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Covid-19 – Update 1

An update as I work from home:

So far in the United States:
– no journalists jailed
– various levels of government taking effective action
– some civil liberties curtailed
– companies forgoing profit without being forced to in all cases
– people cooperating
– no civil unrest, riots, looting
– true and false news allowed (free speech lives!)
– people helping one another
– some finance companies allowing two months without payment
– we are still America, a family

Here’s a site for the latest data on coronavirus (COVID-19).
On this date: 54,808 known infected.

Epidemic numbers become more accurate as it progresses. Like other things. The infected number is underreported at the start and some recover without ever seeing a doctor. Early on, the fatality percent is very high since those are nearly always recorded as such.

In project management, a part of my profession and something I’ve taught, we make estimates based on earlier experience when we can. The last novel (new) virus pandemic was the one in 2009. It was H1N1 virus (Swine Flu), not corona, but novel because much of the population didn’t have resistance to it, in that case, it hit young people hardest. For the current coronavirus, it hits older people hardest because no age group is exempt and older bodies are hit especially hard by the effect on the respiratory system.

For the 2009 pandemic, H1N1, the U.S. suffered the loss of 12,469 dead. By way of comparison, 61,000 died from regular flu in the 2017-2018 season, 43,000 in 2012-2013, although 12,000/year is more usual, according to U.S. News & World Report. H1N1 is still with us but much of the population is resistant now.

In 2009, it took about seven months to develop a vaccine. Experts predict it will take longer this time, but we will see.

Here is a site that compares 2009 H1N1 to COVID-19.

If we do what we should, we can control this far better than in the past. We learn more each time. We have to: this will happen again and again.

In this highly partisan present, the government seems poorly equipped to deal with this: the problems are mainly at the top of the executive and legislative branches. Local, county, and state governments are responding, not always quickly, and the necessary steps to slow the spread have been taken. It’s hard for Americans to halt business, travel, and recreation. The streets are not completely empty but there seems to be a serious effort to protect each other.

Because a poor economy and high unemployment work against an incumbent President, it is a time of opportunity for those who want a change. It is a sad reality that when organizations can profit from disaster, they are less motivated to seek solutions, so politicians and media ramp up the competition at a time when we most need cooperation. That’s why Congress hasn’t provided relief yet. We need to break the grip of political parties on Congress.

Left to me, I’d build a relief plan around:

  1. Immediate financial help to everyone
  2. Support small businesses, they employ half of us
  3. Negotiate with big business to avoid layoffs
  4. Ensure hospitals get funding
  5. Help states with increased unemployment claims

In 2009, 60 million people caught H1N1, and we didn’t do much of a shutdown. Few schools closed and not for long, partly because the CDC recommended against it. The current virus takes longer to show symptoms, so it isn’t as simple: a person is contagious for a longer period before they experience symptoms. That’s why we are shutting down. In this case, the economic damage is much more than in 2009, and opening back up too early risks a second, more severe outbreak.

The media seems too reactive and tries to hard to scare people. They tell horror stories about medications considered, which may cause patients to not take livesaving medicine later. Generating fear is an exciting activity for journalists, but they often seem to have little understanding of either science or people. I’ve learned the biggest talkers about science are often pretty ignorant. That’s been true for decades. Try to find reliable sources, not the networks, whether Left or Right. I read The Economist each week, which is often accurate even if I disagree with their interpretations and recommendations. And I have a few doctors, nurses, lawyers, scientists that I follow and can ask. Their answers are less sensational, but calm and reasoned.

The stock market has fallen to where it was a few years ago, but it has been rising so much quicker than is probably healthy and this reset may be a good thing, letting off some pressure. Big investors seem to make money no matter what. Things are going up and down pretty hard, but they seem to have quit dropping. If we relax our efforts and have a fresh outbreak, the market might drop hard again. So let’s be careful out there.

Recommendation of the day: Tangle – fair and straightforward

By Ed Rushman

Technical manager in Orange County, parent, husband.