Taking the coronavirus seriously 3

I think I have less to fear from the coronavirus than most people.  Unlike many, I live in a house alone rather than in an apartment with several.  Unlike many, I own an automobile.  Unlike many, I am a pensioner who doesn’t have to go out into the world to earn my daily bread.

I already live the life of a semi-recluse,  Being more of a recluse than I am would not be a great burden.  I have a library of unread books and an Internet connection that keeps me in touch with the world.  I am in a position to stay home except for going to the grocery store and keeping my medical appointments.

But what about the thousands of people i depend upon to keep me in my comfortable position—the thousands of people in the supply chain starting at farms and ending in the checkout line at my local supermarket?  the supply chain leading to my local drug store?  the public utilities that supply me with electricity, heat and clean water?  the whole health care network?

A new report says that emergency measures may have to last for up to 18 months or millions will die.  Are we prepared for this?

I’m 83 years old, which puts me in the vulnerable population, but even at that, my chances of survival are excellent.  Suppose there is a 50 percent infection rate, and roughly 16 percent of infected people in my age group die.  That means, all other things being equal, I have a 92 percent chance of surviving the epidemic.

Then, too, dying of a COVID-19 infection would be better than dying of cancer.  it would be far better than me spending my last years in a state of dementia—a living body with nobody home.  I accept the fact of death, at least intellectually.  Dementia is the thing I fear.

No, I don’t worry about myself.  I worry about my country.  We criticize the Chinese government for being slow to act, but what about our own government?  The first COVID-19 infection outside China was detected on Jan. 4, the first infection in the United States was detected Jan. 20 and President Trump banned travel by Americans to China on Jan. 31.

So our government at high levels has been well aware of the problem for many weeks, but it is only just now beginning to exercise leadership, and even now without long-range thought.  Local governments, too, are issuing emergency decrees without long-range planning.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for example, has ordered the closings of restaurants, movie theaters and casinos.  But what happens to all the small businesses that are forced to close?  How many of them will reopen after the crisis?

I do not necessarily criticize Gov. Cuomo and others who are are issuing emergency decrees.  Maybe this is the best we can do under the circumstances.

Right now the governments of eastern Asia, especially the government of China, seem to be responding much more effectively than the governments of western Europe and North America.

I would rather live in the dilapidated, dysfunctional democracy of the USA than under the most efficient dictatorship that ever existed.  But that is because of my upbringing.  The rest of the world doesn’t necessary share my preference.  All indications are that China will emerge from this crisis looking much more like a model for the world to follow than any of the Western democracies.

I don’t want to contribute to panic.  But ignoring facts is an equally dangerous response to fear.


The Long Duration by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

White House Takes New Line After Dire Report on Death Toll by Sheri Fink for the New York Times.

How Bad Is the Coronavirus Going to Be and What Should We Do? by Ian Welsh.

Nine Thoughts on COVID-19 and What’s Coming by Caitlin Johnstone.

Why sanctions against Iran and Venezuela during a pandemic are cruel by Vijay Prasad and Paola Estrada for Monthly Review.

Louisiana Cancels Election Citing Coronavirus – Georgia Cancels Judge Election by Charles P. Pierce for Esquire.

Harvard Epidemiologist on the Coronavirus: “I Don’t Think the Virus Can Be Stopped Anymore,” an interview with Marc Lipsitch for Der Spiegel.

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5 Responses to “Taking the coronavirus seriously 3”

  1. Vincent Says:

    So far here in England the government has issued advice rather than lay down the law. Its primary concern is to support the National Health Service and other social services. It is very conscious of the financial effect – so many out of work etc. If the schools were closed a parent might have to stay home instead of going out to work. Businesses may go bust and there will be less coming to the government through taxation, when it’s needed more than ever before to help support companies to keep trading.

    So it’s a balance that has to be struck, and I’m glad the government has held back from a draconian approach, leaving space for ingenuity by all, and a sense of responsibility to the vulnerable.

    We know someone who runs a village pub famous for its food, good-humoured management and sparkling ideas, She’s offering to deliver food to those living within a certain radius, and if word gets around and she can afford it, will charge less or nothing to the needy.

    I feel a sense of paradox, in that while people don’t dare gathering in groups or getting too close to one another, a greater sense of togetherness and interdependence will spread (like a virus?) even though we may be obliged to make contact with friends and family only through email, telephone, text, whatsapp etc


  2. whungerford Says:

    Proposals to compensate workers and businesses for losses seem like a bureaucratic nightmare. Suppose a barber’s business slacks off; how much compensation is he due? Romney’s proposal to give everyone $1000 seems ill-considered. Some will need less, some much more. And then there is the national debt; how much more will we contribute to that?


  3. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    I wouldn’t sing China’s praises so quickly. It is their fault we’re in this mess to begin with. A culture of secrecy and repression doesn’t disappear overnight. Statistical analysis of mass internment of suspected positives into quarantine camps indicates that’s not a useful strategy since most carriers are asymptomatic and never get tested. OTOH social distancing *is* useful.

    Sing the praises of S. Korea if you would sing anything.

    If you want an epidemic over quickly you do nothing. It sweeps over the population until so many people have had it that herd immunity kicks in. The rate of infection then drops off quickly until it nearly reaches zero. Of course, that also causes the greatest number of fatalities.

    Everything we do to fight the epidemic (until a vaccine is developed) reduces the number of infected at any one time. The counter to this is that it draws out the length of the epidemic. This is good as it doesn’t overload the medical personnel as much. Draw it out long enough and it will be truncated by new medical discoveries. It is easy to quickly make more hospital beds and spool up production of medications, impossible to do so for medical equipment and trained medical professionals. All but the most seriously ill folks need to stay at home and not suck down limited resources.

    If you have any free money lying around, buy some Roche stock. They are cranking out COVID-19 tests at 400,000 per week.

    Eighteen months is a spectacularly pessimistic prediction. We already have a vaccine in preclinical trials. We understand how the virus kills. We’ve fought other coronavirus variants before and we’ve fought other highly contagious pandemics before. I am not being optimistic to say we’ll truncate this thing long before its natural run is over.

    Since going into voluntary self-isolation, I’ve put on 7 lbs. I am not happy. Comfort eating from boredom is the problem. It is worth getting out to do things, even if I have to do them alone.


  4. silverapplequeen Says:

    I’m one of the people who go out on almost a daily basis to shop. Maybe every other day. I live in an apartment & I don’t have a pantry. & not much in the way of keeping things. Nor do I have a car. I have a small shopping cart but I generally do not buy more than one or two shopping bags of stuff at a time. I have a bad back & I have to carry these bags up the stairs so I need to keep them on the light side. I eat mostly fresh vegetables & fruits & local meats/fish. I shop at small shops …. I’m not a supermarket kind of person. I’m also disabled & on a few meds so I do go to Walgreen’s. I was happy to see toilet paper there on Saturday morning & I got a small stock of that for myself. Everywhere I shop is within walking distance. Right now I am staying off public transportation.

    I also have appointments with the chiropractor every Wednesday morning & I am going out this morning to get an adjustment because I really need one. I can walk to this doctor, so public transportation isn’t an issue.

    Right now my main concern is that I’m moving on Monday & I want to be sure that I have a moving crew coming to move me. There’s a certain amount of things I can (& will) move on my own, but I can’t move the furniture or the heavy boxes of books.

    My son was scolding me yesterday for being so focused on my own personal life when people are sick & dying all over the world but it’s not that I don’t care about the extent of the virus & how it’s devastating the world & it political implications of this. It’s just … I’m living in the destruction of my own personal world & I’m out of my mind. Honestly.

    As for the bars & restaurants that are closed …. I remember when the smoking ban went into place. Many of the small bars & taverns & even diners went under & that changed the personality of cities like Buffalo forever. I think that this ban will have the same effect … some of these places are not going to reopen. At any rate, I doubt that things will ever go back to “normal”. Whatever that was …

    Liked by 1 person

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