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March 24, 2020


In today's mail, a postcard from coronavirus.gov. Looks like it went out to every postal customer in the country, so you all should be seeing it soon.

It lists a bunch of entirely reasonable things to do (and to avoid doing) to help slow the spread. The only seriously surreal bit: the title says "PRESIDENT TRUMP'S CORONAVIRUS GUIDELINES FOR AMERICA" [Emphasis added] Surreal, because Trump appears, from what I can see, to dismiss or downplay many of them. Although it belatedly occurs to me that the title might just be an attempt to reach the Faux News part of the nation.

* I don't think this counts as politics. But if I've overrun the thread guidelines, my apologies.

wj -- use your judgment. If nothing else, it's an illustration of how he's made himself pathologically ubiquitous.

It reminds of a catchphrase that floats through my aging brain sometimes: "He's everywhere, he's everywhere." I associate it with some comic version of a Christmas carol, where Santa Claus is mentioned and a high-pitched voice sort of screeches that line. But I can't remember what Christmas carol it was, or what version, from long, long ago.

So if I google, I find out that it must originally have come from Chickenman, which if I knew about it at the time, I've entirely forgotten.

Which reminds me of my futile quest, which I am doomed to repeat every few years:

What children's cartoon in the fifties had the credits running and a voice saying, "Pop goes the fil-um, good night!"??

Sorry if my last (Dylan) comment should have been here now, instead of on Returning Fire. I'm losing track....

GftNC -- it doesn't matter. I had originally envisioned this one for the topic of our friends and relatives who are affected by COVID-19, but I didn't really say that, and it's a fruitless quest to shape the meandering content of ObWi threads anyhow. I just don't want every thread to turn into a one-track, single-topic rut of despair.

Got it!

Tis a bit selfish, but this was how I'm affected today. We are doing a childcare share with 2 other families from my child's daycare. 3 families, 3 kids around 2, 6 parents that need to work. So once every 6 work days, one of us parents takes off and runs preschool for three small monsters. Today my spouse is on. The monsters did not sleep today. It was bad. Very bad.

Tomorrow is my day, and we're already planning for more severe social distancing at nap time. There will definitely be three isolation units but I haven't yet decided if they'll be in different rooms. Of course all these children sleep on command at daycare without any isolation units. Sigh.

So even though I'm nominally working today, I've gotten nothing done. And one of the parents is expecting to be called to serve in the hospital in the next week or two (he's an MD/PhD who usually does research, but they're planning on pulling *everyone*) so they'll be dropping out of our arrangement.

We desperately need universal serology tests to figure out who's already gotten this and can go out freely.

Turbulence -- not selfish at all.

I'd like a serology test myself: I was sick with a bad cough, exhaustion, and achiness from 2/19 onward, quite sick for several days, tapering off over quite a long period of time. Still not quite done coughing, in fact, in response to certain triggers. (Had no working thermometer, but if I had a fever it wasn't very high.)

I knew COVID-19 was coming, having been following Anne's posts at BJ for a month by then. But no testing was being done at that point, and anyhow I figured I probably just had a bad cold or a mild flu (I did sneeze a lot, which acc' to WHO is not typical of COVID-19, but not unheard of either).

I've been wishing for a while that we could test in the way you say, because if I've had it, I could leave the house and make myself useful somehow, if only to the extent of delivering groceries to the housebound.

Or I could go to Ohio while my mother has surgery.


Skimming the internet and especially Balloon-Juice, I've seen a ton of people talking about curves and rates and numbers. I haven't gotten into those weeds, and I know nothing about epidemiology, but last night I did a little calculation of my own.

For the past couple of weeks I've been writing down the # of confirmed cases in Maine before I go to bed. The first one came on 3/11. Now we're up to 118, with no deaths yet.

On the 19th (last Thursday, the feast of St. Joseph, and the day the swallows are said to come back to Capistrano....), I started writing down the last number I saw on any given day on the Johns Hopkins site for the US as a whole.

On the 19th that number was 205. Last night it was 610.

I popped those numbers into a spreadsheet and found that if deaths increase at that rate (610/205 every four days, just under triple), we'll be at 423,434 on April 16.

Yes, that's almost half a million people.

Okay, I then didn't go to bed right away, so I checked again a little later and it had been pushed back to 585 for some reason.

I redid my math, which now showed 315,913 on April 16. More than a hundred thousand hypothetical lives saved with a hypothetical reduction in 25 across this past 4-day period.

Obviously this is all just numbers, and vastly oversimplified to boot. But it's a pretty stark illustration of why we're being asked to stay home and away from each other to flatten the curve.


By the way, most likely I didn't have COVID-19 starting on 2/19. But the CDC says that the first documented case in the US started showing symptons on about Jan. 14 (you have to scroll down....).

And since people don't sit still, I simply don't believe that the 3/11 case was the first in Maine.

Writing too fast, so unclearly.

The Maine # I've been tracking is confirmed cases.

The US # is number of deaths.

My heart goes out to everyone with family (or friends) who are hurting. I'm just amazingly lucky. My family's biggest impact? My sister was planning to travel from her home, on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle, to Arizona -- to spend a few weeks taking in Spring Training. Had to cancel, of course. But that's it.

If only everyone's family and friends were so fortunate.

Yeah Janie, the lovely thing about exponential curves is that tiny shifts shake out to big differences. But even accepting a lower parameter, the April 17 number will still be bigger.

A friend of mine got the all clear last night, he's at least 90% sure he had it and has been staying home, as has his wife, since he developed symptoms. He's been fever free for several days, his doc's advice was to avoid going where he might encounter anyone immunocompromised for another week, but OK to start cooking, can deliver food, etc.

Sunday I picked up around 100 uncooked chicken wings (among other items) from one of our regular haunts that closed voluntarily a week ago Monday, dropped them off with the friend. He's got batches smoking on his Green Egg, with the plan of exchanging orders of wings for donations for the staff of the closed establishment, and maybe some given away to local law enforcement (friend is a lawyer, but cooks as a hobby for various events, good causes, etc.)

A drop in the bucket of the help that is needed, and it's probably more like an oil tanker than a bucket. But beats the chicken spoiling and being thrown out.

If only there were programs to. . . save that for another thread.

I hope this isn't crossing the line into political, but I just realized that the biggest winners of this virus have to be the Houston Astros....

Their fellow ballplayers on the other teams have been social distancing from the Astros except for a few high hard ones up and in before Spring Training was halted.

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