Thursday, March 12, 2020

This Is Not a Drill

  • Over the course of the next 18 month, look for 150 million Americans to get coronavirus. During a “regular” flu season, with vaccine, 9-45 million Americans get the flu.
  • This is a “novel” virus for which there is no immunity, there is no vaccine, and there is no quick cure.
  • The horse is out of the barn, with cases all over the world, and a high level of transmission through touch, surfaces, and even the air. A month ago, this looked like it could be contained; that’s no longer likely.
  • The virus can be stopped, however, by soap.
  • Wash your hands as well as surfaces, door knobs, etc.
  • Soap works better than alcohol. Put a big bowl of soapy water with a shot of bleach in it next to the door and in the kitchen, and dip your hands frequently.
  • If churches, concerts, rallies, conferences, and other mass gatherings are stopped, the transmission peak can be flattened, and it’s *possible* the health system may be able to cope with serious cases requiring hospitalization. This is an optimistic hope, but it’s possible if people practice social distancing and isolation.
  • The fatality rate of coronavirus appears to be under 1 percent, but that is a very high mortality rate — perhaps 10 times the fatality rate of the flu.
  • If 150 million Americans catch this bug in the next 18 months, and mortality is just .5 percent, that’s 750,000 deaths from this cause alone. To put this in perspective, coronavirus is likely to kill 15 times more Americans in 15 months than were killed in all of the Vietnam War.  Double this number if the mortality rate reaches 1 percent.
  • Fatalities from this virus are not spread evenly; folks over age 60 are most at risk, as are those with weakened immunity and those with other health issues. Folks over age 75 are particularly at risk.
  • Coronavirus is not a hoax and this pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime.
  • Churches and colleges across the world are closing, the Vatican and Mecca have closed, Italy is in lockdown, Universities and colleges are closing for the rest of the year. Concert tours and festivals are being postponed. Sports teams are ending their seasons. Airlines have stopped flying, and cruise ships are not leaving port.
  • The international response is a clear signal that THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
  • The economic impact of coronavirus is likely to roil the world economy for the next two years. Low wage workers will have fewer shifts and less income. Service-sector businesses will cut jobs and more people will be pushed into bankruptcy. Imports and manufacturing will slow due to supply chain disruptions. Organizations funded by large events will belly-over, as will airlines, bus companies, cruise ship operations, and perhaps even Amtrak.
  • In the US, our ability to control the spread of the virus has been crippled by the Trump Administration’s earlier firing of the global pandemic response team, the gutting of the CDC, the refusal to use test kits and protocols developed in other nations, the lack of a national health care system, and the lack of a national sick leave policy.

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