Links 4/17/2020

Male lemurs may spread fruity ‘love potions’ with their tails Science

Bald eagles, eaglets found nesting in arms of Arizona cactus Arizona Sun


The science:

A New Statistic Reveals Why America’s COVID-19 Numbers Are Flat The Atlantic

In that light, America’s 20 percent positivity rate is disquieting. The U.S. did almost 25 times as many tests on April 15 as on March 15, yet both the daily positive rate and the overall positive rate went up in that month. If the U.S. were a jar of 330 million jelly beans, then over the course of the outbreak, the health-care system has reached in with a bigger and bigger scoop. But every day, 20 percent of the beans it pulls out are positive for COVID-19. If the outbreak were indeed under control, then we would expect more testing—that is, a larger scoop—to yield a smaller and smaller proportion of positives. So far, that hasn’t happened….

The high positivity rate also suggests that new cases in the U.S. have plateaued only because the country has hit a ceiling in its testing capacity.

* * *


Coronavirus Vaccine Prospects Derek Lowe, “In the Pipeline” Science. Grab a cup of coffee. This is absolutely a must-read to understand the vaccine situation.

Gilead’s Coronavirus Wonder-Drug Remdesivir Is Masking A Board Contagion Forbes (J-LS).

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Materiel shortages:

N95 Mask Decontamination using Standard Hospital Sterilization Technologies medRxiv

* * *


Covid-19 in Thailand: Are we missing something? William Aldis, Bangkok Post. A “pooled specimen” testing strategy. Could be important.

How to test everyone for the coronavirus MIT Technology Review (Re Silc). A deceptive headline; nobody actually knows.

Smaller Hospitals In Chicago Can Have 2-Week Waits For COVID-19 Test Results CBS Chicago. Just because the numbers make nice curves….

* * *


Wearing face masks in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic: altruism and solidarity The Lancet

COVID-19 in forensic medicine unit personnel: Observation from Thailand Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. Transmission via biological samples and corpses.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Peaks in New York’s Hospitals The New Yorker

COVID-19 and African Americans JAMA

Lockdown is wrong for Africa Mail & Guardian

More Than 100 Residents Have COVID-19 At N.J. Nursing Home Where 17 Bodies Were Found NPR

* * *

Economic effects:

It’s the End of the World Economy as We Know It Neil Irwin, NYT

* * *

Finance response:

Lessons From Congress’ Last Experience Helping Rescue An Economy In Free Fall NPR

* * *

Corporate response:

Coronavirus drives barrage of new lobbying activity Open Secrets

If I wash my hands in Pepsi, will that kill the virus?

Maybe so, considering what it does to my stomach.

* * *

Political response:

Conservative group linked to DeVos family organizes protest of coronavirus restrictions in Michigan Salon. Witih guns:

“Now go and make me do it.”

Going by class and cultural markers like clothing, this is not the same crowd as the gun-humpers in Michigan:

Naturally they want to work. They have families to take care of, and the political class took care of the squillionaires and stiffed the working class, as usual.

Coronavirus fatigue bubbles over as lockdowns enter second month Politico

Exclusive: As Washington DC Faces Coronavirus Spike, Secret Military Task Force Prepares to Secure The Capital Newsweek (MH).

DOJ lets companies skip paying penalties during pandemic The Hill. Stoller: “We wouldn’t want convicted fraudsters to have a liquidity crisis.”

The WHO Shouldn’t Be a Plaything for Great Powers The Atlantic

Inclined to Putrefaction LRB. From February, still germane. On the Florentine response to the Plague in 1629:

The Sanità arranged the delivery of food, wine and firewood to the homes of the quarantined (30,452 of them). Each quarantined person received a daily allowance of two loaves of bread and half a boccale (around a pint) of wine. On Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, they were given meat. On Tuesdays, they got a sausage seasoned with pepper, fennel and rosemary. On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, rice and cheese were delivered; on Friday, a salad of sweet and bitter herbs. The Sanità spent an enormous amount of money on food because they thought that the diet of the poor made them especially vulnerable to infection, but not everyone thought it was a good idea. Rondinelli recorded that some elite Florentines worried that quarantine ‘would give [the poor] the opportunity to be lazy and lose the desire to work, having for forty days been provided abundantly for all their needs’.

* * *

Exit strategy:

READ: White House Guidelines To States For Reopening NPR

Donald Trump tempers push for quick reopening in new guidelines FT

Fumbling for the exit strategy The Economist

Our Post-Pandemic Future Patrick Lawrence, Consortium News

* * *

Remedies and ameliorations:

Washington Journal Primetime on COVID-19 (video) C-SPAN. Viewer questions for Fauci.


China didn’t warn public of likely pandemic for 6 key days AP

China is tightening its grip on coronavirus research Nature

Full text of Wuhan’s notification on revising numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, deaths Xinhua/. “The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wuhan as of the end of April 16 was revised up by 325 to 50,333, and the number of fatalities up by 1,290 to 3,869.” Oopsie.

Coronavirus: China’s economy shrank for the first time since 1976 in first quarter South China Morning Post

Most U.S. firms have no plans to leave China due to coronavirus: survey Reuters

China Manufacturing is Riskier Than Ever: What to do to Reduce YOUR China Manufacturing Risks China Law Blog

US alerted Israel, NATO to disease outbreak in China in November — report Times of Israel. Following hard upon a New York Times story based on — and I know this will surprise you — anonymous sources in the intelligence community.

From the field: COVID-19 responses in Central Java New Mandala


Why does India have so few Covid-19 cases and deaths? Quartz (J-LS).


Covid-19 effectively suppressed but efforts focused on eradicating virus in nursing homes RTE. Remember that Ireland v. the UK is a natural experiment.

Macron warns of EU unravelling unless it embraces financial solidarity FT

Tunnels and Lights Stethoscopre on Rome (DG: “Many facts in one place. Here interpretations of possible drugs, drug trials, and treatments seem to be on the mark). From the post: “Italy has taken initial baby steps toward reopening the economy, allowing a bizarre list of productive activities: dry cleaners, forestry, computer factories, and stores selling books, stationery, or baby clothes. But several regions where the fires of covid-19 are still burning, such as Lombardy, have declined the invitation.”

Amazon Face-Off in France Serves as Worker-Rights Test Case Bloomberg

The World’s Biggest Plane Joins Fight Against COVID-19 Popular Mechanics (Re Silc).


Russia is about to face its biggest test yet in Syria Robert Fisk, Independent


It looks like Putin conned the FBI into the ‘Russiagate’ probe Rich Lowry, New York Post

New Details Hint at Risk of Russian Misinformation in Dossier NYT. The last paragraph:

Complicating matters, however, is that Mr. Steele was trying to understand what Russian intelligence services were doing with regard to the Trump campaign. He would seemingly need his sources to be in contact with people with connections to those services or the Kremlin who were in a position to know what was going on.

Fair enough. But the stupidest possible outcome of RussiaGate would be that the Obama administration got suckered by Russian chickenfeed in the Steele Report, so I guess we should assume that’s what happened.

Corporate Media Cover for US Mob Threats Against Venezuela Venezuelanalysis


An Open Letter to the New New Left From the Old New Left By Former Leaders of The Students For a Democratic Society, The Nation. As the story propagates, Corey Robin comments:


Americans are not rallying around Donald Trump during the pandemic The Economist

What Happens If A Presidential Nominee Can No Longer Run For Office? FiveThirtyEight (J-LS).

The Democratic Establishment Suddenly Loves Bernie Sanders Sidney Ember, NYT


Boeing restarting commercial airplane production next week Reuters

Health Care

No Longer Invisible: The Critical Role Of Local Health Departments In Responding To COVID-19 Health Affairs

The Pandemic Is Just Fine for Health Insurers John Authers, Bloomberg

Why this pandemic is an indictment of socialized medicine Marc Thiessen, WaPo

Failed State

Glitches prevent $1,200 stimulus checks from reaching millions of Americans WaPo

Michigan’s Ex-Gov. Rick Snyder Knew About Flint’s Toxic Water—and Lied About It Vice

Imperial Collapse Watch

U.S. Decline: Three Strikes and You’re Out? Counterpunch

The Army Is Trying To Replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Again. Popular Mechanics. Failed state.

How an outbreak on the USS Roosevelt became a defining moment for the US military Stars & Stripes

Class Warfare

‘This Many Strikes Says That Something Fundamentally Is Changing in the Country‘ (interview) Mike Elk, FAIR. And literally the only political entity capable of recognizing and acting on this change, having been paralyzed, has just had its brain-case pierced by the Democrat Establishment’s ovipositor, preparatory to having its internal organs dissolved into a mush-filled egg sac.

CEO Assures Employees He Doing Everything In His Power To Lay People Off The Onion

Landlords Are Allegedly Asking For Sex From Tenants Who Can’t Afford To Pay Rent Right Now Buzzfeed

A Quiet Genocide: Rural America and the Continuing Plague MuckRake

A ‘miracle’ no one was hurt: Maine paper mill explodes, sends up huge plume of black smoke USA Today

Antidote du jour (via):

Elephant sunscreen.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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. PlutoniumKun

    Covid-19 in Thailand: Are we missing something? William Aldis, Bangkok Post.

    Thailand is a bit of a mystery to me, and may be good news for other hot countries. Many Chinese went there for holidays during the original January outbreak and back in early February I read reports of a major number of ‘viral pneumonia’ cases. Thailand was far slower than most of its neighbours in taking any action. And yet there still doesn’t seem to be evidence of a major outbreak, despite plenty of cases and community transferal.

    I really don’t know why they don’t have an Italian situation on their hands, but it would seem that something is slowing the virus down. Maybe, for whatever reason, it might just be slower to take hold (climate? immunisations?), but maybe they could get lucky, and the reasons that apply there may also apply to countries like Indonesia and the Philippines.

    As to the core of the article – pooled testing seems just common sense to me, I’m surprised its not been done elsewhere. Information is power, and anything that gives a better statistical overview of the spread of the virus can only be good.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

      India is another mystery – the Quartz article suggests some reasons for its relatively small number of reported cases and deaths, in spite of its huge population, dense cities, and small and crowded accommodation.

      1. Louis Fyne

        Hawaii is another outlier—densely populated, older. Yet modest infection numbers

        Kneejerk hypothesis is that humidity and/or UV intensity inactivates virus and/or mitigates the transmission of virus aerosols

        1. Trent

          The media has been hysterical and based on what they’ve been screaming at everyone the past two months we’re all expecting a pandemic. So far it hasn’t really been one. PA has had 700 deaths from covid so far. We’ve been on lockdown for a month. Starting monday we all have to wear facemasks to go to the grocery store.

          1. Watt4Bob

            Pa had over 1500 new cases yesterday.

            Only NY, NJ, and MA are ahead of that rate at the moment.

            Yeah, it’s all just hysteria on the part of the media. /snk

            1. Trent

              Thank you for your snark Watt4Bob. Everything is still out of focus right now, so until the facts become more solid i am going to withhold judgement for the time being. I’m glad that you’re so certain, because people like you who were so certain a pandemic couldn’t happen are now leading the response to the pandemic. Its a great attitude to have. Me, well i’m not certain about anything right now.

              1. periol

                1700 new cases today for you guys.

                What “facts” need to become more “solid” for you, out of curiousity?

              2. Trent

                In my life time we’ve had the crash, the financial crisis, the iraq and afghanistan wars, 9/11 and now a pandemic and i’m only 36. In all of those instances, except maybe the, they all have lots of things in common. Can you guess what they were? Lies, lies, and more lies. Same people have been in charge for all of em too.

                1. Trent

                  Oh and one i forgot, operation desert storm. Does anybody remember all the babies dying in kuwait? Or how Madeline albright said 500,000 iraqis dying of starvation was worth it?

                  1. Procopius

                    Minor quibble: She was asked if 500,000 Iraqi children dying because of American sanctions was worth it, and she answered, “Yes.”

          2. Mel

            What keeps me worried is the daily Covid-19 stats that Ian Welsh is tracking. The most recent doubling time for Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. is 4 days as of today. In the past it’s been as good as 5 days, or as bad as 2-point-something.
            If that applies to PA, and were to continue to apply, that would mean 1400 deaths by Monday, 2800 by next Friday, 5600 by the Tuesday after that, 11200 the next Saturday.
            We can’t say for sure that that won’t happen.
            We might hope that it won’t be that bad because the U.S. doubling time for cases has got up to 14.4 days (two weeks ago it was at 4 days.) Maybe the death doubling time will increase over the next couple of weeks to approach this.
            But even then, fatalities multiplying 4-fold over each month, won’t be a picnic.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              People keep making these death predictions based on the notion of doubling time and exponential growth. I don’t believe any of those early predictions have panned out. There are a lot of variables involved in this scenario and viruses aren’t all that well versed in mathematics.

              1. periol

                The main reason the historical doubling won’t happen going forward is because we lack enough testing capacity and are still undercounting both cases and deaths.

                1. lyman alpha blob

                  Maybe, maybe not. If I had to guess, and I do because we don’t and probably never will have accurate numbers, I would say the number of undercounted cases on a percentage basis is far greater than the number of undercounted deaths.

                  A mild case of COVID-19 that comes and goes is easy to miss completely. Die though and people tend to notice that eventually.

                  Yes, this is bad, it’s worse than a normal flu, but it’s also not the black plague.

                  I understand why people want answers but the stats on this are all over the place and changing all the time. So as much as people might want answers and a cure so they can go their lives, there quite likely won’t ever be an answer or a cure. We don’t have a cure for the flu or the common cold after decades of trying, so why does everybody seem to assume it’s just a matter of time until we get one for COVID-19?

                  At some point, we may just have to go about our lives anyway.

                  1. periol

                    My guess is based on the data. You can watch the cases and deaths rise at a certain doubling rate for a time, before they get too high and the numbers start to plateau. That plateau is testing capacity, and all the other glitches that prevent effective testing, like folks who can’t pay for one. From that point on, all the numbers are catching up or smaller than reality, and the numbers of untested cases and deaths goes up.

                    Practically this means we won’t know when a given area is past it’s peak until well after the peak hits – hospital utilization rates will be a clearer metric. It also means we have a slower doubling time.

                    Wuhan just reported a 40% or so increase in undercounted deaths. I would guess that we will find this percentage to be close to reality globally (although worse in countries with less testing facilities), and that the number of unreported cases will end up being proportionally larger as well – in keeping with the actual spread and fatality rates.

                  2. Monty

                    The data that changed my mind about this was this report showing the weekly deaths of all causes out of the UK.


                    I have been checking it when its published every week. I had heard a rumor that the people dying “would have died anyway” and just happened to die of the virus. It was a compelling idea for me because, if they would have died anyway, I have no way to prevent it. It absolves us of responsibility to act to save them. So I tracked down some primary source data that could answer the question, “would they have died anyway?”

                    The UK data is the most up to date and trustworthy source i have found. When the deaths started over there, I was sad to discover that, not only were the Covid-19 deaths not being absorbed by the people who would have died anyway, but the excess death reported was double the number of reported virus related deaths. To me this suggests deaths are under reported, and there are many people dying who wouldn’t have died anyway.

                    There’s a 2 week lag whilst the get their numbers in order, and so the last report was week ending 4/3. Unfortunately, as the covid19 deaths continue to mount over there, the excess deaths do too. They were 60% above average in the last report.

                2. Fred1

                  For all of the reasons upthread and in other comment threads here, the inferences that can be drawn as to where we are with the virus, both locally and nationally, are speculation. Maybe it’s peaked; maybe it hasn’t.

                  However, there are at least three things without doubt: (1) what happens when the need for hospitalizations exceeds a locality’s capacity; (2) that right now no one knows much of anything about the virus, particularly whether one can be reinfected; and (3) that treatment right now is basically an all out effort to somehow keep a patient alive until the virus gets bored (yes, I know the virus doesn’t have any agency), which is very problematic when a locality’s hospital capacity is overrun.

                  Notwithstanding how my and my family’s lives have changed because of the lock down, which may continue indefinitely, I don’t see any other choice.

              2. Mel

                “viruses aren’t all that well versed in mathematics”


                You haven’t changed my mind.

                1. lyman alpha blob

                  At some point exponential growth will have to stop or we’ll all be dead in a fairly short period of time is the point I was trying to make.

                  People who started throwing these exponential growth rates out months ago and extrapolating from there were being hysterical. At some point things level off, there are any number of variables involved, and nobody really understands what they all are at this point, and they may never.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    > At some point exponential growth will have to stop or we’ll all be dead in a fairly short period of time is the point I was trying to make.

                    It is true that “trees don’t grow to the sky.” On the other hand, these particular trees have a lot of headroom, by the standards of the Black Death or even the Spanish Flu of ~1918.

                  2. Procopius

                    I don’t want to get into a fight about it, but

                    At some point exponential growth will have to stop or we’ll all be dead in a fairly short period of time is the point I was trying to make.

                    Since not everybody who catches COVID-19 dies from it, I speculate you probably really mean that in a fairly short time everybody will be infected, and then the (few? many?) survivors may or may not have immunity. I certainly agree with that argument.

            2. Paul Boisvert

              Hi, Mel, 12:48, and downstream commenters.

              Mel’s doubling times are off, the current average for the last 6 days for US deaths is around 10-ish. There was a big spike on the 14th in reported deaths from much earlier, that had been previously uncounted–those were not new deaths. Evening that out, you get around 10 or so–still not very good, though…

              Math note for do-it-yourselfers, take the percent growth in deaths from day before, say 9% = .09, and divide it into ln(2), which is roughly 0.7. You get .7/.09 = 7.8 days doubling time.

              More generally, doubling times are rarely useful for future projections, simply because they change daily as the percentage growth in deaths over the previous day changes. At the very least one should use average doubling time over the past week or more, but even there death projections are usually lagging–overestimations if the growth rate trend is diminishing, underestimations if it is increasing.

              The only time doubling times are useful is if you expect the current growth rate to be fairly stable for say, N days, and even then the projection is only useful out to roughly current day + N. By then, the growth rate will have a different trend.

              Well, there is one other use of rapid early doubling times–to scare people into imposing and accepting mitigation measures! And that use has actually been quite salutary, as without that, the worst projections would have become all too likely…

          3. Buckeye

            Ohio (next door): Early lockdown, early contact tracing, mask requirement.
            April 16th: cases (8,414) deaths (389)

            Pennsylvania: sloppy lockdown with lots of defiant people, just now getting to face
            mask requirement.
            April 16th: cases (27,000) deaths (707)

            Governor DeWine had to order stores on the Ohio-PA line to check ID’s and refuse service to PA residents: they’re over here spreading disease. That’s why
            Mahoning county has the fifth highest disease rate and the most deaths of any county.

        2. Peerke

          Maybe sunlight and vitamin D is the key factor. Northern climes in winter leads to lower sun made vitamin D from the skin. Vitamin D is known to reduce rate and severity of respiratory tract infection. See the Dr John Campbell talks on YouTube concerning this.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Hawaii is another outlier—densely populated, older. Yet modest infection numbers

          And also a lot of international air travel, plus a naval base, a la the Roosevelt.

          Why wasn’t a smallish island a Petri dish?

          1. Yves Smith

            Huh? Hawaii is not all that dense. 13th in the US and the US is not a terribly high density country.

            I don’t think it is a destination for China. Was back in the day from Japan due to golf courses, but not since the bust. No idea re for South Korea.

            Big point is I do not think it is a destination except for Americans. Asians can to cheaper beautiful islands in the South Pacific and Indonesia. Thailand as we know has great beaches plus sex tourism.

            I think the Hawaii airport has more transiting than destination international passengers, which would contribute to the low-ish #s.

    2. xkeyscored

      So far as I can see (haven’t read it thoroughly), Thailand does BCG vaccination at birth, which may have some connection.

      The BCG World Atlas: A Database of Global BCG Vaccination Policies and Practices

      Here in NW Cambodia, the scorching 35-40C with high UV days have given way to overcast 30-35 with sporadic rain and higher humidity. I had wondered if the climate had anything to do with the paucity of homegrown COVID cases. Now it’s maybe more favourable to the virus, we might find out.

      1. OwenFinn

        Japan too – everyone gets the BCG vaccine at birth. Only those over 70 years old or so haven’t been vaccinated – and expats like me and my US born kids :( .

          1. xkeyscored

            Not in Thailand, from what I remember. But the 15 years applies to TB; if BCG helps with this virus it’s basically a different mechanism, or not the ‘main’ anti-TB mechanism, rather a ‘general immune booster’ of sorts, much as I dislike that phrase. So nobody knows how long this benefit lasts, if indeed it’s real or significant in the first place.

            1. Procopius

              I don’t think many Thais actually get the vaccination. I do know that TB is endemic here. While my first wife was alive we had one of her nieces and one of her nephews die from it, another niece contracted it but recovered, and she recovered from a severe case. I haven’t had occasion to see it recently, but back in the ’80s there was a network of free clinics that treated the disease on an outpatient basis. I think that service got folded into the government hospital network to give it wider availability.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        So does Japan, which may explain its slower rate of infection – but the indications are that its about to take off in some Japanese cities. I wonder if the effect of BCG vaccination is to reduce R0 and so slow down the rate of infection, while still not preventing it from hitting exponential growth – just giving a few extra weeks delay.

        1. Aloha

          I think that the CV numbers stated for Hawaii are low for a couple of reasons.
          There are plenty of people who are sick here and want to be tested but there are very few testing kits available. Recently a drive thru testing site had 250 test kits and over 1k cars lined up with sick people who had been to their doctor to get the approval for a test.
          The islands rely heavily on tourism and the image of healthy people and a healthy, calm island has to be the #1 priority to the world.
          And lets not forget that all CV info and numbers go to Pence as “top secret” and he decides what to release to the public. So who knows what the true numbers are?

      3. Mareko

        Thank you all for this discussion, living in Botswana I have been following the comparative development of the disease here and in SA with some attention. I knocked up a wee analysis of cases/tests as of today, taking the top seven countries by case on and added Botswana and SA. I excluded China because there is no testing data, oddly. The data shows that (excluding Africa) the % of tests positive range widely, from 8% in Germany to 32% in France, with an average of 20%. The USA is right on the mean.
        To describe Bots and SA as outliers is a wild understatement. The number of tests conducted and cases positive is incredibly low. Reading these comments I picked up on Thailand, India and Cambodia, and added them in. The contrast between developed and developing is really weird. Instead of a 20% mean positive rate, they have a rate of 2.5% (Botswana is 0.4%). And because they have conducted hardly any tests, this can’t be the result of large-scale screening, as appears to be the case in Germany. There is a paradox here in the countries with the smallest scale and hence most focused testing, are producing the lowest number of positive tests.
        Given that we are still learning about this disease, I am surprised so little attention is being paid to us outliers. CNN apparently regularly describes the coming disaster to visit Africa, with a sort of pith helmeted relish, perhaps a wishful projection. I hope this only comes up once!

    3. Susan the other

      I thought Thailand was on it immediately if not sooner. There was a link here at NC about how the Thai health care system followed its own advice and, using the Indian DNA regression showing snippets of HIV-like segments, began a series of treatments using HIV drugs, among other things. It was a cocktail that was never again mentioned. Even as thousands died in New York City. Even as we deliberate.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > began a series of treatments using HIV drugs, among other things. It was a cocktail that was never again mentioned.

        Good reminder. This is the latest I can find:

        In February, doctors in Thailand said they saw their COVID-19 patients improve on the combination of two HIV drugs, lopinavir–ritonavir. The WHO is testing the drug combination in their trial, along with anti-inflammatory interferon beta, which the body produces naturally to ward off viruses. The drug combination was used in patients during the SARS and MERS outbreaks, and it appeared to help.

        But a clinical trial of those two drugs in China just found that patients with COVID-19 who were given the drugs did not improve more quickly than patients who didn’t receive it.

        Here is more on the “open label” study in China. Sadly, good clinical results in one context don’t necessarily translate.

  2. zagonostra

    >Why this pandemic is an indictment of socialized medicine Marc Thiessen, WaPo

    Contrast the incredible job our private health-care system is doing today with the utter incompetence of the federal government in preparing for today’s pandemic.

    So the basis of comparison is not with other countries but with the “federal government,” a government whose complete capture by the MIC (Medical Industrial Complex) ensures that the “private health-care system” continues to plunder and profit on the misery of millions of people.

    Comparison to alternative healthcare systems throughout the world based on objective measurements have repeatedly destroyed any illusion that the U.S. “system” is in anyway close in terms of quality/outcomes/access/affordability/life expectancy/etc to these countries that practice “socialized” medicine. And yet the WaPo seems ok with publishing such propagandist pablum..

    Deplorables exist, they exist in the person of the hack who wrote this piece, they have no shame and I can only hope that Marc Thiessen has an encounter with his conscience and comes clean like Wendall Potter.

    1. Judith

      Read the wikipedia page for Marc Thiessen. You will discover her had no conscience. For example, he defends the use of torture.

      1. The Rev Kev

        The takeaway is to never listen to a former speech-writer for George Bush and this guy is just lying his face off. He thinks that crony capitalism is the answer to this pandemic and because Trump stuffed it up, every country stuffed it up if the government handled it. But he must know how countries like New Zealand, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan all managed to drop the hammer on this virus through responsible, adaptive governance. So who is he writing this piece of agitprop for? The health industry perhaps? My first thought after reading this was that he could go and get ******.

      2. Olga

        Links like that should come with a warning “consume at your own risk” (or, Danger – particularly to one’s sanity or intellectual integrity).

        1. Anon

          I believe these are intentional placements to encourage critical thinking. Then expository writing here in the Comments. (Gotta keep the grey matter responsive; no snoozing at NC.)

    2. Monty

      One benefit from the US system of medical price gouging is showing up in this crisis.

      If treatment was free at the point of care, the hospitals would be have to deal with more sick people, and also more people who think they are sick but aren’t yet. With all these people asking to get treated en masse, the hospital becomes an crucible of infection, spreading the virus faster and killing more staff, risking systemic collapse.

      I think many people are just toughing it out at home instead, so they don’t get fleeced into bankruptcy. I wouldn’t go near a US hospital right now, unless I thought I would die if I didn’t.

        1. ambrit

          True. We knew a man, father of a friend of ours from Louisiana, who died as the result of not one, but two consecutive instances of aspirating his stomach contents when anesthetized for a hernia operation.
          My Dad actually had the experience once when he was in hospital for an “elective” surgery of being woken up to take his scheduled sleeping pill.
          On top of everything else, hospitalized people have to deal with the spectre of Staphylococcus Aureus.

      1. HotFlash

        Let’s see. If that were true, Canada’s infection rate should be off the scale compared to the US. (consults a source or two). Nope, not the case. Just because *your* government’s benefit-delivering apparatuses have been systematically starved, beaten, and willfully crappified, does not mean every government is that bad to its citizens.

        1. Monty

          About that second link: “2020 04 08 – COVID-19 Daily Update — Enough with Social Distancing! Should We Just Act Normal?”
          Canada has ~3x the population of Sweden, and has some social distancing guidelines to try to prevent spreading the virus to susceptible people. Despite having 3 x as many people to infect, it has the same number of reported deaths from Covid-19 as Sweden. Which do you think is doing better?

    3. Painted Shut

      I am completely in favor of no cost health care at POC (note, not “Medicare for all”), but I would ask that the concerns raised not be ignored.

      Every- EVERY- interaction most folks have with a government entity is a crappy experience… whether Unemployment office/websites, DMV, food stamps, Obamacare, and yes, MEDICARE! The mistrust of a new government institution is understandable.

      Instead of dismissing, we need to maybe 1) use better brand messaging ( lose the M4A misnomer) and 2) better explain how this will be different than government run everything else. If I have a job and halfway decent insurance, nobody (Bernie, etc) has offered me a good explanation as to how I’ll have a better experience with government run single payer. We need to figure that part out- both the messaging and the actual execution.

      1. zagonostra

        “The mistrust of a new government institution is understandable.”

        It is very understandable. It’s also not by accident that most people would agree with you…reminds me of the adage that “luck is the byproduct of design.”

      2. John k

        And yet, we like the post office. Plus the biggest gov program by far, the military, is popular. Both are gov monopolies, as m4a would be. And what ins co competes with Medicare for seniors?
        Maybe need better publicity that the proposal is to not just expand it to more people but to expand coverage to include dental, glasses etc.

        1. Painted Shut

          Medicare is not zero cost at point of care. So if that’s what you’re proposing, you need to lose the name Medicare.

          You have a point on military. I bet if you branded zero cost coverage under some military patriotism type messaging, you’d garner bipartisan support.

          But I guess the point I’m trying to make is, people generally vote based on WIIFM, and the way it was communicated, there is little to no WIIFM for seniors and employed middle class with the M4A brand messaging. Also, people need to be confident that things will actually work. Free doesn’t matter if what’s offered is crappified or not available.

          It’s why middle class families will pay to send their kids to private school, even though government run public school is free. No amount of free will matter if their public school district is a fail (ie pipeline to prison).

          1. JTMcPhee

            Medicare is not zero cost at point of care because the oligarchs have controlled the political machinery and forced that “choice.”

            As noted above, the crapification of medical care and schools and the rest of “government” results from selling off or simply transferring public assets and functions to private interests. Just like is done with federal natural asset leases.

            “Pipeline to prison” schools are mostly in communities that have been stripped and oppressed for decades, centuries in some places. And “public” schools aren’t “free,” lots of fees and costs. But private and “charter” schools in a whole lot of cases are as crappy or crappier than public schools even now, after neoliberal and “conservative” bipartisan decimation and the wonderful effects of curriculum hopscotch driven by “educators” or imposed (Common Core) by “activists” Including intentional work by Kochians and other “conservatives” to load up school boards and other low level public offices with “like-minded” trolls.

            That’s an ancient issue in America, public schools being turned to selling propaganda. And now you got TV screens in a whole lot of classrooms, and the monitors on the computers they use, used for advertising to a captive population.

            “We the people,” are not a “we” at all. Nothing new there — predators and prey…

        1. Painted Shut

          Indeed. Heavy lifting the folks that didn’t vote for Bernie because of poor brand messaging.

          Of course, that was a month or more (and 22 million unemployed or more) ago.

          Sanders main M4A related messaging was mostly directed toward the uninsured, which today is a much greater percentage of the population.

          Makes you wonder, what if the primaries started next month instead of in February?

      3. tongorad

        Every- EVERY- interaction most folks have with a government entity is a crappy experience… whether Unemployment office/websites, DMV, food stamps, Obamacare, and yes, MEDICARE! The mistrust of a new government institution is understandable.

        I’m surprisingly pleased with the DMV in TX. My wife recently became a naturalized citizen, and besides the egregious pricetag, it was smooth. Same-same for getting her green card prior to citizenship.

        Post office, state parks…maybe I’m a bit biased because as a public school teacher, I am a state worker of sorts.

        It helps when dealing with any agency to stand together in solidarity. State workers are workers. Solidarity.

          1. jonboinAR

            I’ve never had a problem with the California DMV, the Arkansas Revenue Office, either.

      4. marym

        Re: “nobody (Bernie, etc) has offered me a good explanation as to how I’ll have a better experience with government run single payer”

        Key Points
        – Create a Medicare for All, single-payer, national health insurance program to provide everyone in America with comprehensive health care coverage, free at the point of service.
        – No networks, no premiums, no deductibles, no copays, no surprise bills.
        – Medicare coverage will be expanded and improved to include: include dental, hearing, vision, and home- and community-based long-term care, in-patient and out-patient services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, reproductive and maternity care, prescription drugs, and more.
        – Stop the pharmaceutical industry from ripping off the American people by making sure that no one in America pays over $200 a year for the medicine they need by capping what Americans pay for prescription drugs under Medicare for All.

        Also, even if you don’t have a job.

        Messaging wasn’t always clear, and losing track of the original description as “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All” wasn’t helpful. However, even critics figured it out as “free stuff” so the difference with existing Medicare has been available to people and it has polled as popular for many years. The recent primary exit polls (for whatever they’re worth) also showed high levels of support. Favoring M4A and not voting for Sanders is a different mystery.


        1. JTMcPhee

          NOT “national health INSURANCE program.” Should be “national health CARE program.” Speaking of messaging.

      5. curlydan

        Besides the post office, people kind of like their Social Security, too.

        And lord knows the military gets a lot of praise, too.

        What do you like better: dealing with the government or your cable company? Dealing with the government or your health insurer?

        There’s a lot of [bleepy] experiences out there.

        1. Painted Shut

          You know who likes the Post Office and SSI? Seniors. They already have Medicare and are therefore indifferent to M4A. And thus, didn’t vote for Bernie.

          1. JTMcPhee

            A lot of us seniors with Medicare did in fact vote for Bernie. A narrower brush will paint a more accurate picture. And if fingers are to be pointed, it seems younger voters like Bernie’s message and policies, but just did not bother to vote.

            And of course there’s that bit that is no longer even a blip on the Narrative radar, about the difference between exit polls and vote tallies in the game show brought to us by that Private Club, the Democrat party, that gets to use public processes and funds to run its primaries.

      6. Anon

        If I have a job and halfway decent insurance, nobody (Bernie, etc) has offered me a good explanation as to how I’ll have a better experience with government run single payer.

        Have you had to deal with your halfway decent health coverage? It is likely to restrict your access to doctors within their network. They will refuse to pay for out-of-network bills. Do you know that even if the hospital where you get treatment is in-network, the anesthesiologist, various specialist doctors, and various pharmacopia that you recieve are NOT payable if out-of-network. Did you know that the hospital administration has no compunction to tell you who is or not in-network? You’ll likely spend your rehabilitation days scouring surpise billing to figure out whom these bills are from, because you don’t remember the treatment described.

        I’ve had both private health insurance (as a state official) and current Medicare. The cost for Medicare+ supplemental is 40% less. And the billing hassle non-existent. While Medicare can take up to 90 days to pay healthcare providers, the providers plan for that; and don’t bother me with billing hassles.

      7. Katniss Everdeen

        I happen to agree with you on the name “Medicare,” but that’s not really the point.

        Technically, Medicare is a payment system not an actual “healthcare” system. The program makes payments to the private, for profit “healthcare” system which is responsible for the quality and delivery of american “healthcare.”

        It is the private “healthcare” system that is currently failing to do what it gets paid handsomely to do, while blaming its failure on the government’s lack of “preparedness.”

        In for a penny, in for a pound. If you demand premium pricing claiming to provide “healthcare” to an entire nation, you’d better bring your A game in all things “healthcare” including national emergencies. If you have to go crying to the government when you can’t cut it, maybe being with the government is not such a bad place for the rest of us to be as well.

      8. Offtrail

        Every- EVERY- interaction most folks have with a government entity is a crappy experience

        This is a gross misstatement. Is this how people really feel about their public schools, their childrens’ teachers? The Postal Service? The National Park Service? Their local police and firefighters? Their local libraries?

        No. The answer is no.

      9. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “The mistrust of a new government institution is understandable.”

        It is true that if #MedicareForAll (sorry) were to be passed, the next hurdle would be operational capability and constant sabotage and crapification by conservatives and the liberals whose rice bowls it smashed.

        Does make you contemplate the idea that maybe the movement settled for too little, because if you want truly socialized medicine you move toward the NHS model, with a government workforce. Which turns out to be quite resilient (see the military and the Post Office, as well as the NHS which still survives despite Tory attempts to dismember it and sell off the parts).

    4. FluffytheObeseCat

      Hello guys, the author of this drivel is Marc Theissen. He’s been writing extreme, right wing, neoliberal and neocon propaganda for years. It’s all he does, and his very secure berth at the WaPo is indicative of the true interests of its subscriber base, editorial elite, and ownership.

    5. Dennis Brown

      Lets see….Last time I checked Canada had a population of 37M people, roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population of 330M.
      As of April 16, Canada had 27,540 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 954 deaths. That’s a known fatality rate of 3.4%. But of course no one knows what the actual exposure rate is, thus that figure under estimates the true fatality rate.
      Meanwhile, the U.S confirmed case rate is 604,070. With deaths at 25,871. For a known fatality rate of 4.2 percent. (Actual fatality rate still unknown.)

      Clearly there is no proportionality here.Were this disease spreading on a proportional basis per capita the Canadian known case rate would logically be dramatically higher. But it isn’t.

      I’m not saying this to claim that Canadians are any smarter or any better than Americans. But I will assert that the mainstream media hacks who wail away about the horrors of “socialized medicine” should give their heads a shake.

      Could it not be that the case rate in the U.S. is so much worse–particularly in densely populated places like New York City– because people are reluctant to seek medical assistance in the early stages of his disease because they cannot afford to do so? Where as here in Canada such medical assistance is provided without cost–other than the Medical Service Plan annual premium?

      Don’t want to appear to be a smug -know -it -all here–as this virus is teaching us all a little humility- but I’m damned glad I’m living under the “tyranny” of “socialized” medicine at the moment.

      What a pity Bernie gave up at this critical moment in history!!!!!

      1. tongorad

        What a pity Bernie gave up at this critical moment in history!!!!!

        I can’t imagine any Bernie supporter would imagine that he would give up precisely when the stakes couldn’t be higher.
        Unforgivable. I think Jimmy Dore was right. Bernie was driven by the fear of being painted as the next Ralph Nader.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Biden is going to lose. Bernie will get pilloried anyway.

          i wonder how the Demodogs will finesse the next few months and evade any debates with Trump. And how they plan to “destroy Trump’s reputation” in that period. I get maybe a half dozen emails wanting “must have” money sent to some Dem front or other ostensibly to fund the vast negative oppo and advertising that will “Bring Down Trump!” Wonder where all that money will actually go…

          Grifters gotta grift.

        2. jonboinAR

          Fantastic ideas, horrid campaigner. No killer instinct, at all. Very much a gentleman, but big -family blog-, unfortunately, period. Flippin’ tragedy, actually. I’m afraid we’re up -family blog- creek.

    6. Tomonthebeach

      Marc Thiessen’s argument is utter crap. He is comparing the US to a small poor country which was in the process of privatizing its socialized health care system – i.e., caught with its public health pants down around its ankles – while trying to shore up its economy as a pandemic struck. A further handicap to its NHS is that Italy also has a lot of small villages scattered across the country full of frail elderly people with limited access to health care due to transportation, lack of a local clinic, etc.

      Odd is it not, that Thiessen did not use S. Korea or China as a comparison. Can you imagine the USA tossing up a new 2,600-bed hospital in 2 weeks?

      1. Offtrail

        Italy is hardly a “small poor country”. It has the ninth biggest GNP in the world, and the fourth largest population in the EU.

        1. JTMcPhee

          And has been given the “southern periphery” treatment for the last what, 30 years, by the Austerians of the EU. And of course the corruption there is a problem, but that’s nothing special in this world.

          1. curious euro

            All the arguments you bring are relevant to southern Italy, where there is, almost, no pandemic.
            The hard hit part of Italy is Milano to Bergamo, the uttermost north of Italy. The part with all the industry that generates this 9th biggest GDP. Of course there is still lots of corruption, my guess similar to NYC, another pandemic hotspot.

            Since Bergamo is a mountain province, there can be many small villages deep in valleys where it’s hard to get to a doctor or hospital in time tho.

          2. Yves Smith

            It has one of the lowest levels of hospital beds per capita for the EU thanks to austerity.

            And it is poor, it’s had its GDP contract 10% in the past 10 years. A slow-moving depression after the crisis.

  3. prodigalson

    per the morning talk shows, apparently Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil where on Fox news last night re-priming the “just take it on the chin strategy” that went dormant a week or two ago. Seems like attempts to re-invigorate that narrative are being primed across different factions. The money-humpers are afraid, they’d rather sacrifice any number of normies to make sure they don’t have to go the UBI route during the pandemic, and then risk it becoming a permanent feature. The post Reagan consensus ideology is under threat, as well as US cultural mythology of the deserving rich and the lazy poors.

    You can find the videos of Dr. Phil and Oz, the panic for god-money is palatable.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Finding a lot of stuff like this online, especially from conservative commenters such as Joseph Paul Watson & Candace Owens and even on the other side of the political spectrum with people such as Dmitry Orlov. The economy has to be saved. One ex-military blogger wrote-

      ‘To be blunt? We must not sacrifice the nation for the weak and infirm.’

      1. Bsoder

        Then who the hell do you save it for? A long time, as it seems, we left no one behind. That was the whole point of the American Experiment. We are truly pathetic.

      2. prodigalson

        The irony being this plague (not THE plague, but a plague) is going to reach out and touch them eventually. It’s all fun and games until you have a family member who can’t breathe. My great frustration is the inability for people to lock onto the 15-20% hospitalization rate for people who need breathing assistance. Unless you’re an orphan with no friends, your family and friends chains are going to contain people who fall into that unlucky 20%.

        “Well they recover, so no biggie”. That recovery will not be a pleasant or fun experience and there’s open questions about potential short to long term organ damage.

        now add into the mix if there’s mutiple waves of this thing, if immunity doesn’t last as long as we hope, and if new strains mutate over time. Each re-infection gives you another 20% shot at the hospitalization lottery along with everyone else you know who gets it. Eventually this will get personal and then we’ll see how strong America’s idolatry of mammon holds. (being America we’ll likely shrug anyway and it will boil down to, “so long as i’m alive I don’t care”.)

        The worst irony being we could just enact a strong UBI and keep people from needing to work for as long as needed. But only the wealthy are “worthy” of that sort of thing and we still need to garrison the planet and fund wall street to the tune of infinite dollars, so not enough resources to keep our citizens alive with more “important” things to attend to.

      3. Monty

        ‘We must not sacrifice the nation for the weak and infirm.’
        Wasn’t that the message inscribed on the door of Number 4 Tiergartenstrasse?

        1. L

          Isn’t that also what makes abortion and eugenics wrong? I mean I seem to recall some conservatives complaining about that somewhere.

      4. Janie

        An ex-military leader wrote that? Must not be a Marine. Read up on their withdrawal from the Yalu River in the Korean War. A couple of in-laws were there – heroic effort to save all.

    2. Samuel Conner

      I speculate that there’s a “population density correlates with political orientation and severity of outbreak” phenomenon.

      Fox news-heads will generally be from parts of the country with lower population density and a slower-building outbreak.

      I hope that lessons are learned from this. Had we been prepared for aggressive testing and contact tracing timely, we could have “taken it on the chin” by, as Illargi put it in yesterdays link to AE, “crushing the curve” with a nationwide lockdown, and had that been done in February, we might be well into the loosening phase now.

      Back to the Red/Blue Low/High density thing, I wonder if this is going to loosen the bonds of the Federal system. They’re already a bit strained, IMO.

    3. christofay

      Now that the panic in the paper markets is quelled isn’t the crisis over? The congressionalthems have deemed themselves unessential workers after that task was completed; and they sent themselves down to the country.

      1. periol

        Funny you mention that, sounds like some people in England are tired of getting by and actually want to LIVE.

        someone collated the poll numbers from the article on reddit

        54% of people will make a change in their own life due to what they have learned from COVID-19.
        42% of people expressed a greater value towards food.
        38% of people expressed a desire to take up cooking.
        61% are spending less money
        51% have noticed cleaner air, while 27% have noticed a greater abundance of wildlife.
        40% notice a stronger sense of local community.
        39% say they are spending more time connecting with distant family members.

        1. JTMcPhee

          England gave us the Monty Python opening bit with the giant foot coming down out of the clouds to crush the fractious mopes. The Brits know how it works, and because of the electoral system there (akin to the gerrymandering here but without the weight of Tradition and History behind it) are used to ‘getting barely by.’ Austerity is already in the air…

  4. zagonostra

    Since March 11, the Fed printed $2.06 trillion and handed it to Wall Street and asset holders. The sole purpose of this was to inflate asset prices and bail out asset holders. The potential crumbs offered to small businesses or the real economy have not happened yet.

    If the Fed had sent that $2.06 Trillion to the 130 million households in the US, each household would have received $15,800. But forget it, this was helicopter money for Wall Street and for asset holders – particular those with the riskiest bets – and for no one else.

    1. prodigalson

      Bing, Bing, Bing! Funny how we seem to have infinite money for things our society deems worthy.

      1. crittermom

        >”Funny how we seem to have infinite money for things our society deems worthy.”

        Sorry, but that statement bothered me. Let me fix it for ya:
        “Funny how we seem to have infinite money for things our society oligarchs deem worthy.”

    2. Pookah Harvey

      When the helcopter flies over Queens it is loaded with $1200 checks, but when flying to the Hamptons it takes on board $1,700,000 checks.

      “For those earning $1 million annually, a tax break buried in the recent coronavirus relief legislation is so generous that its total cost is more than total new funding for all hospitals in America and more than the total provided to all state and local governments,”

      “Let them eat crumbs”

      1. crittermom

        Thanks for that link. Spells it out quite clearly. I already shared it with some friends.

        I’d like to share it with some Trump-supporting ‘friends’, but don’t care to waste my time trying to educate those who refuse to listen.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Share it with all your friends because it was a very bipartisan effort.

          Throw all the bums out.

    3. ewmayer

      As I commented on the original WS article you link to:

      “..over the past two weeks, [the Fed] has cut its bailouts in half, and it has stopped lending new funds to its SPVs that were expected to buy all manner of securities…”

      That’s because the Fed’s stock-price-reflation program begun when the holy DJIA threatened to break below the 20,000 mark has been highly successful – market rallied 20% at the same time over 20 million American workers were losing their jobs. As soon as the markets catch the next teeny whiff of the unholy price-discovery sniffles, you can be sure that the Fed will quickly resume the Ctrl-P-ing from its magical money-creation terminals over at Maiden Lane.

  5. vlade

    Flattening cases – I had for a long time argued that flattening cases is irrelevnat, as is death counts (sorry, of course the deaths count, but different methodologies for saying what is covid and what is not covid death mean the number is useless as a comparator).

    The best official numbers you can have is the hospital capacity utilisation. It it’s at 100%, the situation is bad (you’ve saturated your system. Yes, it matters how much worse than saturated it is, but you know it’s bad and not improving, it’s just different degrees of bad). When it starts dropping, and builds a real trend there, that’s when the situation is starting to improve.

    1. Bsoder

      Vlade that’s well thought out, but let me tell you what’s going on at one of our NIH hospitals (we had 3 at the start of day, never know with trump). One is the use of ventilators is way down, so less people in ICU. Less people being admitted and released earlier. But then we do send out mds to follow up everyday for 23 days. Based on testing Covid-19 seems pretty stable state infectious especially when people gather in groups. The death rate is fairly steady within a range of 1% to 7%. The difference in rates is something we’re getting a handle on, but good data is still hard to come by. Until and even after there is a vaccine, I fear despite seemingly everyone wish to click their heels three time and go back to the way things were, that just isn’t going to happen. Our so called leaders are acting very irrationally. And Covid-19 is not the only problem we have.

      1. a different chris

        >Our so called leaders are acting very irrationally.

        They assuredly are not.

        You do not climb to the top of system as huge and as entrenched (post WWII I would say most of the markers were laid down) as the Western world is now without being heavily adapted to that particular system.

        They will no longer be in charge if the system falls, or even changes to any particular degree. It would be like being a fish when the stream dries up. Of course they wouldn’t actually die, but being sociopaths all they care about is their power.

        1. Trent

          AHHHHHH Another Chris, you’ve figured it out. Your last section explains every action that has been taken since 2008 and why we continually have bailouts for the rich and capitalism for everyone else. The people that rule us are illegitimate based on the criteria they subject us all to. People just haven’t figured it out yet.

      2. Carolinian

        good data is still hard to come by

        The relevant part of your comment. No offense to anyone here but I think we all should stop pretending to be experts–and I realize that you are more expert that some of us–on something that is still so little understood. For example will the disease fade in the summer? What are the true death rates? Is it even fully understood how the disease is transmitted?

        What we do know is that we can’t turn something that will unfortunately afflict some of the people into something that will disastrously afflict all of the people. The desire to reopen the economy is not just some Republican plot but an acknowledgement that there are other diseases besides Covid and long periods of unemployment are likely to be psychologically scarring as well as financially devastating. By turning everything into a morality tale you ignore that morality is a very selective and inaccurate weapon. The truth is that the lockdown itself is a big social experiment with many unknowns and something that would not have been possible to this extent in a pre computer age. I wonder if those news anchors in their basements or the PMCs working at home would be quite so scolding if their jobs were on the block. True humanism is a matter of empathy, even for the people you don’t like.

        1. Monty

          Sounds a lot like what Dr Oz etc are saying. What happened to the Hippocratic oath with these TV doctors anyway?

          Why not just pay people to stay home until the danger has passed? It wouldn’t be forever. Then we don’t have to throw anyone under the bus.

          1. Carolinian

            Jobs aren’t just about money. They are also of course about our need for those jobs to be done but also about giving people some purpose and activity other than sitting at home watching TV. Just to repeat what I said, there’s seems to be this attitude that taking societies off lockdown would be a dangerous social experiment but that putting healthy people on lockdown for extended periods is not also a dangerous social experiment. We act as though twenty year olds going to work at a grocery store are making some titanic sacrifice by the small risk that they are taking (and that can be minimized with masks, gloves etc) whereas they may be grateful to simply have a job so they can feed their kids. And when you do lockdown and flatten the curve it has to be asked to what end? Are we really going to lockdown until a vaccine arrives in the second half of 2021 (per the vaccine link above)? This defies common sense.

            It was appropriate to shut things down for a time but this cannot last for months.

            1. Monty

              Outside of the major outbreak areas, the economy is barely locked down in most of the country. There is reduced demand. People don’t want to get themselves or their families sick. There is no pronouncement the government can make other than, “Here is a 100% effective cure” that is going to bring demand for “Dave and Busters” back to 2019 levels, so some of the jobs will stay lost no matter what we wish for.

              Furthermore, many places are hiring. Essential businesses are all showing “help wanted” signs around here. It’s a match made in heaven: unemployed, bored and not worried about the virus, then please help out and work for an essential business if you don’t want to watch TV.

              In AZ the roads and parking lots are busy, you can even go and play golf if you like. The only things that you cant do are: eat in at restaurants, go to bars, movie theaters, gather in large groups or watch sports or concerts at big venues. Perfectly sensible whilst there is a highly contagious virus around. I saw 15 SUVs lined up outside Starbucks yesterday. I see tradesmen, construction and landscapers all beavering away all over the place. It’s hardly the prison planet you are making it out to be. If your state is more locked down more than that, maybe it’s because they have a serious outbreak, and they would like to keep it from getting out of hand?

              1. Carolinian

                No SC’s deaths per 100k figure is about the same as Az or for that matter a significant slice of the rest of the country. What you left off is that schools in AZ have been declared shutdown until next September and this is a major burden on parents who have to arrange for childcare and that primary school kids need a different kind of instruction than may work for high school and college students. And of course things aren’t normal at all even if you can still golf. The unemployment figures in my state and most of the country are huge so clearly quite a few people are out of work beyond baseball players or movie theater managers. In SC the governor declared all non essential businesses to be closed although that will probably be eased soon (to much outcry?).

                What I’m mostly saying is that practical decisions are going to have to be made and to place some Manichean or politically partisan frame around it is inappropriate. Indeed one would wish that our country could deal with this great natural disaster without so much petty bickering. Yes Trump is trying to exploit things to his advantage but then so is Cuomo. You can’t say either one of them have covered themselves with glory.

                1. Monty

                  I have a kid in school here and I welcomed the closure. They shut the schools because parents didn’t want to invite the virus into their homes, potentially killing beloved family members. At our local school, attendance fell off a cliff because parents refused to send their kids in before they shut it down.
                  In AZ, summer break starts in May every year, so who would really be bearing the bigger burden? The parent looking after their own kid for a few extra weeks, or the one losing their mom or dad because someone sent their kid in to school sick?

                  1. Carolinian

                    Well of course parents are only going by what the media tell them. In Sweden they kept the primary schools open but made the high schoolers and college students go to online. I’m not going to violate my own complaint and pretend to be an expert, but it seems kids get the disease without symptoms and it’s not at all clear whether they can then transmit it to teachers or family members. Perhaps Sweden can tell us how many grade school teachers have gotten sick. At least one statistical study has said that about half the people get sick from the pre-symptomatic, not asymptomatic people like children, and about half from symptomatic carriers and the remaining ten percent or so from environmental factors.

                    In any case what makes you think it will be gone by September? It may go into a summer lull and come roaring back for phase 2 come fall.

                    1. Monty

                      I am old enough to remember when all the wing-nuts hated Sweden with a passion. Something to do with the rapey resident’s of it’s islamic ghettos and socialistic policies that helped fake asylum seeking jihadis to relocate there and terrorize blonde women.


                      It’s mildly amusing seeing them all singing Sweden’s praises all of a sudden, now it is doing something their ruling class masters advocate.

                      I don’t doubt this new found enthusiasm will be thrown down the memory hole, when their “bold experiment” ends in tragedy.

                2. Astrid

                  I’m pretty sure you can go to work now for Instacart or an Amazon warehouse now, if you’re so desperate to get back under the crack of a managerial whip. Most people hate their jobs and only do it because the alternative is starvation.

                  As for kids. If you can’t bear to spend time with your kids for an extra few weeks, you shouldn’t have had them in the first place. I believe you’re actually aged out of that range, so this sounds more like a trope you’re trying to bludgeon others into submissions with, when most real people with kids prefer keeping their family safe.

                  The current situation is awful for vast majority of people, but it’s awful because the oligarchs and their elected handmaiden’s made it so. UBI, debt payment freeze, properly paying frontline workers, and free healthcare at point of service would have been fine. Probably preferable to employment system designed to disempower and immiseration the workers. Most can bear a quarantine just fine if we don’t live under a system where one must submit to work just to eat and get a roof over our heads. I don’t see this level of desperation elsewhere in the developed world, just amongst the poor in places like Brazil, India, and Indonesia.

                  1. Carolinian

                    “extra few weeks”–I said I thought that was appropriate. Extra few months–you’re the parent. You tell me.

                    And sorry if we don’t live in a socialist utopia–which I’m all for –but over there in an actual socialist utopia (according to Bernie) school is in session. We should ask them how it’s going. Sweden’s mortality rate has surged in the past week or two but it’s still below UK, France, Spain, Italy and way way below NYC. Reportedly much of this is among the immigrant communities that live near Stockholm. I’d say they are doing the world a great favor by taking a different path, to the extent they are, and seeing how it goes. It’s not a perfect model of course because of the low population (not that much bigger than SC) and low population density..

                    1. Astrid

                      Sweden’s current government is not socialist, it’s Neoliberal and working very hard to push the Overton Window neoliberally.

                      Sweden is a few weeks behind the countries in the heart of Europe. Compare Sweden to other Nordic countries on COVID-19

                      Few weeks is an accurate description considering kids get out by late May to early June anyways. But you’d rather release them into infect each other and their families, right at the current peak of COVID19. Again, if keeping kids around for a few weeks or months or years is what it takes to make sure my family stays intact and not medically bankrupt, I would take a page from home schoolers and figure it out.

                      Things will be bad no matter what, but the proper response is to get angry and stay angry at those who got us here and seek to trap us and future generations in this terrible situation. But you would rather fall in line with DeVos and Trump, and say that deaths, especially non white deaths, are acceptable collateral damage.

                    2. Monty

                      The people that own this country got a multi trillion dollar bailout and bought stocks at “the lows”, once the Fed showed fealty and offered unlimited Q.E. They would dearly love to click their heels and have us all back at our posts productively boosting the EPS on their new discount investments.
                      I understand why they don’t care about our weak, old and disheveled now, because they never did… but why do you feel the need to carry water for them? What do you get out of it? That’s the big mystery for me.

                    3. Carolinian

                      Astrid we’ve run out of reply buttons but you make the claim that kids will infect their parents when from what I read it’s more likely to be the other way around. What we do know is that the virus doesn’t appear to take a strong enough hold on children for them to get sick. And therefore it’s not illogical that they are not shedding enough virus to make others sick although that’s just a supposition.

                      In any case there may well be parents who don’t agree with you–who really need schools to take care of their children during the day and feed them– and you are making that choice for them. I don’t claim to have any answers to all of this but I do think we should hear both sides without accusing those who disagree of bad faith.

                    4. Astrid

                      Care to provide a legitimate citation or two on that point? Kids have died from Covid19 and many more have tested positive. It’s pretty clear that asymptomatic transmission is also responsible for a good proportion of all infections.

                      This is so infectious and tenacious that we have to wipe down our groceries and can be transmitted to people 20 feet away. It’s so new that we have no real idea of how it infects, how it kills, what can be done done to break transmission and heal the sick. But you want to do away with the precautionary principle before we learn enough to make it less deadly to the populace? All because one mustn’t keep kids at home with their parents, unlike 98% of history?

              2. Wyoming

                I live in AZ as well and I have a slightly different take on what we are seeing. Foolishness. As many here are into the “It is not bad here so we can do what we want.” I see inappropriate distancing all over the place – not just among the construction workers and tradesmen. In my walks around my neighborhood some of the people I talk to are openly complaining about restrictions. “It is my RIGHT to do what I want.” One has to order some of them to not come close. One lady would not listen to a friend of mine about that (she still believes it is a liberal plot) and she kept walking right at him. So he took a swing at her with his cane. Now she stays on the other side of the road lol. I could go on.

                Here in AZ we are just getting going. We are not near the peak yet or any plateau. Cases have jumped big the last two days and deaths went up significantly as well.

                We do have to figure out how to keep the economy afloat. But we are forcing those who have no options to lobby for just going back at it because we chose (as always) to take care of the rich and their stock portfolios vice doing something to help the 99%. So we back ourselves into a corner. One can be pretty certain that we will never do what we should until we have exercised all other options. But where we end up will be significantly different than what is was like 6 months ago.

                1. Rageon

                  You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.
                  Winston Churchill

                2. Carolinian

                  I go to Arizona all the time. It’s the only place where I’ve been in a restaurant and a guy at a neighboring table had a six shooter on his belt. They also don’t show a lot of respect for government land and break through fences with their ATVs etc. They had speed cameras on the freeways for awhile but that ended when one of the operators got shot and killed.

                  It’s also as you know a state full of the elderly and retired so it would be surprising if it didn’t go up. At least you have plenty of hospitals.

                  In my state of the hundred or so deceased almost all were listed as elderly with underlying conditions. There have been a handful of “middle aged” but nobody described as young.

                  1. flora

                    Indeed. Expect this to come soon to my uni.
                    Adding: Is Roy still your bb coach? He’s a good coach, but if coaching/sports stays untouched while faculty/educations is stripped… cart before horse, imo … etc.

                3. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > We do have to figure out how to keep the economy afloat. But we are forcing those who have no options to lobby for just going back at it because we chose (as always) to take care of the rich and their stock portfolios vice doing something to help the 99%. So we back ourselves into a corner.


              3. Yves Smith

                Huh? Even here in redneck Alabama, only essential businesses are open. Can’t do much with bars, movies, stores, gyms, and even the zoo closed.

            2. Katniss Everdeen

              Carolinian, you’re just going to have to endure four or five weeks of vilification until the definition of “morality” flips around again which, I can pretty much guarantee, will happen.

              When the effects of the financial devastation resulting from this lockdown manifest and the hysteria currently being generated is in the rear view mirror, I have no doubt that “morality” will come to favor those who should have been released from house arrest sooner so that they could go to work and pay their bills.

              Not that those unfortunate souls will be worthy of any meaningful rescue, mind you. More along the lines of Trump should have seen what a bad position he was putting these people in and called it off much sooner because what are they supposed to do now that their house has been foreclosed on and they are homeless with bad credit and there’s nothing that we can do because they promised the bank they would pay and they had a contract and it’s not the bank’s fault…..I could go on.

              1. periol

                If that happens I seriously doubt the newly foreclosed and homeless with bad credit will forget that this virus entered and spread through the United States because the wealthy like to fly around the world to shoot tigers in the jungle and meet face-to-face with factoryslavemanagers in China and play in the snow and party on the ocean.

                It wasn’t the housekeepers in Malibu or the undocumented nannies in the Upper East Side or the “essential” workers in Detroit or the truckers who brought coronavirus here. We are in this crisis because the oligarchs shipped production overseas, then spend their time partying overseas. And they couldn’t be bothered to stop when the danger was clear.

                The wealthy have destroyed this country, and if there is a crash-and-burn with millions entering a new level of poverty, those millions will have a moral reckoning with the slope bunnies and the cruisers and the flyers and the Hampton freezer owners.

                  1. periol

                    Maybe you think the USA can handle a wave of millions of foreclosures, millions more evictions, and millions of bankruptcies, both corporate and personal.

                    I don’t.

                    Whatever comes next won’t look like before. Historians say it took 40 years for the laboring class to maximize it’s strength after the Black Death. Change always happens slower than we think it should, until it doesn’t.

                1. Susan the other

                  Lots of good Links today, one of which (not going back to check, sorry) speculated that the 1929 crash brought about Fascism in Europe and WW2. I think it is just the opposite. I think that Fascism in Europe and the US and the British Empire all competed to cause instability in the early 1900s, the phenomenon of central banking, the First World War, complete with the Spanish Flu; the roaring 20s (in an effort to let the “market” pay off the expense of WWI, while keeping US industrialism strong); and the subsequent tragedies of the 1929 – 1945 economic crash (commonly known as the Great Depression – a nebulous thing without attribution), completing itself with WW2 and the long struggle to create a capitalist-friendly world. The ruins of which we are now witnessing. In total denial.

                  1. periol

                    Don’t forget grandaddy Prescott Bush’s involvement with funding the Nazis…


                    In 1924, his father-in-law, a well-known St Louis investment banker, helped set him up in business in New York with Averill Harriman, the wealthy son of railroad magnate E H Harriman in New York, who had gone into banking.

                    One of the first jobs Walker gave Bush was to manage UBC. Bush was a founding member of the bank and the incorporation documents, which list him as one of seven directors, show he owned one share in UBC worth $125.

                    The bank was set up by Harriman and Bush’s father-in-law to provide a US bank for the Thyssens, Germany’s most powerful industrial family.

                    By the time Fritz Thyssen inherited the business empire in 1926, Germany’s economic recovery was faltering. After hearing Adolf Hitler speak, Thyssen became mesmerised by the young firebrand. He joined the Nazi party in December 1931 and admits backing Hitler in his autobiography, I Paid Hitler, when the National Socialists were still a radical fringe party. He stepped in several times to bail out the struggling party: in 1928 Thyssen had bought the Barlow Palace on Briennerstrasse, in Munich, which Hitler converted into the Brown House, the headquarters of the Nazi party. The money came from another Thyssen overseas institution, the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvarrt in Rotterdam.

                    By the late 1930s, Brown Brothers Harriman, which claimed to be the world’s largest private investment bank, and UBC had bought and shipped millions of dollars of gold, fuel, steel, coal and US treasury bonds to Germany, both feeding and financing Hitler’s build-up to war.

                1. Katniss Everdeen


                  Five of the bossy ‘bots on Tuesday began barking orders such as “STOP gathering!” while soaring above parks and other public hotspots, according to NBC New York.

                  “These drones will be around the City with an automated message from the Mayor telling you to STOP gathering, disperse and go home,” the police department announced on Facebook. “Summonses HAVE AND WILL CONTINUE to be issued to those found in violation. Fines are up to $1000. You have been advised.”

                  The msnbs video, which I’m still looking for, mentions backyards as well and is positively chilling.


                  You. Have. Been. “Advised.”

                  1. Trent


                    “Now it is 1984, a knock knock at your front door. Its the suede denim secret police, they have come for your uncool niece. Come quietly to the camp You’d look nice as a drawstring lamp
                    Don’t you worry, it’s only a shower For your clothes here’s a pretty flower…”

                  2. Monty

                    Sorry, I thought house arrest involved being locked in your house, and not being allowed to leave. Silly me.

                    1. ivoteno

                      indeed. until the $1000 fines become onerous, one is free to go about their business. only in america!

                    2. Monty

                      If you can show me one case where an individual was fined $1000 just for leaving their home, I’ll give you $1000.

                  3. Lambert Strether Post author

                    Next, anti-vax? Because all the same anti-public health arguments apply just as forcefully. Honestly, it’s like Maggie Thatcher saying “society does not exist.”

                    “Wages and consumption, being necessary to the security of Capital, the right of the people to infect others, shall not be infringed.”

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                > When the effects of the financial devastation resulting from this lockdown manifest and the hysteria currently being generated is in the rear view mirror, I have no doubt that “morality” will come to favor those who should have been released from house arrest sooner so that they could go to work and pay their bills.

                The comparison of quarantine for public health reasons to house arrest is pernicious and vile.

            3. deplorado

              I personally feel like calling bull on this even though I know you believe you are talking common sense.

              For most people, jobs is not what gives them purpose and even a reason for physical or mental activity. Because most jobs do not rise to the level of inspiring purpose and even voluntary non-economically coerced action.

              The purpose of my job is to help me take care of my family and accumulate enough assets to have some freedom from the clock in my “golden” years. Most jobs are bullshit jobs and some are even downright harmful. Working less and thinking more, and having time to spend with your family and friends would be a better basis for a healthy purpose in life.

              So, think about it again. Yeah I understand the people need to be able to work. That’s like saying “people need to be able stay alive”. It’s a grim statement on the condition of millennia of human “advancement” if we must continue to toil at shitty jobs (read “shitty bosses’ and/or health hazards) in order to stay alive and be animated by a purpose. But yeah we must suffer through it all because that’s the economic system we’ve built.

              The abyss that Covid reveals is so deep that most people are not even able to see it.

              Imagine what climate change will do.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                >> So, think about it again. Yeah I understand the people need to be able to work. That’s like saying “people need to be able stay alive”. It’s a grim statement on the condition of millennia of human “advancement” if we must continue to toil at shitty jobs (read “shitty bosses’ and/or health hazards) in order to stay alive and be animated by a purpose. But yeah we must suffer through it all because that’s the economic system we’ve built.

                I am extremely lucky to have meaningful work (due to fast-eroding class privilege). But it is true that for most, selling their labor is done to survive and for altruistic reasons. So, rather than simply work out how to pass through wages for the duration (see Canada; Tlaib), elites use people’s need to survive and desire/responsibility to care for others as whips to force them back into lethal situations, for elite profit. Yeah, yeah, USA, USA, freedom, liberty, no tyranny, blah blah blah. Complete erasure of the real power relations.

            4. Lambert Strether Post author

              > It was appropriate to shut things down for a time but this cannot last for months.

              Some people are acting as if not being able to go to the Garden Center for lawn fertilizer is like living through all 900 days Siege of Leningrad. I think they should grow a pair.

              In general, I think the attitude that “I’m an American, I can do what I want” is driving a lot of the so-called protests, and its utterly pernicious and should be fought where encountered and in no way respected. These creeps don’t give a single solitary damn that covid spreads asymptomatically and that they could infect others. It’s not their risk to take!

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Thats certainly true, but even hospital figures can be misleading. In some countries the big impact is in nursing homes and in many cases they are choosing not to move these people to hospitals. There is also an element of ‘slack’ in the system depending on how they are moving both Covid and non-Covid cases around the system. I know here in Ireland there are some hospitals exceeding capacity, while others are sitting empty, but they are reluctant to shuffle too many cases around for fear of exposing too many people, and using up ambulance capacity. There is also of course that sending patients for ICU or putting them on ventilators is a clinical decision – there may well be very varied criteria for this across hospitals and different countries.

      1. Trent

        According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on 4/16 half of all death in PA have been in nursing homes.

  6. divadab

    Re: 20% Covid-19 positivity rate in USA

    The article argues that even though daily testing has increased twenty-five-fold, there are still not enough tests to test other than the symptomatic population. But – surely if the percentage infected is staying about the same, this means the virus is pretty much generally distributed in the population?

    1. voteforno6

      I think a lot of that is dependent on the criteria required to be tested. Have those been loosened at all? If so, then maybe that would apply. If not, then that’s probably a strong indication that the breakout still isn’t under control. More likely, it means that more people are getting sick than before, and that the virus hasn’t peaked yet.

  7. ramon

    One has to question the writer of US decline, Three strokes and your out.
    Switzerland has a 50% higher deaths per head of population than the US. Very easy to check, if the writer gets that wrong what else is wrong.

    1. The Historian

      It really is a little too soon to compare death rates, isn’t lit?

      Switzerland peaked in early March and the number of new cases has dropped considerably. The US may be peaking right now, the data seems to be too choppy to tell yet, but it is obvious that there are MANY more deaths to come until our number of new cases drops as low as Switzerland’s when we actually CAN compare death rates per population.

      As to the author’s statement about Switzerland, i.e., “And this umpire, from behind the plate in Switzerland where the health care system is functioning and people feel secure that the government is doing a respectable job, is calling strike three. “, it is only his opinion, but it seems to me to be a pretty valid opinion.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe a better way to get a handle on these figures is to add the recorded deaths and those that have recovered as that is the total of cases that have been resolved. So Switzerland has 1,317 recorded deaths and 15,900 recovered cases. I think that if you work it all out, that it gives a death rate of over 7% which is not good. Perhaps their medical establishment was overwhelmed. This way of doing it breaks down of course if the figures are a bit dodgy. The UK, for example, list only those deaths in hospitals and not those in nursing homes or people’s homes.

        1. The Historian

          Or maybe we can be patient and stop trying to compare ourselves to others when no such comparison is valid because we just don’t have the numbers. A couple of things to consider: 1) testing rate, 2) age differences, and 3) reporting differences. Those haven’t been taken into account in any death totals yet.

        2. td

          If you use that math, deaths vs. recovered, the worldwide death rate is 21%. I think the numbers for recovered are very low because they only include clinically diagnosed people, and none of the milder cases who showed no symptoms or were unable to get tested.

          By the way, US testing numbers have been flat for a week. One way to keep diagnoses in check is to not test too much.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > US testing numbers have been flat for a week. One way to keep diagnoses in check is to not test too much.

            Bad numbers seem to be a general feature of our political economy. Economic statistics are, to varying degrees, gamed; vote counts are gamed; polls are gamed. And now test counts are bad. One thinks that “the numbers” are generated with little friction by institutions built for public purpose and operating according to fixed rules. I’m not sure when that dream died, exactly, but I think that historians will draw the line somewhere around Florida 2000 and Bush v. Gore, where the voter rolls, the balloting process, the ballot counting process, and the reporting were all gamed. And we’re now 20 years into the rot.

        3. Tom Bradford

          The population of Switzerland is 8.5 million. Pop. of New Zealand 5 million.

          As at today NZ has had 1,422 recorded cases of which 11 have died and 867 recovered leaving a ‘live’ balance of 544. The peak of ‘live’ infections was on or about 5 April at just over 900 and it’s been falling since – just 8 new cases yesterday and 11 today. So that’s a death rate of 0.75% – and I believe all the deaths were of people over 70, some in their 90’s and with “pre-existing conditions”.

          All but a couple of the existing cases can be linked to known clusters and a random check of staff and customers at a supermarket in Queenstown revealed no carriers. Random testing in other centers is underway, but the ‘vibes’ from the powers-that-be is that community transmission isn’t happening.

          Are these figures accurate? I’ve no reason to doubt them. All non-essential hospital use was cancelled three weeks ago and with only 12 Covid cases hospitalised nationally I suspect the staff are sitting around twiddling their thumbs. The PM and Public Health folk have given regular press conferences and I can’t think of any reason they should be less than up-front. We’ve been in lockdown three-and-a-half weeks with pretty tight social distancing which should have seen all mild or asymptomatic cases splutter out, and rest/nursing homes have been checked for piles of bodies in sheds out the back without, as far as I know, finding any.

          I’m no good at math but the discrepancy in numbers between Switzerland and New Zealand defies any kind of explanation. From the population graph on the above page it would seem that the virus affected the adult population pretty evenly across all ages but fatal only for the over-70’s and highly vulnerable – had it not got into one particular rest-home we’d only have half the fatalities.

          But if there are any lessons to be learned by comparing Switzerland and New Zealand I’m damned if I can see them.

          1. Wukchumni

            You can sense that the USA is about to come undone with the President fomenting revolution in states with Democrat Governors, pushing imbeciles to do his bidding for him.

            When I watch Jacinda speaking, it’s a complete 180 degree contrast, full of hope and a feeling of accomplishment for a job really well done, and she’s bringing your country together, not tearing it apart.

            I’d prefer being in NZ, frankly.

      2. Lynne

        I know some are pushing the idea that US numbers are peaking now, but that seems based on numbers in NYC. Out here in SD, the consistent message has been that it’s still on the way, with our peak now predicted for June. And, BTW, if you want yet another example of the parallel universe that Rachel Maddow inhabits,
        has a link to Maddow’s rant about the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls. It’s an epic rant, unfortunately not at all accurate, so true to her style.

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          Here in the UK which I believe is about the size of Illinois, it is not hard to see the time lapse between London & the rest of the country, with the West Midlands being a 100 or so miles North of the capital increasingly becoming a hotspot & where I am in Northern Ireland being about 350 miles away from the epicenter apparently 2 weeks behind it’s eventual peak.

          I imagine that in the US due to it’s vastly larger size that the same phenomenon would be apparent but likely much more complicated & take much more time – although as I am hoping is the case here that outliers will not suffer as much due to the timing of the lockdown, which should have been earlier for those hit first.

  8. Samuel Conner

    The Derek Lowe ‘blog-post is indeed a “must read”

    This line especially caught my attention:

    “The mention the other day of younger recovering Covid-19 patient who don’t seem to have developed antibodies is an example of that very problem: a really robust innate response could clear the virus in an infected person, but leave them without much long-term immunity.”

    This stimulates nervous thoughts (perhaps wrongly; is “low symptom” compatible with rapid clearance by innate immune response) about the high prevalence of “low symptom” infections and what that might mean in terms of vulnerability to re-infection.

    My take-away — adjuvants, which promote cellular immunity (antibodies, which can be longer-lasting than innate immunity) may be super important.


    Dr Lowe mentioned that cellular immunity tends to be stronger in vaccines that promote a strong reaction at the injection site. It has been noted in reporting on the BCG vaccine, which appears to confer some protection from COVID-19, that it stimulates a very strong local reaction, leading to a permanent scar at the injection site.

    Thinking cynically, even if it were found to be highly protective, BCG vaccine is probably much too inexpensive to be widely deployed in US. What’s the point of protecting the population if there isn’t profit in it for capital?

    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      There are three types of T Cells that play a role in immunity:

      1-Cytotoxic T cells – Kills the virus (and cancer by the way) (CD8+)
      2-Regulatory T cells – Controls Cytokine Release (Inflammation, Plays a role in Mood Disorders) (CD4+ Type I)

      3-Helper T cells – Activates B Cells to release Antibodies (CD4+ Type II) (This is probably where the BCG vaccination helps)

      So it looks like for the young it is balanced in favor of 1 and 2, and for the old it is mostly 3. T Cells originate in the bone marrow and mature in the thymus.
      (Does this give new meaning to “knowing it in my bones”?). This change is normal with aging.

      Any T Cell deficiency will make you worse off. But zinc deficiency, aging, and a shrinking thymus is linked to a shift towards lower #2 (Regulatory T Cells) and more of a reliance on #3 (Helper T Cells). This would mean more complications from novel viral infections.

      So maybe the BCG vaccination helps the young fight the virus and shrinks the length of time it is contagious, and therefore lowers the R0? By the way BCG cannot be given to people with any type of SCID and can cause drug induced Lupus. TB and Lupus are seen to make the likely hood of each other more likely.

    2. Susan the other

      Thanks SC, that was one of my questions the other day but I wasn’t very clear. Another question I now have which I will also muddle is: What is the likelihood of a DNA or M-RNA vaccine causing an auto-immune response which attacks the body, the myelin sheaths, etc, possibly causing Guillain Barre Syndrome and/or death. Are DNA/M-RNA vaccines less likely to create a deadly reaction because they are/seem more naturally occurring because they start in the genetic material rather than looking like a dangerous invader? I’m sorry, I can barely articulate this question, let alone speculate.

  9. xkeyscored

    US alerted Israel, NATO to disease outbreak in China in November — report Times of Israel

    I read the NYT article claiming the US spooks and related agencies were warning of potential catastrophe in November, and I wasn’t convinced. So far as I recall, they had information that such reports were being presented to senior officials in December, and someone deduced that based on previous experience, this must have meant the reports were prepared in November. Pretty dubious logic, especially given that scientific data points to the very first human cases occurring in November, and not diagnosed or inferred as such until later.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’ve seen it suggested that the warnings were of a small bubonic plague outbreak which occurred mid 2019 in China and in October in Mongolia. But it suits the intelligence agencies to seem like they are on the ball. All the evidence I’ve seen indicates that this is far too early – the virus only definitively emerged in humans in December. We do know however that the Taiwanese very early on realised that the Chinese (with WHO co-operation) were lying about human to human transmission.

      1. larry

        IIRC, we shouldn’t forget the Chinese doctor who mentioned the existence of a new virus in September, who has since sadly died from covid-19, the virus he saw. The government pooh-pooohed what he said and effectively shut him off. Not much seemed to happen until November when things began to kick off a little.

            1. xkeyscored

              Here you go, from your own source:

              “On December 30, 2019 Dr Wenliang noticed some patients quarantined for pneumonia and test were carried out on them.”

            1. Monty

              “On 30 December he sent a message to fellow doctors in a chat group warning them about the outbreak and advising they wear protective clothing to avoid infection. ”

              Chinese whispers in action!

        1. MLTPB

          In light of asymptomatic spread, the post Dec 31 passenger inspection would have helped, but still missed a lot.

          And the Jan 23 b*n*ing Wuhan was 1 week earlier than ours (which applied to all from China), which was also ordered by Taibei, per above, on Feb 6.

          One response early, the other late, compared with us.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > We do know however that the Taiwanese very early on realised that the Chinese (with WHO co-operation) were lying about human to human transmission.

        Could use a link on that. Seems to me the intelligence agencies are feeding a coming “Who’s tougher on China?” narrative for 2020.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          It was widely reported that Taiwan warned WHO on 31 December of evidence of human to human transmission. Its based on claims made by the Taiwan health ministry, and I’ve seen it reported in a series of timelines – WHO have said that the warning was not specific enough.

          From what I know, Taiwan is blaming WHO for trying to avoid any contact with Taiwan, so their warning had to be ‘informal’. The very rapid response by Taiwan certainly indicates to me that they were worried before anyone else, and of all countries, they would have the best informal intelligence of what’s going on in China. However, I think they also have an incentive to exaggerate their own intelligence on this, so its hard to be sure.

        2. xkeyscored

          From what I can gather, ‘lying’ is a bit inaccurate, and I nearly picked PK up on it last night. IIRR, the China/WHO line for a while was along the lines of ‘no proof of human-human transmission’, which was probably true in a technical sense, and it still isn’t too clear just how transmissible and infectious it is (how important are asymptomatic carriers, etc).

          As for intelligence agencies etc, surely they’re supposed to be able to read between the lines rather than take government statements at face value. I do it automatically with any official statement, as do many of us at NC. Dr Li Wenliang and Taiwan ~ Jan 1; a week later WHO arrives in Wuhan; a week later human-human transmission confirmed; a week later Wuhan locked down and cases in 7+ countries. All dates and facts approximate and from memory, but surely enough for governments and intelligence agencies to sit up and take notice, whatever soothing platitudes WHO/China were spouting in public. Not to mention they had access to information we didn’t.

          There are many reasons, some highly valid and explored elsewhere on NC, why China and the WHO didn’t declare a pandemic on January 1 or 15th or whenever. Avoiding panic, crying wolf, not being sure themselves, hoping to contain it, economic and political fallout, etc etc. None of that excuses other countries, especially developed countries with supposedly advanced medical and intelligence agencies, for failing to act when they had so much warning.

    2. MLTPB

      Even if they did alert in November, what sort of warning?

      Were they expecting a SARS like event, with N America and Europe relatively quiet, and infections mostly in Asia or elsewhere?

      It’s about 18 years from then to today. Before the Italian cases, it was again mostly in Asia though the first patient was in Italy. We might speculate why?

      Has there been more commerce or trade between N Italy and China, in the intervening 18m years?

      Could SARS have been more like COVID 19, had globalism been this widespread, this intensified back then?

      1. xkeyscored

        SARS was much easier to track, as basically everyone who got it became very ill. Even then it spread out of Asia.
        With this one, it appears to be highly contagious with a longish incubation period, and able to spread before or often without symptoms. So it’s probably circulating in countries and communities before anyone knows, unless there’s testing.

        1. MLTPB

          That’s a good point, about Corona and asymptomatic.

          Was everyone fighting ths last ‘war , even with the intel?

          In Nov, 2019, could they have warned about asymptomatic spread, it being in the air for hours, travelling 10+ ft, border closings (politically sensitive), hesitancy in declaring it pandemic?

          What did NATO receive content wise? What did they do with it, in light of the situation in Europe?

          And in 2002, the first Italian patient likely would not have travelled from China to Italy, I believe. It was globalism, but not today’s globalism.

    3. Susan the other

      but just today they are saying (above somewhere) that the incubation period from first human transmission to pandemic is 8 weeks. That’s two months… so it makes it seem fairly reasonable that the spooks had their first inkling 4 weeks in advance….

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Inclined to Putrefaction”

    ‘Rondinelli recorded that some elite Florentines worried that quarantine ‘would give [the poor] the opportunity to be lazy and lose the desire to work, having for forty days been provided abundantly for all their needs’.’

    This is quite true this. I read about the plague and its effect on Florence years ago and there were some people that were against feeding the poor with this faction being controlled, if I remember correctly, by Signora Annetta Pelosi and Signor Carlo Schumero.

    1. a different chris

      And of course this is how the idle leisure class – they don’t see themselves as idle, they bustle around and give orders and argue with each other, but lift heavy things they do not – thinks.

      *I* would expect those poor to say: “hey I will work as hard as ever once I get back but there seems to be a bit more that you could be paying me, no?”

      People get bored sitting around. Work to a certain degree is welcomed by almost everybody (insert snide remarks about your brother-in-law here). As always, people who make broad statements about other people are generally revealing themselves.

  11. Off The Street

    The Steele Matter, perhaps a title for a Ludlum thriller, brings to mind Hanlon’s Razor*.

    *Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    Steele and his allegedly unindicted co-conspirators seem to have mixed up the appropriate proportions of stupidity and malice while doing their dossier do-si-do. Perhaps they were trying for the Aubergine’s Razor variation^ but time pressures and miscommunication got the better of them.

    ^It is dangerous to attribute to stupidity that which could be the result of malice or guile.

    Maybe CalPERS has a parolee work option to help those proto-indictees in need of reintegrating to society. They seem as qualified as the next person. :p

    1. Susan the other

      “the Steele Matter” is so very hilarious… The Russians didn’t do it so they pretended like they did. This can morph forever. I wonder if Boris signed off on this bit, “ok to publish.”

    2. ewmayer

      Ah, but don’t forget the less-known converse of Hanlon’s Razor, Grey’s Law: “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.” And that leads naturally to a corollary, “Any sufficiently advanced form of malice is indistinguishable from incompetence.” How to decide which applies in various “missteps were, um, mis-stepped-upon” circumstances?

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Conservative group linked to DeVos family organizes protest of coronavirus restrictions in Michigan”

    I noticed that all the cars that you saw in yesterday’s Links about this event were pretty nice but I failed to recognize those people. Then today the penny dropped when I thought about how one women complained that she could not get her employees back at the moment nor go to a hair salon. They were all Karens, even the men-

    1. Louis Fyne

      To empathize…a lot of Left and Right mass protests in America are astroturfed, just saying.

      In much of America there is no social net apart from the neighors and the churches—which does no good if their entire community gets hit with the corona-neutron bomb.
      people have to work or starve cuz no cavalry is coming to the rescue

      And instead of Democrats/progressives being empathetic-sympathetic…maybe even building a coalition with “deplorables” for a temp. universal basic income, we see pithy, dismissive sentiment lime the tweet up top

      What a wasted opportunity to reach out and build a supra-identity coalition.

      .and gov witmer isn’t helping with her draconian essentials-only sales ban

      1. xkeyscored

        Democrats empathetic? Some, maybe. But I saw this today on The Daily Wire (a Ben Shapiro thing), which isn’t likely to make Republicans, Trump fans or deplorables want to rally behind the Democratic Party, especially now the one presidential candidate who appealed to some of them has dropped out in favour of Biden. And so far as I know, it’s true.

        ‘LET THEM EAT ICE CREAM’: Multi-Millionaire Pelosi Shows Off Freezer Full Of Gourmet Ice Cream As Thousands Line Up At Food Banks

        Pelosi appeared Monday on an episode of “The Late Late Show” with James Corden from her Napa Valley mansion. Asked by the host to “share something from her home,” Pelosi walked over to two massive built-in refrigerators and slid open a freezer drawer.

        She later took to Twitter to post the clip, writing: “We all have found our ways to keep our spirits up during these trying times. Mine just happens to fill up my freezer.”

        Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden loved the post.

        “You have great taste,” the former vice president wrote on Twitter.

        I think, a bit like you I guess, that every mention of Trump/Biden/Dem/Rep divides us, rather than helping build a movement that might accomplish something worthwhile. People want food, health and a future, which might make much better rallying points than which face you’d prefer to blame for having none.

        1. nippersdad

          Nothing says empathy like a woman who has decided that she doesn’t feel like going to work to fix people’s financial problems until May like standing in front of two $10,000 sub-zero refrigerators and showing off her collection of $12.00 a pint ice cream tubs. Her modern Decameron would have her stuffing her face with chocolate while the field workers around her estate starve.

          I was less than impressed myself.

        2. Mark Gisleson

          I’ve been letting this one marinate for a while, and it’s way worse than it seems. A lot of people, all insiders, were OK with this. Didn’t see a perception problem at all.

          Even I don’t think DNC consulting class operatives are this stupid. Right now they’re all so manically self-obsessed with their own survival they can’t see how horrible they look because everyone around them looks the same way.

          Can’t wait to find out which ‘American’ word replaces guillotine in future history books.

            1. CanCyn

              “Can’t wait to find out which American word replaces guillotine in future history books”

              “Americanese would be ‘pitchforks’ or tarred and feathered and run out of town.”

              Nope, if I had to bet, I’d say ‘gun’ will replace ‘guillotine’ if the plebs wake up and start fighting. It’s ‘Merica after all, there will be shootings, not beheadings.

            2. JTee

              I’m thinking it will be more along the lines of lynching and dragging behind a pickup truck.

  13. David J.

    Going by class and cultural markers like clothing, this is not the same crowd as the gun-humpers in Michigan:
    Naturally they want to work. They have families to take care of, and the political class took care of the squillionaires and stiffed the working class, as usual.

    No, it’s basically the same crowd. The Kentucky protests were organized by a couple of pro-Bevin types, one of whom spread a bunch of noise about “voter fraud” after the recent election:

    1. Hank Linderman

      They seem to be getting about the same amount of coverage as the teacher led protests in 2018, except that today’s group is around 50 people. The teachers had two big days of protests separated by a month or so, first was around 10k people, the second was around 6k. I’m not sure what Gov. Beshear should do – I have never liked the idea of “free speech zones” as used at various political events.

      At the same time, what do you do? Warn them, fine them, then lock them up in a quarantine? If we had tests, that might make sense.

      According to a friend, their FB page has comments running 3 to 1 against them. As noted, of course they want to work, and their plight dovetails nicely into the muckrake article about rural America. Unfortunately, work is not their only complaint – the first video I heard included shouts about – wait for it – abortion.

    2. sd

      I find it a little odd that some of the group protesting Coronavirus restrictions are also wearing medical masks….a bit of a disconnect there. If its so safe to go back in the water, why the mask?

  14. Tom Stone

    The NY Post article about the Steele Dossier is a hoot, I shall eagerly await Rachel Maddow’s take on this.

    1. xkeyscored

      The pair of them, NYT and NYP, are amazing.

      First, we were told Russia meddled in another country’s political processes, as if that is a crime worth noting, being something the USA does regularly with tanks and bombs.

      Now that narrative has collapsed, it’s Russia’s fault that anyone believed it in the first place. And how do we know? Because Christopher Steele, an ex-spook, had connections with Russian spooks, who may have fed him disinformation. Well I never.

      This seems to be the nub of it, from the NYT version:

      “scattered through the footnotes are a series of suggestions that one or more of the people believed to have talked to the main sub-source most likely had connections to Russian intelligence services.

      Such ties created a risk that the Russian intelligence services deliberately planted misinformation in Mr. Steele’s network. “

      1. WJ

        Couldn’t agree more. Republicans have long been looking for a solution of Russiagate that enables them to retain and redirect the very useful Cold War animus that was built up around it from the beginning. This notion that the Steele dossier was the result of RUSSIAN disinformation is in my opinion laughable. How in the world would Russia benefit by doing this? The Old Big Lie was that Russia benefited by having blackmail material over Trump, or some such. The New Big Lie is that Russia just wants to f*ck with the West in general? How can anybody believe any of this?

          1. MLTPB

            In some nations, many believe in reincarnation.

            Leaders are chosen based on that even.

            Most nations also believe, or act as if, humans are more special than pigs, fish, bats, etc.

            1. witters

              Well, to me, when the chips are down my fellow humans do matter more than fish, bats and pigs. If your view is the reverse, do you tell your friends?

              1. John Anthony La Pietra

                Does anyone else think there’s a middle ground between those two statements? . . .

                (And are we talking about mattering under the law or in various individual circumstances?)

    2. Burritonomics

      It will be cited as proof/confimation that the Russkies are even more nefarious than previously thought.

      1. John k

        Yes, it will soon be realized it was all a sinister plot to trick us dems into selecting biden… damn, Putin’s a smart bastard! Tricked us into picking someone so demented he would have no chance against an incompetent clown!

  15. MT_Bill

    Point of reference: Great Falls Montana has drive up Covid-19 testing available. My wife saw an article online about how one of the smaller clinics (not our major provider, Benefis) was offering testing. She called, and was given instructions to arrive at the parking lot 30 minutes later. Once there, she was given disclosures over the phone, then the nurse/lab tech came out and took a fingertip blood sample. They told her they’d call her back with results in about 20 minutes, which they did (negative).

    If we can do this out here in the hinterlands, maybe widespread testing for the entire country is not far off.

  16. PlutoniumKun

    Wearing face masks in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic: altruism and solidarity The Lancet

    Key quote:

    Authorities such as WHO and PHE have hitherto not recommended mass masking because they suggest there is no evidence that this approach prevents infection with respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2.3, 4 Previous research on the use of masks in non-health-care settings had predominantly focused on the protection of the wearers and was related to influenza or influenza-like illness.14 These studies were not designed to evaluate mass masking in whole communities. Research has also not been done during a pandemic when mass masking compliance is high enough for its effectiveness to be assessed. But absence of evidence of effectiveness from clinical trials on mass masking should not be equated with evidence of ineffectiveness. (my bold)

    My alarm bells always go off when I see the ‘negative’ sense used in scientific advice – i.e. ‘there is no evidence that….’. As this article suggests, lack of evidence is not evidence of absence. Such slippery language is what you expect from PR documents or lawyers. This always indicates to me that either the researchers are being sloppy, or that ‘management’ has re-written a document. A lot of WHO and other national advisory bodies resorted to this sort of linguistic ju-jitsu. Its a pity that most journalists seem to have lacked even quite basic skills when it came to interrogating and questioning this type of advice.

    As someone who once made a living from writing technical submissions for public consumption, I know that if slippery language is strongly questioned by journalists or civic bodies, it will be avoided. But when its accepted unquestioningly, then you’ll see more and more of it – its as simple as that.

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        I first wore a mask ( high quality dust mask ) because I had what was likely a cold, with some coughing & the odd sneeze & thought knowing my luck, that I would sneeze at an inappropriate moment. All that I do know for sure is that I would have preferred that the fella who came up behind me that day coughing like a trooper, would have also been wearing one.

      2. Yves Smith

        Yes, we’ve discussed this here repeatedly, n95 masks protect the wearer. Surgical or other masks protect people other than the wearer. That makes them important in preventing disease spread.

  17. zagonostra

    >COV19 Qstn?

    So reading below in the American Conservative today I am more confused then ever.

    A simple question. Was the origin due to the consumption of some kind of an animal with a naturally occurring virus or was it something that got loose from a lab? That is all I want to know, I don’t need a chemistry or biology lesson, just the answer if you please.

    American officials in China cabled Washington several times, warning that a biolab in Wuhan was conducting risky experiments on bats and coronaviruses, according to new reports. The State Department received those cables two years ago.

    …“we don’t know the answers” because China hasn’t shared them is very misleading because we now know that American diplomatic officials warned Washington two years ago about inadequate safety at the Wuhan biolab. Those unheeded warnings reportedly prompted the U.S. government to consider whether the Wuhan lab was the source of the virus, according to a recent Washington Post article…

    The cables warned about safety and management weaknesses at the WIV lab and proposed more attention and help,” says the article. (This may explain why the U.S. government gave $3.7 million to the Wuhan lab.)

    1. xkeyscored

      That American Conservative piece seems to be based on a Washington Post article, but minus this bit unless I missed it:

      “The Chinese researchers at WIV were receiving assistance from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch and other U.S. organizations, but the Chinese requested additional help. The cables argued that the United States should give the Wuhan lab further support, mainly because its research on bat coronaviruses was important but also dangerous.”

      Where would we be now without these labs? Trying to build them, or quickly upgrade others. We need them if we’re going to deal with this virus.

      1. Susan the other

        According to the French virologist who discovered HIV, the vaccine/cure for HIV was being researched at Wuhan and they spliced the snippets of HIV into the Corona RNA in their ongoing research to find a way to deliver vaccine protection against the elusive retrovirus hiding in human cells. And that splicing technique is only possible in a lab.

        1. Kaleberg

          I seriously doubt that Montagnier said anything like that. He’s a real biologist. Look at that rumor. HIV snippets make sense for an HIV vaccine, but vaccines are about activating the immune system, and Montagnier surely knows that one of the challenges of AIDS is that the immune system can’t get at cryptic HIV. Splicing HIV segments into a coronavirus wouldn’t change this. Besides, they’ve done the sequencing. There are no HIV snippets in the COVID-19 virus.

          1. Yves Smith

            I have not read the interview in French, but it looks like he said that:

            With my colleague, bio-mathematician Jean-Claude Perez, we carefully analyzed the description of the genome of this RNA virus,” explains Luc Montagnier, interviewed by Dr Jean-François Lemoine for the daily podcast at Pourquoi Docteur, adding that others have already explored this avenue: Indian researchers have already tried to publish the results of the analyses that showed that this coronavirus genome contained sequences of another virus, … the HIV virus (AIDS virus), but they were forced to withdraw their findings as the pressure from the mainstream was too great.


            And you are misrepresenting the state of play. The Indian paper, as I recall, did find sequences that were the same as in HIV.

            The problem, and the reason that paper was yanked (as you may be alluding but do not unpack) is that those HIV-similar sequences are common to a ton of other viruses. The Indian paper might as well have been saying, “Gee, it’s a virus!”

    2. Louis Fyne

      short answer: no one knows (outside of China)/has enough evidence to prove a prepondence, let alone beyond reasonable doubt

      1. xkeyscored

        Nobody can prove anything beyond any doubt, but on the one hand we’ve got scientific data like this, and on the other some confused speculation by journalists that it started in November, based on a theory of how intelligence assessments are usually prepared (or totally mis-based on reports of plague outbreaks, per PlutoniumKun). I’d say what evidence we have is for it starting in December or possibly November, but nobody knowing about it until December, while the evidence for anyone knowing in November is flimsy as hell and almost non-existent, only of use to journos in search of readers.

      2. Zagonostra

        Thank you for the clarification, I’ll wait till someone does and can educate me, although I know that hasn’t been the function of the media in a long time, if it ever was…or maybe I’ll have to wait for the book to come out like the one that was covered on the Joe Rogan podcast last night that took the author 20 years to write and contradicted everything I knew at the time.

    3. periol

      There was a piece in the Daily Star today about Cambridge scientists doing studies on the virus, and they are showing that it probably originated in southern China in September and slowly spread before taking hold in Wuhan in December.

      My takeaway, besides needing a shower after visiting the Daily Star, is that nobody knows anything, and I’m more skeptical of the lab leak hypothesis than I was a week ago (and I was pretty skeptical then, so…).

        1. periol

          “And pray tell, what would convince you?”

          I don’t know, someone who doesn’t lie for a living coming out with verifiable evidence?

          The odds of this being natural are way higher than the odds that this is a lab leak or fabrication. Diseases happen all the time. The idiots in charge hyper-connected our culture and made it fun for rich white people so they’d go along with it. Suddenly a new unknown disease crops up. Surprise, our civilization is too connected for it’s own good.

          Maybe there’s a nefarious cabal trying to stir the pot. Odds are coronavirus is just nature going to town on our culture’s hubris and lack of wisdom.

          1. Trent

            “This age of battling narratives tends to conceal the broken consensus behind it. What’s gone is a broad social agreement that there are certain fundamental realities, and then codes of conduct that follow from them.

            When anything goes, don’t expect people to do the right thing, or even know what it is.”

            1. periol

              Who are you quoting? What are you trying to say? Is this related to a lab leak hypothesis somehow?

      1. xkeyscored

        Thank you, now I know why September has suddenly become month of the day. I’ll try and hunt down the PNAS article, but the Daily Star seems lukewarm about dates and places:

        “The virus may have mutated into its final ‘human-efficient’ form months ago, but stayed inside a bat or other animal or even human for several months without infecting other individuals,” University of Cambridge geneticist Peter Forster said on Thursday.

        “Then, it started infecting and spreading among humans between September 13 and December 7, generating the network we present in [the journal] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS].”

        If I am pressed for an answer, I would say the original spread started more likely in southern China than in Wuhan,” Mr Forster said.

        “But proof can only come from analysing more bats, possibly other potential host animals, and preserved tissue samples in Chinese hospitals stored between September and December.”

        And still no indication that anyone knew a thing about it back in November, never mind September, as some appear to think.

        1. xkeyscored

          This appears to be the PNAS article on which the Daily Star article is based. I don’t see anything to back up the Star story beyond this:

          “While the ancestral B type is monopolized (26/26 genomes) by East Asians, every single (19/19) B-type genome outside of Asia has evolved mutations. This phenomenon does not appear to be due to the month-long time lag and concomitant mutation rate acting on the viral genome before it spread outside of China (Dataset S1, Supplementary Table 2). A complex founder scenario is one possibility, and a different explanation worth considering is that the ancestral Wuhan B-type virus is immunologically or environmentally adapted to a large section of the East Asian population, and may need to mutate to overcome resistance outside East Asia.”

    1. xkeyscored

      To be honest, he sounds hardly any different to Trump, apart from the voice. The Don shows an equal inability to get facts or names right, and blathers on round and round in unfinished sentences and non-sequiturs.
      Triden or Bump? If you listen long enough, will you spot the difference? I’d say you have a promising future in psychiatric diagnosis if you can.

  18. prodigalson

    So CNN is currently one interview after another of states, cities, and regions planning on embracing denial and “getting back to normal” starting right this second. Florida re-opening beaches in Jacksonville (possibly today), Utah unlocking, etc.

    Every time I think i’ve seen a new bottom here stateside for beyond-the-film-Idiocracy levels of stupid we find some new depth to plumb. It’s turtles all the way down.

    This plague hasn’t gone anywhere, we still have literally hundreds of thousands of active still infectious cases, still percolating among family members and community spread taking place. I dunno, maybe when this fire reflashes and we have to relock down, perhaps we’ll finally move from denial/bargaining to acceptance??? or just cycle back to anger and then a new run through denial/bargaining…

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      In some ways, it’s a lack of imagination. Picture a big volcano labeled “The Economy” and belching fire and smoke with a couple standing at the precipice of the caldera. One of them, let it be Trump, is ready the throw the other, a frail blue hair, into the fiery pit. She’s screaming, “Why?!?,” and he answers, “Because we don’t know what else to do.”

      These people cannot imagine a world not arranged around profit, greed and manipulated consumerism. Anything else is like jumping off a cliff blindfolded for them. So better than that, they push others off a cliff. That’s the kind of folks they are or have become.

    2. Lynne

      Today, the SD Governor was asked about the guidelines and reopening the economy. She responded that we do not need to reopen because we never closed, but that does not mean we will stop our mitigation efforts, which we committed to. I suspect that the first part of that statement will show up in news clips, but the rest of it will be left off.

      Kind of like the way they keep insisting nothing is being done here because there is no statewide order that everything close. Just to let people know, the “non-lockdown” that we keep getting ripped apart for includes: closing the schools and ordering state workers to work from home (or placing those that could not work from home on administrative leave — leave with pay — or rotating them in so buildings were sparsely occupied), creating groups to do contact tracing for potential transmission vectors, recommending daycares close, repeatedly recommending to businesses that they follow all CDC guidelines, arranging to quarantine COVID-19 patients in hotels when they could not quarantine at home and did not need hospitalization, asking people not to worry about doing things like going to the DMV to renew registrations and ordering state troopers (and asking local law enforcement) not to ticket cars for things like expired license tags if they expired during March or April, ordering limited criminal detentions, and ordering the National Guard to erect and prepare temporary hospital facilities in the two largest cities.

      The governor also asked the legislature last month to authorize the state to order a lockdown and authorize the counties to order lockdowns, but the legislature refused to do so, which is quite a story in it itself and involves the legislature reacting to a massive overreach on the part of two municipalities which are now complaining that the state hasn’t ordered a lockdown. One of those mayors, BTW, I now see being praised by the likes of Maddow and quoted by CNN with nary a thought for his fecklessness.

  19. YankeeFrank

    A New Statistic Reveals Why America’s COVID-19 Numbers Are Flat The Atlantic

    — this article is terrible. It compares “positivity rates” (percentage of people who are tested that come back positive) across countries and finds the US has a much higher positivity rate (~20%) than almost every other nation, some by a factor of 3 or 4 (only the UK is higher at ~30%). But it ignores the fact that different nations are likely carrying out vastly different testing strategies. In the US the only people being testing, by and large, are ones who present at the hospital with symptoms. It doesn’t clarify whether other nations with high positivity rates are only testing those with symptoms or whether they are testing more broadly. So the comparisons are utterly useless.

    After the breathless first half of the article they basically admit this but they don’t point out this metric is worse than useless without more information comparing national testing strategies. We may have much higher infection rates than most other nations or we may not, but like most other things surrounding this virus, we don’t really know. And the Atlantic has done nothing but confuse the issue with this garbage piece.

  20. New Wafer Army

    Serious question: what is the purpose of Naked Capitalism now? I imagine that when it started it hoped to bring about positive change by shining a light on the dirty underbelly of capitalism, primarily in America, with the hope that it would send some of the cockroaches scurrying. A decade of following the blog have taught me that change is not possible. Surely the role of the blog is now just to chart the inexorable slide beneath the waves of USS America as she is holed beneath the waterline. I think it is all over bar the shouting, and that this blog will make a fine source for historians seeking to understand why America failed.

    1. The Historian

      WOW! What a load to place on the back of just one blog! I don’t know how many readers NC has, but I can guess that it is a VERY small percentage of the eligible voters in this country. So how did you expect them to change things for you?

      My purpose for reading NC is that I get valuable information in an easy to read format meaning I don’t have to spend my day surfing to find these stories. I also love NC’s take on the world and I appreciate their independent commentary. “Econned” was my basic introduction to Economics and I would never have known about it if I hadn’t have come here.

      But expecting NC to change the world for you? No, that is the job of each of us – we can’t just dump that on someone else, not even NC.

      Having said that, I DO understand how you feel – it seems that nothing is getting better and it is hard to believe that anything will. But change is the one thing that is inevitable. Hang in there and be ready to grab it when it comes!

      1. sd

        I’ve been reading NC going back some time. For the first few years, I didn’t understand most of what was being written which is why I stuck with it. I really wanted to get a better understanding of how the economy works because what I was being told and what I was seeing didn’t line up.

        I learn something new every day, for myself, I am enrolled in NC as ongoing and continuing education.

        1. Tom Bradford


          I read a couple of other blogs for news but NC is the only one where I bother to read the comments from front to back, and am invariably the better informed for it.

    2. Steve H.

      I will note that Taleb today provided exclusive content to NC, which is a collaboration of two of the half-a-half dozen voices that I pay strict attention to. imo, two of the most incisive minds on the planet.

      There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides that of evil.

    3. Tropos

      Reading this blog and its affiliates let me warn my family and immediate circle about the increased pandemic risk. In February. I’m not sure what you desire from the journalism you engage with.

    4. Cancyn

      What is the purpose of any source of news or current affairs information? I am a far better informed human than I was before I discovered NC. No single source of news and information, however well put together, can change the world. Your responsibility is to read, think and make up your own mind about what you’re reading.
      I am probably more cynical than I was in days gone by and I am not particularly hopeful for the future but I do not put any of that on Yves et al, nor should you.

  21. PlutoniumKun

    The Army Is Trying To Replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Again. Popular Mechanics. Failed state.

    I think I see a flaw in the design…

    OMFV will be an absolute unit, an armored vehicle so heavy the Army is resigned to moving it by ship. Ideally OMFVs will be in place before a war starts, particularly against heavily armored threats such as the Russian Army.

    So basically, in almost any conceivable war the US will wage, they won’t be much use. They’ll have to rely on light vehicles like the Stryker. Which can’t even stand up to simple, cheap RPG’s.

    1. a different chris

      I don’t know how to evaluate this.

      The tiny shred of optimism in me says – wars as we know them are obsolete. Even if the F35 worked, well the sophistication of our functional jets were like the Starship Enterprise already compared to what the Taliban had, and that got us bupkis.

      On the ground, you can’t really wrap our soldiers in anything that can actually move itself that won’t be blown to bits by the latest RPG like toy. And you can’t wrap them in something that can’t move because if it doesn’t move it’s basically dead by definition.

      Surface navies would be hilarious except for the dead young men and women part. Who would build such a thing, if they were starting from scratch today?

      The pessimist in me says we will just keep trying until the Earth is uninhabitable.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I suspect the shovel will forever remain the greatest weapon of war. They can also be used for latrines.

    3. HotFlash

      Srsly, they call it an OMFV? As in, Oh My Family-blogging Vehicle? Are you sure this isn’t Duffleblog?

    4. td

      Difference between 2003 and 2020. If you spend enough, some problems are solvable.

      The M1126 Stryker’s external link main armor protects against 14.5 mm rounds, shrapnel, and overpressure, and serving Strykers in combat zones have been augmented with “steel cage” slat armor mounted on the sides as a defense against RPG-7 anti-tank rounds. Slat armor got its start in Iraq as field expedients for some Hummers, but soon became a standardized, procured Stryker kit. The 2.5 ton armor add-on is designed to detonate the piezo-electric fuze in the RPG’s nose, and “misfocus” the shaped-charge jet.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “It’s the End of the World Economy as We Know It”

    “The dollar system is inherently unstable, but so is a bicycle,” said Mr. Tooze, the historian. “They’re unstable, but if you’re a skilled rider of them, they’re great. And the Fed has demonstrated it’s a skilled rider of the dollar hegemony bike.”

    I am not sure that a bicycle is a good way to describe it. In a recent interview, Mark Blyth described it as such-

    A simple way to think about it this. If you’re trying to work on a good analogy for these different economies, they are a bit like different cars. If you’re in northern Europe you’re driving a Volvo. It’s got a bit of power, it’s pretty safe, it’s a bit boring, it’s got lots of air bags. If you crash in that thing there’s a chance you’ll walk away because of the safety equipment. America is kind of like a 1968 Mustang GT that’s got an extra supercharger on it. It goes flying down the highway at 140. If you crash, everything goes terminal because there’s no air bags, there’s no safeties, there’s nothing.

    And along with every other economy in the world, America has just crashed.

    1. Wukchumni

      Our economy is similar to a 2013 retro Boss Mustang that looks just like a 1970 version on the outside, but once you open the hood, the more current model practically screams, don’t you dare touch me and my computerized system!, while the 1970 model allowed you to do all sorts of work on the engine, be your own mechanic.

      We really have no understanding of how our economy works, do we?

      1. km

        More like a 2013 retro Mustang that looks like a 1970 Boss Mustang, after being redesigned by the folks in charge of aesthetics at the WWE for “moar bad boy attitude.”

        Full disclosure: my daily driver was built in 1969.

      2. mpalomar

        “We really have no understanding of how our economy works, do we?”

        Perhaps not ‘how’ but certainly for who.

    2. a different chris

      And, even accepting the “skilled rider” — well, skilled riders crash all the time. The more skilled the more likely, as you will be induced by said skill to try yourself in some race or other. “Skilled” doesn’t mean what they think it means.

    3. hemeantwell

      That’s a great contrast between someone like Tooze, who I’m starting to think of as harboring a Great Person view of history, and Blyth, who is more doggedly systemic in his analysis.

      Tooze’s Crashed was chock full of admiration for Geithner. A recent article linked here had a link to a 2010 piece Tooze did on the reviving of the German economy in the early 50s. It was very good on, among other things, the tortuous, and infuriating, negotiated vaporizing of Nazi debt and reparations. But Adenauer emerges above it all as a Great Man. More like a hologram, actually.

    4. xkeyscored

      Bike, car, tank or train, if the world can get away from dollar hegemony that’s a silver lining to this coronacloud.

    5. nippersdad

      I have been very impressed by the quality of the guests that Rising puts on. Any program that can get people like Picketty and Nina Turner on the same show is well worth watching.

      1. 3.14e-9

        Loved that interview with Nina Turner. Frosting on the cake: her infectious smile at the end. Nothing to sneeze at, that.

        Enjoyed Picketty as well, although had difficulty understanding his heavy French accent — and I lived in France off and on for eight years. Got the gist of it, though, and it was a good plug for his book.

        But to your point — yes, Krystal and Saagar are worth watching. I see them as new growth springing forth from the compost pile where I threw the waste of Shields & Brookes.

    6. MLTPB

      Fossil fuel cars are no better than bikes.

      And walking is better than biking…certainly more ancient.

      (Me speaking as a neo Luddite).

      If we want to talk about bikes, one thing I have noticed is that motion gives a bike more stability.

      It’s easier to keep it upright when moving, than when it’s stationary.

      That means you have to keep moving that bike-money along.

      Spend, spend, spend.

      Consume, consume, consume.

      That’s why it’s better to go on foot…slow money…slow food…slow cooking.

      ‘Do you travel on the hare lane, or the tortoise lane?’

  23. Carla

    Gee, good news every minute of every day! (NOT)

    “The Consumer Federation of America wants Team Trump to cap high-interest lending like payday loans and pawned car titles at 36% during the pandemic to keep borrowers from being trapped in overpriced debt. Federal banking regulators didn’t recommend a cap, saying financial institutions should offer loans in a manner that provides “fair treatment of customers.””

    Consumer “advocates” want to CAP interest rates at 36% — now that’s rich, ain’t it?

  24. Carey

    ‘Can You Beat COVID-19 Without a Lockdown? Sweden Is Trying’:

    “..Instead, Sweden intends to take as loose an approach as possible that still keeps case growth down to nonexponential numbers. “We are not in the containment phase,” said Sweden’s chief state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, last month. “We are in the mitigation phase.”

    What Tegnell means is that the coronavirus is all over the world now, and, without a vaccine or a massive outbreak that brings about herd immunity, you won’t get rid of it. Even if you do what China did and lock down so hard that you eradicate the virus within your borders, it will return as soon as you allow any travel in and out of your country to resume. So Sweden has based its policies on two premises: (1) The coronavirus can only be managed, not suppressed. Short of going full Wuhan on the entire planet, we’ll have to live with it. (2) People won’t tolerate severe lockdown for more than a month or two, since boredom, isolation, and economic desperation will get overwhelming..”

    1. a different chris

      Note your very quote says:

      >without a vaccine

      So why the F don’t we just wait a bit?

      Note that we are finding more significant long term, possibly permanent damage than the “flu”. Does “herd immunity” mean you don’t die but hey your lungs never work right again? And explain to me how, if we can’t develop a vaccine, we can somehow develop herd immunity? You do know how a vaccine works, do you not?

      You better be sure of what you are proposing.

      1. xkeyscored

        Who’s going to grow food and distribute it if we wait a bit (12 months minimum) for a vaccine? Putting the whole of Africa under Wuhan-style lockdown for a year would likely kill many, many more than the virus, as the ‘Lockdown is wrong for Africa’ piece in today’s links makes clear. Eurasia and North America are going to have to figure this out too, and soon. People die without food, and we can’t all stay in our houses and grow enough on our windowsills or in our gardens, if we have one.

        1. Monty

          That’s why food production and distribution is one of the essential many industries that is not shut down. The goal of these society wide interventions is to protect the essential workers we really need to keep at it. We do that by not infecting them doing non essential stuff. Then the wheels stay on the bus.

        2. MLTPB

          Too bad we can’t 3D print what we need to eat or drink at home.

          Perhaps after another century of scientific progress we will be able to do that.

          1. curious euro

            What is the difference between food scarcity or scarcity of PLA input for this magical 3d printer?
            Unless you think we will have energy lines in our houses big enough to create matter from pure energy of course.

        3. a different chris

          I should clarify that I literally meant “a bit”, not 12 months. But if you want me to take the full other side:

          Hasty decisions are the worst. Yes we probably can’t sit at home for 12 months. However do note that much of the (unfortunately crap wheat and corn calories but it is food) Midwest farming is done with pretty low levels of and well separated labor.

          And we make enough food to feed ourselves and Africa, we just don’t share it. In fact, we’re dumping out milk as I type. Can’t we powder it?

          So what is the true lag time – not the normal US new-vaccine bureaucracy, but enough time for legitimate work- to get this properly figured out? If we don’t know we need to sit tight until we do. And then make plans.

      2. Vladimir

        Because there’s never been a successful vaccine that deters the spread of a coronavirus! We need to mitigate, not lockdown. I agree wholeheartedly with what Sweden is doing.

      1. Carey

        From that Worldometer link:
        Currently Infected Patients
        10,784 (96%) in Mild Condition

        482 (4%) Serious or Critical

        and this bit:

        1,950 Cases which had an outcome:

        550 (28%)
        Recovered / Discharged

        1,400 (72%)

        Do you find those latter numbers believable?

        1. Monty

          They are the published numbers I have got no way of knowing what the real one’s are, nobody does. Having said that, I would suspect that the confirmed cases are under probably reported by 10x or 20x. I think it is extremely unlikely 15% of patients are dying of Covid-19 there. Perhaps, just like here in the US, testing criteria make it hard to get tested unless you’re quite sick, so the % of cases ending in death look worse?

          The reported daily death’s are doubling every 3-4 days, that is exponential growth. Are you suggesting the Swedish government are publishing scary death numbers to make themselves and their strategy look bad? I am not sure what you’re driving at.

          1. fajensen

            They are publishing the Numbers as they they are. “Confirmed cases” are basically “people ill enough to be in hospital” and now 15% of those die.

            These are “Italian” numbers!

    2. Polar Socialist

      What often is not mentioned regarding Sweden’s loose approach is that Swedish government has been unable to act drastically. There’s no provision in Swedish law to prevent people from going to places or assembly as they wish.

      Only yesterday Swedish parliament gave the government right to close schools, restaurants, gyms, bars, cafes etc.

      We’ll see if the loose approach continues for long.

    3. Louis Fyne

      find it truly ironic that Sweden of all countries used a response straight from the Ayn Rand playbook

      1. Dennis Brown

        Hmmm….Let me see. Those resolute, Macron-ian, lock-down French: 105,155 Covid-19 cases. Total deaths:17,146. Deaths yesterday: 1438.

        Those terrible , irresponsible, Ayn Randian Swedes: 11,927 cases. Total Deaths: 1207. Deaths yesterday:170.

        1. DJG

          Dennis Brown: Are you truly that math-averse?

          Population of Sweden: 10.3 million.
          Population of France: 67 million.

          Deaths yesterday in France 1438
          Deaths yesterday in Sweden, adjust by 6.7 to reflect France’s population: 1139

          Do you get it?

          I am seeing way too much of this in the comments here these days. Don’t know much about history. Don’t know much about biology. [And wowsers, upthread, evil Dr. Fu Manchu manufacturing viruses in a lab… It’s enough to make me want to join a Carthusian monastery, and I’m a pretty damn bad specimen of a Catholic.]

          Hey, let’s stop panicking about this darn virus, because we haven’t yet reached the Bring Out Your Dead scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

          1. MLTPB

            It does help to adjust for population, or look at per million numbers, in addition to everything else.

            One consideration is on a per million basis, or per 100k, etc, that it biases against 10 million countries, or small countries, like Sweden. I think we take into account 67 vs 10 millions.

            Way too often It’s the biggest people lost in the world. But we also have over 300 million here.

            Perhaps there are worse hit nations.

          2. Carolinian

            From today’s NY Times–deaths so far per 100k–France 28, Sweden 14, UK 22, US 10, Spain 42, Italy 38, Belgium 45, Netherlands 20, Switzerland 12, Ireland 10, New York state 63, New Jersey 43.

            So if Sweden doubles its casualty rate over the coming weeks it will indeed be worse than France but still not even close to lockdowned NY State.

            Who is simple internet research averse?

            1. Monty

              What is your point?

              30 days ago Sweden had 1 death a day and that rose to 170 deaths yesterday. If they continue at that rate of increase, doubling every 4 days, it will be exceed 63 by some margin in 2 weeks time.

              1. Carolinian

                Of course in two weeks time the number for NY state will be much higher because they still have that long tail to deal with. So I doubt that will ever happen (the catching up) but if it does not please get back to us and explain how Sweden’s handling of the disease is somehow worse than Cuomo’s.

                And that’s my point. Simple use of misleading compariisons (Sweden versus Norway or Denmark) are not effective arguments. Indeed the death rate itself is not definitive either since we don’t know how it’s determined–whether deaths from other causes are being arbitrarily blamed on Covid or vice versa. But that’s the statistic that is being used against Sweden at the moment and therefore let’s get the true picture from everywhere as it is–at the moment.

                And btw the death per 100k figure for NY city itself is half again worse than for the state. They are truly off the chart world champions. Peter Van Buren says that most of these casualties are poor people in the Bronx and Queens.

                1. Monty

                  NYC has 8m residents and over 60m tourists a year in a geographically small area. Might that be the difference? Sweden is nice and all, but it seems like there are many more opportunities to import and spread a virus in NYC than Sweden. What do you think?

          3. Dennis Brown


            Sweden with 10M people has, on a per million per capita basis,to date, a Covid-19 death rate of 133. France with a population of 65 M has a Covid -19 death rate of 275 per million. That looks like a higher death rate on a per capita basis in France to me.

            But since I’m “math -averse” as you so charmingly described me, perhaps you can show me some better numbers.

        2. Dennis Brown

          With respect DJG, making snide remarks and insults will us nowhere. I always though NC participants were a cut above that sort of Zero hedge style approach.

          My point? Nothing more than I didn’t think labeling the Swedish approach to the virus was somehow “Ayn Randian”. For my part I choose to believe the Swedes are operating in good faith, not some sort evil ideological imperative.
          We can all hold to our to our various opinions about what is unfolding before us all on a global basis. But do we need to get nasty and intolerant simply because someone questions the mainstream narrative?

          As math- averse as you suggest I am,I would point out to you that simply comparing the case rate in Sweden and France on a per capita basis does not prove very much. To date at least–the French haven’t been anymore effective in protecting their people than the Swedes with their lock-down approach. We shall see as time goes on. I’m perfectly willing to amend my opinion based on empirical evidence.

          You should note that I never said that this disease should be simply left to anarchically run it’s course. And neither have the Swedes. They have good regulations in place for their vulnerable and elderly. Have large crowds limits in place. They are cautioning people to adopt safe precautionary measures and hygiene. Not to mention they have a very good healthcare system in place. But they have not taken some of the simple joys out of life to accomplish their public health policy goal.Quite unlike some of the more authoritarian leaning countries.
          In Sweden people can still partake in reasonably normal life. Whereas in France or England people are increasingly locked up and facing increasing police surveillance and loss of basic civil liberties.
          Only time will tell, I guess. But so far, your per -capita- case -rate argument proves nothing so far as the real effectiveness of these differing public policy approaches.

          1. Carolinian

            Here’s a page about Swedish Covid policies as of the end of March. In many ways the distancing rules are not particularly different from where I live but they do allow restaurants to stay open and primary schools to operate.


            And here’s Wikipedia’s summary

            Sweden has, unlike many other countries, not applied any lockdown, with most measures being voluntary. The Swedish constitution prohibits ministerial rule and mandates that the relevant government body, here an expert agency — the Public Health Agency — must initiate all actions to prevent the virus. The government can follow agency recommendations, as it has with legislation limiting freedom of assembly, temporarily banning gatherings of over 50 individuals, banning people from visiting nursing homes, as well as physically closing secondary schools and universities. Primary schools have remained open, in part to avoid healthcare workers staying home with their children.

            The Public Health Agency and government issued recommendations to: if possible, work from home; avoid unnecessary travel within the country; to engage in social distancing; and for people above 70 to stay at home, as much as possible. Those with even minimal symptoms which could be COVID-19, are recommended to stay home. The ‘karensdag’ or initial day without paid sick-leave has been removed by the government and the length of time one can stay home with pay without a doctor’s note has been raised from 7 to 21 days


  25. The Rev Kev

    “READ: White House Guidelines To States For Reopening”

    Those guidelines mention gyms. Yves mentioned before lockdown how she was the only person wiping down the equipment she used at the gym she went to. The crazy part of that was she mentioned that there were a lot of doctors going to that gym that took no precautions. I wonder if they will be so lax after those gyms start opening up but before the virus is under some sort of control?

    1. Carla

      I doubt doctors will go back to gyms. It will be quite a long time before I go back to mine, and I didn’t even use the equipment, just walked on the track in bad weather.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Doctors are terrible at following their own advice. Just look at the number of people in white coats having a quick cigarette outside any teaching hospital. Or for that matter, go drinking with young doctors – I made the mistake once of going with my doctor niece and some of her colleagues for a ‘few quiet drinks’. My liver was still in recovery a week later.

      1. gc54

        And usually in scrubs after work wandering the grocery store, maybe today w/ masks, but still …

  26. a different chris

    Offered almost without comment, the following headline (nobody needs the link it’s pretty much common knowledge)

    “Anthony Fauci says he used a ‘poor choice of words’ in discussing Trump administration’s coronavirus response”

    You – or at least I – wonder why people are still at it at 79 years old. You wonder what got them to the top to begin with?

    Well he’s an a$$-kisser, obviously. He has no real sense of self-worth unless he’s “Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases”. He’s been that since 1984. I wonder how many good (or maybe not so good, just ambitious) doctors have been waiting for a solid two decades for him to retire and give the reins to some newish blood. If you read the Wiki page, he (apparently, I’ll take it as written) did a heck of a lot of good work but unsurprisingly ran out of gas in the early 21st century.

    But no. He doesn’t accept, or at least want to face, the fact that anybody could do as good, let alone better job than him. He doesn’t want to be “fired” for sure. So he’s gonna clog up the works until he dies.

    And this is just funny:

    Fauci, the long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, denied that Trump forced him to make the statement. He told reporters, “everything I do is voluntary. Please. Don’t even imply that.”

    Of course Trump didn’t have to force him. To Fauci, this backtracking in the face of a threatening authority is as natural as breathing.

    Ok I guess that was offered with quite a bit of comment. :) But I’m so tired of these people.

  27. chuck roast

    Re: Open Letter to the New New Left From the Old New Left

    Well, this was an eye-opener. I only personally know one of the signers, but I know of and have great respect for many of them. The stuff about defending democracy was a bit tough to take There is the apparent presumption that anything beyond local democracy actually exists.

    I take this as a message to the rank-and-file of the old New Left too. I’ll have to give this some thought.

    1. Dirk77

      Your thoughts might be helped by reading the skewering of that Open Letter on Twitter. It helped mine.

  28. PlutoniumKun

    Yes – its all very circumstantial of course, but laowhy has been a very interesting vlogger from China for years, and has never shown any indication of being a conspiracy theorist or unreliable (his fellow blogger on ChinaADV was always more overtly right wing and hostile to the Chinese government).

      1. barefoot charley

        Yes PK, I was kinda baffled by that disappearance too. I thought that sort of thing happened in Russia!

  29. Wyoming

    Re the USS Roosevelt and Capt. Crozier.

    As things sit now the infection rate on the Roosevelt has been 655 sailors tested positive among 4,574 examine, or more than 14%. I would hope that the investigators and those in the Navy who are going to determine the course of the rest of Capt. Crozier’s life take the below into consideration.

    France has a situation virtually identical to that of the Roosevelt and the Capt of that ship has ended up with the following results to date: Around 40% of personnel on board the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and its support vessels tested positive for coronavirus, the central director of the French Health Service of Armed Forces said on Friday.

    14% to 40% Hmm…

    1. John k

      If they don’t get the sick off the boats fast it’ll be 100% literally before you know it. These are not cruise ships where contamination might travel slowly thru the vent system… sailors are packed into maybe 20 bunks in modest size rooms.
      And even after the sick get omg the boat mist be sterilized… maybe best by getting everybody off, warm it up, and wait two weeks. Then test everybody before they get back on.

  30. Wukchumni

    Fearless leader is trying to incite a not so civil war by enticing gun nuts and the like to protest for the opening of selected states that all have Democrat Governors as luck would have it, is there any level of depravity he wont sink to?

    1. Massinissa

      Hes messing with social forces beyond anyones, even his, control.

      I’m beginning to get very scared of how this country will be at years end. I’m beginning to fear violent outbreaks, even if only on a small scale.

  31. Pelham

    I wonder whether the persistent lack of COVID testing is a feature, not a bug. Widespread testing could raise alarms and thwart the drive to get people back to work and dying.

    1. MLTPB

      I think the criticism before was we tested too much.

      Perhaps there was money in running scans, etc.

      Why is the testing industrial complex not taking advantage now?

      1. Monty

        I suspect people are not showing up at hospitals unless they are very ill. There is no cure better than resting at home for those who get a mild case. In fact most countries have that as official guidance: Stay at home if it’s mild, Seek help only if it gets serious and you have trouble breathing.

        1. YankeeFrank

          NYC is experiencing 200 at-home deaths per day currently. Up from a normal average of 20. Many of those deaths are from the virus. People are staying home with serious cases too. Hospitals have become pest-houses again thanks to our neoliberal overlords.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > NYC is experiencing 200 at-home deaths per day currently. Up from a normal average of 20.

            I remember that statistic, which is quite telling. But I could never find the source for it. Do you have a link? Thanks!

            1. Steve H.


  32. Joe Renter

    Carla at 11:18 am

    I imagine a lot of gyms will not be around after social distancing is lifted. My partner owns one in CA and is filling for chapter 7 right now. So many small businesses will not make it.
    Any guesses on how many people are out of work in the US?
    My guess is 50 million.

  33. IMOR

    Re: positives plateau in U.S. It IS 300 million jellybeans, the number of those tested was very low March 15 and 25 times it may still be only one scoop from the top of the barrel and not significant. This testing isn’t polling sampling or survey research. More useful would be seeing each day’s numbers. Also, as severe cases will still nearly all present to docs and facilities, what’s the trend in those dailies? How have they fluctuated?

  34. Gregorio

    “Why this pandemic is an indictment of socialized medicine.”
    “Marc Thiessen writes a twice-weekly column for The Post on foreign and domestic policy. He is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He is a Fox News contributor.”
    I looked at some of Marc’s other articles, they are mostly devoted to heaping praise on the Trump administration.

  35. chuck roast

    On a lighter note…Maine Paper Mill Explodes!

    And you thought that Covid 19 was a sneaky low-life! The article mentions that Verso Paper had sold the mill only days ago. Verso has been asset stripping in Maine for quite a while. I sat at anchor on the Penobscot River a few years ago and watched the Bucksport Paper Mill being demolished. Verso owned the mill which once employed 400 people. Verso received an investment grant from the state to keep the plant open. They promptly reduced the workforce to 200. Then they did one-day sell/lease-back tax credit scam that netted them millions. The statute that permitted the lease-back scam was written by some lawyers in Louisiana and introduced in Maine as the New Markets Capital Investment Program (NMCIP). After again stuffing their pockets at the expense of Maine taxpayers, they canned the 200 guys and imploded the mill.

    The guy who carried the NMCIP bill in the Maine state leg. was named Kevin Raye from way down in Eastport. He is a local plutocrat and mustard king. The fallout from the scandal apparently never affected his political career. It’s a great country.

  36. Oregoncharles

    working link for “Letter from th eleaders of the Old New Left…”:

    I remember those times vividly, but I don’t remember a single one of those names – but then, I was not a member of SDS.

    What this letter clearly demonstrates is that those who once considered themselves “radical” can become very “moderate” indeed with age – while those once “moderate” may become pretty radical with age (myself, of course).

    The current manifestation of the New Left is the Green Party. We aren’t endorsing Joe Biden.

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