2:00PM Water Cooler 3/24/2020

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

“They had learned nothing, and forgotten nothing.” –Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Key dates coming fast now, so I added some counters:

Some of the next primaries. (I picked the major dates; here is a complete calendar.)

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We encourage readers to play around with the polling charts; they are dynamic, and there are a lot of settings, more than I can usefully show here. Here is a link to alert reader dk’s project. You can also file bug reports or feature requests using the same contact process as for Plants, below. Thanks — but no promises!

We have a new national poll from Morning Consult (very large sample)), and no state polls, as of 3/24/2020, 11:00 AM EDT.

And the numbers:

It does seem that the strategy of keeping Biden out of the public eye pays off. Earlier in the year, we often had occasion to comment on the mysterious strength of the Biden Juggernaut, on display here; but it’s also true that Biden’s ups and downs have been of much greater amplitude than other candidates.

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“White House agrees to allow oversight of huge coronavirus loan program as $2 trillion Senate deal nears” [WaPo].

The Senate bill would allow the Treasury Department to extend $500 billion in loans and loan guarantees to try to blunt the deadly virus’s economic impact. Of that amount, $425 billion is supposed to go to businesses, cities and states. Another $50 billion would go to passenger airlines, $8 billion more for cargo airlines, and an additional $17 billion would be directed for firms that are deemed important to national security.

… The Senate bill would allow the Treasury Department to extend $500 billion in loans and loan guarantees to try to blunt the deadly virus’s economic impact. Of that amount, $425 billion is supposed to go to businesses, cities and states. Another $50 billion would go to passenger airlines, $8 billion more for cargo airlines, and an additional $17 billion would be directed for firms that are deemed important to national security….. Schumer said late Monday that the goal was to finalize the sprawling legislation on Tuesday and vote on it in the evening. In addition to the huge lending program for industries, the legislation would send $1,200 checks to many individual Americans, set up a $350 billion loan program for small businesses, expand the unemployment insurance program, and pump more than $100 billion toward hospitals, among a host of provisions.

In other words, no help making the rent (and a metric fuck-ton of money to “industry” when aggregate demand is about to collapse. Of course, if the unspoken elite consensus is that everybody’s going back to work in two weeks — see below — no problem there). Pelosi preens:

“Sufficiently to the side of the workers.” A doctor’s note for testing. No free treatment. Nothing to make up for lost wages. Nothing to halt rent payments. Throws any worker not in the unemployment system under the bus. And an insultingly low $1200 check to come… some time. And not for everybody. Such a deal. Pelosi intends to pass the bill in essence by acclamation (“unanimous consent of the House”), so only two members need to be present (this is from memory, I may have technical details wrong). Stoller comments:

An opportunity for The Squad to step up, I would say.

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Biden (D)(1): Blast from the past:

Biden (D)(2): “Stay Alive, Joe Biden” [The Atlantic]. “For the foreseeable future, there will be no more speeches in front of hundreds, or lines of people waiting to shake Biden’s hand. There may not even be the glossy fanfare of a convention with a prime-time address. But, truthfully, all those things were always sort of beside the point. Like on that morning in McClellandville, and countless other ones besides, Biden was never really convincing anyone on the stump—his political power at this point is an idea, held collectively, about how to defeat Trump. The work now is to keep that idea convincing enough, for long enough, among as many people as possible, for the corporeal man to actually win.”

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Two weeks vacay, then back to work (this is called balancing health and the economy). Too numerous to mention, and bipartisan.

First up, Lloyd Blankfein was not hounded out of public life after the Crash!

The Jeff Bezos Daily Shopper weighs in:

Not “is asking,” though he might yet:

Would that it were only Trump:


Well, everybody who is anybody.

Stats Watch

At reader request, I added some business stats back in. Please give Econintersect click-throughs; they’re a good, old-school blog that covers more than stats. If anybody knows of other aggregators, please contact me at the email address below.

Manufacturing: “March 2020 Richmond Fed Manufacturing Survey Insignificantly Improves” [Econintersect]. “Of the three regional Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys released to date, two were in contraction and one barely in expansion. The important Richmond Fed subcategories (new orders and unfilled orders) were mixed but were zero or in contraction. This survey was better than last month.”

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Shipping: “Car carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s dramatic fleet action may provide a warning sign for the broader shipping industry. The Oslo-based operator is cutting 14 vessels from its fleet, including four that will be scrapped… as automobile production and demand nosedive around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic” [Wall Street Journal]. “The fleet downsizing is the biggest move yet among ocean carriers that have been buffeted by the coronavirus-driven hit to global economies. Shipping companies have generally weathered the downturn, but the car carrier’s action suggests the ongoing shutdown of factories is cutting deeper into industrial supply chains. That will likely trigger a bigger impact on operators from dry-bulk commodities carriers to container lines. Consulting group SeaIntelligence reiterated its forecast of a 10% decline in container shipping demand this year and says, ‘current developments indicate that the worst is ahead of us.'”

Supply Chain: “Just-in-time has turned out to be just-not-enough for grocery stores. A run on supermarkets in the U.S. is exposing the downside of the food industry’s decadeslong efficiency drive to boost profit margins by paring inventories” [Wall Street Journal]. “Producers and grocery stores had gone from keeping months of inventory on hand to holding only a four to six weeks’ supply, and now manufacturers, distributors and retailers are rapidly reversing course as consumers strip shelves bare. Suppliers are tossing out carefully calibrated distribution plans and instead shipping truckloads of goods straight to stores’ warehouses. Retailers are overriding replenishment algorithms and heading straight to manufacturers to restock. Many producers are pressing raw materials suppliers to speed up manufacturing to get more goods into pipelines. Officials insist plenty of goods are moving, but some worry that an increasingly stretched system could buckle under the pressure.” • All that optimization…. gone…..

Manufacturing: “Ford partnering with GE, 3M to build ventilators, respirators, face shields” [Automotive News]. “Ford Motor Co. plans to build respirators, ventilators and face shields in partnership with its UAW work force, manufacturing company 3M and GE Healthcare to aid medical workers as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to overwhelm their supply. Known internally as “Project Apollo” and inspired by the quick-thinking ingenuity of the Apollo 13 space mission, executives on Tuesday said Ford workers plan to use car parts and factory tools to help get some equipment out to doctors, nurses and first responders as early as this week…. Ford is partnering with manufacturing company 3M to build air-purifying respirators on two fronts. It will aid 3M in boosting production of respirator designs 3M is already producing, while simultaneously building its own respirators using a makeshift design that includes fans from F-150 pickup seats, 3D-printed parts and portable tool battery packs that could allow the devices to run for up to eight hours. Respirators using Ford’s makeshift design would be built at its advanced manufacturing center near Detroit in Redford, Mich. Ford said it initially would be able to make up to 1,000 respirators per month.” • It’s a start.

Honey for the Bears: “A Greater Depression?” [Nouriel Roubini, Project Syndicate]. “The shock to the global economy from COVID-19 has been both faster and more severe than the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) and even the Great Depression. In those two previous episodes, stock markets collapsed by 50% or more, credit markets froze up, massive bankruptcies followed, unemployment rates soared above 10%, and GDP contracted at an annualized rate of 10% or more. But all of this took around three years to play out. In the current crisis, similarly dire macroeconomic and financial outcomes have materialized in three weeks…. [E]very component of aggregate demand – consumption, capital spending, exports – is in unprecedented free fall. While most self-serving commentatorshave been anticipating a V-shaped downturn – with output falling sharply for one quarter and then rapidly recovering the next – it should now be clear that the COVID-19 crisis is something else entirely. The contraction that is now underway looks to be neither V- nor U- nor L-shaped (a sharp downturn followed by stagnation). Rather, it looks like an I: a vertical line representing financial markets and the real economy plummeting.”

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 13 Extreme Fear (previous close: 5 Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 5 (Extreme Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 24 at 12:42pm. The chorus of “put American back to work” must be gratifying to Mr. Market.

The Biosphere

Slowing economy:

“A happy little miracle in dark times: The plant nursery business is booming” [Los Angeles Times]. “[A] happy little miracle has happened in the world of plants. People are clamoring to plant vegetable gardens, and Southern California nurseries — deemed an essential service by state and local officials — have found creative ways to meet the demand while keeping customers and staff at a safe distance amid coronavirus concerns…… ‘We’re seeing this as a resurgence in victory gardens,’ [Desiree Heimann of Armstrong Nursery Centers] said. ‘There are so many unknowns now, we’re encouraging people to start planting their own backyard garden to have a sustainable food supply. Gardening really does reduce anxiety and stress, and what would the drawbacks be? That you have too many strawberries or tomatoes and you have to share with friends? There’s not really a downside to this.’

“This ancient festival is a celebration of springtime—and a brand new year” [National Geographic]. “The [Iranian Nowruz] spring festival’s focus is fertility and new life, so it’s appropriate that many revelers celebrate with seeds and eggs. Households set up tables covered with seven symbolic items they call haft-seen. Haft means “seven” and ‘seen’ is ‘s’ in Farsi, and all of the items start with the letter. These include seed sprouts (usually wheat, oats and other seeds, which symbolize rebirth), senjed (also known as silverberry or Persian olive, which is thought to spark love), garlic (protection), apple (fertility), sumac (love), vinegar (patience), and samanu, a pudding made of sprouted wheat (affluence). The table also can include a Koran, eggs, mirrors, and poetry.” • In the press of events, I forgot the equinox!

“East Antarctica’s Denman Glacier has retreated almost 3 miles over last 22 years” [Science Daily]. “East Antarctica’s Denman Glacier has retreated 5 kilometers, nearly 3 miles, in the past 22 years, and researchers at the University of California, Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are concerned that the shape of the ground surface beneath the ice sheet could make it even more susceptible to climate-driven collapse. If fully thawed, the ice in Denman would cause sea levels worldwide to rise about 1.5 meters, almost 5 feet. With this sobering fact in mind, the UCI and NASA JPL scientists have completed the most thorough examination yet of the glacier and surrounding area, uncovering alarming clues about its condition under further global warming.”

“Paris Climate Agreement Architects Make a Case for “Stubborn Optimism'” (interview) [Scientific American]. Tpm Rivett-Carnac: “If we start now, that’s more than a 7 percent reduction every year. That is a mobilization at a scale that’s barely imaginable. Now it is achievable, and science tells us that it’s achievable. But we’ve reached the point at which we’re going to discover if we’re serious about dealing with this. So this book is about communicating what’s at stake. We have allowed ourselves to feel powerless in the face of this challenge. But the reality is that we have more power than we can possibly imagine, because of the impact we can have.”

Health Care

“Antibiotic resistance: the hidden threat lurking behind Covid-19” [STAT]. “lready, some studies have found that 1 in 7 patients hospitalized with Covid-19 has acquired a dangerous secondary bacterial infection, and 50% of patients who have died had such infections. The challenge of antibiotic resistance could become an enormous force of additional sickness and death across our health system as the toll of coronavirus pneumonia stretches critical care units beyond their capacity. Seventeen years ago, when I was leading the CDC, we worried about antibiotic resistance complicating the care of SARS patients. We knew then that America’s arsenal of antibiotics was not sufficient to guarantee we could manage a large outbreak of drug-resistant bacteria. Since then, these bacteria have only become more widespread, more deadly, and far more difficult to treat, yet our stable of antibiotics to manage them has barely increased.” • No money in it.

“Man dies after self-medicating with chloroquine phosphate” [Axios]. “A man has died and his wife is under critical care after the couple, both in their 60s, ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive commonly used at aquariums to clean fish tanks,” which is also part of one of the antimalaria drugs that President Trump has mentioned in recent days, according to Banner Health, the hospital system that treated both patients…. The malaria drug comes in tablet form, but the type the couple used was a toxic substance — not medication…. The man’s wife told NBC News: ‘I had it in the house because I used to have koi fish.'”

“Arizona Man Dies After Using Fish Tank Cleaner To Treat COVID-19” [Jonathan Turley]. “There has been legitimate criticism of some of the statements made by President Donald Trump during the coronavirus outbreak as overstated or inaccurate. However, there has also been a continuation of the type of ‘Gotcha’ stories that seem to be so reflexive for many in the media. An example is the slew of recent articles on how an Arizona man died of taking the anti-malaria drug repeatedly raised by Trump as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Trump has discussed Chloroquine as a drug which has shown promising results, which is true, in other countries. Indeed, a variation, hydroxychloroquine, has shown remarkable success but still needs to be fully studied for safety. However, the Arizona stories omit that this elderly couple did not take prescriptions of either drug but rather home remedied with chloroquine phosphate used to clean fish tanks.”

“Lupus Patients Can’t Get Crucial Medication After President Trump Pushes Unproven Coronavirus Treatment” [ProPublica]. “Trump’s push to use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 has triggered a run on the drug. Healthy people are stocking up just in case they come down with the disease. That has left lupus patients like Valdez and those with rheumatoid arthritis suddenly confronting a lack of medication that safeguards them, and not only from the effects of those conditions. If they were required to take stronger drugs to suppress their immune systems, it could render them susceptible to more serious consequences should they get COVID-19.”


“Board games can keep you sane during quarantine. Here’s how to find games you’ll like” [The Prepared]. “I love to fondle the big, heavy board game boxes at my local game shop, and to look over the shoulders of the gamers as they play on those tables in the back. I like miniatures and maps, rules and stats, and all the role-playing and board-gaming things… but I’m not a board gamer. It’s just a corner of nerddom that I had not yet ventured into… at least until the lockdown. During our final week of freedom, I went out to two local game shops — Dragons’ Lair and Game Kastle Austin — and bought an embarrassingly large stash of games for the locked-down kids and adults in my house to play in the evenings…. Nonetheless, I find myself fielding questions on this board-game topic from other parents and grown-up nerds who suddenly have a lot of time on their hands and are looking for something fun to do. So I’m putting what I’ve learned so far about how to buy board games into a short blog post, not only so I can stop typing out the same advice in emails but so that more experienced gamers can drop into the comments with their own advice and tips.” • Very good. If you want to get some board games, here’s how.

Guillotine Watch

“Bunker with a bowling alley: How the rich are running from coronavirus” [Los Angeles Times]. “[Texas-based Rising S Bunkers] has 24 standard options, with the smallest being 8 by 12 feet. Complete with a bunk bed, air filtration system, kitchen counter and toilet, it costs $39,500. Other models include a 2,400-square-foot bunker for $539,000 called the Eagle and a complex with 42 bunk beds, 15 private bedrooms, a gun room and panic room for $1.009 million called the Fortress. The one with the most amenities is the Aristocrat. Priced at $8.35 million, it has a gym, sauna, swimming pool, hot tub, billiards room, greenhouse and garage.” • That’s quite an act. What do you call it? [NSFW].

“Super-rich people are panicking over the coronavirus ventilator shortage” [New York Post]. “Forget Birkin bags, Botox shots or Brazilian butt lifts. The sought-after accessory for the ultra-rich these days is anything that guarantees them oxygen should they get hit by the coronavirus…. the wealthy in the US are calling both their doctors and ventilator manufacturers hoping to get a machine on demand. They’re even trolling the dark web to no avail as they face an uncomfortable truth: Money can’t buy something that’s not there. Ventilators cost only about $35,000, peanuts to the elites. But because the US healthcare industry is about making money, no one heeded warnings going back more than a decade that the country should stockpile the machines.” • The rest of the story has several interesting interviews with ventilator manufacturers, so worth a read.

“New Yorkers Are Overcrowding Carbone’s Sidewalk, Forcing Police Action” [Eater]. “Twice in the past week, police officers have had to manage the large crowds waiting for delivery and takeout orders outside Major Food Group’s famed fancy restaurant Carbone in Greenwich Village. On Friday, after failing to disperse the crowds and rein in wait times that were over an hour long, frustrated managers for the restaurant locked the doors and turned off the lights, leaving deliverymen and patrons empty handed.” • As stupid as the Florida spring-breakers. If only they were only putting themselves alone in danger!

Class Warfare

“Workers Left Out Of Government And Business Response To The Coronavirus” [Thpmas Kochan, The Conversation]. “My research shows that workers are eager to have a broader role in corporate governance and decision-making. This could be accomplished, for instance, if government bailout funds were conditioned on workers having seats on corporate boards or establishing joint worker-management consultative councils or committees to help allocate the money…. By working together in these ways in this time of crisis, business and labor might just lay the groundwork for building a new social contract that fills the holes in the social safety net and forges relationships that will serve society well in the future.” • Well…. We don’t seem headed in that direction.

“Can we save people like my brother from the economic impact of the coronavirus?” [Boston Globe]. “Every few days, I call my brother, who has always lived in a harder world than mine. He’s 60, does not have a college degree, and for years has lived from paycheck to paycheck setting up banquets at a suburban Detroit hotel. He lost his job because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down much of the economy. First, two events in a week were canceled. Then all events were canceled, and on March 16, his manager called to say there would be no more work…. My brother was pessimistic about what politicians could do. “A thousand dollars? That’s not enough to cover a month,” he said. He pays $1,000 a month just in rent for a room in a suburban Detroit condo he shares with two others, and neither of his roommates is on solid economic footing.” • Thank you, Democrats, for putting “workers first.”

“Amazon soliciting public donations to pay workers’ sick leave” [Popular.info]. “In response to the pandemic, Amazon said it would provide two weeks of sick leave to “all Amazon employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed into quarantine.” Kroger had a similar policy until Saturday when Kroger expanded its policy to cover workers with COVID-19 symptoms or who need to care for sick family members. Amazon, however, has held firm. Amazon’s large contract workforce, which delivers packages and performs other critical tasks, is in even worse shape. Amazon is not providing any sick leave at all for these workers, even if they test positive for COVID-19. Instead, these workers must apply to the “Amazon Relief Fund” and apply for a grant to cover their sick leave. …. Amazon donated $25 million to the fund and is soliciting individual donations to add to the pot…. Isn’t it a bit unseemly for Amazon, a company owned by the richest person in the world, to be soliciting donations to pay for workers’ sick leave? Why isn’t Amazon just paying people who contracted COVID-19 while doing essential work for Amazon?”

“Rural communities’ digital deserts cripple tele-education during coronavirus outbreak” [ABC]. “As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the country, businesses, schools and groups are heading online to stay productive. Rural communities with poor to little broadband Internet access, however, are stuck in digital deserts with no way to ride out the situation, according to digital accessibility activists.”

“MBA Class of 2020 Faces Tough Summer or Worse as Recession Looms” [Bloomberg]. “There’s one option that could be safer for a graduate than entering the workforce: Staying in school. College seniors might consider a graduate degree, and MBAs who don’t land jobs could pursue an industry-based certification that will make them more employable, Carnevale says. ‘It’s going to be a rough several months. A bad start will affect you deep into your career—your first job, your second job,’ he says. ‘This is going to be a tough summer, and if you get a recession, it’ll be another 10 months of slower hiring.'”

News of the Wired

Can this be real?

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (JU):

JU writes: “Sunrise rays in the Sierra foothills…” I think the plants are hidden in the shadows. But what a lovely moment!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. TB14

    I’m still waiting for the visuals. I’m seeing twitter thread after twitter thread about how bad this is getting for our hospitals But nothing inside US hospitals like you saw in Spain/Italy. I would assume our spectacle obsessed TV media would be all over this.

    Are we just not there yet or are hospitals shutting out media? Think the visuals would be the only thing to stop the death cult that’s telling people to get back to work. I feel like people keep saying we are going to be Italy level bad in a week every other week. But so many won’t believe that unless they see it (and some won’t believe it even after that).

    1. Daryl

      Some thoughts:

      Americans have been conditioned to never go to the hospital. Even being hospitalized can destroy one’s finances, let alone for an extended period and actually receiving treatment.

      Lack of testing and diagnostics means that it is impossible for people to know their own condition and the severity of it. We have multiple reports of people just dropping dead in the US.

      Finally, we are just slightly behind on the timeline. NYC will be in Italy/Spain’s position very shortly, followed by states like Texas which are doing even less to contain it. Expect it to be worse here when it is all said and done.

      1. TB14

        Speaking of Texas another thought crosses my mind. When we start getting to the point where doctors are deciding who’s worthy of a ventilator and other care. What are the chances that people start brandishing guns in ERs and hostage taking or lashing out ? (Not saying that can only happen in Texas. Just was the trigger ; I’m thinking of all the ways this can go pear shaped at this point)

        1. Jason Boxman

          There was a story not 6 months ago, possibly in the Times, about doctors being assaulted in China for deaths of family members. So there is precedence.

        2. John Beech

          I’m just hoping the Texas Lt. Governor (if he’s infected with COVID-19) has signed a document similar to a DNR, e.g. where he states his 70-year old dumb ass is willing to sacrifice himself for the economy.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            as long as old folks are so eager to sacrifice themselves, how about instead they sacrifice their lifestyles for the sake of the future of the planet?

            1. bassmule

              Let’s see: Trump’s the right age. And Biden is heading for the nursing home anyway. I suggest a great bipartisan event, the two of them giving up their lives in defense of the Dow Jones Industrials!

              I think it would make super-great television if they agreed to be dropped out of Air Force 1 over the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. In parachutes, so we could watch how they reacted to imminent death by immolation. The ratings would be off the charts! I see Emmy Awards galore! And Trump could die happy knowing he’d achieved the largest single viewership of any televised event, ever in the history of the Universe! It’s win-win, I’m tellin’ ya!

              1. Procopius

                Pay-per-view! You could raise enough from that to pay rent for every person out of work because of SARS CoV 2.

          2. Tom Doak

            Yes, it could really be solved with a simple New Rule: anyone who complains “the cure is worse than the disease” must volunteer at a hospital where coronavirus patients are being treated, three nights in a row.

            Then they could get back to us in two weeks, after their “research”.

      2. Tom Stone

        Daryl, I got the bill for my latest hospital stay yesterday, I was there for 32 hours getting Chemo.
        Not covered by Medicare.

        1. Youngblood

          Wow. So sorry, both for the cancer and the outrageous cost of the treatment. I hope it is successful.

        2. HotFlash

          Truly, I do not understand why so many Americans voted for Joe over Bernie. If, indeed, they did.

          When my BFF was hospitalized for 10 days last summer, bill was $55 (ambulance not covered).

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            ” If indeed they did” . . . is a very crucial phrase. With these digifraudulent Democratic Primary/Caucus elections, we will never know.

            As for those who really did vote for Biden, decades of 24/7 psyops and infops against a mainstream population without the knowledge or energy to extract information from beyond the Media Plantation will create that kind of voting pattern.

            1. ambrit

              I believe that he or she did mention living in a civilized country; which automatically excludes the US.

        3. curlydan

          That makes me sad on many levels. Good luck, and I hope the chemo is working. Excuse my lack of knowledge here, but why does Medicare not cover chemo?

        4. The Rev Kev

          I wouldn’t even know what to do with a medical bill that large. I hope that things work out for you Tom.

        5. Bsoder

          You need to get a lawyer, anyone on Medicare so admitted would be covered, they’d be some co-pays, per the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare. If the hospital accepts Medicare you were covered and should (sadly less) owe less than 1k. No way a hospital lets you in for that procedure without knowing it’s getting paid. By law all they have to do is stabilize your vitals and throw you out the back door. Very sorry and upset to hear of this.

          1. HotFlash

            In a sane society, why should someone with cancer need to get a lawyer to get treatment?

            In my ‘hood (Canada), street people get chemo, and the social workers are right now chasing down a guy with antibiotic-resistant TB to isolate and treat him. And youse ‘Merkin guys are OK with bailing out the cruise ships? IMHO, any complaints about the Dems not ‘fighting for you’ are to be matched with observations about *you* not ‘fighting for you’. And Biden gets (possibly) the majority of primary Dem votes. How can this be?

            1. Altandmain

              I often ask the same thing about the older Canadians voting for the Tories ….

              They’ve been cutting healthcare in many provinces.

        6. richard

          So sorry to hear that; a true outrage that anyone should ever receive a bill at all when trying to heal

        7. ChristopherJ

          So sorry, Tom, went through 6 rounds of rchop last year and came out ok. And, I never had to worry about the cost, about $10,000 a round….all on our universal medicare, fast tracked, triaged everywhere as I was sick. There’s a recent NC post I wrote which was published here, but I can’t find it. I think if I had been in the US, I probably couldn’t even have afforded the diagnosis and surgery on an enlarged lymph node. So there I go, fortunate to be here. At least covid has shown everyone that money for people can be found MMT style. Yet, it won’t be the US showing how it’s done, I’m afraid to say.

          Keep well, avoid, well, everyone, until your immune system is better.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Are we just not there yet or are hospitals shutting out media?

      I think we are not quite there yet (and New York is a media capital, so I think it quite unlikely everything can be kept under wraps, even with HIPAA). And I’ve already seen several tweets from exhausted ER people.

      I recall one doctor saying it was like waiting for a tsunami. I watched several YouTubes of the 2011 Japanese tsunami back in the day, and the inexorably rising water is quite terrifying. The sirens start long before….

      1. Lee

        Speaking of waiting for a tsunami:

        Cretan Love Story

        Imagine you’re part of the Minoan civilization, just hanging out with your effete painted face down by the water’s edge on the north shore of Crete, circa 1600 BC. Biting flies knit the breeze around your head. Wavelets slap discreetly ashore. When the volcanic island of Thera detonates seventy miles to the north, the concussion, even where you’re standing, knocks passing waterfowl out of the air. Oxen are jolted to their knees.
        Back where Thera used to be, more than thirty-five cubic miles of the equivalent of dense rock have been blown out of the water and up into the troposphere. That’s all of Manhattan and the bedrock beneath it concussing upward thirty thousand feet. It’s as if something has convulsed the horizon and churned the bowl of the sky above. What you’re looking at no one in recorded history has ever seen, before or since.
        Long before the blast column has reached the upper atmosphere, the shock wave coalesces in a grim line that radiates from the outer edge of your field of vision all the way to your little inlet. The oxen, still on their knees, low in terror and struggle to regain their footing. Your boy – your primary responsibility – seems to have slipped from your grasp. Everyone just gapes while the surge flashes across the last of the distance, and when it hits you’re knocked flat like the oxen, the palms above and around you stripped of their leaves in a roaring turmoil of wind and sand.
        The woman beside you is on her hands and knees. The infant she’d been holding is facedown and crying nearby, at the end of a swaddling cloth that apparently unspooled in the impact. One ox is up and lumbering inland.

        Off the beach a dark blue band races like a furrow back out to sea. Your boy calls to you, through air alive with grit and glittering in the sun. He has only one eye open, which may make the view a little less painful.
        Once the undersea furrow finally aligns with the farthest edge of the sea it holds steady for a moment. Your boy is still calling. The infant is still crying. Then the horizon line darkens still more, and widens, all of this accompanied by a continuous rolling thunder that seems to emanate from somewhere beyond the curve of the earth. Another ox has gotten to its feet and bulled in panic past its handler. It’s only when you look to the east and west that you realize the band is widening because it’s rising, into a wave whose size is without precedent. At sixty miles away it already appears an inch tall, its upper edge frayed and filigreed in white. Its reverberations are already oscillating through your hands and feet. You have time to run, but unless you’re able to cover half the island in the next four minutes you might as well stay where you are.
        She’s put wings to your feet for the entirety of your lives together, and with them you run. Your boy mostly keeps pace, clutching at your arm when you begin to pull away.”

        Your boy finds you, since you’ve done so little to find him. He asks what’s happening. He asks what you’re going to do. He asks as if the very extent of your love and responsibility might carry with it sufficient power to avert even something like this. He reminds you that you have to run, and you understand him to mean that though you won’t reach safety you could maybe reach your home, his mother and your wife. In the interval you have left you might even make clear with just a moment’s embrace and the time to hold her face still and engage her eyes that despite your lassitude and arrogance and petulance and selfishness and pettiness, she’s granted you a gift for which you’ve never adequately expressed your joy. She’s buoyed and nurtured you and weathered your despotism, and continued to envision what you could’ve become rather than what you are. She’s put wings to your feet for the entirety of your lives together, and with them you run. Your boy mostly keeps pace, clutching at your arm when you begin to pull away. He’s the one who got you moving but is now receding, and you reach back your hand at his cry. The wave behind you is an all-enveloping sonic domain. The road before you is one you’ve traversed a thousand times. The woman waiting in the courtyard is your best chance to accomplish one more panegyric before the world upheaves and confirms that, whatever other self-renovations you may have had planned, your time is gone.

        From The World to Come, out now in hardback and eBook from Riverrun

        1. Martin Oline

          I have read that the sea in the Aegean Sea was covered with pumice, which can float, over a foot deep. I believe that when the sailors who were trading in the western Mediterranean Sea eventually returned home they discovered it gone. Everything on every coastline was destroyed, where the tsunami wiped out all life. These sailors lived in sea ports, and with no families alive, they turned to piracy, sacked Crete, and eventually made their way to Egypt, where they are remembered as the ‘People of the Sea’. This was the end of western civilization for several hundred years in one swoop.

          1. Procopius

            I don’t think 1600 BCE is right for “the Peoples of the Sea.” According to Eric H. Cline’s
            1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed
            , the Sea Peoples were active from around the end of the 13th to the middle of the 12th centuries BCE. The estimated date of the Minoan Eruption seems consistent with the arrival of a mysterious group called the Hyksos in Egypt, though.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Thanks for the prose on Crete, but this is more what I had in mind: The slowness, and the inexorable power:

          “First slowly, then all at once.” (This includes the moment when the waters begin to recede, too.)

          It’s foolish, but what really gets me is what a nice little town it must have been to live in, with all the little boats moored along the river.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I wonder if there is news about what strain of Coronavirus is running rampant in New York. Sounds like it may be the same one as in Italy.

          1. Jokerstein

            If you know how to interpret mutation maps and cladograms go here.

            The bottom line is that most of the strains in the US are derived from WA, which originally came from Wuhan. In-US mutations outside WA state are uncommon.

        2. HotFlash

          I would expect that higher population density would occasion higher infection rates. But, NYCer’s, take heed.

          And it may be that Yves not-entirely-voluntary removal to AL was some providence acting. I’m a believer in the Great Bear (I can see her!! as long as it’s not cloudy), y’all believe in who/what you like. Or not :)

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > I would expect that higher population density would occasion higher infection rates. But, NYCer’s, take heed.

            That’s a talking point that’s going around, but I’ve never seen it substantiated. Singapore and Taipei have done reasonably well — even, for some nutty reason, Tokyo, though I think the jury is still out on that one — and Hong Kong is the most densely populated urban conglomeration on earth.

            I wonder it has anything to do with New York’s status as, in essence, the capital of globalization. Air travel correlates to income, and income correlates to finance and media, both of which do a lot of travel.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              Not with regard to disease spreading – but general urban research indicates that big, dense urban areas with good public transport systems result in far more ‘face to face’ contacts on a given day – this is one reason why big cities exist and why they are so economically successful.

              But I think the success of authorities in Korea, Japan, Singapore, etc., is that this density also allows for a greater level of control if its managed correctly. From my limited understanding of disease spread, diseases tend to move faster in urban areas, but low density or remoteness is not a protection, it just means they get the disease a little later. The Spanish Flu killed people in very remote small communities in Alaska, Norway, etc.

              So (just guessing here), I think the US will see the first primary and severe hit in NY, Chicago, SF, and so on, with a slower paced, but equally dangerous spread in the car obsessed exurbs and rural areas. In theory, the slower pace should make it more manageable, but this will be counterbalanced by the poorer quality of medical service provision in those areas.

      2. thoughtful person

        I would lean toward shutting out media.

        We’re going back to work in 2 weeks. [Flu cases likely to rise in 2 weeks (Russian model)]. Scaring population with overflowing hospitals not ideal.

          1. 12aq

            How hard would it be to just randomly test 100-odd people and get some idea of where we actually stand? It’s very odd that no-one is doing this.

    3. Carey

      >I’m still waiting for the visuals. I’m seeing twitter thread after twitter thread about how bad this is getting for our hospitals But nothing inside US hospitals like you saw in Spain/Italy. I would assume our spectacle obsessed TV media would be all over this.

      Talk about a good question.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I would assume our spectacle obsessed TV media would be all over this.

        Not to mention any outraged doctor or nurse with a cellphone and a twitter account.

        Readers, do hospitals take away staff phones? Just out of curiousity…

    4. D. Fuller

      It is not only hospitals shutting out the media. Private health care providers – at least in the following case – appear to be actively concealing information to prevent shareholder and customer flight. Recent information on the following nursing home reveals – to the best of knowledge – to have been bought out by a PE firm in prior years and is now owned by a REIT.

      I just took a CNA who works at a nursing home, for Covid-19 testing using a poorly written letter she obtained from work.

      1. A patient in the nursing home was tested five days ago after being taken to the hospital.
      2. The patient was returned to the nursing home.
      3. The patient tested positive for Covid-19. The nursing home management attempted to conceal the fact that the patient tested positive for Covid-19. The owners of the nursing home chain fear media exposure and loss of business – actually stated by one of the management team. It was by accident that lower-level workers at the facility found out about the Covid-19 case.
      4. The patient is in isolation at the nursing home. 3 more nursing home residents are under observation with no attempts at quarantine.
      5. One CNA (Covid-19 nasal test swab performed today) has been given a week off. The letter from management states results will be obtained in six days.
      6. The test for the CNA will take seven to ten days for the results. This was told to the CNA by the testing clinic.

      The CNA will most likely know whether or not she has Covid-19 before the test results are returned, provided she is not asymptomatic. Assuming an incubation period of 2 to 14 days.

      I consulted with another government run health care provider about proper procedure and was informed that the nursing home patient should not have remained at or been returned to the nursing home.

      Attempts to inquire with local and State authorities regarding the Covid-19 case at the nursing home, which incidentally doesn’t show up on publicly available sources for tracking the virus, have been met with:

      1. One endlessly ringing phone at a county health department.
      2. One fake “this number has been disconnected” voice mail recording at the regional health department.
      3. Upon calling the State public health department hotline, Covid-19 inquiries are being directed to The State Economic Development Board. Yes, you read that right.
      4. CDC is apparently unaware of the Covid-19 case. CDC states they will not investigate the unreported case unless State health officials contact them for assistance. CDC has “forwarded the information”.

      It is unlikely that the CNA has Covid-19 and that the company is taking some precautions, albeit POORLY. Confidence is high that everyone will be alright, health wise. And that panicking will do absolutely no good, more harm than any good.

      Though, it was nice that I was issued a driver’s pass for presenting to law enforcement officials should I be stopped, in the event that a full lockdown is ordered. Issued by the State? No. Issued by the private health care provider (nursing home).

      Besides a two week school cancelation and closing non-essential businesses, the above is the response in my State. There are several counties with further restrictions.

      In my opinion, if anyone thinks that Federal officials are pulling anything other than a PR stunt and window dressing for the public – despite many Federal officials at lower levels urging that more be done? And that State officials – at least in my State, while being more proactive than Federal officials, are addressing the Covid-19 virus in any serious, meaningful way that would more effectively slow the rate of infection (again, at least in my State)?

      Draw your own conclusions with the information I’ve just provided, about the “efforts” by some State or Federal officials, to combat Covid-19. Note that your State may be different. The above observations apply in my State only.

      1. Carey

        Thanks for this comment. No sense of urgency that I can discern from the County Health Dept where I live (SLO County CA). Total of two persons in hospital with the Deadly Pathogen here so far, one of those in ICU; no deaths.

      2. thoughtful person

        Sadly, seems like cover up is heading our way. “Flu” deaths to increase sooner than later I recon.

  2. Daryl

    > “Bunker with a bowling alley: How the rich are running from coronavirus”

    The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to think.

    – Edgar Allen Poe, The Masque of the Red Death

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If there were a way to drop corona virus juice down those air vents, that would be most ideal.

    1. flora

      Pelosi and congress confuse wall street with the real economy. (Or maybe Wall St. is their personal economy. See: sens dumping stock while telling the public everything was fine.) “Save Wall Street!” is their cry. This looks like a rerun of 2008-9.

      1. notabanker

        And why shouldn’t it be? It worked so well. For them.

        They are going to hand out trillions to corporations and their own governmental departments, then tell people to get back to work to “save the economy”. Quelle surprise.

        The US is toast. It is not the world’s big brother lending a hand, or wise father doling out paternal advice. It is the crazy rich uncle with a brain tumor who think everyone else is crazy.

        1. flora

          per Stoller:

          The Federal Reserve just hired one of the world’s largest Wall Street firms to manage the entire multi-trillion dollar Federal Reserve bailout of Wall Street. This is a fucking joke.


          Which is his response to this Bloomberg story:

          Fed Enlists BlackRock In Its Massive Debt-Buying Programs


          BlackRock advising the govt on the bailouts. You can’t make this stuff up.

            1. Procopius

              They’ve been providing “liquidity” loans to their 24 “primary dealers” since September 17 last year. The “primary dealers” are not banks, or they could have borrowed from the fed normally. Instead, they are supposed to borrow from the banks through the repo market. Last September no bank would lend to them even at an interest rate of 10%, so the fed stepped in, and loaned daily until the end of January. They had to resume the loans earlier this month. I get this from a blog called Wall Street On Parade. Unfortunately, I don’t know if they are a reliable source.

        2. flora

          I have a comment in mod land.

          In the meantime, waiting for it to appear, assuming it does, here a Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi:

          After Richard Burr’s Coronavirus Scandal, Will the Government Finally Crack Down on Congressional Insider Trading?

          Members of congress trading against a pandemic is as low as it gets. On the long and winding history of elected officials eluding rules against political profiteering


          adding: BlackRock has been named as ‘advisor’ to the govt business bailout program. There now, don’t you have more confidence that things will go well?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > After Richard Burr’s Coronavirus Scandal, Will the Government Finally Crack Down on Congressional Insider Trading?

            BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!! That Taibbi, such a kidder

      1. ambrit

        Oh, have no doubt. The ‘Fix’ is in.
        Someone yesterday mentioned doing “..my best Nathan Detroit voice.”
        Indeed, this entire episode is reminiscent of a Damon Runyon story. I will go so far as to suggest that today’s events are worthy of a Pratt and de Camp plot.

  3. David Carl Grimes

    Can you recommend a good resource for making DIY face masks with filter pockets? I know there are many but it would be helpful if someone pointed out a resource they have actually used?

    I went over to Costco during lunchtime. Around 30% of the customers were wearing masks here in suburban MD. All the store staff were wearing both masks and gloves. Masks are hard to find and expensive. I’d like to find something that is washable and reusable. Maybe I can use filter inserts from Amazon but most of them are PM 2.5. Will that protect me from Covid-19? How about repurposing vacuum cleaner bags?

    1. sd

      Spouse made this one with wire nose band:
      Uses a HEPA filter inside of multiple layers of fabric. However, you will also need eye wear as the virus can also enter thru the eyes. Spouse didn’t like the ties and wanted to try bungee eyeglass holders in place of the ties, which we don’t have on hand. The medium pattern fit better than the large pattern.

      Conclusion we came to: do whatever it takes and just stay home.

    2. Donna

      You might find this info helpful. I shared it with friends and family. Cambridge University did laboratory tests to determine if homemade facemasks were effective against the coronavirus. The resounding answer is yes. Remember South Korea bent the curve before stressing hospital capacity. They wear facemasks. Here is the study from Cambridge. https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/best-materials-make-diy-face-mask-virus/ Haven’t tried it yet myself as I am reluctant to go out and purchase the materials. In Western NC there are no diagnosed cases so people are not taking many precautions.

      1. Phacops

        I was asked to review that article. My response.

        I looked at the article as well as the original citation. I compare it to testing of air filters according to ASTM F3150-18 and ISO EN 14644-3 to achieve air quality of US Fed. Std. 209E and ISO 14644-1. Those were the basic standards, along with guidance from ASME, that I used in the design and validation of clean rooms and aseptic, injectable, filling areas, as well as my personal use of nuclear-grade respirators. These had to be capable of operating in a manner that provided a HIGH DEGREE OF ASSURANCE THAT FAR LESS THAN 1 IN A MILLION NON-STERILE UNITS WOULD BE PRODUCED. That is better than 99.99999% effective.

        Here is what is wrong with the article:

        1. The test protocol was not defined properly in terms of flow velocity, pressure differential, and the particulate challenge density.
        2. Flow rates through masks must be at maximum expected for heavy work. This was not done.
        3. The test particulates, bacteria and bacteriophage, are a red herring. Because of the way depth filtration works, biological materials are never used and the worst case challenge uses uniform organic droplets with a mean distribution of the smallest challenge particulate. This was not done in this testing.
        5. Even at the best effectiveness of the materials tested, very little protection is actually provided. For a SARS size range of 0.06 to 0.22 microns, individual viruses are guranteed to penetrate these masks. Even particles generated by coughing will get through and each of those particles may contain up to 200,000,000 viruses.

        Finally, those masks are more designed to keep the environment safe from a germy person, not vice-versa. If they provide a false sense of security the results of people engaging in risky behavior may be a more severe breach of public health than if there were no masks available.

        For the skinny on masks/respirators see:

        If you want to provide masks with even minimal protection from common materials you need to use MERV-12 rating filter material and design the masks to conform to the face.

        The study you cite is amateurish at best, but more dangerous if believed by people with no science or engineering background.

        1. Donna

          Thank you for that analysis. I will definitely pass your information along to anyone I showed that study. So hard as an amateur to get the right information. I saw Cambridge University and thought if anyone should understand they should. However, it does make sense to wear a mask to prevent spreading the disease. Would you agee? Also the wearing of masks in countries like South Korea seems ubiquitous. Would you then say that is to prevent spread from infected to healthy rather than the other way around.

          1. ambrit

            I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but your last supposition would be the most efficacious. So, full usage in crowds, infected and non-infected inclusive will be best practice. Couple this to the fact that non-symptomatic spread, with the probability that ‘spreaders’ could also be unaware of their status and we have a general policy recommendation of population wide mask usage.
            One troubling aspect of Phacops’ informed analysis is that the possibility exists that the Dreaded Pathogen is as dangerous as a radiological threat. Not reassuring at all.
            Stay safe all.
            Interesting times.

        2. Cuibono

          Agree: but the experience of asian countries here like Japan is interesting. One wonders if the routine proactice of wearing masks might be helping…even without good data.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I saw a chart earlier showing that those Asian countries who habitually wear masks have flattened the curve more than western countries where wearing a mask is considered a bit of an oddity. Of course there are other factor in play like mass testing, self-isolation and so forth but still, it is remarkable to see it on a chart.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > those masks are more designed to keep the environment safe from a germy person, not vice-versa. If they provide a false sense of security the results of people engaging in risky behavior may be a more severe breach of public health than if there were no masks available.

          Thanks for this informed analysis, it’s very useful. That said, “designed to keep the environment safe from a germy person” seems like a good use case to me, especially since given asymptomatic spread, any one of us could be a carrier. It also seems to me that a risk-taking person would be more likely not to wear a mask at all, rather than go to the trouble of making one. (One doesn’t see those frolicking idiots on spring break wearing bandanas over their faces, for example — even though that might look pretty cool!)

          1. PlutoniumKun

            The evidence is very confusing – most meta studies I’ve read on mask use for the public indicate that there is some protection against spread (mostly protecting other people, not the mask user), but at a very low statistical significance – far less than hand washing and other good hygiene practice. But I’ve heard a few references from fairly reliable sources indicating that Asian health authorities are quite convinced that they are an important element of disease control.

            This virus does seem to be airborne in droplets, so common sense suggests that any mouth barrier should help reducing the spread. But at best, its a marginal protection for both wearer and others in general life (they are of course vital for medical staff).

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      What happened to the advice from the CDC that the masks don’t work for healthy people?

      1. Monty

        Everything suggests that the plan has been, “Sacrifice the weak to get herd immunity and save the economy” all along. They have gamed out pandemics multiple times, I think they know what they are doing. This “incompetence and cuts at the CDC excuse” is just a cover story.

      2. Darius

        Once again. You don’t wear a mask to protect yourself. You wear it to protect others from yourself. A concept that appears unable to penetrate US culture. You are asymptomatic for days. Wearing a mask prevents a person from unwittingly infecting masses of others. Only works if everyone wears them, like in Asia.

        1. thoughtful person

          Thanks for that clarifying explanation. You are right that that concept is very hard for usians to comprehend.

          The Diamond Princess had a large ٪ of asymptomatic people, 30% or 40? Anyway it is a very large number, and here in the us they are not being tested. Only the very sick or the very wealthy….

        2. Bill Smith

          If so ” You don’t wear a mask to protect yourself”, why do health professionals wear them?

          Seems to me, that when worn properly they do protect the wearer – to some degree. But given that vast majority of people don’t need that protection and there is a limited supply the PR is heavy that they don’t help.

    4. clarky90

      At the supermarket, auto-parts, or hardware store, look for bundles of “microfibre cloths”. They are used for polishing cars, cleaning windows, cleaning spectacles……….. They are very soft and have a “waxy” feel. They are electromagnetically charged to attract particles. Very inexpensive and available.

      Microfibre is also the filter medium in N95 masks. Of course, this is not exactly the same; But, in a pinch………Maybe just use them to make a cowboy bandanna facemask? Or get out the sewing machine in prep for a Met Gala masked ball? (….perhaps The Masked Elite are being trolled by the Universe (God, if you will) ?


      1. HotFlash

        They are very soft and have a “waxy” feel. If these are the ones I am thinking of, the (very useful) electromagnetic charge is, I think, removed by drying in a dryer. So air-dry, again if I am correct. Which I may not be. Somebody?

    5. judy2shoes

      Here is a link to a hospital that has a instructions and a video for making a mask (need to scroll down a bit). This particular design is really simple, and if you wanted to add more material for filtering (3 or 4 layers rather than 2), you could, or it would be easy enough to add some type of filter pocket to the outside. It’s certainly not the perfect solution, but it is better than nothing. And as someone else has pointed out, it’s more for protecting others from you, rather than the other way around.


      Here is a link to the mask that I have made. Still working on some details, but I like it. Instead of the fabric the woman recommends, I went with 100% cotton. Filter media can be inserted from the bottom and changed out as necessary. I inserted a cutup piece of vacuum bag.


      There are instructions on the web for precautions to take when wearing the mask (keep your hands off, etc). It is probably a good idea to at least review them. Don’t have a link handy.

  4. LarryB

    My heart just bleeds for those poor MBA’s. If the rest of us are lucky, they may never get jobs.

    1. HotFlash

      Heh. Let them eat sheepskin. And pay back their student loans 100% plus interest and fees, as they know how the math works and can figure out the stats.

      OK, maybe not, that might be mean. And maybe they didn’t understand that when they signed up. But I am tempted.

  5. cnchal

    > Why isn’t Amazon just paying people who contracted COVID-19 while doing essential work for Amazon?”

    Amazon warehouses are a disease transmitter. So are UPS and FedEx and the post office.

    What is the point of shutting down bars, restaurants and all the places that people go to for entertainment and, yet the most important thing is to make Bezos’ pile bigger. Nothing they sell is essential. Yesterday on the local news was a split shot of some radio station blabbermouths bragging about ordering Oreos and junk food online.

    No quarantine is going to work if the warehouse and delivery workers are going in sick, which they are.

    When is #notdying4Amazon going to trend?

    1. Shonde

      My niece works for the post office as a clerk. The postmaster keeps saying everything is fine even though they are running short of gloves and sanitizer. There are no N95 masks. In the meantime, our local grocery store installed glass panels to separate the cashier from the customers. Why can’t the post office at least do that for postal clerks?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > glass panels to separate the cashier from the customers

        They won’t come down, either (though please let me know if I’m wrong).

        Social distancing is also reinforcing all our worst tendencies toward atomization and individualism.

    2. Phenix

      FedEx and UPS deliver life saving medications. FedEx delivers chemotherapy agents. You are also killing the economy if you shut them down
      I am not sure about Amazon.

        1. thoughtful person

          Hmm, who appears to be more reliable? Buy drugs online from Canada for 1/8th the price…

          And the pharma mfcs in the us assemble drugs from ingredients made overseas…

        2. Procopius

          Many pharmaceuticals’ active ingredients are made in China

          So are many spare parts for military equipment, especially electronics. This seems odd to me since the neocons want to make China our next target after Iran is taken down.

      1. cnchal

        Shipping Oreos is not essential. The essentials can be done with a skeleton crew.

        I used to do a fair bit of shipping, with the post office and now with UPS for whatever remains after being whacked with a three to four fold price increase at the post office when they started using dimensional weight, and it is zero until this virus blows over. So my tiny pinprick of capitalism is being wiped out first by the elite conspiracy to extract value” (Report from the Task Force on the United States Postal System – signed by Mnuchin – pages 10 and 65) and now the coronavirus.

        When I do go to UPS, most of their business is returning Amazon crapola, and they get such a special deal, because so much crap is returned, shipping may as well be free from my point of view, so totally useless shipping, and now a huge vector for transmitting this virus.

        The plutocrats will lavish trillions on themselves through their man at the treasury, Mnuchin, while at the same time insist the peasants get back to work, and if some small percentage die, it’s well worth it to save a totally corrupt system.

        They can go to hell.

  6. urblintz

    I apologize for any optimism I shared yesterday and am thoroughly embarrassed to have believed that something as inconsequential as 30% unemployment, a lot of very sick people whatever the final numbers, the impossible task of ever returning things to “normal” and the re-election of Donald Trump etc. might force the Democrats hand.

    Wall Street is saved. Their work is done.

    I will never live this down…

    1. Jason Boxman

      There isn’t a sufficient supply of suspicion where Liberal Democrat motives are concerned.

    2. Tom Stone

      Urblintz, you are one of many who thought that our congresscriiters had some vestige of sanity and common sense instead of being totally out of touch sociopaths.
      We may well see overripe fruit hanging from lamp posts in the not too distant future.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I for one am *so happy* that Nancy made sure her package included requirements for companies to hire new Diversity Officers and prepare a raft of new diversity reports. Somebody remind me what idpol has to do with any of this

    3. ambrit

      Don’t feel bad. A lot of us have clung to continually diminishing shreds of optimism, until now. This “Bailout Package” will be an inflection point in American politics. It finally, and unambiguously makes clear the “captured” nature of the American political class, and to whom they “bend knee.”
      This is nothing new in human affairs.
      I’ll paraphrase Shakespeare:
      “To share or not to share: That is the question:”
      “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer,”
      “The slings and arrows of outrageous Fortunes,”
      “Or to take arms against a See of Banks,”
      “And by opposing end them? To debt; to share;”
      “No more: And by sharing to say we end”
      “The heartache and the thousand unnatural shock doctrines”
      “That flesh is heir to, tis a consummation,”
      “Devoutly to be wish’d. To debt, to share,”
      “To share, perchance to dream: aye, there’s the rub;”
      “For in that share of debt what dreams may come”
      “When we have shuffled off this financial treadmill”
      “Must give us pause; there’s the respect,”
      “Unearned, that makes calamity of such long debt;”
      “For who would bear the wiles and credit scores of finance,”
      “The lender’s scorn, the financier’s contumely,”
      “The pangs of financialized love, the law’s commodification,”
      “Etc. etc. ……

      1. notabanker

        I respectfully disagree. The inflection point was in 2008. Today is a consequence of that. It was 100% abundantly clear that the American political class was captured back then to any sane, reasonable person. Then Obama proved without a shadow of a doubt to the numpties in denial.

        I admire Urblintz’s optimism and I do not encourage anyone to abandon theirs. But the pure mathematical odds that the political class will change their stripes out of some sense of altruism is close to nil. The true likely outcome is that things will get worse, much much worse. Power will get even more concentrated. The drum beat of everything is great and it’s all going to be OK will get louder and louder. The only meaningful change will come from total collapse, and that will not be a pleasant alternative either.

        The dystopia isn’t coming, it is here.

        1. Billy

          You mean the Three Trillion dollars worth of crap that the fed bought then?
          Still on their books, wonder how it’s performing now?

          We need more civil disobedience and less fear of government that has shown that it cannot do much at all for citizens. Maybe people should refuse to send any tax payments to the federal government. Just give the entire amount to their local town, or state, to hold in escrow for the feds?

          1. notabanker

            You’re not hurting the Feds by not paying taxes, they will just print , er conjure up on the computer, more.

            My guess; when the Chinese and Russians start backing the Euro, the Japanese, Brits and Aussies will have some interesting choices to make. But American citizens? Completely incapable of changing this government. Not physically possible.

            1. HotFlash

              Maybe people should refuse to send any tax payments to the federal government. Just give the entire amount to their local town, or state, to hold in escrow for the feds?


          2. John

            What is on the books? The Fed plucks money out of the air, buys paper, waves the wand again, both money and paper go away, or do I have that wrong?

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              At the height of QE 3 the Fed bought $85B per month and the reaction on markets was nuclear (up up and up).
              Now they announced buying $125B * per day* and the resulting rally lasted: two hours.
              Q: What do you do if your stocks are down 50% but you are desperate for cash. A: You sell anyway.
              The CME just had banks fail to deliver (gold futures contracts). 100:1 leverage, but you’re supposed to have the 1. They didn’t, booked huge losses, and are exiting the business.
              The point is this: paper assets are going to their residual values.
              Agreeing with notabanker about 2008: this is just the eventual playing out of what was done, and not done, then.
              Thanks Obama. Thanks ‘lil Timmy Geithner. Thanks Eric “Place” Holder.

        1. judy2shoes

          God, urblintz. You’ve just expressed what I’m feeling. I could not put it into words. Please don’t beat up on yourself for voicing some optimism yesterday. There’s no fault in that.

          Where can we channel the rage? How many times can write letters, emails, call reps/senators, only to have it all for naught? It’s not hard to understand why we have such high numbers of deaths from despair, and it’s going to get worse, I fear.

          So much more I could say, but all I really want to do is break down and cry.

  7. sd

    Roubini lost some credibility in his essay when he decided to wander into elections…

    With the US presidential election approaching, the COVID-19 crisis will give way to renewed conflicts between the West and at least four revisionist powers: China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, all of which are already using asymmetric cyberwarfare to undermine the US from within. The inevitable cyber attacks on the US election process may lead to a contested final result, with charges of “rigging” and the possibility of outright violence and civil disorder.

    We don’t need outside forces to undermine the US from within. We have “markets” to do that.

    1. D. Fuller

      Roubini has really taken a tumble, then.

      We don’t need outside forces to undermine the US from within. We have “markets” to do that.

      And 1,500 or so low-bidders called programmers who program the ballots. With insecure e-voting machines that no one can ever verify. Complete with exit polling results that differ wildly with official totals. With voter suppression efforts.

      We have billionaires (even foreign ones – with US/dual citizenship) donating to PACs and politicians and their corporations and US subsidiaries (thanks Citizens United among other Supreme Court rulings), and political parties who can’t be honest.

      We don’t need they over-hyped, misleading propaganda reports of Russia or Iran or North Korea or China interfering in our elections. American political class and their donors do just fine without all of that.

  8. Toshiro_Mifune

    Board games can keep you sane during quarantine

    If I wasn’t busy working from home during quarantine this would be a fine time for Advanced Squad Leader.
    You’d also have time to actually play a full game of The Campaign For North Africa… all 1500 hours of it

    1. ambrit

      My stars and garters. You just reminded me of all the weekday afternoons some of us spent playing various campaigns using old Strategy and Tactics magazine games. (I had a subscription for some years.)

      1. JHG

        My brother had S&T Campaign for North Africa. He played it for years while in High School. It was unbelievably detailed, right down to accounting for Italian Units consuming more water than German or Allied because they cooked pasta for their troops. I also had an S&T subscription as well.

    2. D. Fuller

      Dungeons and Dragons played online with a Virtual Table Top.

      Or, if enough of the kids stay home? You can get reprints of the classic Star Frontiers delivered.

      1. Massinissa

        Star Frontiers? Isn’t that too old and grognardy for small children? There are plenty of more modern, pick up and play pen and paper rpgs that make that one look like a dinosaur.

        This being said by a guy who likes ancient rpg systems like ‘Rifts’. Highly doubt Rifts, star Frontiers, or other 80s/early 90s rpgs would be enjoyable for children 12 and under.

    3. maria gostrey

      a week or so ago, my son stopped by & we watched this delightful video of irving finkel, a curator at the british museum, explain a game played 4,000 years ago in mesopotamia:


      afterwards, my son drew the board on cardboard with a sharpie &, for markers, we used pebbles & shells picked up on our travels. the game was so much fun, we played for well over 2 hours. he won 2 games & i won 1, so i am eagerly awaiting his return to exact my revenge.

      even if you dont want to try to play the game, irving finkel himself will make you happy, as will the other fine curators at the BM who post video at “curators corner”.

      1. judy2shoes

        Wouldn’t you like to have known Irving Finkel when he was a child?

        Thank you for this interlude.

      2. TXGramma

        I watched the video. Very charming guy, but the rules are not clear in the video. Do you just roll a die to move your marker? How many markers per player? If you land on a square your opponent is already on, then what? Can you put more than one of your markers on the same square?

    4. ObjectiveFunction

      Ha ha, I still stubbornly cling to all those AH games too but I don’t think I can read the fine print in the multivolume rulebooks any more, even with glasses. I went digital with Battlefront’s Combat Mission series many years ago.

      1. ambrit

        Ah. Avalon Hill boxed games! The ‘creme de la creme’ of games back then.
        I remember getting friends and family to save cough drop tins for me as containers for my pieces for my S&T games.

    5. eg

      ASL is super complex — you might spare a thought for the neophyte and recommend something simpler to start?

  9. Hepativore

    With Joe Biden, it is like the emperor has no clothes, except in this case, the emperor has no brain.

    So, it looks like the DNC backup plan is to replace Biden with Andrew Cuomo in a bait-and-switch maneuver. Mind you, this is the same Cuomo (This is a Democrat!) who is telling the peasantry to get out there and go back to work to sacrifice themselves to the virus to save the economy.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the perception that people are voting for the idea of Biden rather than Biden is correct (much as sports fans root for “Philly” (say), rather than for any particular Philly team, though of course it’s nice when a team does well.)

      But why not just vote for an android? If indeed we are not already,

      1. Grant

        What is the idea though, when his very policies have so utterly destroyed the country? Seems that they are voting for idea crafted for them by the people they get their news sources from. Since Biden’s support is almost entirely from older voters, that would be CNN, MSNBC, etc. It seems that lots of people that don’t pay attention, are too removed from the struggles of others and/or are too scared to think will carry him forward. Look at the shape of the country, HE is the person to give power to? I don’t like to voter shame, but doesn’t voting come with some responsibility? If people are too busy to pay attention much, totally understandable, why be so determined to vote?

        1. Carey

          I can think of a much simpler (and likely more accurate) explanation for Biden’s polling and mcVoting

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        With some of the names having been in DC for so long now or their perfidy being so easy to find out, I think learning about Biden versus the myth of Biden would genuinely upset people as they would have to recognize both the rot and their own complicity especially among suburbanites.

        I saw a response to Biden’s “performance” on The View today and the person implored everyone to remember the Supreme Court. If the person was genuine, imagine how they will react if they find out about Biden and Clarence Thomas.

      3. Left in Wisconsin

        Agreed re idea of Biden. Though the PTB would be to differ. This taken from the WaPo:

        Biden “has been frustrated that he’s confined to his home… and the constraints that limitation has placed on his campaign … because Biden’s strength lies in the way he builds an emotional rapport with voters face-to-face.”

        LOL. Which is why he killed it in IA, NH, and NV.

        1. WJ

          “You’re full of sh*t you dogface pony soldier! Why why why why why why why?! C’mon man, relax! Fatty!”

        1. The Rev Kev

          Was just reading sections of this book earlier this week. One of Heinlein’s best. But here on earth we are stuck with Mort the Wart 2020.

      4. ambrit

        The title, “Do Bidens Dream of Electronically Programmed Sheeple” is wrong, yet right, on so many levels.

    2. urblintz

      Also need to apologize for a nice thought I had toward Andy the other day… he’s back on the “loathe” list, where he was before my bout of irrational belief in “concrete material benefits” delivered at historic moments of global failure by stunned-into-genuine-concern members of Congress and other monied leaders of our exceptional nation, the beacon on the hill, fighting our enemies over there so we don’t have to fight them here…

      I am living proof that advanced degrees do not necessarily reflect intelligence.

      1. mrsyk

        Me too. I really wanted to believe some leadership on behalf of the people was being crisis forged. Silly rabbit me.

    3. 3.14e-9

      Hepativore, I watched Cuomo’s entire briefing this morning and didn’t get that impression. What I heard was that the state has gotten approval from FDA (I think) to start doing blood tests for antibodies indicating that a person has already had the virus and “resolved,” giving them immunity (time unspecified, possibly temporary), and that these people could be the ones to go back to work in essential jobs. He said researchers suspect that thousands of people already have had it — which supports some comments I’ve seen here and elsewhere by people saying they had a ghastly illness late summer/early fall and suspect it could have been COVID-19. If nothing else, just think of the shirtstorm that would result from proof it already had been here for months.

      He mentioned young people as a tentative solution, since they are far less likely to DIE if they get the virus; however, he has been adamant that they CAN get it and that many have been irresponsible about not practicing social distancing in the mistaken belief that they’re immune. So he’s not saying they should all go back to work now. His overriding immediate concern (he says, and I tend to believe it) is getting the hospital beds and, more importantly, the ventilators needed for the worst cases. He said it now looks like the peak is 14-21 days away in NYC, that the city will need as many as 143k beds and 30k ventilators, which he can’t get anywhere, at any price (confirmed in one of today’s links).

      In any case, I got the impression that the idea that it might be possible to identify people who have built up an immunity and let those be the ones who help keep the economy afloat was just that — an idea, and something to consider.

      At the end of the briefing, a reporter asked him flat out whether, if the projected death rate was 1- 2 percent, and it was mostly old people, was that worth stopping the entire economy. He got irate and said (close to exact quote) “We’re not willing to sacrifice that 1 to 2 percent. That’s not who we are.”

      Earlier, he lit into FEMA, which is sending 1,000 beds with staff and equipment (to Javits Center, IIRC), with one ventilator to 2.5 beds. “FEMA says, ‘We’re sending 400 ventilators. REALLY? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000? YOU pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators!”

      Sure, it could be grandstanding, blame-shifting, self-serving — and who knows what he might be doing behind the scenes? Big problem with Cuomo. But he has been out front with testing — NYS has surpassed China and South Korea in per-capita testing — and has taken other actions (he did something with rent and mortgage relief, don’t have time to look it up right now). I highly recommend watching these briefings, even if you have to hold your nose. After all, we watch Trump’s press conferences, which are far lighter on facts and, for me at least, harder on the blood pressure.

      1. Shonde

        Where is New York getting so many test kits? Here in Minnesota, the ability to run the tests including at the Mayo Clinic was really ramped up but right now only a limited specified group of people can get tested because the state has so few. So all the drive thru centers have been taken down.

        1. 3.14e-9

          Shonde, NYC and state officials realized by mid-February that they weren’t going to get anywhere with the CDC and took matters in their own hands. The NYS Department of Health already had been working on a testing protocol and asked the FDA for permission to contract testing out to 28 private labs in the state that it already had an established business relationship with. FDA approved on March 13. Of course, right after that, the number of positive cases in NYC and state shot up (duh). You still need a doctor’s order to be tested. “Restrictions apply.”

  10. Jason Boxman

    The endgame increasingly seems to be JPM’s liquidate everything approach, but even more directly including people as well. Wealthy people discovering lifesaving medical equipment not available for almost any price hilarious.

      1. Jason Boxman


        In his memoirs, Hoover wrote that Mellon advised him to “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate. Purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. … enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.”

        1. Massinissa

          Social Darwinism… Again…

          Sometimes it feels like Social Darwinism is the root of all evil.

        2. JBird4049

          Which I have never understood. Mellon was advocating purging the system of everything, which meant killing it as there would be nothing left of the system for the “enterprising people” to work with.

          1. Massinissa

            I think he was advocating the Economics equivalent of The Rapture where everyone finds the place where they know their true worth and everybody else finds themselves in hell.

            Well, I suppose his solution of ‘turning it off and then on again’ certainly works for computers, so perhaps its not entirely without merit?

            1. Procopius

              Austrian School economics. Carl Menger, Eugen Böhm von Bawerk, Friedrich von Wieser and others, late 19th early 20th Century. They’re still around. Hayek, von Mises, Rothbard. Nuts.

    1. Samuel Conner

      I get the sense from the WH that human beings are a replaceable resource. The thing that must be protected at all costs is the corporations.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I get the sense from the WH that human beings are a replaceable resource. The thing that must be protected at all costs is the corporations.

        I get the sense from the WH billionaire class, hence the political class, that human beings are a replaceable resource. The thing that must be protected at all costs is the corporations capital.

        Notice that anything that calls the wage relation into question — even the mildest possible reform, a temporary UBI — has been carefully, indeed surgically removed. On a thoroughly bipartisan basis.

        1. JBird4049

          Very good observation. This just shows how foolish they are being as anyone with any practical knowledge, or who is willing to listen, will know that only two weeks of a shutdown will not kill the epidemic and all but guarantees greater economic damage regardless of how much money is printed.

          I would blame this on groupthink and/or folly but it almost feels like suicidal ideation.

      2. chuck roast

        Indeed, ordinary Americans will certainly be liquidated if Biff sends everybody back to work, but for the elect (those that survive) life will be infinitely better. If they are not worshipping at the twin altars of The Federal Reserve Bank and the US Treasury tomorrow then they are truly heathen scum. There is a reason why the S&P went up more today then any day since 1933. The biggest corporate bailout/rescue in economic history appears to be taking place.

        The Treasury has announced that among other measures, it is willing to intervene in the corporate bond market to the tune of $300,000,000,000 (I like the zeroes). It will buy up to 10% of an individual company’s debt. The debt must be rated BBB- (S&P; Fitch) or Baa3 (Moody’s). This is Lower Medium Grade investment. Next step down…Non-Investment Grade Speculative…known to you and me as “junque.” Furthermore, the Fed has announced that this is a first step. It has created another $100,000,000,000 facility aimed at sopping up existing corporate bonds. All these bonds must be short-dated. Goldman-Sachs has apparently put together a chart that shows that $2.4 Trillion (way too many zeroes here) could be eligible for this secondary purchase program. No doubt Goldman had the list ready to go as soon as the stock market tanked.

        A breathtaking market intervention. Saying that this is “socialism for the rich” hardly describes it.

    2. allan

      Saleha Mohsin @SalehaMohsin
      Trump spoke to several hedge fund billionaires and private equity managers about reopening the US economy, @jendeben and @Burtonkathy report

      Blackstone’s Schwarzman, Citadel’s Griffin are among those Trump spoke to
      2:56 PM · Mar 24, 2020

      Exactly as demanded by the back row kids. Or at least by their grandchildren.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      We could dig a hole in a field and whisper that Trump and Biden have asses ears. It might be repeated by wind.

    1. Craig H.

      Live music performance is a tough business in 2020. They just canceled Glastonbery. Caesar’s Palace which is a huge show business is closed. The New Orleans jazz festival has been postponed to an unknown date, presumably in the fall of 2020.

      Did anybody go to mardi gras?

        1. Billy

          “As of Friday, Louisiana was reporting 479 confirmed cases of COVID-19, one of the highest numbers in the country. Ten people had died. The majority of cases are in New Orleans, which now has one confirmed case for every 1,000 residents. New Orleans had held Mardi Gras celebrations just two weeks before its first patient, with more than a million revelers on its streets.”

  11. Bill Carson

    One of the problems with giving so much money to business is that as they start to fail despite the bailouts, politicians will start applying the sunk cost fallacy to keep pumping in billions after billions.

  12. a different chris

    > in loans and loan guarantees

    Loans? LOANS!??!!/

    Ok, when I take out a business loan it is to expand my business for an overall payback. If you tell me “here’s a loan since you’re not allowed to work” that doesn’t even make any sense.

    All you are doing is loading my business with non-productive debt.

    What it does do is let you pay salaries, as always heavily biased towards the top. So when the economy restarts, the “loans” become due, the business dies under the debt load and the CEO class wins again.

  13. Bill Carson

    Just found this good resource not only to track COVID-19 but to explore the impact on countries and states in comparison to the norm.

    This might be something we would want to “pin” at the top of the Water Cooler, much like the polling charts.

    An interactive visualization of the exponential spread of COVID-19

    “A project to explore the global growth of COVID-19.

    “A few interesting bits I found interesting to explore:

    “In nearly every country in the world, when the virus reaches 100 people the number of cases begins to increase by 35% daily. (Dashed black line.)

    “At that rate, a country would reach 1,000,000 cases just 31 days after reaching 100 cases.
    “The curve flattens with social distancing — check out Japan, South Korea, and China over time.

    “There are two different ways to view the exact same data:
    “The logarithmic scale shows a great comparison of the magnitude of growth between countries, but less of the human impact.
    “The linear scale shows the real human impact — a growth twice the size is twice the number of real people infected.
    “Switch between the two by toggling the scale at the bottom of each graph.
    “Finally, these graphs are not just images. Hover over any data point to see the data behind it.

    “This visualization is updated daily with the John Hopkins CSSE data, which is typically released around 7:00pm Central.”

    1. curlydan

      Thanks! These are excellent visualizations. I was trying to convince someone on FB yesterday that NJ was in serious trouble and this gives me good evidence that it’s not looking good there.

  14. katiebird

    Does anyone have an idea of how many people are staying home? Is it enough people to flatten the curve?

    We’ve been home for 13 days and I don’t have any idea how things are going out there.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I do not, I’m not even sure there are good proxies; I was about to suggest restuarant receipts, but then look at those idiots in New York. Hours watched on Netflix? Flushing toilets?

      1. clarky90

        My next door neighbor’s 30 year old daughter was recently trapped on the Galapagos Islands with her partner, by the Corona lockdown. She is a Government Lawyer in London. This couple’s free-time/money has been spent on exploring the World, for years.

        They have now managed to get to Quito, Ecuador. My neighbor is frantically trying to arrange flights for them back to the UK. (Daughter is UK/NZ dual citizen, Son in Law is Aussie/Uk dual citizen, so they have to get back to the UK in order to stay together).

        Here is the crux. Helen (lawyer) reports that the local people spit on them when they are walking on the streets of Quito. The locals blame the tourist/adventurers for bringing the virus into their communities.

        They are afraid to go out at night because there are lawless gangs roaming the streets. They could be trapped in Quito for weeks.

        The gestalt here in NZ towards tourists, and recently returned citizens/residents has turned on a dime. They are suddenly viewed as a threat. (potential plague carriers) I have read that some Maori tribes in the North are blockading roads and turning away strangers………People are calling the police on returnees/visitors that are meant to be in total 14 day quarantine, if they are seen out and about.

        Imo, the world is changing….. jackpotting……….

        1. John

          Jackpotting indeed… one thing after another… Looking at the growth curves, why would you think it is going to subside anytime soon?

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Here is the crux. Helen (lawyer) reports that the local people spit on them when they are walking on the streets of Quito. The locals blame the tourist/adventurers for bringing the virus into their communities.

          Quito has never had a good reputation, I don’t think (with respect to gangs). But it’s hard to disagree with the locals views.

    2. Fiery Hunt

      Not nearly enough.
      And they can’t.

      Here in SF Bay Area, people still think a “road trip” up the Coast or a day at Point Reyes (where the bathrooms and parking lots are closed) is a good idea to “get the kids out”.

      Just one data point worth considering:
      How many people don’t have washer/dryers? Nor yards to air dry?

      Was at laundromat this weekend. Didn’t leave me optimistic.
      At all.

    3. Katiebird

      Then this won’t be over by Easter and their stupid bill (bills) are worthless.

      Do those crooks in power realize that they are pretty much all in a high risk group? Isn’t it to their personal benefit to pay people to stay home?

      1. Daryl

        They’re exempt from nearly every other kind of problem that average people face. It seems to be an inability to comprehend the nature of the danger.

    4. Lee

      I live on a fairly busy street in Alameda. CA. It gets particularly so at rush hour. Lots of kids typically travel the sidewalks to and from a couple of schools near us. Now it is eerily still and quiet. While not exactly a ghost town around here, it’s pretty close. On my early morning walk over a two mile distance I saw only about a dozen cars on the road and half a dozen pedestrians. A tiny fraction of what’s usual. We morning walkers keep our distance and wave to each other, which is a new development. Normally we just all go our separate ways and ignore one another.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Ahhh, the Island life…lived on Park St. above my bookstore ten years ago.

        Tunnel and bridges keep most people on island or off….Be safe, Lee. Hollar if ya need anything. Just on the other side of the estuary.

      2. MLTPB

        I think more young people will stay home if we call this Party At Home.

        Shelter in place is foreboding.

        Stay at home is energy sapping.

        Safer at home – that’s too plain.

        ‘The government orders everyone to party at home.’ I believe many will volunteer to do that, without the need to be ordered.

        1. Massinissa

          Yeah, party at home… with none of their friends, just their parents and younger siblings. I’m sure that phrasing will go over perfectly.

    5. Michael

      The mayor here in San Diego finally closed beaches, parks and trails due to so many not keeping their social distance. 178 out of 213 active cases here are people under the age of 60.A child under 18 just died in LA.

    6. Jules

      Just to add a quick data point. Here in Chicago. We have officially been in “stay at home” quarantine mode for 4 days. I have been indoors for roughly six days. I was forced earlier today to make a trip to home depot for a plumbing emergency. It was around noon and it was filled with customers. I would wager there were more customers in there than on a normal day at that time of the day.

      During the briefing yesterday i believe dr Brix commented that they believe its been spreading in ny for about 4 weeks. I figured here in chicago we were in better shape for a number of reasons. But all that optimism went out the window when i saw that filled home depot parking lot at noon.

    7. richard

      I live in Seattle, on a very busy street. I’d estimate traffic at about 30% of normal. It feels to me like too many people are out, but what do I know? I’m a ball of anxiety.
      Help Wanted:
      What’s a Boy To Do
      left libertarian finds himself suddenly in need of a Short Term authoritarian government. Maoists encouraged to apply. See within.

    1. Youngblood

      It’s true that most of the cohort listed in that table as having received ventilator therapy died. But it does not say whether that cohort was representative of the broader patient population demographics or was mostly critical cases, patients with co-morbidities, etc.

      1. Monty

        Just think of all those billable hospital hours for the EOL care on ventilation. Hook ’em up to the tube and press go, then collect 150k a day from health insurance company until they cark it.

  15. BoyDownTheLane

    “A massive conglomeration of gamers, other people and companies have joined a project enabling them to connect to each other to effectively create a huge computer collating staggering amounts of data to expedite research to combat COVID-19, the coronavirus.
    Medicalxpress reports, “The project led by computational biologists has effectively created the world’s most powerful supercomputer that can handle trillions of calculations needed to understand the structure of the virus. More than 400,000 users downloaded the application in the past two weeks from “Folding@Home,” according to director Greg Bowman, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Washington University in St. Louis, where the project is based.”
    On February 27, Bowman wrote on the Folding@Home website:
    By downloading Folding@Home, you can donate your unused computational resources to the Folding@home Consortium, where researchers working to advance our understanding of the structures of potential drug targets for 2019-nCoV that could aid in the design of new therapies. The data you help us generate will be quickly and openly disseminated as part of an open science collaboration of multiple laboratories around the world, giving researchers new tools that may unlock new opportunities for developing lifesaving drugs …
    Low-resolution structures of the SARS-CoV spike protein exist and we know the mutations that differ between SARS-CoV and 2019-nCoV.  Given this information, we are uniquely positioned to help model the structure of the 2019-nCoV spike protein and identify sites that can be targeted by a therapeutic antibody. We can build computational models that accomplish this goal, but it takes a lot of computing power. This is where you come in! With many computers working towards the same goal, we aim to help develop a therapeutic remedy as quickly as possible.
    Bowman told AFP, “Our primary objective is to hunt for binding sites for therapeutics … The simulations allow us to watch how every atom moves throughout time.”
    Bowman noted that the team responsible for the project had discovered a “druggable” target in the Ebola virus, adding, “The best opportunity for the near-term future is if we can find an existing drug that can bind to one of these sites. If that happens it could be used right away.” The Folding@Home website noted, “For example, in our recent paper, we simulated a protein from Ebola virus that is typically considered ‘undruggable’ because the snapshots from experiments don’t have obvious druggable sites. But, our simulations uncovered an alternative structure that does have a druggable site. Importantly, we then performed experiments that confirmed our computational prediction, and are now searching for drugs that bind this newly discovered binding site.”
    Medicalxpress wrote, “Bowman said the project has been able to boost its power to some 400 petaflops—with each petaflop having a capacity to carry out one quadrillion calculations per second—or three times more powerful than the world’s top supercomputers … The Folding@Home project is fueled by crowdsourced computing power from people’s desktops, laptops and even PlayStation consoles, as well as more powerful business computers and servers.
    Quentin Rhoads-Herrera of the security firm Critical Start commented, “It’s like bitcoin mining, but in the service of humanity.” Hector Martinez, spokesman for the computer chipmaker Nvidia, added, “The response has been record-breaking, with tens of thousands of new users.””


  16. Gregorio

    “Amazon soliciting public donations to pay workers’ sick leave”

    This is particularly egregious considering that Amazon stock has barely been effected by the pandemic and is down less than 10% from it’s all time high.

    1. Carla

      “Why isn’t Amazon just paying people who contracted COVID-19 while doing essential work for Amazon?”

      Why are Jeff Bezos and every other billionaire so f**king selfish?

      Please stop ordering from Amazon if you possibly can!!!!

      We just keep feeding and nurturing our abusers.

      1. Trent

        I ordered something from them once, about 11 years ago. Bought my ex dad gilligans island for christmas, it didn’t show up by christmas. Never ordered from them again.

        1. Jason Boxman

          Yeah, they fixed that with a massive, unregulated contractor force of delivery vans that occasionally run over children and old ladies. No, for serious! ProPublica has done excellent work reporting on this and I give them money occasionally. Some of the only real investigative journalism left.

      2. paul

        An essential (but hardly unique,modern or innovative) part of the amazon model is to work its employees into afunctionality, then discard.
        Why should something as tiny as a virus, or as large as its impacts, be great enough to move the behemoth’s heart?

        We must endure the present and hope the future resembles the glories of the immediate past.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          One in three Amazon employees is on state assistance.

          *You* paid to make the sociopathic monopolist monster entrepreneurial hero Bezos the richest man in the world.

  17. Carey

    SLO County as of today

    As of 3/24/20 at 1:00 pm:

    Total Positive Cases: 42

    Cases by Region – Coast (8), No. County (18), Central (3), So. County (13)
    Cases by Age – 0-18 (3), 19-64 (27), 65-84 (11), 85+ (1)
    Cases by Status – Home (34), Hospital (1), ICU (1), Death (0), Recovered (6)
    Cases by Transmission – Travel (21), Person to Person (10), Community (3), Unknown (8)
    Cases by Lab – PHL (21), WestPac (16), VRDL (1) Lab Corp (2) Quest (2)
    Total people tested – our lab (300), other labs (unknown)

    One in hospital, one in ICU, no deaths; unchanged from three days ago.

  18. vidimi

    Trump just announced that he will bail Boeing out. Because coronavirus. Nothing to do with the 737-Maxx or other boondoggles, apparently.

      1. Lou Anton

        Nah. He’s just doing his spitballing thing. Will we? Stay tuned for the purported unanimous consent vote Matt Stoller mentioned above.

    1. Carey

      ..and Boeing has said “NO!” to any gub’mint equity stake in return..

      To my simple mind this looks more like a nice restructuring opportunity™ for the Few, than anything else; no sign of significant help
      for the 90%, other than Sanders’s proposals.

      1. John

        How is Boeing in a position to be saying no to a partial or total nationalization? Their civilian airliner business is swirling around the bowl? They have their ‘defense’ contracts. Who pays the bills for that? Would this be a wonderful opportunity to get rid of the cost plus contract?

  19. nippersmom

    The Democratic Party has proven once again they are exactly who we thought they were, and that they have no valid reason to exist.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Basically; Republicans are intent on using this grand opportunity to shovel more cash at the wealthy. And Liberal Democrats are doing a song and dance about the middle class, and then taking this opportunity to… virtue signal?

      I at least respect Republican transparency.

      1. Carla

        Me, too. I’ve been saying so for years — making myself extremely unpopular in “polite” society.

        The Republicans tell us they’re gonna f— us over, and then they f— us over. (So I can’t vote for the Republicans.)

        The Democrats tell us they’re gonna help us, and then they f— us over. (So I can’t vote for the Democrats.)

        But I must say, the hypocrisy of the Democrats makes it impossible to respect, really, any of them. Even the ones who look good at first blush, eventually disappoint. Every. Single. Time. AOC is on her way to becoming a disappointment already. Maybe with her star power it was inevitable.

        1. Jason Boxman

          Thankfully, under the Massachusetts quarantine liquor stores are considered essential! Probably a good year to learn how to make cocktails. But I like my poison straight, so Republicans are my style.

  20. Carey

    File under ‘Things Not Adding Up’:

    Boeing CEO David Calhoun said the planemaker is “very close to the finish line” for a return to service for the grounded 737 MAX.

    “Shares surged higher Tuesday after it stuck to forecasts for mid-year return for the 737 MAX and investors bet a Senate coronavirus stimulus bill could steer billions towards the troubled planemaker.

    Boeing CEO David Calhoun told CNBC that he still expects the flagship plane, which was grounded last year following two fatal crashes that took the lives of 346 people, to get FAA approval to return to service in early summer. The current Senate relief package, which could reach $2.5 trillion, is also likely to provide loan guarantees and grants to the U.S. aviation and aerospace industries, which have been ravaged by the global coronavirus pandemic..”

    Mid-year return, in the middle of ..
    Actually, I think things *are* adding up, and quickly.

  21. Jason Boxman

    I feel like the response is essentially the equivalent of taking the labels/signage off of everything and letting the world sort itself out. Given how much food the wealthy can fit in their bunkers, maybe it makes sense.

  22. marym

    “Joe Biden is in the process of narrowing down his list of potential running mates, and his allies in the business community are weighing in with their favorite choices.

    The names being floated and pushed to Biden include Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Catherine Cortez Masto; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; and Florida Rep. Val Demings.

    Some of these business leaders involved with the lobbying effort are fundraising for Biden’s campaign. They declined to be named in this story because these conversations were deemed private.”


    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      If he selects anyone but Crooked, that’s the tell: he’s in it to lose.

      Biden/Hilary 2020: It’s Sunset In America

  23. Jason Boxman

    And this from the Times:

    Doctors are hoarding medications touted as possible coronavirus treatments by writing prescriptions for themselves and family members, according to pharmacy boards in states across the country.

    Fleeing the sinking ship, for completely unproven treatments, no less! I can think of no better example of American exceptionalism than this! What great embodiment of the American spirit: f.u. I got mine.

    This is quite the opposite of what we’d need to survive this with any semblance of civil society remaining; but maybe we have none left?

    1. Monty

      Sickening, but not surprising. American doctors acting like greedy S.O.B’s at the expense of the greater good is hardly a Man Bites Dog Story.

  24. MichaelSF

    My wife saw a news item today that the SF-Marin Food Bank is opening up “pop up” distribution locations around the Bay area. This doesn’t surprise me when so many people who can’t meet a surprise bill even when working are now suddenly out of work and wondering how they are going to put food on the table. The food bank is the main charitable organization that we support, since they have very low admin costs, get a large return on the donation dollar, don’t seem to be corrupt, and help to meet one of Maslow’s basic needs, so we sent an unscheduled donation to help them help others.

    We’re lucky that we can do that, and I hope others here who can will help support their local organizations/neighbors. It is looking like there’s not much hope for support to the grass root level from the PTB (again), so I guess it is up to us.


  25. Lou Anton

    So Mr. Market was optimistic on a gigantic giveaway today. I suppose this could end up being a “buy the rumor, sell the news” sort of thing come tomorrow. It’s depressing that “people last and gonna die” makes the markets go up, but then again it’s depressing how we’ve all come to expect that.

    Ultimately, I’m inclined to see this as more of a dead-cat bounce than a return to something close to prior highs. Infection rates, record high unemployment, and unpaid rent on the 1st will push the market back down. And that makes me OPTIMISTIC. Optimistic that we’ll come around to the realization that’d around 90% of us were always the dupes, and that we can change that now.

    Guess we’ll see!

  26. Carey

    New update from ‘A Swiss Doctor’ March 24, 2020:

    “The UK has removed Covid19 from the official list of High Consequence Infectious Diseases (HCID), stating that mortality rates are „low overall“.

    The director of the German National Health Institute (RKI) confirmed that they count all test-positive deaths, irrespective of the actual cause of death, as „coronavirus deaths“. The average age of the deceased is 82 years, most with serious preconditions. As in most other countries, excess mortality due Covid19 is likely to be near zero in Germany.

    Beds in Swiss intensive care units reserved for Covid19 patients are still „mostly empty“.

    German Professor Karin Moelling, former Chair of Medical Virology at the University of Zurich, stated in an interview that Covid19 is „no killer virus“ and that „panic must end“.

    In Italy, overall national mortality of the 65+ age group until March 7 still remained below the level of earlier years, especially due to the rather mild winter (see red line in chart below).


      1. Carey

        I do not know for sure, but followed some of the provided links and did not
        see anything that made me feel uneasy; wish I could say that about the Approved Sources.

        strange times

    1. CitizenGuy

      I think this is an exercise finding data to support a narrative. “Everything looks great in Italy up to March 7th!” You can see in that graph that the mortality rate is already spiking above past years by March 7th. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain the worst of it for Italy (in terms of deaths) occurred after that date. This range looks cherry-picked to make the argument that all these precautions are for naught.

      So Switzerland is doing okay for Covid-19 cases? Bully for Switzerland! They have tight border control and strict immigration laws. Maybe it’s the hearty alpine living. I hear they also did okay in World War 2 relative to most of Europe. It doesn’t make them a representative sample.

      I can’t comment on the UK’s decision to remove Covid-19 from its HCID. I don’t know the significance of that list in terms of guiding policy. The article says it was removed on March 19th and was added in January. Maybe they will come to see this decision as premature? It does seem Boris was playing chicken with this particular train for a long time.

      1. Carey

        >I think this is an exercise finding data to support a narrative.

        That could be, and maybe a well-justified one; I don’t yet know yet. Certainly there’s an well-tuned and funded narrative pushing the other way..

        >So Switzerland is doing okay for Covid-19 cases? Bully for Switzerland! They have tight border control and strict immigration laws.

        Maybe there’s something to those ideas?

        What I see, primarily, is massive bailouts for the Few that seem to have been *ready from the get-go*. Reminding me more than a little of the Patriot Act, and “never let a crisis [real or manufactured; too early to tell] go to waste.”


        1. WJ

          Iniquity or incompetence, Carey, which explanation do you choose? That’s what so many of these questions come down to; unfortunately it’s never an easy answer (for me at least) given how iniquitous AND inept the military/financial/political class is. I do sometimes wonder how *much* of the Covid19 phenomenon is generated hysteria, which I don’t think entails my denying that *something* is going on and, yes, many people are dying from it. But it’s hard to tell anymore at this late date of the simulacrum.

      2. The Rev Kev

        No, things are not OK in Switzerland. They are getting slammed but hard by this virus. Surprising since it is such an ordered society ( I have lived there several times when younger) but the figures coming out of that country are bad. I would be dubious then believing what the Swiss Doctor wrote. You might find when this is all over that he is a Doctorate of Philosophy.

        1. witters

          I was once on a plane, and the pilot came on:
          “Is there a doctor on the plane? Could they come forward? And I don’t mean a PhD.”
          I stayed in my seat.

        2. Monty

          I think an important number to watch on Worldometers is the far right column, “Tot Deaths/1m pop”. It gives a good ‘apples to apples’ comparison of the state of things in the various countries. The CDC claims that in an average year there are 100 deaths per million from flu related illness. (36k out of 360m). In recent years this has been as high as 80k, or 210 deaths per million. Right now Italy is at 110 deaths per million, and Switzerland is only at 17 deaths per million. These numbers are going to rise of course, but it does provide perspective.


          ps All avoidable deaths is tragic, and I wish my nearest and dearest were immortal!

  27. BoyDownTheLane


    The Military Operations Society will be offering an online course on gaming emergency response to disease on 15-16 April 2016.

    Games are a way to develop disease response plans, to rehearse organizational processes and relationships prior to an event, and to build an understanding of the challenges involved in an actual response. While the current pandemic highlights that large-scale disease outbreaks can create some difficult policy, medical, and communications choices, response to smaller disease outbreaks is something that happens all of the time. And the implications of deliberate use of disease in war or terrorism has been the subject of much research in the past few decades. All of these topics give professional game designers a rich set of topics and questions to incorporate into organizational, research, and rehearsal games.

    In this two-day, class we will focus on the application of professional games to the problems associated with disease response. We will cover pandemic response games, both national and international. We will also examine problems of novel or unique organisms, biological warfare and terrorism, and public health response. The objective throughout the class will be to identify unique or challenging aspects involved in designing games involving disease response. We will also incorporate emerging lessons from the current pandemic response into our discussions.

    The instructors have designed, developed, and executed a wide range of disease and pandemic response games at the organizational, national, and international level. They have extensive experience in the areas of response to biological terrorism and the planning and coordination required in that response.

    The current pandemic is a reminder that disease can produce unusual, unique, and difficult challenges for decision-makers at all levels of government. Games provide an opportunity to bring those decision-makers together and let them understand the challenges before they actually happen. In this class we will consider how to build games that help decision-makers with those challenges.

    The registration fee varies from $700 to $800. You will find additional details at the link above.

  28. Duke of Prunes

    My friend has “it”. So does his wife. Both young 60s. They think they got it from their child (30s) who has only shown some very mild symptoms. They were both relatively healthy, and, so far, it’s been a mild to bad cold/flu. It seems this will be a small bump in the road for them.

    Actually, I lied. We don’t know if they have it because, assuming their recovery proceeds, they will never get tested. It’s too hard, too costly, too risky, why bother? I’m sure this exact scenario is playing out all across the country. The test is also notoriously faulty – lots of false negatives and positives. Therefore, I think all of the numbers being published are complete garbage. We have absolutely no idea how many people have/had it. Therefore, all the projections are garbage.

    This news breathlessly reports that Italy may have 10x more cases than originally thought (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-24/italy-virus-cases-10-times-higher-than-reported-repubblica-says). Oh NOs!!! Actually, this is good news. It means the death/serious complications risk is 10x less. Moving the decimal place one unit to the left is a good thing…

    There’s no vaccine. There may never be a vaccine. Does HIV or the common cold have a vaccine? Most optimistically, the experts say it will be at least a year until we have one. There’s no natural immunity, no real cure for those who have it and no vaccine. Therefore, the doctors say we must all stay at home and self-isolate to “flatten the curve”. That’s great… except how long can we do this before people start starving? Even if the govt goes all “jubilee” so money isn’t an issue, we still need to gather in groups > 10 to grow, harvest, process, package, ship and sell food. And, let’s face it, the govt isn’t going to go all “jubilee”.

    My point: It’s rare that I agree with the oligarchs, but I do think we need to go back to work before too long. High risk people need to isolate. No question. Obese, diabetes, heart or lung disease, compromised immunity? Stay home!!! Take some of this grift and create programs to help the high risk people stay isolated until herd immunity is achieved. Everybody else, go back to work. Wear a mask to limit the people you spread germs to. Make sick leave allowances much better. Keep washing your hands.

    There I said it. Is this ideal? Family-blog no. However, if we wait for perfect solution, the cure is going to be worse than the disease.

    1. Tom Doak

      Please refer to my new rule near the top of the page, and report to a nearby hospital for orderly duty. Thank you for volunteering to put (your) skin in the game.

      1. Duke of Prunes

        So what is your solution? Food just appears? Refineries run by themselves? I’m confident that there are a multitude of “essential services” that we will not realize are essential until they disappear. Then what?

        1. cnchal

          The oligarchs are not interested in essential services. They want the whole shebang to start generating big profits, and if it kills people, so what. As the crocodile tears run down their faces they cry “think of the peasants”. When has any one of them ever given a shit about the peasants?

          Trump wants it over by Easter Sunday, the “beautiful, perfect holiday” and watching the presser today, every time Trump told a lie, which was just about every word, Fouci, who tells everyone to never touch their face, was rubbing his chin constantly as if signalling bullshit bullshit bullshit.

          Easter in when NYC is going to be on fire.

    2. Yves Smith

      The second wave of normal winter flu was supposedly pretty bad this year, so I wonder how many of these self-diagnosed cases are kidding themselves.

      One line of thought is (like a cold) any immunity to COVID-19 is pretty short term, like months to a year.

  29. Michael

    So I think the D’s should just abandon Hidin Biden and declare Nancy Pelosi their candidate for President.

    She may be the only D who can take down DT. She has fought him to a draw so far.

    Today’s counter proposal delivered at a time of pronounced weakness in the R party, due to the virus removing 5 Senators from voting, is an attempt at driving a stake in the heart of DT. Bravo!!

    As an Independent since 1972, I’ve detested the system and its players for a long time. I still do. Game on!

  30. Phacops

    Re: SARS CoV 2 testing.

    We know that we are testing limited. But, all the testing that I have seen reference to is of the Polymerase Chain Reaction type. This requires sample stabilization, prep for capsid dissolution and extraction, PCR amplification and gel electrophoresis. Or am I missing something?

    Meanwhile, there is ELISA, Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay, a colorimetric assay for immunoglobulins that result from infection. Generally kits are available to run 96 tests at once from serum, not an infectious swab. Most hospital labs can easily run ELISA and much of it is now automated. Manufacturers like Epitope (California) are making kits for SARS CoV2, Immunoglobulin M and Immunoglobulin G.

    1. IgM is an antibody that is secreted early in an infection. The manner of the response to create IgM does not confer immunologic memory.

    2. IgG is an antibody secreted later in an infection. It is cell mediated and results in the creation of a memory cell lineage.

    To put it in simpler (market?) terms, IgM is a leading indicator of disease while IgG is a trailing indicator.

    ELISA is a gift to clinicians and public health which can be used in the situation where testing has been only used for highly symptomatic patients. Its ease of use can plug gaps in our current knowledge of the pandemic.

    So, why am I not seeing its use? While I’m not the brightest bulb in the case, this seems like a no brainer rollout to me.

    1. petal

      No gel. This is a qPCR.
      This test determines the presence of actual virus in the body, not antibodies to the virus(which is what the elisa will do).
      It’s easier and faster to get a nose/throat swab from a lot of people than a blood sample(serum is required for an elisa). Yes, elisas will be rolled out to determine who has been exposed/has immunity. Things are being developed rapidly, validation has to occur, and production ramped up.

      From that company’s web site:
      “Per the aforementioned guidance, the following statements are required:
      This test has not been reviewed by the FDA.
      Negative results do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection, particularly in those who have been in contact with the virus.
      Follow-up testing with a molecular diagnostic should be considered to rule out infection in these individuals.
      Results from antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude SARS-CoV-2 infection or to inform infection status.
      Positive results may be due to past or present infection with non-SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus strains, such as coronavirus HKU1, NL63, OC43, or 229E.”

      1. Phacops

        Yes, forgot about the fluorescent complexes now used to identify hybridization. Though, still with a significant number of false negatives, 30% reported by Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare, it is not entirely without issues.

        Since; we are test limited, at-risk people are being turned away with mild symptoms until severe illness manifests, IgM is secreted within a week of infection at the start of symptom presentation, and we have absolutely no knowledge of the spread of this disease, an IgM ELISA is a good clinical adjunct to ramp up surveilance. Of course IgG ELISA can be used in retrospective studies after seroconversion.

        Plus, from publications still in peer review, the proposed IgM ELISA appears to meet the criteria of ICH Q2(R1), Validation of Analytical Procedures. Not using that in our public health response to a pandemic is foolish at this point.

  31. stefan

    Informed summary of state of play:


    …We know what they’ve done is not sustainable and the question is: What is China going to do now if it relaxes the infection control measures? Some of the recovered patients are still shedding virus and now China is surrounded by sick neighbors. Surely if they open up their borders, infection will come in the same way it came into the U.S. The world is waiting to see what China is going to do.

    Now in terms of the U.S., we obviously are undergoing exponential growth. The 10,400 confirmed cases is a gross underestimate. The lack of testing is embarrassing. It’s an outright failure in leadership….

    …We need point-of-care tests. Those kinds of tests are available for HIV and for many other diseases; you use a finger stick, drop the blood on a small device, and have a readout in 15 minutes. These tests measure antibody response to the virus and are extremely useful. Yet we don’t have a single test licensed in the U.S. In China, in South Korea, and in Europe, those tests are used. The manufacturer for this rapid test is producing a million a day. It’s there. But in the name of protecting the public, the FDA has moved very, very slowly. That delay, in my view, has caused more harm than good….

  32. Milton

    For all the cartography nerds…
    Mapping coronavirus coxcombs – Dr. Kenneth Field explores the use of Coxcombs as a way to map the coronavirus pandemic. There’s a bit of a history lesson (pie chart variant was originally used by Florence Nightingale in 1858) and a full primer on the best practices and workflow showing how best to illustrate the covid-19 spread.

  33. Code Name D

    There is clearly a vast gulf between what needs to happen, and what will happen. It’s looking more like 2008 redux – only with more extreme consequences. While what needs to happen defiantly needs to be talked about. We also need to discus what will happen if its business as usual with congress. Here is my predicted time line under BAU.

    1. Carno will not be contained.

    Even if we stick to current social distancing and shut down strategies, the US is on track to be hit far harder by Carno than what was suffered by China or Italy. There will be more deaths, and a larger chunk of the work force will be knocked out of commission.

    Worse yet, the virus will continue to circulate with strength through the population, when other nations manage to start to see improvements. Carona could be with us for years, with deaths from Carona becoming the new normal.

    This also means a far greater chance that the virus will mutate into something even more lethal or virulent than what we have now.

    2. A massive wave of foreclosures and medical bankruptcies. More bail-outs, none for the people.

    What little “worker relieve” congress manages to pass will be a joke. Amounting to little more than virtue signaling. The result will be a repeat of what happened in 2008. Banks will be bailed out, but will still foreclose on homes. Homes will stay empty while the banks use them in another TARP buy out scam from the federal reserve. Accept this will be on a far larger scale than before, and there will be few areas of the country that is untouched.

    3. All attempts to “restart the markets” will fail.

    Not being discussed here is the moral hazard from perpetual bail-outs. Wall Street works like a giant casino. Accept it has two tears of gamblers. There are High Rollers and then there are the Marks. The Marks always tend to lose more than they wager, going home with less money than they spent. That money is then moved over to the High Roller’s table who play for larger stakes and have far better odds at winning more than they invest.

    This only works with lots of Marks losing money to attract the High Rollers, and the High Rollers only come if they can walk away with more money than they drop. In a bear market however, there is no incentive for High Rollers to play. And with free money on tap from the fed, why play at all?

    And as long as the economy is contracting, the markets will remain in a bear market.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Your point 1 if true stands in direct contradiction to your point 2.

      a. There will be no zombie apocalypse. People will quickly sort themselves into new communities, and the rules and norms of those communities will trump all directives or economic claims coming from outside.

      b. The community leaders will deliver peace, bread and land inasmuch as they are able, probably via rationing. If existing officials prove ineffective or venal, they will be shunted aside in favor of those who can lead, whether the local NatGuard commander, the sheriff, a preacher, or a committee of the above. I doubt they will include many McKinsey consultants lol.

      c. Those authorities will flat out ignore edicts from Washington bureaucrats or any claims of absentee landlords and creditors unless these are accompanied by concrete material aid. Local disputants will need to submit claims to the judgment of their neighbors as to fairness and expediency. Preexisting contracts and laws be damned.

      d. At the other end of the scale, sociopathic prepper types who resist the general requisition will be put down like mad dogs, incinerated in their homes from a safe distance.

      e. The casino will go to zero. Paper pushers will need to move in with whatever family will take them in and rediscover scrounging, tinkering and bartering skills they didn’t know they had.

      f. Sickness and wellness and any ‘special needs’ will go into God’s hands (look for religion to make a yuuuuuge comeback), taking a back seat to basic nutrition and autarkic production of essentials.

      g. Know-it-alls, scolds and bitter cynics (a lot of us here) are going to need to (re)learn to shut the hell up. The mob will operate socially at 4th grade (Trump) level, with zero tolerance for cynics laughing at their superstitions or heckling and pettifogging the decisions of whoever is governing. Only those with a community rep as a useful doer will earn any right to a public voice. There will be norms, and taboos.

  34. Mildred Montana

    “Within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work.”
    And thus spake Lloyd Blankfein. Corporate welfare Queen of queens (and there are many on Wall Street).

    Her Majesty fails to say how risk is to be determined. A small detail best ignored. Just get ’em back to work ASAP.

    Here’s the problem with publicly-traded companies like Goldman Sachs and CEO’s like Blankfein:

    The only thing—the ONLY thing—that matters is the stock price. Forget that old canard from business school about profit-maximization. Nonsense. The business of any publicly-traded company is to goose the stock by any means at hand (legal or not, ethical or not, risky or not) so executives can cash in quickly and handsomely.

    If that means sending sick people to work or putting healthy people at risk, so be it. Stock prices must defended at all costs, as long as those costs are borne by workers and/or taxpayers.

    The modern publicly-traded company (did I mention Goldman Sachs?) selects its top executives for sociopathy. In other words, the scum rises to the top. Do you promise to think of nothing but the stock price and always act in its interest? Good. Are you interested in money and nothing else? Excellent. Welcome aboard. You’ll go far in this company, Lloyd.

  35. John

    Biden is going to look real weak when he comes out of hiding.

    Trump will almost surely win as people will be used to the crash of the economy by then.

    Of course, I can’t say that with 100% certainty as I don’t know who really controls the electronic voting systems in this country.

  36. drumlin woodchuckles

    About how to keep busy during a lockdown, or at least a shut-in . . . . some people might well want to find that old listing of all the books that were in Occupy Wall Street’s Zucotti Park Mothership library. Find a listing of those books and begin reading the ones you have or can get.

    Occupy your time.
    Occupy your mind.

    1. John

      Back then we had hope.

      That’s pretty much gone. We are watching Washington bailout the super rich all over again and people are just like, “stay 6 feet away and we got to shelter in place”.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Then perhaps it is time to start reading ” Plan B” books . . . . books about various kinds of survival and subsistence, local and hyperlocal resiliency, etc.

  37. urblintz

    Can someone explain…

    Pelosi has announced her intention to pass the bill by unanimous consent rather than calling the House back to vote.

    Does that mean what i think it means?

    1. Daryl

      As Matthew Stoller mentioned: refusing to vote remotely is a way for McConnell and Pelosi to cram terrible things through.

    2. WobblyTelomeres

      I believe this is how we got the Federal Reserve hours after Wilson’s inauguration. My memory is suspect, however.

  38. Barbara

    My eldest greatniece is a doctor in Washington state. She’s doing 8-hour night shifts caring for corona virus patients. Her father apparently hasn’t been taking all this seriously. She told him – you’ve got to take this seriously. If you get sick, you’ll be in the hospital all alone. You can’t have visitors. And if you’re dying, there’s no one who loves you to hold your hand.

    Good God, what a vigil she’s keeping.

    1. Barbara

      This 80yo’s response to Gov. Patrick:

      “You first, Big Guy,” while chanting under my breath: Hell, no, we won’t go!

  39. blowncue

    I’m not comfortable going into specific location, but I can tell you at least one teaching hospital is scouring to hire for 30-50 support staff, described as stocking supplies, customer-facing, watching patients. In other words, whatever needs doing. Contractors stopped showing up to work. Would you take that job, and if so, what would be your minimum acceptable compensation? So far, no amount compels me.

  40. Carey

    Boeing stock up over 20% today, and that company says they’re restarting production in
    May (of this year).

  41. Amfortas the hippie

    well, howdy do…
    i don’t know how to hack the WSJ’s page(about the grocery supply lines being mangled…hopelessly marred, in fact…)
    and i’d love to read it,lol.
    Because that’s probably my biggest worry right now…and the biggest blank spot for me.
    what’s the supply of toilet paper like…how does it work?
    is all that still in east texas and georgia?

    last time i looked(10 years ago),it appeared to be pretty much domestic..or at least continental.
    still plugged in to the FIRE Econ to an extent that they were likely far from resilient,lol…but at least HERE.

    extrapolate same question to everything else you actually NEED right now.

    my other econ question that rubs my ear overmuch: i’m getting lots of anecdotal and especially unconscious reports…as in they don’t know they’re being an economic indicator, or exposing some feature of the distribution preferences of the AI,lol…that the more affluent neighborhoods/areas are getting resupplied regularly…while poorer…and especially more rural areas…are not.
    I want data on this.
    not anecdata.
    if what i’m hearing is true, then there’s a decision being made…by an algorithm, probably…to essentially write off people in less favored geographies.
    and that needs to be exposed.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      oh, and:”… In the press of events, I forgot the equinox!”
      Fear not!
      I have you covered, Lambert.
      I finally obtained a smattering of the Noble Weed, and drank far too much beer with my cousin that night.
      much libation was spilled.
      the Gods(and Goddess) are pleased with us’n’s.
      (zero weed was spilled:$120=1/4 Oz.)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > i’m getting lots of anecdotal and especially unconscious reports…as in they don’t know they’re being an economic indicator, or exposing some feature of the distribution preferences of the AI,lol…that the more affluent neighborhoods/areas are getting resupplied regularly…while poorer…and especially more rural areas…are not.
      I want data on this.

      That’s a very, very good question. Readers?

  42. Samuel Conner

    The thought occurs that DJT will well before April 12 back down from his “relax the social distance/isolation thing” rhetoric. Per JHU pandemic dashboard, the COVID-19 associated fatalities in the last 24 hours is above 200, from 140 the day before.

    Hopefully the “flatten-the curve” measures in the harder hit states will start to slow the growth of this in coming days, but the extent of infection and the associated deaths in the states that have not locked down will presumably increase.

    This suggests that the daily fatality rate could be above 200 for a while, which annualized would be around 80,000 — considerably worse than a bad flu season. So the “flu” comparison may quickly wear thin.

    It is a comfort that the Governors have more influence on this than the current President; one hopes that the ones whose States have not yet been badly affected are learning from the ones who have.

  43. urblintz

    The fed totally kneecapped the dems and now wall street gets 4.5 trillion in free cash plus the 500 billion slush fund. no wonder the gop agreed to oversight on the smaller amount. wall street is already saved. everything else is noise.

    1. JBird4049

      There are roughly 129 million households. Divide five trillion by that gives 39,000 per a household. Even in California, almost all people would be able to feed, clothe, and house themselves. Even at 300 million individuals that would be over 16,000.

      1. urblintz

        I knew a JBird at Eckerd College… couldn’t be, but had to mention it…

        as for the largest transfer of wealth from the have-nots to the already-haves…

        will any dem senator vote against?

        will even one house member (all that’s required) show up to vote “no” on unanimous consent?

        stay tuned… for the test pattern.

        1. JBird4049

          Sorry, but this JBird is a San Francisco Bay Arean still going to college. And hopefully at least one Congresscritter will have the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing.

  44. urblintz

    the hits keep on comin’

    the fed hires blackrock to manage 4.5 trillion wall street giveaway

    1. Daryl

      Terrible. Just give people money and worry about the corps when they come back from recess.

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