2020-03-26

Coronavirus

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by Neil Godfrey

Many newsfeeds and tweets have freaked me out but these two remain uppermost in the “freak out” department:

The Pandemic Is Going To Cost Us $5 Trillion … Or More

We Ran the Numbers. They’re Devastating

The $1 trillion coronavirus relief package Congress passed won’t come close to making up for the damage caused by COVID-19 and the Trump administration’s lethal dawdling.

We need the government to act or we could fall into a depression rivaling the 1930s.

An 18-month crisis is widely expected. The Trump administration plan is for 18 months. That implies $5 trillion based on my calculations.

The ultimate cost of this novel virus is likely to be north of $7 trillion, assuming this pandemic endures for two years, as German public health officials warn.

and . . .

Coronavirus is spreading rapidly in the US. American culture might make it uniquely vulnerable

Now is hardly the time to be attacking opposition parties, least of all media, as if they are the ones to hold us back. I would expect a civilized society to rise above that sort of thing.

The 1930s depression did not end well for the world. History does not repeat, I know, but I do often think I see times when it rhymes.

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Neil Godfrey

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10 thoughts on “Coronavirus”

  1. People are incapable of looking at realities. Look at China. It handled the pandemic about as well as the U.S. (i.e., not very), and is doing just fine now.

    1. There were a lot of problems with China’s handling, but it got the lockdowns in fairly quick, before most people in the west realised this would be necessary, and enforced them in a way that could never be done in the US. They built huge hospitals within days. Unfortunately I think you’re going to be very disappointed if you think Wuhan is a worst case scenario.

      1. South Asia. We could see Black Death casualty levels there more probably than not. Listening to MDs with decades of experience with, and knowledge of, respiratory diseases is … sobering would be understatement.

      1. Ditto USA:

        Across the United States, even as coronavirus deaths are being recorded in terrifying numbers — many hundreds each day — the true death toll is likely much higher.

        More than 9,400 people with the coronavirus have been reported to have died in this country as of this weekend, but hospital officials, doctors, public health experts and medical examiners say that official counts have failed to capture the true number of Americans dying in this pandemic. The undercount is a result of inconsistent protocols, limited resources and a patchwork of decision making from one state or county to the next.

        In many rural areas, coroners say they don’t have the tests they need to detect the disease. Doctors now believe that some deaths in February and early March, before the coronavirus reached epidemic levels in the United States, were likely misidentified as influenza or only described as pneumonia.

        With no uniform system for reporting coronavirus-related deaths in the United States, and a continued shortage of tests, some states and counties have improvised, obfuscated and, at times, backtracked in counting the dead.

        . . . .

        In infectious outbreaks, public health experts say that under typical circumstances it takes months or years to compile data that is as accurate as possible on deaths. The reporting system during an epidemic of this scale is particularly strained. And while experts say they believe that virus-related deaths have been missed, the extent of the problem is not clear.

        . . . .

        Around the world, keeping an accurate death toll has been a challenge for governments. Availability of testing and other resources have affected the official counts in some places, and significant questions have emerged about official government tallies in places such as China and Iran.

        In the U.S., uncertainties and inconsistencies have emerged, and health departments have had to backtrack on cases of previously reported deaths. Florida officials rescinded an announcement of a Covid death in Pasco County. In Hawaii, the state’s first announced coronavirus death was later re-categorized as unrelated after officials admitted misreading test results. Los Angeles county officials announced that a child had died from the virus, then said they were unsure whether the virus caused the death, then declined to explain the confusion.

        Adding to the complications, different jurisdictions are using distinct standards for attributing a death to the coronavirus and, in some cases, are relying on techniques that would lower the overall count of fatalities.

        . . . .

        Experts who study mortality statistics caution that it may take months for scientists to calculate a fatality rate for coronavirus in the United States that is as accurate as possible.

        Some researchers say there may never be a truly accurate, complete count of deaths. It has happened before. Experts believe that widespread news coverage in 1976 of a potential swine flu epidemic — one that never materialized — led to a rash of deaths recorded as influenza that, in years prior, would have been categorized as pneumonia.

        “We’re still debating the death toll of the Spanish flu” of 1918-19, said Stéphane Helleringer, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It might take a long time. It’s not just that the data is messy, but because the effects of a pandemic disease are very complex.”

        Kliff, Sarah, and Julie Bosman. 2020. “Official Counts Understate the U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll.” New York Times (Online), April 5, 2020.

  2. The Fed is issuing $4 trillion in bonds and the stimulus package is $2.2 trillion. $6.2 trillion total planned so far. I’m sure it will go up in the months to come.

  3. My dear fellow bloggers I can only wish you..

    .no magic, no god , but just a word to keep you all diligent in your mind and heart and the soul that you may perchance express to someone along your own sort of apocalyptic consciousness to a better place in these times…

    Very tough stuff we are all experiencing and I myself am at high risk. But I am still here and hopefully as all the bloggers here are.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Nothing more to say!

  4. Re: China – I don’t know if The Straits Times is a reliable source, but anyone believing the Chinese have solved the problem might read this:

    https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/stacks-of-urns-in-chinas-wuhan-prompt-new-questions-of-coronavirus-toll

    What’s interesting about this global misery, IMO, is not the illness itself. On the whole, if you have studied historic plagues, epidemics, and pandemics — and I have, for years — coronavirus seems rather routine for this planet.

    But I’m fascinated by the reaction (including online comments, covidiot videos, etc.) of people. Apparently, lots of us are unhappy with our decisions (including who we are trapped inside with). Obviously, lots and lots of people don’t know what to do with themselves if the distraction of daily work is unavailable. Stunning to find out that young people shake off warnings and (in the U.S.) go to the beach, in crowds, for “spring break” . . .

    . . . and, of course, there are the various local religious institutions still holding services, with large gobs of people in attendance. Is this about God, or the need to pass the collection plate?

    What isn’t surprising (to me): It is now horrifyingly clear that one heck of a lot of us forgot that thing about saving money. I come from a working class family in Brooklyn NY. I got a lot of bad advice and bad ideas (i.e., Catholicism) from my family. But there was one thing I was told that sure as heck made sense then — and now: “Always make sure you have at least 6 months of your expenses in savings.”

    It takes a lot of planning to do that. It requires you turn down the numerous alternatives that exist to spend money. It tells you to live within — or better yet, below — your means. How the heck are you going to save if your basic expenses of living equal what’s coming in?

    Warren Buffet has a saying that goes a bit like this: You can’t tell who is swimming naked until the tide goes out.

    Well, the tide is out, isn’t it? It seems most citizens of the Western world either were not told or did not believe that thing about saving money.

    And now — well, it turns out that there are consequences for the many who choose to live like chickenheads.

    My question is: Will there be a bit more thought by the average citizen on the other side of this? Or are we building up “pent-up demand,” so that everyone resumes spending every bit of cash (and going deeper into credit-card hock for more $) as soon as the virus is behind us?

  5. China’s “back to normal” appears to mean moving to the more liberal lockdowns and isolations we have been told to get used to in the West: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-08/as-wuhan-reopens-some-fear-another-wave-of-coronaviru-infections/12129228

    Wuhan is beginning to lift its coronavirus restrictions

    . . . .

    “Wuhan people are very happy and excited because we have been locked at home for so long,” she told the ABC.

    . . . .

    People wishing to travel to China’s capital require approval from local district governments in Beijing before they can buy a ticket.

    Nearly all people who leave Wuhan to other cities will face 14 days quarantine upon arrival.

    And only those with a “green” health rating on government apps will be permitted to leave.

    Those with ‘red’ or ‘orange’ ratings representing their level of coronavirus risk face further weeks or possibly months of restrictions.

    . . . .

    In recent weeks, the rest of Hubei province — which was originally locked down with Wuhan — had movement restrictions also relaxed.

    But brutal clashes on a border bridge with neighbouring Jiangxi province in late March showed just how much difficulty and stigma residents of the province face.

    . . . .

    Supermarket trips involve long social distancing lines and temperature checks.

    For this city of 11 million, things won’t be going back to normal anytime soon.

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