I bookmarked the John Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard on January 25 2020, when there were 2k cases in China. I should have started a thoughtstream at that time as well, but I have been out of the habit.
Here I’m trying to capture the kinds of things that can get hard to recall after the fact: impressions of the present, and evolving guesses about the future impact of this virus on any area of life.
My (at the time) half-serious Twitter thread started Jan 23. I felt comfortable tweeting about it because we weren’t yet inundated with the subject.
The USA’s neatly fractured view of the pandemic (along political lines) is something to behold, and will be fascinating to watch as the year progresses.
An interesting controlled epidemiological experiment is about to unfold. https://t.co/4KM6gT71bm— Fritz Swanson (@fritzswanson) March 15, 2020
“Recall how, in the run-up to the Iraq war, the White House signaled preferred policy outcome so heavily that it skewed the analysis and advice it received. Can see similar alignment b/w preferences Trump and his team were signaling, and strategic posture of his crisis managers.” —Jeremy Konyndyk
Second one above seems to have played out among the public at large, not just among administration team members and support staff.
As with so many aspects of society, the US public’s model has done a “hard fork.”
It seems to me that one
xor the other is going to run smack up against the painful difference between its model and reality. Maybe such a disillusioning event would be a silver lining for our society.
I'm not so sure about the exclusive-or though. Might we emerge from this with each side of the fork just as or more convinced than they were before? Or might both experience a smack-up? Maybe the forks themselves will fork?
Personal Prognostication Snapshot:
You can see I’m on the side of the fork that says that the virus is real and serious, meaning there will be many thousands of deaths due to an overwhelmed healthcare system, and many thousands with permanent lung damage. I expect that my wife and I will get the virus, and am cautiously optimistic that we will not require medical attention to live through it.
The outcome that would pose an something of an ideological smack-up for me would be if less than 50 thousand people die from COVID-19 (i.e. fewer people than do from influenza in a typical flu season) or have permanent lung damage (and assuming SARS-CoV-2 spread doesn’t become a new seasonal event like H1N1). As dumb as it would make me feel, this would be my preferred outcome.
Today I found out that a co-worker's son wired a house for someone who has now tested positive for COVID-19, and subsequently fell sick, missing a week of work. My co-worker, who is now working remotely, spent time at his son’s house while he was sick.
Seems apparent that the lack of testing capacity is going to require blunt, blind quarantining measures, which have a heavy heavy economic toll, rather than targeted quarantining measures which would have a lighter economic touch.
Grocery store workers included in definition of “emergency workers” in MN, qualifying them for free healthcare.
Some more malls closing, following MoA’s closure yesterday.
Trump has invoked an act that gives him the authority to direct private production in times of war (ventilators? testing?) but is dithering about whether he will use it.
I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese Virus should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2020
Gov. Walz is, I think, two steps behind the curve of what we actually need to happen right now. By his own account to WCCO this morning: A) today's numbers are going to jump way up, and B) the rate of growth is going to accelerate! Besides this, he knows that the ratio of tested cases to the actual number out there is abysmal. And yet: a shelter in place order is “not the situation we believe we're at.”
Yesterday the Governor announced a “stay at home” order will be in place in Minnesota for 2 weeks starting Friday at midnight.
Many people are confusing this with a “shelter in place” order, which would be much more stringent. The stay-at-home order allows us to leave home for a number of reasons, such as to get groceries, exercise outside, work jobs in exempted/critical sectors, etc.
The last one is interesting. The guidance on exempt industries is very broad. According to MN’s Dept of Employment commissioner:
About 78 percent of the jobs in Minnesota are in critical industries as defined by the executive order, so it's just 22 percent that are not. (source)
There is also no enforcement, so companies can declare themselves exempt and require their workers to come in as usual. My own employer has taken this route. We sell desks and monitor walls, but since some of our customers are in exempt agencies they have decided we are exempt as well.
On another note: a lot of celebrities seem to believe they can help us during these trying times by …being famous online from home. It’s getting old.
Felt impacts in Minneapolis so far:
It’s been a couple of weeks now since the John Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard was at all useful in the US. It was handy for tracking the global spread during the early stages, but at this point we all know cases are everywhere and skyrocketing. The useful dashboards and tracking sites are those that operate on a more local level.
It will probably become interesting to look at again in a couple of months, when we might start to see a plateau or decline in the global number of cases.
Today a co-worker tested positive and was hospitalized, the first one in our company and the first such person personally known to me. This person has worked remotely for a long time, so there is no reason to think they carried it to others here in the office.