Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 29, 2020

Coronavirus - Its Time To Press Your Government To React Faster

The New York Times abuses the coronavirus pandemic to push more of its anti-China propaganda:

The New York Times @nytimes - 10:40 UTC · Feb 28, 2020

The Chinese government silenced whistle-blowers, withheld information and played down the threat of the new coronavirus. Now the ruling Communist Party is trying to rehabilitate its image by rebranding itself as the leader in the fight against the virus.

China Spins Coronavirus Crisis, Hailing Itself as a Global Leader
The propaganda push suggests the Chinese government might be worried about the lasting damage of the outbreak.

When a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown origin appeared in Wuhan the first reaction was of course confusion and not an immediate large scale response. Yes, China could have been a bit faster and some local administrators made mistakes, but who please, if not the Chinese government, has since led the global fight against the novel coronavirus?


The report of the WHO mission to China is lauding it for good reasons:

China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic. A particularly compelling statistic is that on the first day of the advance team’s work there were 2478 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in China. Two weeks later, on the final day of this Mission, China reported 409 newly confirmed cases. This decline in COVID-19 cases across China is real.

It is the U.S. which is lagging in the fight as it still can not even test people who need to be tested:

The federal agency shunned the World Health Organization test guidelines used by other countries and set out to create a more complicated test of its own that could identify a range of similar viruses. But when it was sent to labs across the country in the first week of February, it didn’t work as expected. The CDC test correctly identified COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. But in all but a handful of state labs, it falsely flagged the presence of the other viruses in harmless samples.

The CDC is still acting irresponsibly:

Some American Cities May Need to Wait Weeks For a Virus ‘Test That Works’

Across the U.S., fewer than 2,000 people had been been checked for the virus by Thursday -- a bare fraction of those in other large countries. City and state officials are frustrated by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s slowness to distribute accurate tests that could identify spreaders of the coronavirus.

That the CDC botched its response is probably not astonishing when its highest boss calls the obvious danger a 'hoax':

President Donald Trump on Friday night tried to cast the global outbreak of the coronavirus as a liberal conspiracy intended to undermine his first term, lumping it alongside impeachment and the Mueller investigation.

He blamed the press for acting hysterically about the virus, which has now spread to China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Italy and the U.S, and he downplayed its dangers, saying against expert opinion it was on par with the flu.

“The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They're politicizing it,” he said. “They don't have any clue. They can't even count their votes in Iowa. No, they can't. They can't count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That did not work out too well. They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax.”

Then Trump called the coronavirus “their new hoax.”

It is not a hoax for the government workers who cared for the COVID-19 cases the U.S. evacuated from Japan but were left unprotected and had received no training. They should all be in quarantine but were seemingly allowed to leave. It is not a hoax for the guy in Brooklyn who just came back from Japan, developed a high fever and can not get a test. It is not a hoax for the man in Miami who came from China, was tested and will now have to pay $3,270 for it. It will not be a hoax for many million U.S. citizens.

The U.S. is botching its response to the outbreak just like Japan has botched it. South Korea shows how it should be done.

Raphael Rashid @koryodynasty - 14:35 UTC · Feb 28, 2020

South Korea has gone through over 10,000 COVID-19 tests today. People who have any slightest of symptoms (or not) can even get themselves tested at these testing drive-thru stations. The whole process takes 10 mins.


I'm in awe.
As @jeeabbeylee points out, these COVID-19 tests are FREE. Anyone can get tested.
And with emergency localised messages being beamed to (almost) every phone in the country (you cannot switch these alerts off), people know exactly whether they've been in the path of the virus or not. It's really incredible.
Might I also point out that not only is COVID-19 testing in S. Korea free, it's open to all, including foreign residents, INCL. undocumented immigrants.
Medical centres are exempt from obligation to notify immigration office of visa status of patients.
Oh also, while COVID-19 tests in S. Korea are free, if the medical team determines the test to not be necessary but someone insists on wanting to be tested, they'll have to fork out 160,000 won ($132).

The way the U.S. health system is structured will make it difficult to avoid an wider epidemic. It will hit workers especially hard:

The CDC released very clear instructions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including staying home when you are sick. Not everyone has that option.

Overall, just under three-quarters (73%) of private sector workers in the United States have the ability to earn paid sick time at work. And, as shown in the figure below, access to paid sick days is vastly unequal. The highest wage workers are more than three times as likely to have access to paid sick leave as the lowest paid workers. Whereas 93% of the highest wage workers had access to paid sick days, only 30% of the lowest paid workers were able to earn sick days.
The second recommendation from the CDC is to contact your healthcare provider.

We know in that the United States, millions of people delay getting medical treatment because of the costs. The latest Census numbers tell us that over 27 million people in this country are uninsured, up nearly two million over the previous year. These trends are moving in the wrong direction, notably because of losses in Medicaid coverage.
The CDC recommendations all seem well and good but how does someone with no paid sick days or insurance cope?

There are also the undocumented immigrants who will fear that health personal may inform the immigration authorities.

National Nurses United warns that U.S. hospitals and hospital staff are unprepared for handling an epidemic:

The single COVID-19 patient admitted to the [UC Davis Medical Center] on Feb. 19 has now led to the self-quarantine at home of at least 36 RNs and 88 other health care workers.

These 124 nurses and health care workers, who are needed now more than ever, have instead been sidelined. Lack of preparedness will create an unsustainable national health care staffing crisis.
National Nurses United is conducting a survey of registered nurses across the country on hospital preparedness and will be releasing those results next week.

Preliminary results from more than 1,000 nurses in California are worrisome:

  • Only 27 percent report that there is a plan in place to isolate a patient with a possible novel coronavirus infection. 47 percent report they don’t know if there is a plan.
  • Only 73 percent report that they have access to N95 respirators on their units; 47 percent report access to powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) on their units.
  • Only 27 percent report that their employer has sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) stock on hand to protect staff if there is a rapid surge in patients with possible coronavirus infections; 44 percent don’t know.

Most of the issues above can be fixed if the government and Congress start to take the Covid-19 seriously. I have yet to see any sign that this is the case.

Tests must be freely available for anyone with even slight symptoms. Those who test positive must be isolated. There must be teams to trace and alarm all their contacts. All costs for COVID-19 cases, including money to pay people during for quarantine, must be paid by the government.  Services must be set up for deliveries to people who quarantine themselves at home. Each new cluster must receive an immediate response on a large scale. Health staff needs to get extra pay.

The above will require new legislation. It should be discussed today, not tomorrow. 

China has shown how a response can be done effectively. South Korea is following that path and will likely be equally successful.

There are also the economic consequences which only slowly start to come into view. Economist Nouriel Roubini predicts that the pandemic will cause a very strong global recession:

I expect global equities to tank by 30 to 40 percent this year.

The recession will also require massive government stimulus and work programs as most central banks already have extremely low interest rates and no room left to act.

To panic over the above facts is not useful at all. But people should press their governments and legislators to at least start the fight against the epidemic and its predictable consequences.

Previous Moon of Alabama posts on the issue:

Posted by b on February 29, 2020 at 19:21 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Measures should be taken, but a few points to ponder:
1) The US is much more socially isolated than many other nations. South Korea and Japan have far greater average population densities.
2) The cat is already out of the bag. It seems very possible that nCOV started 6 months ago - and so there have been infected carriers traveling worldwide for about that period of time. Since the disease affects working age people far less, it is very possible that the nCOV already out there is largely indistinguishable from the regular flu for those people.
3) The primary problems noted above: the US government response plus the US health care system in general - not entirely clear what Trump and the federal government should do about it.
Would the Democrats agree to a major travel ban plus quarantine regimes? Note that Trump will certainly make any such proposals contingent on US citizenship/legal residence.
Certainly it is doubtful that the political lobbyists for the US health care industry would countenance any form of government response that interferes with their profit-making machinery.

Posted by: c1ue | Feb 29 2020 19:33 utc | 1

Assume we can't stop it, only delay it and do our best to avoid becoming infected ourselves. In my post today I suggest we all exercise maximum caution until a vaccine is made available, which may be 18 months away; and looking at the profile of victims so far, focus on precautions, preparations and resources for the elderly and those with certain chronic health conditions.

Posted by: Sackerson | Feb 29 2020 19:47 utc | 2

Posted by: c1ue | Feb 29 2020 19:33 utc | 1

The cat is out of the bag.

However, you can draw out the process - think 50 percent of the population ill at the same time to 5 percent during two years. Plus treatment discovered in a few months.

You will need the capacity to treat people who are not so lucky as to have just light symptoms.

If you force everybody to stay at home you may as well just switch off the lights.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 29 2020 19:52 utc | 3

Tulsi Gabbard on why politics as usual must be discarded in order to prevent a public health crisis:

Posted by: Krollchem | Feb 29 2020 19:57 utc | 4

Funny thing, b was right - China (and online deliveries as well really) managed to snuff the spread out well, and it seems that the rest of the world and their 'representative bureaucracies' will show all how limited they are when a fast acting 'unknown unknown' (Rummy, how you made sense here!) does its thing.

Posted by: Ilya G Poimandres | Feb 29 2020 19:59 utc | 5

The idea that Uncle Sam will do something useful and timely is simply laughable. I have been mostly housebound due to severe illness for the past five years. Imagine a five year quarantine! In all that time I have had zero social support besides receiving a disability pension. I hire a personal shopper every two weeks to bring groceries; everything else comes via UPS or FedEx. I frequently go two weeks at a time and never see anyone except maybe a delivery driver.

There is no system to take care of housebound people. For me there is no medical personal to make housecalls, no social support, no personal care workers, nothing. And this at a time when nationwide there are only small numbers of people like myself. Multiply this non-system by 100 or 1000 and people will die at home and no one will even notice.

Uncle Sam's Day of Reckoning may be fast approaching. And we will have well-earned every bit of suffering headed our way.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 29 2020 19:59 utc | 6

We in Amerika have nothing to worry about because the trumpster put mr. I don't believe in science pence in charge ;-)

Posted by: jo6pac | Feb 29 2020 19:59 utc | 7

Your weird attempts at whitewashing China's early response to the virus are simply a bad take (one of several you've had lately, along with 'Iran didn't shoot down that airliner' and 'Erdogan is bluffing').

The issue isn't a bungled response of confusion and lack of large-scale action. It's that they actively suppressed information about the outbreak for over a month, which cost lives. The death of whistleblower Li Wenliang has become something of a rallying point for outrage at the Party, an outrage richly deserved. Yes their extreme response later was probably justified, but their own screw-ups early on are what led to that extreme measure being necessary.

Just because the US is a monstrous empire doesn't mean other powers are all automatically saints, nor that criticism of them is just baseless propaganda.

Posted by: Benjamin | Feb 29 2020 20:00 utc | 8

Thanks for your evolving coverage of the coronavirus b

Today, the first death in the US (Washington State) was announced. The US public is already getting anxious and yes, the medical system is not prepared, nor will it become so quickly....because profit motive will gum up the process.

It will give the world a very good example of why health care should not be for profit if we are to be civilized.

I continue to believe this virus did not happen by chance.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 29 2020 20:11 utc | 9

According to this article on medicinenet/feb18 testing for Covid-19 is time consuming, the article lists also additional issues re testing.

Posted by: Henriette | Feb 29 2020 20:15 utc | 10

Neither Reps nor Dems are psychologically capable even of conceiving the kinds of measures the post calls for. Trump's stooge already proclaimed that profit is the one and only goal of any response ("the market must decide"), while the Dem leadership as well can speak and think only in terms of making care "affordable", IOW the main purpose of the whole process still has to be corporate control and profit, even if a few stray Dems do want government to subsidize some victims. The purpose still is money changing hands, profit, commerce. Until the Big One levels the karma of this place that will never change.

It seems almost like fate is teeing up one practice play each time, just to show the US how hollowed out it is, before the real play begins. First was the Iranian reprisal strike which could have been so much more devastating. And now, although it's too early to tell how severe this pest ultimately will be, it looks so far like it won't completely cleanse the place. But if so that won't be for the lack of the US economic and cultural system giving it every opportunity it can use.

I have no doubt the US learns zero from either test case. By now the US is too berserk and stupid to deduce anything from its very survival than confirmation of the excellence of its policy and encouragement to further escalate and accelerate.

Posted by: Russ | Feb 29 2020 20:21 utc | 11

My goodness! Whoever thought we would ever see a news item like this?

Posted by: Maracatu | Feb 29 2020 20:21 utc | 12

Coronavirus - Its Too Late To Press Your Government To React Faster.

The virus is on the loose and MOA helped by initially downplaying the Covid19 risk !

Posted by: RobvC | Feb 29 2020 20:25 utc | 13

It's not IF but WHEN. Been following very closely in CGTN and UN Convid-19 updates.
This week bought a cheap pack of 30 mask from Harbor Freight and intend to buy a better grade from either Home Depot or Lowes today before it run out and price gouging starts.....

Good luck Americans and sorrie the chicken coming home to roost It's now between Capitalism or Socialism with Chinese Characteristic.

Posted by: JC | Feb 29 2020 20:28 utc | 14

@somebody #3
You said:

However, you can draw out the process - think 50 percent of the population ill at the same time to 5 percent during two years. Plus treatment discovered in a few months.

You will need the capacity to treat people who are not so lucky as to have just light symptoms.

Completely agree, although I don't see 50% infection rate in 1 year as being credible.
20% seems an upper limit based on the cruise ship - but even 10% of a population with 1 in 5 of those = 2% requiring hospitalizataion is pretty damn serious.
Outside of Japan and a few countries in Europe, most of the world has under 3 hospital beds per 1000 people (vs. a needed 20 in the above scenario).
Given that these beds are required for other things than nCOV recovery, it is easy to see how bad it could get.
China supposedly has 4 per 1,000 - but I can easily see that being dramatically variant between regions. Wuhan clearly didn't have enough.

Posted by: c1ue | Feb 29 2020 20:30 utc | 15


The risk is limited - this kills the old and infirm.

MOA was accurate in all the panic - China controlled its initial outbreak (although a re-entry is not unlikely imo). That the rest of the world didn't react fast enough, is expected though, but saying that before it was a thing would have been unnecessarily scare-mongering I'd say.

Posted by: Ilya Grushevskiy | Feb 29 2020 20:33 utc | 16

Oops forgot to add Convid-19 oready in our City, my neighbor told me yesterday he visited a friend in the only local hospital and heard the nurse talking they oready quarantine patients in the hospital....

Posted by: JC | Feb 29 2020 20:36 utc | 17

> when its highest boss calls the obvious danger a 'hoax':

This is absurd. It is absurd you make this claim. Honestly, it is insanely idiotic to have bought in to the CNN version.

How thick-headed must one be to actually think Trump was calling the virus or its potential danger a hoax especially given the context? It calls into question your reading skills globally.

Posted by: Florin | Feb 29 2020 20:42 utc | 18

It’s always Groundhog Day in the USA.
It's always late August 2005.
It’s always New Orleans.
It’s always Hurricane Katrina [or something else] on the horizon.
It’s always a Republican Administration in power.
Who needs external enemies when we have such internal incompetents available to do the work of sabotage?

Posted by: stephen laudig | Feb 29 2020 20:47 utc | 19

The cutest aspect of AmeriKKKa's Coronavirus torpor, greed & stupidity is that TPTB are probably ROTFLTAO over the severity with which the virus struck Iran. But the severity with which it strikes AmeriKKKa will probably make the Iran outbreak seem mild in comparison.
If the Yankees can't bulk-test suspected infected folks for another month or more then the first inklings of spread will be obvious to all from the number of people too sick to turn up for work.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 29 2020 20:57 utc | 20

Moa has jumped on the band wagon I see. Oh well , not much left of sit media now, just a broader version of msm.

Anyways, government actions and overreactions are the problem. This is a cold virus. Healthy people have little to fear but fear itself. But fear is addictive. Its also an effective tool to get people to accept more government control. Keep us safe they cry. Thats why they create fearful events over and over again. It works. Just call the 21st Century the Century of Fear populated by the Fearful Generation. United in fear. There is nothing people wont believe if it gives them their fix of fear. Carry on then. Have a nice fright.

Posted by: Pft | Feb 29 2020 21:08 utc | 21

>the number of people too sick to turn up for work.

The real problem will be the number of people still well enough to crawl to work.

For millions it is show up for work or sleep in the car. Not to mention the ones who show up for work everyday but still are forced to sleep in the car. How long can a desperately ill person live in a car or under a bridge? Probably not long. Maybe that will be a blessing.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 29 2020 21:08 utc | 22

Russ@ 12

Agreed that the US leadership is clueless and their thrashing around in order to protect corporate capitalism is xenophobic and dangerous to the world. Came across this research on a plant bioflavonoid that you might find useful in the treatment of SARS COV-1 (aka COVID-19).

Michel Chretien is setting up trials for combatting COVID-19 using a derivative of quercetin, which is a natural anti-inflammatory plant component.

In depth interview of this research in Canadian French:

Dr. Michel Chretien’s background and research:

Quercetin and the mixture of isoquercitrin have already been found to suppress the arthropod-borne Mayaro virus (MAYV) occurring in forested areas in tropical South America:

Numerous other research articles on plant bioflavonoids such as Quercetin are readily available in the medical literature.

Posted by: Krollchem | Feb 29 2020 21:12 utc | 23

I've been wondering what would happen if a country decided to just ignore the COVID 19 threat and carry on as if were no worse than a cold or the 'flu. Looks as though the question will soon be answered.
Thanks, AmeriKKKa for doing the next-best thing to ignoring it...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 29 2020 21:12 utc | 24

Let s see America pass the ‘Build a 2000 bed hospital in ten day test.
This whole thing is American i% elite bio-warfare, planned for years, against the world wide poor including it’s own poor.
The slow US reaction to this is not ineptitude but deliberate !
The solution to this virus will need to be forensic as well as medical. Just like any other suspecous death. The silence is deafening.
Attempts to supress this aspect of the situation should be met with extreme suspicion !!
Including among commentators here.
Expect retaliation from other world powers and see what that does to the statistical death rate.

Posted by: Mark2 | Feb 29 2020 21:12 utc | 25

>Healthy people have little to fear but fear itself.

Yes, if they have medical care, social support, a place to live, and savings to cover their sick time. That describes lots of US peons, while millions more already struggle to get through each day.

The Fed will fix everything. They will drop helicopter loads of money - onto Wall St. The rest of us will be told to suck eggs.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Feb 29 2020 21:15 utc | 26

After an early slow reaction to the virus - made worse by the disinformation that it originated from a wet market - the Chinese treated it as if it came from a military source. Whether it actually did or didn't was irrelevant. By treating it as a military problem the Chinese were able to shut down millions (100 - 400 million) of people in entire cities.

Possibly there was the fear of being exterminated as well, hidden behind the all the drastic actions.
It may have paid off, at least for the time being, and the origin of the virus will be hunted down later.

There is a strong case to be made that it was indeed military, but here I think that the "profit" motive is the one thing that is going to get us all stewed.
Tests cost money, lots of money, and I can imagine big pharma salivating about what they can squeeze out of them. (In France €250-1'000 for a completed test was mentioned. First level testing would cost less, I presume). Add the "masks" - on the local small-adds site (le bon coin) there are lots of very expensive boxes for sale, and even 79'000 masks as a job lot. Profit, profit, but there has to be a large "supply" of infected or prospective "clients".

Remember "Tamiflu" and the millions of vaccine doses that were bought and never used?. (4 million doses for France alone) Mr. Rumsfeld of 9/11 "fame" made a lot of money, and there was at the same time a person at WHO (unfortunately, I have forgotten his name) specialist in epidemics and crisis who loudly made it worse.
I notice that as well as being "race specific" at first, the major group at risk are older people. Knowing that most countries have enormous problems to find the cash for retirees and aging populations, it is not inconceivable that certain inhumans are calculationg what the elimination of us would mean for their accounts. As I belong to that group I have no wish to be exterminated either.

Posted by: Stonebird | Feb 29 2020 21:25 utc | 27

China communist party has been hiding the severity of virus outbreak for many weeks. WHO and many UN entities have been bought by the CCP and can’t be trusted. Australia and South Korea didn’t buy the happy talk of CCP and WHO and are responding forcefully.

US behind the eighth ball on massive testing of vulnerable areas like the west coast. Instead of having testing capabilities at every CVS and Walgreens and encouraging people to get tested frequently there’s very limited test kits available.

No one should trust the CCP. Just like their economic and other data it is all manipulated to serve CCP propaganda interests.

Posted by: ab initio | Feb 29 2020 21:26 utc | 28

The Trump Administration played down the risk of the coronavirus in today's news conference.

They left the impression that there's very little real risk to the public saying that most people that get the virus experience only cold-like symptoms.

But there is a real risk. The risk is that it spreads so quickly that there isn't enough respirators for those who need them.

AFACT there is virtually no real effort in USA to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease. They merely recommend that people stay home for a few days if they're feeling sick.

I wonder if they would secretly be very happy if a tens or hundreds of thousands of older people die as it saves on government healthcare costs.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 29 2020 21:32 utc | 29

Press our Govt. to do more? Surely you jest. Unless our present band of thieves can turn a good profit to fill their personal
pockets, they could care less....

Posted by: ben | Feb 29 2020 21:41 utc | 30

Hmmm. Good timing.

“EVP Strat Comm, GI Pub Policy of Merck Inc (30-Year Financial, Insider Trades) Julie L. Gerberding (insider trades) sold 102,073 shares of MRK on 01/13/2020 at an average price of $89.34 a share. The total sale was $9.1 million.”

Today the price is 76 per share. Merck is greatly dependent on API’s from China for drugs and vaccines

Julie is a former CDC Director. Maybe she knew something the rest of us didn't since China was downplaying the disease at the time.

From Feb 1-11 CEO Jeff Bezos sold nearly $4.1 billion shares in his company , according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

I suppose its just good timing.

Posted by: Pft | Feb 29 2020 21:46 utc | 31


CDC estimates 30 million flu cases each year with 30,000 deaths and 500,000 hospitalizations. I think we are a long way from any real concern. The US is nowhere near as polluted or densely populated as China. Also, I don't think we know how the disease spreads among non Asians. They are keeping that under wraps. Aside from those captives on the cruise ship there really has not been much spread from those who returned from China (visitors or citizens).

Posted by: Pft | Feb 29 2020 21:53 utc | 32

Hoarsewhisperer @ 21

are probably ROTFLTAO over the severity with which the virus struck Iran.

Yesterday I read an article suggesting the outcome in Iran was going to be far more severe because sanctions meant that the Iranians weren't getting any test kits, and this obviously delighted the writer and some of the readers. This story strikes me as more fake news on several grounds:
1. The CDC test kits appear to be fucking useless so why would Iran want to buy test kits from any United States manufacturer.
2. Iran is a technically advanced country so why can't they develop and manufacture with Chinese help their own test kits.
3. The most developed/advanced working test kits seem to be coming out of China, does anybody really believe China will implement unilateral United States sanction and not supply them to Iran.
OK, Iran was wrong not to stop mass religious celebrations in Qom sooner, but mass events have continued in the west.
United States media is suggesting that both the Islamists in Iran and the communists in China are going to be brought down by their failure to adequately respond to Coronavirus, which I doubt. Actually, this is Americans projecting again, it's the two party system/Washington Establishment that will be brought down by its total failure to deal with what's coming. If Trump has any sense, he'll turn on a sixpence and push M4A as a campaign pledge. By November, the true impact on the United States will be clearer and may well be the deciding factor in the election. Even in America, the projected death rate will mean that almost everybody will know someone who has died because of Washington's pathetic response.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Feb 29 2020 21:55 utc | 33

Monty Python will have to drag their cart over to the US otherwise it might get a bit smelly under bridges and other places of shelter.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Feb 29 2020 22:03 utc | 34

Pft @33:

CDC estimates 30 million flu cases each year with 30,000 deaths and 500,000 hospitalizations.

I understand that. But seasonal flu has well known epidemiology. That USA is prepared for flu doesn't translate into adequate preparation for Covid-19.

This virus seems to be more contagious and has the potential to grow quickly to the point where health systems are overcome. Such an outcome means unnecessary deaths. That's why it's important to take measure early. We should not risk a repeat of what we saw in China. Yet that's exactly what the government appears to be doing.

In addition to the government saving money, perhaps they'd like to use American deaths from the virus to continue to bash China, accelerating the USA-China decoupling?

Decision-makers whose mindset is capitalist and EMPIRE-FIRST would not necessarily be very troubled by deaths from this virus. But, of course, they will tell us how very hard they are working to stop the virus.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 29 2020 22:13 utc | 35

Trump will go crazy and put off the election. I definitely am interested to see the reaction to that.

Posted by: Just Me | Feb 29 2020 22:13 utc | 36

Hi B,
looks like the guys at New England Biolabs have a very rapid assay for COVID-19 --- Rapid Molecular Detection of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Virus RNA Using Colorimetric LAMP
Yinhua Zhang, Nelson Odiwuor, Jin Xiong, Luo Sun, Raphael Ohuru Nyaruaba, Hongping Wei, Nathan A Tanner

Its a preprint -- but this is the way to go an isothermal loop mediated amplification (LAMP) assay. You ought to be able to get a result in about 30 minutes -- faster once they really automate it. Should cost virtually nothing a few cents.
Other versions of it might be adapted so you can use them in the field so a general practitioner or even a soldier will be able to make the diagnosis at the bed side-- its a simple color change in a tube. All you need is a pipette the assay tube a hot block and a timer. True positive rate 99.99% false positive about 1% or less. This what the CDC needs. Problem is that they have to mass produce the assay tubes -- we need 100 million like yesterday. The other thing is that we might need martial law to quarantine people and we need to train people to use the kits and fast.
All the best

Posted by: CJ | Feb 29 2020 22:15 utc | 37

All of a sudden, "freedom isn't free" axiom acquires a really macabre meaning. The inevitable devastation in countries with laissez-faire approach to this emergency will eventually prove "totalitarian" Chinese measures as being vastly superior.
The US will undoubtedly - if grudgingly - adopt Beijing MO, but only after hundreds of thousands of people die needlessly, and America's healthcare system falls apart under the pressure of millions of patients unable to pay exorbitant bills.

Posted by: Venom | Feb 29 2020 22:16 utc | 38

i'm still perplexed at how Japan's testing of possible Covid-19 casses is severely lacking .. you have to fall into a certain criteria first (like contact from a known carrier, or travel to China)

economy ... in my case ... if one person is reported to be infected, the whole building where i work will be quarantined no one can go in to work ...

Posted by: r | Feb 29 2020 22:20 utc | 39

3. The most developed/advanced working test kits seem to be coming out of China, does anybody really believe China will implement unilateral United States sanction and not supply them to Iran.
Posted by: Ghost Ship | Feb 29 2020 21:55 utc | 34

I caught China's CGTN News last night (the Bejing edition, not the fake BBC-ified version from London) and China has formally told Iran that China will support Iran's efforts to combat the outbreak in Iran in every way possible including equipment and personnel - without limitations.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 29 2020 22:20 utc | 40

Normal flu has R0 of about 1.3

Los Alamos Labs calculates Covid-19 R0 at between 4.7 to 6.6.

Bottomline: Covid-19 is much easier to spread / quick to spread.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 29 2020 22:26 utc | 41

The American mind does not know what "public health" is.

"Public health" is not a thinkable thought. b's paragraph beginning with "Tests must be freely available..." is a sequence of events that cannot exist even in fiction in America. Only someone who has never lived here could write that paragraph. None of b's suggestions are happening. And because these simple measures cannot happen, a price will be paid.

Posted by: oldhippie | Feb 29 2020 22:26 utc | 42

China has offered free treatment to anyone who has the disease. Koreans are crossing over into China to get the free treatment and China is agreeing to treat them.

Posted by: Robert Browning | Feb 29 2020 22:27 utc | 43

"The CDC is still acting irresponsibly"

I disagree. The CDC is passing out essential information to help people survive in these trying times.

Posted by: Yonatan | Feb 29 2020 22:42 utc | 44

The overreaction to this will cause much, much more damage than the virus would have if it were responded to in a conventional, sensible way. Those in positions of responsibility are terrified of underreacting, and it's easy to rationalize that it's better to be safe than sorry.

If measures taken cause unnecessary disruption, if they increase the level of stress, the levels of disease and the amount of death will rise rather than fall. There is more to disease than just microbes.

This is not to say that we should be laissez-faire. Our response to the yearly outbreak of the flu is, in my opinion, insufficient. Schools are an unprecedented institution of prolonged propinquity. Children go to school, are with their classmates in enclosed rooms all day, and bring the disease home. Children survive, but grandma and grandpa might not. Schools can be shuttered during outbreaks, and the technology exists, at least for the relatively fortunate, to continue the instruction online. People should also be encouraged to avoid stressful prolonged propinquity situations such as travel on planes, trains, and interstate buses.

It's occurred to me that the death rate statistics might be misleading. Since China closed their schools, one can assume that the disease rate among children fell substantially. However, elderly people who live in care facilities, which is a high density living situation, would not enjoy the falling infection rate, and they are exactly the population most susceptible to a fatal outcome. This alone, perhaps, might make the death rate higher for COVID19 than for the flu.

Here, I think, is a very good take.

Posted by: Spike | Feb 29 2020 22:54 utc | 45

The US response to the looming pandemic reflects the outlook of the idiot US President who would loudly declare to all that his many bankrupt businesses in the past were doing stupendously right up to the moment they went under. Apparently Trump once upon a time read the scriblings of Norman Vincent Peale and learned the trick of winning friends & influencing people. Whenever he opens his stupid mouth his phony positivity spews all over his listeners like saliva & halitosis.

He doesn't give a f**k about the American people. His concern is for his hotels. Nobody wants to stay in hotels in a pandemic so his whole hospitality business is going down because it is heavily leveraged and he ain't no billionaire in actuality. Next to the bankruptcy of Trump hotels, the flooding of Mar a Lago would be a spectacle much to be desired.

Doesn't matter what WHO says. The CCP lies. They have the same modus operandi as Trump. They're requiring industrial operations to use electricity even though there are no workers at the facilities, just for the optics. Wow, lookit the energy demand! China must be rebooting and coming back on line because they licked the virus! Hurray! Let's all do what the Chinese do, tweet, tweet, tweet,tweet, tweet. ( To the tune of: Let's all sing like the birdies sing.)

The US healthcare system, the privatized system of exploitation of the sick for greater investor profits, is not capable of dealing with a pandemic. Trump and his gang of thieves, charlatans, and unapologetically incompetent followers of Ayn Rand and graduates of the Koch Brothers University, will prevent the socialization of medicine if they possibly can. Will a future cover of Time Magazine show them all hanging from lamp posts?

Whether this pandemic provokes the rapture of Pence & his 144,000 elect and the much anticipated End Times, or whether it fizzles out, I do heartily wish for one outcome: the disenfranchisement of Donald J Trump, his heirs & assigns, and all those who seem unable to smell the stink of his bullshit.

Thank you Jesus! Amen.

Posted by: jadan | Feb 29 2020 22:56 utc | 46

My understanding is that at least one person in Japan and several people in China have become ill with a second bout of coronavirus, after having been declared free of the disease. If this is so, we will be hearing soon enough about other cases where this happens.

So, I have a question - what good would a vaccine do? Vaccines work by introducing a pathogen into the body to force it into a "fight" mode.

Here's one of the simplest explanations I have found: "A vaccine works by training the immune system to recognize and combat pathogens, either viruses or bacteria. To do this, certain molecules from the pathogen must be introduced into the body to trigger an immune response. These molecules are called antigens, and they are present on all viruses and bacteria."

In other words, a vaccine should mimic the disease so that it triggers the body's immune response and the person vaccinated will then be able to be in the presence of the virus or bacteria and their body will fight it off on its own, just like they would if they had had the virus and lived: now they are immunized, either by a vaccine in the one case, or by the body's own immune system in the other.

If a person can have the virus, survive it, test negative for it after getting well, but then come down with again, it means the body is not self-immunizing against the bug. So to repeat the question, why would a vaccine work in such a scenario?

I'm not in the medical field, and I am sure someone will come along to tell me how stupid the question is, but I will suffer being called a fool if someone offer a simple explanation as to why a vaccine would necessarily work with a virus that doesn't even trigger the body's own immune system.

Posted by: teri | Feb 29 2020 22:57 utc | 47

@49: Sorry, typo in the last sentence. Should be "if someone CAN offer a simple explanation".

Posted by: teri | Feb 29 2020 23:00 utc | 48

teri @49

Reinfection happens with the seasonal flu also. Viruses change.

As this is a new virus, we don't know how quickly it may change. I've seen reports that reinfection is not confirmed.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 29 2020 23:10 utc | 49

@ 51

Oh, how I have missed Jack Rabbit and his brilliant comments - "I've seen reports that reinfection is not confirmed."

What does that even mean?

Posted by: Lochearn | Feb 29 2020 23:24 utc | 50

So which other countries arrested the doctors that broke the bad news? Praising China's handling of this is asinine. The CCP is the sole reason this has become an international problem. This is a nasty virus and now that it is in africa and india it will become a chronic cyclical pathogen like influenza. But in this case it kills 50% of the patients over 60.

Also no statistics that come out of china are trustworthy be it economic or otherwise. This is a foolish thing to base an article on.

Posted by: anon | Feb 29 2020 23:27 utc | 51

=/ if someone offer a simple explanation as to why a vaccine would necessarily work with a virus that doesn't even trigger the body's own immune system. /=

(I am not a biochemist.) I think the idea is that viruses tend to have portions of their exterior that tend to be (relatively) strongly 'conserved' (stay the same for awhile). And it is now possible for biochemists to find these 'portions' and actually design (or just 'find') antibodies that react to them, perhaps sooner that any one person's immune system can make the discovery. There is some risk with this, since you don't want to accidentally target some normal tissue.

Why does it take 'years' to roll out something useful once it is discovered???

Also, what is it with Donald Trump's 'virtual stupidity'??? He put Mike Pence in charge of this? I would not put Pence in charge of walking a dog.

I'm seeing tons of 'virtual stupidity'. Even people who seem to understand advanced mathematics quite often are incapable of applying it in a reasonably intelligent way. (For example in voting systems analysis.) This 'virtual stupidity' is very vexing, and rather mysterious.

Posted by: blues | Feb 29 2020 23:31 utc | 52

@ Benjamin 8

White washing you say? Let's see the US replicating what China has accomplished during this difficult time.

China is the world's manufacturer of not just affordable everyday essentials for the masses.
Just hope you have more than 3 days' supply - hop to the supermarket or pharmacy when the need arise and you may see they won't have just in time inventory. Watch Walmart, Dollar Tree in that category. Add pharmaceuticals and food. Yes food

We will be lucky to escape with only a deep recession. It's all about credit and cash flow

Look here:
FDA Reports First Drug Shortage Due to Coronavirus, Far Earlier Than Expected

February 28, 2020 12:05 PM EST

The first drug shortages directly tied to the coronavirus outbreak have hit the U.S, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The agency did not identify the specific drug that was impacted but said in an announcement Thursday the shortage was due to a key ingredient sourced from China being unavailable.[.]

While this is the first U.S. shortage due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it likely won’t be the last. The FDA has identified 20 drugs that either source their active ingredients or receive their finished drug products from China. (None are considered critical drugs.)

So far, no other pharmaceutical companies have reported shortages, but continued slowdowns in Chinese factories as the country tries to contain the outbreak could change that.

Those other alternatives.? Hope patients are not allergic to "other alternatives."

Bank on more shortages.

Posted by: Likklemore | Feb 29 2020 23:39 utc | 53

As to the Times' allegations about China's response, compare the timelines of our response to H1N1 (300,000 deaths) ten years ago, to theirs:

As you watch the video, repeat under your breath, "Katrina. Katrina. Katrina."

Posted by: Godfree Roberts | Feb 29 2020 23:55 utc | 54

If this virus catches on, as it were, the United States will be in big trouble. The US government doesn’t have a great track record in responding to unexpected crises that require smart, decisive and co-ordinated mobilization of emergency services at all levels. Furthermore, the profit motive built into the health care “system” will hamper whatever containment efforts the clowns in power are able to muster. The unspoken expectation that workers show up for work even if they are ill will also help the virus spread.

As in any oligarchy if you are rich and have ready access to cash and essential resources, you will get the best services money can buy. If you are poor, you are fucked and will be sacrificed at the alter of mammon. If you are “middle-class” and one pay check or illness away from poverty, you’d better hope your credit isn’t maxed out or that you have well connected relatives or friends who are willing to help you and your family.

But, hey, look on the bright side...maybe Chairman Trump’s appointment of Mike Pence as Virus Secretary will finally vindicate the true believers by proving that their daddy really is a latent genius and 6D chess master.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 1 2020 0:05 utc | 55

@ pH 19

Here is the situ: (link protected). February 29, 2020 News Release intended for healthcare professionals, MDs, etc.marked Urgent.

The first death in the United States from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was a Washington state man in his 50s who had underlying health conditions, state health officials announced on Feb 29. At the same time, officials there are investigating a possible COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care facility.

Washington state officials reported two other presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, both of whom are associated with LifeCare of Kirkland, Washington. One is a woman in her 70s who is a resident at the facility and the other is a woman in her 40s who is a health care worker at the facility.
Additionally, many residents and staff members at the facility have reported respiratory symptoms, according to Jeff Duchin, MD, health officer for public health in Seattle and King County. Among the more than 100 residents at the facility, 27 have respiratory symptoms; while among the 180 staff members, 25 have reported symptoms.[.]

The administration also announced a series of actions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus and responding to it. On March 2, President Trump will meet with leaders in the pharmaceutical industry at the White House to discuss vaccine development. The administration is also working to ensure an adequate supply of face masks. Vice President Mike Pence said there are currently more than 40 million masks available, but that the administration has received promises of 35 million more masks per month from manufacturers.
Access to masks will be prioritized for high-risk health care workers, Vice President Pence said. “The average American does not need to go out and buy a mask,” he added.



[.] During that press conference, Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the current pattern of disease with COVID-19 suggests that 75%-80% of patients will have mild illness and recover, while 15%-20% will require advanced medical care. For the most part, the more serious cases will occur in those who are elderly or have underlying medical conditions. There is “no indication” that individuals who recover from the virus are becoming re-infected, Dr. Fauci said.

Re-read that last statement by Dr. Fauci..there is no indication.......
There is “no indication” that individuals who recover from the virus are becoming re-infected,

re-infection - It's fake news?

Posted by: Likklemore | Mar 1 2020 0:07 utc | 56

Correction: typo should be @ ph 10

Posted by: Likklemore | Mar 1 2020 0:12 utc | 57

oldhippie @43--

Those words you wrote are quite correct. People not acquainted with the uncivilized domestic vagaries of the Outlaw US Empire would be stunned by their ineptness and insensitivity, and the brutal Class War aspect underlying the entire situation. The following thought is indeed ghoulish:

In the USA, it would be best for those attending an elite level cocktail/dinner party to come in contact with someone infected with Covid-19, spread it around to all attendees and its service workers, have many fall ill with a number of the rich and affluent dying.

The media only takes notice when celebs start dropping, like Kobe. It's March Madness time when tens of thousands come into close proximity in enclosed arenas. Look for cases to get out-of-control by the beginning of April.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 1 2020 0:17 utc | 58

Could this epidemic and the way it is handled end up convincing the US public of the need for a robust public health system?

Posted by: jiri | Mar 1 2020 0:20 utc | 59

Lochearn @53: What does that even mean?

February 27 (yesterday): expert reaction to people being re-tested positive for coronavirus after initial recovery

There has been a case reported in Japan where a woman has been confirmed as a coronavirus case for 2nd time, after previously recovering from the illness.

Expert 1

“The reports that patients who tested negative subsequently tested positive again is clearly of concern. It is unlikely that they would have been reinfected having cleared the virus, as they would most likely have mounted an immune response to the virus that would prevent such reinfection. The other possibility therefore is that they did not in fact clear the infection but remained persistently infected.

Expert 2

“There is so much we do not know about this case to give a properly informed opinion. Did the woman test negative after her last positive and if so how many tests were negative before her initial discharge? Does she have any underlying illness or is she on any treatment that could affect her immune system?

“So there are a two possibilities:

  1. This is indeed a relapse of the illness – This was seen is SARS but in someone who was being treated with steroids.... [but] this is unlikely to be common based on current information.
  2. She has a prolonged excretion of virus from her initial infection and tests were either not done or were not done sufficiently well or enough to confirm clearance.

Expert 3

“Assuming that there is a minimal possibility of misdiagnosis, it still remains unclear from the published reports whether the person involved was likely re-infected, or whether this represents an infection that may have been partially cleared or perhaps has gone latent. In either case, given the number of reported cases thus far, it would seem unlikely that this is a common occurrence, and thus should have only a small impact on the overall epidemic projections themselves. Of possibly greater concern are the implications for control measures – should quarantine periods be extended?


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 1 2020 0:23 utc | 60

A COVID-19 case just showed up in Portland, Oregon - my home state, in a school employee working at an elementary school(!) apparently a case of community transmission.

Well, surprise surprise, I just received an email from Senator Merkley (D) Oregon that "I take the safety of Oregonians and Americans incredibly seriously ..." so I'm feeling reassured that government has things in hand.

Not. I'll be heading out to the local Fred Meyers later to top off my stores, mostly with essentials like several bottles of wine, a few boxes of crackers, and a big lump of Oregon blue smokey cheese. With a quick stop at the library to pick up DVDs of "Contagion" and "Outbreak", I'll be set for a while.

Posted by: Trisha | Mar 1 2020 0:23 utc | 61

Here's the official numbers about China's industry. They are, as expected, devastating:

China's manufacturing PMI drops in February amid epidemic

China's PMI dropped from 50 to 35. This is both a sign that its quarantine is effective and that the economic hit will be hard.

Now, the question is: after the epidemic pass, will China be able to reactivate the deactivated infrastructure? If yes, how long will it take?

Personally, I doubt any capitalist nation's government is capable of shutting down its own infrastructure to the level that its own PMI drops 15 points. They simply don't have the authority.

China can - which is an evidence it is indeed a socialist, and not a capitalist, nation.

But more evidence will arise after the epidemic is fully contained. If China will be able to quickly reactivate its economy, then this will be true evidence it is really a socialist country.


I disagree South Korea will be able to contain the COVID-19.

To begin with, South Korea is a capitalist, not a socialist, economy. Therefore, its central government is naturally weak.

Those free tests will cost dearly to the coffers of the central government. That is because, as a capitalist nation, its government doesn't own any of the means of production. That means it will pay the costs, but won't reap any of the profits from containing the epidemic. This will result in a balooning of South Korea's debt. Social-democracy is failed by design precisely because of this: the government always enters with the expenses, but never reaps any of the profits; when the debt situation gets critical, it deseperately resorts to draconian labor market reforms and/or to draconian tax raises on those who cannot avoid it -- the working class. They are then portrayed as traitors (as they should) and leave the path open an even crazier conservative (neoliberal).

That means that, best case scenario, Jae-in Moon contains the epidemic - but loses the presidency next elections to the conservatives. Best case scenario (which I don't think will happen). Moon should go and beg the big chaebol families for mercy - South Korea's true nucleus of power - so South Korea can have at least a standing chance against the COVID-19.


@ Posted by: anon | Feb 29 2020 23:27 utc | 54

If you're talking about that "whistleblower" who died, then you're wrong.

At December 30th, he saw some people in the local seafood market with SARS symptoms. He then chatted with ten close friends (seven of whom are also doctors) about it and explicitly told them not to spread the news - you know, because he's a real scientist, so he doesn't create news based on speculation.

The local police then intercepted his chat somehow and made him sign a letter of reprimand over their anti-rumors law. He signed, and that's it - he wasn't arrested at all. Indeed, he died in the frontlines, fighting the virus as a doctor. Because, you know, it is expensive to make doctors, so it would be very unproductive to arrest one over a whatsapp message.

The story that China is arresting its own doctors just because they discovered the COVID-19 is as absurd as the Cold War story that the Red Army shot its cowards in the back during WWII.

Posted by: vk | Mar 1 2020 0:52 utc | 62

@ Posted by: Likklemore | Mar 1 2020 0:07 utc | 60 with the follow up to the death in Washington State and the Pence quote

Let me repeat the Pence quote which I want to parse
Vice President Mike Pence said there are currently more than 40 million masks available, but that the administration has received promises of 35 million more masks per month from manufacturers.
Access to masks will be prioritized for high-risk health care workers, Vice President Pence said. “The average American does not need to go out and buy a mask,” he added.

It reads to me that because the US citizens will not have enough masks for those that want them then they are told they don't need them even though they see everyone else wearing them on their Plato's Cave well is that going to go over?

Another thought this situation brings to my mind are the arguments made by politicians during the Obama health care debates about Death Panels....which will be empowered over this instead of nationalizing health care and focusing on results instead of profit.

America has the best government money has bought and the worst health care the profit motive has fostered.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 1 2020 0:58 utc | 63

@ b in title line

"It's Time To Press Your Government"

In the 68 years I have been around there has never been a time when the government has shown the vaguest indication it might respond to the wishes of the serfs. Unruly serfs are punished. How would a Government be Pressed? Not a familiar concept in these parts.

Posted by: oldhippie | Mar 1 2020 1:00 utc | 64

That's depressing:

NHS plans to deploy ‘Dad’s Army’ of retired doctors if Covid-19 spreads

Posted by: vk | Mar 1 2020 1:25 utc | 65

psychohistorian @69--

We were just discussing the wearing of masks within the Outlaw US Empire and their acceptance socially, which in our opinion is negative. Both Samantha and Alex work in high public contact businesses, so our question for them to ask their bosses is I want to wear a mask so I won't get sick; what's your policy going to be? Hypothetical: I'm an aware worker employed as a concession worker at one of the Outlaw US Empire's numerous sports arenas which will be packed by fans during the upcoming March Madness Season which actually lasts until early June, and I want to wear a mask to protect myself since I know my employer won't give a damn. How do you think I'll be treated by all I encounter? I doubt if anyone praises me for being smart, for being proactive.

I hope other barflies will opine on my hypothetical as it's of course very realistic.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 1 2020 1:28 utc | 66

Oh, and the 35 million masks on hand mean we're short 300 million at minimum--only 10% of what's required readily available. Talk about a shortage of an essential item. I say they become available on a sliding scale with Bloombergs and Trumps paying $1 billion for each mask with those in homeless shelters paying nothing.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 1 2020 1:32 utc | 67

As the child of Soviet emigres (my father having been thrown onto the front lines as a 17-year-old with an hour's training with a rifle), I can confirm that the Red Army didn't shoot recalcitrant soldiers on the front lines in the back - it was NKVD officers (known in English as "political commissars" assigned to the unit) who shot whichever body part would be fatal, accuracy and aim being determined by combat intensity at the time . . .

Posted by: Zee | Mar 1 2020 1:35 utc | 68

@ Posted by: Zee | Mar 1 2020 1:35 utc | 74

Cool. Did your father made up that story before or after he managed to cross the border (and probably receive a very nice pension or job)?

Refugees stories: they are everything you want to hear.

Posted by: vk | Mar 1 2020 1:53 utc | 69

Stalin and Beria weren't fucking around when Germany attacked. You don't beat a military machine like that by being a nice guy, specially when you're on the back foot.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Mar 1 2020 1:59 utc | 70

Today it is clear that the West Coast of the USA has community transmission of the Wuhan coronavirus and one death to date. Due to the purposeful lack of virus testing, this is the tip of the iceberg. Tuesday I will make, likely, my last grocery run to try to top off my supplies to shelter in place for a month or so.

Government incompetence and the Establishment’s intention not to quarantine hot zones to keep the market economy running means that by next year at least 50% of the population will be infected. If ten percent of the infected with the virus need intensive medical care; hospitals will be swamped and the mortality rate in the USA will rise to medieval levels. The tragedy is that politicians who don’t see reality. The Elite don’t feel threatened. The reality is to avoid a failed America, military measures will be needed to assure that workers have effective PPE, utilities keep running, food and potable water are available for everyone. This is an existential threat. Yes, most will survive. But without government intervention, civilization itself will collapse as communities dissolve into unrest as everyone tries to survive on their own.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Mar 1 2020 2:02 utc | 71

@ ph 69


did you miss VP Pence was appointed to manage the virus outbreak?

Feather me. I thought he was the deacon of evangelicals.

Masks are for the elites and healthcare workers.
The serfs are on their own..
SOS. Be guided.

Posted by: Likklemore | Mar 1 2020 2:08 utc | 72

Vietnam Vet@77

Right on, Vet. US economy is critically dependent on congregating a lot of people in limited spaces (shopping, concerts, sporting events, cruises, air travel), so the government will be downplaying the threat until reality manifests itself in the ugliest way. There are without any doubt already thousands of infected people all over America, and hiding it will soon become simply impossible.
Trump is risking eternal ignominy in the way his administration is handling this issue.

Posted by: Venom | Mar 1 2020 2:17 utc | 73

Moon seeks bipartisan support for fighting virus

Smart move by Moon. If the COVID-19 is going to bring him down, he's dragging the Conservatives with him.


@ Posted by: Venom | Mar 1 2020 2:17 utc | 79

That's not even the main problem. The main problem with the USA is that it is a capitalist country. And we know capitalist countries simply won't shut down their productive infrastructure just because some dozen million old people will die.

I'm not even blaming Trump for this: central governments in capitalist nations really can't control what happens in their productive units. If the capitalists don't wish to quarantine themselves, then the country will simply not be quarantined. That is also true for South Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, UK etc. etc.

The situation is obviously even worse in the Third World countries, which, besides being capitalist, don't even have the material means to react.


@ Posted by: Peter AU1 | Mar 1 2020 1:59 utc | 76

Yes - but they didn't execute soliders just because they could.

Execution for cowardice was a WWI thing, where entire batallions in France and Germany were executed for "desertion" or "treason". The empires of the time were liberal dictatorships at the time (vote was sensitary, not universal), so they didn't worry about popular opinion. It was so brutal that it triggered two Russian Revolutions in eight months (February, October), after the February government betrayed the peasants and unilateraly decided to continue the war.

Posted by: vk | Mar 1 2020 2:33 utc | 74

N95 masks...

Drop in Home Deport twice this afternoon. Bought seven pack 3M N95 filter masks. Harbors Freight and Lowes sold out since early this week. Did not try Walmart, I refuse to shop there. Not sure if pharmacies have any (CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid). Local Craigslist price gouging started. (I'll email my kids in Portland if they needs any (Oregon and Washington)

My frig and pantry store are full - frozen and dry foodstuffs. I live alone and extremely venerable...

Posted by: JC | Mar 1 2020 2:33 utc | 75

Why DJT appointed VP Mike Pence in charge of managing the COVID-19 outbreak in the US:

"What was Mike Pence touching at NASA and is it okay?"

Secret way of Draining The Swamp“®”?

Posted by: Jen | Mar 1 2020 2:34 utc | 76

Y'all be calling for martial law next. smh..

Posted by: SharonM | Mar 1 2020 2:45 utc | 77

This is a very good oportunity to explain how capitalism works:

Google Translate Will Help. - by Andrei Martyanov.

The difference between the common flu and COVID-19 is precisely that: the common flu is common.

Capitalism doesn't need humans to prosper and be happy in order to work. It depends on valorization, i.e. the output must be greater than the input after every cycle, to the point it compensates both labor input and "dead labor" (fixed and constant capitals). This is called "profit".

For this whole cycle to works, predictability is key: the capitalist invests a known quantity of money-capital in order to form an individual capital (a.k.a. "business"). That way, he already knows exactly how much he will have to exploit his workers and how much he'll have to sell in order to make a profit. But this process takes a given amount of time, which is also known (since value is defined in socially necessary labor time) by the capitalist. This means it is not only a matter of exploiting enough and selling enough - but doing both in the exact interval of time. All of this requires science-grade predictability: there's a reason mathematics (specially satistics) flourished in capitalism. There's a reason insurance companies flourished and reached perfection in capitalism.

If a factor that affects production is predictable, the capitalist can then include it in the socially necessary labor time of his production. It wouldn't affect his profit rate. If, for example, he knows that, on average, one of his workers will die in the production process, he will invest a little extra at the beginning of the cycle in order to let a reserve worker at post. The extra cost will simply be added to the variable capital column of his book, which can be passed to the final consumer.

If a capitalist nation announced that, every December 31st one million people would be sacrificed to some random God in a concentration camp, that wouldn't affect one bit its economy. But if an unpredicted earthquake happens and one million people die in a random year, then it would be a big time economic contraction.

That's why the COVID-19 is an economic menace to the West, but the common flu isn't: the second is already accounted for at the prices of production, everything you buy has its costs included - you knowing of that or not.

Posted by: vk | Mar 1 2020 2:52 utc | 78

Quite a good discussion on the Coronavirus Effect on Global Warming and Global Warming Impact on Pandemic Risks by Paul Beckwith, a well informed commentator on global warming science. The bottom line of his analysis:

"The Coronavirus has shuttered about 25% of Chinese industrial production for weeks on end. Since Chinese production and industrial activity accounts for about 1/4 of global production, 1/4 x 1/4 = 1/16 or about 6% of global production has been halted. Thus, my back of the envelope best guess has global CO2 emissions down about 6%, and globally produced aerosols down about 6% as well. Since global dimming from aerosols is thought to be between 0.25 to 1.1 C, if we take the 1 C number as an upper limit, then the Coronavirus has resulted in global warming of about 0.06 C; with regional warming over China of about 0.25 C."

Posted by: Trisha | Mar 1 2020 2:54 utc | 79

Posted by: SharonM | Mar 1 2020 2:45 utc | 83

Y'all be calling for martial law next. smh..

Some barflies forget that this is not an american joint. Be less parochial please.

Posted by: hopehely | Mar 1 2020 2:55 utc | 80

-jadan @ 47 said in part;"Trump and his gang of thieves, charlatans, and unapologetically incompetent followers of Ayn Rand and graduates of the Koch Brothers University, will prevent the socialization of medicine if they possibly can. Will a future cover of Time Magazine show them all hanging from lamp posts?"

"Whether this pandemic provokes the rapture of Pence & his 144,000 elect and the much anticipated End Times, or whether it fizzles out, I do heartily wish for one outcome: the disenfranchisement of Donald J Trump, his heirs & assigns, and all those who seem unable to smell the stink of his bullshit."

Agreed. As I'm in the danger zone at 72 yrs., I believe I'd love to see the second paragraph come to fruition before I expire, just to believe there's justice in the universe.

Posted by: ben | Mar 1 2020 2:59 utc | 81

"Some barflies forget that this is not an american joint. Be less parochial please."

Martial law can be implemented in every country. Some countries are in a constant state of martial law. Be less of a genius please;)

Posted by: SharonM | Mar 1 2020 3:04 utc | 82

Coronavirus is a generic term for ALL cold and flu viruses!

5 Million Cases of Coronavirus flu Worldwide, 650,000 Deaths Annually: The Seasonal Corona Flu Virus is a “Serious Concern”, But the Wuhan COVID-19 virus grabs the headlines or at least it did until recently when “they” started using the generic term only.

It appears to me that news reporting is being cleverly deceptive in their aim as I see it to get people to believe that Coronvirus and COVID-19 are specifically one and the same thing

Posted by: Caltrop | Mar 1 2020 3:06 utc | 83


No different to simply calling a labrador or a pitbull a dog.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Mar 1 2020 3:16 utc | 84

Posted by: vk | Mar 1 2020 2:52 utc | 84

Well we can be absolutely sure that China sees this epidemic as a threat to the nation. It would not put so much resources to deal with it just for shits and giggles. So, if we assume that Chinese leaders are not idiots, it means that this virus is very dangerous and we all should be afraid of it. Fear is sometimes useful.

Posted by: hopehely | Mar 1 2020 3:25 utc | 85


At current production rates of masks:

China: 180M per day = 3.9 masks per month per capita
Japan: 100M per week = 3.3 masks per month per capita
"Blowing hot air" Pence's US: 35M per month = 0.11 masks per month per capita

Obviously, we all can see America isn't deindustrailized enough for Wall Street.

Posted by: JW | Mar 1 2020 3:38 utc | 86

Someone should take a screenshot of the last two comment sections for this virus. We can look back on it and see how quickly barflies are spooked into needing Big Brother to make them feel safe. Certainly martial law would be well received by many here. "we should all be afraid" said one. Trump should hold "fireside chats" said another. The one above me is freaking out because Americans cough in their hands. Actually, don't take a screenshot of this. It's too embarrassing.

Posted by: SharonM | Mar 1 2020 3:47 utc | 87

@ Posted by: hopehely | Mar 1 2020 3:25 utc | 91

Yes, there's also this "unknown unknowns" dangers with these new viruses (black swan event).

Posted by: vk | Mar 1 2020 3:52 utc | 88

@ Posted by: JW | Mar 1 2020 3:38 utc | 93 with the US/Pence mask follow up...thanks

I am not personally convinced masks will prevent getting the virus but should be used by those who are contagious or possibly so.

I am reading stories that tell me that much is still not known about how the virus spreads and along with tests to show one is affected by the virus as well as when no longer affected/contagious.

I continue to believe this virus didn't just evolve into being. It shows our species has fairly far to go to evolve beyond the showing our current "civilization" is making......make money/finance public utilities and our species stands a chance to dig itself out of the hole it is in. Since I believe that this global event was consciously precipitated, my thought is that crisis is always time for maximum perfidy by the less evolved of our species....the social perverts of Hand, The Invisible cult have plans to maintain global control through the mayhem and profit/consolidate/maintain power in the process. I continue to hope China and aligned insure this potential perfidy does not occur.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 1 2020 4:07 utc | 89

SharonM@95 Since when is making an observation freaking out? You must be ignorant of the simple fact that the most significant vector for pathogen transmission in humans is their hands?

Posted by: Tannenhouser | Mar 1 2020 4:08 utc | 90

psychohistorian @98:

I am not personally convinced masks will prevent getting the virus

Masks don't prevent getting the virus.

You need an N95 respirator.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 1 2020 4:21 utc | 91

@99 Tannenhouser

If that was just an observation, then I'd hate to go sight-seeing with you

Posted by: SharonM | Mar 1 2020 4:27 utc | 92

Psychohistorian @ 98:

Masks are to be worn by people who already have symptoms of illness to minimise spreading disease germs by coughing or sneezing. Peoplr should not be advised to wear masks if they are well. Where the notion of wearing masks to protect against infection comes from, I don't know, but this is bad advice and governments and medical authorities should stop such a rumour.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 1 2020 4:46 utc | 93



Interesting that masks (other than N95 masks and more importantly multi-stage full face respirators) do not protect from virus particles but do reduce the number of cough droplets released into the surrounding air.


Good point about transmission by hands. This is standard training in forensics and chemical and biological warfare school.

It is also well worth reposting this link:

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 29 2020 16:55 utc | 214

Posted by: krollchem | Mar 1 2020 4:49 utc | 94

An SCMP article today sounds the alarm that some patients with Covid-19 do not have fever or radiologic abnormalities on initial presentation.

In a joint study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from mainland China and Hong Kong reviewed the cases of 1,099 coronavirus patients from 552 hospitals in 30 provinces.

They found that more than half the patients did not have a fever when they went into hospital, making diagnosis more difficult. But 88.7 per cent of them did develop one after admission.

Lol. Is there a dumb virus going around? You admit healthy patients (no fever or respiratory symptoms), presumably based on a test which has not been properly validated (being rushed to market) and may have significant false positives (we don’t know). They then develop symptoms after being admitted to a hospital full of infected patients , and claim the problem with these patients is they were not symptomatic upon admission, and ignore the possibility they were infected after admission. Duh.

When the initial HIV tests came out in the US in the mid 1980’s they had a significant number of false positives. Apparently one of the proteins the test used was not specific to HIV. Some of those false positives suffered serious side effects from treatments that weren’t otherwise needed, not to mention other life changing disruptions.

Even today, with improved tests having a 99.5% sensitivity and 99.5% specificity. If this test is used in a setting where 0.2% of people have HIV (for example, among the general population in the UK), the probability of a reactive result being correct is 28.5%. The number of people given an incorrect positive result (71.5%) is greater than the number given a correct result (28.5%). This is why we don’t do screening for HIV unless people have risk factors or symptoms. Its also why people should not be screened for COVID-19 unless they have symptoms or close contact with those who do, and who also tested positive.

For all of the confirmed infections, 60,000 in a province of 60,000,0000, thats still only a prevalence of only 0.1%. Less than HIV in most countries. And for the rest of China its less than 0.005%.

Posted by: Pft | Mar 1 2020 5:20 utc | 95

psychohistorian @69

Masks are useless if you want to avoid catching the disease. They only help avoid disseminating it if you're a carrier. It's considered by some a necessary implement for health care personnel, but then they should be high isolation-grade, with the adequate filters to useful. Not your common-or-garden paper mask.
Probably the mask panic is just mass-hysteria.

Posted by: Piero Colombo | Mar 1 2020 5:33 utc | 96

@vk, 75

Your response reflects your youth and assumptions. My father was a POW held by the Germans. He attended the Technical Institute of Munich classes post-war while applying for entry. It took four tries. He pumped gas in New Jersey for a few years to practice English, living with a nice couple who sponsored him (you couldn't enter the U.S. without having someone take responsibility for your care back then), and they helped him apply for college once he could speak, read and write enough English to handle it. Once word of what was happening to Soviet POWs held by the Germans filtered back as they started being shipped back, he was too afraid of returning home. And the NKVD officers shot people in combat units for "cowardice" also (i.e., not being willing to walk into enemy gunfire because they had no weapon or had run out of ammo, officers who thought sending their unit into a hopeless firefight, etc.) Stalin took Tsarist principles about military discipline and loyalty to the State up a notch - as part of the Revolution, he knew that the Tsarist officers had not retained control of its soldiers; he was unwilling to make the same mistakes; he went harsher than they were to make sure most soldiers would be more terrified of the State than they were of the enemy.

Posted by: Zee | Mar 1 2020 5:58 utc | 97

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ //
RealClear Science -- Why Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Are a Serious Problem -- February 29, 2020

The novel coronavirus continues to spread around the world, with new cases being reported all the time. Spreading just as fast, it seems, are conspiracy theories that claim powerful actors are plotting something sinister to do with the virus. Our research into medical conspiracy theories shows that this has the potential to be just as dangerous for societies as the outbreak itself.

One conspiracy theory proposes that the coronavirus is actually a bio-weapon engineered by the CIA as a way to wage war on China. Others are convinced that the UK and US governments introduced the coronavirus as a way to make money from a potential vaccine.
// ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you and I get together and plot to rob a bank, and 'they' find out, we go straight to jail for 'conspiracy crimes'. But the powerful eleets are always cautioning us that we must NEVER imagine that 'they' (the powerful eleets) would do anything to violate our 'rights'.

The little people may have 'conspiracy theories' about the eleets. But the eleets are constantly on the lookout for 'conspiracy crimes' perpetrated by the peasants.

So now, going forward, we are sure to hear a lot of cautions from the mass media (TV, academe, and so on) about 'conspiracy theories', which of course are MUCH more sinister that the virus itself. That bullmanure is already being being laid on. Surely those nice, genteel eleets would never do anything to harm us. Would they?

Posted by: blues | Mar 1 2020 6:07 utc | 98

karlof1 | Mar 1 2020 1:32 utc | 73

Careful man, it's on your doorstep now. My sister is in Salem working for the school district; working with disabled kids.
Oregon and Washington needs be very careful...

Posted by: V | Mar 1 2020 6:10 utc | 99

@ Zee | Mar 1 2020 5:58 utc | 106

Gee, what a charming story.

Posted by: blues | Mar 1 2020 6:13 utc | 100

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