today, I saw a group of young guys who were clearly in one of their dad's car (a huge Volvo, and they couldn't figure out the reverse gear). They were buying a ton of beer. And I can easily imagine they would go look for other youth there rather than at the places where local kids hang out.
Since the (online) exams are soon over, I'm guessing there will be a lot of young people borrowing their families' summer houses so they can lock down together, and based on how these kids were acting (no distancing, no gloves, touching everything), this might spread the virus to places that have been spared so far.
posted by mumimor at 7:09 AM on May 4 [3 favorites]


How the Chinese Authorities and the World Health Organization Handled the Coronavirus, and Why the WHO Didn’t Declare a Pandemic Until MarchThe attack on the Chinese government and the World Health Organization’s work on the new virus by the Trump administration is unfounded.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:37 AM on May 4 [3 favorites]




We can't be given an inch, because people insist on taking a mile. Park openings have gone about as well as I expected, so now some have to close again.
City Manager Jimmy Morales, the top administrator in Miami Beach, made the decision to close South Pointe Park, located at 1 Washington Ave. in South Beach.

Over the weekend, Morales notified the administration and its elected commissioners that the city’s park rangers continued to report “serious compliance issues with respect to masks at certain facilities and rudeness towards staff, especially at South Pointe Park.”
The childish histrionics are just amazing:
Maria LaPietro Guerrero said on the Miami Beach Uncensored group that she was frustrated that after six weeks at home, the city is imposing more laws to restrict her movement.

“What will be next? When will this end?” she wrote. “First, we were staying home to the flatten the curve. We did that. Now, 6 weeks later, we have more ‘laws’ and no end in sight.”

Commissioner Ricky Arriola said Morales — who is not an elected official — did not consult with the commissioners before making his decision, which Arriola called an “abuse of power.”
(We didn't do that..cases continue to increase, not decline)
posted by wierdo at 9:38 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


The Trump administration projects about 3,000 daily deaths by early June. (NYT live blog), Draft report predicts covid-19 cases will reach 200,000 a day by June 1 (WaPo)
A draft government report projects covid-19 cases will surge to about 200,000 per day by June 1, a staggering jump that would be accompanied by more than 3,000 deaths each day. The document predicts a sharp increase in both cases and deaths beginning about May 14, according to a copy shared with The Washington Post. The forecast stops at June 1, but shows both daily cases and deaths on an upward trajectory at that point.

The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disavowed the report, although the slides carry the CDC’s logo. The creator of the model said the numbers are unfinished projections shown to the CDC as a work in progress. The work contained a wide range of possibilities and modeling was not complete, according to Justin Lessler, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who created the model.
German Covid-19 cases 'may be 10 times higher than official figures' (Guardian)
Researchers from Bonn University said on Monday that their preliminary study, based on fieldwork in the town of Gangelt in Heinsberg municipality, which had one of Germany’s highest death tolls, showed the risk of infection by asymptomatic carriers. [...] About one in five of those who were infected showed no symptoms, they said, underlining the importance of physical distancing and basic hygiene to keep the disease at bay. “Every supposedly healthy person we encounter can unknowingly carry the virus,” said Martin Exner, the head of the university’s institute for hygiene and public health and a co-author of the study. “We must be aware of this and act accordingly.”
posted by katra at 1:43 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]


In "bamboozle them with bullshit" news, Ron DeSantis (Florida's current governor) just threw up a bunch of charts showing declines in hospitalizations in Jacksonville despite the crowded beaches. Oddly, he has been claiming for the past month that the state has no such data on hospital bed, ventilator, and ICU bed usage.
posted by wierdo at 4:06 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


World leaders pledge to fight coronavirus, but the U.S. skips the meeting (Politico)
An EU-led fundraising extravaganza for Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics fell just short of the European Commission's €7.5 billion goal on Monday — even after organizers decided to count money already spent or allocated. [...] Russia and the United States, onetime superpower rivals in science as well as politics, pointedly did not participate, highlighting the real risk that some wealthy countries could look to control vaccines or treatments to benefit their own citizens first. [...] In any event, nearly all of the leaders acknowledged that far more money would be needed down the line, especially when the time comes to manufacture and distribute a vaccine.
The world came together for a virtual vaccine summit. The U.S. was conspicuously absent. (WaPo)
Public health officials and researchers expressed surprise. “It’s the first time that I can think of where you have had a major international pledging conference for a global crisis of this kind of importance, and the U.S. is just absent,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, who worked on the Ebola response in the Obama administration. [...] Russia and India also did not participate. Chinese premier Li Keqiang was replaced at the last minute by Zhang Ming, Beijing’s ambassador to the European Union.
posted by katra at 5:53 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]


I wish news outlets would stop reporting everything said by every random academic about coronavirus as if it's newsworthy in some way, mostly using headlines starting with "Expert says...". The fact that Professor Jimmy Bibble of the University of Blackpool says coronavirus is going to be around forever and we should get used to the rest of our lives being miserable and austere and "socially distanced" isn't news, it's noise.

Academics have opinions and voice them, they're frequently completely wrong or totally speculative and just because they have a title or some letters after their name doesn't mean their every word should be taken any more seriously than the wibbling of Dave from Barnsley on the local radio call-in or BigBob123 on social media. They certainly shouldn't be reported as fact or news or something we should all be listening to, unless it's an actual peer-reviewed paper.
posted by winterhill at 2:25 AM on May 5 [11 favorites]


I don't know what it is about meat packing plants, but my home state of Victoria, Australia, was doing really well and has now had an outbreak of 45 cases at Melbourne Cedar Meats, traceable to a single injured worker who apparently was only tested because he happened to develop symptoms after being hospitalised subsequent to a workplace accident.

The news reports mention that the plant had backloaded meat onto a plane from Wuhan delivering medical supplies to Australia some weeks before this outbreak, but without further information that connection looks a bit tenuous to me.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:13 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


What it is about meatpacking plants is that they have a processing chain moving at a constant pace leading to a culture of compliance and discipline so the kill chain doesn't stop, side-by-side work where distancing is impossible, and a disproportionately immigrant workforce. And it is a chain, one worker handles/coughs on a carcase or cut and the next worker touches it and so on and so on. I'd imagine any industrial process of this nature is inherently vulnerable, and more it's hazardous and reliant on precarious immigrant labour, the worse it will be.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:22 AM on May 5 [6 favorites]


I wish one outcome of this would be that we stopped, as a species, eating industrial meat products. It's problematic in so many ways that we all know and yet the world seems addicted to cheap meat. Strangely, I think a lot of other things will go before pig factories and meatpacking plants.
posted by mumimor at 4:01 AM on May 5 [12 favorites]


Americans widely oppose reopening most businesses, despite easing of restrictions in some states, Post-U. Md. poll finds

It really does seem like, for the moment, a large percentage of people are ready to continue voluntarily social distancing out of prudence/fear. If only 25% of people are willing to go to a restaurant I think that will have some impact on slowing transmission. It’s hard to see an economic recovery when so much of the US is a service economy and so many people are not interested in those services.
posted by snofoam at 4:28 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]


A mutant coronavirus has emerged, even more contagious than the original, study says

The first round of reports of new Corona virus strains seemed not too worrying. This report asserts that a new strain is more contagious but not more deadly. Even now we're talking about on one of 14 mutations out of 30,000 base pairs. Someone who actually know about viruses can check in but it seems like Corona virus is pretty stable and if one change happens to be one that does something and that something is that it makes it more contagious, then that would be horrible luck.
posted by rdr at 5:02 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


Arrticle looking at the design of the CV19 tracking application the UK government is talking about introducing. .

Rather than opt for the type of de-centralised tracker being advised by Google and Apple, the UK have opted for a centralised system. This is unlikely to work properly (because of security limitations built into modern devices) - and it raised privacy concerns because each user's data is tagged with a postcode and unique ID. In terms of data protection laws it may be illegal. And it also puts the responsibility for deciding what to do with the centralised experts rather than with individuals.

Apps of this sort offer enormous potential to save lives and help salvage economies at present - and conversely getting them wrong will kill people. Numerous countries have been successful already in getting them deployed. So it is a great disappointment to have a government blindly ignore all the warnings.
posted by rongorongo at 5:21 AM on May 5 [5 favorites]


The invaluable Heather Cox Richardson:
May 4, 2020

The big news today is that there has been another leak from the White House, and this one is colossal. The New York Times obtained a document suggesting that the administration has misrepresented the numbers of American deaths expected from this pandemic by pushing an artificially low estimate for close to a month.

Modeling by the Federal Emergency Management Agency now projects 200,000 new coronavirus cases a day by the end of the month (we currently have about 25,000 new cases a day), and by June 1, about 3000 deaths every day from Covid-19. Trump revised estimates of the dead upward to 100,000 yesterday, but the new document suggests even those are optimistic. The White House pushed back against the leak, saying that the document had not been vetted or presented to the coronavirus task force.

We also learned today that the new White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, must give his express approval for members of the coronavirus task force or their aides to appear before Congress this month, so it certainly looks as though we will not be hearing an explanation of the discrepancy between Trump’s projections and this document anytime soon.
posted by Gelatin at 5:35 AM on May 5 [11 favorites]


What COVID-19 Antibody Tests Can and Cannot Tell Us — Assays that detect prior novel coronavirus infections could reveal the extent of outbreaks. But they may give individuals false security, Scientific American, Stacey McKenna, 5/5/2020:
Dozens of antibody tests for the novel coronavirus have become available in recent weeks. And early results from studies of such serological assays in the U.S. and around the world have swept headlines. Despite optimism about these tests possibly becoming the key to a return to normal life, experts say the reality is complicated and depends on how results are used.

Antibody tests could help scientists understand the extent of COVID-19’s spread in populations. Because of limitations in testing accuracy and a plethora of unknowns about immunity itself, however, they are less informative about an individual’s past exposure or protection against future infection.

“The focus right now is primarily epidemiological,” says Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at the Kent State University College of Public Health. That approach means trying to figure out the percentage of the population that has already been infected even if some individuals never showed symptoms. “This will allow us to better calculate the fatality rate and to determine how far we still have to go to reach [infection] levels that would place us in the range of herd immunity,” or when a large proportion of a population has become immune to a disease because of vaccination or past infection, she says. “It will also allow us to start looking at duration of immunity.”[*]...
*What Immunity to COVID-19 Really Means — The presence of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus could provide some protection, but scientists need more data, Scientific American, Stacey McKenna, 4/10/2020.
posted by cenoxo at 6:32 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]


A mutant coronavirus has emerged, even more contagious than the original, study says

A Twitter thread from a Harvard public health prof about the "suspect claims" in that LA Times story (based on yet another non-peer-reviewed preprint report).
posted by mediareport at 10:21 AM on May 5 [4 favorites]


Guardian: WHO urges countries to investigate possible early Covid-19 cases after French study
The World Health Organization has said a study by French scientists which suggests a man was infected with Covid-19 as early as 27 December was “not surprising”, and urged countries to investigate any other early suspicious cases. [...] “This gives a whole new picture on everything,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a UN briefing in Geneva.

“The findings help to better understand the potential virus circulation of Covid-19,” he added, saying other possible earlier cases could emerge after retesting samples. [...] The researchers said the absence of a link with China and the lack of recent travel “suggest that the disease was already spreading among the French population at the end of December 2019”.
posted by katra at 11:10 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


New Studies Add to Evidence that Children May Transmit the Coronavirus (NYT)
Two new studies offer compelling evidence that children can transmit the virus. Neither proved it, but the evidence was strong enough to suggest that schools should be kept closed for now, many epidemiologists who were not involved in the research said. Many other countries, including Israel, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have all either reopened schools or are considering doing so in the next few weeks. In some of those countries, the rate of community transmission is low enough to take the risk. But in others, including the United States, reopening schools may nudge the epidemic’s reproduction number — the number of new infections estimated to stem from a single case, commonly referred to as R0 — to dangerous levels, epidemiologists warned after reviewing the results from the new studies. [...]

“Are any of these studies definitive? The answer is ‘No, of course not,’” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University who was not involved in either study. But, he said, “to open schools because of some uninvestigated notion that children aren’t really involved in this, that would be a very foolish thing.”
posted by katra at 12:16 PM on May 5 [6 favorites]


More criticism of the preprint that resulted in that LA Times "even more contagious!" story, from a Twitter thread by Columbia University virologist Angela Rassmussen:

This type of reporting on #SARSCoV2 #COVID19 #coronavirus makes my blood boil. There is no evidence that the dominant strain is such because it is "more contagious"

The title of the preprint is very misleading. "Spike mutation pipeline reveals the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2"...NO it does not. It reveals the emergence of a substitution of aspartic acid for glycine at position 614.

Spike D614G may well have functional importance. It may even increase transmissibility. But we won't know until this is tested experimentally. There's no basis for the breathless OMG #SARSCoV2 HAS MUTATED TO BE MORE TRANSMISSIBLE WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE tone in the LA Times piece.

posted by mediareport at 12:33 PM on May 5 [9 favorites]


I almost feel this merits an FPP. The COVID19 Policywatch site allows you to compare 29 countries' COVID19 response by policy, or look at response policy areas by country.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:41 PM on May 5 [17 favorites]


A mutant coronavirus has emerged, even more contagious than the original, study says

The first round of reports of new Corona virus strains seemed not too worrying. This report asserts that a new strain is more contagious but not more deadly. Even now we're talking about on one of 14 mutations out of 30,000 base pairs. Someone who actually know about viruses can check in but it seems like Corona virus is pretty stable and if one change happens to be one that does something and that something is that it makes it more contagious, then that would be horrible luck.


I read the linked article, which is in the LA Times, about the differences between the contagion on the east coast v the contagion on the west coast. And then I read this article in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents which indicates the virus was active in France in December (Europe being likely the source of the east coast outbreaks) and I wonder ....
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:16 PM on May 5


In the UK, the coronavirus furlough scheme under which the government have been paying 80% of wages up to £2,500 monthly is being "scaled back":
The Treasury is understood to be examining several options for tapering the scheme, including cutting the 80% wage subsidy paid by the state to 60% and lowering the £2,500 cap on monthly payments. Another option promoted by employers’ groups to allow furloughed staff to work, but with a smaller state subsidy, is also under consideration.
It was always very Tory to have a scheme that benefited full-time employees on permanent contracts while neglecting people on zero-hours contracts, self-employed people, etc. The government approach to those people has been to advise them to apply for Universal Credit, a small amount of money (roughly £70/wk) given to the unemployed (or in the government's language, "jobseekers" because you're either Working or Looking For Work, there is no alternative). One friend who is a sex worker is really struggling after going from a steady £50-60k annually (and renting a place befitting that kind of income) to £0 - but the people in charge don't care about those people, they care about people like them.

The end of the scheme is going to be a watershed moment if, as expected, there is no significant easing-off on lockdown prior to this. It will go from being an economic disaster to an economic collapse. Like Trump's apparent closure of the coronavirus "task force", it's a case of governments easing off far too fast on necessary measures. I can't get over the dichotomy between them saying it's not the right time to reopen the economy and them ending this scheme.
posted by winterhill at 3:08 AM on May 6 [4 favorites]


So I took a sneak peak at FB, and a woman I know wrote that a child has been sent home from her children's school with coronavirus. At the same time the SSI (I don't know how to translate, but they are doing a lot of the modelling and other research here) are saying it will be safe to open up again. I guess the way both things can be true is that they think there is capacity and knowledge enough to deal with those who become seriously ill.
Or not. Time will tell
posted by mumimor at 8:52 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


The Netherlands is opening up cafe terraces, theatres and restaurants starting June 1.
Schools for small children are opening next week. We'll see how this goes.
posted by vacapinta at 10:49 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


The Netherlands is opening up cafe terraces, theatres and restaurants starting June 1.
Schools for small children are opening next week. We'll see how this goes.
A Dutch friend told me about this earlier. She mentioned that museums are going to be reopening for "30 people". It seems a bit of an arbitrary number - 30 people in a small town museum is going to look very different to 30 people in the (Dutch equivalent of) the V&A.

My personal hope for a quick reopening is Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It's outside, it's huge and it would provide much-needed cultural and physical recreation for locals round here. (You can already park elsewhere and sneak in because a public footpath crosses the site, but I mean a proper reopening with staff.)
posted by winterhill at 12:00 PM on May 6 [4 favorites]


It seems a bit of an arbitrary number - 30 people in a small town museum is going to look very different to 30 people in the (Dutch equivalent of) the V&A.

That limit is for restaurants and as long as they can guarantee people are distanced 1.5 meters. So the 30 people is a maximum.

There is no limit I believe for museums, again as long as they can guarantee social distancing. Also, all entrance is reservation-only - to avoid lines I presume.
Regulations are here in English.
posted by vacapinta at 12:27 PM on May 6 [3 favorites]


Well, this messes with the narrative:
Months before Florida leaders had any clue, coronavirus was creeping through the state
It was March 1 when Florida announced its first two cases of the novel coronavirus, a 29-year-old Hillsborough County woman who had traveled to Italy and a 63-year-old Manatee County man. But buried in data recently published by the Florida health department is an intriguing revelation: The spread of COVID-19 in Florida likely began in January, if not earlier.

State health officials have documented at least 170 COVID-19 patients reporting symptoms between Dec. 31, 2019, and February 29, according to a Miami Herald analysis of state health data. Of them, 40 percent had no apparent contact with someone else with the virus. The majority had not traveled.

At least 26 people who contracted COVID-19 started showing symptoms in late December or January — and at least eight of them both had not traveled and did not have contact with another person infected by the virus.

posted by Joe in Australia at 12:17 AM on May 7 [9 favorites]


It seems that someone in Berlin is following the same playbook as the protesters in the US. Since I'm not on twitter, I can't figure out how to find the tweet I saw first, where it said that the protesters even used the word "Lügenpresse". I'm glad my grandparents are dead and buried so they don't have to see this.
posted by mumimor at 3:01 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]


But buried in data recently published by the Florida health department is an intriguing revelation: The spread of COVID-19 in Florida likely began in January, if not earlier.

Thank you for this. This is a counter to what is a MSM narrative today - that travelers from New York City in late February spread the virus through much of the country.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:16 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


I guess the way both things can be true is that they think there is capacity and knowledge enough to deal with those who become seriously ill.

we've done comparatively well with Covid-19 where I live, which now puts us in the zone of trying to get re-normalized (or whatever the term is for trying to get some semblance of a functional culture, society, economy going again).

This means various businesses and such will now be re-opening (or becoming more open than they've been) and bluntly, nobody seems to know what will happen from average Joe to chief medical officer. So the big word is caution, the first steps are baby steps (public gatherings of no more than six people allowed etc) and underlying this caution is the feeling that our medical infrastructure must be up to dealing with whatever uptick there may be in Covid related issues. If the spikes are too big, we'll be heading straight back to lockdown.

There are folks saying that this will inevitably lead to avoidable infections and deaths ... and they're right. And as someone who's a caregiver for a very at risk person, I'm personally going to be in no hurry to re-engage with the world in a "normal" way. But ...

Well, it's one hell of a complex "but", isn't it? Because we do live on a planet of seven plus billion people who need to be fed, clothed, housed, educated, engaged. So just as doing nothing about Covid-19 was never a rational, humane choice, I feel it's the same with re-normalizing. We've got to do it and just as the various lockdowns had various levels of success and compliance, I 'suspect it will be the same with this next ... experiment. Because that's what it is, if we're honest. Nobody knows for sure what the outcome will be. We can only hope that those conducting the experiment (and that includes everybody really) are taking all due precautions.
posted by philip-random at 8:48 AM on May 7 [4 favorites]


It seems that someone in Berlin is following the same playbook as the protesters in the US.

In Spain, the far right party VOX is also trying to gin up support for demonstrations in cars for a hard reopening. They're so predictable.

(What has been happening here? The ruling left-wing-ish PSOE-Podemos coalition is suffering some damage from the extended lockdown, although we've already started easing restrictions and covid cases don't seem to be rising up after people were allowed to take walks in differentiated time intervals a week and a half ago. The state of alarm that allows for freedom of movement to be restricted is extended by 15 days more until late May -- likely to last longer until June, if the coalition gets enough support. If everything goes well, next Monday most of the country will be able to open small businesses with some controls, more restrictions to be lifted every 2 weeks if contagion numbers don't rise too sharply. Madrid and Barcelona will go this route when they're in a condition to do so, but they don't meet the requisites yet because they were affected harder than the rest.)
posted by sukeban at 9:07 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]


Coronavirus May Lurk in Semen, Researchers Report — It was not clear whether the scientists had found infectious virus or inert fragments, so sexual transmission of the virus still seems very unlikely., New York Times, Heather Murphy, 7/7/2020:
...researchers in China have found that the coronavirus, or bits of it, may linger in semen. But the paper [JAMA-NO article with PDF download], published Thursday in JAMA Network Open, an open-access medical journal, does not prove that the virus can be sexually transmitted.

The doctors tested semen from 38 patients at Shangqiu Municipal Hospital in Henan Province in central China. All the subjects, who ranged in age from 15 to 59, had previously tested positive for the coronavirus.

Researchers detected genetic material from the coronavirus in the semen of six patients, around 16 percent. Four patients with positive semen samples “were at the acute stage of infection,” wrote Dr. Weiguo Zhao of the Eighth Medical Center of Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing and Dr. Shixi Zhang of the Shangqiu Municipal Hospital in Henan....
More in this NYT article.
posted by cenoxo at 2:51 PM on May 7


Three Russian doctors have fallen from hospital windows in two weeks, amid reports of dire conditions (WaPo, May 6, 2020) The two Russian paramedics were dressed for work in the video, masks covering their noses and mouths as they delivered a grim dispatch. The narrator identified himself as Alexander Kosyakin and his colleague as Alexander Shulepov. Shulepov had just learned that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, Kosyakin said, yet “the head doctor forces us to continue working, and what can we do in the situation?” [...]

In a second video released days later by the press secretary of the regional health department, Shulepov backed off those comments, saying that he had been “emotional” and that his boss did eventually tell him to stop working. Shulepov was admitted to the hospital, and it was there on May 1 that he fell from a second-floor window in what local authorities have called an accident. Shulepov, who is in critical condition with a skull fracture, is the third Russian medical professional in two weeks to mysteriously fall from a hospital window. The other two died.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:23 PM on May 7 [7 favorites]


Regarding the possibility of transmission among children, "16 infected north of Montreal in Quebec's first COVID-19 outbreak in a daycare":
Quebec has now seen its first COVID-19 outbreak at a daycare — at a facility in Mascouche, in the Lanaudiere region just north of Montreal.

The daycare, which has been offering emergency child-care for essential workers, was closed on Monday, according to Lanaudiere's director of public health, Dr. Richard Lessard.

An investigation by public health officials found that 12 out of 27 children at the daycare had contracted COVID-19, as well as four employees. The first case was identified on April 30.
posted by mhum at 4:24 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]




The Coronavirus Butterfly Effect — Global manufacturing is an intricate ecosystem of specialized players, their fates closely intertwined.; Reason, Jonathan Kaiman, 5/6/2020:
...Every weekday morning during the first few weeks of the coronavirus crisis, Bree Slovick would wake up, wash her hands, disinfect her door handles, walk her 4-year-old daughter to day care (so she didn't need to touch the car), ensure that her daughter washed her hands, and then go to work at a small company in Hopkins, Minnesota, that makes some of the most precise machine parts in the world.

The company, Professional Instruments, manufactures air bearing spindles—heavy steel cylinders the size of an Instant Pot that can shape metal down to a few nanometers, about the width of a DNA molecule. Its spindles are used in machines that produce iPhone cameras, car taillights, and devices that are crucial to defense systems and medical research. It has helped produce parts of the Curiosity Mars Rover and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Slovick, 27, is a receptionist. She takes calls, handles logistics, coordinates payroll, and collects her colleagues' punch cards as they work on various jobs, sanitizing her hands between each one. She is also one part of the fragile web of suppliers, customers, and, of course, employees that together make up the U.S. manufacturing base—and which, under strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, is threatening to snap....
If you're a small niche manufacturer in a global market, you must specialize to compete. But, in the COVID-19 Era, you can't manufacture if your specialist operators ridgidly obey stay-at-home directives. The closer you look at black and white rules, the more you realize they have to be shades of gray.
posted by cenoxo at 6:16 PM on May 7 [8 favorites]


Arrticle looking at the design of the CV19 tracking application the UK government is talking about introducing. .

Rather than opt for the type of de-centralised tracker being advised by Google and Apple, the UK have opted for a centralised system. This is unlikely to work properly (because of security limitations built into modern devices) - and it raised privacy concerns because each user's data is tagged with a postcode and unique ID. In terms of data protection laws it may be illegal. And it also puts the responsibility for deciding what to do with the centralised experts rather than with individuals


A superior article to most the twaddle we get but there important things not covered in this.

First it is probably more accurate to distinguish between three ways of doing digital contact tracing:

-A centralised system which knows where everyone is all the time and logs that. Central authority decides whether someone is at risk. SK and China have done this. It works but obviously the state now knows all your movements.

-"Minimally disclosive" contact tracing. This is a family of protocols that share only some data in an effort to balance privacy and functionality.

DP-3T, which Google/Apple have based their API on

PEPP-PT which is being used by NHSX (Germany, Austria, Italy, and France were using similar methods but the former two have switched over in recent weeks)

The two protocols balance privacy and effectiveness in different ways.

Technically, they work in similar ways. They both use rotating keys, they both exchange them between devices using Bluetooth LE. Both keep keys on the device and neither logs location.

The difference comes in what they do when a person is presumed infected.

In PEPP-PT, a central server uses a rotating private key architecture to generate everyone's keys (note that in the NHSX design, these are tagged to the first part of the postcode but not to other identifying information). If you're displaying symptoms, you hit a button in the app and the app uploads your contact log. The server then applies an algorithm (which will be tuned over time) to decide what to tell phones in your contact log. Critically, there are a lot of things that can be done here that are simply impossible in DP-3T. The central server knows if you've been near multiple people or just one person, it knows (through symptom reporting, also in the app) if other people who were in contact around the same time as you were start developing symptoms. If you and 10 other people were similarly close to a person, and by day 7 none of you have developed any symptoms, it is possible to estimate how likely it is that they were actually infectious at the time.

DP-3T uses a broadcast system. If you're showing symptoms or are authorised to do so, you broadcast the keys of all the devices you recently saw. All devices regularly download this list and if they see one of their keys, they warn the user. This means that good news: no central operator knows anything about you. Bad news: because there is no trusted central operator, there is no-one who can do more complex analysis of infection dynamics. (there is an attack that this protocol but not the other is vulnerable to which can lead to compromise but I don't think it's a plausible one in the wild)

We actually don't know if either of the privacy preserving / minimal disclosure approaches work in practice! It is possible that neither works. It is possible that DP-3T doesn't work well in practice.

Of course, since Apple and Google have to roll out the same protocol worldwide, they have to pick something that they are comfortable with in the most oppressive country. They are also not accountable for it working. If it works, they've done a great thing. If it doesn't, well, they make smartphones and we're not entitled to expect them to solve all of our problems!

The code for the NHS apps is now on github

The NCSC paper on the architecture choices is also interesting.

It may end up being impossible to make a protocol that is not OEM supported work, in that case the theoretical argument is irrelevant and they'll switch (there is a team producing an app compatible with the OEM API as well).

We'll see. They've done some very clever stuff with Bluetooth here and early twitter reactions from technical people on the IoW are that it does seem to work.

I would prefer that we have statutory safeguards for how the social graph data is used and when it is deleted. Currently the app deletes old data but no commitments have been made about centrally held data.
posted by atrazine at 1:29 AM on May 8 [15 favorites]


I honestly don't get the whole furore over the NHS app and privacy. The code is literally there on GitHub under the MIT licence so anyone concerned can read the code, build it themselves and see what it does, and it sends your data to the NHS for clinical purposes. It's hardly monitoring your every move and sending it off to MI5. I'm not as technical as atrazine above (and thank you for summarising the differences!) but I don't see why we should all have to dance to the tune of Apple and Google. It sounds promising that people on the Isle of Wight are reacting positively.

I think it's very dangerous for people outside the UK to be taking to social media, as I've seen myself over the past few days, and literally advising Brits not to download the app, often for vague technical reasons or political reasons relating to not liking/trusting the UK government. I am no cheerleader for the UK government, I think Hancock in particular needs to answer some very tough questions when this is all over, preferably in court. But a surefire way for the app to not work, for infections to continue to spread and for us to continue in this damaging lockdown, is for people to listen to this guff and not download/use it.

There may be a minor privacy concern from sending the first part of my postcode (which, for people outside the UK, relates to the town you live in and no more) to a government organisation that already holds all my health records from the day I was born, but it pales in comparison to the limits on my personal freedom (seven weeks of total isolation and counting!) that will continue if people don't download the app and/or it doesn't work.
posted by winterhill at 2:27 AM on May 8 [6 favorites]


It was always very Tory to have a scheme that benefited full-time employees on permanent contracts while neglecting people on zero-hours contracts, self-employed people, etc. The government approach to those people has been to advise them to apply for Universal Credit, a small amount of money (roughly £70/wk) given to the unemployed (or in the government's language, "jobseekers" because you're either Working or Looking For Work, there is no alternative). One friend who is a sex worker is really struggling after going from a steady £50-60k annually (and renting a place befitting that kind of income) to £0 - but the people in charge don't care about those people, they care about people like them.

The furlough scheme also applies to people on temporary or zero hours contracts. You can even be furloughed by one employer and not by another.

There is a separate scheme for the self employed but it does only work for people who had declared income from self employment in the previous tax year up to £2,500 / month. I hope your friend is able to apply for this scheme. Many of my friends who work on-set in TV production are eligible for this scheme. On the other hand, it has been hard for many cab drivers because they don't actually report their income in order to dodge taxes, my sympathy for that is somewhat tempered.

There have been changes made (temporarily, unfortunately) to UC which substantially increase the amount of UC available.

They removed the income floor element from Universal Credit for the self employed. The income floor works by assuming that you could have worked for 35 hours / week at the minimum wage and only topping up your income to the target level.

This is what was previously driving UC for freelancers to ridiculous amounts like £75 / week, now that it has been removed, people are entitled to more

Also, the total benefit amount has been increased and the calculation used for how much housing benefit you get as part of your UC claim has been increased as well.

I calculated £1,000 a month for where I live (the housing benefit amount is location specific).

One issue with UC is the maximum capital element. This means that you are not eligible for any benefits if you have more than £16k of liquid assets.

I do understand why this is during ordinary times, but there will be many freelancers who are preparing to buy a house and saving up a deposit and will be over that number without being in any sense wealthy. Note that freelancers who have just bought a house are in a much better position because they can pause repayment of their mortgage.

You're still right that UC is much less generous than the furlough and self employed schemes because of these issues but it is not quite as bad as it could be.
posted by atrazine at 2:34 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]


From the NCSC paper:

This paper does not make a case for either a centralised or decentralised matching model, but seeks only to explain the current design for the NHS systems. However, it seems prudent to document our current understanding of the implications of the use of a decentralised digital contact tracing model in the UK.
We believe that any likely decentralised model (because there are many) will have the following impacts in the UK:

Move the health response from ‘react to symptoms’ to ‘react to clinical test results’: We cannot currently find a way to manage malicious notifications, or possible amplification attacks, in a decentralised model without authentication. Consequently, notification must be uniquely tied to an authentic clinical test. This generates a dependency on the digital authentication of clinical testing.

Delays to symptom reporting: Most decentralised systems seem to introduce delays in the reporting of symptoms, sometimes due to characteristics of the crypt design, sometimes due to the data flow requirements.

Second order tracing (also known as recursive tracing) seems to have different characteristics: A decentralised model allows only ‘risk to’ an individual from their exposures to be understood, while a centralised model allows ‘risk from’ an infectious individual to others.


The first one in particular is a really big deal and is why the Google/Apple implementation requires a central authority to authenticate positive results. Even in countries with better testing infrastructure than the UK, where symptomatic patients can be swabbed and PCR tested on the same day (really hard logistically, especially when you don't want symptomatic people to leave their homes!) are going to struggle with this.

Some of the data coming out Drosten's group in Germany on transmission time dynamics of Covid seem to indicate that the actual peak in infectious viral shedding might be at (or before!) onset of symptoms. That means that every hour counts. Otherwise your second order contacts will already have been out there causing infections before they're ever notified.
posted by atrazine at 3:24 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]


I'm half-listening to an Austrian radio station in English this morning to get away from the WW2-related flag-waving on the British broadcasters. A report caught my ear about the fact that you can now enter Austria without the 14 day quarantine requirement by paying €190 for a quick coronavirus test at Vienna airport.

As this drags on and people realise we can't keep lockdown in place non-stop for years, we're likely to see more and more of this stuff - queues or quarantines if you're poor, fast-track and a relatively normal existence if you're rich enough to pay for repeated tests or queue-jumping facilities. I wish this stuff could be nipped in the bud now ("want to attend your university in person? pay for this test or stay online!") but I'm sure it will just grow and grow.
posted by winterhill at 3:31 AM on May 8 [9 favorites]


There is one, and only one strain of SARS-CoV-2:
When SARS-CoV-2 is isolated from a COVID-19 patient, that virus is called an isolate. The origin of the term is clear: the virus has been isolated from a patient.

These virus isolates are all the same strain of SARS-CoV-2. They are not different strains, even if they have changes in their genome sequences. A virus strain is an isolate with a different biological property, such as binding to a different receptor, or having a distinctly different stability at higher temperatures, to give just two of many possible examples.

There is only one strain of SARS-CoV-2. The first virus isolate, taken from a Wuhan patient in December 2019, is the same strain as the most recent isolate taken anywhere else in the world in May 2020. So far no one has shown that any of these virus isolates differ in any fundamental property.

I can hear some of you shouting, but isn’t a nucleotide change enough to make a strain? The answer is a resounding NO. Every virus expelled by an infected individual differs from the next by many base changes. It would be foolish and of little utility to call each patient isolate a strain. That term is reserved only for special changes that confer a new property to the virus.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:34 AM on May 8 [15 favorites]


Contact-tracing apps are not a solution to the COVID-19 crisis, Brookings Tech Stream; Ashkan Soltani, Ryan Calo, Carl Bergstrom; 4/27/2020:
...We are concerned by this rising enthusiasm for automated technology as a centerpiece of infection control. Between us, we hold extensive expertise in technology, law and policy, and epidemiology. We have serious doubts that voluntary, anonymous contact tracing through smartphone apps—as Apple, Google, and faculty at a number of academic institutions all propose—can free Americans of the terrible choice between staying home or risking exposure. We worry that contact-tracing apps will serve as vehicles for abuse and disinformation, while providing a false sense of security to justify reopening local and national economies well before it is safe to do so. Our recommendations are aimed at reducing the harm of a technological intervention that seems increasingly inevitable.

We have no doubts that the developers of contact-tracing apps and related technologies are well-intentioned. But we urge the developers of these systems to step up and acknowledge the limitations of those technologies before they are widely adopted. Health agencies and policymakers should not over-rely on these apps and, regardless, should make clear rules to head off the threat to privacy, equity, and liberty by imposing appropriate safeguards....

[More discussion in the article.]
There is also a very real danger that these voluntary surveillance technologies will effectively become compulsory for any public and social engagement. Employers, retailers, or even policymakers can require that consumers display the results of their app before they are permitted to enter a grocery store, return back to work, or use public services—is as slowly becoming the norm in China, Hong Kong, and even being explored for visitors to Hawaii.
posted by cenoxo at 5:55 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]


WHO conditionally backs Covid-19 vaccine trials that infect people (Guardian)
In new guidance issued this week, the WHO said that well-designed challenge studies could accelerate Covid-19 vaccine development and also make it more likely that the vaccines ultimately deployed will be effective.
posted by katra at 2:14 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


Next week and the week after, Denmark will enter the next phase of reopening, including all retail and restaurants and the older school children. Universities are still closed, and libraries are only for picking up and handing in books, no other activities. (So I am still WFH, and happy with that). The decision is based on modelling to make sure the hospitals can still manage the pressure. The borders are still closed, gatherings of more than ten people are still forbidden (and the police enforce it even at people's homes). Mind you, the situation in most of Europe is now completely different from that in the US and Latin America. It feels very literally like after a terrible storm, lots of things are broken and everyone is exhausted, but now lets start to patch things together again. There can soon be another storm, a next wave of the disease, but I think most people here trust the government to handle that well.
posted by mumimor at 11:47 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]


I found the official Danish workplace precautions in English. They will be updated next week.
posted by mumimor at 12:04 AM on May 9


I have a genuine, non-snarky question. Why is the "social distance" 2 metres in the UK, 1.5 metres in the Netherlands and 1 metre in Austria? Have the latter two countries revised their distance downwards as the crisis has subsided, or was it always such?
posted by winterhill at 4:22 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]


I found the official Danish workplace precautions in English. They will be updated next week.
It always impresses me how much information the governments of our neighbouring countries give in English. I've seen English-language coronavirus information from the German, Dutch and Danish government websites. Try finding anything other than English and a very limited number of Welsh pages on gov.uk.
posted by winterhill at 6:28 AM on May 9


Satellite Images Show Armadas Of Vacant Cruise Ships Huddling Together Out At Sea — With the cruise industry on life support, fleets have put to sea for an indefinite stay with many of their crewmen trapped on board., The War Zone, Tyler Rogoway, 5/7/2020:
Of all the industries that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the cruise industry has probably been hit the hardest. Not only are their operations shut down, but they became the face of a global nightmare early on, with hulking pleasure ships being turned into floating prisons rife with infection. Now, according to satellite imagery and transponder tracking data, with no revenue and nowhere to go, cruise ships are seeking refuge in clusters out in the Caribbean and Atlantic, attempting to ride out a storm that they were never designed to handle.

Storing cruise ships in port is not a cheap proposition, nor is there enough space to accommodate them in traditional berths. Beyond that, the international crews that man these huge vessels are not allowed to step on land due to infection risk. With the vast majority of these ships flagged in relatively small and poor countries that have little capability to impact the situation, the only place for them to go is out to sea....
Although there are no passengers aboard these ships, some of which cost well over a billion dollars to build, there are plenty of people still on board. Much of their crews are literally trapped on these vessels.

More at Cruise passengers have gone home, but the crews that looked after them are still stuck at sea, CNN, Francesca Street, 5/6/2020.
posted by cenoxo at 7:49 AM on May 9 [10 favorites]


There's a cruise ship in our local harbour. The crew aren't allowed on land, but they are provided with food and internet, and their waste is taken away. I'm reckoning it's a good deal for a small provincial town, and probably for the cruise ship company too.

In other local(-ish) news: The Faroe Islands are now free of the corona-virus, luckily with no fatalities. They have been running a really determined tracking policy, and isolated everyone at risk. I remember seeing a woman who was isolated in a hotel with her son on TV, she wasn't ill, but had spent time with someone who was.

The Danish authorities plan to carry out random testing for Covid-19 to get a clearer picture of the rate of infection. I haven't checked my official mail yet, but I usually get a text alert, so I don't think I'm going to be tested.

I didn't realize when I posted above about the idiot astroturf German protesters how comprehensive Germany's opening is (NYTimes link). So not only are they replicating idiotic protests from another continent, they are doing it in a context where it makes even less sense. Germany also has an aggressive tracking policy, still in place. I just heard in my Danish radio that being a "corona detective" has become quite a prestigious job in Germany.
posted by mumimor at 9:30 AM on May 9 [4 favorites]


CDC scientists overruled in White House push to restart airport fever screenings for COVID-19, USA Today, Brett Murphy & Letitia Stein, 5/9/2020:
The White House is pushing a return to its failed experiment in relying on temperature screening of air travelers to detect coronavirus despite vehement objections from the nation's top public health agency, internal documents obtained by USA TODAY show.
...
Recent emails show CDC scientists, who have begun owning up to initial missteps in the federal response, trying to persuade the administration to reconsider. The White House directive to check travelers in 20 U.S. airports for fever comes after earlier efforts by the CDC to screen travelers returning from China failed to stop the global pandemic from reaching the United States.

“Thermal scanning as proposed is a poorly designed control and detection strategy as we have learned very clearly,”  Dr. Martin  Cetron, the CDC’s director of global mitigation and quarantine, wrote in an email to Department of Homeland Security officials on Thursday. “We should be concentrating our CDC resources where there is impact and a probability of mission success.”  Cetron questioned his agency’s legal authority to execute the airport plan, ending the email: “Please kindly strike out CDC from this role.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pressed ahead anyway, directing the DHS to announce the airport screenings, which would be visible and instill confidence in travelers, according to meeting notes. Passengers with fever, Meadows said, would be referred to the CDC for clearance. The full plan has not yet been finalized.

Meanwhile, Frontier Airlines becomes first U.S. airline to announce passenger temperature checks, USA Today, Dawn Gilbertson, 5/7/2020. See also: The new normal? US airlines announce requirements for passengers to wear face masks, USA Today, Curtis Tate, 4/30/2020.

There's nothing like a unified, concerted effort among government and corporate leadership to instill confidence in already wary airline passengers.
posted by cenoxo at 9:55 AM on May 9 [6 favorites]


Reopenings bring new cases in S. Korea, virus fears in Italy (AP)
South Korea’s capital closed down more than 2,100 bars and other nightspots Saturday because of a new cluster of coronavirus infections, Germany scrambled to contain fresh outbreaks at slaughterhouses, and Italian authorities worried that people were getting too friendly at cocktail hour during the country’s first weekend of eased restrictions.

The new flareups — and fears of a second wave of contagion — underscored the dilemma authorities face as they try to reopen their economies. [...] Seoul shut down nightclubs, hostess bars and discos after dozens of infections were linked to people who went out last weekend as the country relaxed its social-distancing guidelines. Many of the infections were connected to a 29-year-old man who visited three nightclubs before testing positive. [...] Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala [...] threatened to shut down the trendy Navigli district after crowds of young people were seen out at aperitivo hour ignoring social-distancing rules.
posted by katra at 2:23 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Tausende bei Anti-Corona-Demos (Frankfurter Allgemeine, 09.05.2020-22:31)
Tens of thousands of people have protested again in several German cities against the corona restrictions. They also violate distance rules - the Cologne police chief is indignant.
...
More than a thousand people gathered at Berlin's Alexanderplatz - no meeting was registered there. Numerous people chanted slogans such as "We are the people" or "Freedom, freedom", as an AFP reporter observed. According to a press spokeswoman, there were also bottle throws at police officers. Images from the Reuters news agency also show that police apparently used pepper spray against the demonstrators. The officials repeatedly asked people to leave the square.
...
The demonstrators were concerned with the protection of fundamental rights. According to eyewitnesses, the demonstrators in connection with the corona pandemic have accused politicians and medical practitioners of panicking and curtailing the fundamental rights of the population. Opponents of vaccination were also among the demonstrators.(translation by Google)
posted by dmh at 3:21 PM on May 9 [3 favorites]


Between the useful idiots whinging about their freedumbs while refusing to accept the responsibility that comes along with said freedom and the selfish morons who can't control themselves, it appears that anything short of relatively strict stay at home orders simply aren't enough to keep the virus contained (enough).

It's almost physically painful to me at what a lack of awareness these people are showing. It is their entitled behavior that makes it impossible to do things less invasively. I swear that the world is full of children in adult bodies these days.
posted by wierdo at 3:30 PM on May 9 [12 favorites]


The new flareups — and fears of a second wave of contagion — underscored the dilemma authorities face as they try to reopen their economies. [...] Seoul shut down nightclubs, hostess bars and discos after dozens of infections were linked to people who went out last weekend as the country relaxed its social-distancing guidelines. Many of the infections were connected to a 29-year-old man who visited three nightclubs before testing positive.
So, one thing that's sad to note in the case of the Seoul nightclub shutdown is how it's being reported in the foreign press vs. the domestic press, and how the contact-and-trace + self-quarantine can also cause dramatic unintended consequences.

Most foreign media, so far as I can tell, are only getting as specific as listing the clubs (King Club, Trunk Club, and Club Queen) and the location (Itaewon), generally since it's being sourced from the AP/Yonhap (English). However, if you're familiar with what Itaewon1 is, and the club names2, you may see where the problem arises.

South Korea's media tends to skew conservative, and about a third of the population is conservative Christian--meaning that having a major infection event in some gay clubs is a fucking field day for the bigots. What's worse, because the media has more or less made this the big scandal, people (in this case, mostly men) who are self-quarantining now are more or less outing themselves; contact-tracing means that people one or two degrees separated will be also be informed if one of the Queer Koreans there that night does show signs of infection.

This in a country that does not, as of yet, have anti-discrimination laws, in a country that is, at best, maybe where America was in the 80s/90s when it comes to LGBTQ acceptance--the president, MOON Jae-in, when a candidate, was very... Clintonesque when asked about his opinion on LGBTQ Koreans.

In short, this is pretty much the worst nightmare for so many Queereans right now.

---

1Itaewon is "Americatown"/"International Town", or the region right next to Yongsan Garrison, and other than having a whole plethora of international and American restaurants, is known for both "Hooker Hill" and "Homo Hill", which are... decidedly un-pc names that are still fairly descriptive.

2King Club, Trunk Club, and Club Queen are all gay clubs.
posted by anem0ne at 4:16 PM on May 9 [32 favorites]


Sorry, my fellow singers. At least it's better to know this ahead of time, than discover after the fact that we were vectors in a mass spreading event:

The Middleclass Artist: "Dr. Lucinda Halstead, the president of the Performing Arts Medical Association and the Medical Director of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of South Carolina, concluded that there is no safe way for singers to rehearse together until there is a COVID-19 vaccine and a 95% effective treatment in place."

Here's the original video: "A Conversation: What Do Science and Data Say About the Near Term Future of Singing #officialnats"
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:42 PM on May 9 [11 favorites]


Why is the "social distance" 2 metres in the UK, 1.5 metres in the Netherlands and 1 metre in Austria? Have the latter two countries revised their distance downwards as the crisis has subsided, or was it always such?

Speaking for the Netherlands, it has always been 1.5m - since the very start of this.

I'm a bit dismayed by all the people acting like idiots. Somehow summer holiday and drinking with your mates became a fundamental right that cannot be temporarily suspended even for a global pandemic.
posted by vacapinta at 2:06 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


I'm a bit dismayed by all the people acting like idiots. Somehow summer holiday and drinking with your mates became a fundamental right that cannot be temporarily suspended even for a global pandemic.
The lockdown where I live, already decidedly shaky, completely broke down yesterday. It was an unusually warm day for May in northern England, about 23 degrees. I go for a 2-3 mile walk around the town every day if I'm free as my daily exercise, and yesterday I saw people drinking in groups, people playing what appeared to be a five-a-side football match, big groups of friends walking together. I cut my own walk short because it was impossible to maintain a 2m distance. The temperature has (very!) suddenly dropped to 8 degrees today and it's much quieter out there but there are still a lot of cars passing by - if we could just have some typical British weather for the remainder of the lockdown period, that'd be great.

The locals are not entirely to blame for this state of affairs. Someone in government leaked the news that there might be some very limited changes to the lockdown regime from this Monday and various tabloid newspapers splashed with headlines like "Yippee, Lockdown Freedom From Monday". This is after a slow drip of stories about various individual businesses - Gregg's, McDonald's, Vue Cinemas, even Wetherspoon pubs - planning reopening dates in the near future. The government's official messaging (still "stay at home") is having to compete with the government's sly leaks to the press - it is a typical Westminster shambles.

Boris Johnson is to make a statement tonight on "the roadmap" away from the current lockdown situation. He's making it on prime time television like a president or monarch addressing his people - BBC1 and BBC radio have blocked out a special slot for him - rather than in the traditional British way of a PM addressing the people by addressing their representatives in Parliament. This seems to have become much more of a thing in recent years. The changes trailed in last week's tabloid press as a wholesale lifting of the restrictions are far more likely to be very limited changes to what you can do outdoors - you might be able to go fishing alone, for instance.

Oh, and garden centres. For some reason, there's been a disproportionate amount of talk about garden centres reopening. Questions asked multiple times at PMQs. Entire pieces on the BBC news. They are now apparently among the first things to be reopened, from next week. I can only assume (probably quite reasonably) that a significant number of Tory MPs own garden centre businesses.
posted by winterhill at 2:29 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


Not to mention their constituents are much more likely to have gardens, winterhill. And I get that, I could really use a garden centre run, but my need for mulch does not outweigh public safety.

Too many people are acting like idiots—my neighbours are back to garden parties again, and all the local beaches and beauty spots were heaving on Saturday —but I am also inclined to blame the mixed messaging that has been going on in the last week or so. The government has just cocked this up so badly it almost defies belief.
posted by skybluepink at 2:56 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Same story here in Houston where I saw a lot less mask usage this weekend when running an errand. Haven't been out since last weekend so I don't know how gradual the change was, but it was pretty dramatic compared to last weekend. Lots of kids out playing basketball or soccer also. People chatting in groups on the streets. Etc. Sadly it'll take an uptick in infections to get people to even slow down, and thanks to the insane double messaging from the White House people will probably just solidify the blustery attitude about it as death counts don't drop for months.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:01 AM on May 10


I felt weird about going to Ikea for new bed slats yesterday... but went anyway, and while procedures made things clumsy and slow, it did not feel unsafe. People kept their distance reasonably well and the store definitely encouraged that in multiple ways. There were materials provided to sanitize hands and carts. Routing inside the store had been altered to allow full control of how many people were inside at the same time, and one person only was allowed in the little demo rooms. Most people seemed to be doing their best to keep things safe and it was not crowded. I still wore my mask, even though hardly anyone else did (they're not compulsory or even advised here).

Then when we got home I read about the crowds in some city centers, and all the people taking the train to go to the beach because the parking places are closed off to avoid getting crowds on the beaches... and it sounded like if I was going to leave the house anyway, Ikea was the better choice.

On a Saturday, no less. I never thought I'd ever say that, but here we are. This virus has a way of turning things on their heads.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:24 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Kara and Nate: Travel videographers who have been pretty much everywhere in the past few years - documented their recent return journey from Singapore to Nashville - conducted during the lock down. It's an interesting account of what it is like to make that kind of trip at the moment.
posted by rongorongo at 3:44 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I guess shortly Guardian Lifestyle and NYT Style will be reporting on "lockdown nostalgia".
posted by dmh at 5:54 AM on May 10



I guess shortly Guardian Lifestyle and NYT Style will be reporting on "lockdown nostalgia".


As Germans prepare for foreign holidays, I console myself with travel books
Tim Adams, The Guardian
posted by mumimor at 6:02 AM on May 10


The locals are not entirely to blame for this state of affairs. Someone in government leaked the news that there might be some very limited changes to the lockdown regime from this Monday and various tabloid newspapers splashed with headlines like "Yippee, Lockdown Freedom From Monday". This is after a slow drip of stories about various individual businesses - Gregg's, McDonald's, Vue Cinemas, even Wetherspoon pubs - planning reopening dates in the near future. The government's official messaging (still "stay at home") is having to compete with the government's sly leaks to the press - it is a typical Westminster shambles.

Apparently anti-lockdown ministers have been leaking to the press in an attempt to bounce the pro-lockdown faction of Johnson and Hancock into releasing restrictions earlier. It hasn't worked but it has had the effect of confusing the messaging completely.
posted by atrazine at 6:30 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


For some reason, there's been a disproportionate amount of talk about garden centres reopening.

I was fortunate to have stocked up for Spring before all this hit. I can only imagine the effect on my mental health if I had to stand helplessly by while my garden died. In the current circumstances, pottering around in the garden is the only daylight I get. I won't begrudge anyone this desire to preserve life.
posted by SPrintF at 6:49 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Garden centers and hardware/home fix stores never closed here in redstate Murica (Oklahoma). They’re considered essential because: Victory gardens, what-ifs (pipe bursts, other home fix emergencies?). Ive masked/gloved up a few times over Last 6 weeks-some observations:

Employees wear no PPE. 75% of customers don’t either. Only C19 concessions: 6 ft separation markers on the floor near checkout and plexiglass between the customer service desk and customer. They briefly limited occupancy during April, but now it’s basically back to normal for MAGAsshats. Strolling and shopping like normal, parking lots look like Black Friday. Families with kids crawling on floor for crying out loud.

It should be called flock immunity. Herd immunity infers Cows which are smarter than these ignorant sheep/ostriches.
posted by HyperBlue at 7:30 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Yes, our garden has been a huge help in maintaining my sanity, and I am very fortunate to have it. We’re getting by so far on the contents of our compost heaps and what things I can have delivered, but I really deeply understand why people may be flipping out as they perceive their gardens going to ruin, and I also sympathise with our local garden centres freaking out over the possibility of having to compost acres of good plants. It’s just another way in which we’re pretty fucked, and again, my garden isn’t more important than containing the virus, but I do wish we could do contactless pickups as we do with groceries. The thought of actually going into the garden centre to browse is enough to send me into a panic attack.
posted by skybluepink at 7:53 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]




I got a push message saying that Chinese researchers have created a vaccine that works on laboratory test animals. Unfortunately, it's from a publication I no longer subscribe to. Has anyone else seen this news?
posted by mumimor at 9:32 AM on May 10


I heard the same thing (unsubstantiated) about researchers based in Oxford and a quick google got me to this:

Front-Runners Emerge in the Race for a Covid-19 Vaccine

which isn't exactly saying they've got something that works yet. All of which reminds me of this MeFi comment from a while back:

It is important to remember that in a novel scientific crisis or discovery, the worst experiments are done the fastest by the least careful experimenters and are usually the least trustable [...] Look to the labs which have done coronavirus research for a decade and trust those results more than an MD who decides to do a shitty non randomized study with retrospective data. Papers which normally would be sent back and redone several times are now making headlines in the NYT if they mention covid19.
posted by philip-random at 9:42 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Vacapinta, I disagree with one thought in that Twitter thread: we've bought ourselves time by flattening the curve but we've not really used that time (paraphrasing here).
That's not true. Teams all over the world have been using that time to work on possible vaccines. We've also kept hospitals in many places from overflowing by not all getting sick at the same time.

Aren't those two things exactly what we needed to buy time for?

I do agree that it's really not time to let down our guards.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:50 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


Agreed Too-Ticky. I think that commenter is even more pessimistic about this than me!

I'm trying to remember too that the people who are shrugging this off are almost by definition the most visible ones, since you see them outside being careless. The large mass of people staying home and being careful are for the most part invisible, although I have seen some of them for example at the grocery store, wearing masks, and looking terrified as they dance around avoiding others.
posted by vacapinta at 10:07 AM on May 10 [6 favorites]


We could have used that time to ramp up testing and reinforce our public health infrastructure. That would have required competent management from the federal government. We did not have to have the highest death toll in the world. Now we're in a situation where people are looking around and because they can't expect the national government to do anything they're concluding that our only choice is to "reopen" the economy and let people die. Some other countries responded to the Corona virus appropriately and fewer of their citizens died.
posted by rdr at 10:18 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


It is important to remember that in a novel scientific crisis or discovery, the worst experiments are done the fastest by the least careful experimenters and are usually the least trustable

I agree completely. I even made a comment about it in this or a previous thread, where I wrote how I worry that too much money is being invested in corona-virus research right now, more than the field can absorb. And then yesterday I read that here in Denmark, this has already come true. The lack of qualified researchers wasn't mentioned (it probably won't be, that's an industry secret), but it turns out there are not enough Covid-19 patients here, where the pandemic is well-managed.
posted by mumimor at 10:20 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


rdr: We could have used that time to ramp up testing and reinforce our public health infrastructure.

We did. Wait, you're probably in the US, right? In this thread, it's probably useful to say that explicitly if you're going to say 'we'. I know that MeFi is not really an international site, but this is an international thread. It makes things easier if the readers know which 'we' you're talking about.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:28 AM on May 10 [16 favorites]


I think rdr clarifies that sentence pretty swiftly with the 'highest death toll in the world' detail?

A US entry, with possible global impact: In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America. The manufacturer was Prestige Ameritech; after the CEO, Mike Bowen, recognized that the flood of mask orders were coming from outside the US, he contacted several people in the federal government (incl. recently ousted whistleblower Rick Bright), hospital execs, and eventually reporters, about four dormant Prestige production lines with the potential to manufacture an additional seven million N95 masks a month. Eventually, FEMA contracted with Prestige on April 7... to provide a million masks a month for the coming year, using the company's existing mask-making capabilities. Those four production lines remain unused.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:26 PM on May 10 [8 favorites]




I'm trying to remember too that the people who are shrugging this off are almost by definition the most visible ones, since you see them outside being careless.
The people like me living alone, sitting quietly at home abiding by the rules with slowly deteriorating mental health, are also by definition invisible. Restrictions on doing anything with people from outside your household are going to be one of the last things to be lifted for obvious reasons, but it's much tougher on the mental health of people with a household of one. The longer it lasts, the harder it's going to be for single people living alone to tolerate. I think that if this lockdown in the UK is going to last as long as I think it's going to last, we need something in place for people who live alone to be able to meet in an organised, socially distanced way - or people are going to take it into their own hands and do it in less safe ways, or worse.

By changing the messaging from the very clear Stay at Home to the rather nebulous Stay Alert, the UK government are setting themselves up for a second peak that they know is on the way. When it does come, they can say "well, it's all of your fault, not ours, we told you to stay alert and you didn't". The most recent edition of Private Eye has a short piece that goes some way towards explaining what's going on. The government have brought back the Australian political consultancy that masterminded the December election victory to run the Covid-19 messaging operation. Those with memories of six months ago will remember the barrage of fake Twitter accounts and dodgy scams that characterised the Conservative election campaign.

One of the hardest things is watching our neighbouring countries start to move on from this (in a controlled, socially distanced way) and still sitting here at home, alone, not knowing when (or if) I'll get to see my close family or friends again. Other than imposing the lockdown a couple of weeks after everyone else, I can't really see what we did differently to various countries on the mainland of Europe that are now starting to reopen. What did, say, the Czechs or the Austrians do that we didn't? As far as I can tell, it's lots of little things that together become a big thing. We didn't test as well as Korea or Germany, we didn't lock down as thoroughly as Spain or France. We're playing catch-up, but it's going to take a lot longer in lockdown (months, not weeks) to get cases of the virus down to levels where track-and-trace is viable.

People from the UK are not going to be welcome to travel to the rest of Europe for a long time to come - even if by some miracle we beat Covid-19 the image of "virus-ridden UK" will persist for years and even if travel restrictions are lifted, Brits will be made most unwelcome in German trade fairs, French cinemas and Italian restaurants. Our world is getting smaller - not in the "communications are improving" way, but in the "our geographic, cultural and commercial horizons are shrinking" way.
posted by winterhill at 2:07 PM on May 10 [11 favorites]


Brits will be made most unwelcome in German trade fairs, French cinemas and Italian restaurants.

"In Heaven, Brits are welcome in German trade fairs, French cinemas and Italian restaurants. In Hell...."

I haven't read anything about the effects of COVID-19 on trade fairs. That's going to have a massive effect on business, particularly on the way new developments are disseminated across the world. Up until now, if you were a manufacturer with a new product you could present it at a trade fair so people could examine it and engage with your salespeople directly. There's really no better way to sell (e.g.) heavy machinery: nobody is going to buy a $1M extruder on the basis of a video plus a few phone calls. I suspect this will disadvantage isolated manufacturers and further tilt international trade in favour of places like Shenzhen where you have so many display offices that it's effectively like a permanent trade fair.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:13 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Teams all over the world have been using that time to work on possible vaccines. We've also kept hospitals in many places from overflowing by not all getting sick at the same time.

The latter more than the former, I feel. Even the studies about whether antibodies confer any immunity are inconclusive, which I assume is the scaffolding upon which a vaccine must be constructed. I suppose ensuring people have antibodies might provide some kind of buffer, but if there's still no actual defense I'm not sure we'll even be able to call it a vaccine.

I'm trying to remember too that the people who are shrugging this off are almost by definition the most visible ones, since you see them outside being careless.

I was commenting to my mom this morning about how the news has all these stories about "opening up a little!" containing images of people hanging out together. This is the wedge Trump is using and is going to use more in the future. The only thing that can stand up to those images is rising infection and death tolls, so perhaps a problem that takes care of itself, but it would be nice if people didn't have to die for it, even the dumb ones.
posted by rhizome at 3:33 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


One of the hardest things is watching our neighbouring countries start to move on from this (in a controlled, socially distanced way) and still sitting here at home, alone, not knowing when (or if) I'll get to see my close family or friends again. Other than imposing the lockdown a couple of weeks after everyone else, I can't really see what we did differently to various countries on the mainland of Europe that are now starting to reopen. What did, say, the Czechs or the Austrians do that we didn't? As far as I can tell, it's lots of little things that together become a big thing. We didn't test as well as Korea or Germany, we didn't lock down as thoroughly as Spain or France. We're playing catch-up, but it's going to take a lot longer in lockdown (months, not weeks) to get cases of the virus down to levels where track-and-trace is viable.

Well, we've essentially had what you would expect. We started off with a similar level of infected to France, Italy, and Spain and locked down at a similar death rate (useful as a proxy for overall infected at the time). As a result, we've had results that are similar. Of course, we'll not know exactly what happened where until all the statistics are collected months from now. It could well be that the UK is the worst, or the second worst, or whatever but if you look at the curves, they cluster together pretty tightly. Each of those four countries has had times when they had at least localised PPE shortages, has had challenges testing enough people, and is now going to have a slow descent back to normal because they let so many people get infected.

There is a clear clustering that puts the UK, France, Italy and Spain into one response family and most other European countries into a different one. Given that the UK's curve is about two weeks behind France and three weeks behind the others, that means that if we had locked down earlier, we would probably be in the same "family" as the Germans. Everything else, the PPE, the testing, everything depends on the shape of that curve.

Other European countries generally implemented restrictions much earlier in their respective epidemics. The Czechs, the Austrians, the Germans, they all implemented restrictions early. In addition, the Germans were able to get their testing capacity up much faster and that has given them better information.

So what I would expect is that we are able to relax measures two-three weeks after Italy/Spain/France as they had their peaks earlier than we did and much later than Germany. Hopefully we will use the valuable information they are gathering - given that transmission is now going back up Germany, it is not good news - better than we did last time.

People from the UK are not going to be welcome to travel to the rest of Europe for a long time to come - even if by some miracle we beat Covid-19 the image of "virus-ridden UK" will persist for years and even if travel restrictions are lifted, Brits will be made most unwelcome in German trade fairs, French cinemas and Italian restaurants. Our world is getting smaller - not in the "communications are improving" way, but in the "our geographic, cultural and commercial horizons are shrinking" way.

This is simply not true. First of all, no-one is going anywhere any time soon. People who are planning international holidays even this year, let alone this summer are fooling themselves. Trade fairs?? Not in 2020, not anywhere, I cannot imagine any country would allow such an irresponsible thing to go ahead.

Second, it was announced last night that the French and the UK will not quarantine people coming from each other's countries. That makes sense, since our levels of circulating virus are the same and quarantine only makes sense if those levels are wildly different.

Third, British people are obsessed with the UK (fair enough, you might say), the idea that the situation here is top-of-mind for other Europeans is comical. There will be a daily story on most major newspapers about the situation here, amongst the stories covering other European countries but the focus is mostly domestic. I read the Dutch papers every day, the focus is on the Netherlands. I read the French and German papers, frequently, likewise they focus on the domestic situation. There were brief mentions of Johnson's speech in Corriere della Serra (just noted that he said, now is not the time to lift lockdown), L'Obs doesn't mention it on their online frontpage, Handelsblatt had a more substantial piece that also reports the reactions to the slogan: Kritiker bemängelten den neuen Slogan als nichtssagend which is about right.

In my time here, I have realised that British people have one of two attitudes towards their place in the world, they either think that this is the best country in the world or that it is the worst. Rare indeed is the British person who thinks that their country is just a medium sized major power in the same category as another 5 or 6 countries. Ordinary, in other words and not sui generis. The latter attitude is maybe uniquely British. Lots of countries are filled with people who think their country is the best, certainly the French are very keen on the idea, the Dutch believe they have a unique perspective, Italians quietly believe they are the inheritors of the legacy of Rome, remember after the financial crisis when it turned out that Icelandic bankers had convinced themselves that their cultural inheritance as fisherman gave them a unique perspective on risk? What is special about the British is that the people who don't believe in their own supremacy actually believe the exact opposite. It's absolutely fascinating.

So don't worry - nobody in the rest of the world cares, if we want an "oh my god I cannot watch this" to look at, we'll cast our eyes further across the Atlantic.
posted by atrazine at 1:56 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


I suspect this will disadvantage isolated manufacturers and further tilt international trade in favour of places like Shenzhen where you have so many display offices that it's effectively like a permanent trade fair.
The other effect is, of course, that people aren't going to want to come here.

London, as arguably the world's most well-connected global business hub, has always been in a good position to host conferences and trade fairs, but who's going to want to risk staging their 2021 International Beermat Expo in London when they could shift it to Frankfurt or Tokyo instead? As the current "don't travel anywhere!" warnings start to be lifted, countries like the US and UK will find themselves still subject to "don't go there" warnings from foreign ministries around the world.

Tourism is increasingly big business in the UK, like it is elsewhere, although international tourism is concentrated in a few small patches of the country - London again, Bath, York etc. Areas that primarily cater for domestic tourists will bounce back - Brits will be back on Cornish beaches as soon as the all-clear is given - but small, tourist-focused places like Bath will struggle when the coaches of Chinese and American tourists don't return. I've already seen a few "should I book a UK holiday?" questions over on the green, and right now I'd have to sadly say no, it won't be viable.

And then there's culture. If you're the management of a pop artist planning a 2021 or 2022 world tour right now, are you going to risk putting the Manchester Arena or London O2 on your list of dates and then have the potential expense of cancelling it, or are you going to steer clear and play an extra couple of dates in the Netherlands and Germany? There's a very real danger that in a lot of spheres, the UK is going to become a pariah and a place people just don't want to be - least of all, those of us living here.
posted by winterhill at 2:01 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


There are no plausible scenarios that have both:
-No vaccine or extremely effective treatment for Covid-19
-International expos or pop world tours

As long as the first does not exist, the kind of mass gathering and international travel that either of those imply is simply not going to be possible.

London, as arguably the world's most well-connected global business hub, has always been in a good position to host conferences and trade fairs, but who's going to want to risk staging their 2021 International Beermat Expo in London when they could shift it to Frankfurt or Tokyo instead?

Japan is mishandling the epidemic as well, so Singapore would be more likely. I can assure you that Singapore will not allow such an expo to occur if conditions are anything like they are currently.

There's a very real danger that in a lot of spheres, the UK is going to become a pariah and a place people just don't want to be - least of all, those of us living here.

No, only those living here are focused enough on what is going on here to care.
posted by atrazine at 2:38 AM on May 11


Here, the lockdown was imposed two days after the first domestic contagion case was reported. The people who had come home from holidays in Italy and Austria with the virus were in isolation. At the time, it felt absurd that this could pose a risk, but in spite of the fast action, now over 500 people have died. We know today that many more people may have had it and spread it before that date. The reopening depends on how well the authorities can monitor a sector. Schools can reopen because kids actually have very small social circles. Universities can't because researchers and students almost per definition have large networks. The more I realize how much work the authorities are putting into this, and how specific their modelling is, the safer I feel.

I must say, among my friends and family we talk a lot about the situations in other countries. In part because everyone I know has family and friends in other countries, and in part because we all miss traveling. I don't know if I am most worried for the US and UK because that is where my family is, or because they are mishandling the crisis so spectacularly.

As an aside, the national TV and radio in Denmark is handling this surprisingly well. Some of it is dumb luck. They have been very threatened and their funding cut down dramatically by the former government, because the nationalist Danish People's Party hates them, and the former government depended on nationalist votes. To appease the nationalists, the broadcasting system planned and made a sirupy documentary series about Danish nature which by pure coincidence is being transmitted now. It's way over the top, with dramatic music and speak that echoes nationalistic songs etc. And the government and political balance has changed completely, so the nationalism seems dated already. But in this context, it also works quite well. People are isolated in front of their TVs and the only thing they have been allowed to do for ages is go for walks in nature. The biologists who have provided the science behind the series do live chats after each episode. The cinematography is amazing.
Also, they have spontaneously started a singing thing where everyone sings together at home each Friday, inspired by the Italians and Spanish, but on live TV. I don't participate, but it means a lot for many people.
And finally the debate shows invite in the corona-sceptics, but mostly to expose their stupidity. We are seeing a big revival of national, taxpayer funded TV now, and I think it will be a long while before the nationalists and free-market fanatics can change that back. At the same time, the tabloids and the commercial TV stations are struggling, both because ad revenue is sinking fast and because people don't want fake news when they can die from them. And given how important media is for populism to work, this is a good thing.
posted by mumimor at 2:57 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


There are no plausible scenarios that have both:
-No vaccine or extremely effective treatment for Covid-19
-International expos or pop world tours
There is a very high chance that there won't be a vaccine for Covid-19. The only people who seem to think it'll definitely happen are politicians who speak as if "a vaccine becoming available" is a fixed event that's been pencilled in for early 2021 and once the boffins have sorted it, we can get back to whatever we were doing previously. The same goes for a highly effective treatment. It could easily be 5-6 years away, and it could just as easily never come at all.

What we need to do is let the scientists carry on doing what they're doing, but we also need to look at ways to live with the virus. The current situation of lockdowns and a world frozen in place is an emergency stop gap - it's not something we're going to be able to keep up for years, it's not a sustainable situation. Aside from economic, educational, cultural concerns, there are profound social considerations. With no social activities permitted, people aren't meeting new people, new friend groups and romantic couples aren't forming, new families aren't being made, our social groups are frozen in time based on who we were kicking about with in February 2020.

I know that for me, those social groups are beginning to drift apart - it's no-one's fault, but we just haven't got that much to talk about and the things we might have done together in the real world to stay bonded are not happening for obvious reasons. We might have drifted apart and drifted in with new people, but again that's not a realistic thing any more. That's... okay for now, but in a year's time? Two years? We're a social species. Zoom pub quizzes and webcam sex are not going to sustain our society.

Rather than constantly looking over the horizon to "jam tomorrow" and the promise of a vaccine or treatment that's going to magic everything better, we need to be looking at realistic ways to square the circle of "this virus is going to be a severe danger for the foreseeable future" and "we need to live as a society". I'm not the girl with the answers, but it worries me that the hard conversations aren't being had.
posted by winterhill at 5:01 AM on May 11 [14 favorites]


winterhill: There is a very high chance that there won't be a vaccine for Covid-19.
That's quite a statement. Do you have a source?
After all, we have a vaccine for influenza... and currently 70+ candidate vaccines for Covid-19, which seems like it's such a large number that the chance that one or more of them may be usable isn't too far fetched.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:55 AM on May 11


While I think it is possible that we will find a vaccine for Covid-19, I really doubt it will be before the end of 2021. First, totally new vaccines can take a very very long time. We still don't have a vaccine for AIDS. Second, people have been studying the corona family of viruses for decades and still have not come up with a vaccine. I'd say there's a better chance now that everyone that can is working on a vaccine, but I'm not optimistic its going to be ready even within the next two years.


Here in Germany, things are just today almost fully open, with face masks required in stores and public transport. I was out and about this weekend and saw exactly one person not covering their face somehow, so compliance I think has been good here overall. There are some people in groups not taking things seriously, but they are definitely the exception and the cops are enforcing the lockdown. I'm wondering how long this opening is going to happen since there have been an increase in cases and we are at R>1 again, this was two weeks after they allowed smaller (<800m2) stores to open back up. :(
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:25 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


There are various arguments why there won’t be a Coronavirus vaccine, but hope, as it should, springs eternal (not to mention the potential profit motive). If children start being infected and dying at higher rates, we’ll probably see a large, coordinated international effort to find a solution.
posted by cenoxo at 6:33 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Here in Germany, things are just today almost fully open, with face masks required in stores and public transport. I was out and about this weekend and saw exactly one person not covering their face somehow
I went to the supermarket in England earlier and one thing struck me. I didn't see a single white person (other than me and staff) wearing a face covering, and almost every person of colour I saw was wearing one.
posted by winterhill at 6:36 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]


There's an open thread on the potential for a Coronavirus vaccine.

The UK has published its 60 page plan to rebuild. Still looks a bit vague to me. For instance it says:
Face-coverings
As more people return to work, there will be more movement outside people's immediate household. This increased mobility means the Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. Face-coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically.

A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it. Face-coverings should not be used by children under the age of two, or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions. It is important to use face-coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.
"Some" shops? Be nice to know which shops.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:45 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


A good overview of the risks involved in catching coronavirus and how to avoid them

tl;dr: Avoid poorly-ventilated indoor spaces and, if inevitable, limit the amount of time you are in there.
posted by vacapinta at 7:05 AM on May 11 [24 favorites]


Here in Maryland, everywhere I've gone (which, granted, has been the grocery store and the post office and that's it) I've seen very few people unmasked indoors. Like, I can think of one in the last few weeks. Outdoors a lot of people have their masks pulled down, but the only people with no masks at all are usually biking or jogging, and presumably will not be going anywhere indoors.
posted by nonasuch at 7:32 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


StatNews reporters have 14 questions for Anthony Fauci, Robert Redfield and other U.S. health officials as they prepare to testify to the Senate tomorrow (after being blocked from testifying to the House). Here's one:

If the relaxation of social distancing measures and the reopening of businesses leads to an upsurge in transmission, what is the plan for dealing with it? How likely is it that areas would have to go back into some form of shutdown?

Going into lockdown a second (or third) time is going to be a lot harder than it was the first time. People for whom this pandemic has been financially ruinous are not going to easily agree to sacrifice again if it looks like another shutdown is needed as the country waits for vaccines to become available.

The public isn’t being prepared for this possibility. There appears to be no national plan, no agreement about what would trigger a return to social distancing, school closures (if they have reopened), a new ban on in-restaurant dining. What is the plan? Is there a plan?

posted by mediareport at 7:39 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]


That link vacapinta just posted is great - clear, informative and helpful in assessing risk.
posted by mediareport at 8:11 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


I went to the supermarket in England earlier and one thing struck me. I didn't see a single white person (other than me and staff) wearing a face covering, and almost every person of colour I saw was wearing one.

Here in the northern Virginia / DC suburbs mask-wearing has gotten much better, but I'd say I see at least 3-4 people not wearing one every time I go to the grocery store or get takeout. Every single one of them has been a white male (including many who look to be 60+).
posted by photo guy at 9:29 AM on May 11


First, totally new vaccines can take a very very long time. We still don't have a vaccine for AIDS.

I often see AIDS put forwards as a pessimistic take on vaccine development potential, but there's one obvious difference: recovery from AIDS, in the sense of the body developing an immune response that eventually purges it of the virus, is so rare as to be basically nonexistent. I get the impression there are a very small number of poorly-substantiated cases of that happening, and that's it. In contrast we have plenty of recovered COVID-19 patients to make use of in investigating their immune responses and artificially replicating them.

Also, we're not working from ground zero completely here. Coronaviruses as a group are pretty well studied. AIDS is a pretty remarkable virus with some extraordinary features. It's a retrovirus, for one, which is already something mechanically off the beaten path, and it's structurally not terribly close to other, more widely studied viruses.

I'm not saying a vaccine will be easy, but AIDS is a pretty unfair comparison inasmuch as it's a virus which for a number of reasons is very hard to even get started on developing a vaccine for. There are immediate, promising, and straightforward approaches for COVID-19. For the most part we're pretty good at (eventually) developing vaccines to diseases which have a high recovered population (so, not AIDS), low mutation rate (so, not rhinovirus), and a compelling interest in eradicating (so, not JCV, which is both uncommon and often asymptomatic).
posted by jackbishop at 10:48 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]


Joe in Australia > I haven't read anything about the effects of COVID-19 on trade fairs. That's going to have a massive effect on business, particularly on the way new developments are disseminated across the world.

World’s largest exhibition company launches £1 billion share placing as coronavirus crisis rocks events industry, MarketWatch, Callum Keown, 4/16/2020:
The world’s largest exhibition company, Informa [WP], has launched a £1 billion share placement and suspended its dividend to help shore up its balance sheet as the coronavirus pandemic brings the events industry to a standstill.

Hundreds of trade shows, festivals and conferences around the world have been postponed or canceled in recent months, bringing the global events circuit to its knees ... The company produces more than 450 international events and trade shows a year across 4 countries, ranging from the Monaco Yacht Show to the China Beauty Expo.

Informa INF, -5.15% said the impact of coronavirus on its events-related business, which accounts for around 65% of revenue, had “intensified significantly” since the early disruption in China and that no events were scheduled at all in April. The London-headquartered company expects reduced activity to continue through the second quarter and “much of the third quarter” before a gradual and phased recovery.
Previously: World’s largest exhibition company postpones £425 million in events due to coronavirus, MarketWatch, Lina Saigol & Callum Keown, 3/10/2020.
posted by cenoxo at 10:50 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


As countries restart, WHO warns about lack of virus tracing (AP)
Authorities have warned that the scourge could come back with a vengeance without widespread testing and tracing of infected people’s contacts. [...] The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, said that robust contact tracing measures adopted by Germany and South Korea provide hope that those countries can detect and stop virus clusters before they get out of control.

But he said the same is not true of other countries exiting their lockdowns, declining to name specific countries. “Shutting your eyes and trying to drive through this blind is about as silly an equation as I’ve seen,” Ryan said. “And I’m really concerned that certain countries are setting themselves up for some seriously blind driving over the next few months.”
Guardian: 'Extreme vigilance' needed as lockdowns end - WHO
“Now we are seeing some hope as many countries exit these lockdowns,” Dr Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, told an online news briefing. “If the disease persists at a low level without the possibility to investigate clusters, there’s always the possibility that the virus takes off again,” he said. [...] The WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told the same briefing that lifting restrictions was “complex and difficult” and that the “slow, steady lifting of lockdowns” was key. Tedros said Germany, South Korea and China all had systems in place to respond to any resurgence in cases.
posted by katra at 10:53 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone has a detailed, accessible look at the failed U.S. response, naming names and dates at each step in the colossal failure: The Four Men Responsible For America’s COVID-19 Test Disaster

Here's a bit I hadn't read before, about the failure of the initial CDC test, and the subsequent ongoing failure to correct it:

The CDC test was complex, including two steps that tested for genetic markers of the novel coronavirus, and a third meant to rule out other known coronaviruses. But when state labs began testing, the unthinkable happened: The third prong failed, providing inconclusive results...

The crisis dragged on for weeks. Publicly, the CDC put on a brave face...Outside the administration, top health officials were exasperated...Yet this sense of alarm was not reflected at the top. In Senate testimony on February 25th, Azar insisted the administration was delivering. “I’m told the diagnostic doesn’t work,” Sen. Murray said, challenging Azar. The HHS secretary shot back. “That’s simply, flatly incorrect,” he said...

In a maddening update on February 26th, the CDC informed public labs that they could go ahead and run their original test kits — and simply disregard the problematic third prong. The original diagnostic tests, in other words, had been reliable all along. Frieden, the former CDC director, remains incredulous at how this unfolded: “It took them three weeks to say, ‘Just don’t use the third component!’”

posted by mediareport at 11:29 AM on May 11 [10 favorites]


A good overview of the risks involved in catching coronavirus and how to avoid them

tl;dr: Avoid poorly-ventilated indoor spaces and, if inevitable, limit the amount of time you are in there.
So the vast majority of traced infections outside of nursing homes occur in enclosed spaces where people can spend an hour or more together, often talking, singing, or breathing heavily: offices, restaurants, religious services, prisons, public transit, parties, conferences, ice rinks. Also note where large numbers of infections were not found: shopping, and any outdoor environments.

The good news if this holds is that mitigation/suppression could be possible while still allowing a fair amount of outdoor activity. And on a personal level, we don't need to stress too much about people in stores or on the street passing near us briefly. The primary thing to avoid is prolonged contact, which we have more control over.

The bad news is that transmission could be very hard to control in places like offices, churches, restaurants, gyms, and schools. And stores may not be very dangerous to customers, but still need extra measures to protect employees.

(People at higher risk may understandably want to avoid even brief/outdoor contacts, and of course everyone should follow social distancing rules to make that possible. There are two sides of the coin here: Steps to eliminate just the major sources of transmission can reduce everyone’s risk the most in the long run, by steadily lowering the number of infections in the community. But they may not protect me directly in the short term. Meanwhile, cutting out even minor risks for myself will help me immediately, even if it has little public health impact in the long run. For people in higher risk groups especially, both types of action seem important.)
posted by mbrubeck at 2:51 PM on May 11 [13 favorites]


Costco Is Loosening Social Distancing Measures. Employees Say It's Still Not Safe.

Went to a Costco 3 weeks ago, very impressed with safety management. Went back to the same store 1 day ago and it was a complete shitshow.
posted by benzenedream at 3:45 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


And on a personal level, we don't need to stress too much about people in stores

Except for the people who work in those stores. See, e.g., the link about Costco above.
posted by jedicus at 3:50 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I called that out explicitly in my comment, and it was covered in the link I was commenting on.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:54 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


As States Rush to Reopen, Scientists Fear a Coronavirus Comeback (Donald G. McNeil Jr., NYT)
Sweden’s model does look appealing. Television news programs have shown smiling Swedes drinking in outdoor cafes, shopping for clothes, getting their hair restyled and enjoying other little pleasures that Americans have been denied for many weeks now. But Sweden is paying a high price, and [Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a former director of the C.D.C. in the Obama administration,] rated its success as “still to be determined.”

As of Sunday, its per capita death rate is 319 per million Swedes, which is higher than the figure in the United States, which is 242 deaths per million. Other Scandinavian countries, with varying degrees of lockdown, have far lower death figures: 91 per million in Denmark, 40 in Norway, 48 in Finland and 29 in Iceland.
Six flaws in the arguments for reopening (Leana S. Wen, WaPo Opinion, May 10, 2020)
Most [U.S.] states are reopening to some degree this week, even as public-health experts warn that it’s too soon. Proponents of early reopening use some variation of six arguments. Here is what’s wrong with each of them:

Instead of preventing covid-19, we should let people infect each other to achieve herd immunity. “Herd immunity” occurs when enough people in a community — generally 60 percent to 80 percent — develop antibodies to an illness, either through vaccination or recovery. Banking on herd immunity without a vaccine is a dangerous proposition: It’s unclear whether people acquire immunity after contracting covid-19. Even if those who recover become immune, an infection rate of 60 percent would mean nearly 200 million infected Americans. Millions could die.

Most cases of covid-19 are mild. We can keep older people at home and allow young, healthy people to go back to school and work. This is wrong for multiple reasons. [...]

It’s worth the sacrifice if some people die so that the country has a functioning economy. This is a false choice; there are ways to safely reopen, and consumer confidence depends on the reassurance of public health protections. Another flaw with this argument is that those making it are committing others to a sacrifice they did not choose. Covid-19 has disproportionately affected people of color, who are more likely to be essential workers, as well as to have chronic health conditions that make them more susceptible to severe illness.
posted by katra at 5:38 PM on May 11 [6 favorites]




"But the defrosting process seems to be going slowly—at least if you judge by the number of people brave enough to eat out." (tonycpsu's immediately-preceding link to slate)

"brave" is the wrong word here. dangerously wrong. suggest something more along the "reckless" - "foolish" - "careless" axis. boo, slate's jordan weissmann.
posted by 20 year lurk at 10:04 PM on May 11 [12 favorites]


Went to a Costco 3 weeks ago, very impressed with safety management. Went back to the same store 1 day ago and it was a complete shitshow.
I've been avoiding large stores since this kicked off, but I was running low on some things that are hard to get in the smaller local stores I've been using instead, so I had to brave a large Tesco supermarket yesterday morning. The measures in place seemed sensible and proportionate. They were limiting the number of people in the shop so it took about ten minutes to get inside. Once inside, before you are let loose, you get a lecture from a staff member on the social distancing rules - stay two metres apart! Observe the one way system marked by arrows on the floor! Queue in aisle 5! If you do not queue in aisle 5 you Will Not Get Served! Aisle 5 had all its products removed and was a set-aside area for safe queuing.

The systems in place are sensible, and the vast majority of customers are sensible, but there are still a few people casually bouncing around the shop, going the wrong way, not following the arrows, pushing past you. I do wonder how this is going to work long-term. At present, the queues are tolerable because the majority of people are either off work or working from home and can take time out on say, a Tuesday afternoon to go to the supermarket. The numbers are spread through the week. But when workplaces are back in, and peak shopping hours at weekends are a thing again, I can imagine 2-3 hour queues - it'll be interesting to see what they do.
posted by winterhill at 2:53 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]


UK's just extended our 80% salary furlough scheme to end of July as-is and modified version with part-time work support to end of October.
posted by atrazine at 5:53 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


This bit from the Costco article is appalling:

On April 20, corporate leaders visited a warehouse in South San Francisco and removed the orange cones and “ripped down” the yellow caution tape used to organize people waiting to enter the store, according to three employees, one of whom also provided BuzzFeed News with photos.

“They said the caution tape looked ugly,” the worker told BuzzFeed News...Several employees walked out, already dismayed by the ballooning number of shoppers allowed inside.


I really expected better from Costco, but apparently keeping staff and customers safe takes a back seat to sales growth:

At the end of February and in the thick of the coronavirus panic, Costco saw a dramatic spike in sales and traffic. But after the company enacted coronavirus safety measures, those strong numbers tapered off. “These developments slowed sales as compared to the first half of March,” David Sherwood, the company’s assistant vice president of finance, told investors in early April.

"As compared to the first half of March." I bet the decreased sales were still far above sales last year during that period, but that apparently wasn't a good enough pandemic bump.
posted by mediareport at 6:21 AM on May 12 [13 favorites]


UK's just extended our 80% salary furlough scheme to end of July as-is and modified version with part-time work support to end of October.
It was always going to have to continue. A number of people I know say that their bosses had started telling them that if the scheme expired at the end of June then they'd have to go on unpaid leave or be made redundant, because business conditions are not suitable for them to resume work yet. There was a huge wave of redundancies coming down the pipe if the scheme had not been extended.

Going forward, it might be that a sector-by-sector scheme is needed. Someone who works in, say, the live music industry is probably not going to be back at work in July or October. If a government is requiring - for very good reason - a business to temporarily cease operation then that government should support that business and its staff financially in return for their compliance for as long as that business is required to be closed. Not doing so would mean risking businesses quietly opening up again to bring in cash - pubs doing lock-ins and hairdressers seeing customers with the blinds shut, for instance.

The cost of the furlough scheme is high. The cost - financial, social and in health terms - of not having a furlough scheme in the long term would be far higher.
posted by winterhill at 7:35 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]


As if things couldn't get any more shambolic in the UK, yesterday Boris Johnson stood up in Parliament and said:
if for example the Covid is detected in the water supply of a certain town or whatever then steps can be taken, or in a school or whatever then, steps can be taken on the spot to deal with that flare up
He was referring to the practice, established in some other countries, of testing the waste water, aka sewage, for signs of coronavirus. Looking at the sewage of a town gives some indication as to whether coronavirus is present in that locality.

This was quickly corrected, but the internet has seized upon it and there is a small but vocal band on social media now convinced that the water supply is contaminated with Covid-19 and there's a big cover-up and Boris accidentally told the truth. These are presumably the same people who were previously setting random radio masts on fire because of the bullshit idea that 5G radio waves spread Covid-19.

Water supplies in the UK are highly regulated, regularly tested and the water treatment process kills all bacteria, germs and viruses, including coronavirus. The UK water supply is among the highest quality in the world. There is no Covid-19 in tap water. People in positions of high office need to watch their mouths and not bumble through sentences - this kind of misinformation from the top, even quickly corrected, is highly dangerous.
posted by winterhill at 7:46 AM on May 12 [9 favorites]


The way I think about is best expressed by Byrne Hobart:

"All these decisions are costly, at least in dollar terms, which naturally brings up the question: how are we going to pay for this? But that’s the wrong question, or rather the wrong pronoun referent: the “this” we’re going to pay for is a pandemic that will kill countless people and disrupt everyone else’s lives. “How” we pay for it is either the affordable way, where the Fed prints money so Treasury can borrow it at 0.8% for ten years, and then spends it to counteract the massive deleveraging involved in putting the economy in hibernation—or the expensive way, where this year’s problem is a plague and next year’s problem is a rolling financial crisis."

The bad thing has already happened, the only choices we get to make are about how me mitigate it and fix it.

Absolutely agree about sector specific as well. Hospitality sector should get longer term support to ensure that everyone remains motivated to keep it all shut down. Pubs and clubs will be the very last thing to re-open and may well not open this year. Look at what happened in South Korea. Even with an effective contact tracing operation, the consequence of one ill person is thousands of people needing to be quarantined. When you consider how far we are from either their low levels of virus circulation or their contact tracing capability, it is difficult to imagine any opening any time soon.

(I imagine that the DWI would have something to say about SARS-Cov-2 in the water supply, but among all the things that he actually has done, holding him responsible for antivax/5-G/etc. lunatics seems over the top.)
posted by atrazine at 7:51 AM on May 12 [9 favorites]


If we're thinking about a system where contact tracing is in place, which is where it looks like most of the world is heading, then pubs and clubs are pretty much the hardest places to put that into operation.

A business that deals with a succession of people one-on-one, like a hairdresser or a (legitimate) massage parlour can easily keep a list of names and contact details and people can be contacted if there's an issue, if they attended the place on the same day as someone who tested positive for Covid-19.

Sports stadiums and theatres have had seat booking systems in place for years. It's perfectly plausible that it would be quite straightforward to pull up a list of everyone who was sitting within 30m of Coughing Charlie in seat D29 at Barnsley v Hull and get them traced and contacted.

Pubs and clubs, no way. No one takes your name when you walk into the pub. You're surrounded at close quarters by complete strangers. It doesn't seem like it would be viable to open those businesses even with the most efficient contact-tracing system in place. "Were you at the Red Lion near a bloke called Bob Smith last week?" I've got no idea.
posted by winterhill at 8:26 AM on May 12


Ian Dunt was pretty good on Boris Johnson:
Johnson will not know what it is like to work in a factory on low wages. He will not understand, or be interested in, the power dynamic that operates in places like that. It is not, as he seems to envisage it, a forum where egalitarian discussions take place. You are told to go work by your bosses and then you go to work, if you want to keep your job.

But the statement yesterday and in the Commons this afternoon provided those workers with very few protections. "People who cannot work from home should talk to their employers about returning this week and the difficulties they may or may not have," he said. On the struggles of those who have children to look after and no school provision, he could only say: "We will count on employers to be reasonable."

He used the phrase "common sense" so often that it seemed to dominate the entire debate. And yet there is no common sense here. Common sense to an employer is getting back to work so they can make money again. And that might involve less stringent safety provisions than an employee would like. The sense was not common at all. It would be differen to different people, depending on where they stood.
On Reddit people were talking about being phoned up by their bosses on Sunday evening and told to come into work Monday. The government seems to have meant Wednesday but they didn't seem to think it was particularly important to be clear on the date.

Also Stephen Bush:
It’s a good reminder of Tony Blair’s rule that good communications come from good policy – not the other way round. The reason why communications in England are confused is that the government’s strategy is confused – they haven’t yet reached an internal consensus around what single message to prioritise, though it may not be possible to do so. A confusing or pointlessly generic slogan is the inevitable result unless unity can be reached.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:51 AM on May 12 [9 favorites]


I don't understand why it wouldn't have been better, on Sunday night, to present the framework, tell people that more detailed guidelines for employers were coming this week, and that once employers had implemented them, people who couldn't work from home should do so.

I agree with Ian Dunt that there is a fundamental lack of imagination and understanding regarding how labour relations work in many workplaces. Most politicians have only ever worked in environment where it is perfectly natural to have a discussion with your boss about what is going to work for you given the situation, childcare obligations, etc. Those people can mostly count on employers to be reasonable but critically, those people can work from home anyway! Most people who cannot work from home have relatively little bargaining power.

And why oh why, could they not just make it clear that nothing changes until Wednesday? And that changes will come slowly from then?
posted by atrazine at 9:13 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


re: contact tracing, I own a small shop (we've been closed since mid-March) and I have been wondering how we can reopen safely. I don't think I'm going to allow people to try on clothes (certainly nothing that has to go on over your head) and I can probably ask people to use hand sanitizer before they try on jewelry. That still leaves a lot of things that will be handled by customers when I'm not looking; plus, I share my space with a used bookstore and I have no idea how we can safely sanitize 1000 square feet of bookshelves on the daily.

I was thinking about keeping a notebook by the register with a daily sign-in sheet for customers. If I or my co-owners do get sick, we'd have a list of anyone who shopped with us while we were contagious, and if a customer got sick we'd be able to provide a list of everyone who came in the same day as them. But I don't know if our customers would be willing to do that, or if they'd find it off-putting.
posted by nonasuch at 9:38 AM on May 12 [6 favorites]


notebook by the register with a daily sign-in sheet for customers
I went to the dentist yesterday for a broken crown; the receptionist gave me the special COVID-19 forms and declarations and said "fill these out and KEEP THE PEN" (emphasis mine).
posted by achrise at 10:12 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]


Pubs and clubs, no way. No one takes your name when you walk into the pub.

Come to North Carolina! One silver lining of our weird, religiously influenced alcohol laws include a provision that if an establishment serves alcohol but doesn't sell food, they have to register as a "club" and require that each patron be a member or a guest. It's not at all unusual to sign a little notebook at the entrance of a bar here, and to show a card you paid $1 for and have your friend sign next to you. There is little to no public outcry over this practice.

Messy handwriting, though, I think would be an issue in getting anything useful out of these logs.
posted by witchen at 1:19 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Seattle/King County just announced that when restaurants re-open they are going to be required to take down name, address, phone, email of patrons, and keep that data for 30 days.
posted by Windopaene at 6:47 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]




That article seems to require registration to read more than the first line, mumimor. Here's the same story from the BBC.
posted by winterhill at 3:30 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


re: contact tracing, I own a small shop (we've been closed since mid-March) and I have been wondering how we can reopen safely.

I've been following the progress of the standoff between Tesla and Alameda country over plans to re-open the company's Freemont factory. One interesting detail here is that Tesla have produced a "playbook for getting back to work" (pdf) - 38 pages of detailed instructions, policies and guidelines. The book was put together using the company's experience in re-opening their Beijing factory. It strikes me that every kind of business needs its own playbook - but that that there will be a lot of commonality between businesses of a similar sort in most parts of the world: a clothes shop playbook based on the experience of a clothes shop in Wuhan would be relevant to your particular situation. These kinds of policies are going to rapidly become a differentiator between companies which succeed in re-opening and those which run into trouble. Ideally it would be governments which were ahead here - but speed and details are both important. It is the sort of fast moving issue requiring international co-operation that many countries are lousy at.
posted by rongorongo at 4:17 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Just got a haircut (in Berlin, Germany) after a good two months of letting my freak flag fly (it was glorious! Hahahahahah. No, it wasn't, in fact) but - he had to wash my hair, then take down my name and phone number at the end - for contact-tracing reasons.

Welcome to a different world.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:21 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


[..] then take down my name and phone number at the end - for contact-tracing reasons.

How soon before this is abused? We all ready get spam calls alleging we owe tax money to the IRS, and many similar phishing schemes trying to get personal information for fraudulent reasons.

I'm expecting your barber is working in good faith, but thinking of some robocall that says you've been ID'd as being in contact with a coronavirus carrier and call this number for details what to do.
posted by rochrobbb at 4:39 AM on May 13


I don't know about Germany, but here in the Netherlands robocalls aren't really a thing.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:42 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


One interesting detail here is that Tesla have produced a "playbook for getting back to work" (pdf) - 38 pages of detailed instructions, policies and guidelines. The book was put together using the company's experience in re-opening their Beijing factory. It strikes me that every kind of business needs its own playbook - but that that there will be a lot of commonality between businesses of a similar sort in most parts of the world: a clothes shop playbook based on the experience of a clothes shop in Wuhan would be relevant to your particular situation. These kinds of policies are going to rapidly become a differentiator between companies which succeed in re-opening and those which run into trouble. Ideally it would be governments which were ahead here - but speed and details are both important. It is the sort of fast moving issue requiring international co-operation that many countries are lousy at.

Here are the first eight industry-specific guidelines for the UK.

My frustration is that reading these, they're actually quite good, and head of the Health and Safety Executive was on TV yesterday making it clear that not following them would be followed by regulatory sanction. Once again, a reasonably well thought out policy has been derailed by a shambolic communications strategy.

A lot of people would have been a lot more comfortable with a message that was:
-At some point in the next few weeks, many of you will be returning to work
-There is guidance for employers to minimise the risk, they must follow it and you have the right not to work if they do not (which is true under existing UK employment law)
-Your employer must use this guidance to produce a plan that they share with you
-Further announcements will come but if you didn't work on Friday, probably you will not be working on Monday

Instead we got a rambling Sunday evening broadcast and at least some employers then messaged their workers and asked them to come in on Monday morning.
posted by atrazine at 4:47 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]


Excellent post. On the flip side, some businesses reported a small number of employees turning up to closed workplaces on Monday morning, assuming that because the PM had made his statement, they'd be back at work. A lot of the stuff the UK government is doing isn't that awful and isn't that dissimilar to what's been done in other countries, it's just been really poorly communicated.

What they seem to have done in other European countries that hasn't been done in the UK has been to give everyone a bit of notice. Subject to it being safe, we plan to open X type of business on X date, and it then gives the operators and staff of those businesses a few weeks to express any concerns, have a conversation about how to do it safely and prepare appropriately. If it then has to be postponed, no big deal, the preparation has been done. In the UK, we instead have to have these big reveals, these showpiece TV events fronted by the Prime Minister, the contents of which are speculated on for days and days in advance and then "unveiled". The recovery from lockdown needs to be a national conversation, not this kind of one-way traffic.
posted by winterhill at 5:30 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Rabo-Calls are not a thing. Fraud is, of course, and yes I could have opened myself up to the kind of scam you mention but ... I don't think so. Too sophisticated, too much work - there was the story about the gigantic, 100 kilo gold coin that was stolen , right? instead of simply melting it down ('simply' but still) and distributing it around, they broke off pieces and used those as currency, as in: "Sell me this car, I'll pay you in gold from that big coin that was stolen last month. Yeah, seriously, it's real gold!"

I mean, sure, it could totally happen but... I dunno, somehow it strikes me as a very American crime. (Involved, complicated and with maybe very little pay-off for a potentially big down-side. Hell, I imagine the real money to be made would be in selling the list to some credulous ass in the first place. And the credulous asses are probably not smart enough to pull off this kind of caper... To derail further, I don't know that I've ever heard of a 'boiler-room' type set-up operating in Europe (on Europeans). And now I'm curious...)
posted by From Bklyn at 7:23 AM on May 13


Question for any more epidemiology-adjacent folks who might be following this thread:

A few days ago, by way of this blog post, I've encountered this notion that population-level immunity effects can be reached at prevalence numbers well below the 50+% estimates that epidemiologists have been using. This post goes into some greater detail, relying on some preprint studies to connect some dots and suggest that differences in individual susceptibility within the population could create an immunity effect that doesn't show up if your model assumes that the entire population is homogeneous.

The comment section in the post is quite active, with a lot of people jumping in with criticisms, caveats from the authors of the preprint studies, etc. that cast doubt on this theory, but as much as I think pursuing herd immunity was unquestionably the wrong choice no matter how it turns out, is it possible there is some scientific merit to this notion that differences within the population *along with social distancing* could push down the percent that a population needs to hit before R0 goes below 1?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:43 AM on May 13


That second post seems to be on a climate-change denial website. Climate change deniers seem to be in the forefront of anti-lockdown activity using much the same techniques.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:58 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Yeah, sorry, I didn't realize that until after I posted my comment and started clicking around elsewhere on the site. But I'm seeing the notion of "partial herd immunity" (which is a terrible term for reasons I got into in the comments of the first link) pop up a lot, so I'd like to have a somewhat authoritative answer as to why it's bullshit.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:04 AM on May 13


COVID-19 and racial capitalism in the UK: why race and class matter for understanding the coronavirus pandemic.
Racialised patterns of infection, severity of infection, and mortality in the UK mirror data from the US, where Black Americans are disproportionately bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
posted by adamvasco at 8:20 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


So the issue with that partial herd immunity stuff is that it is very dependent on contact patterns. For example, right now only about 30% of the population is out and about outside their house at all. So the vast majority of contacts and new infections are in that sub population. Because they constitute most of the contacts, you can get to 80% of person to person interactions including at least one person who has had it and is (currently) immune or at least highly resistant to infection way before you get to 80% of the population immune.

But that only applies while contact patterns hold up. It's a sort of conditional herd immunity. It's still the case that there will be "high-interaction" and "low-interaction" people even with normal interaction and that the former are both more likely to get it and higher value immunity targets but depending on the model you might only get a few % discount on the unconditional model.
posted by atrazine at 8:29 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


That second post seems to be on a climate-change denial website. Climate change deniers seem to be in the forefront of anti-lockdown activity using much the same techniques.
The things being posted online by self-styled "lockdown sceptics" are things that I'd really love to be true - optimistic studies showing how unnecessary national lockdowns are, how children don't transmit the virus, how opening businesses will have no effect on the R number. But the fact that it's an agenda being pushed by loathsome little men like Toby Young means I can't believe that any of it is coming from a credible place.
posted by winterhill at 8:34 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Just in the past hour, people on Twitter have informed me that only the old and already dying get severely ill from COVID-19, the flu kills 500,000 a year in the US, and Miami's warm weather will keep us all safe. Never mind that literally none of those things are even remotely true.
posted by wierdo at 9:24 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]


To be fair, I don't the science is quite as settled with COVID-19, at least insofar as how accurate particular propagation models are.

But their knee-jerk reaction to any looming problem, from the ozone layer to Y2K to global warming to COVID is that it's all an exaggerated scam by elitists and needs to be denied.

But also I think another side of the political strategy is that since there is a massive economic crash coming, if they can get liberals to loudly dismiss "the economy", that pays political dividends when the scale of it sinks in. "See, we wanted to the defend the economy when the liberals didn't care, and by the way the massive unemployment is therefore their fault."

Richard Murphy has been terrifyingly accurate so far and points out There could be more than 10 million unemployed people in the UK right now.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:25 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


That isn't fair at all. Literally every one of those statements are demonstrably false. Miami-Dade County has the highest incidence of COVID-19 in all of Florida despite the abnormally warm weather this year. The deadliest flu season in recent history killed at most 100,000 people in the US, and a significant fraction of our dead are under 50. Exactly what fraction I can't say because our Governor is hiding the data that would allow us to say what the exact proportions are. (And that's leaving aside those who have ongoing lung/heart/liver issues once they recover)
posted by wierdo at 9:33 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


maryland, e.g.
of 1613 deaths (for which age data available):
age / #
20-29 10
30-39 20
40-49 45
50-59 114
60-69 263
70-79 417
80+ 744
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:41 AM on May 13


Yeah, because half of Maryland's infections have been in nursing homes!
posted by nonasuch at 10:53 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Yeah, because half of Maryland's infections have been in nursing homes!

Not even close. Currently Maryland is reporting 34,812 confirmed cases. 7,538 of those cases are in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, consisting of 2,209 staff and 5,329 residents infected.
posted by peeedro at 2:18 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


nonasuch replaced "deaths" with "infections." The Baltimore Sun reported today that, indeed, more than half of Maryland's coronavirus deaths have indeed happened in nursing homes.

Nearly 1,000 nursing home residents in Maryland have died of the coronavirus, a more than 25% increase over the past week, according to new data posted Wednesday. That means the facilities account for 59% of the state’s coronavirus deaths, and more than one in five of its cases of COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.
posted by mediareport at 2:29 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


The same is true for Massachusetts. About 60% of deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities.
posted by haiku warrior at 2:37 PM on May 13


As some countries ease up, others are reimposing lockdowns amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections (WaPo / MSN reprint)
As many parts of the world, including the United States, explore ways to ease restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus, countries that had already opened up are closing down again after renewed spikes in infections. Such a resurgence of cases had been widely predicted by experts, but these increasing numbers come as a sobering reminder of the challenges ahead as countries chafing under the social and economic burdens of keeping their citizens indoors weigh the pros and cons of allowing people to move around again.

Lebanon on Tuesday became the latest country to reimpose restrictions after experiencing a surge of infections, almost exactly two weeks after it appeared to have contained the spread of the virus and began easing up. [...] The reemergence of coronavirus cases in many parts of Asia is also prompting a return to closures in places that had claimed success in battling the disease or appeared to have eradicated it altogether, including South Korea, regarded as one of the continent’s top success stories. [...] Germany, which is widely regarded as the model in Europe of a balanced coronavirus response, is warning that some areas may have to reinstate restrictions after localized outbreaks caused a rise in cases.
Virus spikes could emerge weeks after US economic reopenings (AP)
U.S. states are beginning to restart their economies after months of paralyzing coronavirus lockdowns, but it could take weeks until it becomes clear whether those reopenings will cause a spike in COVID-19 cases, experts said Wednesday. [...] it may be five to six weeks from then before the effects are known, said Crystal Watson of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “As we saw early in the year, epidemics of COVID-19 start slow and take some time to build and become evident,” Watson said in an email. [...] “If you are doing adequate testing, it will take two to three weeks” to spot an increase, Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute, said Wednesday as he prepared to speak to a congressional subcommittee on the crisis. He urged a dramatic increase in testing.

[...] Italy partially lifted lockdown restrictions last week only to see a big jump in confirmed coronavirus cases in its hardest-hit region. Pakistan reported 2,000 new infections in a single day after crowds of people crammed into local markets as restrictions were eased. In the United States, the country’s top infectious disease expert issued a blunt warning Tuesday that cities and states could see more COVID-19 deaths and economic damage if they lift stay-at-home orders too quickly. “There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in Senate testimony.
posted by katra at 3:55 PM on May 13


About 60% of deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities.

In general, from what I've seen (similar to the Maryland data), your chance of dying doubles every decade over 45. I'm sure a good chunk of those most susceptible are in Long-term care.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:20 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Sorry, yes, mediareport has it right -- half of all MD deaths, not half of all cases. Our governor is currently trying to get every nursing home resident and employee tested. If you look at 20 year lurk's link, there's a "Nursing Homes" tab right at the top with a breakdown of cases by facility.

Hogan just -- like, within the last hour -- announced he's lifting the statewide stay-at-home order on Friday, because our hospitalization numbers have been trending downward for 2 weeks, but MoCo and PG are keeping theirs in place. I'm in PG so my shop is staying closed a while longer.
posted by nonasuch at 4:25 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Here in NZ, today is the first day of Alert Level 2, where many business are able to start operating again if they can collect data for contact tracing and enforce social distancing on premises. There has been considerable debate over some rules, notably the low limit of 10 persons to attend a funeral or tangihanga was seen as inconsistent with the limit of 100 in a bar or restaurant, and this limit has been raised to 50. Meanwhile, it's also the third day in a row of no new cases reported.

On a personal note I have some mild cold symptoms and am getting a state-funded COVID19 swab tomorrow. Almost certainly not COVID19 but I would ordinarily be visiting a rest home to see my Dad now they're out of lockdown, and I don't want to be That Guy.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:28 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Glad I don't live in Texas anymore ...

Businesses Chafing Under Covid-19 Lockdowns Turn to Armed Defiance

Armed militia-style protesters have helped businesses across Texas defy coronavirus lockdowns and reopen. Protesters say they are enforcing the Constitution.

In New Mexico, on the other hand, we are gradually reopening. But starting Saturday, masks or other facial coverings will be required while out in public. Exceptions are if you are eating, drinking, or exercising.
posted by NotLost at 10:15 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Dr. John Campbell's blunt, low tech Covid-19 updates, have become a daily viewing ritual for me. His videos, which used to end with him reaching the end of whatever he was saying - glancing to camera and then flicking the "off" switch - now finish with pictures his viewers send him from around the globe. Most, in line with his advice, have a jar of vitamin D3 tablets somewhere in shot - because he has been suggesting this could be an effective means of helping to avoid or mitigate Covid-19 infections for some time. Yesterday he reviewed and summarised a presentation by Harvard professor JoAnn Manson - (source) - that backs up his suggestions in the specific context of the pandemic.

About 40% of the world's population are reckoned to be deficient in vitamin D: those who live at higher latitudes, those who have darker skin and those who get little exposure to the sun - are all in this group. The research cited by Campbell and Manson indicates that these people could be substantially helped by taking daily supplements of up to about 5000 international units of D3.

For those who would like a deeper dive into recent vitamin D research implications - I would strongly recommend the video D is for Debacle - The Crucial Story of Vitamin D and Human Health by Ivor Cummins.
posted by rongorongo at 11:48 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Interview by Laura Spinney, The Guardian:
The coronavirus slayer! How Kerala's rock star health minister helped save it from Covid-19
On 20 January, KK Shailaja phoned one of her medically trained deputies. She had read online about a dangerous new virus spreading in China. “Will it come to us?” she asked. “Definitely, Madam,” he replied. And so the health minister of the Indian state of Kerala began her preparations.

Four months later, Kerala has reported only 524 cases of Covid-19, four deaths and – according to Shailaja – no community transmission. The state has a population of about 35 million and a GDP per capita of only £2,200. By contrast, the UK (double the population, GDP per capita of £40,400) has reported more than 40,000 deaths, while the US (10 times the population, GDP per capita of £51,000) has reported more than 82,000 deaths; both countries have rampant community transmission.
posted by mumimor at 2:27 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


There has been considerable debate over some rules, notably the low limit of 10 persons to attend a funeral or tangihanga was seen as inconsistent with the limit of 100 in a bar or restaurant, and this limit has been raised to 50. Meanwhile, it's also the third day in a row of no new cases reported.
I think the inconsistencies, particularly in cases where there seems to be a major discrepancy between rules for business and rules for social/family life, are going to be one of the things that chafes against people as this drags on.

As with the contrast in NZ between funerals and restaurants, the UK has a rule that you're allowed to have strangers visit your house for a viewing if you're selling it but you aren't allowed to have people visit your house under any other circumstances. People are quite legitimately saying that if the government sees it as an acceptable risk for you to take your chances with a random estate agent, why can't your mum visit while taking the same precautions? It feels like a very clear case of prioritising the interests of business over the social and mental wellbeing of people.

As I said in my very first post in this thread, they are very quick in seemingly all countries to open up shops and workplaces and businesses while being extremely reticent to allow us to see even our closest family members or friends at all. We're allowed - encouraged - to spend all day with random workmates "if we can't work from home" but not to spend even half an hour with family members. That's going to piss people off greatly as the situation continues.
posted by winterhill at 2:33 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Here you are allowed to see your family, just not in groups larger than ten. Also, there are no restrictions on the outdoor part of funerals. Recently a very famous young poet died, and his funeral was chaotic. I'm pretty certain there will be a corona-spike from that. But otherwise, funerals are mostly quiet events, so it makes sense that they can happen safely if one avoids the singing and the hugging. But then it perhaps seems pointless.
posted by mumimor at 2:41 AM on May 14


The current England rule is that you can see one family member or friend at a time, in a public outdoor space (i.e. a park and not one of your gardens), staying 2m apart at all times. The Health Secretary went on the radio the other morning and said you can meet both your parents, as long as one stays in the car and you meet them ten minutes apart.

Meanwhile, you can get on a crowded bus or Tube and go to a factory or warehouse where you're <2m away from a large number of random work colleagues all day long. The recent 60-page government plan had no mention of any kind of family reunions or social relaxation - just workplaces, workplaces, workplaces.

It's either safe to be around other people, or it's not, but this situation of "it's safe to be around your workmates but not your family" isn't sustainable.
posted by winterhill at 2:48 AM on May 14 [10 favorites]


As with the contrast in NZ between funerals and restaurants, the UK has a rule that you're allowed to have strangers visit your house for a viewing if you're selling it but you aren't allowed to have people visit your house under any other circumstances. People are quite legitimately saying that if the government sees it as an acceptable risk for you to take your chances with a random estate agent, why can't your mum visit while taking the same precautions? It feels like a very clear case of prioritising the interests of business over the social and mental wellbeing of people.

While I understand this attitude, I think there are two broad responses to it:

First, it makes no sense to pretend, as some do, that working is of benefit only to wealthy shareholders. We can disagree with the government, as indeed I do, with the share of output which goes to workers vs shareholders while agreeing that they both receive some share. Also, people want to buy goods and services. This is a benefit for estate agents, sure, but it is also a benefit for people who were in the process of moving. There are people who are stuck in flats with an ex for example who would really benefit from getting out.

We can and should borrow from the future to get through this, but uneven though it is we do all share in the outputs of economic activity and it is in our collective interest to let such activity as is compatible with infection control go ahead.

I understand the point about things either being safe or not, but there are multiple components to that. The risk is the background infection rate x contacts mitigated by distancing and masking x a subject risk factor based on your health status. Clearly it is not safe to be on crowded public transport and what the government has said about "avoiding public transport" is not realistic for many Londoners. That also has to be balanced against the benefit to our society of maintaining production. There is a serious equity issue here which is that some people can continue working while they are home and some people cannot. So we all benefit from maintaining our output as a society but the risks we have to take are different.

Second, while I agree that it would not be much different if your mum "takes the same precautions", it is worth considering what those actually are. Estate agents will be expected to do viewings which keep the people living in the house and the people doing the viewers physically separated, people will be asked not to touch things, and the viewings will be done as quickly as possible. If I was a government minister, would I think it was plausible that people visiting their children would do a quick walk-through of the house without coming face to face, using a loo, drinking anything, touching anything? I wouldn't. Certainly it's a very unnatural way for family to interact.

I do agree that people will become resentful if they are not allowed to see family but are allowed to see colleagues. That is where the idea of social bubbles comes in, it is actually the same concept as is already being applied to workplaces being applied to social contact. Workplaces are supposed to keep:
Individuals separate from each other where possible
Teams of individuals separate from other teams (so a team of two plumbers always works together and doesn't mix with other teams, if someone from one household gets ill both households go into 14 day quarantine). This same principle is being proposed for those primary school classes which do go back this academic year, don't mix the classes and treat the whole class as a single quarantine unit.
Shifts are fixed and don't mix, tools and vehicles cleaned between shifts.

You can see how that same principle of keeping our social interaction networks "compact", applied to socialising would work. A small number of households "merge" and form a bubble but then don't mix further.

It is important that the modelling supporting these decisions is published. If people are told that working on building sites is safer than visiting their sister, they will accept that if they believe it and to believe it they will need to (be able to) see it. Obviously most people can't judge epi models for themselves but the media can find independent experts who can.
posted by atrazine at 3:08 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


The current England rule is that you can see one family member or friend at a time, in a public outdoor space (i.e. a park and not one of your gardens), staying 2m apart at all times. The Health Secretary went on the radio the other morning and said you can meet both your parents, as long as one stays in the car and you meet them ten minutes apart.
Oh. That's harsh.

It reminds me of another thing I wonder about, and I don't know if I should make an ask about it, or a separate post, or if it's OK to discuss in this thread. After reading this opinion piece in the NYTimes, a new perspective on the Bronze Age Collapse, I thought about how people in the UK and the USA are struggling with food shortages and at least in the US, price rises. Here, we have food in abundance. I couldn't get prosciutto from delivery the other day, because the delivery comes from a town where they don't eat prosciutto, but I can go right down to my local village store and have a choice of four different brands, including a local one.
I'm thinking about which countries experience food shortages during the virus, and how is this connected to the economy and trade systems of those countries? For instance, it is surprising to me to learn how few meat packing companies there are in the USA, a huge nation. And I don't know wether Brexit is an issue in the UK already?
In the USA it seems a lot of the problems come from how much food comes from the almost entirely separate distribution system of restaurants and processed food. There seem to be tons of produce rotting on the fields because there is no longer a distribution network for it. And then there is of course the whole question of migrant labor.
posted by mumimor at 3:11 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


The intent of the rules is that as a complete package they are supposed to keep the rate of infection R0 below 1 for the whole population.

But a lot of people seem to the rules as an individual form of protection that keeps you safe.

"Why is A safe but not Z" keeps cropping up but it's not that useful a question. The point is that A+B+C+D+E... is enough to stop the virus spreading. Maybe you could substitute Z for A. Or you could have A and Z but not B and D.

You just hope that their choices of A to E are sensible. But it does look like a lot of the earliest things happen to be most cherished by Tory voters: nannies, cleaners, golf courses, garden centres...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:34 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


TfL, the public transport operator in London, will run out of money today if a government grant is not confirmed pretty much immediately, according to Sadiq Khan.

This doesn't mean services will stop running tomorrow morning, but the issuing of a Section 114 does mean a cessation of "non-essential" spending (whatever that means in the context of a transport network) and a severe scaling-back of services.
posted by winterhill at 5:12 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Most, in line with his advice, have a jar of vitamin D3 tablets somewhere in shot - because he has been suggesting this could be an effective means of helping to avoid or mitigate Covid-19 infections for some time.

I'd caution that doing research on Vitamin D in retrospective studies is really hard, because low levels of vitamin D are correlated with so many other things (being a shut-in, race, etc.). Vitamin D isn't as dangerous as hydroxychloroquine, so take your multivitamins, but I wouldn't go visiting a COViD-19 ward and hope that Vitamin D will keep me safe.
posted by benzenedream at 6:27 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


winterhill, in the context of TfL all they have to do is to maintain the highways they control and run sufficient buses so that all primary school children can get to school without walking more than a certain distance. Since primary schools are not running, they may not even have to do the latter. No-one anticipated this so their statutory "essential" spending is barely anything.

So it does mean that services will stop running entirely. It would be unlawful to operate a single tube train. Overground I don't know as they have contractual obligations, unlike the underground which they operate themselves.
posted by atrazine at 6:36 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


but the issuing of a Section 114 does mean a cessation of "non-essential" spending (whatever that means in the context of a transport network)

Mefi's Own Garius, covers this in a great deal of detail here.

As Atrazine says, due to the way TfL is set up, essential services do not actually include running trains.
posted by jontyjago at 7:35 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


barbie doll with noose around neck causes fight at michigan capitol

no, i'm really not making this up

god, this is just so stupid ...
posted by pyramid termite at 9:34 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Look at all those idiots milling about in the rain. Do they want to catch their deaths of cold?
posted by flabdablet at 9:52 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Look at all those idiots milling about in the rain. Do they want to catch their deaths of cold?

A liberal told them not to, so... yeah.
posted by Etrigan at 12:25 PM on May 14 [8 favorites]


Talking Can Generate Coronavirus Droplets That Linger Up to 14 Minutes (NYT)
The research, published Wednesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help explain how people with mild or no symptoms may infect others in close quarters such as offices, nursing homes, cruise ships and other confined spaces. The study’s experimental conditions will need to be replicated in more real-world circumstances, and researchers still don’t know how much virus has to be transmitted from one person to another to cause infection. But its findings strengthen the case for wearing masks and taking other precautions in such environments to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

[...] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says keeping at least six feet away from others can help people avoid contact with respiratory droplets and lower the risk of infection. But many scientists have argued that droplets can travel farther than six feet, depending on the force with which droplets are launched, the surrounding temperature, whether there are air currents that can carry them farther and other conditions.
Experiment shows human speech generates droplets that linger in the air for more than 8 minutes (WaPo, May 13, 2020 / MSN reprint)
“This study is the most accurate measure of the size, number and frequency of droplets that leave the mouth during a normal conversation and shower any listeners within range,” said Benjamin Neuman, a virologist at Texas A&M University-Texarkana who was not involved in the research. “This study doesn’t directly test whether the virus can be transmitted by talking, but it builds a strong circumstantial case that droplets produced in a normal close conversation would be large enough and frequent enough to create a high risk of spreading SARS-CoV-2 or any other respiratory virus between people who are not wearing face masks,” Neuman said. “Speech creates droplets that breathing alone does not. That much is clear,” said Andrew Noymer, a University of California at Irvine epidemiologist who also was not part of the new research. “Big mouths of the world, beware. You’re putting the rest of us at risk.”
posted by katra at 2:37 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


Kushner was the reason testing didn't happen in March.

Harvard's proudest alumnus, everyone.
posted by ocschwar at 4:30 PM on May 14 [13 favorites]


barbie doll with noose around neck causes fight at michigan capitol

Why does this stuff feel so gendered? That kind of additional hate really freaks me out. It's not enough to say, 'I need to work so I don't lose my livelihood and sense of purpose'? You also have to blame 'that bitch' for keeping you down?
posted by amanda at 9:21 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Kushner was the reason testing didn't happen in March

Jerry for Jail 2020

Just the subhed is infuriating, I don't know if I can read the actual article!
posted by rhizome at 9:56 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


barbie doll with noose around neck causes fight at michigan capitol

Why does this stuff feel so gendered?


Because it is.
posted by Etrigan at 10:59 AM on May 15 [11 favorites]


It totally is. The backlash against the mask and stay at home orders by the younger, Colombian-American woman county judge in Harris County (not a judicial position--more like county CEO) has been predictably disgusting and trumpy. It had been that way before covid-19 of course.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:39 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Who’s Enforcing Mask Rules? Often Retail Workers, and They’re Getting Hurt (NYT / MSN reprint)
The risk of a violent reaction now hangs over jobs already fraught with health perils. A Target employee in Van Nuys, Calif., ended up with a broken left arm after helping to remove two customers who refused to wear masks. A cashier told a man refusing to wear a mask that he could not buy a pack of cigars at a convenience store in Perkasie, Pa. He punched her three times in the face. In San Antonio, a man who was told he could not board a public bus without a mask shot a passenger, the police said. [...] And in a confrontation that turned deadly, the security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint, Mich., was shot and killed after insisting that a customer put on a mask. [...] In Illinois, Rob Karr, the president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, compiled a list of episodes that took place in the first 48 hours after masks became mandatory on May 1. One customer threatened to get a gun from his car to shoot the worker insisting that he wear a mask. Several employees were hit, while others were verbally abused. Sometimes customers fought each other. The list has only grown longer. Some police departments refused to respond when stores asked for help, Mr. Karr said, while various retailers were fined $750 for not enforcing the ban.

[...] “We have individual rights, we don’t have community rights,” said Ms. Powers, 56, the customer at the Trader Joe’s store [who refused to wear a mask], in an interview this week. Public health experts said this argument was misguided. “I never had a right to do something that could injure the health of my neighbors,” said Wendy E. Parmet, the director of the Center for Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University. Mask opponents generally overlook the fact that such regulations are meant to protect other people, not the person wearing the mask, she added.
posted by katra at 7:31 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


is switzerland doing okay? i miss switzerland so much
posted by lazaruslong at 7:32 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Sweden Stayed Open. A Deadly Month Shows the Risks. (NYT)
In Stockholm, where the virus spread through migrant communities, more than twice the usual number of people died last month. That increase far surpasses the rise in deaths in American cities like Boston and Chicago, and approaches the increase seen in Paris. Across Sweden, almost 30 percent more people died during the epidemic than is normal during this time of year, an increase similar to that of the United States and far higher than the small increases seen in its neighboring countries. [...]

COUNTRY / PCT ABOVE NORMAL / EXCESS DEATHS / TIME PERIOD
United Kingdom.......+67%..................53,300.......Mar. 14 - May 1
Spain.....................+60%..................31,500.......Mar. 16 - May 3
Belgium..................+50%..................5,300........Mar. 16 - Apr. 19
Netherlands............+50%..................8,700........Mar. 16 - Apr. 26
Italy.......................+49%.................24,600.......March
France....................+44%.................28,500.......Mar. 16 - Apr. 26
Sweden..................+27%..................3,300........Mar. 16 - May 3
Switzerland.............+24%..................2,000........Mar. 16 - May 3
Portugal.................+15%..................1,300........Mar. 16 - Apr. 12
Austria...................+11%..................1,000........Mar. 16 - Apr. 26
Germany................+6%....................4,100........Mar. 16 - Apr. 12
Denmark................+5%......................300........Mar. 16 - May 3
Norway..................+0%....................<100........Mar. 16 - Apr. 26
Finland..................+0%.....................<100........Mar. 16 - Apr. 26


No two countries are exactly alike, making comparisons inexact. Luck, travel patterns and personal actions play a role, not just government policy. [...] As with the rest of the world, it will be months, or even years, before the full picture of mortality emerges.
posted by katra at 8:38 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


ah balls
posted by lazaruslong at 8:59 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Social Distancing Eases as Some States Lift Restrictions (Gallup)
Fifty-eight percent of U.S. adults report they are completely (17%) or mostly (41%) isolating themselves, continuing a decline from a high of 75% the week of March 30-April 5, and back to the level seen before most states had implemented stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus. These results, based on May 4-10 interviewing, come as many states' stay-at-home orders expired as an increasing number of states are taking steps to reopen their economies. [...] Even as an increasing percentage of Americans are no longer required to shelter in place, 73% of U.S. adults say the better advice for healthy people is to stay-at-home as much as possible, rather than leading their normal lives as much as possible (27%). [...] While the level of social distancing may continue to decline in the coming weeks, the data suggest it will take more than lifting stay-at-home restrictions to encourage people to lead their normal lives again.
Colleges Are Deluding Themselves (Michael J. Sorrell, Atlantic)
During the present health crisis, administrators at colleges and universities should harbor no illusions. In the absence of a vaccine or much more widespread testing, our institutions are the perfect environment for the continued spread of COVID-19. [...] Because of the manner in which most residential colleges are operated, these institutions cannot use traditional face-to-face instructional methods and expect anything other than an unacceptable rate of disease transmission. Because we do not yet have the ability to bring students and staff back to campus while keeping them safe and healthy, we simply cannot return to business as usual. To do so constitutes an abdication of our moral responsibility as leaders. [...] if a school’s cost-benefit analysis leads to a conclusion that includes the term acceptable number of casualties, it is time for a new model. [...]

Any path forward—for higher education and for everyone in society—requires telling people this truth: Life is going to be hard for the foreseeable future. [...] The good news is that higher education will get through this crisis. By adjusting our expectations and addressing our fears, we will provide room for a new model of realistic leadership. The freedom that accompanies this moment will provide space for necessary innovation. As is often said in black churches, there can be no testimony without a test. The coronavirus is our test. Whether we pass will not only determine our testimony, but also shape our legacy. May history judge us kindly.
posted by katra at 9:34 PM on May 15 [11 favorites]




The Tab is not the greatest news source, but someone there has been pulling together the piecemeal announcements and leaks from various UK universities about what happens next semester, which starts at the end of September or in early October in the UK, depending where you are. Only one English university, Manchester, have actually come out so far and said lectures are going to be online. Most are still emitting mealy-mouthed and meaningless noises about "hoping to welcome you to campus in September".

The only thing that will keep universities going next semester is the fact that the jobs market, particularly for the kind of job you might do for a year while taking time out of education, is basically defunct. Most students, if given the choice between staying in their parents' home and paying for a few online videos and staying in their parents' home and doing a job for a year before going to an actual physical uni in September 2021, would take the latter. But with no jobs available, and with universities severely limiting deferrals (if everyone defers this year, there'll be no places for next year's sixth formers), everyone I know is either dropping out entirely or planning to start the term almost by default because there's no other option. Delaying the start of term causes additional headaches - one university (Lincoln) has delayed until mid-October but this means student maintenance loans are paid out late, as if no-one's got bills to pay.

The issue with "going online" is that a course designed for online study - for example, those offered by the Open University - is completely different to a course designed to be studied on a physical campus. Converting those courses is a years-long process and doesn't start and end with "take what we were doing on campus and stick it on Blackboard Collaborate". Students offered online education in the 2020/21 academic year are going to be asked to pay the same fees for a measurably worse product and no access to facilities or any of the other stuff that makes it a university - our institution makes a big deal of "student life", the award-winning SU and the over 300 societies when marketing itself. No-one realistically thinks university as it existed in February will be back in September, but as with a lot of things, what you do instead is a choice between a series of crap options.
posted by winterhill at 3:06 AM on May 16 [11 favorites]


Colleges Are Deluding Themselves

While there are no doubt a few colleges that really are deluding themselves, I think there are waaaaay more colleges in the US that are just shamelessly lying to students about their plans to stay online for the fall until the students can no longer choose a different school for next year.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:56 AM on May 16 [17 favorites]


I'm not sure choosing a different university next year would make much difference to anyone. They're all going to be online, so if you're going to stick with it, you might as well stick with your first choice uni. What's scaring them shitless is the idea of everyone making a decision not to go at all, to take a year out. The "hoping to see you on campus in September" bullshit is starting to smell a little stale, though.

When logging in to do some work earlier, I noticed my university have launched a redesigned website. I presume they started working on it before the current situation came along, because the front page gives the following reasons you might want to consider their university: the campus facilities (closed); the accommodation (empty); the students' union (shut, and by all accounts barely still solvent); the sports clubs/societies (suspended indefinitely); and the city (deserted). It takes a fair amount of scrolling and clicking before you find any mention of the teaching and courses, and those are the only activities that there's even the remotest prospect of "experiencing" next semester.

Universities have spent a lot of years marketing themselves as an "experience" - a vibrant social and cultural life on a stylish campus - and now that's being pared back to the very basics of just doing a course from your back bedroom and little else, the emperor doesn't seem to be wearing very much.
posted by winterhill at 7:17 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


Speaking of delusional: Christopher Nolan is strongly pushing for movie theaters to be open on July 17 so that his $200 million movie Tenet can make a profit as the only film in U.S. theaters that week:

“Chris really would like to be coming out with the film that opens theaters,” Imax CEO Richard Gelfond said on a recent earnings call. “I don’t know anyone in America who is pushing harder to get the theaters re-opened and to get his movie released than Chris Nolan.”...

With a production budget around $200 million, “Tenet” can’t afford to play in just the few areas that are less affected by coronavirus. In particular, it will struggle to make a profit if theaters aren’t open in New York City and Los Angeles, the country’s two biggest filmgoing markets. Ticket sales in those locations can account for 10% to 20% of a film’s domestic earnings.


More from WaPo:

Many theaters run on narrow margins even when they’re selling out weekend shows. Operating screens at 20 or 30 percent to abide by social distancing rules, they say, will all but guarantee losses.

“You’re talking about a business where many of us normally lose money five out of seven days of the week,” said Andrew Mencher, programming director for Washington’s Avalon Theatre. “And now you’re taking the two days of the week that you hope to turn a profit and saying you can only let in 30 percent of the people?”

posted by mediareport at 7:54 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Choosing a different college matters now, while students can still do it. Of course, this dynamic might be different in the UK.

I'm watching different admins across SUNY do this now. Binghamton is pretending that they're going to be face to face in the fall (when we all know that Cuomo is virtually certain to mandate online again) and our admins are putting off any public decision until after students' decision deadline is past so that half our admits don't register with Binghamton instead.

The core problem seems to be that incoming freshmen are very interested in going someplace with face to face instruction and, seeing as how they're children who wanted to be fire trucks just a few years ago, they don't seem to be real adept at seeing through stunningly obvious lies when the alternative is something they'd like to be true.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:56 AM on May 16 [9 favorites]


Universities have spent a lot of years marketing themselves as an "experience" - a vibrant social and cultural life on a stylish campus - and now that's being pared back to the very basics of just doing a course from your back bedroom and little else, the emperor doesn't seem to be wearing very much.

To be fair, in this analogy coronavirus is forcing a clothed emperor to remove their clothing. Universities have less to offer and fewer ways to differentiate themselves if things are online, but that doesn’t necessarily show that the other aspects of the experience aren’t valuable.
posted by snofoam at 8:38 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


To be fair, in this analogy coronavirus is forcing a clothed emperor to remove their clothing. Universities have less to offer and fewer ways to differentiate themselves if things are online, but that doesn’t necessarily show that the other aspects of the experience aren’t valuable.

I actually deeply love the analogy, because the point of the tale is that the emperor himself is finally exposed for being vain and incompetent.

The university experience for many in the US is very much a racket. Even as someone who has gone to and benefited from university here, it's easy for me to see that one of the major things our institutions of higher education do is prove that their attendees are young and financially secure enough to risk paying for an "experience" that delays entering the adult work force.

The emperor's clothes here are the costly academic and social experiences that don't come close to guaranteeing future employment and ability to repay student loans. I'd love to see universities in the US be as effective at helping everybody as they are at socially promoting the already wealthy and otherwise privileged.

Higher education is extremely important for society, and it's not in any way the main driver of inequality, but it needs to not be a rubber stamp for the upper class in the US.
posted by el gran combo at 10:14 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


point of the tale is that the emperor himself is finally exposed for being vain and incompetent

err... and also that the joke's on all of us for letting it go on for so long.
posted by el gran combo at 10:28 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


'Weird as hell’: the Covid-19 patients who have symptoms for months (The Guardian, May 15, 2020) Researchers keen to work out why some people are suffering from ‘long tail’ form of the virus

There is growing evidence that the virus causes a far greater array of symptoms than was previously understood. And that its effects can be agonisingly prolonged: in [Paul] Garner’s case for more than seven weeks. The professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine says his experience of Covid-19 featured a new and disturbing symptom every day, akin to an “advent calendar”.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:28 AM on May 16 [12 favorites]


There is growing evidence that the virus causes a far greater array of symptoms than was previously understood.

Viruses can linger in the body for a loooong time. A friend's dad caught some viral infection after having a carcinoma removed in hospital and after he was discharged for that he suffered lethargy and tiredness for a good 3 months after that.
posted by PenDevil at 1:11 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


A nine-year-old boy from Marseille is reported to have died of Kawasaki disease, the mysterious inflammatory syndrome linked to coronavirus. The boy is believed to be the first victim of the disease in France and only the second in Europe after a teenager died of the syndrome in London last week. [...] There are believed to be 144 diagnosed cases of Kawasaki disease in France, most of them in the Paris area, more than half of whom have tested positive for Covid-19. (Guardian, May 16, 2020) [Content warning: This article has disturbing details on the 9-year-old's May 8th death.]
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:34 PM on May 16



Universities have spent a lot of years marketing themselves as an "experience" - a vibrant social and cultural life on a stylish campus - and now that's being pared back to the very basics of just doing a course from your back bedroom and little else, the emperor doesn't seem to be wearing very much.


Every single one of my students has received a sub par educational experience since COVID disrupted their courses. No one is saying, “ever since my in person class shifted to zoom only, I’m still learning just as much!”
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:36 PM on May 16 [10 favorites]


caught pbs newshour already underway the other night, just in time to hear judy woodruff ask chancellor of the california state university system, timothy white:
So, with most people then being from home, is your tuition going to go down? Are costs going to go down?

No, the cost of delivery through virtual technology actually increases, with the purchasing of hardware, software, firmware, and the training of faculty. And tuition, of course, only pays a portion of what it costs to educate a student. The other part comes from the state of California. So, we're clear on keeping our tuition and mandatory fees constant, because our costs [that] support delivering the education through a virtual means remains.
(lightly edited) and was positively shocked to hear it said so plainly as "So, we're clear on keeping our tuition and mandatory fees constant..." notwithstanding that i already knowingly dwelt in a world where of course that is true, that i didn't pay attention to the rest of the show. and it wasn't a very good answer or delivered very well.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:22 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Rural communities without a hospital struggle to fight rising coronavirus cases, deaths (USA Today, May 15, 2020)
A USA TODAY analysis found that new cases have been confirmed at faster rates in rural and nonmetropolitan counties since mid-March, which is when growth began to slow in hard-hit cities but sped up everywhere else. A similar trend can be seen in death counts: The tally of deaths rose fastest outside America’s major cities. And now, as the daily tally of new coronavirus cases starts to shrink in cities, it continues to grow in rural areas. For the week ending May 9, metropolitan counties announced 10% fewer new cases than the previous week. By comparison, rural counties announced 8% more cases than the previous week. For residents in those communities, including those in the highest risk categories for COVID-19 — poor, elderly and suffering from underlying health conditions — a spate of recent hospital closures means the nearest emergency room is sometimes hours away and plagued by staff shortages and financial deficits.
Local health agencies struggle to ramp up virus tracking (AP, May 15, 2020)
As state after state begins to reopen, local health departments charged with tracking down everyone who has been in close contact with those who test positive for the new coronavirus are still scrambling to hire the number of people they need to do the job. They are often hundreds — even thousands — of people short of targets for their contact tracing programs. Public health experts have consistently said robust programs to test more people and trace their contacts are needed for states to safely reboot their economies and prevent a resurgence of the virus. [...] “The whole point of the lockdown was to buy time to have a better way to keep numbers down,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, who led the humanitarian response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa during the Obama administration. “And that’s why so many of us are screaming ourselves hoarse about testing and tracing.”
Coronavirus Cases Slow in U.S., but the Big Picture Remains Tenuous (NYT)
The nation has reached a perilous moment in the course of the epidemic, embracing signs of hope and beginning to reopen businesses and ease the very measures that slowed the virus, despite the risk of a resurgence. With more than two-thirds of states significantly relaxing restrictions on how Americans can move about over the last few weeks, an uptick in cases is widely predicted. Months after the virus began spreading, only about 3 percent of the population has been tested for it, leaving its true scale and path unknown even as it continues to sicken and kill people at alarming rates. More than 20,000 new cases are identified on most days. And almost every day this past week, more than 1,000 Americans died from the virus. [...] “There’s this disconnect of why it got better,” said Mayor Thomas P. McNamara of Rockford, Ill., who has repeatedly stressed to his constituents that it is not yet time to relax the measures that contributed: “Social distancing, stay at home, wear your face covering.”
posted by katra at 9:20 PM on May 16 [5 favorites]


What If Colleges Don’t Reopen Until 2021? Millions of families face a question that was once unthinkable., The Atlantic, Adam Harris, 4/24/2020:
...John Thelin, a University of Kentucky professor and the author of the definitive History of American Higher Education, told me that he’s never seen anything like the dual crisis colleges are facing right now. If this were just a public-health crisis or a financial crisis, institutions likely would have been fine. The two combined, however, have produced an unprecedented disruption. “Colleges are prepared for dramatic, catastrophic events. What they’re not prepared for are drawn-out things that are less spectacular, but that really cannibalize their operations and their budgets,” he said. And unlike hurricanes or tornadoes, which may affect one city or state, this crisis is affecting the whole higher-education sector, so institutions have limited ability to help one another out.

Ironically, the disruption to higher education most comparable to the present situation in scale might be the boom in college enrollment after World War II, Thelin said. When Congress passed the GI Bill, in 1944, government officials underestimated just how many students would take advantage of the scholarship program embedded in the legislation. From 1940 to 1950, the number of Americans earning degrees each year more than doubled, from 200,000 to 500,000. Some universities tripled or quadrupled in size. Indiana University, for example, grew from 3,000 students in 1944 to more than 10,000 in 1946.
Now college administrators are looking at the inverse possibility. They’re scrapping plans for growth in service of public health. They’re moving operations online. Nobody wants to be the first to reopen, nor the first to say they’re going remote until 2021 or later. “A lot of places have the capacity to reopen in normal circumstances,” LeBlanc told me. “But we’re not going to flip a switch and go from ‘everyone shelter at home’ to ‘everybody go back to what you used to be doing three months ago.’”
posted by cenoxo at 9:49 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Every single one of my students has received a sub par educational experience since COVID disrupted their courses. No one is saying, “ever since my in person class shifted to zoom only, I’m still learning just as much!”

Right?! I teach a lab that usually involves having students sample their own genetic material (among others). They do things in my classroom and then we talk about the results together. My students handled things like troopers this summer, but they absolutely did not learn as much or as thoroughly as they would over the course of a normal semester.

And of course costs on the universities themselves will continue. Who is passing on relief to universities? How do you cut tuition without cutting salaries when no alternative money is coming in from the federal government or state budgets?

I am trying to finish my PhD without worrying too much about what comes next, since my PI will brook no delay as I hurtle towards graduation. But I'm very afraid of what the future holds for this fall, especially since my employment is predicated on... well. Teaching. As far as anyone knows right now, my putative job in the fall is safe, but no one knows anything at all for any certainty.
posted by sciatrix at 12:24 PM on May 17 [9 favorites]


US, European leaders weigh reopening risks without a vaccine (AP)
In the U.S., images of crowded bars, beaches and boardwalks suggested some weren’t heeding warnings to safely enjoy reopened spaces while limiting the risks of spreading infection. [...] “I think in any individual instance you’re going to see people doing things that are irresponsible,” [Health and Human Services Secretary Alex] Azar told CNN on Sunday. “That’s part of the freedom we have here in America.”

[...] Some experts noted recent infection surges in Texas, including a 1,800-case jump Saturday, with Amarillo identified as a growing hot spot. Texas officials said increased testing was playing a big role — the more you look for something, the more you find it. Many are watching hospitalizations and death rates in the weeks ahead to see exactly what the new Texas numbers really mean. But Texas was one of the earliest states to allow stores and restaurants to reopen and some experts worry it is a sign of the kind of outbreak re-ignition that might occur when social distancing and other prevention measures are loosened or ignored. [...] Dr. Michael Saag at the University of Alabama at Birmingham called Texas “a warning shot” for states to closely watch any surges in cases and have plans to swiftly take steps to stop them. “No one knows for sure exactly the right way forward, and what I think we’re witnessing is a giant national experiment,” said Saag, an infectious diseases researcher.
How long before we know if reopenings cause virus spikes? (AP, May 14, 2020)
Disease trackers note the impossibility of seeing clearly what’s happening without widespread testing. [...] After exposure to the virus, it can take three to five days for someone to feel sick, and many infected people won’t have symptoms or only mild ones. Some with mild illness might delay getting tested. It can take another few days to get test results back and report them. All told, it can take two weeks or so — the time for one group of people to spread the virus to another — to have enough testing data. Crystal Watson of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said it will take a few rounds of infection spread — five to six weeks — to know how reopening has affected epidemic curves.
How some cities ‘flattened the curve’ during the 1918 flu pandemic (National Geographic, Mar. 27, 2020)
In 2007, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed health data from the U.S. census that experienced the 1918 pandemic, and charted the death rates of 43 U.S. cities. That same year, two studies published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sought to understand how responses influenced the disease’s spread in different cities. By comparing fatality rates, timing, and public health interventions, they found death rates were around 50 percent lower in cities that implemented preventative measures early on, versus those that did so late or not at all. The most effective efforts had simultaneously closed schools, churches, and theaters, and banned public gatherings.
posted by katra at 1:31 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


And of course costs on the universities themselves will continue. Who is passing on relief to universities? How do you cut tuition without cutting salaries when no alternative money is coming in from the federal government or state budgets?
For what it's worth, from the student side no one wants the universities to foot the bill. The tack students' unions are taking is to pressure the government to cancel student loan debt for affected years, rather than telling already cash-strapped universities to take money out of education and research and give it back as refunds and fee cuts. It would be a drop in the ocean against the squillions Rishi Sunak is throwing around at present.
posted by winterhill at 2:12 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Well, no surprise that Texas reported its highest single-day increase in cases yet, and less than two weeks after easing restrictions. I suspect as the cases keep increasing the blame (China, Obama, your mom) game will continue, until that doesn't work anymore and then trump, Gov. Abbott, and other fascist gits will just pivot to a push for some kind of "herd immunity" defense and give up any pretense about public safety.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:30 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]


The one thing I've been recently looking at is the number of active cases, in relation to the total cases. Don't really know what the term means, but it does give you a sense of "where" a given state is currently, (looking at the Worldometers data).
posted by Windopaene at 2:40 PM on May 17


There's an article out here in Italy today which puts "mild" Covid cases in a whole other light.

This is the ADNKronos agency piece (here's a Googletranslation), and here's a second article (Googtransl) that adds considerations from a virologist at University of Milan, who also references a paper published in Radiology, where there's some clinical details.

Basically the head of Italy's emergency service organisation outlines a growing number of what he calls Covid-like cases, in which patients display next to no typical symptoms and test negative with naso-faringal swabs, but whose radial artery blood test show severe oxygen depletion, and whose x-rays then show the interstitial pneumonia typical of Covid-19. In some cases, the virus is subsequently found only in alveolar liquid.

I'm not seeing this reported outside of Italy yet, so... probably good to wait for more on this from other sources. But seeing how there's now some consensus forming around a correlation of Kawasaki cases in kids exposed to Covid-19... it struck me as somewhat similarly ominous. (Yeah, Italy's basically doing a major relaxation of lockdown measures tomorrow, so...)

(Note to mods - not sure whether this is more appropriate here or in the "mild" thread where I cross-posted it... please delete as is most fitting.)
posted by progosk at 4:03 PM on May 17 [6 favorites]


Home, sweet, home? COVID-19 is fueling a boom in the doomsday bunker market, thanks to some dubious marketing claims; The Verge, Zoe Schiffer, 5/13/2020:
When the end came, it was just like Tom and Mary had imagined. Supply chains started to crumble. Millions of Americans lost their jobs. Grocery stores ran out of food. The nearly retired couple wasn’t going to wait for society to collapse. They hopped in their camper van and drove 19 hours to South Dakota. “To come here and experience it in person is like walking the Grand Canyon for the first time,” Tom says. But it’s not the Grand Canyon.

It’s a doomsday bunker ... at xPoint [Vivos xPoint "The Largest Survival Community On Earth"], an abandoned military facility-turned-survivalist community at the base of the Black Hills in Fall River County. Miles of plains stretch out in all directions, connected by 100 miles of private road. Along the skyline, steel doors tucked into grassy knolls indicate the openings to the bunkers...

The idea for Vivos ... came to CEO Robert Vicino nearly four decades ago in a moment of inspiration that featured a “crystal clear” female voice in his head. It said, Robert, you need to build deep underground bunkers for people to survive something that is coming our way. He filed it away until 2008, (the year Obama was elected) when the time was finally right to start building.
Vivos has survival campuses in South Dakota and Indiana with bunkers* for $35,000 and up (deluxe floor plan PDF). Vivos Europe [Vivos Europa "The World's Largest Private Shelter, 5 Star Bespoke Amenities and Protection For Your Family"] offers +$2 million apartments as “the ultimate life assurance solution for high net worth families.”

*They used to offer a cheaper shared rent-a-bunk shelter (PDF) for singles, but "Due to the Coronavirus and no effective means of diagnosing members that might be infected, our monthly rental program has been discontinued." Thanks to COVID-19, the prospect of good old Cold War camaraderie during a nuclear-only apocalypse is just a fond memory now.
posted by cenoxo at 4:11 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Why Belgium has recorded so many coronavirus deaths (WaPo / MSN reprint)
By the official numbers, Belgium has been the country hit hardest in the world by the coronavirus. The nation of 12 million has the highest mortality rate among confirmed cases, at 16.4 percent. And it has the most deaths in terms of its population: 78 deaths per 100,000 people, according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The United States, by comparison, has reported 27 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people. Spain has reported 58. Italy has reported 52.

Belgian officials have sought to tamp down concern by suggesting their chart-topping numbers are products of their accounting methods and commitment to capturing an accurate picture of their outbreak. Other ways of estimating virus-related deaths suggest that the Belgian method might indeed turn out to be among the most accurate in the world, and that other countries may be significantly undercounting their death tolls. The bad news for Belgium is that even in those other calculations, the country still comes off poorly compared to its neighbors, after adjusting for their size.
posted by katra at 5:03 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]


The New York Times has a listing of U.S. states with their re-opening status and graphs showing their number of cases. It looks like most states have a relatively stable number of new cases -- and opening up despite that.
posted by NotLost at 5:13 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Well, no surprise that Texas reported its highest single-day increase in cases

Also, right after opening up, their testing rate went down 10%.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:18 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]


The Washington Post also graphs state cases along with their re-opening status.
posted by NotLost at 5:20 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


With video: Snowbird jet crashes into Kamloops house — Occupants of the house escaped without injury; public affairs officer Capt. Jennifer Casey was killed; pilot rescued from roof of nearby house; Kamloops This Week, Tim Petruk, 5/17/2020:
UPDATE: The Royal Canadian Air Force has confirmed that the crash of a Snowbirds jet in Kamloops on Sunday resulted in the death of one squadron member, with another member sustaining serious injuries. The pilot is in hospital after landing on the roof of a house after ejecting from the jet. The second team member in the plane died of her injuries.
...
The Snowbirds team member killed in the crash was Capt. Jennifer Casey of Halifax, the squadron’s public affairs officer. The former radio reporter had been with the team since 2018.
...
The Snowbirds were on an east-west tour of Canada. Operation Inspiration began on May 3 in Nova Scotia and had the nine-jet squadron flying west over communities. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the tour is a means to "salute Canadians doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
posted by cenoxo at 7:20 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Other ways of estimating virus-related deaths suggest that the Belgian method might indeed turn out to be among the most accurate in the world

Tell me about this "method" you have, testing and counting as many as possible.
posted by rhizome at 11:31 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Also, right after opening up, their [Texas] testing rate went down 10%.
The raw number of tests isn't the most important thing. Back in April, the UK health secretary Matt Hancock came up (apparently unilaterally) with a target of 100,000 tests per day "by the end of April". The country was hovering around 60-80,000 tests a day with less than a week to go, but by some miracle on 1 May Hancock announced with some fanfare that they had managed to perform 122,347 tests the previous day. It turned out that he'd fiddled the figures by suddenly deciding to include home testing kits that had been recently posted out but not returned. Test numbers went down to a consistent ~80k straight after the "target" day for 100,000 tests. We've now got a target, set by Boris Johnson, of 200,000 tests per day "by the end of May" and I suspect similar shenanigans will happen again.

Testing huge numbers of people alone isn't the answer, though. It'd be lovely to have unlimited testing capacity and infrastructure and be able to test everyone every day. We could get out of this godforsaken lockdown, for a start. But in the real world, capacity is limited and you have to target it. To target it, you have to know where the outbreaks are happening, and that's where we're missing the point. It would have been better to isolate and test everyone at Cranswick Foods in Barnsley as soon as the first case there was discovered than to test 1,300 random people in random towns just so you can add some numbers to your figures that you read out at a pointless daily press conference. Some governments are treating Covid-19 as one big national outbreak which feels a bit misguided. It's lots of local outbreaks in towns, factories, hospitals, care homes, each of which is a fire that needs a) finding and b) extinguishing.
posted by winterhill at 1:47 AM on May 18 [12 favorites]


...thus winning the Coronavirus War by cleaning out one hotspot after another. Sounds like village-by-village combat in WWII or Vietnam, but with the additional danger of any returning citizen bringing back an invisible enemy combatant with them. Without a vaccine, victory is always two weeks away.
posted by cenoxo at 3:32 AM on May 18


China has asked trading firms and food processors to boost inventories of grains and oilseeds as a possible second wave of coronavirus cases and worsening infection rates elsewhere raise concerns about global supply lines.

Ummm... I am not an epidemiologist or whatever, but I have done a lot of translation work. If Zhong Nanshan is warning of a second COVID wave in a CNN interview, and People's Daily is then sharing that news, I can translate that: a second wave has already started.
posted by adamvasco at 3:44 AM on May 18 [14 favorites]


Thanks to COVID-19, the prospect of good old Cold War camaraderie during a nuclear-only apocalypse is just a fond memory now.

"Good old Cold War camaraderie during a nuclear-only apocalypse" was always a myth. Even among the doomsday preppers that kind of camaraderie was always an "us vs. them" fantasy, and every third Twilight Zone episode was all about how human nature would inevitably rip even the most stable post-apocalyptic society apart with infighting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:48 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Vitamin D isn't as dangerous as hydroxychloroquine, so take your multivitamins, but I wouldn't go visiting a COViD-19 ward and hope that Vitamin D will keep me safe.

Here is a review by Ivor Cummins discussing a couple of recent studies looking at vitamin D and COVID-10. The first showed the set of people who had only mild cases of infection was overwhelmingly weighted in favour of those who had good levels of Vitamin D in their blood. The second showed that a deficient level of Vitamin D correlates with a group who are about 10 times more likely to die from the virus (after controlling for age, sex and co-morbidities) . There seems to be an argument that this is because vitamin D helps to modulate the kind of cytokine storm that is associated with more severe cases.

So no - Vitamin D won't make you invincible to contracting the virus - but having decent levels of it in your blood seems to be associated with a better outcome if you do. That association seems to be quite strong and there are plausible explanations of the mechanism involved.

If you do decide to take a supplement then a multi-vitamin tablet may not be giving you enough. Current FDA recommended dose is 400 IU daily. Institute of Medicine recommends 4000 IU as the "tolerable upper limit" for daily consumption. Toxicity levels are associated with long term daily exposure to 60,000 IU of above.

Caveats: the three papers cited seem to be from well designed studies but they are still pre-prints; correlation does not equal causation; IANAD.
posted by rongorongo at 4:15 AM on May 18 [7 favorites]


China has asked trading firms and food processors to boost inventories of grains and oilseeds as a possible second wave of coronavirus cases and worsening infection rates elsewhere raise concerns about global supply lines.

China was stocking up on PPE long before the rest of the world deemed it necessary; they probably know what they're doing on this occasion, too.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:18 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]


Without a vaccine, victory is always two weeks away.
Several newspapers and radio stations here in England are telling us today that if the trials succeed then 30 MILLION DOSES OF VACCINE WILL BE READY BY SEPTEMBER (emphasis and de-emphasis theirs). This seems iffy at best and I'm not sure where the story has come from - it appeared yesterday morning, was mentioned at last night's government presser and has been on the air repeatedly ever since.

I think we're going to have to somehow reach a point where we're able to live with the virus without a vaccine in the medium term, if not the long term. And by live with it, I mean live with it, not exist alongside it but without any of the stuff that makes life worth living. The public are tiring of social distancing - every time I go out for my one weekly shopping trip, the roads are busier, more shops and cafés are open, the queues are slightly less socially distant. I live alone and repeatedly receive "fuck it, let's meet up" offers from friends who also live alone. I always refuse, because them's the rules and I couldn't live with myself if I brought the virus back from the city to my relatively virus-free area, but I'm always tempted because I can feel myself mentally deteriorating alone.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, with the usual suspects trotting out the usual platitudes about the importance of mental health. This stuff always rings hollow for those of us who actually live with long-term mental health conditions, but this time round it seems particularly pointless. They're urging us to "get talking", as if that's a thing you can just start doing because Prince William pops up on Radio 1 and tells you to. The only thing that will alleviate issues for some people is being able to see other people, in person. That's likely to be the last thing they'll let us do, months after we're allowed to once again queue outside Marks and Spencer's.
posted by winterhill at 5:39 AM on May 18 [8 favorites]


There is literally, unequivocally, without question, no possible way that a vaccine adequately tested for safety and efficacy will be ready for use by September.
posted by Sublimity at 7:20 AM on May 18 [19 favorites]


Scientists say things like "the absolute minimum time for the very first availability of a vaccine, with unlimited resources, if everything goes perfectly, is X months".

And everyone seems to hear: "I will definitely be able to walk into my doctor's office and get vaccinated in X months, probably X / 2 if they pull their fingers out."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:52 AM on May 18 [9 favorites]


Scientists say things like "the absolute minimum time for the very first availability of a safe and effective vaccine, with unlimited resources, if everything goes perfectly, is X months
If you remove the requirement you had implicit and I made explicit, then cutting the time to X is pretty easy.
posted by ocschwar at 9:12 AM on May 18


If you wanted to convince a population to go back to work when they've been hunkered down against a pandemic for months, giving them all a shot of some questionable cobbled-together potion and telling them it's the revolutionary new vaccine prepared in record time by top boffins at Oxford University might just work. (My tongue is quite firmly in my cheek here.)
posted by winterhill at 11:07 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


Eased restrictions in Texas ‘likely connected’ to state’s rise in cases, says Dallas mayor (WaPo live blog)
The mayor of Dallas cited policy changes that eased restrictions on businesses in early May as a likely reason the state saw a jump in coronavirus cases — just as Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is expected to announce further reopening measures Monday. [...] Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson (D) on Sunday said the rise in cases is “more than likely” related to the reopening of businesses such as movie theaters and restaurants, which are operating at reduced capacity to enable physical distancing. “These things sort of lag,” Johnson said during an appearance on CNN. “The decision is made, and then you don’t see the results in the cases until a couple of weeks later.”
A preview from Georgia about how America might reemerge from the coronavirus (WaPo live blog)
In this grand gamble, Georgia has gone first, with Gov. Brian Kemp (R) dismissing public health experts who have warned that opening too soon could cause a catastrophic surge of deaths, placing his faith instead in the citizens of Georgia to make up their own minds about what risks and sacrifices they were willing to accept. Read more here.
‘It’s just cuckoo’: state’s latest data mishap causes critics to cry foul (AJC)
In the latest bungling of tracking data for the novel coronavirus, a recently posted bar chart on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website appeared to show good news: new confirmed cases in the counties with the most infections had dropped every single day for the past two weeks. In fact, there was no clear downward trend. The data is still preliminary, and cases have held steady or dropped slightly in the past two weeks. Experts agree that cases in those five counties were flat when Georgia began to reopen late last month. DPH changed the graph Monday after more than a day of online mockery, public concern and a letter from a state representative.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s office issued an apology and its spokespeople said they’d never make this kind of mistake again. [...] “I have a hard time understanding how this happens without it being deliberate,” said State Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, who received her doctorate in microbiology and molecular genetics at Emory University. “Literally nowhere ever in any type of statistics would that be acceptable.”
posted by katra at 11:22 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


US lockdown protests may have spread virus widely, cellphone data suggests
posted by adamvasco at 11:44 AM on May 18 [6 favorites]


US lockdown protests may have spread virus widely

This timeline would have it no other way!
posted by Burhanistan at 11:56 AM on May 18 [6 favorites]


My nomination for Best Lead Performance in a State Reopening Plan goes to Rhode Island's Gina Raimondo: (via)
posted by tonycpsu at 2:39 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]




(My tongue is quite firmly in my cheek here.)

Well, I mean, if your vaccine sometimes makes people drop dead on the spot, then they can't really get the virus, can they?

It's like we joke at work, the more radiation exposure you get, the higher your chance of getting cancer and dying... up to a point. You get enough radiation all at once, your chance of dying from cancer becomes zero.
posted by ctmf at 5:37 PM on May 18 [10 favorites]


Health Affairs: Strong Social Distancing Measures In The United States Reduced The COVID-19 Growth Rate
Adoption of government-imposed social distancing measures reduced the daily growth rate by 5.4 percentage points after 1–5 days, 6.8 after 6–10 days, 8.2 after 11–15 days, and 9.1 after 16–20 days. Holding the amount of voluntary social distancing constant, these results imply 10 times greater spread by April 27 without SIPOs (10 million cases) and more than 35 times greater spread without any of the four measures (35 million).
Dylan Scott, Vox: Lockdowns worked. Now what?
The researchers could not account for every conceivable variable. They note that they do not attempt to measure how mask-wearing or closing public parks and beaches or restrictions on visits to nursing homes might affect Covid-19’s spread and impact. Nevertheless, over the period they studied, the percentage of the US population subjected to these government policies grew to 95 percent — and the effect they find on the coronavirus is sizable.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:43 PM on May 18 [4 favorites]


My nomination for Best Lead Performance in a State Reopening Plan

I was expecting that to be sarcasm, but that sounds like a solid plan.

Still, I'd like to see someone like Town Council President Matthew Mannix get jailed for brazenly defying a state order. "States rights", you know.
posted by ctmf at 5:45 PM on May 18


There is literally, unequivocally, without question, no possible way that a vaccine adequately tested for safety and efficacy will be ready for use by September.

Indeed. The ChadOx phase I/II trial will be only four months in at that point. With the way that virus is dropping in the community, it is possible that no-one in the control arm develops Covid-19 which would mean no data for the primary endpoint. They may start a larger phase III efficacy trial over the summer if there are no adverse events from the I/II trial in the first few months but it is difficult to see how they will have enough data by September for deployment. Safety data? Yes but with the caveat that they will only have a few months of it. Immunogenicity data? Sure, loads. Efficacy? Maybe, maybe not. If there is substantial circulating virus throughout the summer then yes, but there might not be.

I could see a substantial phase III trial and potentially some limited deployment by then *if* everything goes well, but I would be flabbergasted if there was mass vaccination anywhere in the world using any vaccine. I think it may be possible that such vaccination starts before the end of year, if there is a seasonality element and it comes back hard in November but that would:
a) be extraordinary
b) not be September

A typical study size for a vaccine phase II is 2,500 and for a phase III 25,000. I could see how one might use a stepped trial design where every two months (for example) you up the number of people you immunise by a factor of five to ten or so. In the case of ChAdOx that would put them at 1000 mid-May (already done), 5,000 mid July, 50,000 mid September. Since most adverse effects from vaccines are front end loaded you could potentially make an argument that there is a step period and escalation factor that reduces the risk to an acceptable level. If you then had to use the vaccine in Mid November you'd have very substantial data on it.

But. That assumes that the vaccine candidate is safe and efficacious and all we need to do is prove that to our satisfaction. If it isn't both, then the whole process stops.
posted by atrazine at 4:19 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]


Rebekah Jones, manager of the team that created Florida's county-by-county COVID-19 case and testing dashboard, was suddenly removed from her post late Friday. She wrote:

"As a word of caution, I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months. After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it."

...Jones' removal and changes to the dashboard access is especially unusual given that the dashboard was lauded in April on CBS' Face the Nation by Dr. Deborah Birx, a top official of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force.

...racial and ethnic data has been consistently excluded from Florida's line listing of cases. Such data was reported by medical examiners, but that data table has also been censored by the Department of Health.


More details in the article. The current dashboard looks like a fantastic, well-designed resource. Check the tabs along the bottom.
posted by mediareport at 4:50 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


[This thread will close in 2 days. Do folks/mods want to see another one like it, focusing on the science/epidemiology/culture issues, and less on the daily Trump crap? I'm happy to post a new one if it's something folks think would be useful. Maybe a MeTa discussion would help?]
posted by mediareport at 5:04 AM on May 19 [34 favorites]


Three weeks after it resumed limited Masses, a Catholic church in Houston has again shuttered its doors after five leaders tested positive for COVID-19.

The closure of Holy Ghost Catholic Church on Chetwood Drive comes five days after the death of one of its leaders, Rev. Donnell Kirchner, who church leaders said last week may have contracted the virus and exposed others to it before his death on May 13...

Holy Ghost officials said that two of the people who tested positive are priests who have been “active” in Masses since they resumed on a limited basis as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to gradually reopen sectors of the Texas economy.

posted by mediareport at 7:20 AM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Covid-19: France and Germany propose €500 billion EU recovery fund
This is very good news. It is a proposal, not a decision, but usually when Germany and France get together, the other EU countries will follow.
posted by mumimor at 7:25 AM on May 19 [5 favorites]


It's not full-fledged euro-corona-bonds (and definitely less than the €2T that Italy and Spain had been aiming for), but it is a sign that some of Macron's recent seeming de profundis may have gotten through to Merkel after all...
posted by progosk at 11:40 AM on May 19


Oh, but surely the moral hazard of profligacy far exceeds the threat of the coronavirus?

That was sarcasm, if you couldn't tell.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:46 PM on May 19


They've decided to randomly give "Captain Tom" a knighthood, which means they've got something they don't want splashing on the front of tomorrow's newspapers.
posted by winterhill at 3:04 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


An interesting Twitter thread by journalist Laurel Chor describing what it was like to fly from Paris to Hong Kong.
ThreadReader version.

Unless we get a vaccine for this, things are going to be very different.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:13 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


And by "different", you mean "utterly pointless". We have to prepare for the eventuality that there will be no vaccine, or a vaccine will take several years, and I struggle to see the point in a world with permanent or semi-permanent social distancing. It will save lives, but it will also void them of all meaning or purpose. How can I really say I'm living when I spend all day at home alone, leaving once a week to queue for groceries so I can bring them home, cook them and eat them alone? I'm safe from the virus! Yay! But I've also got absolutely bugger all to look forward to for the foreseeable future.

All the online lectures, Zoom 'nights out' and phone calls in the world can't displace the feeling that all I'm doing is finding more and more ways of wasting hour after hour of my life away. This situation might be okay for a small number of people who are happy with those they're living with, or are extremely introverted, and that's totally fine! But there are an awful lot of people for whom this is really not okay at best and actively harmful at worst. Perhaps it's just a lack of imagination on my part, but I can't see how society can function, how friendship groups and couples and families, companies and bands and creativity can form if people aren't meeting other people. We can't reduce ourselves to units of economic consumption, hunkered at home forking over money month after month to Amazon, Netflix and Steam, all our interactions mediated through screens and connections and audio and video compression.

I think pinning everything on a vaccine, as we seem to be doing, will be fatal in more than one sense of the word. When I hear politicians saying it'll all be okay just as soon as we've got the vaccine, it reminds me of a guy saying he'll have the money for me just as soon as he wins the pools. Maybe things like quick, easy international travel will need to be harder for a while, maybe we won't be flitting off to Tuscany for the weekend or doing backpacking gap years in Uzbekistan, but I don't think we can keep the current curbs on normal human life within our own families and communities for years, I just don't think - short of a total police state taking over - such a situation will physically be able to hold.
posted by winterhill at 3:55 PM on May 19 [7 favorites]


We have to prepare for the eventuality that there will be no vaccine, or a vaccine will take several years, and I struggle to see the point in a world with permanent or semi-permanent social distancing.

This is something I think about a lot, and forgive me if this is ignorant (or something; I've been following the news on Covid pretty closely since February and I still don't understand), but this is a sincere question: what is the goal of social distancing? Is it to eradicate Covid? Or is it to buy time so that treatments can be found and hospitals aren't overwhelmed?
posted by witchen at 4:06 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


is it to buy time so that treatments can be found and hospitals aren't overwhelmed?

it's this.

this thing isn't going away without a vaccine.
posted by schadenfrau at 4:13 PM on May 19 [11 favorites]


That's what I've been thinking, and I am 100% sheltering in place and wearing a mask to the grocery store, etc., but I'm also feeling increasingly confused by some of the anti-reopen rhetoric right now, where the premise seems to be "it's all or nothing." I agree with the anti-reopen folks, but I'm also in disbelief that anyone thinks it could be contained at this late date (especially with the way that many Americans are behaving).

Looking at situations like this and hoping that there will be enough hospital beds seems like the most realistic way forward, as much as I dislike it.
posted by witchen at 4:22 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


My partner and I have been very careful the whole time, and still much more cautious than we are required to be, but it is also very easy for us compared to most people. I am fine with being as cautious as my partner wants (I am cautious but have a higher tolerance for risk), but I am starting to feel more confident about the limited interaction I have. We live on an island and a couple months ago there was little testing and a rising number of cases. Lately testing has expanded and we have had very few new cases in recent weeks (maybe 2-4 cases total). I feel less like the virus could be everywhere and more like the virus could be anywhere, but it almost surely isn’t everywhere in the place I live. We have been reopening and many people are taking unnecessary risks, but I do feel like reopening is inevitable. I can quarantine for years, but most people can’t. There are a lot of experiments going on right now as far as reopening and I hope none of them go too badly. People who don’t wear masks need to get with the program, but I empathize with people who want to do more normal stuff. There are things I’d like to do, too.
posted by snofoam at 5:31 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


'Not a mask in sight': thousands flock to Yellowstone as park reopens (Guardian)
On Monday, thousands of visitors from across the country descended on Yellowstone national park, which opened for the first time since its closure in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. [...] “We checked the webcam at Old Faithful at about 3.30pm yesterday,” said Kristin Brengel, the senior vice-president of government affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association. “Not much physical distancing happening and not a single mask in sight.” [...] At the Moran entrance station in Wyoming – the entrance to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone park – cars began to line up at 5.30am. By 11am, an hour before opening, vehicles with license plates from as far away as New York, Washington State and Alaska sprawled along the highway leading to the park entrance. [...] For [Mark Segal, a Wyoming local], who came on opening day in hopes of a quiet Yellowstone experience, the number of out of state visitors was disturbing. “What if everyone that leaves here goes and gets a bite in Jackson?” he asked, referring to a nearby town and speaking to the Guardian from his car as he and his family waited to get into the park. “This is exactly what we’re afraid of.”
Strikes erupt as US essential workers demand protection amid pandemic (Guardian)
Wildcat strikes, walkouts and protests over working conditions have erupted across the US throughout the coronavirus pandemic as “essential” workers have demanded better pay and safer working conditions. Labor leaders are hoping the protests can lead to permanent change. [...] Working conditions, low pay and lack of safety protections have triggered protests throughout the pandemic as workers across various industries, including food service, meat processing, retail, manufacturing, transportation and healthcare have come together to protest about issues, many of which were apparent before the coronavirus.
Yes, staying at home works: debunking the biggest US coronavirus myths (Guardian, May 17, 2020)
Stay-at-home orders are difficult, isolating, economically costly and are considered absolutely necessary to slow the spread of the disease, public health officials have repeatedly said. [...] Public health experts believe lockdowns save lives, because they prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, thereby saving room in intensive care units for critically ill patients.
posted by katra at 5:31 PM on May 19 [8 favorites]


Oh god, I just read witchen’s link. As much as I empathize with the young kids in the apartment below (and their parents) and the people who can’t visit family and people getting by through months alone, there are also people who seem determined to prove that some people are just not part of what makes humanity special.
posted by snofoam at 5:45 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Yes, witchen's link makes me feel, stabby...
posted by Windopaene at 5:55 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


"I struggle to see the point in a world with permanent or semi-permanent social distancing."

Some countries that have done ok and can control their borders will probably be moving towards something like normality in the next few months. Others will be moving toward herd immunity/death of the vulnerable. Two or three years from now, one can imagine a world in two zones, with those countries mandating 14 day quarantine and subsequent location monitoring for all travelers arriving from the other zone. But neither zone will be mandating social distancing. It will be pointless one way or another.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:17 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


The "anti-reopen rhetoric" is coming almost exclusively from the scientific community, or rather, most of the scientific community is on the anti-reopen side. Here's a nice example from the Boston Globe on Governor Baker's reopening plans:
The guidelines quickly invited scrutiny that buffeted Baker from all sides. As scientists warned it appeared too early to begin easing restrictions, some business and conservative groups criticized the plan for moving too slowly in loosening restrictions.
The Globe is a fairly mainstream liberal paper, but even they have been brainwashed into both-siding, presenting Baker as caught between two factions, scientists and business. But that's like being stuck choosing whether to believe physicists or flat-earthers about building a rocket. It's not that scientists are risk averse and insensitive to economic costs and businesses are the reverse and you have to choose something in between. The scientists are the only ones who have actually worked out both the health costs and the economic costs, and all of them -- even most economists -- estimate that the course being charted even by "reasonable" Republican Governors like Baker is wrong: not just that it will kill lots of people, but that the economic and social costs will be higher too. And the business side is just a bunch of flat-earthers, meeting economic models with motivated reasoning and greed.

The reason scientists are against reopening is that it will be ghastly, and its effects will only be felt after we have reascended far, far up the exponential death curve. You can't just "wait and see" when it's exponential because, as we already learned the first time, what matters most is those first few days of the curve, where differences of only a few days in March meant thousands of cases a month or two later. That was March, when a tiny percentage of each state was infected. Now it's May and a much, much larger percentage of every state is infected right now, everywhere. Reopening now is worse than delaying a closure in March because we are already further up the exponential curve even if cases are currently declining. But we won't know the effects for sure until late June, and then we'll just be trying to lock down and bend the curve again with an even larger number of individuals sick.

Our only hopes for reopening are (1) a vaccine (which I am optimistic about), and (2) figuring out whether there is a subset of protection/distancing measures we can employ that will achieve a decent percentage of the benefits of full lockdown. (2) does seem possible: universal masks, 6-foot distancing, no large gatherings, and most people continuing to work from home would probably do it. But most reopening plans, even careful ones like Baker's, aren't that. They escalate from closed to open in steps that are far too quick to ascertain what works, and generally involve returning to dangerous behaviors before we can discover that that is a mistake.

Anyway, this could all be wrong. It makes fairly concrete predictions that could be disproved, such as that Georgia will be like Brazil in a month or two. One problem is that we can't know for sure ahead of time, but the bigger problem is that there are epidemiological and modeling debates on both sides, but neither of those sides is "conservative businesses", who are just arguing for reopening regardless of the science, and continue to do so even though they are outside almost the entirety of the spectrum of disagreement by people who are actually doing their homework. So by most definitions, the "rhetoric" in this debate is almost exclusively on the "reopen" side, not the "anti-reopen" side.
posted by chortly at 6:54 PM on May 19 [17 favorites]


How to Talk About Freedom During a Pandemic (Graham Mooney, Atlantic)
Anti-stay-at-home protesters aren’t the only ones with an argument based on individual rights on their side.
State by state, people are being asked to make a false choice between a rapid economic recovery and protecting the lives of vulnerable Americans. In a country where the idea of freedom is cherished so deeply, a compelling argument can and should be made that curtailing personal liberties is sometimes necessary to secure freedom for everyone. Within the space of a few months, COVID-19 has joined diseases like scarlet fever, diphtheria, and cholera as a quintessential example of a threat that requires giving up one sort of liberty in order for people everywhere to enjoy their right to be healthy. Contagious and lethal, it so far cannot be cured or vaccinated against. Those who want to ignore social distancing, spurn masks, and crowd together in malls and on beaches might be making a statement in defense of personal liberty, but they are also undeniably endangering the freedoms of thousands of others. Freedom, after all, is a flexible concept, and Americans’ freedoms surely include the opportunity to minimize the collective risk of random viral death.
Never Go Back to the Office (Juliette Kayyem, Atlantic)
Even if states allow businesses to be open, those businesses may be more cautious than their elected officials are. “Regardless of what governments say, right now we are still in a place where ‘work from home’ is the priority for workers that can. It’s the best hazard mitigation,” [Harvard public-health professor Joseph G. Allen] told me. “That companies need to figure out how to bring people back safely is obvious. But that is different from the when.” [...] Support for social-distancing measures remains strong. A Gallup poll last month showed that most people who are working from home want to keep doing so after the crisis abates. Meanwhile, employees whose jobs require them to leave home express trepidation about doing so; 60 percent feared exposing their families to COVID-19. Even higher percentages of African American and Hispanic workers voiced such concerns. [...] We can’t go back to life before the pandemic. We have to get through it—and adapt.
posted by katra at 7:01 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


after that one post about vaccine timelines, realistically, i am not at all optimistic about a vaccine. IF one is possible, and that is (which was news to me!) and IF, not a WHEN, that could be as far away as 40 years.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:02 PM on May 19


and if that sounds insane to you, think of how we don't have an HIV vaccine.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:03 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]


and if that sounds insane to you, think of how we don't have an HIV vaccine.

HIV is a virus that specifically targets the immune system. This makes most of our decades of knowledge of anti-viral vaccines completely useless. It's very possible that we'll eventually come up with an effective vaccine for HIV, but it will likely come from a new and novel approach, based on the slow, grindy accumulation of knowledge that we don't have yet.

Conversely, corona-viruses - while relatively new - have been pretty well studied for almost 20 years now, and it's understood that they seem to trigger normal immune responses. Small, recent studies even indicate that a minority of infected people develop sufficient antibodies to effectively fight the virus.

I agree that there is a lot of wishful thinking being propagated about how soon an effective, safe vaccine will be available. I disagree that it is unlikely to happen. I think we are still likely a year or so away - possibly longer - but I think a good, functional vaccine is more likely than not.
posted by Anoplura at 8:03 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


I would be a lot happier if I had similar options for COVID to what currently exists for HIV. I recognize the current HIV drugs took decades. Hopefully we can learn from that experience.
posted by armacy at 8:39 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


HIV is a virus that specifically targets the immune system. This makes most of our decades of knowledge of anti-viral vaccines completely useless. It's very possible that we'll eventually come up with an effective vaccine for HIV, but it will likely come from a new and novel approach, based on the slow, grindy accumulation of knowledge that we don't have yet

Conversely, corona-viruses - while relatively new - have been pretty well studied for almost 20 years now, and it's understood that they seem to trigger normal immune responses. Small, recent studies even indicate that a minority of infected people develop sufficient antibodies to effectively fight the virus.

I agree that there is a lot of wishful thinking being propagated about how soon an effective, safe vaccine will be available. I disagree that it is unlikely to happen. I think we are still likely a year or so away - possibly longer - but I think a good, functional vaccine is more likely than not.


HIV has also been studied pretty well for years now too! I understand that there are differences between the two viruses. I think a year away for covid-19 is amazingly optimistic, bordering on ludicrous. I hope that I am wrong and we break all the records in human history.

I guess I'm just trying to mentally prepare myself for two possibilities: 1. that a vaccine is not possible in my lifetime (possibility! and apparently a lot more likely than i would like to admit!) and 2. that a vaccine is possible but will follow our typical timeframes and be ready around the mid 2030s.

Possibly saving 2-4 years because coronaviruses are less novel than HIV was and adding another savings of the same order of 2-4 years due to global resources poured into it still puts us as a savings of 4-8 years. That shortens our typical timeframe down to 2028 - 2032.

One of the first timelines in the alt scenarios described in that link includes the "We already know all about the coronavirus" assumption, btw. Skipping the academic research and starting trials early using SARS and MERS data only gets us 2032 from 2036, time-savings wise.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:14 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


but I'm also feeling increasingly confused by some of the anti-reopen rhetoric right now, where the premise seems to be "it's all or nothing." I agree with the anti-reopen folks, but I'm also in disbelief that anyone thinks it could be contained at this late date (especially with the way that many Americans are behaving).

The anti-reopen folks are not "all or nothing", that is a deliberate mischaracterization to make it seem like we can't do thoughtfully staged reopenings. Many countries are doing exactly that. The main requirement of reopening is tests, lots of tests for anyone who wants one and mandatory ones for all teachers, caretakers, and front line essential workers. Also a lot of contact tracers. States are ramping up contact tracing but the Trumpers have bungled the testing situation so badly (note Jared wanted to not test so much in March so as not to spook the stock market with actual numbers) that now they think covering up deaths with the aid of compliant governors is the way out. I may be biased but California's staged reopening seems like a reasonably cautious middle ground, even if it needs 10x more testing capacity.
posted by benzenedream at 11:44 PM on May 19 [10 favorites]


and if that sounds insane to you, think of how we don't have an HIV vaccine.

Or a vaccine for the common cold. Or how the flu vaccine has to be re-administered every year to be effective.
posted by PenDevil at 11:56 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


It's going to be very interesting to see how the opening goes here in Denmark. It's too early to see if there will be a new spike, now that restaurants and bars are open again (with social distancing). Now everyone who wants to be tested can be tested, and of course everyone who has symptoms is advised to be tested. They bring the test out to people who are ill, or don't have a car. You can get an antibody test as well, but it isn't really reliable. Every week you get a mail, asking about your health, but replying is voluntary. Nursing homes are locked down, but you can go and visit in the garden by appointment, and you will be supervised by staff all the time. They are also specifically testing a randomized section of the population, to get an overview.
Right now there are 1701 known patients, and out of them 141 are hospitalized, so it is clearly manageable, my region has closed down their dedicated corona-virus section.
Parliament has been discussing wether to open the borders to Norway and Germany, but not Sweden. The Swedes are angry and don't understand why. It's so Swedish, I think it is hilarious. But it is a real problem in the region near Copenhagen, because many people live in Sweden and work/study in Copenhagen.

One of my friends works in an American-owned company, and she says there is a huge culture clash between the American and the Danish employees. Basically, the Danes trust the authorities, and they can trust the authorities. The Americans are very worried about sending their children to school and going to work at the office.
posted by mumimor at 2:19 AM on May 20 [7 favorites]


We live on an island and a couple months ago there was little testing and a rising number of cases. Lately testing has expanded and we have had very few new cases in recent weeks (maybe 2-4 cases total).
This is the same for us, although we are probably on a rather larger island. My district of roughly half a million people records a very small number of cases per day, between 0 and 3. This is certainly an under-reporting, because not everyone is being tested, but testing is way up from what it was at the end of March and the numbers haven't increased proportionally. Anyone with symptoms in the UK can now book a test, while it was previously restricted to only hospital patients before being gradually expanded. Randomised testing like mumimor says is happening in Denmark is a great idea if the resources are there - I'd be happy to go for a test if asked even though there's a 99.99% chance I don't have coronavirus, because it gives them a picture of how and importantly where it's spreading.

One of the testing issues that needs to be sorted here is the prevalence of drive-through tests - you obviously can't get a lift from anyone if you don't drive, and I don't think I'd want to drive to the test centre myself if I was laid up with Covid symptoms, and the mail-order test kits "sell out" in half an hour every morning, it's a big oversight particularly in the major cities where people are far less likely to have a car. I'd be interested to see how they're managing testing in places like Singapore where proportionally even fewer people drive - the drive-through thing feels like an imported US idea.
Right now there are 1701 known patients, and out of them 141 are hospitalized, so it is clearly manageable, my region has closed down their dedicated corona-virus section.
The UK has mothballed most of the "Nightingale" hospitals which were set up in exhibition centres for Covid-19 patients. They're still there and available for use, but are not currently being staffed because there is sufficient space in conventional hospitals for the current case load. Numbers in hospital with Covid-19 are consistently going down. I think the best-case scenario we can think of is that NHS resources are sufficient now to give treatment to anyone who needs it, but I don't think we can justify a total lockdown for a lot longer - the impacts on everyone else's health are becoming too significant. Saying "lockdown and/or severe social distancing until a vaccine" seems like it just won't work, unless you change literally everything about life and society, removing our basic human rights permanently.
posted by winterhill at 3:03 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I struggle to see the point in a world with permanent or semi-permanent social distancing. It will save lives, but it will also void them of all meaning or purpose.

Articles like this might help you find a balance between social distancing and real-life contact. The idea is to think of it like you would abstinence with regard to STDs - sure, total abstinence is the best way to remain safe, but since that's difficult for many, learn to be social while minimizing your risk of infection. It's not that hard: masks, frequent handwashing/disinfecting, limiting time indoors when you're in a group, staying around 6 feet apart, touching feet instead of shaking hands, etc. None of that is onerous or particularly difficult, and it allows for a tremendous range of human social activity.

Of course, if, like me, your fave social activity for most of your life has taken place inside a crowded dance club or kitchen, there will be disappointment, but c'est la rona.
posted by mediareport at 4:09 AM on May 20 [10 favorites]


That's a useful article and it's the kind of thing that's been missing from UK media, whose tone is overwhelmingly one of "want to see another human? you're worse than Hitler!". It's nice to read an article that says - this is shite, people need to see people.

My plan is to meet one friend who also lives alone, one-on-one, and if they don't relax restrictions to allow that in the first couple of weeks of June we're going to do it anyway. I will then isolate for a week. The risk of the virus is massively outweighed by the serious risk to both of our mental health from indefinite, complete isolation. The way things have been lately, a short visit 2m apart and a cup of tea (that I'll bring myself in a flask) could quite plausibly save two lives rather than risking any.
posted by winterhill at 4:51 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


It is interesting to look at the data from the Spanish Flu pandemic with regards to "Non pharmaceutical interventions" and their effect economics and case rates. This April 2020 paper from some researchers at MIT Sloan Finance did that. They showed that those cities which locked down earlier and more aggressively had lower mortalities and made better economic recoveries than those that did not. The pandemic spread from east to west - so most of the cities which had the tightest lockdowns - and best economics outcomes - were those on the west which took heed of damage suffered from places hit earlier.

A century later and we have a changed world and a different virus - but that habit of learning lessons from the places hit first, does not seem to have been followed so much in the U.S.

It is interesting that quality of governance beats wealth here. Across the world we have seen some poorer countries and regions put themselves in a position where they may be able to leapfrog their richer neighbours on economic metrics. They have done so by taking rapid, draconian but well communicated action - Kerala - as discussed above -is a fine example.
posted by rongorongo at 4:52 AM on May 20 [10 favorites]


In Ontario, you can now engage in a wide variety of economic activities, but you can't see your loved ones, or go camping. Somehow going to wal-mart is "safer" than podding up with another family.

I feel like we're re-opening the wrong way. We need community connection, mutual aid, and figuring out ways to be social in this no-vaccine-yet world. But instead we've developed this messed up "must be paying money to exist outside your house" system and people are all too happy to call the cops on each other instead of having hard conversations. There are so many other options if we'd just be willing to question capitalism and make the rich people feelings graph go down.

I know a lot of people are hoping that we'll get a vaccine and then we'll go back to some semblance of normal. Maybe once we get a vaccine we'll be allowed to see our friends/families again. Maybe once we get a vaccine we'll be able to go to universities with thousands of other people, see movies with hundreds, go to a wedding with 300 people... Maybe once we get a vaccine we'll have air travel again and go on vacations... Personally, I don't think most of those are coming back.

So what's the plan til this vaccine? Sit tight, watch our more vulnerable people completely fall apart without social support/connection, and hope we have enough cash to pay rent/buy food til the vaccine comes? Just bunker down and call the cops on everyone who dares to try to spend time with loved ones and hope not to be affected personally? How many years can you do that for?

This crisis has shown us so many broken pieces and we're not fixing any of them. Why can't we dream differently?

(Apparently guidelines for social visits are coming but only after we've opened everything else up so that the virus can circulate through as much of the population as possible. Wonderful.)
posted by buteo at 6:37 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I know a lot of people are hoping that we'll get a vaccine and then we'll go back to some semblance of normal. Maybe once we get a vaccine we'll be allowed to see our friends/families again. Maybe once we get a vaccine we'll be able to go to universities with thousands of other people, see movies with hundreds, go to a wedding with 300 people... Maybe once we get a vaccine we'll have air travel again and go on vacations... Personally, I don't think most of those are coming back.
Perhaps I'm guilty of a lack of imagination, but I can't see how we can live without some of those things coming back. At present, one of the major issues is that we aren't allowed to see our existing families and friends. Long-term, an even bigger issue is going to be that we aren't going to be allowed to congregate in environments where we are able to meet new people and make new friends and form new families. We can't freeze in place our social groups from 1 March 2020 and say "these are the people we get to see for the rest of our lives", life doesn't work like that, people drift in and out of our lives naturally and we all grow and change as people because of the people we meet and the experiences we share. Some people are present in our lives forever, others are memories of a single conversation that sticks with us, all are valuable.

I don't think we'll be at arena concerts with 24,999 other screaming Lady Gaga fans any time soon, and in any case those regimented mass events aren't environments where you're likely to meet new folk, but I think we're going to have to figure out as a society how we can continue to allow ourselves to come into contact with other people we've never met before. The alternative is deeply depressing.
posted by winterhill at 7:03 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


I'm certain we will get some semblance of normal life back. I'm not worried at all. I do think it will take time, though
posted by mumimor at 7:31 AM on May 20 [7 favorites]


Or a vaccine for the common cold. Or how the flu vaccine has to be re-administered every year to be effective.

The common cold is caused by a large collection of virus types, which themselves come in numerous strains. COVID-19 is caused by a single strain (so far) of a single type of virus.

The influenza virus mutates extremely frequently and in substantial ways. Mutations of the COVID-19 virus have been observed, but most of them are unlikely to affect viability of a vaccine. There is one notable mutation that's been observed in the spike protein that many of the vaccines target, but it's not yet known if that mutation will matter.

There hasn't been a prior human coronavirus vaccine because past coronaviruses have either not caused disease, caused minor illness (e.g. some of the common cold viruses), or caused serious disease that ended up being controlled through other means (e.g. SARS).

There really are good reasons to be optimistic that one of the several, fundamentally different kinds of vaccine candidate will work. It's not a sure thing, of course, and there should be alternate scenario plans, but I'm actually more concerned that vaccine development will devolve into nationalistic competition and hoarding. In the US "Operation Warp Speed" is intended to produce 300 million doses reserved for the US and will not even consider vaccines developed in China. The UK has its plan to reserve the first 30M doses of the Oxford vaccine for itself. Taiwan is going its own way after being excluded from WHO coordination.
posted by jedicus at 7:42 AM on May 20 [16 favorites]


In Ontario, you can now engage in a wide variety of economic activities, but you can't see your loved ones, or go camping. ...I feel like we're re-opening the wrong way. We need community connection, mutual aid, and figuring out ways to be social in this no-vaccine-yet world.

That sounds good for people who have a strong network of friends, but the rest of us still need to buy food. It's easier to give money to people who can't pay for groceries than provide friends for people who are left out of...I don't know, how do you even envision getting necessities if you replace commerce with human connection? Informal barter networks?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 7:43 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


For what its worth, they never cut off sociability here in the Netherlands. You can actually have people over to your house - just not more than two people and try to keep your distance etc. - though that seems a bit impractical to me. The streets are full of people who are chatting, walking a bit apart from each other. Or two people sitting at different ends of a bench. A friend and I are planning later to go get take-out together and do something like this too.

They have volunteer orgs here too who go out and shop, etc. for the people who are isolating at home. Much of it is informal but there are also some initiatives organized by the city.
posted by vacapinta at 7:52 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


There really are good reasons to be optimistic that one of the several, fundamentally different kinds of vaccine candidate will work. It's not a sure thing, of course, and there should be alternate scenario plans, but I'm actually more concerned that vaccine development will devolve into nationalistic competition and hoarding. In the US "Operation Warp Speed" is intended to produce 300 million doses reserved for the US and will not even consider vaccines developed in China. The UK has its plan to reserve the first 30M doses of the Oxford vaccine for itself. Taiwan is going its own way after being excluded from WHO coordination.

The real worry will be countries without domestic manufacturing capacity. The UK has committed to licensing whichever vaccine they come up with to anyone who needs it and the 30m doses by September (and 100m by end of the year) are not necessarily all for UK domestic use - there is no need for them to be since you get disproportionate benefits from vaccinating a relatively small number of vulnerable people and healthcare workers. I wouldn't be remotely surprised if some of those doses ended up going to other European countries or the US (with both of whom fraught trade negotiations are going on). In any case, if the technology works the US and many European countries can make their own variant. There will be countries that cannot do that and that have little to trade in return.
posted by atrazine at 8:20 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Ireland is a big producer of drugs, one of the EU things that Trump hopes to change. I foresee no good outcome in the UK or Ireland, if they realize this in the middle of EU negotiations. The rages over the border will be as nothing.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:12 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Europe should brace for second wave, says Andrea Ammon, director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), a former adviser to the German government, speaks frankly in her first interview with a UK newspaper since the crisis began.
Meanwhile Europe rushes towards opening schools, Beach holidays and intereuropean flights.
posted by adamvasco at 10:02 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


A very important difference between HIV and the SARS-2 corona virus is that people with HIV do not spontaneously recover. While many people do get sick with COVID-19, most recover and some of those infected exhibit mild to no symptoms. While the extent to which those who have recovered have immunity to reinfection is still an open question, it is likely that most of those who have recovered will have significant immunity for an extended period of time. This suggests that a vaccine conferring significant immunity is possible, as it has been for many other viral diseases, like smallpox, measles, polio, and strains of influenza.

The timeline for the development of a vaccine is the bigger question: will it be ready before the pandemic simply runs its course, meaning that about 70% of the population acquires immunity through infection and recovery? That ordinarily takes about two years. While having a vaccine in eight months in sufficient quantity curtail the spread of the virus is probably very overly optimistic, perhaps one year from now, or a little longer, a vaccine may be protecting significant numbers of people. This would certainly influence the course of the pandemic.

Until then, I expect that states and countries will go through alternating periods of loosening and tightening restrictions as the pandemic dies down and flares up again region by region. Those periods of loosening and tightening hopefully will help prevent medical systems from being completely overwhelmed, allow time for development of more effective treatments, and keep the most vulnerable for getting infected while allowing for some economic, educational, and social activity that societies rely upon. Luck as well as sensible policies will determine how well regions and political entities fare.
posted by haiku warrior at 11:58 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


[Wow, this thread really picked up on its last day. Here's the new post to continue the non-Trump-related pandemic conversation.\]
posted by mediareport at 11:59 AM on May 20 [8 favorites]


[Agh, missed the edit window: Didn't mean to stop this convo, of course.]
posted by mediareport at 12:05 PM on May 20


🥛🍪🍪
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:27 AM on May 21 [3 favorites]


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