Links 4/21/2020

Influx of barracks tiger cubs as stimulus checks arrive Duffelblog

Coronavirus: Generous taxi driver takes passenger on 1500km free ride from Spain to Italy New,Com Australia

The Best Scholarly Books of the Decade Chronicle of Higher Education.I’ve read none of these – but I will order some of them from my bookseller. And I confess that even though I am a voracious reader, I’ve been too distracted by the ongoing calamity to finish many books. Keeping up with the day’s news is taking up my all my time and my mental energy.

US oil price back above zero after historic plunge FT

Brent Crude Oil Prices Fall 20% As Panic Sweeps The Market Oil Price

As Oil Prices Fall Below $0 Per Barrel, Climate Advocates Urge Against Fossil Fuel Industry Bailout Common Dreams


Why Coronavirus Won’t Be the End of It Capital & Main

The Pandemic, Our Common Story Granta

The race to save the first draft of coronavirus history from internet oblivion MIT Technology Review

Coronavirus: universities face a harsh lesson FT

The Inside Story Of How The Bay Area Got Ahead Of The COVID-19 Crisis Kaiser Health News

Trump Says He Will Suspend All Immigration Into US Over Coronavirus The Wire

Why The Luxury Sector Will Rebound Strongly After Covid-19 JJing Daily Keep on dreaming and talking your book.

What It Means to Miss Marathon Day in Boston New Yorker

The Coronavirus and the future of Main Street TreeHugger

Lifting Lockdown

Trump wants to lift lockdowns. Other countries’ attempts show why the U.S. isn’t ready. WaPo. Ishaan Tharoor.

WHO warns rush to ease virus rules could cause resurgence AP

‘Another nail in an almost closed coffin’: Trump faces his next coronavirus test Politico

3 southern states will begin to ease coronavirus lockdowns Axios


The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients NYT

He ran marathons and was fit. So why did Covid-19 almost kill him? Stat

From 1 to 9: How AC air spread coronavirus to 3 families at a restaurant in China India Today

Food Security

Iowa Sends National Guard Troops to Defend Meat Plants From Virus Bloomberg

Multinational Meat Companies Could Be Making Us Sick American Conservative

These Photos Show the Staggering Food Bank Lines Across America (Oguk, hoisted from comments) And note this links is more than a week old; the station has certainly worsened.

Serfs Revolt

Amazon warehouse workers plan nationwide protest this week to demand coronavirus protections CNBC

Nurses union to protest at White House Tuesday The Hill

COVID-19: Healthcare Workers Block Protest Against Colorado Stay-Home Order Consortium News

On the Frontlines of Retail There Are No Heroes, Only Victims  Retail Prophet

Melk Talks W/ CounterSpin’s Janine Jackson on Labor Reporting during COVID-19 Payday Report (Mike Elk)

Class  Warfare

Emergency room doctors facing pay cuts and understaffing during pandemic CBS

The Second Phase of Unemployment Will Be Harsher Atlantic

Boards Reset Executive Pay, Equity Grants During Market Rout WSJ

US law firms more aggressive than UK peers in cutting pay FT

Court Is Closed Due to Coronavirus. But You Still Owe Those Fines and Fees. Marshall Project

Pelosi Picks Friend With Corporate Ties to Oversee COVID-19 Bailout Fund TruthOut

European Union

“What the Economy Needs Is a Blitzkrieg” Der Spiegel. Donald Tusk.

The EU Should Issue Perpetual Bonds Project Syndicate. George Soros.

United Kingdom

COVID-19 death toll in England 41% higher than early data suggested – ONS Reuters

Coronavirus: Government accused of ignoring offers to produce PPE amid row over delayed shipment from Turkey Independent


Second night of riots as Paris locals react with fury over ‘racist’ police attacks on minorities during coronavirus lockdown Daily Mail


In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus:


Cash to the poor is good – but will they be able to access it safely from banks? Scroll

Sub-zero WTI crude prices mean nothing for India — the impact could even be negative, says expert Business Insider The oil price crash does not necessarily those countries who would like to see lower oil prices.

India coronavirus: Can the Covid-19 lockdown spark a clean air movement BBC


China CDC chief defends early outbreak action: ‘I never said there was no human-to-human transmission’ SCMP


A golden opportunity for Middle East autocrats? Qantara

Hong Kong

After being holed up to contain the coronavirus, Hongkongers must now show agility befitting the Year of the Rat SCMP


Virgin Australia to go into voluntary administration as Richard Branson makes final plea for struggling airlines Australia

North Korea

Kim Jong Un reported ‘gravely ill’ after surgery AsiaTimes


Indonesia’s Palu endured a triple disaster, now coronavirus looms Al Jazeera

Antidote du Jour (via);

And a bonus video:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here

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  1. Redlife2017

    RE: COVID-19 death toll in England 41% higher than early data suggested – ONS
    The kicker is that the ONS noted that only 1/3rd of the registration offices were open the week ending Monday 13 April. So, uh, they think there is probably thousands more not registered yet. This is vastly worse than the official hospital figures have tallied. And one other thing is interesting – they noticed that 20% of excess deaths that week were not listed as Covid-19. So there has also been a general bump in dying or it’s just that those deaths were related and will need to be investigated.

    Good gods. What a sh**show. At the end of wave 1 we will deffo have the worst death figures for Europe and per capita might be one of the worst in the world…

    1. Ignacio

      I guess ,as it was the case of Spain in the worst days, many pneumonia non-diagnosed cases could be registered as “probable” Covid-19 but not official in the absence of confirmation.

      Today I read an article about UK and French leaderships showing anger at China opacity on the origin of Covid-19 and epidemic development data. I have the same feeling. Chinese leadership merits a lot of distrust for their management and specifically for trying to hide their mistakes that probably led to this epidemic.

      1. zagonostra

        Chinese leadership merits a lot of distrust for their management and specifically for trying to hide their mistakes that probably led to this epidemic.

        Plenty of prevarication taking place on all sides.

        The Chinese laboratory at the center of scrutiny over a potential coronavirus leak has been using U.S. government money to carry out research on bats from the caves which scientists believe are the original source of the deadly outbreak. The Wuhan Institute of Virology undertook coronavirus experiments on mammals captured more than 1,000 miles away in Yunnan which were funded by a 3.7 million grant from the US government. Sequencing of the COVID-19 genome has traced it back to bats found in Yunnan caves but it was first thought to have transferred to humans at an animal market in Wuhan. The revelation that the Wuhan Institute was experimenting on bats from the area already known to be the source of COVID-19 – and doing so with American m-ney – has sparked further fears that the lab, and not the market, is the original outbreak source.–government-gave-%243-7million-grant-to-Wuhan-lab-at-center-of-coronavirus-leak-scrutiny?

        I can echo excerpt from Ron Unz’s article to day on COVID-19

        I have no background in microbiology let alone biological warfare, so I would be hopelessly adrift in evaluating such conflicting scientific and technical claims. I suspect that this is equally true of the overwhelming majority of other observers as well, although committed partisans are loathe to admit that fact, and will eagerly seize upon any scientific argument that supports their preferred position while rejecting those that contradict it.

        Grayzone has a long article on COVID-19 that seems contradicts the Unz article on some points that I don’t have time nor ability to analyze. For me, I’ll just have to continue to read and hold off on drawing any conclusions in the short-term

        1. Carolinian

          Unz is a CT site in many ways but then you could probably say the same thing about MSNBC. My attitude is that “outside the box” is always worth a look with the appropriate cautious attitude. Experienced news readers can usually spot the tells that something is bogus. Unfortunately these days this kind of do it yourself editing is necessary to unearth accurate information.

              1. zagonostra

                Oh, thanks… but MSNBC/CNN/NYT/WaPo/etc. is also rife with CT, its just that it comes from the ruling elite’s instruments of of misinformation.

                I include Unz, in my readings because they do have regular contributors that include the likes of, Michael Hudson, Pat Buchanan, Stephen Cohen, Paul Craig Roberts, etc..also found here at NC. Also, don’t think I would have encountered alternative the historical analysis of David Irving anywhere else. But I get your drift, especially when it comes to “Jewish plots” in every tea pot.

              2. Olga

                They publish Michael Hudson’s articles – surely not a conspiracy theorist! It’s just like many other sites – hit or miss. Sometimes, they publish really good stuff that goes against the prevailing orthodoxy. Sometimes, not so much (there is a piece now from Paul Craig Roberts, which claims that Hitler did not want war. Really? – news to me…).
                For individuals trying to assess the accuracy of the million pieces of information that come at us daily, it is important to have a unified world view, firmly rooted in the knowledge of unbiased history (to the extent possible), have at least some knowledge of other cultures/histories, and keep a healthy dose of skepticism. Travel helps and studying history from various sources (plus asking uncomfortable questions). Alas, all this requires lots of time, which most people do not have.
                The condition of un-knowledge seems most acute in the US – helped by the relative isolation of the country (and steady bamboozelment by TPTB).

          1. GettingTheBannedBack

            I agree. Knee jerk reactions to any of the theories at this current time is silly, except for the already known offenders.

        2. Oregoncharles

          There seems to be no real evidence it was engineered, so whether it was introduced by the meat trade or by a mistake at the lab is pretty unimportant.

          I think there are some important questions about what research is just too dangerous to allow. If indeed the US was financing the research, that suggests they wanted it as far away as possible – not that that helped.

          1. Cuibono

            actually it is VERY IMPORTANT as preventing it again means knowing what we need to prevent. One wonders if working on these viruses in these labs is really such a good idea?

            1. Ignacio

              It is indeed very important. The labs that were analysing bat coronavirus were doing an important job on risk assessment after SARS1.0. Sequencing and genotyping Bat CoVs is not precisely the riskiest activity (samples are small, not alive and processed by people that know much better that the average what are they working with) and it is quite unlikely a lab can be a source for virus leaks and virus jumping hosts. Much more risky, and well-known with several outbreak examples before this, is the breeding of animals, particularly wild animals. Much of this breeding done in the vicinity of ecosystems that have been altered by these activities. Wild animal breeders are in contact with thousands of animals that then are in contact with transport crew and then with sellers in markets and then processers, all this without any sanitary control and there is the where the real risk resides. It is well known that SARS1.0 jumped from civets to humans but some other wild species that are commerced in China have been shown to harbour CoVs: racoons, badgers, bats, pangolins… and possibly some others not yet analysed. These are managed by people who are totally ignorant on the risks associated. Anyway, for some reason people prefer the lab hypothesis no matter how improbable it is.

              We prefer to ignore that Chinese authorities closed about 20.000 wild animal farms but choose the lab theory because… because… is it more sexy for the brains? Do we have to forbid virus research? Are you sure you want this? Should we avoid doing risk assessment of new virus diseases? Should we avoid vaccine development because it is risky? May be yes since nobody cares! First sciencists are said to cry wolf only to blame them later for the epidemic. Great! Lets protect the supply chain of wild animals because they cannot be guilty. And forbid research! Sounds reasonable.

      2. John k

        So imagine they had been perfectly transparent. Western countries did nothing until well after the virus arrived… Britain and us just the worst of a non responsive lot. Not at all clear earlier warning would have has any effect at all.

        1. MLTPB

          Taiwan, a standout so far, just did a lockdown simulation a day or two ago.

          Was that ‘just in time’ preparation?

          Couldnt they have done it in Feb? Shouldn’t they?

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, I think the UK stands out as a country where they are actively trying to suppress the real figures (as opposed to just counting them loosely or according to questionable methods). The UK media has been very kind to the government so far, I wonder how long that will last.

      The other country that stands out is Sweden – I think their relaxed approach is going to prove to be a huge mistake.

      1. schulace

        PK, on what basis do you feel Sweden is doing it wrong? The data would not seem to indicate such. Thx

        1. Monty

          The number of deaths is rising quite fast there, compared to their Scandinavian neighbors who are taking stronger action.

          Deaths per million
          Finland 25
          Norway 34
          Denmark 65
          Sweden 175

          The Swedish seem to have a quirky reporting system where hardly anyone dies for 3 days then 4 days of very high casualties. For that reason, it’s better to look at the smoothed average deaths than daily totals in isolation.

                1. schulace

                  on the third page of your link is the same chart bachman posted, so what’s your point?

                  1. Monty

                    Are you being deliberately obtuse, or do you have difficulty reading?

                    My point is that Sweden is suffering a high death rate, that is higher and rising faster than it’s neighbors who took more precautionary measures.

                2. PlutoniumKun

                  I have a reply stuck in a queue – Elon Bachman is a Stanford statistician, but his work has been severely criticised by most of his colleagues (and Nicholas Nassim Taleb:

                  They contended the Stanford analysis is troubled because it draws sweeping conclusions based on statistically rare events, and is rife with sampling and statistical imperfections.

                  Gelman of Columbia University called the conclusions “some numbers that were essentially the product of a statistical error.”

                  “They’re the kind of screw-ups that happen if you want to leap out with an exciting finding,” he wrote, “and you don’t look too carefully at what you might have done wrong.”

                  From the lab of Erik van Nimwegen of the University of Basel came this: “Loud sobbing reported from under Reverend Bayes’ grave stone,” referring to a famed statistician. “Seriously, I might use this as an example in my class to show how NOT to do statistics.”

                  “Do NOT interpret this study as an accurate estimate of the fraction of population exposed,” wrote Marm Kilpatrick, an infectious disease researcher at the University of California Santa Cruz. “Authors have made no efforts to deal with clearly known biases and whole study design is problematic.”

                  He has been pushing his theory that far more people have had the virus than modellers have assumed – I’ve seen interviews with the lead Swedish epidemiologist and its clear he shares this theory. However, they are pretty much alone with this, WHO and so far as I know, most other specialists simply don’t accept that the data supports this view.

                  Unfortunately, even good scientists can fall into the trap of searching for data to prove their pet theories, rather than looking at the data with an open mind. This seems a very good example – even in those Tweets you can almost hear the desperation as he tries to interpret the Swedish figures as a vindication.

                3. Oregoncharles

                  Deaths are the most reliable indication, per IIRC Ignacio, but they’re also a lagging indicator, by at least two weeks, maybe three. So a surge now reflects infections 2-3 weeks back, not presently.

            1. bruno mas

              Twitter is always the first place to look for data. And selecting a curve that seems to verify one’s point of view can be deceptive. While deaths may have leveled (?), infections for coronavirus continue to rise. No “flattening of the curve” is apparent. It seems Sweden is still in the initial stages of the epidemic. (It’s important to note that each nation has different demographics (susceptibility to mortality) and only time will tell if Sweden made a reasonable choice.)

      2. Dennis Brown

        With utmost respect to your opinion Plutoniankun, I think we’d be best advised to be cautious about the terms we use. Sweden’s “relaxed approach” ? “Huge mistake”?
        To be fair ,at very least, you might have noted that the Swedes have not adopted an anything goes, business as usual approach to the Covid-19. They have closed down schools up until now. Restricted large public gatherings and events. All people who are ill are told to self isolate. A major portion of the population is social distancing on a common sense, voluntary basis. Elderly people and the vulnerable are being protected by Sweden’s excellent health care system in a more targeted way than in most other countries.( Although Swedish official admit they could have done more, sooner, in this regard.) The Swedes established additional hospital and intensive care facilities in anticipation of potential overload. But these facilities have been largely unused.
        The difference between Sweden and other countries, especially those with authoritarian leaning policies, is that they didn’t collapse their economy or take away simple pleasures in life–like socializing in a precautionary way.
        As for “huge mistake”–I’m not so sure. Sweden as of yesterday had a total of 1540 deaths from Covid-19, in a population of 10M. In the tightly locked-down U.K. the reported death toll was 596 yesterday alone!. That’s about a third of the entire Swedish total in one day. Of course thanks to decades of neo-liberalism the U.K. does not have anywhere near the healthcare system that Sweden does.( By the way, comparing the death rates on a per capita population basis between the UK and Sweden shows the same pattern.)

        You may in the end be right and Swedes may have a sudden , future surge of deaths. But only time will tell. On the other hand , Nordic countries that were locked down may find that some of the deaths that Sweden has already gotten past will occur in their elderly and vulnerable populations as they once again open up as they are planning to do. Who knows?

        For what it’s worth I am glad we will have the Swedish model to use for comparative purposes. That data will be of great value as we contemplate how to respond to future pandemic threats. Which I fear, in our horribly politicized world, may now be a common feature of our future.

        1. Monty

          Deaths today

          828 of 68,000,000 = 12.17 per million

          185 of 10,000,000 = 18.5 per million

          ~33% more deaths (and rising)


          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Oh Noes, 185 deaths in Sweden “with” (not necessarily “of”) the Wuhan flu! By all means let’s dismantle Western Civilization until that number is zero (or, like the price of oil, below zero, c’mon team we can do it).

            But no, the flu d’etat continues unabated.

            And like with any flu coup we have some very sudden winners and very sudden losers. “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em. Thy Fates open their hands. Let thy blood and spirit embrace them”.

            Winners: Power-mad governments seeking total control of their serfs. Billionaire financial intermediaries. Fat, comfortable, overpaid, self-satisfied media talking heads. Multi-billionaire sociopath e-commerce monopolists. Multi-billionaire vaccine and pharma manufacturers.

            Losers: Everybody else. You happy with that? I’m not.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                Wake me up when the deaths “from” Covid (not just “with” Covid) are 10X regular flu season deaths, that *might* approach the economic devastation we have already witnessed and are witnessing from the “cure”. FYI we are at the very beginning of the effects of the economic scorched earth policy, with the second, third, fourth, fifth et alia order effects still taxi-ing down the runway towards us.

                The actuary Gail Tverberg describes these quite well:

                And I’m pretty happy commenting here, thanks.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  Public policy should be informed by, not led by, public health concerns. Auto deaths well exceed flu deaths, why do we not immediately pass laws requiring governors on all vehicles limiting them to 25 MPH? Or a total ban on all alcohol sales? (Seems to me we tried that one already). Or a total ban on all foodstuffs containing more than X% saturated fats? Try as it will The Nanny State will not defeat Death…but they may just succeed in defeating Life.

                  1. Monty

                    US auto accident deaths average ~3000 a month.
                    US Covid 19 deaths in the last month 45000

                    Car accidents aren’t a highly contagious, previously unknown disease with who knows what long term effects on those it doesn’t slay.

                    All I can say is, based on your pronouncements, it’s a jolly good job you’re nowhere near the levers of power.

                2. GettingTheBannedBack

                  I don’t remember ice rinks being used as morgues in my lifetime which is not insignificant.
                  Perhaps you can enlighten me re what flu season has done that in the past 80 years.

      3. Winston Smith

        It seems to me the number of COVID deaths reported by each country has to be evaluated in light of the testing capacity deployed. The US, for example, is certainly under testing. This means that the reported number of COVID deaths are actually lower than the actual number of COVID deaths since those have to be confirmed with a positive test.

    3. Synoia

      Good gods. What a sh**show. At the end of wave 1 we will deffo have the worst death figures for Europe and per capita might be one of the worst in the world…

      Umm…There is a Tory Government in the UK, and Tory Governments have a long history of not caring for the “little people”. To whit: NHS Funding.

    4. SKM

      @ redlife: Dr Malcolm Kendrick, a UK GP, said on e recent blog post that he oversaw 6 deaths in a care home but was unable to confirm the suspicion of Covid as no testing was available – if this is typical, you are right about the figures!!!

  2. Redlife2017

    Re: Coronavirus: Government accused of ignoring offers to produce PPE amid row over delayed shipment from Turkey

    We are seriously run by upper class morons. Turkey’s numbers have been going through the roof over the past 2 weeks. I bet they won’t let the PPE out (Erdogan is no idiot, unlike the morons I have ruling me). So, yeah. You mean we might have actual productive capacity in the UK? I hate these guys…

    1. The Rev Kev

      Turkey was supposed to send 84 tons of gear to the UK but I guess that they realized that they will need it after all. After reading about how Greece got on top of the virus pretty quick, I bet that there is not much sympathy for Turkey there after all the daily military provocations that Turkey subjects the Greeks too. I am getting more and more convinced that those countries that get on top of Coronavirus are not due to cultural factors but simple plain good leadership.

      1. Clive

        Or, and this is the nudge-nudge wink-wink unstated but strongly hinted-at suggestion here in the U.K., some countries are now relishing the supply and demand theory of pricing.

        Or-or, as sometimes alternatively stated, extortion.

        Or-or-or, “market forces”.

        You pays your money and takes your choices… (etc.)

        1. Susan the other

          I’m puzzled this morning by Richard Murphy’s suggestion a while back that we start a new accounting mechanism to include an energy bankruptcy – couldn’t survive because of the price of energy. But did I misread that totally? Was RM suggesting that an energy bankruptcy would be due to the high cost of energy – whether oil or renewable – or was he suggesting that it would be due to the collapse of a society based on oil and the subsequent fallout that cannot even be prevented because we have delayed renewables? Energy bankruptcy seems like a reasonable concept – but what exactly went bankrupt?

  3. chris wardell

    ST. LOUIS — Washington University’s medical school, taxed by COVID-19 patients and forced to face “painful realities” of the coronavirus outbreak, said Monday it planned to furlough 1,300 workers next week for up to 90 days.
    In a letter to employees, university leaders said that the crisis has cut off sources of revenue, largely at the medical campus, which has shut down or scaled back almost all services except critical care for COVID-19 patients. The academic hospitals, the letter continued, have “hundreds of empty beds.”

      1. Grumpy Engineer

        Yes. Both main hospitals in my area are furloughing employees. The hospitals were asked to cancel all elective procedures, cancel all screening exams, and postpone as much of the remainder as they possibly could to leave capacity for treating the expected inrush on COVID-19 patients. They did so, and the inrush never came. They’re even furloughing emergency room staff.

        COVID-19 infection rates in my area are running around 20 per 100k of population. For comparison, infection rates in the hot-spots near NYC or New Orleans are well above 1500 per 100k. Our COVID-19 crisis is literally 1% as bad. And yet we’re shut down just the same.

          1. Grumpy Engineer

            It’s measured rates based on test results. Undoubtedly lower than actual infection rates, but that’s true for NYC just like it is for my semi-rural area.

            I’ve been looking at numbers from here:

            It’s a fascinating map. There hasn’t been a single COVID-19 death within a 100 miles of where I live. Other places are getting hammered.

            1. xkeyscored

              Measured rates based on test results, but who are they testing? From what I hear about the USA, almost no-one except strongly suspected cases, or is that changing?

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            With testing rates and availability, how many people didn’t go for minor symptoms? It’s a virus. There is less to do until things go wonky.

            Then the nursing home populations. Are they being moved to the hospitals? Are they regularly moved to the hospital depending on the home?

        1. Carolinian

          My state is one of the three mentioned for easing. Every day our newspaper lists hospital bed occupancy which has stayed at around fifty percent throughout. While SC will undoubtedly be slammed for reopening “non essential” businesses and especially beaches the local hospitals have never seemed to have had much too much difficulty dealing with this. And isn’t that one of the major justifications for the “lockdown”?

          All of which is to say that regions vary when it comes to hospital capacity, population density, virus vectors etc. Where I live and I suspect this is true of many medium sized cities the main hospital system has, over the years, seemed to almost swallow up the town. We lost cotton mills and got minor emergency clinics instead. Which is to say business has moved to where the money is.

          I never watch Trump but he has reportedly said that a one size fits all approach to the disease is not appropriate and I think that’s right. South Carolina is not NYC.

        2. Oregoncharles

          @ G.E. – Huh? Wouldn’t they just call up all the people they cancelled and put off, and reschedule them immediately? or was most of that actually unnecessary makework? Sounds like the administrators are not earning their keep.

          To Be Fair: a lot of people are avoiding hospitals, esp. emergency rooms, because they’re plague spots.

          1. Grumpy Engineer

            Wouldn’t they just call up all the people they cancelled and put off, and reschedule them immediately?

            That’s a good question. You’d think the hospitals with surplus capacity would start offering more routine care again, but apparently not. Perhaps they’re under government orders not to. Or perhaps there’s some corporate lawyer whispering “Liability risk!!” into the ears of upper management. I don’t really know. All I know is that nurses and staffers are being furloughed (or cut back to part-time status) at the two largest hospitals in my town, and my indefinitely-delayed screening exam remains unscheduled.

            1. Procopius

              Saw an article yesterday (sorry, don’t remember where but probably linked from here) titled something like “Where have all the heart attacks gone?” Anecdotal data, but claims that all the non-COVID-19 cases that were summarily discharged to make room for the expected influx, have not returned to continue treatment, and many, many people are afraid to go to hospitals which results in delayed treatment with much, much worse outcomes. People with symptoms of heart attack, stroke, appendicitis, etc. are just trying to get through it hoping to get better on their own.

      2. gc54

        Perhaps forecasters assumed that no politician would actually have the guts to impose an economy-crippling lockdown? So their models bracketed the tsunami that instead in most places will soon come as many smaller but significant surges to prolong the agony. NYC and New Orleans were always going to be relatively very bad just because pop density/poverty and ill health would overload hospitals, but the potential for bad optics panicked politicos elsewhere into vastly overbuilding bed capacity in major cities “just in case” (e.g. relatives report empty overflow emergency bedding at several Boston suburban hospitals.)

        Now, can we expect politicos to dismantle everything overbuilt then regret doing so as the consequences in a few weeks of the lifting restrictions reflood and bankrupt for-profit hospitals w/ direly ill patients who aren’t there for elective procedures?

        1. bruno mas

          In California public health officers have the authority to implement legal health orders, including stay-at-home decrees. No politicians needed. Of course, politicians who ignore the decree and are proved wrong can kiss their “career” good bye.

          Public health requires a “prepare for the worst, hope for the best” perspective. There is no putting the genie back in the bottle for seriously infectious disease. The right call was made. Now that the worst impacts on the health care system has been avoided, it’s time to test, test, test and learn how best to get from “stay at home” to “move with caution”.

          For older folks there is no “back to normal”. Without a vaccine they will always be vulnerable. And new infection outbreaks in the general population a reality.

    1. HotFlashre pony and trap show -- on this side of the pond we say dog and pony show.

      Would ‘free’, that is, government-paid, college have helped this institution?

      on edit — oh dear, that was a cancelled comment that got appended to my screen name.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Too many customers with bad credit. Fire the staff and only open on weekends.

      You’d think they were running a corner bar & grill.

    1. xkeyscored

      It seems to be all about people’s individual journals and diaries, on Twitter and Instagram and so on. All well and good, but not really my thing.

      I’m more interested in what scientists, doctors, and various authorities knew and did about this virus, and when. I’m 90% sure I noticed a couple of headlines in some of my daily email newsletter things (Nature Briefing, maybe back in mid-December about a possible new coronavirus in some place in China that rang no bells with me. I mentally raised my eyebrows, but didn’t click on the links. Now I can’t find them. Did I imagine them? Have I not looked in the right places?

      Did anyone else see such stories? I’d love some links for my own version of coronavirus history.

        1. xkeyscored

          Thanks, but no. The items I noticed, if my memory isn’t playing tricks on me, were around mid-December, concerning a possible new coronavirus affecting people in China, and with hindsight, I’d guess Wuhan or that region specifically.

          1. Acacia

            Given what I’ve read about the timeline, that’s very possible.

            This article claims: “The symptom onset date of the first patient identified was Dec 1, 2019.”

      1. ewmayer

        @xkeyscored, in 19 Apr Links you were questioning the China-bashing re. the initial Covid-19 outbreak. Cf. my link to the China Media Project’s The Truth About “Dramatic Action” article there – it was held up for hours in moderation and didn’t show up until that evening, long after the commentariat had moved on, but would be interested in your, and other readers’, take on it. That 27 Jan article cites 8 Dec as being the “discovery of the first known case of an infected patient in Wuhan, a stall operator from the Huanan Seafood Market”. Note that the article does not claim the wet market as being the *source* of the novel virus, merely that “The market has a constant flow of customers, making it the ideal place for the spread of infectious disease”. It’s possible that subsequent sleuthing has pushed back the earliest-known-case date, so 8 Dec from a nearly-3-month-old article is compatible with a revised date a week or more earlier.

        1. xkeyscored

          Thank you very much for that. Many links, and although I can’t read any Chinese, Google Translate can.

          “December 8, with the discovery of the first known case of an infected patient in Wuhan” – yes, that sounds entirely reasonable, but this is with the benefit of hindsight. There’s absolutely no way they knew then this was SARS-CoV-2. At the time, or far more likely over the next few weeks, Chinese doctors and researchers began to think it might be a SARS-like coronavirus. SARS, nasty as it was, in no way caused a global pandemic and economic recession/depression, nor could it have really.

          Some bits are a bit vague as to timing:
          “My colleagues worked hard through the night, and within one week had managed to: successfully isolate the disease …” – within one week of December 8? That seems unlikely; one patient with unusual pneumonia doesn’t usually spark a race against the clock to figure out the cause.

          “The number of infected people rose rapidly, reaching 27 people within a short period of time.” – that tallies with what Taiwanese doctors say they were twittering their mainland counterparts about, as well as with my memories of articles which may have been memory-holed, if I haven’t imagined them. And such bodies as the National Center for Medical Intelligence would surely have heard of this, with or without published articles.

          “On January 11, on the basis of the latest research developments in Beijing and Shanghai, China officially confirmed that this new coronavirus was the pathogen causing the Wuhan pneumonia epidemic, and it shared the new coronavirus gene sequence information with the WHO. But while the Chinese authorities informed the World Health Organization about these developments at the earliest opportunity, they did not inform their own people, but instead maintained strict secrecy. This meant no progress was made on prevention and control.
          – Yes, the authorities definitely downplayed it in public. But I’m not sure about the final sentence. Behind the scenes, they appear to have been taking things a lot more seriously, while trying to maintain order and avoid panic or crying wolf and so on. “Politics first. Stability preservation first,” as you put it.

          “Wuhan officials continued to emphasize through January 14 that no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission had been found. Later, officials had to admit that there was evidence of what they called “limited human-to-human transmission.”” – I’m not too sure of that timeline. From what I can make out, mixed and muddled messages were coming from Chinese authorities and the WHO on the question of transmission from the start of January. No clear evidence of transmission, no clear evidence of sustained transmission. How much of this was non-medical people failing to understand the difference, and how much deliberate obfuscation, I don’t know. It seems certain there was transmission to close family and to health workers which was known, but that on its own isn’t enough for a pandemic.

          Censorship: undoubtedly, but that doesn’t mean the authorities took no notice of doctors’ warnings. My take on it at the time was they wanted to avoid panic, maintain order, reassure their citizens, etc, while finding out more and preparing behind the scenes. Dr Wenliang issued his warning on Dec 30/31 (my head’s spinning with all the different dates), almost the same time China alerted the WHO.

          The Wuhan Spring Banquet and all that – an unmitigated disaster with hindsight, and I’m surprised it went ahead given what was known by then. And Chinese New Year was January 25, meaning hundreds of millions of Chinese would be on the move if they weren’t already. But surely the banquet goes to show the Chinese authorities weren’t sure themselves what they were dealing with, for whatever reasons of denial, lack of understanding, or as a result of their own attempts to suppress information. That whole comments thread started over whether they lied or didn’t really know, and I think holding the banquet and festival point more to the latter. The WHO, and via them western authorities and agencies, was by then pretty well clued up about what was going on, even if the Chinese people were being encouraged to believe everything was under control with nothing to worry about. And China is a huge country with many authorities, medical and political, local and central, not always on the same page or working toward the same goals. (Just compare the situation in the USA, with Trump, Pence and Fauci simultaneously contradicting each other at every opportunity, never mind state governors and so on.)

          I remain unconvinced China was lying, even to its own people (though there they were definitely less than open and transparent), and almost certain some other nations would have made an even worse mess of it, and still are.

          Things might have been different had it all started in Taiwan or South Korea. Then again, given the nature of this thing, with its longish incubation period and ability for presymptomatic and asymptomatic cases to spread it, maybe not. Had it started in the UK or USA, I dread to think of the situation we’d all be in by now. By January 26 it was blindingly obvious to anyone with a TV that something extremely serious was going on, but much of the world still treated it like they do climate change, something that might warrant a little attention while doing nothing about it.

          Anyway, that’s a few preliminary reactions. Thank you again for your comment and links; I’ll definitely reread and follow up.

          1. xkeyscored

            PS Do you have a working link to China Media Project’s The Truth About “Dramatic Action”? I get “Sorry, we can’t find that page!” when I click on it.

            1. ewmayer

              If you follow my above “there” link to the comment I made in 19 Apr Links, said comments has the link followed by an article excerpt – but I see you found it on your own. Glad you found the piece useful.

  4. Wukchumni

    “What the Economy Needs Is a Blitzkrieg” Der Spiegel. Donald Tusk.

    Ok, irony is officially dead, it passed away @ 3:57 am PST.

    What we need is more ‘Sitzkrieg’, but so many natives are getting restless on economies of scaling down, and as per this: ~These Photos Show the Staggering Food Bank Lines Across America~ sitting in a house with empty shelves where sustenance ought to be, isn’t in the cards. It’ll be interesting to see how non gun nuttery nations do compared to us. All those yahoos here that went out and got all armed & dangerous could’ve bought a year’s worth of food instead of that AR 15, but where’s the fun in that?

    I’d mentioned long ago that when volunteering at our food bank, I noticed that the cars the needy drove were often only a few years old, and the same thing is quite prevalent in the photos of long lines of jalopies in search of survival.

    1. TMoney

      Perhaps, but they aren’t paid for. They are on 84 month loans with 10,000 in negative equity rolled in. Car payments come before the rent (see last recession) because you can ‘t get to a job without one in most place. If you spend money on the finance gods for the car, you need to drive to the food bank.

      1. BobW

        True that. Worse comes to worst, you can sleep in a car, but you cannot commute in an apartment.

        1. bruno mas

          …and California has self-service car wash, So all those shiny vehicles are older than they appear. :)

    2. Tom Stone

      Wuk, you can buy an AR15 for about $600.
      Not a fancy one, but it will work.
      If your family can make it on $50 a month for food you have very efficient metabolisms.

      1. Wukchumni

        Looks like more along the lines of $1500 for a good one-not a junker, and if you judiciously bought the right foodstuffs, would feed a couple people for a year. 20 pound bags (with 33,000 calories) of rice are only $15 here in supermarkets, to give you an idea of the kind of fare i’m describing.

        1. MT_Bill

          Might be local prices. My recent purchase was a Springfield AR15 for $799. I also had the choice of the Sig Sauer version at the same price. Neither of these are economy versions, and represent the luxury end of models coming out from large manufactures.
          For $1500, you can have “pick of the litter” from a custom shop.

          That said, $1000 does buy a lot of rice and beans.

          1. Wukchumni

            These assault rifles, do they typically come with say 300-500 rounds of ammo included in the price of the weapon?

            And how much is it per round now, a buck or more?

            If you don’t have ammunition, why not just buy a stout piece of I-beam to clunk somebody over the head instead?

            1. rowlf

              They’re not assault rifles, they just look like one. They lack a fun switch. An assault rifle starts at around $13k in the US, has to be made before 1986 and takes a lot of paperwork and a tax stamp.

              Typical range .223 is about $12 per 50 rounds. Premium ammo starts at about twice the price.

              1. Wukchumni

                Yeah, the weaponry used by the Vegas assassin who struck around 666 people was merely hunting rifles, gotta be politically correct and not piss off the arsenalists with the nomenclature.

                1. ambrit

                  Chill out Wuk. Don’t forget that you live in a “defensible” location. You’ll have to adjust to “knocking down” starving Angelinos trying to move into your “rumoured” supply rich area; probably using a .270 or .308 bolt action long gonne. That’s what we mean by defensible. Down here in the flatlands, most “civil unrest” will be at short ranges, say from one end of a city block to the other end, or closer. That scenario is what ARs and AKs were designed for.
                  That the “Paranoia” has reached MSM levels is a sign of the times. People in my lower middle and working class unner ring suburb are already talking openly about the details of arming themselves, not the theoretical, but the actual.
                  Stay safe up there, but do not get complacent.

                  1. Wukchumni


                    You think small…

                    I’ve got an 88 ack-ack on backorder from a Army-Navy store in Düsseldorf, and once it arrives i’m hoping Wal*Mart has ammo for it.

                    1. ambrit

                      Good heavens man! A Flak 88! You’ll knock out just about anything trying to drive up that twisty turny highway you live at the end of. You’ll probably have to ‘hand load’ your shells. Try the Bovington Tank Museum for some nifty do it yourself videos. Seeing your family “connections,” try to get a Skoda Works model. Superior workmanship, naturally. Then, if you find the need to “go postal,” the consognatii can sagely declare that “The Czech is in mail.”
                      Do be extra careful. This society has gone so far off the rails that lawlessness is a lot closer than many of us imagine. I mean, the fish rots from the head, right?

                    2. The Rev Kev

                      A Flack 88? Brilliant. Be the only person in your neighbourhood with a working 88. Then, in no time at all, be the only person in your neighbourhood.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Won’t be so much as a Blitzkrieg this. Trump sending all those workers back to their jobs will be more like the first day of the Somme. Wuk has it. Sitzkrieg is the way to go.

      1. Trent

        I don’t think anyone knows which way to go. I do think this is the great financial calamity we’ve all been waiting for though. Unless i’ve been the only one waiting and you guys just like to talk about it as filler.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Here are the options from a month ago. This was before New York found itself digging mass graves and other countries were being overwhelmed-

          Countries like South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia, the Czech Republic dropped the hammer pretty quick and are reaping the benefits. You can do an FDR using the principles of MMT to help get the economy back on track but not if you have a sick workforce.

    4. Clive

      Well, since we’re on the subject of jokes that came out of the Christmas cracker, I’ll take “The EU Should Issue Perpetual Bonds … George Soros”.

      Which indeed it should. But then, that’s the revenue-raising side sorted out. What about the expenditure? Managed by the EU’s famously transparent and accountable governance structures, loved the whole EU-through for their democratic inputs, eschewing of neoliberalism and ordoliberalism? Soros skips over that little niggle. In fact, he doesn’t just skip over it, he thinks it’s A Good Thing:

      The EU does not need to create any new mechanism or structure to issue the bonds […]

      No, George, of course it doesn’t. It can just carry on like it’s always done. Never change EU, never change.

      But then Soros would say that, wouldn’t he?

      I can’t resist, as it’s such a rich seam to mine, quoting and quoting again from Soros’s stream of semi-consciousness. Allow me the indulgence:

      The disruption caused by the pandemic should be temporary, but only if Europe’s leaders take the extraordinary measures needed to avoid long-term damage to the EU. That is why the EU Recovery Fund is so desperately needed.

      Hmm. Whose recovery, exactly, is that?

        1. Massinissa

          Wait, shouldn’t Hungary suddenly becoming fascist entitle it to less money, not more? Would Italy suspending all elections entitle it to the same amount of money?

  5. Jessica


    These are the population adjusted corona virus death tolls. Deaths per 1 million population as of 6:47 pm EDT April 20.
    Belgium 503
    Spain 446
    Italy 399
    France 310
    UK 243
    Sweden 156
    Ireland 139
    USA 128
    Portugal 72
    Denmark 63
    Germany 57
    Canada 45
    Norway 33

    What is going on in Europe that they are doing this much worse than the US? Or is there something off about the numbers themselves?
    Sweden vs. Denmark and Norway is one of the best cases for tighter social distancing. Though when I was in Denmark, I heard stories that suggested that elder-care in Sweden was less what one would expect from Sweden and more neoliberal.

    1. xkeyscored

      Europe v USA:
      I wouldn’t speak too soon. It wasn’t that long ago many were looking smugly at Iran and how awfully they were managing the crisis – they even had mass graves!

    2. Polar Socialist

      Population adjusted is not a very good metrics at the moment. The way the virus spreads is not depended on the population size, so stats like this tend to punish smaller populations. Also, different countries are in different phase of the infection, so they should not be compared directly. Good graphs set the countries on the same line by setting (for example) the start day as the first day of 5 recorded cases regardless of the actual date.

      Say, if you compare just New York (pop. 19M) to Belgium (pop. 11M), New York actually has 965 deaths/1M pop vs 503 for Belgium.

      1. Jessica

        The way the virus spreads is very much connected to population after the first very short while. NYC is far and away the most impacted place in the US. To NYC alone as the basis of comparison is misleading.
        It may well be that in the end, the US will do far worse than Europe, but it isn’t so far and the projections say it won’t.
        Given that health care in the US is so predatory and class-based, for Europe to do worse means something.
        Just as only 200 deaths in China outside Hubei means something.
        Not sure what in either case.

        1. John k

          Europe is more dense than us, not as high as nyc but more like ny state. Pandemics expand fast in dense pops… most places in us dont have subways or the density that justifies them.
          So ny is high, small towns are low.

            1. Olga

              S.Korea (part. Seoul), HK, and Singapore have high popl. density, yet they’ve done better.

              1. MLTPB

                One key factor.

                Other key factors may be more or less influential, depending on the situation.

              2. Monty

                It is to do with number of opportunities to infect other people that arise whilst the sick person is infectious.

                If you identify the sick person early and isolate them from others, as they made great efforts to do in Korea, the opportunity to infect goes to zero for the rest of the duration of their infectious period.

                Duration of infection x Opportunities to infect x Transmission probability x Susceptibility of population = Number of new infections per case.

                If you can get any of those parameters to zero, you get zero new infections.

      2. Steve

        Totally agree with this – not only are different countries in different phases, but different countries (and here in the US different states) are using different metrics to determine covid related deaths. Also, urban areas tend to be hit harder than rural areas. We’re probably not going to have solid numbers until testing is widespread.

        However, these numbers are useful in showing that the US is not necessarily doing any better or worse than many other countries. Obviously trump is awful but he did shut down travel earlier than most which stopped a lot of infected people from getting here in the first place.

        I simply don’t trust any numbers coming out of China though. I would add two zeros to whatever numbers they are posting.

        1. rd

          The US and Canada are very spread out with relatively low population density. A lot of people can “social distance” without doing much special, especially if their work shuts down. so I think it will take longer to work its way into every nook and cranny. However, it is clear that there are pockets of infection in every state and the US has enough people outside formal systems that the numbers could build before people are even aware.

          In the end, it will be researchers analyzing “excess deaths” who will provide an assessment. Most deaths in the US are recorded at the county level with a variety of systems and little standardization. Its unclear how fast they get recorded unless somebody pushes for a death certificate to be able to address inheritance etc. Many of these offices are probably working very slowly as it is right now. if people are outside the system, it could be a while before the bodies work their way into any death count at all.

          So I wouldn’t trust US statistics much more than China’s. Not because of a cover-up, but simply due to disorganzation – another example of Hanlon’s Razor.

      3. MLTPB

        Is population not adjusted punish bigger populations, on the other hand?

        All things being equal, I would look at population density.

        But things are not equal, so we look at other factors as well, not just the totals.

    3. Ignacio

      This is just an snapshot of current situation. If you make the same calculation for, for instance, New York State, instead of the whole US it could probably go to the top of that list only to change a month later.

      The list somehow reflects countries/regions that were taken by surprise. I partly blame it on denialism but the absence of preparedness was facilitated by Chinese opacity.

      1. Jessica

        Back of the envelope calculations says that deaths per million in NY is around 1000. Closer to 2000 for NYC.

      2. xkeyscored

        Thank you, Ignacio. I find “facilitated by Chinese opacity” so much more measured and reasonable than some phrasings I’ve seen.

          1. xkeyscored

            No, I think lies and denial entirely appropriate words there. Opacity is far too sophisticated for Trump and his gang.

      3. cnchal

        > . . . but the absence of preparedness was facilitated by Chinese opacity.

        Up to a point, true, but not even the major factor in the scale of the disaster. In January, when the news was showing a city of 20 million and territority of 60 million in total shutdown, the reaction and strategy by “our leaders” was can’t happen here. Was Trump too busy tweeting and watching Faux to notice what was happening in China? All the doofuses around him too? How idiotic is it that Tucker Carlson, of all people, drove down to Mar A Lago and grabbed Trump by the ears and gave his head a good shake and yelled ” wake the fuck up Mr. President”, before Trump snapped out of his trance.

        And Mr. Market noticed nothing until weeks later. Another group of doofuses, which are now the recipients of bazooka loads of newly digitized cash for their trash.

        Yeah, China is nasty in many dimensions, but it seems the word most used lately, “mitigation” doesn’t mean what we think it means and is a euphemism for “trying to get out of a self inflicted fuck up”.

        A looong time ago, I made a comment similar to this.

        Step one — stop flying
        Step two — there is no step two if step one is not done first.

        Now, it’s let her rip and “open up the eclownomy” and we have not even got past the denial phase. Meanwhile, are we prepared for a serious meat shortage as the slaughterhouse are shut down?

        Entire continents are now petri dishes.

        1. Code Name D

          Not to defend Trump, but I am forced to ask what his advisors were telling him. Especially the intelligence community. I can’t dismiss the possibility that intelligence set Trump up to fail.

          1. xkeyscored

            Rumours are that the National Center for Medical Intelligence was screaming about it early on, with at least one report given to The Don, but he denies ever hearing about its seriousness until whenever.

          2. cnchal

            Advisors, by definition are not the smartest ones in the room, otherwise they wouldn’t be advisors.

            Narcissist’s logic 101.

          3. jonhoops

            The Chinese were welding people into their apartments and dumping loads of gravel on the roads out of Wuhan on the 23rd of January. What more warning as to the seriousness did Trump need.

            Trump was calling it a hoax and no worse than the common flu at his rally on the 28th of January.

            So either he is stupid or malicious, or both.

            1. juno mas

              Yes. The NBA, with offices in China, saw this and knew how serious the epidemic was. The league stopped play as soon as the virus appeared in a player. They knew what came next.

    4. Woodchuck

      Think about it this way :

      Would you say “what does New-York do that is so much worse than South Dakota”?

      It got hit weeks earlier, population is more dense, in many of the Europe countries population average is also older, etc.

      It’s honestly just a very bad metric to look at, it ignores far too many crucial factors.

    5. TiPs

      It’s the numbers. You can’t lump the US into one category and compare to Europe. Two cases: NY is at 965 deaths per million (which makes it #1 on that list); CA is at 31. What is CA doing better than NY is the same question you are asking…

      1. Jessica

        Yes, CA vs. NY is another question worth asking.
        I would have guessed car culture vs. subway culture, but supposedly CV in NYC correlates with car ownership.
        One way to answer the US vs. Europe conundrum would be to say that NY is the part of the US most similar to Europe and its having more than double the death rates of the worst hit European countries is a fair measure of the US health care system.

        1. Ignacio

          I don’t think so. In any case what has been an epic failure in some European countries has been the management of nursery homes. IMO, you are doing erroneous comparisons amongst HC systems. Following your POV it should be clear that, let’s say Romania has a much better HC system than France, Italy or Spain. You are comparing epidemics that are in very different stages and there is not epidemiologic model that can predict how these are going to evolve in the future. Theoretically, the US had the advantage that could see the epidemic evolving earlier in several EU countries and had more time to get prepared.

          Trying to reach conclusions very fast is a good way to make lots of mistakes.

              1. xkeyscored

                It most certainly wasn’t, but you only wrote that they had the advantage and time. Hard to see that as theoretical, it was absolutely and undeniably in-your-face obvious, all over the TV news day and night.

          1. xkeyscored

            On the other hand, you mentioned denialism. This STAT piece has plenty on that topic:

            A few snippets:

            Magical thinking — you could call it denial — hampered the ability of even some of the most seasoned infectious diseases experts to recognize the full threat of what was bearing down on the world.

            “Everybody was in denial of this coming, including the U.S. And everybody got hit — just as simple as that,” Gary Kobinger, director of the Infectious Disease Research Center at Laval University in Quebec, told STAT.

            Kobinger himself thought the WHO’s immediate move to a war footing on the virus — the day after China made its first official report on it on Dec. 31 — was probably an overreaction. The rapid rise in cases in the city of Wuhan brought him around.

            “I was getting the same heat from people. ‘Oh, there you go again, you’re scaring everybody,’” Osterholm recalled recently. “I said, no, you don’t get it. This one’s real. This is it. And they didn’t get it.”

            “I think the real question is whether other countries are going to see sustained transmission. And on hours where I’m feeling optimistic, I think about the fact that none of the other countries, including the U.S., have seen significant sustained chains of transmission,’’ Messonnier said [on Jan 24]. “But that doesn’t mean that it’s not coming.”

            1. SteveW

              Well said. Denial. Magical thinking. Complacency. Selfishness. I also sense exceptionalism. Just don’t believe that it will happen to such superior exceptional people.

          2. MLTPB

            More time to get prepared?

            Singapore has had lots of time as well. And they are now dealing with more, new clusters daily.

            Also look at Russua, and many other places.

            Taiwan is now dealing with a naval ship that returned from a visit to Palua. Sailors returned, went to places in the island, and are now positive.

            Seems like never enough preparation…never enough time.

        2. Andrew Thomas

          There is no reason to be making any projections based upon US data. There is hardly any testing going on. There is no point in even talking about “test and trace” anymore; the only reason to do it at all is to keep the obviously very sick people with Covid19 in a separate place from the very sick people without it. And that is what is going on, at least in some places. We are sickening and killing health care professionals by the score, and our governing class can’t even provide them with the minimum protections to care for their patients. And we are going to trust the data that is spewed from their good offices? C’mon, man.

        3. Synoia

          I’m in the OC in CA. Housing density here is much less than NY.C There is little mass transit, an no subway. parking cars and high housing density are mutually exclusive.

          That an the CA Governor Gavin Newsom, locked down the state after the first Corona Virus death.

          CV ‘s arrival here seemed to appear also later, so it seems we had the benefit of horrific stories form other places to encourage us to practice social distancing.

    6. PlutoniumKun

      I think we are far too early into the pandemic to know what the final figures will be. The ‘peak’ is only passing in particularly hard hit and quite geographically defined areas. In both the US and Europe it seems quite likely that we’ll see a series of waves hitting different regions according to all sorts of variables we aren’t sure of yet. Total infection rates already seem very low, even in badly hit places, which means that even if herd immunity exists, we are a long way from it, even in places like Italy and Spain.

      In terms of mortality rate, I think though its pretty clear that the key issue is curve flattening – countries that have acted quickly seem to (so far) have kept their death rates reasonably low.

      The other factor of course is that many of the figures we’ve seen are grossly inaccurate, and probably underestimates for most countries – certainly Germany and the UK have had far more deaths than the raw figures suggest. I think only long term total mortality figures will give us something approaching the truth, and we won’t have those for many months.

      1. Monty

        UK doing the best job of tracking all cause mortality that I can find. Do you know of similar regularly updated data from anywhere else?

        The numbers for week ending 4/10 just came out, +80% excess. Quite a brutal refutation of the “They would have died anyway” theory.

        The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 10 April 2020 (Week 15) was 18,516; this represents an increase of 2,129 deaths registered compared with the previous week (Week 14), is 7,996 deaths more than the five-year average.

      2. Tom Bradford

        Today’s (22/04/20) lunchtime announcement in NZ is 6 new cases – 3 amongst returnees in quarantine and 3 linked to existing clusters. One more death, a lady in her 80’s with “a pre-existing condition.” That brings the total death toll to 14, in a population of 5 million ; ie 2.8 per million.

        We’ve had 1,451 recorded cases with 1,036 recovered. Adding the deaths means we have a ‘live’ pool of 401 cases, reducing at a rate of >50 per day.

        I believe these numbers to be accurate – they’re so (comparatively) low that every case and suspected case has been able to be investigated. There may well have been unreported cases that amounted to no more than a mild ‘flu but random testing is now ramping up and showing no community infections – every recorded case can either be linked to a returning foreign traveler or a cluster.

        Indeed the Government is already being criticised for over-reacting in the face of what some are now saying turned out to be a damp squib!

        1. The Rev Kev

          And of course if Ardern had done what Trump has done and let her rip while pitting all the Districts against each other leading to scores of thousands of infections and thousands of deaths, these very same pundits would be wailing that Ardern did not do enough to protect fellow New Zealanders. The Kiwis have done a bullet dodge that I have not seen since “The Matrix”.

    7. Grumpy Engineer

      @Jessica: You asked “What is going on in Europe that they are doing this much worse than the US?

      Part of it is that they had less advance warning, but I think a bigger factor is population density and the prevalence of “shared contact surfaces”.

      In many places in Europe (and in US cities like NYC), people live in higher-density apartment buildings where they live in close proximity to each other and frequently touch many of the same surfaces. Like handrails in stairwells, elevator buttons, door handles on fire doors and lobby entrances, etc. And in subways and buses, they sit in the same chairs and balance themselves by grabbing the same poles and bars. Spreading germs in such an environment is easy, and the effective R0 value is well above 1.0.

      In significant portions of the US, the population density is much lower, and there is relatively little utilization of public transportation. People often touch only the door knobs on their own houses and the door handles on their own cars. Other people are physically farther away. [I can go for a hour-long walk at lunchtime and not come within 50 feet of another person.] It’s harder to share germs, and the effective R0 value is significantly lower. Possibly below 1.0. I haven’t had time to compute firm statistics, but I wouldn’t be surprised if deaths per million in my portion of Appalachia were less than 2.

      1. Synoia

        The majority of housing in Italy is high density units.

        In the UK London is densely populated, and one would have to compare London with a City like Norwich, or Winchester, which have much less population density.

        I don’t recall many “row houses,” houses sharing party walls on both sides, in Cities I’m familiar with in the UK, Norwich, King’s Lynn, Felixstowe or Swindon.

        1. xkeyscored

          Tons of them in many English cities. I’ve lived in a few, but we usually call them terrace houses. Some are rundown and delapidated, usually still with a good feel to them and the community compared to high rises, others sort of gentrified, and Number 10 Downing Street (our White House, I guess) is a glorified version of the same idea.
          Google image page “uk terrace house”

    8. Anonymous 2

      I am not confident that the worldometer figures are being collected on a consistent basis. The UK figures look to be only deaths from COVID reported in hospital while the French figures include deaths outside hospital. There have been many deaths in the UK in care homes and elsewhere which are excluded from worldometer’s numbers.

      1. Ignacio

        Yes I think French are more serious reporting casualties (than the UK, Spain or Italy). That is why the slope of the French curve looks steeper. Also, the fall in casualties in Spain and Italy is steeper than that official numbers show because reporting has improved once their HC systems are not collapsed.

    9. xkeyscored

      I believe Singapore, long touted as a success story with comparatively few cases, is now seeing a surge.

      1. Cuibono

        TO say they are not comparatively a HUGE success would be a mistake. 11 deaths/ 6 million people and huge trade with China. YEs they are seeing A HUGE SURGE.
        WHY? they took their eyes off the highest risk settings: crowded workers dorms

      2. Cuibono

        It is. Why? Took eyes off most vulnerable populations: happens there too.

        BUT still:
        11 deaths/ 6 million people. Huge ties to China traffic. few nations come close

    10. Anonymous 2

      I have just read a study suggesting that the strains of virus in the US are less lethal than those in Europe and China. There are so many variables to consider. It is best not to rush to conclusions until we can review everything carefully – assuming we are alive to do that.

      1. xkeyscored

        Virologists might correct me, but even if less lethal strains have evolved, they could mutate into something worse.

        1. rd

          Yes, but from the virus’s survival standpoint, the best case scenario is to be asymptomatic or nearly so (e.g. common cold) so that the carrier can spread the virus far and wide. Ebola, MERS, and SARS got shut down fast because the symptoms start relatively quickly and are very violent, so the cases could be detected quickly and pounced upon.

          It would be good for both the virus and us if it is mutating into something much less dangerous even if it spread easily. ideally, it would just become a similar variant of the common cold. so an increasing percentage of asymptomatic cases is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if the virulence in the extreme cases is less and/or the doctors figure out how to rtreat the symptoms better.

      2. TroyIA

        Correct. NYC strain was the deadlier strain that infected Europe while the west coast strain was the milder strain from China.

        Coronavirus’s ability to mutate has been vastly underestimated, and mutations affect deadliness of strains, Chinese study finds

        The most aggressive strains of Sars-CoV-2 could generate 270 times as much viral load as the least potent type

        New York may have a deadlier strain imported from Europe, compared to less deadly viruses elsewhere in the United States

      3. Susan the other

        The SCMP article on mutations occurring after the first outbreak in Wuhan; subsequent ones in China and in Europe were more virulent. And the European strain emigrated from Europe to NYC, whereas the original milder strain landed earlier in Washington state. Making vaccines difficult; but on the other hand making inoculation by the earlier strain effective against the later, more deadly strain – so that’s a form of vaccination, no?

    11. Zamfir

      A lot of this is just timing. There was a switchover point, roughly in the middle of march, when the heavy measures started everywhere. Even in places without much infections, because those places had seen the images from Italy.

      So, the numbers mostly tell you one thing: how far was the spread in the middle of march? Then there is the effect of just a few days earlier or later action, which can result in surprisingly large difference later on.

      It’s tempting to use these numbers to draw large conclusions about a country’s healthcare system or governance, but that is mostly swamped by the accidents of timing.

      Basically, the US numbers are lower because the disease had speed less far when images from Italy became scary enough to take preventive action.

      Of course, the images from Wuhan should have been that scary warning, but both Europe and the US did not take those serious enough.

      1. Monty

        Thank you. This is exactly right in my opinion. If you don’t have a lot of people walking around spreading it, you don’t get a big outbreak. It is amazing how difficult this is to grasp for some people.

  6. a different chris

    Wow. Well like the article says, you can’t really figure out anything about N. Korea. Whether Kim Jong Un is on death’s door, and what succession would actually look like is not for me to say.

    But what a weird shock to the world if suddenly the supposedly most horrible country evah is led by a fetching young woman.

    1. Louis Fyne

      my $0.01 prediction: North Korea will be the next Asian sweatshop like Cambodia/Vietnam.

      Whether KJU will be around for it is another story. But given how South Korea pointedly said they see nothing unusual going on in the North, I’ll take CNN and “a knowledgeable senior government official” with some salt.

    2. xkeyscored

      I haven’t heard much of Grand Ayatollah Khamenei of late. What a weird shock if COVID-19 replaces him with a fetching young woman.

    3. Massinissa

      I doubt they’ll actually put Yo-jong in charge, honestly. They’re a very confucianist country. They’ll probably put Jong-un’s older brother Jong Chul (their father passed Jong-chul over for jong-un because he thought jong-chul was weak and effeminate) in charge as a puppet and have Yo-jong control everything from behind the scenes.

      I mean, she seems to basically be doing that to some extent with the current Jong-un regime already.

  7. QuarterBack

    Re yesterday’s crash of the May contracts for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) into negative territory, I was mesmerized yesterday watching the unprecedented plunge. Looking at the the price chart heading almost straight down below zero, made me think that the graph looked more like the industry was drilling to find the bottom of the WTI price (-$40/bbl).

    The oil market is normally one the most efficient just-in-time supply chains that exists in the world. This efficiency leverages decades of big data statistics that precisely synchronize production and delivery logistics with leading indicator demand signals. COVID19 changed everything by creating a rapid 1/3 drop in global demand, which was much faster than any of the demand-side models could react. This resulted in a supply chain (and oil futures traders) that had been signaled to produce much more oil than was actually needed. This cascaded to having the May WTI futures contract holders being stuck with obligations to accept delivery on physical oil that far exceeded actual near term demand, and with it, all available oil storage around Cushing, Oklahoma.

    Lots of money was made and lost on 20 April, but the big question now is what will be the secondary and tertiary affects of this wealth (and corresponding power) redistribution, as well as the changes in market sentiments for investors that have long considered the energy sector to be a dependable (or at least predictable) safe asset class.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      I watched this interview earlier today and recommend it highly. He is adviser both to Swedish govt and to WHO, and has quite the academic and professional pedigree. Not at all arrogant; he struck me as being a consummate professional and open to the possibility that he is wrong (he suggests to the interviewer that they meet again in April 2021 and see how different countries have fared, because today it’s too early to reach any conclusions). He defends Sweden’s policy as a common-sense and balanced approach based on the scientific facts available.

    1. Acacia

      Seems pretty likely that Biden will blow a gasket sooner or later, at which point Michelle would ascend to the throne, with Mr. O in tow.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        For some reason, “blow a gasket” seems especially funny when applied to biden. He’s the epitome of a sputtering, backfiring jalopy breaking down on the dirt backroads outside of Mayberry while on a mooonshine run.

        Here’s Kunstler’s latest take:

        Everybody knows he’s dimmer than a night-lite, and everybody’s pretending it’s okay. There’s no analog in history for any faction putting up such an empty vessel for high office. Granted, the Democratic Party has trafficked in unreality for years, from Crossfire Hurricane through UkraineGate ­ — with side-trips like trannies in women’s sports — but those capers were just old-fashioned scams. Joe Biden for President is Emperor’s-New-Clothes caliber deceit, requiring a rank-and-file so marinated in falsehood they couldn’t tell you the difference between a red light and a green light.

        Especially like the “marinated” characterization.

        1. Carolinian

          I’d say we’ve had more than a few presidents who were “empty vessels” and were often picked by the party boys in the smoke filled rooms. The more things change the more they stay the same.

          Of course if he picks Michelle then we will have two empty vessels IMHO. I think she knows this which is why she declines to show an interest.

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            barry o., and by extension his devoted wife, spent 8 years in the white house with joe as vp and declined to endorse. joe’s own wife’s ringing endorsement amounted to “hold your nose and vote for my husband.” Early on in the campaign when joe was flailing, it was suggested that he preemptively name stacy abrams his vp and she preemptively declined.

            Despite the truly insane effort to deny joe’s painfully obvious cognitive decline in an effort to portray him as nothing more than your garden variety bad dem candidate, it’s bound to be a long and painful campaign filled with embarrassing equivocations and bullshit explanations of crazy uncle behavior.

            I don’t think biden’s going to have the luxury of “picking” anyone. He’s going to have to BEG some overly ambitious, self-aggrandizing dim bulb on the order of sarah palin to run interference for him for what may be a very long four years, on the sheer hope that the payoff will come later which, in this day and age, is nowhere near a sure thing.

            I just don’t think la belle michelle is that gal.

            1. John k

              It would usefully get Hillary back in the woods…
              It’ll be first endorser klobuchar… which might also annoy Hillary.
              Veeps sometimes elevated…

            2. Olga

              Or, she could be… imagine a calculation, in which Joe is removed because “unable to fulfill his constitutional duties.” MO then becomes mrs. prez… very easy and clean. HRC likely did not expect others could adopt her “two-for-one” strategy.

          2. John Wright

            Warren G. Harding is one that comes to mind.

            He was self aware enough that he admitted he would be a better choice as an ambassador.

            He had a fondness for booze (even during prohibition while in the Whitehouse), broads (fathered an illegitimate daughter) and poker.

            While some suggest he was one of the worst presidents, I tend to evaluate presidents on the harm they did not do (or set in motion for later).

            In this view W.G. Harding was not a bad president at all, especially when compared to the harm caused by George W. Bush (or Woodrow Wilson).

            Harding had a lot of small time crooks/grifters in his administration who enriched themselves at the public’s expense, causing the administration to be known for corruption.

            Now the USA has evolved to completely legal grifting via revolving doors and perks put in legislation.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        If she puts the same effort she did into her healthy eating initiatives, I’m sure the first and only book in the series will be instructions about how to sign in to Netflix.

    2. xkeyscored

      I got this from Nikki Haley (via Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire) half an hour ago:

      Fellow American,

      This was the wake-up call we needed. American dependency on China MUST end.

      They lied to all of us in the midst of a global public health crisis that has killed THOUSANDS and devastated MILLIONS.

      Now, Americans must stop fooling ourselves about China and the threat they pose to our safety and security.

      blah blah send me some money and I’ll save you all –

      Will you join Stand For America right now and fight for policy changes that strengthen our country?

      The retching young woman for VP or P?

  8. jackiebass63

    You reap what you sow. The people of the UK elected their present government by a huge majority. Now they will pay the price. The UK elected a Trump clone. The biggest difference is Boris can speak in complete sentences while Trump talks in sound bites. Both have their version of what a fact is. Both made grand and glorious promises that they had no intention of keeping. I know very little of British politics but in watching Boris talk, I saw a scary similarity between Trump and Boris.

    1. Clive

      He was better than the other lot. Which says all you need to know about UK politics, right there.

        1. Clive

          Yes, I really should clarify, that was from a point of view of the electorate overall, not on an absolute objective basis. A trend which continues to this day.

          There’s a whole Trump-vs.-Biden least-worst thing going on in this, but not really relevant to the original commenter’s point.

          But wherever you stand, blaming the voters is always and everywhere a bad idea.

            1. John k

              But Corbyn had the oppo to sack them, no?
              A lack of ruthlessness links Bernie and Corbyn. My good friend joe…
              Not so with the dems.

              1. bob

                How does any of that contradict with this-

                “The small groups in power at the top of labor and the dems would prefer to have bojo and trump rather than Corbin or Sanders. They said so. They continue to say it and act on it.”

                If you’re trying to steer it toward blaming the victims, leave me out of it

              2. Clive

                Well, yes and no. He couldn’t sack his Members of Parliament (that’s not how the UK system works). So he was stuck with their carping and undermining.

                But yes, quite how such a life-long committed socialist and fringe agitator of such experience in the political trenches well used to having knuckle-fights with the trendy lefty centrists ever came to be allowing himself to be ideologically kidnapped and held hostage by a gang of middle-class credentialed luvvies in Islington, that I simply can’t explain.

                  1. Clive

                    You mean Corbyn as the victim, there, in what you say?

                    Ridiculous. He certainly could have busted their chops, metaphorically speaking, if he’d wanted to do anything about them.

                    We’re talking about Emily Thornberry and the like here. We’re not talking about an armed gang.

                    1. bob

                      It’s the definition of victim blaming. You wrote it.

                      “allowing himself to be ideologically kidnapped and held hostage”

  9. Severian

    Thanks for the link to the list of best scholarly books of the decade. Lists like that from decent sources are very helpful in organizing future reading possibilities. The book, Covert Capital about Northern Virginia looks particularly interesting as does the one about the history and interpretation of Islam.

  10. Koldmilk

    Coronavirus: universities face a harsh lesson

    This paragraph

    Large market-oriented university systems in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada are particularly vulnerable, as they have increased tuition fees and borrowed heavily to invest in things like sports facilities and accommodation to attract and house students. This was supported by a belief in the continued growth in the number of international students – currently over 5 million worldwide – who pay higher fees than their domestic counterparts.

    explains that it’s not a universal problem [emphasis added] and it’s the older virus, neoliberalism, not the new one to blame.

    1. Trent

      I’d say the older virus of neoliberalism is to blame for the new virus. If you didn’t have so much globtrotting and such who knows if this would have stayed where it originated. Essentially in 1971 the USA had a choice. Live within means and behave somewhat honestly or abandon all restraint, sell assets to 3rd world countries, take the proceeds and extend credit to anyone with a pulse as a substitute for income and let the world be damned. All of the worlds problems can be traced to neoliberalism. But nobody is trying to sue neoliberalism for 20 trillion dollars. Just china in the hopes of starting a war.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Virgin Australia to go into voluntary administration as Richard Branson makes final plea for struggling airlines”

    Oddly enough I find myself agreeing with Scotty from Marketing here. Virgin is mostly owned by overseas airlines and Richard Branson has a 10% stake. So if the Government gave Virgin that $1.4 billion, it would have mostly gone overseas to shareholders with no guarantee that they might declare bankruptcy anyway. After screaming everyday about job losses and what about ‘competition’, now that they have gone into voluntary administration, they say that they will be reformed soon and flying again. Bluff called.

    1. Wukchumni

      Then you will see the rise of the double standard – the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money – the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law – men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims – then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

      Francisco d’Anconia

      1. John Anthony La Pietra

        I may find myself irresistibly drawn to borrowing “hitchhikers of virtue”. (Unless I decide “hijackers” is better. Of course, either way begs for a two-part question: “What virtue, and whose?”)

  12. Krystyn Podgajski

    RE: “He ran marathons and was fit. So why did Covid-19 almost kill him?”

    So, in that article they say he had very high ferritin and C Reactive Protein. And he was an avid marathon runner.

    The first thing that will help is that they need to understand that he was not healthy, but only had the appearance of health. What is happening is something you cannot see if you are trained not to see it which is why most the medical industry does not see it. To not even be interested in the links below and how thy might sew a thread through all this is criminal.

    Is being a marathoner healthy? Is there life expectancy any longer or is it shorter?

    So here are some links for conversation:

    1. Painted Shut

      I really like your posts in general, Krystyn, and was definitely interested in this one. I’m in my mid 40s, run 10k distance 4x/wk (never a marathon though), so I assumed I am in good health. I cruised through the links you provided… conclusion is, running is helping my overall health, but maybe decreasing zinc absorption via increased sweat, which could result in decreased resistance to corona virus?

      Also, I’ve been taking elderberry supplements, which include zinc. This seems to have helped me through a couple of flu seasons (I don’t do flu shots). Curious to know your thoughts on elderberry supplements?

      1. Krystyn Podgajski

        Thanks! I do not feel there is really enough elderberry in the lozenges to make a difference but there is no strong research on that either way. I have seen studies that have used 15ml of the extract and had results against A and B. I had the same results with the lemon and elderberry lozenges in the past with the flu so anecdotally I would say the zinc is more important. I do not do flu shots either and I am 50ish.

        I used to get the flu really, really bad until I started using zinc. I probably have Lupus and you will note that hydroxychloroquine is used in people with Lupus as well, so the fact that zinc might help both is interesting to me personally.

        I have a feeling that zinc might not only be lost, but that the cellular transport of zinc might change as well in marathoners. Zinc Transporter expression has been shown to change in a variety of circumstances so one might assume they might change with running as well. Omega 3 fats affect some of these transporters as well. So it may be more about function than deficiency.

        More research is needed in this area for sure, but it will never happen.

        1. Lee

          More research is needed in this area for sure, but it will never happen.

          Given the current level of world wide freak out, which is not unreasonable, I think there’s going to be a lot more health related research into a lot more previously ignored possible remedies—some of it good, some of it bad, some of it ugly, and, more importantly, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with enhancing big pharma profits and shareholder value. I’m having an optimistic day.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Jim Fixx, marathon man, was a really healthy, until he wasn’t:

      an American who wrote the 1977 best-selling book The Complete Book of Running. He is credited with helping start America’s fitness revolution by popularizing the sport of running and demonstrating the health benefits of regular jogging. He died of a heart attack while jogging at 52 years of age; his genetic predisposition for heart problems and other previous lifestyle factors may have caused his heart attack.[1]

      Anecdote not equal data…

      1. Oregoncharles

        It takes only a single case to prove possibility. Prevalence requires data, but you ask the questions because of anecotes.

        1. Krystyn Podgajski

          Yes! This! There was a brilliant man (Stephen Crohn) during the AIDS epidemic who seemed immune to HIV and he insisted that a brilliant doctor should study him. They found he had a genetic mutation that made him resistant to the virus which led to them finding some early treatments. He was an anecdote, but crucial none the less.

          So while they are studying all these sick people they need to compare them to the asymptomatic people to gain anything of value. Otherwise it will just be another vaccine.

          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            So I went looking for a meme I’d seen (maybe here?) about how we knew it was a BAD scene when Keith Richards tweeted about his concern for fans’ safety as a factor in the band’s canceling live performances . . .

            . . . and then I found this:


  13. Monty

    More in the Stanford “Santa Clara” study.
    Feud over Stanford coronavirus study: ‘The authors owe us all an apology’

    Some of the world’s top number crunchers calling the study sloppy, biased and an example of “how NOT to do statistics.”

    “I think the authors owe us all an apology… not just to us, but to Stanford,” wrote Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University.

    1. anonstat

      I am a statistician. The Stanford study had a “supplemental materials” appendix that describes the equations they used for their analysis, which you can read. I read the appendix and think their statistical analysis is appropriate. Andrew Gelman in his criticism (he had a detailed blog post with specific points) made it seem like he did not read this appendix and attacked points which actually had been addressed in the appendix. Many of the twitter threads with criticism (which have been posted here) use incorrect intuition to criticize the study. If you want to criticize the study you either have to show which of the assumptions they made is bad and then show that changing the assumptions leads to a very different result, or you have to show which of the equations the authors used were wrong. (There are a few technical points that can be criticized, but again to show error you would have to redo the calculation and show a divergence in results.) The equations the authors used look to be correct based on their appendix, and so the only question is whether you agree with their assumptions. I will say that the assumptions they made are standard for the field of epidemiology, and so much of the criticism of the assumptions is concern trolling because people are not happy with the result of the study.

      The ultimate caveat is that there will be a bias in their sample, which affects the accuracy of their results. But every single study, even the ones showing high mortality rates, is affected by some form of bias. No one study will show the whole picture, but every study taken together paints an overall picture.

      1. Monty

        You must also know the assumption they made was: the tests were more accurate than the manufacturer’s claim. If you put the manufacturer’s test accuracy into the equations, you don’t get the same sensational numbers at all. Somewhere from 0% up, rather than 4%.

      2. The Rev Kev

        There was a bias with those selected for testing. They put a post on Facebook asking for people to be tested. As testing was so hard to get when this study was done, a lot of people saw this as a great way to confirm if they had Coronavirus or not. And likely they told friends and family about it as well who, because they had contact with that person, also wanted a free test to confirm their fears. I heard that you would only need 50 such people to skew the data for this study. An honest study would have used random people from different areas so by using Facebook, I suspect that this was a study designed to get an answer they wanted.

        1. Monty

          They also asked if the applicants had been feeling ill recently. Perfectly normal, if you want to stack your results with as many positives as possible!

    2. Lee

      The normal peer review process prior to publishing can take considerable time. At present, people want answers quickly while operating in the equivalent of a fog of war. Mistakes will be made. There is a rationale for putting out less than fully baked hypotheses in the article cited. Essentially, they are doing peer review in public.

      In response, on Sunday, the Stanford study’s authors said they are planning to soon release a detailed appendix that addresses many of the “constructive comments and suggestions” the team has received.

      “This is exactly the way peer-review should work in scientific work, and we are looking forward to engaging with other scholars as we proceed in this important work,” said Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya, professor of medicine at Stanford University, who along with colleague Dr. Eran Bendavid, also assisted with the USC study.

      If the test methods and results are revealed to be faulty, well and good. Mistakes are revealed and corrected. We have learned something. Sounds like science to me.

    3. sd

      Thank you. The article really helps to clarify the differences between the Stanford study and the recent USC study reported yesterday.

    4. skk

      Thanks for noting that news item on the critique of the Stanford study by Andrew Gelman. Here’s the full critique:

      To discuss this paper, I’ll work backward, starting from the conclusion and going through the methods and assumptions.

      I rate Andrew Gelman highly. I use the open-source software STAN ( used for specifying and solving Bayesian statistical models ) that he was a core developer of. He’s also a self-deprecatory writer and self-critical scientist as one should be, as seen in this :

      But Stanford has also paid a small price for publicizing this work, because people will remember that “the Stanford study” was hyped but it had issues. So there is a cost here. The next study out of Stanford will have a little less of that credibility bank to borrow from. If I were a Stanford professor, I’d be kind of annoyed. So I think the authors of the study owe an apology not just to us, but to Stanford. Not to single out Stanford, though. There’s also Cornell, which is known as that place with the ESP professor and that goofy soup-bowl guy who faked his data. And I teach at Columbia; our most famous professor is . . . Dr. Oz.

      The soup-bowl guy is Brian Wansink.

  14. SpainIsHot

    “Iowa Sends National Guard Troops to Defend Meat Plants From Virus” …. God forbid we stop the killing, even for a couple of months. Show must go on!

  15. The Rev Kev

    “COVID-19: Healthcare Workers Block Protest Against Colorado Stay-Home Order”

    Did anyone notice the real American in that video? Apart from that healthcare worker that is. He was the big guy with the bushy beard that patted that healthcare worker on the arm in support as he walked by. That healthcare worker should have carried a sign with him that said “I will see you all again – in about two weeks.”

    1. Painted Shut

      Need to go back to the original objectives, as there’s been a lot of scope creep:

      15 days to slow the spread
      30 days to flatten the curve

      Never “stay home until every germ is eradicated”. This thing will be with us for awhile. Need to learn to live with it. Distancing, masks, hygiene, stay home if you’re sick, but reopen everything.

      And even if stuff is open, you can still make the personal choice to continue to stay home. You do know that right?

      1. Monty

        Do you think there will there be sufficient demand for all the retail stores, gyms, theaters, bars and restaurants to reopen at the moment?

        If they open, but the consumers do not return in sufficient numbers, there will be a lot of places going under from the weight of the overheads of keeping the doors open.

        1. Painted Shut

          In most parts of the country, yeah, I think the demand will be there. Not as high as before, perhaps, but look at the reopened Jacksonville beaches, for example. People will likely exercise some caution, but they are ready to get back out there.

          I think people in most parts of the country, outside of the hotspots, don’t see a common sense difference between going to the grocery store, with precautions, and going anywhere else with the same precautions. I can social distance at the mall (or beach, gym, etc.) just as easily as at the grocery store.

          1. Louis Fyne

            I’m calling shenanigans on some of those photos (beaches + lockdown protests) as the perspective + angle + framing can make a modest group of people look like a mob.

            One can tell a white lie with a camera too. Just saying

            1. Katniss Everdeen

              That may be true, although that’s not the story we’re getting here in FL from the local news, at least as far as beach openings go.

              The reaction to the reopens was, shall we say, “robust.”

          2. Monty

            If everyone took the threat as seriously as you, there would be no need for a lock down.

            Haven’t you noticed the rather vocal minority saying the virus is just a hoax and a much larger group telling us it’s no big deal.

            Can those people be counted on to do enough to protect the vulnerable in a Covid-19 honor system? If they can’t, how many lives will be lost as a result?

            1. Trent


              As far as i could tell we were doing a assbackward job of protecting the vulnerable before Covid-19

      2. xkeyscored

        “The United Nations warned Thursday that the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic may be more dangerous than the virus itself for the world’s children, claiming that in 2020 hundreds of thousands could die and tens of millions more be plunged into poverty.”

        “Vulnerable parts of the developing world, particularly in Africa, are at risk of sliding into famine as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, while humanitarian relief efforts are being hindered by lockdowns and travel restrictions, according to the UN.

        Experts raised the spectre of unrest similar to that seen in 2007-08 when food price rises sparked riots around the world, destabilising fragile states and fuelling conflict in ways that are still being felt. They told the Guardian that the world could still avoid such a crisis, but time was running out.”

        1. Andrew Thomas

          Sorry, but the reasons behind “reopening the economy” are in no way related to the fate of millions of poor children the world over, or their parents, for that matter. Whatever benefit that will be derived from it will “trickle down”. But not far enough. People the world over who have no choice but to interact with random other people will be sacrificed. But this won’t be problematic, because there will be plenty surplus humanity to take the places of the dead and permanently disabled. No one knows the thinking of our merged uberwealthy and governing class was when this started, but when you have complete control of the money, you can turn any number of lemons into lemonade, for you. And it isn’t as though some mutant blobs from said governing class, like the attorney general of Texas and Glenn Beck, didn’t give us at least a foretaste of the kinds of savagery that run through what passes for the minds of our betters.

          1. xkeyscored

            I don’t doubt you for one moment. But the economic fallout is affecting many outside the global north already, and some re-opening, for whatever reasons, may help avert worse consequences. And I read recently, but can’t find the article, that even a partial lockdown such as in Europe and the USA would cause more harm than good in many African countries.

      1. Screwball

        I think one of you are quoting the May contracts and the other June contracts. So you both are right.

  16. Jos Oskam

    “…Second night of riots erupt in Paris as residents accuse ‘racist’ police of attacking minorities during coronavirus lockdown…”

    The article forgets to mention that the motorcyclist whose accident provoked the uproar was riding at excessive speed in an urban area, without driving license or insurance, and ran into the door of the police car when the officer opened it to get out to stop the guy. In other words, an antisocial and dangerously deranged individual on a rampage got into a heap of trouble of his own making.

    I hate racism as much as any reasonable person, but I hate unfounded and biased stupid sensationalism about as much. And this article is a prime example of the latter.


    1. bob

      “ran into the door of the police car when the officer opened it to get out to stop the guy.”

      That’s got all the smootheness of ‘officer involved shooting’….

    2. Bugs Bunny

      The Police Nationale are a special breed, it’s hard to go into details in a short response but, suffice to say that recruits who may be from a little village in rural France are sent into what are essentially combat zones and have to manage to stay neutral, with all the baggage they carry from watching national news from Paris that emphasizes the (racially) dangerous nature of the suburbs. Long story short – scared cops, scared kids, complications ensue.

      1. Jos Oskam

        True enough. And it certainly is not my intent to defend the officer in question or condone police violence in general.

        But this biker “victim” has already been sentenced 14 times, notably for drug-related offenses, refusal to comply, aggravated violence, extortion, and several times incarcerated. He has also been under judicial supervision since March 16 for death threats with a meat cleaver and has already been fined three times for non-compliance with the confinement rules. And he was riding at high speed against traffic without a helmet on a non-insured bike without a license.

        And still some media insist on making a martyr out of this guy. Things like that p*ss me off.

    3. David

      Well, it’s the Daily Mail, which never declined to print an anti-French story just because it was wrong.
      The largely unreported story here is that in certain parts of France the confinement order is not being respected, and is not being enforced. The paradox is that in small towns and the countryside, and in the prosperous parts of cities, the lockdown is well respected and enforced without too much difficulty. But as I predicted at the start, it has been impossible to enforce in the rough suburbs of the major cities, which have majority immigrant populations and where the police seldom go even under normal circumstances. They don’t have the manpower to enforce the lockdown, and would start a riot if they tried to. You can’t enforce laws in areas where the rule of law doesn’t exist. The PN are far from perfect, but they aren’t responsible for the generation of neglect that has produced this situation.

  17. diptherio

    Forcing employees to sign hold-harmless agreements to receive their gov’t required PPE. Gawd, I love this country!

    I just found out from a friend who works at Raleys, a northern California grocer, that legally required ppe is being withheld because nothing in the law prevents requiring an employee for sign a hold harmless agreement to receive said ppe.

    Yeah, if you take the ppe, you can’t hold the employer responsible if you get covid. If you find this going on in your community, make some noise!

    1. sd

      Much like signing a rider if anyone wants a job…

      Reopening Hollywood: From Insurance To Testing, Crowd Scenes & Craft Services, Here Are The Pandemic Problems Studios Are Trying To Solve Before The Restart

      Most likely, everyone on a film or TV production will be required to sign a rider, similar to ones they sign covering behavior codes in areas like sexual harassment, to indemnify the productions. “You acknowledge you are going into a high-density area, and while we will do our best effort to protect you, nothing is failsafe and if you contract COVID-19, we are not liable,” said a source involved drawing up these guidelines. “There is no other way we can think of to address this. If you don’t want to sign, don’t take the job.”

  18. Wukchumni

    BREAKING NEWS: Oktoberfest 2020 is officially cancelled.
    Went to Oktoberfest once around 25 years ago, and we were in the Hofbräu building for opening day, and our waitress came around before they popped the keg and got our 22 DM per liter in advance to ensure that we’d be ready to indulge asap.

    We plowed through 4 liters each and got pretty woozy so we went outside, and there’s bumper cars, roller coasters and the haunting aroma of mackerel on a stick wafting through the air, which made me want hurl just smelling it, but I had to rely on the bumper cars to do the trick. We got on the subway and went back to our hotel to sleep it off, and rallied ourselves to go back around 7 pm.

    The Hofbräu was full of Aussies & Kiwis who had these special t-shirts made and for every liter drank, they’d take a sharpie and put a hashmark on said shirts, and the most I saw on any one Antipodean was 18.

    I had no idea anybody could drink that much…

    1. a different chris

      He could have started out with the great Blazing Saddles quote: “You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the New West. You know…morons.”

      But that was funny and true, and Frank was making the opposite point. Still…. hate to let a great quote go to waste!

      1. Andrew Thomas

        Along with Governor LePetomayne’s perfect reaction to the problems at Rock Ridge- we’ve got to save our phony baloney jobs, gentlemen! No quotes because from memory, but really close. Thank you for making me smile, a different chris.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Actually, I failed to provide a link, because I have a subscription, but someone else did. I’m pleased that it isn’t paywalled, and thanks for the credit.

  19. juno mar

    RE: Pulse Oxymeter as early detection

    This is an excellent recommendation/observation by a ER doctor. Unfortunately pulse oxymeters are not available (out of stock) at Amazon and other online retailers, right now.

    The use of this simple device ($50 online) would also aid in tele-medicine communication. These fingertip devices and a infrared thermometer would help people better determine suspicion of Covid-19 onset.

    1. Carolinian

      Lidl grocery was selling them for 20 bucks before the big crisis–kicking myself for not buying one.

        1. ambrit

          Crazy. I lucked out on e-bay and have one “in the mail” for around $20 USD. (I too kick myself. I thought about it several weeks ago when the English Nurse mentioned how useful a tool it is for the housebound and then let it slip my mind.)
          That and the printout about how to help the lungs drain will come in handy eventually. I am a bit of a pessimist about this and expect us all to catch it sooner or later. I am of the opinion, (of which I have one to match my fundament,) that finding a vaccine against this may prove problematic. I read that no other coronavirus has an efficient vaccine, which is daunting since about a third of human upper respiratory infections are supposedly caused by coronavirii. They have been around for Donkey’s Years, and no vaccines yet. For that reason, I’m trying my d—dest to prepare for dealing with this.
          Stay safe all in these interesting times!

  20. zagonostra

    >AOC Virtual Press conference

    I watched both The Rising this morning and Jimmy Dore’s live stream last night on AOC’s release of a video on her opposition to interim coronavirus relief package.

    I think JD does the better analysis. I like The Rising, but it’s remarkable that it is actually a comedian that does the better drill down of facts and is able to point out the contradictions in AOC’s statements/actions.

  21. Billy

    “Second wave of unemployment.”

    From hereon, people are going to have an opportunity to raise hell with owners and managers and boycott or publicly smear the reputation of local businesses if they don’t have people that reflect the community in which they are located working there.

    The lame excuse that “No one is applying for these jobs, (at the hourly pay offered), is not going to work anymore. Example: a local cafe hired nothing but young Hispanics teenagers, immigration status unknown, and charged plenty for feeding their precious yuppie yoga mat clientele. No local teenagers, college age kids nor adults ever got hired. That is not going to be acceptable in the future. Nothing that a few pickets in front on a Saturday morning can’t rectify.

    1. ambrit

      And a few ‘Comfort Rocks’ through the front window.
      Lambert has the perfect word for it, taken from Military Bafflegab Speak: Kinetic.

  22. sd

    Australia’s ‘Neighbours’ Sets Safety Protocols As It Resumes Production; First Show Back Could Be Road Map For Others

    — The studio has been divided into quadrants, with three production teams isolated from each other and only three actors allowed to cross between the groups. “There will be no more than 100 people a day in any area, we’ll implement the four-square-metre rule and the one-and-a-half-metre social distancing rule,” Fremantle Australia boss Chris Oliver-Taylor told Australia’s ABC, which airs Neighbours. Because of that setup, if someone gets sick, only the group whose member is affected will be suspended and the shoot can continue with the other two groups.
    — There will be a nurse on set, and everyone entering the site will have their temperatures checked;
    — Male actors will have no make-up, female actors will not be touched up;
    — There will be no physical contact among actors including kissing, holding hands or intimate scenes;
    — Actors will also practice social distancing, with camera trickery used to make them look closer together;— There will be be no outside extras, with crew members already on the set serving as such.

  23. SerenityNow

    Re: The Best Scholarly Books of the Decade, specifically
    Covert Capital Landscapes of Denial and the Making of U.S. Empire in the Suburbs of Northern Virginia

    It is almost amusing to read the CIA’s take on this book:

    “Anyone planning to read Covert Capital should be aware of two points, however. The first is that Friedman’s work is overtly political, descending from revisionist histories of US expansionism and imperialism; he sees US behavior abroad, especially since 1945, not only as imperialist, but as resting on a foundation of racism, state criminality, and repression and violence on a global scale. Unfortunately, this is a simple view, with no subtleties or sense of the deeply-rooted contradictions in American foreign policy, let alone an appreciation for the difficulties of real-world diplomacy. Instead, Friedman inhabits a simple, black-and-white moral universe, where the CIA is the US government’s main tool for carrying out its oppressive policies. How much a reader agrees or disagrees with this point of view will do much to shape their reaction to Covert Capital.”

  24. Oregoncharles

    “The Infection that’s Silently Killing Covid Patients” –
    First, that’s misleading; it isn’t an infection, it’s a condition: silent (that is, escaping conscious awareness) hypoxia.

    VERY interesting article; key suggestion: if you have the symptoms, you should be using a “pulse oximeter,” available at pharmacies, the little device on your finger that measures oxygen levels in your blood. Yet another item to be in short supply.

    That’s even if you’ve tested negative, BECAUSE: ” even if their swab test was negative, because those tests are only about 70 percent accurate. A vast majority of Americans who have been exposed to the virus don’t know it.”

    I haven’t seen that item, “70% accurate,” anywhere else, but it explains a lot – like the people who test negative, then positive again. Might be wrong on both tests. I also wonder if that’s AMERICAN tests.

    The article also explains the very distinctive clinical picture that Chinese doctors first noticed.

    1. Susan the other

      What about the info on hemoglobin and coronavirus using the iron and leaving the detritus of the blood cell to clog the lungs? Both depleting the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood cell and closing the alveoli? (sp?)

    1. Big River Bandido

      The conservatives gained a solid majority on the Supreme Court well over a decade ago. Administrations of both parties brought this about.

      1. BoyDownTheLane

        By my remark, I meant that the the winds had shifted so dramatically in the last year or three that the Democrats could not see the blitzkrieg coming. (I used to be a Democrat. I might like to be one again.) Even now, they do not see. The destruction of the Democratic Party is such that it will not and cannot be re-constructed with one election cycle.

    2. John Anthony La Pietra

      Reminds me of a quote from “The Matchmaker” (And its successor “Hello, Dolly”.) Several times, Dolly tells her latest matchmaking client tries to complain about some glitch in the process, she overrides him and says:

      “No, no. You go your way, Horace Vandergelder [points to her left] — and I’ll go mine [points to her left again].”

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