Friday Firesmith – Covid-19

Jon and I have traded some emails back and forth on the subject, and we both agree that even though there’s more action when Friday Firesmith’s subjects are political, it’s just not worth the animosity it creates. People aren’t able to discuss politics without there being a lot of anger involved, and a lot of drama. So in the interest of sanity and civility, we decided to simply not do it anymore.

That said, let’s look at some of the figures provided by the World Health Organization, for what is very likely going to happen in the Unites States in the upcoming months.

The age group with the highest risk of both infection, long term treatment need, and mortality, is those who are over 60. There are sixty million people in this group in America. They represented over 30% of the cases. Given this model, America can predict there being 18,000,000 people requiring hospitalization, from this age group alone.

At any given moment, in the United State, there are about 36 million people hospitalized. This means just in the increase of patients over sixty with Covid-19, there will be a fifty percent increase of people needing a hospital bed.

This is bad news, certainly, but it gets worse as the virus spreads. The people over sixty also require a longer term of hospitalization, and more resources. The sixty and over group’s stay is usually over two weeks, and sometimes as much as eight weeks. This means for that period of time, there are people with the flu, people with injuries, people with cancer, people with addiction issues, people with heart disease, who are not going to be in the hospital.

This is only one age group. This is not a percentage of the entire population.

But it’s even worse than it appears. Right now, there is a critical shortage of testing for the virus. China was testing over one million people a day, and getting back same day results. China shut down entire cities, closed all public transport, and had medical teams going door to door testing people. They were on top of this thing before it got out and got incredibly large. The response in China is something they’ve trained for, are geared up for, and they’re good at it because they don’t want to see a massive loss of production, or a massive loss of human life. China is prepared and they still took one hell of a hit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has had their budget cut by 20% and they have over 700 vacancies in critical positions. There’s a shortage of testing equipment, and a dearth of people qualified to run and interpret these tests.

The virus itself is named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease is Covid-19. The lethality of the disease is somewhere between 2% and 4%, which isn’t very high, but the high rate of contagiousness is what’s dangerous in this case. Millions of people will require treatment, some of it long term, and quite simply, there hasn’t been any sort of response from the government of this county that provides a sense of confidence that anyone, at any level, understand how serious this will become without a great amount of preventive action, as we saw in China.

My question is quite simple here: Without allowing politics to become an issue in the discussion, other than getting people to wash their hands, what might the citizens of this country discuss to make this situation less dire?

CDC Link

WHO Info

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

31 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Covid-19”

  1. For one thing, people have to change their perspective. Since they can have the virus without knowing it for some time, they need to act as if they are a carrier, not a potential victim. Maybe then more people will take more care about how they might be spreading the virus.

  2. I plan to stay holed up in my cave and avoid all contact with humans as much as possible.

    which is pretty consistent with my normal daily routine.

  3. No animosity? I like animos, the animos be cute, like that Bulldog in the next post.
    Oh, animos, animals… nevermind.

    Yes, China was on top of it, the built two hospitals totaling 2200 beds in a week. Two story, semi-private rooms, piped in oxygen, special air filters, the works, in a WEEK!
    They shut everything down but I read only 30% of the small businesses have reopened, 14% will be permanently gone in another two weeks, and 50% may be gone in another 2 months for lack of supplies, workers, and of course cash.

    So obviously this will affect business here too, I’d guess brick&mortar more than online, and from paranoia mostly. Remember if you get the Kung Flu it’s not an automatic death sentence, most people recover.

    There is a bright side though, since it’s worse for us old farts, 47% of the House and 65% of the Senate are over 60. Thank you, Deity-of-my-choice.

      • yeah, I work from home and shop on very off peak hours – my exposure risk is very low… unless my wife brings it home… she stands at a counter at a bank seeing hundreds of customers a day, handling their money and other things, there are no barriers and the woman has absolutely no concept of how germs spread. (I have seen her do some truly frightening things that demonstrate this lack of comprehension).

        if I get this thing I can pretty much guarantee it’s because she brought it home.

    • Bruce, if it wiped out the government and left Keith Richards and Betty White, I for one,would not be sad.

  4. I am trying very hard not to be paranoid, but being nigh mid 70’s it is difficult to not have some major concern. From what I’ve read, and discussion with my GP, out and about it lives on metal surfaces for up to 2 days, so I am armed with hand sanitizer. When out and about, keep hands sanitized after touching surfaces, even cafe chairs, and be mentally aware not to touch face before sanitizing. All sounds drastic heh? Other than that avoid going out as much as possible, easier for me as I tend to self hermitize anyway.

    Don’t know about your country, but it’s gone crazy here, toilet tissue rolls are cleared off supermarket shelves. Not that the virus gives you the runs but people are stocking up for self quarantining, even basics like flour and rice are disappearing fast.

    Living in country WA, as yet there are no official testing stations. The Dr’s surgery I attend had a meeting last week, what were they to do if someone presented with symptoms? One country hospital sat patients with symptoms out in a carpark! Dr’s surgeries are also saying they do not have enough equipment, such as masks, and surgical hazard clothing. Seems the country is better prepared for a war than a virus.

    Oh well, my mother lived through the Blitz in London during WW2, houses around them bombed…She always said in times of sickness or trauma..Hitler didn’t get me so i wont let this. I shall channel Mum’s hardiness and hope for the best.

    • SandG, I think I could stay in seclusion for a month maybe more. I’m not sure that would do it.

      But that idea does have appeal.

  5. Maybe I’m reading your comment incorrectly because you seem like a careful guy. But it looks like your assumption is that all people over 60 will be exposed to the virus. The CDC report that you linked to said “For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.” and the WHO report you linked to said that “Since the end of January, the number of new coronavirus diagnoses in China has been steadily declining . . . with now only 329 new diagnoses within the last day – one month ago it was around 3,000 a day. ‘This decline in COVID-19 cases across China is real,’ ” With current levels of exposure being low and even in China, awareness and sanitation steps seem to bend the curve of exposure (rather than a cascading increase) then 18,000,000 seems like catastrophizing. Most Americans won’t be exposed to the illness.

    • The virus has been declining in China because affected areas were totally shut down — drones chided people who dared venture out of their homes. And testing was aggressive so people who were infected were immediately quarantined so as not to spread the disease. None of that has been done in the US. In fact, we’re doing now what China initially did before the whole thing exploded into the news because of the numbers of people dying — they covered up and refused to admit there was any danger. In numerous countries around the world, testing is widespread — you can just drive up and be tested — here, even at-risk people and those who are actively ill cannot find anyone to give them a test for love or money. THAT’S the problem. Our government agencies have been gutted, scientists have been fired, and we have no one in charge who knows what to do. Americans who have traveled abroad, even to affected areas aren’t even being questioned in at least one major airport — much less tested. This kind of unprepared sloppiness leaves us far more at risk of a sudden explosion of cases and death than we should be.

    • Geoff, good point, actually. But I used only one age group. China’s drastic measures are helping keep this thing down, but they’re good at this sort of thing.

      We’re incredibly unprepared.

      The one really wild fact that keeps getting repeated is if people washed their hands it would make a significant impact.

      Just that simple.

      • Also it hit the news in January but started who knows when last year. It’s had a long time to play out in healthy people who had it no worse than a cold or flu. They probably aren’t going to pass it along now, and we only hear about the serious/hospitalized cases.

  6. According to the American Hospital Association’s report published in 2020 for the calendar year 2018, there were 36,353,946 Americans hospitalized for the entire year, not all at once. Available staffed hospital beds, in the same report, is 924,107. Yes, the sky is falling, but not as severely as indicated.

  7. So far, 11 people in the US have died from the virus, eight of them in a nursing home. During this time, approximately 18,000 have died from the Flu. So which is more of a threat? Maybe more of a threat is a variant of the coronavirus that hits millions of us every year. Its name? The common cold…
    I’ll just continue doing what I’ve done for years. Washing my hands and keeping them away from my face.

    • Richard, according to most doctors, you’re likely to avoid catching if you do exactly that.

  8. Jon – you should take this post down immediately. It is completely wrong and stupid.
    Here’s why – Mike begins his argument with:
    – there are 60 million people in the US 60+ years old.
    – 30% of Covid19 infected are 60+.
    – therefore 18 million (60+) in the US will be infected. (30% of 60M = 18M)
    That is a completely false computation and complete misunderstanding of the situation. Mike just slammed 2 numbers together that have nothing statistically to do with each other. Here’s a hypothetical direct analogy to illustrate the falsehood.
    – there are 360 million people in the US.
    – 50% of people who die in car crashes were DUI.
    – therefore 180 million people in the US will die from DUI.
    Now you see how ridiculous the premise of Mike’s unhinged alarmist whatever-this-nonsense-is, is.
    Now here’s some actual number facts to show how further ridiculous this post is.
    – ATM the total number of confirmed Covid19 cases in China is 90,000.
    – China has a population of roughly 1.4 BILLION. (1/4 the US population).
    – If the US resembles the pattern in China that means we can expect around 22K confirmed cases, 30% of which is~ 6750 (60+) – NOT 18 MILLION at the same stage as China is now.
    – The rate of mortality of 2-4% is GROSSLY misleading. The actual rate needs to take age into account. For
    0-49 the rate is less than 0.5 %.
    50-59 = a little over 1%
    60-69 = ~3.5%
    70-79 = 8%
    80+ = 15%
    – The rate of mortality is also appears to be increased by the presence of pre-existing medical conditions: asthma, cardio/pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension.smoking, auto-immune disease.

    Some other things to consider:
    – There are still new cases in China but the rate of new confirmed infections has slowed down significantly this past week.
    – The US has not taken measures yet with strict quarantine measures, but things here have not escalated as quickly as they did in China which went without quarantine for at least 1 month.
    – Our cultures are vastly different (in terms of physical space, contact, and hygiene practices) and that will vastly change the rate of infection.
    – the # of infected in the US will probably be in the thousands to tens of thousands – it will NOT even come close to the millions.
    – The American healthcare system (will confusing, heartless, and too expensive) will NOT collapse because of Covid-19.
    – This is a “clear and present danger” to ALL Americans yet Trump cut funding to the CDC AGAIN just this past month even when Covid-19 was known. He has been cutting the CDC’s budget more every year since he’s been in office. For those who don’t know, one of the CDC’s primary tasks is to prevent epidemics from taking a foothold in America. Even now with the pandemic here, Trump hasn’t re-budgeted the CDC with funds to deal with the crisis. In other words – asking people how to make this less dire without introducing politics is absurd.
    -Lastly, Mike – all your usual self-righteous hot takes aside – you have now fallen into peddling alarmist misinformation bordering on Alex Jones levels of accuracy albeit for the opposing side. What you wrote isn’t an Op-ed – what you wrote is fake news.

    • PO-d,

      I took ONE age group not all of them, and extrapolated a worse case from that, but if I was really trying to be an alarmist, I would have done all of them. But okay, it’s not going to happen that everyone on an age group gets sick. But then again, some people from every age group will get sick.

      If nothing else, we discovered someone is checking the math.

      Still how large a problem do we have to have before we have a large problem? How many people will it take getting sick to start a chain reaction?

      Here’s something you said that does create interest “The American healthcare system (will confusing, heartless, and too expensive) will NOT collapse because of Covid-19.”

      Are you saying we should rest easy because it will continue to be confusing, heartless, and too expensive? Or do you think it will become more of its worst attributes because of the new cases? Or do you think all will be well?

      • Amazing. Your reply is actually more idiotic & reprehensible than your OP.

        You falsified your example (intentionally or not) by a factor of x2666. Not +25%, not +50%, not even 200%…. 266,600% and you are actually trying to justify it as a talking point as if that makes it OK.

        I showed the OP without the comments to a class of my 7th grade math students. The only prompt I gave them was “What do you think about this?” delivered in a flat voice. In 30 seconds they’re unanimous response was “this isn’t right”. By the time they finished reading there were several “who wrote this?”, “is this an adult?”, “this is stupid”. One referred to you as “a fear mongerer”. These were 12 year olds – they don’t care about politics, they are not left or right, most don’t care about the news – and they all recognized your entire position is BS in under 2 minutes.

        Your rebuttal is you “extrapolated a worse case” scenario but it’s not “alarmist” because it was only one group.
        – You multiplied 2 numbers that don’t go together to come up with a totally BS result. That is not an extrapolation – that’s just plain wrong.
        – “Given this model, America can predict there being 18,000,000 people requiring hospitalization”. The actual number is closer to 22,500. 18M vs 22k
        22k is the size of 2 average American towns.
        18M is the combined population of NYC, LA, Chicago & Houston.
        But your fake data is not alarmist – right?
        If I lock you up for 1 day, no big deal.
        What if the gov’t locked you up for 2666 days (7.4 years). No need to be alarmed – right?

        “If nothing else, we discovered someone is checking the math. ”
        The “math” took me 30 seconds to Google. The data has been publicly available for a month. This means you didn’t even try searching for it. All of which has no bearing on the inane pseudo logic behind your doom-saying premise. The problem isn’t a lack of data – the problem is your lack of IQ and integrity.

        Stop trying to pivot your ignorance and poor hot take post into some lofty call for conversation. Everybody who reads this knows:
        – You had no idea what you were talking about when you wrote the OP.
        – You refuse to admit the premise of your argument is utter dog feces.
        – You are trying to redirect your embarrassment by obfuscating the comments with ‘let’s discuss something tangentially related’ fluff.
        – What you wrote is not only unrealistic fake news, it’s actually dangerous because it stokes outrageously unwarranted fear and panic in the lazy & less informed.

        Just admit you made a mistake by writing a poor post. Don’t equivocate. If you keep trying to spin this to save face than you are no better than all the extremists, blind loyalists, radicals, and morons in the news already nobody trusts.

        Jon – I would strongly reconsider dropping Mike as a source of content in the future. I have a class full of 7th graders who think he and by association, B&P are a source of bad takes and fake news.

      • edit – everywhere I mentioned 22.5k, I meant 6.75k (30% of 22.5k). The actual reasonable extrapolation of likely (60+) US infected.

  9. Here’s another link for you; it’s updated several times a day:
    As a non-American and being aware of the problems with insurance and costs in your health system I have to wonder how many will attempt to ride it out rather than face expenses they can’t afford, and in doing so infect many others.

  10. The fact is, is that politics will make the situation more dire.

    Putting aside that, 2% of a US population of 329,365,000 (rounded down) is roughly 6,587,300. Four percent is double that. Put in another context, let’s say a million airline flights happen per day in this country and 2% of those flights crash and burn. That’s 20,000 planes falling from the skies per day. Would you travel with those odds? Remember, percentages aren’t real numbers, so if letting 13 million people die is fine by you, then there’s a job waiting for you in…oh wait, that’s political.

    But if there’s a interest in tracking this problem from a source that is geared in presenting just simple facts of numbers, without a political agenda, you can try this:

    • CAI,

      It’s amazing we accept a certain % of deaths due to some causes but others freak us out. The fear of sharks, snakes, and spiders causes near insanity but try to get someone to change their diet to prevent a heart attack.

  11. The real mortality rate is more like 0.5%, according to non-government sources (e.g. the chief virologist of the Berlin Charité, who developed a test for it that’s used nearly worldwide).
    The reason he gives for his lower figure: we are unable to detect *every* infection, only the most severe cases and sometimes those in the immediate contact persons of the severe cases. Also we are unable to detect the virus in people that are already healed.
    A test for antibodies will be ready soon and make possible to get the “real numbers”, e.g. by testing a percentage of all blood donations.

    Additionally the “china tested over a million people a day” line is (nearly?) impossible. The only *real* test that can be done right now is by PCR, and that is something that simply takes time and specialised laboratories, which are relatively rare (especially the needed chemicals and machines).

    The main problem nowadays is: how to stretch the infections, so the rare complications can be efficiently treated – and especially to give the specialitsts time to test which treatments *work*, or even better to develop a cure or a vaccination. As it saddens me to say: the current state of medicine in the US makes that more unlikely than in other countries: no paid-for “sick days” force people to go to work and ignore the symptoms, and the people without health insurance can’t afford to perhaps get quarantined in a hospital.

    • That number is inconsistent with several different sources (WHO, John Hopkins, and the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy to name a few).

      The math is:
      82,183 cases reported globally
      2,800 deaths
      That’s about 3.4%.

      Your source provides a percentage range, but offers no specific numbers to back it up. And the numbers cited at top, place the percentage just above 2%. It’s important to note, the article is a few weeks old and the process to identifying the virus is getting faster and more improved, so the numbers will change and most likely increase with an eventual consistent percentage leveling off.

Comments are closed.