Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 26, 2020

More Bits On The Corona Crisis

Donald Trump's MAGA is successful.

The U.S. is providing the world with another example of its great exceptionalism. In a few days it will have the greatest number of Covid-19 cases and the greatest number of casualties of the disease. It will also have spent the greatest amount of money on the crisis with the smallest part of it going to the people who need it.

It is not a nice picture and it makes me sad.

The more than two trillion dollar the lobbyists told Congress to put into their 800+ pages relief bill will mostly go to very rich people. It is  corporate socialism - a bail out for investors and managers.

Contrast that with the Russian president Vladimir Putin who, in an address to the Russian people, allocated most of the money for the unemployed, the retired and for families:

Then, with special flourish, Mr. Putin used the impending crisis to fix several unpopular tax loopholes favoring the very rich, so that the proceeds of the new taxes may be used to offset some of the costs of the social protection measures now being introduced for the great majority of the working population, for families, etc.

To name one such abuse, he is calling for all remittances of dividends and the like by physical persons to offshore ‘tax havens’ where they go untaxed, now to be subjected to a 15% income tax in Russia. The double taxation treaties with those tax haven countries allowing this abuse will be amended accordingly.

The U.S. as well as other countries is still not doing enough to slow down or even stop the outbreak.

The Wall Street Journal today reports (paywalled but quoted here) what we emphasized in our earlier pieces. The lockdown in Wuhan on January 23 was not enough to end the growth of the number of cases.

It was only after February 2, when Wuhan introduced the isolation of suspected cases and of people who had close contact with confirmed cases, that it gained a grip on the crisis:

What really turned the tide in Wuhan was a shift after Feb. 2 to a more aggressive and systematic quarantine regime whereby suspected or mild cases—and even healthy close contacts of confirmed cases—were sent to makeshift hospitals and temporary quarantine centers.

The tactics required turning hundreds of hotels, schools and other places into quarantine centers, as well as building two new hospitals and creating 14 temporary ones in public buildings. It also underscored the importance of coronavirus testing capacity, which local authorities say was expanded from 200 tests a day in late January to 7,000 daily by mid-February.

To send anyone who has mild symptoms home to be cared for by family only increases the speed of the epidemic as all family members are then likely to get catch the virus.

Tests and care for Covid-19 must be for free. We need hospitals to care for only the critical cases. We need quarantine centers to isolate the milder cases from the wider population. Many hotels, sport arenas and exhibition halls are currently empty. They can be converted into quarantine stations within a day or two. People will have to stay for only two weeks. They would be fed and would have medical attention. That is a small restriction of the freedom of a few for a large benefit for our societies.

We must also introduce the wearing of a mask in public as a new social norm:

A number of studies have reported that a significant portion of people are even spreading the virus while presymptomatic — in the day or two before they start to feel ill. Presymptomatic spreaders are, well, gonna spread. It’s not their fault.

How much this type of transmission is driving the pandemic is unclear but it could be significant. Gabriel Leung, dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, has estimated about 40% of cases transmit before symptoms develop. A recent preprint — a study that has not yet been peer-reviewed — from China pooled data from seven countries and estimated a very similar 43%.

The novel coronavirus is spread to a great extent by people who stay asymptomatic and by people who do not yet feel sick but will later show symptoms. When they talk, sneeze or cough they release small droplets that carry viruses. The droplets can stay in the air for some time. If a person coming along inhales those droplets the viruses will likely infect that person.

Those who have have the virus or might spread it should wear a mask because it prevents their droplets from flying out. Those who do not have the virus should wear a mask to prevent droplets from entering their body.

We were told that 'masks don't work' because they are not a 100% protection. The very tiny viruses can pass behind the mask at its sides or they can slip through its webbing. But the virus is not traveling alone but as part of a droplet. Even a relatively wide webbing may hold it up. If it is doubled with a sheet of cosmetic paper towel in between the protection will be even better. Microfilter bags for vacuum cleaners and so called HEPA filters are also effective materials that are readily available and easy to turn into masks.

The development of the epidemic will depend on how many people will start to regularly wear masks when they are not at home. Even if the protection masks prevent only 50% of new infections the speed with which the epidemic will unfold will be significantly lower.

Source: Financial Times - bigger

Consider that the societies in the blue circle are all ones where people regularly wear masks while the other countries (except China which was surprised by the outbreak) are societies were wearing a mask is seen as unusual. These 'blue' countries, which also gained experience during the SARS and MERS epidemics, show significant flatter trajectories.

Graphs similar to the above for all U.S. states and territories can be found here.

Meanwhile U.S. media continue to spread anti-China propaganda:

Two European Countries Report High Error Rate For Chinese Supplied Coronavirus Tests

Medical personnel in Spain and the Czech Republic have reported that the coronavirus rapid tests their respective countries have received from China are faulty and have a high error rate.

Several labs in Spanish hospitals have reported that the test kits they purchased, manufactured by Chinese company Bioeasy and based in Shenzhen, have a sensitivity of 30% when the sensitivity should be above 80%, Spanish newspaper El País reported Thursday. Due to the test’s lack of reliability, medical personnel in Spain have switched back to the PCR test, which takes up to four hours for a diagnosis, while rapid tests take between 10 to 15 minutes

The Spanish government purchased 340,000 tests from the Chinese company, a similar quantity to the tests ordered by the Czech Republic, where medical personnel also report an 80% failure rate.

When one checks the original reports from Spain and from the Czech Republic one learns that these countries bought anti-body tests which only react when a person has had the virus for some time and developed anti-bodies against it. These tests can obviously not be used to find persons who are infected but have not yet developed anti-bodies.

China's ambassador in Spain also pointed out that these tests have yet to be verified by the regulator and were imported without the help or knowledge of the Chinese government.

The anti-body tests are valuable to identify people who have developed current immunity against the virus. These people can then care for those who are most endangered by the disease. Anti-body tests are quick. They can be used anywhere. 

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests which are currently necessary to find if someone has the virus take at least four hours and  specialized laboratories to process them. We will need a much quicker reliable test if we want to put our economies back to work. Luckily several companies and academic groups are already working on these and a 45 minute test is now ready to be marketed.

When we have a quick test for the virus and a quick test for anti-bodies available in mass we can restart the economy by 'filtering' through the population on a large scale. Movement restrictions would then only be needed for those who show virus-positive and anti-body negative results. All others could go back to work.

There would certainly still be outbreaks from people who escaped the 'filtering' process but with easy testing and care in place those clusters can be locally contained.

It may take another two month or so to get to that point. Until then there is little we can do but to stay apart as much as possible and to wear our masks.

Previous Moon of Alabama posts on the issue:

Posted by b on March 26, 2020 at 18:20 UTC | Permalink

next page »

I don't think it's Trump's fault. The USA already was at a very fragile economic state before the pandemic. The trillionaire package just burst the dam and now unemployment rates are skyrocketing.

With these twin policies (Senate's package, Fed's unlimited bailout), the USA is inexorably consolidating its position as a financial superpower. The tendency is for a deepening of the deindustrialization process of the nation.

Posted by: vk | Mar 26 2020 18:45 utc | 1

there are shortages of masks and gloves for the frontline so joe and jane may not be allowed. Governments are partnering with manufacturing companies. How bad is it?

In the Inbox: As a result of these posts on social media -
Hospitals Muzzle Doctors and Nurses on PPE, COVID-19 Cases

"Physicians are being warned not to speak or post publicly about their COVID-19 experiences, including PPE shortages, case specifics, and the percentage of full hospital beds,[.]

and who shall live and who shall die...

Hospitals across U.S. consider universal do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients

Hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic are engaged in a heated private debate over a calculation few have encountered in their lifetimes - how to weigh the “save at all costs” approach to resuscitating a dying patient against the real danger of exposing doctors and nurses to the contagion of coronavirus.

The conversations are driven by the realization that the risk to staff amid dwindling stores of protective equipment - such as masks, gowns and gloves - may be too great to justify the conventional response when a patient "codes," and their heart or breathing stops.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago has been discussing a universal do-not-resuscitate policy for infected patients, regardless of the wishes of the patient or their family members - a wrenching decision to prioritize the lives of the many over the one.[.]

Canada and U.S. were in discussions?
U.S. considers putting troops at Canadian border.

Really? How does one divide the library?
Canada says unnecessary

Posted by: Likklemore | Mar 26 2020 18:54 utc | 2

If anyone is interested in proper gas masks / respirators rather than the disposable variety I would recommend the weaponsandstuff93 YT channel.

Posted by: TJ | Mar 26 2020 18:57 utc | 3

According to Johns Hopkins the number of confirmed cases of the covid in the USA stood at 75,233 at 1:26PM, Eastern Time. That puts America 6549 cases behind China, with the US catching up real fast. At this pace America will have better than 100,000 cases by next week.

So far the fatality rate is lower in the US, but that is likely due to the fact that the cases of infection are distributed across the entire country and not concentrated in a single city. So far America's healthcare system is able to continue to provide care to critical cases, but with a doubling period of three and a half days (rather generously calculated) the US will probably hit half a million cases by next weekend. We will then definitely begin to see cracks appearing in the healthcare system in some areas.

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 26 2020 19:00 utc | 4

Oops! Make that 76,514 confirmed cases of the covid in the US as of 2:34PM.

Like I said, catching up with China fast.

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 26 2020 19:03 utc | 5

Some contradictions of Spanish Govt. here:

Spain should be seen as a Nation emerging from feudal aristocracy and being pushed towards democracy by embarrassment of its incompetence.

@vk I kind of pity Trump, he's so far out of his depth in this he's visibly squirming on camera. The contrast with Andrew Cuomo's presence and leadership skills at the Jarvis Center announcement on was very telling.

Posted by: dennis | Mar 26 2020 19:03 utc | 6

On the protection issue, use FFP 3 respirator masks (EU), or N99 (US) or KN 99 (China) and scarf over it. These masks filter 98 % of micro particles, including viruses. In case of mask shortages steam can be used to decontaminate masks. Also use gloves, eye protection and raincoat when in risky areas. Everything new taken in your home must be under 3 - 4 days quarantine in separate room. The raincoat too. After this quarantine items can be further cleaned with steam, ethanol, bleach + water, and groceries via soap and water.

Virus can stay for 3 hours in mid air (room) and 3 days on some surfaces. And it is possible that can even survive for up to 17 days on some surfaces, which would be pretty bad news. At least 5 meters distance between people outside is needed.

Posted by: Passer by | Mar 26 2020 19:04 utc | 7

Here it is; this is what they're planning: (one thing anyway)
“The Fed could ask Congress for the authority to buy limited amounts of investment-grade corporate debt… The Fed’s intervention could help restart that part of the corporate debt market, which is under significant stress. Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed while still providing needed liquidity to an essential market.” (Financial Times)

"The Fed is not allowed to buy corporate debt, because it is not within its mandate of “price stability and full employment”. It’s also not allowed to arbitrarily intervene in the markets to pick winners and losers, nor is it allowed to bailout poorly-managed crybaby corporations who were gaming the system to their own advantage when the whole deal blew up in their faces. That’s their problem, not the Fed’s and not the American taxpayer’s. by Mike Whitney

This is our defense: It's been piked up by Global Research now, but it's better to read in the original cuz there's links w documentation.

Posted by: Penelope | Mar 26 2020 19:08 utc | 8

speaking of the czech republic, some people there have developed a 3d printable "respirator" mask that allows interchangeable filters. some other people don't buy into their general usefulness. while i like wu and fully acknowledge she knows more about it than i do i will say it could be more feasible on an individual basis if a quality scan of the person's face is used. they've done it with printed prosthetics so i'm sure it's possible facially...maybe with some added sealing around the edges? (plus she once said it's "stupid" to not respect sarah jeong even after being "slut shamed" by her on social media. not a sign of impeccable intellect.)

as for canadia, the government here has been trying to implement the exact plans you've described. this of course has led to, on one hand, assholes who should be "self isolating" after a trip strolling around like special snowflakes and, on the other hand, cops being cops (that is to say: useless assholes) and randomly fining anyone they see with another person regardless of whether those people are actually covid qualifiers.

the good news for those folks is that when they run out of toilet paper they can wipe their asses with the ticket.

Posted by: the pair | Mar 26 2020 19:08 utc | 9

vk @1--

Sure, while the bond market is having its massive bubble burst--it just lost $5.5 Trillion in value and is heading downward rapidly. Right. The Outlaw US Empire's days are now in decline. Larry Summers is correctly seen as the #1 bandit in the entire affair.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 26 2020 19:10 utc | 10

'Flatten the Curve': A Prescription for Failure

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 26 2020 19:12 utc | 11

The US and Europe have faster exponential phases than east asian countries, but the trajectory after flattening for the US at least is still unknown: It is less than 2 weeks since distancing measures were put in place, and the mean incubation period for the virus is around 17.3 days.

Middle of next week we'll start to see the trajectory as a result of distancing measures for the US.

Posted by: Shyaku | Mar 26 2020 19:13 utc | 12

Thank b MAGA?
Should be MASA

Posted by: JC | Mar 26 2020 19:16 utc | 13

With lockdowns mortality rate seems to be around 1% - 1,5% (South Korean data with many hundred thousands test and a magnificent containment strategy they have 1,4% fatality rate) BUT this fatality rate is always maintaining a functional health care systems, with hospitals and ICU's still with spare capacity. Without lockdowns you will have 70- 80% of the whole population infected and probably 5-10% of mortality due to overwhelmed ICU's and hospitals all around the country, and the deaths will be not only due to the coronavirus but of untreated people dying in the beds without any care from many others diseases (heart attacks, ictus, etc...).

People thinks we can choose between a "normal" economy, with the "productive" people working more or less normally, and some old people, above lets say 70's (of course mainly poor), unfortunately dying like flies (the old rich people, of course, will be isolated and managing the business at a distance), so people think we will have some thousands "losers" dying and the economy more or less working OK; but I think this is a false dilemma: Seeing how this bitch works what probably we'll have is BOTH problems, when the exponential infections continue unabated and 70 - 80% of the population have the disease, the country will be broken to the roots: the economy, the health, the social and political fabric all will be destroyed, IMO it will be like Lombardy now but multiply by 10.000 during months and months never stopping.

Not easy election

Posted by: DFC | Mar 26 2020 19:25 utc | 14

Denis #6

So is Cuomo the switch with Biden to exit due to 'family reasons'?
We will know in a month.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 19:26 utc | 15

@4 William

US mortality number is lower simply because it takes can take some time between admission and death.

I do hope it is also because they are learning from the experience of other countries (China, SK, Singapore, Vietnam, Bahrain etc) and put big pharmas, politics and bureaucracy aside and start prescripting promising therapeutics such as chloroquine etc.

One thing is for sure US number will dwarf China because it was late to react and couldn't do enough testing (initial US test kit failure, and subsequent unavailability will become a fiasco, hence the China virus distraction perhaps?).

On the chloroquine, yes it's not fully randomised clinical trialled for covid19 but the empirical data we have is very strong indeed. More importantly, it's off patent and cheap so generic supply should catch up soon.

There's a lot of negative talk on chloroquine side effects. it's a powerful drug and there are a lot of people that shouldn't take it, that is true. But it's also been around for forever so it's side effects are also very well known. In traditional use case with malaria people would take it for months or years, but in the covid19 application we're talking 5 or 7 days. so a lot of these talks are just noise.

Best of all, it'll cost less than a dollar for the week's course. when the world gets around to accepting this, this whole saga will turn around.

Unfortunately I don't see it being approved until every last public dollar has been spent and committed to transfer more wealth to the usual suspects.

you have to ask, is the cure worse than the disease?

Posted by: A.L. | Mar 26 2020 19:28 utc | 16

Pretty solid article. Thanks B.

Posted by: Joshua | Mar 26 2020 19:31 utc | 17

thanks b.. i appreciate you hammering away about the masks... hopefully things get better sooner then later, but it doesn't look like it is gonna...

Posted by: james | Mar 26 2020 19:32 utc | 18

"We need quarantine centers to isolate the milder cases from the wider population." Now see, this I have an issue with for myself. It's just two of us in our house. Whenever one gets sick, the other does too. Always. 100% of the time. If I have symptoms, my spouse will as well. I will not go into one of these centers because I have two fur babies that are my life. I mean, we have no kids and we turned a spare bedroom into their bedroom, complete with a futon, other beds, play area, food center, and we set up the closet as a special litter box room. It's very chic and it's very them. They cannot be fostered or put in a care center. We can't have someone else come in and care for them without risking their safety. They cannot be separated. They cry if they cannot see each other. So, if they forced the above quarantine on us, I just wouldn't go get checked at all, so there needs to be a balance for people that have other obligations, like pets otherwise you will end up with another Katrina, only a far greater disaster. I don't fear dying from this because I literally have nothing wrong with me. I get regular workups and stuff, an annual stress test (sometimes it helps having anxiety), etc., and I'm in perfect health. I know it won't be a cakewalk if I get it so I'm not downplaying it, but I do fear being positive and being forced into quarantine away from my fur babies. That alone makes me lose sleep at night.

Posted by: Well... | Mar 26 2020 19:38 utc | 19

It's always "good" to see people on the street wearing N95, or better, masks with exhalation vents that don't filter the wearer's exhaled breath. Just in normal use those vent ports drip moisture.

Posted by: Jay | Mar 26 2020 19:39 utc | 20

There is another catalyst for the turning point - what will the world think if a mass antibody test suggest just as many, if not more than the confirmed cases shows immunity I.e. they've had it and beat it and didn't even know about it? it'll mash the CFR down massively if not by magnitudes.

I'm not a denier of covid19, but I do think this was a perfect storm of political correctness, social media, free shit army, bankers, trade wars and good old govt-corporate/pharma cronyism conspiring and triumphing over hard science.

I just think collectively the world (save a few) has thrown their own economies into this dumpster fire for nothing.

Posted by: A.L. | Mar 26 2020 19:45 utc | 21

karlof1 #10

Larry Summers should have a drink named after him.
Ofshore double hoarder
Safebreaker with tonic
Gin and plunder scammer

Thanks b,I bought last roll of narrow elastic yesterday and will cut up some old silk shirts today.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 19:46 utc | 22

I agree with most of the article. Not sending the mildly symptomatic home but to some intermediate facility is a very important point as well, but with a very significant proviso. It first requires universally available and fast-results testing. (as mentioned in the article, agree 100%, but not the case in most countries now).

Without the testing, such facilities would also create new infections, as anyone with an severe case of an ordinary cold / strep throat / etc would be inadvertantly forced into a facility with covid patients.


meanwhile in the US... for all the drama coming out of NY state, it is turning out relatively not-that-bad compared to the worst possibilities that were possible 2 weeks ago. The stay-at-home will work. Now should be the approximate high point of infections with early-symptoms (i.e. high point in number of contageous). These started incubating when stuff was shut down. In another 1-2 weeks they will either get worse and go to a hospital or recover. If they live with a healthy person there will be an significant but smaller "aftershock" of those cases with a 1-2 week lag. The numbers will be what they will be, the are no more decisions to make for most people. It looks like there will be enough hospital capacity.


ny area, anecdotal... found out that some family and coworkers of family got sick :-(. The first person, younger, now recovered (many days of serious fever and cough), was denied testing told to stay home. Second person, older, afraid to go to hospital (in NYC area).

Posted by: ptb | Mar 26 2020 19:48 utc | 23

Numbers re Covid-19 (here = COV) are scandalous in their wilfull obfuscation.

Ex. Italy, imho more rigorous and honest than others, also has a v. good health system with staff who are very competent, v. conversant with numbers, stats, required by the health authorities / gvmt. etc.

Deniers. ..... Elderly with serious co-morbidities are logged as dying of COV when it is quite likely they might have died very soon anyway, or were on death-beds already. True. Those diagnosed with COV and treated for it, who die, are counted as such, and not as ‘heart’ - ‘diabetes’ - etc. Which raises the qu. of proximate vs. underlying, distal, causes, etc.

From Prof. Ricciardi (consultant to It. Gvmt.) ….Only 12% of death certificates show COV as a direct cause, all the other patients had at least one pre-morbid condition, he states.

> Implication: all is done to log deaths as COV.


Panickers. ...... In Italy (+ France btw) only those who die in hospital are logged as COV deaths. True. See the latest public It. summary on COV - brief - official Eng.

> Implication: all is done to hide COV deaths.

(Note the staggering diff between Lombardy / other.)

Italian Mayors in Lombardy claim that many more ppl have died as compared to the official COV stats. They quote nos. of deaths, 2020 to 2019 comp. as showing staggering diff., ex.:

Nembro. 110 - 120 deaths since the beginning of March - in 2019, 14.

Alzano. 63 deaths since 23 Feb - in 2019, 9.

The extra deaths (at home, in old ppl facilities, etc.) are not logged as COV deaths, but ‘had all the symptoms’ according to the Mayors who are in touch with their communities.

Big Med has been corrupted by Big Pharma (world) and Gvmts. have lost or willingly given up their expertise, power, will to do anything about it. They posture to ‘look good’ supposedly ‘halting panic’ and other drivel. Shameful. Today, it is easy to collate the cases, info about, etc. (Think of Amazon’s clients for ex. Or an Excel spread sheet teach in for children aged 12…) But that can’t happen as profiteers have control.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 26 2020 19:56 utc | 24


1. do not steam your masks. they are made of polyester and will shrink into a blob. people have tried and failed. you can wash with soap and dry or low temp bake as B suggested. they will eventually fail from delaminating or the elastic band snapping.

2. stop behaving like you don't want to catch it, behave like you have it and you don't want others to catch it. we'll all be better off.

3. going on 2 - wearing masks with exhaust valves will just spray virus straight out of you're infected. if you're not sure you're infected (and you don't) wearing a valves N95 is just a dick act.

4. when PPE were in short supply in China, what they did was to wear N95 with surgical mask over the top. it's definitely off-label use but at least you can then reuse your precious N95 as it's shielded from external pathogens, at the same time your own exhaust valve (see 3) is also shielded from others.

Posted by: A.L. | Mar 26 2020 19:57 utc | 25

The financialization of the US economy has deep roots, going back to the postwar boom, during which western Europe and Japan began to outcompete US firms in world trade. By the mid 60s the US was running trade deficits with west Germany and Japan. As a result, US dollars began accumulating in central banks globally, with no purpose. When foreign governments began to exchange their dollars for gold under the bretton woods agreement, Nixon abrogated the system of fixed currencies backed by gold and refused to negotiate a new international monetary system. A new structure of economic relations emerged: the US would slowly deindustrialize because of a lack of competitiveness, it would run systematic trade deficits, but other countries would lend their dollars back to Wall Street as well as to the Treasury Department to fund the US federal deficit. This allowed financialization to take off.
The key point is that financialization is rooted in long-term dynamics of declining American competitiveness vis a vis its principal rivals.
Some people have take a short term view of this process, believing it gives the US structural power in the world system.
Over time, though, it has lead to structural economic weaknesses, grotesque inequality, unpayable debt, and endless crises.

Posted by: Prof K | Mar 26 2020 19:57 utc | 26

@uncle tungsten
High quality Microfilter bags for vacuum cleaners are ways better
And you can wash them
Take care

Posted by: aleksandar | Mar 26 2020 20:00 utc | 27

I dont blame Trump either. Of course they would bail out the financial market: that is all america has left. The financial crowd since the Clinton era have been selling out everyone to get rich. Now all they have left are the bail outs. Even their military is useless because they cannot destroy china without hurting their american corporations that they keep propping up. Poor bastards.

Posted by: thiamin | Mar 26 2020 20:03 utc | 28

Virus may be killed by microwave radiation, place used mask in microwave for 2 minutes at 800 watts

Posted by: Perimetr | Mar 26 2020 20:06 utc | 29


and interesting things will happen with the metal nose band in the mask in the microwave...

Posted by: A.L. | Mar 26 2020 20:09 utc | 30

@ Posted by: the pair | Mar 26 2020 19:08 utc | 9

The problem doesn't lie in the fact that you can 3d-print a ventilator. The problem is that those garage-kit 3D printers, albeit they incorportate well the liberal concept of freedom of the individual, are not nearly of enough productive capacity (output per unit of time) to provide all the stuff society needs to fight the COVID-19.

The image of a group of teenagers printing ventilateros in their garage is cute and may be a morale-boosting story for the capitalist nations, but is kid's stuff.

It is the State, and only the State, that has the capacity to fight a pandemic. Everything else is in fantasy-land.


@ Posted by: ptb | Mar 26 2020 19:48 utc | 23

The problem lies with the unknown unknowns: when a pandemic happens, you can't know a priori if it is The Pandemic or just a pandemic.

Even at 1% mortality rate, a pandemic can still claim 3.5 million lives. That, in practice, is the same as an epic general strike hitting your country (with the disadvantage those people will never come back...).

We got lucky this pandemic only kills old people. But what if it killed younger people?

Worst still: what if this virus mutates again, and begin to also kill young people in its second and/or third waves?

Again: unknown unknowns.

Posted by: vk | Mar 26 2020 20:15 utc | 31

Italy refuses to sign the conclusions of today's EU visio conference summit after it failed to obtain any solidarity from the EU states.

Posted by: Mina | Mar 26 2020 20:28 utc | 32

Thank you for the update b, and thanks to all posters.

It seems that one of the major problems is a simple lack of masks. I have been trying for more than a month were I live to locate masks. There are none, but I see people wearing them. Some are good examples: police, workers
in grocery stores. Others make you wonder. My sister told me a story - warning: this is an anecdote, and as someone wisely said, a bunch of anecdotes does not data make, but... apparently a man in an expensive car made a tour of some of the small towns near where she lives, and bought ALL the paper products and ALL the meat. Why the shop keepers would allow this I don't know. So, poor planning and greed. Not a good mixture.

Posted by: Miss Lacy | Mar 26 2020 20:28 utc | 33

uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 19:26 utc | 15

I think you might be baiting just a little ;)
I'm not so wise to offer a real opinion there (I live in Spain and work Spain/UK/Ireland/Netherlands). A few on the live feed did suggest as much, It's a numbers game and who will toe the line/fulfil the preassigned agenda.... ;)
Lets see who he picks for VP.

That's of course assuming the election is still on?

Posted by: dennis | Mar 26 2020 20:28 utc | 34

How will we know when the crisis is over?

If there are no new cases after about 3 months will it be safe to resume normal life?

Posted by: dh | Mar 26 2020 20:29 utc | 35

PS to vk # 1. Please think again. Trump has been in a trade war with China for what? a couple of years? AND, he specifically banned imports of medical supplies from China. Other posters wave supplied links for this idiocy.

Trump's about as innocent as jack the ripper. You may just be seeing things relatively, as ghouls like Elliot Abrahms and disgusting Pomposity make Trump seen like an amateur.

Posted by: Miss Lacy | Mar 26 2020 20:32 utc | 36

Likklemore | Mar 26 2020 18:54 utc | 2:

I understand the Canadian PM is another Soros lackey. Is the troop deployment along the Canadian border is to stop anyone interfering in the coming chaos?

aleksandar | Mar 26 2020 20:00 utc | 26:

Are the vacuum HEPA bags sufficient?

Posted by: Ian2 | Mar 26 2020 20:34 utc | 37

@ the pair | Mar 26 2020 19:08 utc | 9
RE 3D printed masks

The product is designed to be printed on commercial 3D printers - not homespun.

Posted by: dennis | Mar 26 2020 20:35 utc | 38

Excellent post by “B”!

The caution to “Stay apart as much as possible and to wear our masks” that “B” recommends is being followed by the Czech Republic, but not so much by other Western Countries. However, Italy appears to be reducing the R0 via lockdown with a lot of help from China, Cuba and Russia (despite Poland’s blocking the movement of Russian mercy flights).

For those that claim that the COVID-19 dis-ease is no different than the common flu consider the impact on hospitals and the response by the US military:

And the response by the US military:

Ultimately, most of the West is failing to grasp the mathematics of exponential growth which applies to the COVID-19 dis-ease.

Posted by: Krollchem | Mar 26 2020 20:39 utc | 39

aleksandar # 26

Thank you for the tip. I will check my box of bags and see if they are fine enough.
And thank you Perimetr and A.L.

AVOID all metal in microwave otherwise it dies :(

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 20:40 utc | 40

San Francisco picked up its second corona virus death today. Bay area numbers are increasing. Current numbers are as follows:

Alameda County: 178 cases, 4 deaths up from yesterday 135 cases, 2 deaths
Contra Costa County: 108 cases, 1 death No change from yesterday
Marin County: 53 cases No change from yesterday
Napa County: 7 reported cases up from 3 cases
San Francisco County: 223 cases, 2 deaths up from 178 cases and one death
San Mateo County: 195 cases, 5 deaths up from 165 cases and no change in deaths
Santa Clara County: 459 cases, 17 deaths
Santa Cruz County: 32 cases up from 25 cases
Solano County: 31 cases up from 24 cases
Sonoma County: 39 cases, 1 death up from 34 cases

Not much else has changed from yesterday. Still waiting on the numbers of total test given per county. All local officials are projecting schools being back open 1 May.

The bailout is no different than previous bailouts from other administrations so blaming Trump for the past is a bit unfair. It was drafted by both sides.

I am going to speculate that two things are working for the SF Bay Area. One is that the virus was running through the area prior to the crisis due to the massive contacts with China as people are flying in and out daily. Second would be the quick lock down.

Posted by: dltravers | Mar 26 2020 20:45 utc | 41

We know how the USofA has been over last months now harassing, blackmailing an' threatening other countries NOT to adopt the chinese HUawei 5G technologies.
Many nations were threatened, UK, Berlin, Brazil etc
Now Germany the first vassal of the Empire, 'primus inter pares' has seemingly prohibited the exportation of breathers to other countries - who of course need them most.
So what is globalism after all.
A nice idea the rich sell the morons, and tamed nations of the world. But which gets zeroed as soon as their main interests are menaced.

Posted by: augusto | Mar 26 2020 20:46 utc | 42

As Tomas Pueyo explains, nations have 3 choices:

1). Do Nothing strategy (aka the "Herd Immunity" strategy that the United Kingdom initially adopted)

2). Mitigation strategy (which is what America and the UK are doing now)

3). Suppression strategy (which Asian nations did).

Pueyo strongly advocates the Suppression strategy.

The first 2 strategies will lead to disaster.

So America had best wake the f*ck up and go for Suppression.

Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance

Posted by: ak74 | Mar 26 2020 20:46 utc | 43

Masks may also be disinfected using a UV Light Sanitizing Device such as the 3B Medical Lumin CPAP Mask and Accessories Cleaner used commonly by CPAP patients.

A black light in a box with reflective (e.g. aluminum foil) walls would add the additional advantages of scaling up in size and is a lot cheaper. Be careful with black light as it causes eye damage!!

Posted by: Krollchem | Mar 26 2020 20:48 utc | 44

Thank you Dennis #33

OH I am quietly confident the election might take place in some form. I am also quietly confident that the Trump is destined for the dump.

On Cuomo though, I was serious. I really think he is bait for the switch and the primaries intended to exhaust Bernie or fracture his ranks. The scabrous turds that formed the crowd running against him were the agents of the DNC destruction brigade. (Tulsi Gabbard excluded and I can't fathom her Biden support at the very end).

Cuomo will select a very conservative, neo-liberal economic acolyte for VP and could cruise in easily. Mind you that person could be Debbie Wasserman Shultz. (Now that is provocative. :))

Fortunately I have never set foot in the USA or any of its stolen islands in the pacific. And I never will.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 20:50 utc | 45

The Intercept (this Tuesday):

On Sunday, a couple in Arizona who had heard the president describe the drug on television, and were afraid of dying from Covid-19, discovered that they had a non-medical version of the chemical chloroquine phosphate, used to clean fish tanks, among their pet supplies. Mistakenly believing that the chemical sold to pet owners, which is available online, was exactly the same as the anti-malaria drug prescribed for humans — it is not — the man, who was 68, and his wife, who was 61, tried to self-medicate by mixing one teaspoon of the bitter tasting chemical with soda and swallowing it.

Within 30 minutes, both fell ill and had to be rushed to a Phoenix-area hospital, where the man died and his wife remains under critical care.

The couple heard nation's president on TV and “I was in the pantry stacking dog food and I just saw it sitting in the back shelf and thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV?'” the woman said."


Wiser people stock toiler paper, guns and ammo.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 26 2020 20:51 utc | 46

Comparing countries like done in the graph is utter pseudo-science and borderline meaningless.

The outliers can be explained by other factors, social dynamics and culture as well. Not as much "policy".

Most countries follow the same known mathematical spread models for epidemics when some level of distancing is applied. Which probably tells you the methods do matter less than the principles applied. But we'll see.

One can discuss the benefits of helping large businesses, investors and financial institutions but one way or another the economy will have to be propped up. Give funds "directly" to people is not as simple as it sounds but in the best case will simply have the same outcome. It's really about methodology but people try to make it ideology too often.

Posted by: John Dowser | Mar 26 2020 20:52 utc | 47

On the other note, my retirement savings, in stocks, went up a bit after dropping 30%, so not I wonder: did the stock went up, or dollar went down in the anticipation of humungous oversupply? With a nation taking "one month of"", the amount of goods and services in 2020 will surely go down by some trillions, and replacing it with paper (or electronic bits) may not increase actual wealth.

After toilet paper and guns, the next item seems to be beens, they store well, are nutritious, ultimate survival food. Perhaps I should try to buy a grill rack and a hatchet, to boil beans and grain using firewood from the nearby forest.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 26 2020 20:58 utc | 48

apologies for the bad advice about the mask in the microwave. Maybe just put your dollar bills in there?

Also, there are hand-held UV lights that appear to be good for sterilization check out Ebay, lol the lights probably come from China, like everything else these days

Posted by: Perimetr | Mar 26 2020 21:01 utc | 49

dltravers #40

Thanks for the data. Are these 'cases' referring to hospitalised people or do they include those who have a mild dose, remain home sick, and have been identified by some means?

Do I take it that your data only reports that 15 to 20% that are in serious need and the others are unrecorded?

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 21:05 utc | 50

If you use a bandana or a scarf, perhaps you can sterilize by ironing?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 26 2020 21:08 utc | 51

Perimetr #48

That was good advice and I have no masks with metal clips but they are easy to detect and remove or exclude from the microwave. I use mine to dry out my hearing aid silica gel dryers (excluding the hearing aid of course :))

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 21:09 utc | 52

The Anglo-Zionist fsckwits never let a crisis go to waste:

The Venezuelans are suffering greatly from COVID - cos Madura, so they need more sanctions and 'international intervention'

The reality:

The US, population ~300 million, 75,665 cases

Venezuela, population ~30 million, 106 cases

There should be a special place in hell for these people.

Posted by: Ken Garoo | Mar 26 2020 21:12 utc | 53

uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 20:50 utc | 44

Being the conspiracy theorist ex-Corbett fanboy that I sometimes can be, I was rather curious as to why Trump never had the nod while he was extolling the virtues of the market (ahem "everything bubble") that the whole house was due to slide.(or more radically the Pompeo nod that the BioTrojan horse was enroute to Wuhan). One can conclude he's never been in the inner sanctum nor ever received an invite. If I self indulgently speculate further, that all his hotels and golf courses are his efforts at putting himself forward for candidacy to "the club" - but his uncouth brashness and vapid shameless self aggrandisement will never pass muster. So aside from a few trips to Epstien paedo blackmail central the club rather keeps him at two arms lengths and hang him out to swing in the wind once time served.

Posted by: dennis | Mar 26 2020 21:17 utc | 54

Perimetr @48

These would be UV-C emitters. They are quite dangerous, usually generating reactive ozone as well as UV-C. They would be OK for 'zapping' an unoccupied room, but prolonged direct exposure would be a health hazard.

Posted by: Ken Garoo | Mar 26 2020 21:17 utc | 55

The US now trails China by only 1761 confirmed cases, with 80,021! USA will be #1 before midnight Eastern Time! USA #1! USA #1! USA #1!

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 26 2020 21:27 utc | 56

Pepe has a piece today accusing Macron of 'hiding a cheap and tested virus cure' (which will also clean fishtanks).

Posted by: bevin | Mar 26 2020 21:28 utc | 57

The masks are useful even if they aren't 100% useful in blocking water droplets, insofar as wearing a mask makes it much less likely that you will touch your mouth with your hands or stick your finger in your nose.

If you also get into the habit of vigorously washing your hands before and after eating, well, you have done most of the hard yards in avoiding infection.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Mar 26 2020 21:31 utc | 58

This information is crucial and makes my hypothesis that the USA is "financializing" even stronger:

Figures for US corporate profits in Q4 and for 2019

Overall corporate profits rose 2.2% year over year in Q4, but ended up exactly flat for the whole of 2019. Most important, non-financial sector profits were down 2.1% year over year in Q4 and down 3.1% in 2019 as a whole compared to 2018.

This shows that the US corporate sector was already in a profits slump before the virus broke. Q1 2020 data should be revealing.

The trend in domestic non-financial corporate profits has been downwards for some time. These profits at end 2019 were 21% below the level at the end of 2014.

In other words, the USA is managing to save its financial sector, but not its "real economy". The USG moved mountains to keep profitability of the financial sector stable in 2019Q4, but the "real economy" (non-financial sector) fell almost at the same magnitude as the financial sector's grew (-2.1%).

And this is not a punctual event: the American non-financial sector had a 21% lower profit rate than it had in 2014 - and 2014 is still the post-crisis era, so they were not good profits either.

If this trend continues, we should expect a long-term continuity of the deindustrialization of the USA, increased militarization (so as to keep the USD standard), and the domination of the so-called "gig jobs", where the working class is essentially reduced to a "quick bucks", "pay to play" labor force.

Posted by: vk | Mar 26 2020 21:34 utc | 59

b said;"Contrast that with the Russian president Vladimir Putin who, in an address to the Russian people, allocated most of the money for the unemployed, the retired and for families:"

Exactly why our elites tell us we must loathe and mistrust Russia. Sharing the wealth of the nation with workers can't be tolerated. It's Socialism, don't ya' know..

Posted by: ben | Mar 26 2020 21:37 utc | 60

uncle tungsten @ 49

Are these 'cases' referring to hospitalized people or do they include those who have a mild dose, remain home sick, and have been identified by some means?

I am not sure but I think most are hospitalized and some are first responders and heath workers not yet hospitalized. The information given is not very granular in its detail.

I say that because you have to be very ill to get tested or in the category of a front line worker.

The leadership is trying to get details of all test given. These are coming from multiple labs and multiple sources so I imagine that is going to take some time. It is certainly nothing like NY here and we have been in motion for a while.

Posted by: dltravers | Mar 26 2020 21:40 utc | 61

William Gruff | Mar 26 2020 21:27 utc | 55

USA already has more active cases than China and this will likely double in the next 6 days +/- and will take pole position in next several minutes for most number of cases. A position of shame considering the view and data stream we've all been seeing in past several weeks. I'm remembering the stories about Reagan and the Iran hostage negotiations delayed to hurt Carter. Or Kissinger/Nixon and the Vietnam peace conferences... who knows, it will certainly hurt Trumps fan base the more he's shown to be incompetent in resolving this or markets.

Posted by: dennis | Mar 26 2020 21:41 utc | 62

@28 and 29

Microwaves will kill viruses. Remember to put a cup of water in with the mask.

The metal nose clip might not be a resonant length and be OK.

Microwave Sterilization
M D Rohrer et al. J Am Dent Assoc. Feb 1985

Posted by: Old Engineer | Mar 26 2020 21:44 utc | 63

William Gruff @55

Already happened

Worldometer Coronavirus

At current peace, we are looking forward to One hundred thousand USA cases by weekend, maybe even tomorrow.

Is Amurrka great or what ??

Posted by: Colombianonymous | Mar 26 2020 21:45 utc | 64

I have been reading your articles for about a year. I have not commented previously, because I have not questioned, substantially, any argument, evidence-analysis, or fact-presentation you have rendered.

I comment now, because I cannot divine any rational premise that could support your assertion that “[i]n a few days it [the United States] will have the greatest number of Covid-19 cases and the greatest number of casualties of the disease.”

The best data and valid statistical analysis (Bayesian including multiple regression result) contradict your assertion. See, e.g., — which show now, and has shown for some weeks, a death-rate of 1% to 1.44%.

Even in New York, where the infection rate is highest, death rate is 1.02% (this minute, 2:44 PM Pacific Time, 26 March 2020).

The new-case rate has been increasing. But the recovery-rate is greater than the death-rate: 1864 recovered; 1177 died.

In New York (the worst hit), the new-case rate decreased during the past two days — 6618 to 4772. And the death-number increase dropped dramatically — 95 to 19.

The New York trouble is not Trump’s nearly much as it is that of Cuomo, who said, proudly, that his state has an infection rate greater than California’s because his state welcome’s immigrants (especially illegal ones) more than California does. (Cuomo’s immigration-assertion is near certainly false; but his asserti9on discloses a remarkable attitude.)

Cuomo ought to have close his state near-utterly. He is permitting people to leave and infect residents of other states, especially New Jersey, which suffers the second-highest rates of infection and death.

Trump could not, legally, shut New York’s borders, close New York’s county and city traffic, and force New York residents into massive quarantines — given current legislation and constitution-provision.

Do you hate Trump more than you love truth?

Posted by: Loup-Bouc | Mar 26 2020 21:47 utc | 65

USA just took the lead in the covid race with 82,404 confirmed cases!

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 26 2020 21:48 utc | 66

Sorry: My previous comment suffers a few typing errors. I am contrite.

Posted by: Loup-Bouc | Mar 26 2020 21:51 utc | 67

Old Engineer #61

The metal nose clip might not be a resonant length and be OK.

Thanks for that. I doubt the resonant length is the sole factor. I once put a gold rimmed dish in and thought ummmm I wonder if it is really gold. Well FLASH and POP. Luckily mum had departed this earthly paradise in search of some other so there was limited retribution.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 21:56 utc | 68

Is the troop deployment along the Canadian border is to stop anyone interfering in the coming chaos?

Posted by: Ian2 | Mar 26 2020 20:34 utc | 36

You have a point there --the coming chaos after the COVID-19 Health crisis.

Wondering if Trudeau knows about the fences that were erected this morning?

Maybe I missed Trump's tweet on his declaration of War.

- He has imposed more sanctions on Iranians.
- Indicted Maduro of Venezuela on narco trafficking, sponsor of terrorism; placed a $15 million bounty on his head --straight from the Panama playbook.

and this beauty - continues his trade war on China because -----

Exclusive: U.S. prepares crackdown on Huawei's global chip supply - sources

(Reuters) - Senior officials in the Trump administration agreed to new measures to restrict the global supply of chips to China’s Huawei Technologies, sources familiar with the matter said, as the White House ramps up criticism of China over coronavirus.

The move comes as ties between Washington and Beijing grow more strained, with both sides trading barbs over who is to blame for the spread of the disease and an escalating tit-for-tat over the expulsion of journalists from both countries.

Under the proposed rule change, foreign companies that use U.S. chipmaking equipment would be required to obtain a U.S. license before supplying certain chips to Huawei. The Chinese telecoms company was blacklisted last year, limiting the company’s suppliers.[.]
“This is going to have a far more negative impact on U.S. companies than it will on Huawei, because Huawei will develop their own supply chain,” trade lawyer Doug Jacobson said. “Ultimately, Huawei will find alternatives.”[.]

Huawei has been doing just that - finding alternatives. Trade wars have been proven to end badly. They end up going hot.

Posted by: Likklemore | Mar 26 2020 21:56 utc | 69

ut @ 44; Interesting take on the POTUS race, and the Cuomo switch with Biden. In this day and age, not completely "off the wall".

Posted by: ben | Mar 26 2020 22:08 utc | 70

b, it's funny how you show Japan as an example ... there might be norms in mask wearing here but if you ever go in a train at rush hour and see people coughing thru the masks you will not make that statement. male bathroom, many Japanese still pass their hands over the water, no real washing with soap.

and Japan has strict guidelines who to test ... only contact with known carriers + known symptoms.

weekend forecast is rain ... which is good as people doing hanami (sakura blossom viewing/partying) will be less.

Posted by: r | Mar 26 2020 22:16 utc | 71

Loup-Bouc #62

Do you hate Trump more than you love truth?

Thank you Loup-Bouc, Well I for one dont hate Trump. I don't like his policies and I guess he has a nice family but then I don't know the man I just observe his associates and who he regards as close friends and I would rather keep my distance. As would much of the people on earth.

I gather the silver spoon pretend aristocrats of the USA take a similar view for other reasons. They consider him to be vulgar and to fondle cash. They prefer high society ballroom dancing and to fondle other people's debt in their control. They both murder millions - because they can.

Both Trump and Cuomo are creatures of a terrible construct, a false perception of themselves, a venal and grasping and punishing gang of human scum.

I dont hate them but if they were drowning and screaming for aid I would pass them a concrete block or an anchor without hesitation. Or perhaps I would pass them a coffin of 500,000 dead Iraqis from sanctions.

I would be fairly certain that Ghislane Maxwell has the antidote to Trump in her video archives. Perhaps Cuomo is similarly recorded. They are both representatives of the ugly american, the modern day doge. We would be better for their demise - the sooner the better.

I gather the feeling is mutual as just as they would not hesitate to exit a lame cow if it were in their herd - I would not hesitate to take their ill gotten wealth and return it to the commons and send them to the barn to rake it out and keep it clean.

I trust you can understand that this is not hate but utilitarian levelling.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 22:17 utc | 72

Trump must recuse himself from all Corona decisions and tv briefings. His well known, deep irrational phobia about germs harms all Americans. “He’s Definitely Melting Down Over This:” Vanity Fair. And, Dec 23, 2015, “A self-confessed germaphobe, Trump doesn’t even like to push a ground floor elevator button because it’s been tapped by so many people.”

Posted by: chili palmer | Mar 26 2020 22:33 utc | 73

About two weeks ago I discovered the study titled:

"Investigating the impact of influenza on excess mortality in all ages in Italy during recent seasons (2013/14–2016/17 seasons)"

What leapt out to me from that study and I think is valuable to understand is the following: "More than 68,000 deaths attributable to flu epidemics were estimated in the study period."


"We estimated excess deaths of 7,027, 20,259, 15,801 and 24,981 attributable to influenza epidemics in the 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17."

I think especially that last quote needs to be emphasized. Let's think about this- it was noted in Italy in the 16/17 season about 25,000 ADDITIONAL people died from something related to influenza. Let's COMBINE this with the overall trend of that region of the world (Po River Valley) becoming THE most polluted place in all of Europe- having the worst air quality.

And it's a different type of pollution where the particulates are smaller and can "successfully" attack the upper respiratory system.

Where else are we seeing this exact trend of EXTREME levels of pollution occurring? Wuhan, Madrid and Tehran to name a few. And where else are we seeing "hot spots?" This is no coincidence.

It's not just the aging population in Italy it is that that aging population has been bombarded with particulate matter, particularly the last decade, that attacks the lungs and immune system. A perfect breeding ground for viruses.

What is happening now is decidedly NOT novel as this study points towards. And BTW China loses 1.6 million people per year directly due to air pollution.

If everything is blamed on a "killer virus" each year, rather than the global mode of production that creates the environment in which viruses can flourish, then the actual culprit, the capitalist mode of production, is let off the hook and the robber barons get to keep soaking up the profits while destroying the planet.

Posted by: Allen | Mar 26 2020 22:35 utc | 74

There is a guy at UCL, that is doing statistcs analysis.”>His site is updated daily. I recomend.

In čaše that link isn’t working, it’s

Posted by: Misa | Mar 26 2020 22:37 utc | 75

California OSHA adopted a standard addressing aerosolize transmissible disease in response to H1N1 and SARS. It is quite detailed. It applies to Covid-19. Appendix A lists diseases for which higher level aerosol precautions are needed, including measles, SARS, or any novel pathogens like Covid-19. Diseases needing lower level droplet precautions are also listed in the appendix.

Posted by: MH | Mar 26 2020 22:37 utc | 76

Here in Morocco with 275 positives and 10 deaths, chloroquine is now officially to be administered to all Covid19 patients. Note the King has bought the available stock from Sanofi and assures there is more then enough for the country's population..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 26 2020 22:43 utc | 77

For me the USA and the Soviet Union traded jerseys after the wall fell. The USA took victory way to seriously.

Posted by: steve | Mar 26 2020 22:46 utc | 78

Just to add to the panic:

Counting absolute numbers of cases may be misleading. With 1/4 of the population of China, but an almost equal number of cases, the U.S. is way ahead per capita.

Posted by: Roland Heymanns | Mar 26 2020 22:47 utc | 79

The neoliberal wrecking of our hospital system has been widely cited as a cause of the crisis. Among other things, hospitals reduced the number of beds, sold ventilators, and ran down supplies of masks and protective clothing in order to increase profitability.

On the way to this crisis, the private hospital industry gave the American public the actions and the rhetoric of the Milo Minderbinder character from Catch-22:

What's good for M & M Enterprises will be good for the country.

Milo stripped out and sold all kinds of life-saving kit: morphine vials, parachutes, CO2 inflator cartridges for life vests. Milo epitomizes the neoliberal short-term, bottom-line, zero-redundancy world view that has looted America and corrupted its democracy over the last 40 years.

Just like the hapless flightcrew in Catch-22, Americans are discovering the true meaning behind the private hospitals' claim that what was good for their corporations was good for the "crew" as they survey the looted and privatized corpse of their healthcare system.

What was satire 50 years ago, is reality today. We had a preview of this when Rumsfeld ran the DoD.

Was Donald Rumsfeld channeling Milo (and laughing up his sleeve) when he said:

It is clearly cost-effective to have contractors for a variety of things that military people need not do, and that, for whatever reason, other civilians, government people, cannot be deployed to do...

But I personally am of the view that there are a lot of things that can be done on a short-time basis by contractors that advantage the United States and advantage other countries who also hire contractors. And that any idea that we shouldn't have them, I think, would be unwise.
- D. Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld's Speech on the Future of Iraq (2005)

Exactly when did America become a bunch of out-takes from Catch-22?

Posted by: john brewster | Mar 26 2020 22:56 utc | 80

I believe Everyone will find this article by Pepe Escobar to be of vital import.


Posted by: Dr George W. Oprisko | Mar 26 2020 23:04 utc | 81

Ben @ 59 -- writes
Exactly why our elites tell us we must loathe and mistrust Russia. Sharing the wealth of the nation with workers can't be tolerated. It's Socialism, don't ya' know...

Ben, what I suspect they loathe even more than sharing with the workers, is the effrontery of levying taxes on the oligarchy.

Posted by: Paul Damascene | Mar 26 2020 23:05 utc | 82

@vk 30, re: unknown unknowns

Yes that is true of course.

To be clear I am not saying that the initial policy of minimal response in the US is justified. It was astonishingly negligent. The economic loss of a shutdown was unavoidable anyway, this was the most likely prognosis already when Italy was in the earliest stages, following China and Korea.

In the fictional alternative where the world would take the same measures but sooner, cities worldwide could have reduced the magnitude of the situation, whatever that may be in each place, by 10x or 100x. No medals for Cuomo in my book.

As to the thoroughness of isolation that is appropriate, i.e. China style vs a somewhat lax stay-at-home order like we are doing... We shall see. I am profoundly suspicious of any "big brother" type system (including the one already here), I don't want more to be installed, disease or not.

Posted by: ptb | Mar 26 2020 23:06 utc | 83

Uber driver dies after catching COVID-19 from a passenger source
Nepalese man in his 40s. Picked up passenger with nCOV in first week of March. Checked into hospital 2 weeks ago. Progressed through the stages, including being placed on ventilator. Passed away Tuesday.

Posted by: c1ue | Mar 26 2020 23:06 utc | 84

Regarding masks !!
If enyone here has a problem getting masks, google this - - -
As a hands on activist i’v been wearing them for years and swear by them.
It’s basicly a cilinder of sutable material (stretchy)
The benifit is - - for coronavirus that to wear it you double it up before pulling over your head leaving round your neck until needed,then when needed it takes one second to lift over mouth and nose, as a doubled up cylinder you have a compartment to trap a few anti viral wet wipes.
A word of warning ! Best not wear a black one ! a month ago my ‘team’ were surrounded by 6 armed response police car’s. But that’s another story ! U.K.

Posted by: Mark2 | Mar 26 2020 23:14 utc | 85

From what little I know about how microwave ovens work, I doubt they will do much harm to the virus. The virus doesn't contain any water/liquid, and neither does the mask. How is there even going to be any heat then?

Posted by: Scotch Bingeington | Mar 26 2020 23:20 utc | 86

Posted by: Loup-Bouc | Mar 26 2020 21:47 utc | 62

You should be happy that the orange puppet put u.s. on the top of infections..that's what you expect from a "great nation"like u.s...that's the way to scars and stripes that yankees &C's not a matter of hate it's the reality of a falling nation.

Posted by: LuBa | Mar 26 2020 23:22 utc | 88

This virus has the potential to shift the dynamics of power globally. Think about it. Asia is on the road to recovery... Europe is peaking and the US is still on the rise with A LONG WAY TO GO based on the grossly insufficient steps taken by many of the states so far... so think about it. If Asia goes back to normal while the US is still in shambles and still getting worse the rest of the world is then forced to (by nature of the disease) cut off the US for who knows how long. There is a European or Asian equivalent for every major US industry however many have been regulated to 2nd or 3rd in terms of the business share just based on US post WW2 positioning (Europe was rebuilding Japan was bombed china decimated by japan)

This virus has the potential to reset the global order in much of the same way was WW2 did. only the swing will now be away from the west. Because of the hubris and exceptionalism shown by western leaders (and citizens too lbr) The US most of all.

If Biden wins he will be the first US president since FDR governing in a world where the US wasnt the dominant power

Posted by: Nick | Mar 26 2020 23:25 utc | 89


I have been trying to find a paper that would give estimates for the all three parameters of the epidemic, the basic reproduction number R0, the daily growth rate and the serial interval. So far I have not found any.

The growth rate in most Western countries is ten-fold every week or one thousand fold every month. The fist cases of the Spanish epidemic were discovered on February 25. Now, 31 days later Spain has 57,786 laboratory confirmed cases.

The best estimates for the values are in the latest study by the London‌ Imperial College. Instead of estimating a R0 they give graphs for R(t) and its variation over time. The initial values are somewhere between 7 and 10. The paper also states a mean serial interval of 6,48 days.

An estimate for the future development of the pandemic in Finland by Finnish health officials is not sure what the R0 value for COVID-19 is. They claim that R0 in Lombardy was initially "little over 3" and give two prognosis for Finland based on R0 values of 1.6 and 1.8. The whole estimate is worthless crap!

There is no R0 value for COVID-19. Any real time value of R(t) is a function of social distancing measures. The best surrogate for a R0 value is infinity (∞). Everyone you meet will be infected! Everyone in the same room will be infected. If someone is infected in a concert hall with 1000 people, all one thousand are likely to be infected. The only way to decrease R(t) is by limiting the number of people you meet while infectious.

But even the stringiest social distancing measures cannot avoid a pandemic. As long as people meet and interact, everyone will eventually be infected. The only way of avoiding a pandemic and pushing R(t) under 1 is to isolate infected people before they become infectious. This requires tracing contacts and placing them all under quarantine.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Mar 26 2020 23:32 utc | 90

Scotch Bingeington #82

spray it with a water mister first.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Mar 26 2020 23:38 utc | 91

Breaking my intent not to comment any more momentarily, this advice to "not touch your face" is totally absurd and completely impossible to implement short of handcuffing your hands to your waist like a Federal inmate being transported.

Your eyes itch...your nose runs (tissues do *not* totally prevent your touching your nose when blowing it)...things gets stuck in your teeth and have to be removed, especially if you don't have some dental gadget or other to do so (which I do, but you still have to manipulate your gums)...and the N95 masks do not cover your eyes (only full face masks do).

Besides which, the advice is not "don't touch your face" - the virus can't enter unbroken skin. It's "don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth" - which is still next to impossible in a given 24-hour period for 99.9999 percent of the population.

In general, it's a *crap shoot* whether you get a particular virus. It depends on *how often* you touch something with the virus, the amount of *viral load* in a given exposure, your *immune level* at a given time of exposure or some time after exposure, etc., etc.

Which is why in a pandemic 40-70% of people catch it - because it's next to impossible to *really* protect yourself short of total self-isolation in a professional hazmat suit. So washing your hands - which I do religiously now for more than 20 seconds with full lather - and not touching your face is only going to improve your odds - it's not going to absolutely protect you.

I repeat my computer security meme: "You can haz worse security, you can haz better security. But you cannot haz 'security'. There is no security. Deal."

By the way, I just read an article on what it feels like to be on a ventilator. It's like *suffocating* without actually being *suffocated*. It's like being water-boarded. And that goes on for maybe three or four weeks with this virus.

I had a flu back in 2006 that got into my chest and caused me to literally vomit mucous on an almost continuous basis for six weeks. Frequently I was wheezing as if I were suffocating due to the amount of mucous in my throat. I went to San Francisco General Emergency Room. The doctors there said, "well, if you can wheeze, you won't die..." They put me on some sort of device for a short time (half hour, whatever) supposedly to help clear the lungs - it made the symptoms *worse*. Then they prescribed a $75 antibiotic which I couldn't afford, and an inhaler which I could - and which apparently did absolutely nothing when used over the next six weeks. I bought a steamer, which helped a little bit. Sleep remained almost impossible except for an hour or two each night when the body simply said, "you need to sleep or die." My throat ached for two months after this stopped due to the constant hawking up of mucous. It was hell.

Apparently this virus is like that for people with advanced symptoms.

And who knows what kind of lung damage resulted from the ailment? So when - not if - I get this coronavirus, which really hits the lungs, what happens then?

The odds are still pretty good, even for old people, however. 80% of the infected don't get serious symptoms or are asymptomatic entirely, 15-20% get serious symptoms requiring hospital treatment, which is maybe bed rest and treatment for high fever and maybe some drug protocol against the virus. 5% get serious problems maybe requiring ventilators or ECMO gear. Only 1-3% get ICU treatment, mostly because they have additional serious ailments besides the virus. So even if I get it, despite being 71 and having diabetes (albeit a blood sugar level of only 5.6-5.8 which is considered pre-diabetic), I figure I still have a 95-97% chance of beating it.

So I'll wash my hands religiously every time I go to the john or outside my residence, and I'll spray disinfectant on my sink, top of microwave and top of refrigerator (both places I cook from). But beyond that, there's not a hell of a lot I can do short of becoming a hyperchondriac. Especially since I live in a Single Room Occupancy hotel - which means I have to go to a public bathroom a dozen times a day to pee or dump, which means I touch my room's doorknob, both outside and inside, plus the john door and the toilet handle to flush it. So a dozen times a day times however many months this virus hangs around - what are my odds that, despite washing thoroughly, I miss enough virus to catch it? Not that great, I'd imagine.

Compare to that, catching it in the street in my view is highly unlikely. Does anyone have a link to a study that actually shows the *probability* of catching a virus from walking around on a street? I haven't seen anything. I understand coughing and sneezing near someone. But on a given day of usual wind patterns, heat, etc., what are the actual odds of getting it randomly on a street?

The Chinese allegedly did a study where an infected person was put on a bus with healthy uninfected people, driven around a bit, then the passengers were tested. Several previously uninfected tested positive, despite being up to 4 meters away from the original infected person. The Chinese scientists theorized that the warmth in the bus allowed the random aerosols to remain suspended for a longer distance than the presumed one or two meters. But that's not relevant to just walking around on the street. And I have resolved not to take the bus during this crisis to do my usual food runs.

Oh, and there is no evidence the virus is passed via food, so washing your hands before and after eating is irrelevant (unless you're eating outside your home.) If you eat the virus, your stomach acids kill it. If you cook food, the heat kills it. The real problem is the packaging your food came in - once you bring it inside your home, you either remove the package or you don't. If you do, dispose of it, then wash your hands. If you don't, well, when you do touch it again, wash your hands. This should apply to everything from outside brought inside.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | Mar 26 2020 23:39 utc | 92

As far as I can see this "crisis" will just be a repeat of what Bush and Obama did in 2008; what we will see is another carpetbagging exercise and more debt and impoverishment for ordinary Americans.

Posted by: ADKC | Mar 26 2020 23:52 utc | 93

Nick @85--

Excellent observation! I didn't project any likely outcome from my hypothesis regarding China as the force that lit the anti-fuse (think reactive armor on tanks) that generated the economic aspect of the crisis and provides a logical basis for Pompeo's continuous raving against China's political party and its leadership--for he hasn't been cussing-out ordinary Chinese; he's been very specific; now we know why.

Just one of many important anecdotal observations:

"We have to beg for hand sanitizer? It's almost like we are one of the nations we sanction."

The genuine monetary crash has yet to occur. And there's no way to extinguish the fuse.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 26 2020 23:56 utc | 94

“As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK.”

Quietly announced by the UK government on March 23rd.

Posted by: DeQuincey | Mar 27 2020 0:16 utc | 95

karlof1 @90: "The genuine monetary crash has yet to occur. And there's no way to extinguish the fuse."

Nicely said.

The RepubliCrats are dumping $trillions on that fuse. It boggles the mind that they do not realize they are dumping gasoline on the fire. How do they imagine that could possibly help?

BTW, I agree with you that Nick @85 is seeing the larger historical currents here. China is coming out of this crisis with their economy turbocharged. On the other hand, I see no path to recovery ever for the US from where we are now. This is a major historical inflection point. Everything changes, and hindsight will be 2020 for those who, unlike karlof1 and Nick, are fighting against the foresight.

I fear there will be a whole chapter in future history textbooks devoted to this year. If we are super unlucky there will be more than one chapter for 2020.

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 27 2020 0:42 utc | 96

Sigh. People really are just herd animals and easily led by our masters. So be it. ET you can go home now, there has to be a better place for you unless you plan on exporting human burgers to your world.

Posted by: Pft | Mar 27 2020 0:54 utc | 97

DeQuincey | Mar 27 2020 0:16 utc | 91

UK downgrades SARS CoV 2 /COVID -19

One of the UK's top experts seems to have backtracked over his predictions to the significance of this virus:

Armstrong interpets:
"Ferguson now says both that the U.K. should have enough ICU beds and that the coronavirus will probably kill under 20,000 people in the U.K. and interestingly he now admits that more than half of whom would have died by the end of the year in any case because they were so old and sick. Ferguson now predicts that the epidemic in the U.K. will peak and subside within “two to three weeks” after advocating 18+ months of quarantine would be necessary."

Imperial College (Ferguson's Employer) Twitter a/c says it differntly:
He told the committee current predictions were that the NHS would be able to cope if strict measures continued to be followed.

Professor Ferguson, who is also Director of MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, added: “There will be some areas that are extremely stressed but we are reasonably confident – which is all we can be at the current time – that at the national level we will be within capacity.”

Posted by: dennis | Mar 27 2020 1:00 utc | 98

Petri Krohn 86

Doubling time is easier to visualize than Ro. The effect of closing sports and other social events, social distancing ect can bee seen easier when looked at in terms of doubling time.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Mar 27 2020 1:05 utc | 99

Contrast that with the Russian president Vladimir Putin who, in an address to the Russian people, allocated most of the money for the unemployed, the retired and for families

Many initiatives and proposals of Putin/Russian government are correct, reasonable and socially useful. Problems arise when these proposals descend to the regional level. The success of the implementation of these proposals largely depends on the leadership of each specific region of Russia, as well as on local (municipal) authorities.

Today I read the news - the mayor of the city of Tambov, Natalia Makarevich, 10 days ago... left with her daughter on vacation in Vietnam. Instead of being at the workplace, actively preparing for the fight against the possible spread of the virus, take preventive measures, monitor the situation, monitor the execution of instructions, etc.
Moreover, Tambov deputies decided... to issue an award to the head of the city in the amount of ~200 thousand rubles (about $2500). Apparently, for her hard work at a resort in Vietnam. You know, resting on vacation is hard work.

There are many similar regional and municipal leaders in Russia.
I don't think that these people will contribute to the successful implementation of the measures proposed by Putin in his message. Given the importance of measures, I hope that control over their implementation will be significantly tightened.

Posted by: alaff | Mar 27 2020 1:07 utc | 100

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