COVID-19 vs. the Economy: When is it Time to Reboot?

What’s an Acceptable Risk Level? ALARA (“As Low As Reasonably Achievable”) to the rescue?

By Wisdom Seeker, a WOLF STREET Commenter with a physical sciences Ph.D., San Francisco Bay Area:

In this essay I’m going to outline how we can balance between stopping COVID and saving the economy.  As I wrote last week, we’ve been bending the curve, but now what?  Shelter-in-Place orders have slowed the exponential growth of the virus, buying us time and hope.

But as of April 6, COVID-19 became the leading cause of death in the United States, as shown in the graphic below. That cannot continue.

The graphic was developed by Dr. Maria Danilychev, M.D. with the Flourish team, based on CDC data of deaths in 2018 (latest available), average per day, and Covid-19 deaths in the US for the date of the chart, reported on WORLDOMETER.

The picture is particularly grim for New York State, where mortality data from 2017 is now available. In 2017, 425 people per day died in New York State from all causes. The data for 2020 will be similar except for COVID. But this week, COVID-19 in New York State has killed 600-800 people per day, all by itself. So COVID isn’t just the leading cause of death in New York, it’s killing more people than all other causes combined.

Fortunately, thanks to Shelter-in-Place and other measures, COVID shouldn’t reach the 2017 mortality level for New York State: 155,191 for the year. (Math Note: taking 155,191 / 365 is how I got 425 per day.)

The US economy is in shambles. Nearly 17 million initial unemployment claims were filed over the past 3 weeks, and the claims data has yet to catch up with the actual layoffs and furloughs. And the virus is still infecting tens of thousands of people each day, spreading all over the nation and the world. There’s no cure yet, no vaccine, and no significant immunity among the population. To bring back jobs and revive the economy, we can’t sit back and wait until the virus runs its course — we have to get more serious about destroying the virus.


A risk-reduction concept developed originally for radiation protection, ALARA stands for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” It’s a systematic application of common sense, the idea that wherever you can’t eliminate a risk, you should take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. ALARA can be applied to COVID too. To find the “COVID New Normal,” individuals and organizations all over the world are using this principle to reprogram daily routines and business models – whether they know it or not.

Three tools in the ALARA toolbox are relevant to fighting a pandemic virus: Time, Distance, and Shielding. Minimize exposure time, maximize distance from sources of exposure, and use shielding to block exposure. Shielding includes personal protective equipment (PPE), which is a last line of defense. The best defenses focus on minimizing the source.

Spreading is a 4-stage process:

1) The coronavirus multiplies inside human and animal hosts – who may not have symptoms and may not know they’re infected.

2) Infected hosts “shed” the virus via respiration (breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing), touching objects with contaminated hands, bleeding, and likely also fecal excretion.

3) Outside of hosts, the virus floats briefly in the air, settles or transfers to surfaces, and then slowly breaks down. The virus survives a few minutes under UV light or high temperatures (~70C) a few hours in the air, and 1-7 days on surfaces. Less on cardboard and copper, more on steel and smooth plastics.

4) The virus can infect a new host through the mouth, nose or eyes – via micro-droplets in the air and contaminated hands.

ALARA suggests ways to attack the virus at each stage:

1) Assume every potential host is infected (including ourselves!), and act accordingly.

2) Shielding: Reduce viral shedding into the environment by using masks or any face covering possible on every potential host, including ourselves, at least when outside the home.

3) Distance: Physical, not social distance, is what matters. You can interact remotely with friends. But shun their bodies, the air they’ve breathed, anything that air has touched!

4) Shielding: set up barriers between your safe spaces (work, office) and any potential sources of infection. Beware of shared airflows!

5) Time: minimize time in stores or any other environment where the virus may be present.

6) Many simple acts destroy potential viruses: sunshine (UV light), “grocery quarantine” (use time to disinfect non-perishable goods, mail, and any packages you need to handle), “active disinfection” (use soapy water or other disinfectants to clean non-perishable groceries or other items you might need to handle outside the home).

Reviving the Economy: What’s an Acceptable Risk Level?

In the original radiation-protection context, ALARA is used to bring risks well below an acceptable level, the natural background radiation level. Humanity evolved in, and lives in, a world with background radiation from cosmic rays, radon gas from trace amounts of uranium decaying in the soil, and even radioactive potassium in bananas.

Our cells have DNA repair mechanisms to protect against radiation. Because of that, we can allow activities that involve some radiation exposure, as long as it’s much smaller than those natural levels. An obvious one is medical or dental X-rays. Flying in airplanes is a source of radiation exposure too – less atmosphere, more cosmic rays.

There’s also a natural background level for mortality risks. The graph above shows “Flu & Pneumonia” averaging 153 deaths per day. CDC data says overall mortality in the US was 7708 deaths per day in 2017.

So what’s the acceptable risk in a pandemic-virus context? Your boss may feel any risk to you is okay, as long as his profits are protected. Bankers in hard-hit New York have been forced to go back to work, apparently “because market liquidity.” I find that offensive. It’s already selfish to force others to take excess infection risks, but doubly so when 10% of the workforce is in forced unemployment to reduce those risks.

And the medical workers I know aren’t putting their lives on the line, often without adequate gear, to treat bankers with death-wishes, or other workers imperiled by risk-ignorant bosses. We need a national consensus on this, not every boss for himself.

As I wrote last week, if we can’t put out the fire yet, we have to do a “controlled burn.” But commenters noted that we need a “slow burn” to keep the health care system from being slowly ground to pieces. COVID has destroyed some nursing homes; we can’t let it destroy our last-line-of-defense hospitals. So our current level, 2000/day, is certainly too much.

Humanity has already grudgingly accepted the risk level posed by the flu, so that makes a useful benchmark. And we could consider overall mortality as well. The risk from flu is 150 deaths/day, and 5% of overall annual mortality would be 400/day. Could the U.S. get comfortable with 100-400 COVID deaths per day – nationwide – if we knew it wouldn’t get any worse?

Follow Korea and Wring Out the Risks

To get down to “it’s just the flu” levels, we have to cut the death rate by 5-20x from the current level of 2000/day. To do that and bring back the economy, we have to wring out the infection risks everywhere.

The graph below shows that South Korea, with about 1/7 the US population, is averaging 5 COVID deaths per day for the past 10 days. (Data from Johns Hopkins, graphed using In the US that would be 35 deaths/day – certainly acceptable.

But Korea is also doing work-from-home, online school, and no large social gatherings: They’re not back to normal. So the US needs Korean-style test-and-trace and universal use of face masks. But to bring back school, daycare, and full employment, both countries need more, a lot more. In the chart, the US is the very top orange line:

I think we need to rethink how we do everything. So far, we’ve kinda figured out grocery shopping, remote medical care for routine issues, and working and exercising at home wherever possible. But schooling and daycare is a huge challenge. And we have a lot more to do before restaurants, theaters, and sports arenas can reopen as anything other than “super-spread event centers.”

Our “essential businesses” can be better-organized to reduce infection risks. Being an essential worker shouldn’t mean risking your life every day. Less essential businesses must use the “pause time” to figure out how to reduce their own risks, so they can reopen without spiking the death rates.

It will be a while yet before COVID deaths in the US drop to acceptable levels. In the new economy, some companies will be old businesses, reworked with ALARA. And unfortunately, some activities should still be banned until we get a better handle on the virus, including through effective treatments and vaccines. And there will be many other new or expanding businesses, using ALARA to exploit opportunities created by COVID. By Wisdom Seeker, for WOLF STREET.

Turns out… “The mortgage market has more risk than previously acknowledged.” Read…  “Mortgage Forbearance” is Suddenly Hot, Hits Shadow Banks, which Clamor for Bailout from Taxpayers and the Fed

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  352 comments for “COVID-19 vs. the Economy: When is it Time to Reboot?

  1. Gandalf says:

    I had posted this before, but here it is again – the United States is about two orders of magnitude worse than S Korea and Taiwan, the two best case scenarios of how the COVID-19 outbreak was handled.

    We still have fundamentalist Christian pastors calling their members to go to church together for Easter worship! (as well as regular church services)

    We have a fundamentalist Christian Liberty University putting out arrest warrants for trespassing on a journalist and photographer who did a story about their NOT SHUTTING DOWN during this pandemic.

    We have the anti-guvmint anarchists, er, Extreme Libertarians, Ammon Bundy in Idaho refusing to follow stay at home government orders.

    We have state governors that refuse to issue lockdown orders. We have others that issue wishy washy lockdown orders (e.g., Texas Republican governor Abbott allowed a loophole for people to still go to church! Yes, church is SOOOooooo important, and God will definitely protect you from the Evil Satanic Coronavirus)

    And, we have institutional, FEDERAL PRIVACY LAWS, that make the US hugely different from S Korea and Taiwan.

    Did you know, Wisdom Seeker, that in S Korea, they actually POSTED ONLINE the names and addresses of the infected COVID-19 patients? What an absolutely marvelous aid to epidemiological contact tracing! People could just look up that info online, and being socially responsible Asians, could turn themselves in for testing, and then quarantine themselves if tested positive. And, they wouldn’t mind getting posted online because that would be the right thing to do to prevent others they contacted from getting the virus!

    Wow. I absolutely do not see Americans doing the same thing. Ever.

    Did you know, Wisdom Seeder that it is absolutely 100% illegal to post similar health information publically here in the US, because it would be a HIPAA violation?!

    No, Wisdom Seeker, I do NOT believe the US is anywhere near the peak of COVID infections. It is still spreading out slowly into the middle of the country and from there it will spread into the rural areas. These places are more isolated, have little to zero public transportation (the biggest vector of spread in New York City, in almost all likelihood), and so the will take time for the virus to make headway.

    The sheer lack of testing capability compared to population size here in the US (the other huge difference from S Korea and Taiwan, and the sheer lack of social responsibility and common sense means that there will continue to be people spreading the virus across the country. We should be testing 10-100x as many people, if we want to compare ourselves to S Korea and Taiwan. We are still no where close to that level.

    I think you are way too early to start thinking about transitioning to ALARA, slow burn, whatever levels. We ain’t even close to the peak of the pandemic here in this country yet.

    The only way we will come close to that is when we get a COVID vaccine. Please remember that your comparison with influenza is an accepted death rate for the flu WITH A FLU VACCINE AVAILABLE. Yes, the flu vaccines aren’t great, but most likely neither will the future COVID vaccine. It will, I guarantee it, NOT protect 100% of people that get it. No vaccine ever does, the best vaccines for stable viruses like polio and measles are only about 90%, and coronaviruses are not stable – they mutate very rapidly.

    In my hospital, we have 12 COVID patients on ventilators, and another 5 ventilators open. And the numbers are still rising, every week.

    • SocalJim says:

      Not true. South Korea had warmer weather when the virus hit so the transmission was lower and they had much better results. If you look at the southern part of the US, where the weather is warmer, the transmission is also much lower there … the only exception is New Orleans. So, our south looks like South Korea. But, in the northern part of the US, the weather is colder and the transmission is much much worse. This had nothing to do with testing and everything to do with weather.

      • timbers says:

        Massachusetts hasn’t had warm weather since last year and we’re zoning to the top. In contrast, tropical Minnesota has been lauded by Wisdom Seeker as bending the curve.

        • SocalJim says:

          If you go the New York Times, and you look at their virus table by state, then you sort on cases per 100,000, with the exception of the New Orleans area, every state with a high number of cases per 100,000 are in the north.

          And, once again, with the exception of New Orleans, all states in the south have a lower number of cases per 100,000. South Korea follows this pattern.

        • timbers says:

          If you look at worldometer, Minnesota has one of the lowest rates.

          Also northern nation like Japan and Korea have very low rates.

        • timbers says:

          Frankly, looking worldometer, it seems that coastal states that travel a lot are being hit hardest. There may be climate correlation as well, but the it seems that is a lesser factor, and northern nations have warm weather too. It’s called summer.

          I suggest you view Worldometer.

        • Super Burrito says:

          It’s been over 100F for months here in SE-ASIA, today is first cool day in 2 months, at 95F

          Tell me the virus doesn’t like hot-weather?

          Indonesian is now #1 in future, some 80% of all ex-pats going home are testing on entry and found positive, what’s that say about over-all infection rate of Indonesia, which is HOT, very HOT. Dry season now, all humidity, but humidity is coming soon.

          The virus doesn’t care about HOT or COLD, but it does seem to pass quickly when groups go out to bars ( say Karaoke ), and then get close, and druk, and worst of all is air-cond, they like to do this before they go ‘home’. Then of course they go home infected, but don’t have symptoms. Then soon as they arrive (family-home) they infect parents, and grand parents, and its the +80 who generally die, already being weak.

          Singapore locked all non-residents out of all hospitals 3 weeks ago. Most country’s in SE-ASIA quit selling ‘Booze’ last week, because even with curfew kids were still going out late at night, and all arrests DUI ( as well as curfew ); So now is SE-Asean new-year, almost rain season, people typically go out side and get drunk for rain, but now everybody locked-down without booze.

          Some say that there is no world-gov running things, but riddle me this how did they get the entire world to lock-down same-same? Even Iran&NK?? The entire continuum of humanity is locked down worldwide; Does this mean that in the future any cause-of-death can call INTL-LOCK? I’m thinking traffic deaths, drug-use, guns – Seems that once the ‘amber-elert’ for INTL-LOCK can be activated then it will be used frequently.

          This is a Test.

      • David Calder says:

        Today’s numbers: Florida has 12,300 cases and Ohio has 6,250
        Georgia has 12,300 while Wisconsin has 3.250.. It doesn’t seem the transmission rate is weather related. It could be but these numbers don’t seem to back you up.. 21,000 cases in Brazil where it’s still summer.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          It’s thought that warm weather lower fatality rates, there is some evidence that this is the case for flu’s and other infections “your immune system is possibly stronger in the summer”, but, some people keep saying that warm weather prevents infections, which isn’t thought to be true. If your immune system is stronger, you’ll normally experience less symptoms from viruses and may not even notice “asymptomatic” in a greater amount of cases.

          This assumes a typical summer with no lockdown and people out and about outside at their usual rates. It’s possible that because people are forced inside unable to do much, they will have lower physical fitness the longer a lockdown is in effect and fatality rates could keep climbing.

        • kleen says:

          Brazil has more cases where they had cooler temperatures, 60’s to 80’s with the exception of a couple of States where is hot and the virus spread quickly. But they had unusual circumstances in those 2 states.

          It’s fall there now and Flu season either has started or is about to.

          I noticed, as far a community spread, it slows down when it’s hot Still spreads no doubt but at a slower pace. Sound like it takes more direct contact than spreading through surfaces or indirect contact. I hope I am right.

          So I am hopeful when Flu season ends we should see significant decline in new cases. Yes this virus is a lot more contagious than the Flu, so it will stick around. But maybe it will slow down and loose it’s exponential growth factor.

          We are about to find out in another month or 2.

        • James R Chaillet, Jr. , MD says:

          If you are going to do comparison have a basis , such as a denominator to help make sense of the numbers. Florida has almost twice the population of Ohio for example and Wisconsin has about half. Brazil’s population is about 212 million.

          And for those holding up Minnesota as an example of how all this quarantining is working, note that Minnesota has about 5.7 million residents and the NYC metro area has about 18.5 million residents. Minnesota about 87,000 square miles, NYC metro about 3,900. Minnesota’s success or good luck may be as much about low population density as about following good quarantine rules.

          I suspect warm weather decreases the rate of transmission of the virus. Don’t know by how much.

      • Happy1 says:

        SocalJim, South Korea has a winter climate very similar to NYC, it’s humid continental with a cold winter. Not tropical at all.

        • Iamafan says:

          So Korea is MUCH COLDER than NYC. I should know because I used to regularly fly JFK to ICN before my stroke. I could leave JFK with temps 30-40 and get to Incheon at -17 F.

        • Happy1 says:


          Yes, colder than NYC is true, Socaljim was saying a climate like the “American South”, much more like New England.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Korea is north of the equator, hence it was winter when virus first appeared there,,, don’t take my word for it, read some history re ” frozen Choison” battle of Korea war…
        Next, look at Switzerland, apparently the most cases and deaths Per Capita, so far.

      • james wordsworth says:

        Florida (and much of the South) use air conditioning everywhere. I am usually blown away by how cold all places from hotel rooms to restaurants and taxis are. They are colder than the temps I keep my house at in the winter. So the south does have lots of cold spots if that is what you are looking for. Also Florida and Texas are playing a lot of games with their numbers.

      • Sean Stehura says:

        What? Without testing we don’t have a clue about who and how wide spread covid 19 has infected our population. How many people are walking around with the virus without symptoms? Are you spreading the virus? As a person with asthma, I am the walking dead if I contact the virus.

      • James Tamerius says:

        Hey Socaljim, do you think the temperature inside homes and other buildings varies strongly between different climates? In developed countries with heating/AC indoor temperature doesn’t really vary mich seasonally. And since most interaction and transmission occurs indoors, temperature likely doesn’t play a big role. It’s more likely humidity.

        -an expert :-)(

    • Wisdom Seeker says:


      First, please understand that I’m not pushing a solution. I’m trying to get people to have the conversation about what that solution could look like.

      I’m sorry your hospital is getting close to its limits. Here where I live, we are releasing surplus ventilators because the growth of the virus has been checked. Patients are being released from hospitals faster than new ones come in. Things are looking brighter here, so it’s time to begin looking a little farther down the road.

      Regarding test-and-trace: I’m not saying we have to actually become Korea. There are effective ways to do test-and-trace, consistent with existing US legal standards. Your cell phone company already knows where you (or at least your phone) is at all times, and how to share that data with the government when legally required. Saving lives by preventing infections ought to be on that list, just as stopping crimes is. Given an infected person’s phone number, we could track all other phones that came nearby, notify the owners that they have a risk, and get them into testing or quarantine.

      And legally, it’s Calvinball time. Laws that need to be revised to cope with the impact of COVID are already being rewritten by Congress, almost weekly. If HIPAA as a law is making the single greatest cause of death in this country worse… HIPAA can be changed by an act of Congress. Just like the entire financial system just was. For better or worse, we have to act.

      Also, I did not say we had seen peak infections. But we are close to the peak infection rate: new cases/day, new deaths/day are all stabilizing. And test capacity is ramping up quickly just as the infection rate is slowing, so test-and-trace is becoming possible, even if it’s not here yet.

      There’s absolutely no reason to think we can eliminate COVID from the face of the earth. So we have to figure out how to live with it until we have a vaccine that works against all known strains. If “keeping it below the prior level of influenza-driven pneumonia” isn’t good enough, what is?

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        Edit – last paragraph – meant to include the condition: “until we have a vaccine that works against all known strains”.

        • Finster says:

          We need to not limit our thinking just to vaccines, but to consider effective treatments as well. An effective preventative would be great, but is inefficient from the standpoint that pretty much everyone has to have it, whether they need it or not. A treatment in contrast, need only be taken by those with individual demonstrated need. Not to mention that treatments can be tried now while vaccine development and deployment are inherently slow processes.

          Great essay, by the way. Each individual ultimately has to determine for himself what an acceptable risk is. But from a public policy perspective your criteria are hard to beat.

        • Deanna Johnston Clark says:

          How much $$ is the US government giving for each vent. use? How much for each death certificate reading Covid19? Who is profiting from all this? What are the guidelines for the tests, diagnosis, and causes of actual death? Does science and diagnosis count in Hospice, nursing homes, homeless and medicaid situations? Are those in charge accountable to society at large in some way for incorrect slipshoddery? Medical simulation photos have been verified in the press…will that be held accountable?
          What are the stats in Mexico, where things are very different in hospitals and billing? What is going on in Sweden, which is pretty much ignoring this, as is Belarus?
          I’m not saying people aren’t ill and some dying….only asking the questions we should all be asking as concerned citizens. None of the questions should bother honest people.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Deanna Johnston Clark,

          “What are the stats in Mexico, where things are very different in hospitals and billing?”

          Mexico has imposed a lockdown after a surge in outbreaks, with healthcare professionals getting infected due to lack of protective equipment (and they have protested). Lack of testing means they’re flying in the dark.

        • Gandalf says:

          Wisdom Seeker,

          The fundamental weakness of your entire logic system regarding the COVID pandemic is that thorough epidemiological contact tracing in the United States is a complete joke and basically IMPOSSIBLE compared to what S Korea and Taiwan were able to accomplish. That’s the biggest factor in why I think once social distancing is relaxed in any way or form, COVID is going to come back big time.

          I really don’t think you understand the magnitude of this problem, because you obviously never lived through the worst days of the AIDS pandemic, which has now killed some 700,000 Americans and continues to kill 16,000 Americans a year. It is in fact the WORST pandemic in American history, far worse than the Spanish flu.

          AIDS was not even that contagious! All you had to do was have American people behave in a socially responsible fashion such as not have sex with scores or hundreds of different people, not try to sell/donate your blood to blood banks if you were in a high risk category, and not do criminal/malignant things like perform dentistry on your patients with unsterilized instruments!

          And yet all of that happened! People like Arthur Ashe, tennis star, died of AIDS, from a blood transfusion he received during heart bypass surgery. People in Florida died of AIDS from a dentist with AIDS who deliberately did not sterilize his instruments!

          Widespread testing for AIDS never happened! Seriously, people didn’t want to know! And they did NOT want others to know, for sure! Contact tracing never happened! I was there, you obviously were not.

          Testing for HIV got turned into a Civil Rights issue. Some states, like New York and Nebraska, even passed laws banning physicians from testing for HIV without expressed written permission from their patients. (these laws apparently finally expired in 2014).

          California almost passed similar legislation in 1999 – fortunately Gray Davis vetoed it. I remember because I was in California then and I was outraged and emailed and faxed a protest note to Davis’s office, telling him that he would have blood on his hands if he signed that legislation.

          Imagine being in the ER, some dude comes in, needle marks all over his arms, all bloody and smashed/shot up, dripping blood all over the hospital, unconscious, with no legal representatives, and you are legally forbidden from checking his HIV status!

          The Fourth Amendment enshrines the right to privacy in the United States. This is in fact the foundation stone on which Roe v Wade based its decision to legalize abortion. HIPAA’s stringent medical privacy rules are also based on the Fourth Amendment right to privacy. A whole string of healthcare corporations have been fined millions of dollars in recent years by the Federal government simply because their patient databases were hacked. Should we abolish HIPAA and refund that money back to those companies?

          So, no Wisdom Seeker, you are NOT going to abolish the Fourth Amendment and suddenly open the floodgates of medical information of who has COVID and who does not and just give it to somebody with their cellphone numbers for epidemiological contact tracing.

          And even if all that happened, where is the clamor for MORE FUNDING to hire MORE PEOPLE to do contact tracing? We have hundreds of thousands of people with COVID now, each one potentially has contacted anywhere from 5-20 people! How many man hours of work do you think that is going to take to find all those contacts and get them tested/quarantined?

          Answer: total silence about funding more epidemiological contact tracing. It just ain’t going to happen here in the US. It didn’t happen with AIDS, and I absolutely will not happen with COVID.

          My best guess as to what will happen is that COVID will continue to slowly roll out through the Midwest and rural areas of the United States over the next months. Cities that seem to have gotten past their peak infections and then RELAX their social distancing will see a second or third wave of infections.

          How do you prevent somebody with relatively mild or asymptomatic COVID from rural Texas, Georgia, or Idaho from visiting San Francisco once it is no longer locked down? Sure, invite all those tourists back in to go and have a latte at Fisherman’s Wharf!

          The COVID pandemic will not begin to really go down until we get a vaccine, and even then it will likely remain as an endemic problem with endemic levels of annual deaths, just like influenza, and AIDS are today

        • phil m says:

          Wisdom Seeeker, thanks for your great work here. Big picture question, what are we really trying to accomplish with the current policies? I understood that by flattening the curve we were just extending out the time frame whereby a good % of the population would get infected ( I’d read we were looking at ultimately 70-80% ). What we wanted to do was not overwhelm the healthcare system. It looks like we are being successful on that front in many, many places.

          A couple disturbing #’s are the large % of deaths in nursing home/assisted living centers. NY is close to 25%. This morning I saw Mass. was in the order of 40%. Same thing for Colorado. Absent this subset of the population and the 70+ age group with co- morbidity factors it looks like we have a mean virus that you would rather not have to deal with but is not likely to kill you. At this point what are we trying to accomplish by destroying our economy?

          Another thing that I don’t understand. Looking at the MA. #’s this morning. There have been 102,372 tests. 20,974 cases. In order to get a test you still need to show some kind of symptoms I believe. What do we think the other 80,000 folks actually have that felt they needed to get tested? Should we just pooh-pooh it cause they didn’t test + for Covid 19?

      • Thomas Roberts says:

        Wisdom Seeker,

        What worked in very small island or practically island countries like Taiwan or South Korea, isn’t necessarily going to work in America. We are VERY FAR PAST weeding out infections. The larger and more spread out a population is, the more difficult to weed out infections. Most people who get ventilators are already doomed. We don’t even have the pharmaceutical capabilities “this is not even counting the many that will refuse to get tested” necessary to mass test the population repeatedly. Ending privacy and freedom forever for a virus, which only kills 3% at worst “and heavily geared towards elderly and unhealthy” is not a solution and is already too late to work. You cannot in a large country like America, end this crisis and put the genie back in the bottle. The only thing related to medical data that is acceptable is that everyone who gets it, will have their identity obscured and their medical data open to the greater medical establishment. If someone does come down it, they can have their employer notified, given time off and a stimulus could cover their wages.

        The only option which should have been in progress for 3 months now, is to plan that most will get it and have an easily mass deployed treatment. Eventually a vaccine will come out and hopefully end the situation entirely. The only other option of this kind is to mass deploy an only partially tested vaccine to those who are very likely be a fatality or seriously ill of the CCP Virus and adults who want it that have less risk from the rushed vaccine than the virus.

        As for the economy you are either in lockdown or you’re not. The only middle ground is to limit very large mass gathering like sports games and control travel into and out of America. You can require sterilization of many environments, but you cannot shut down “even partially” mass transportation and expect the economy to do fine.

        As for using the lockdown method, there is no way to have each state doing their own thing and expect that to work. It’s very clear a certain president is mostly concerned with his reelection campaign and won’t do anything on a national stage that might harm his chances to get reelected.

        The longer the lockdown goes on the more numerous and more severe consequences predicted and unforeseen will have on America well into the future.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          Just to add,

          Most politicians in the country are doing a very terrible job.

        • Gerrard White says:

          @Thomas Roberts
          Your comment is quite right

          that if no one really knows what the bug is and how infectious/fatal it is and if/when a vaccine or vaccines can/will be found—

          then a much greater unknown is what a continuation of current lockdown or a tightening even will/might have on not only the economy but society and especially health

          Except it does seem reasonable to say that lockdown will have much worse results both long term and short term

          But – who’s going to make that call? The confusion is such, the deference to medical experts is such, the contempt for the President is such, no one will allow anyone to make such a tough decision

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          @Thomas – yes, I advocated increased testing. And it’s coming. As test capacity ramps up and lockdowns bring down the caseload (and that is starting in many places), test and trace becomes a viable approach.

          I don’t think your plan “to have at treatment ready” is guaranteed to work, because medical treatments don’t arrive on a schedule. And after 17 years of coronavirus research (SARS, MERS) we still have nothing for either. The urgency is higher now and there are some great ideas, and we do need to push to develop treatments – but we need a baseline plan that covers the contingency where that takes longer than we’d like.

          Regarding lockdowns – I disagree entirely with “either you’re all in lockdown or you’re not” or your claim that “no way to have each state doing their own thing”. There are many, many ways to do a lockdown, and to vary the rules, and we are already doing hundreds of them in various ways across the country. The Bay Area has already done 2 or 3 variants and it’s still evolving. Other states have different rules – we’re already doing what you claim cannot be done. This is a strength of the US system – we can run 50 different statewide experiments and thousands of county-level experiments in parallel, find out what works, and improve on those.

        • drb says:

          TR re: ” a certain president … won’t do anything on a national stage that might harm his chances to get reelected”…maybe reword… does not understand that every time he opens his mouth his reelection chances are diminished.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          Wisdom Seeker,

          If every state is doing it’s own thing, the virus will keep being reintroduced from other states. Weeding it out under such circumstances, only means you are trying to keep numbers low, but, this only works with a lockdown, which if vaccine takes until late next year, which out it probably will unless we lower arrival standards, means another 1.5 years+ of lockdown, right now we are only seeing some consequences from lockdown, many more will show up as it continues.

          As for medical treatments some hospitals claim to have almost no deaths at all from CCP19, did they really figure it out? If you ask enough people, some will volunteer to test medical treatments, and you can find out.

          As for testing capability ramping up, it’s too late to weed it out that way, surprisingly, it turns out highly dense countries like South Korea are far better at weeding out infections. It’s already spread all across America and cannot be weeded out. This is in no small part, because, part of the population are conspiracy nuts, if we were only dealing with a couple parts of the country, we could do this, but we are past that point.

          Even in lockdown I have met a couple guys who think CCP19 doesn’t exist, according to one of them, people went looking for virus patients in nyc hospitals and didn’t find any. Good luck trying to find and test and enforce quarantines on of all these guys on a national scale simultaneously, with every state and sometimes county doing it’s own thing.

          As for the variations of lockdowns, you are still in lockdown. Over time more and more supply chains will break down and make everything increasingly difficult, including producing testing kits and supplying hospitals. This is made much worse, because, of a lack of consistency across the country, in dealing with the situation.

          It’s very obvious America was just not prepared for a lockdown, maybe next time if we actually produce pharmaceuticals in America and other essentials in America, we can do things differently. We could mass produce new comfortable hazmat suits and give them out, employees at airports, factories, stores, and more could be required to wear them at work and we could have solutions prepared for various other problems and cleanup the WHO and breeze through the next pandemic. With this one, we can’t.

    • nick kelly says:

      A key question now is the future of China’s return to normal, especially in Wutan. If the worst is over, great. But if this is the CCP mandating a return to work regardless of the risks, and there is another outbreak, we are in a different place.

      A sign of progress: the ‘it’s just the flu’ narrative is slowly fading into the rear- view mirror. The conversion of the commander- in- chief helps. The temporary placement of the UK PM (55 years old ) on a ventilator may also be a factor.

      • IdahoPotato says:

        The craven “It’s just the flu” cynics are now the “It’s going to be just 60,000 deaths” sociopaths.

        They know that the frantic, co-ordinated efforts to contain coronavirus are the reason we might be lucky enough to have “only 60,000 deaths”, but they hope you’re too dense to realize it.

        • Happy1 says:

          This is very true, I’ve seen commentary along these lines from several sources.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          Idaho, yes. We can learn a lot about which authors are worth reading, by watching who pushes that nonsense. It’s not the flu, and if we only have 60,000 dead it will be 100% Because we didn’t listen to those saying it was just a flu.

          Very glad we have people like Wolf who will follow the data instead of someone else’s ad budget.

        • Sean Stehura says:

          I am 78 years old with asthma. That aside, I am in excellent health. I backpack in the Olympic National Park, kayak, bike and hike with my dog. Life is good. So why do I have to die for the billionaires economy?

      • Jon W says:

        The UK prime minister was in intensive care, but only for monitoring as he was only ever on supplemental oxygen. I have little doubt this is true, as the ICU figures for ventilation are about 80% mortality and you don’t come off the ventilator within 2 days unless you’re dead. The story about him being on a vent was a fake news item released around the time he first went into hospital. Probably to make someone money or something. Either way, please don’t spread this lie further.

      • Barry Fay says:

        To say Boris Johnson was put on a ventilator is simply mendacious. He wasn´t. Do you need such misinformation to bolster your fear mongering? I do love all the sudden “experts” in the comments – and, to think, such a level of expertise was able to be reached with such a minimum of effort. Wow. (It reminds me of the racetrack, where EVERYONE is an expert BEFORE THE RACE IS RUN!).
        When the hype dies down and the virus subsides enough for level heads to prevail, it will be VERY INTERESTING to find out the truth. Apparently only some of us are willing to wait.

        • nick kelly says:

          Since you seem certain he was not on vent and ‘just on oxygen’ in the ICU, I accept that.
          It boggles my mind that you think this is a black- and- white distinction that has something to do with how serious this is and how we should respond.

          If it was an (unintentional) exaggeration on my part to say he was on vent, having heard it from MSM, how much more of an (intentional) exaggeration is it to say this being ‘just oxygen’ has anything to do with the severity of Cov-19?
          Are you saying that someone NOT on a vent is NOT in serious condition?

          NB. The vent is a LAST resort to address pulmonary arrest. If required for longer, a hole is cut in the throat for the tube. This actually makes the patient more comfortable, as having the tube down the throat is so unpleasant it requires some to be restrained as they struggle to remove it.

          Instead of focusing on the fact that the last resort wasn’t used, how about focusing on the crux: a guy 55 years old in prior good health was in the ICU on oxygen within days of first symptoms.

    • roddy6667 says:

      South Korea was slow to react. My wife and flew from Qingdao to Seoul and back when the shit was hitting the fan in Wuhan and spreading. We wore masks and blue nitrile medical exam gloves. At Incheon Airport, the employees were not even wearing masks. All they wanted to know is if you were from Wuhan or not. We had a vacation to Singapore canceled because the country locked down. So did Hong Kong, Russia, Mongolia, and a lot of other places. IMHO, SK took too long to control its borders. Add to that fundamential Christian missionaries who were operating an underground church in Wuhan and returned to SK.

      • Iamafan says:

        Slow to react to something you don’t know about.
        My reaction is gimme a break.

        • roddy6667 says:

          I read 3 or 4 South Korean newspapers a day. In our sidtrict of Qingdao, we have ove 50,000 South Korean citizens working and running businesses here. We talk all the time. They are in constant touch with their counry. Seoul is only about 150 miles from here. I know a lot more about the situation in South Korea than a lot of people that live there. We had an outbreak here in China. I had to cancel my visit to Linyi because of lockdowns all over China. Then my flight to Singapore got cancelled. South Korea chose to take the same wait-and-see route that the US did, when it was obvious to the world that some serious shit was happening.
          Try to keep up.

    • Matt says:

      Shall we put them in prison and force reeducation camps on them comrade?

    • mike says:

      Amen. I believe that the only, remaining method left to us to get rid of this epidemic in the US (as opposed to other countries, which are each separate stories and from which travel may have to be temporarily stopped, for months) is a national lock down. That is the fastest way and will result in the least economic damage. See MIT Technology Review’s “Stop covid or save the economy? We can do both”

      As I have pointed out, they explain that “Contrary to what you’ve heard, shutting down the country is also the quickest way to get it started back up again” The problems with our laws and existing conditions, with some states not even closed yet, are clearly set forth in the article and commentary.

      Congress and the president can agree and close our country down, so our economic damage can be minimized. Sadly, our top leader disdains science, apparently does not even understand the words “metric” or “metrics” and will probably ignore this wise advise, like other, prior warnings and advice for months.

  2. EEngineer says:

    I’ve been wondering just how many CV-19 deaths are due to it alone, a complicating factor for one or more other chronic conditions, or simply being symptomatically present at the time of death (tests positive, mark it CV-19). Is it possible to show the time progression of the top 15, as well as a total? It would probably show a trend of the others changing if the effects of CV-19 are inaccurate. I don’t know this data set, but I know pulling multiple causes and effects out of an experiment is always a challenge.

    I could even see other causes of death increasing because people are avoiding the hospital for non-critical conditions, which sometime are anything but.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      We won’t know for a while. The available mortality data summaries for the US are over a year old (2017 & 2018 data).

      But note that attribution of cause of mortality is really, really easy for COVID. Especially compared to most of the other choices. Clinically it’s usually either a deadly atypical pneumonia with a distinct pattern, or heart failure.

      My overall opinion is that whoever is promulgating the meme that COVID numbers are being grossly inflated, is pushing an agenda rather than seeking the truth.

      • EEngineer says:

        I this whole thing has become politicized with opinions ranging from this is the end of the world to this is a big conspiracy. Never let a crisis go to waste and all…

        It is a nasty bug, but panic is also in the air.

        I’m an engineer. I want the math.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          Agree. But we also need the math on how many corpses there are which died from COVID-19 but were never tested for it (yet), and so the documented cause of death will say something more generic.

          Also, as someone coming at this from a physical sciences background, one thing I’ve come to appreciate about the bio / medical data is that it’s all fundamentally limited. There’s no consistent single definition of anything, including the viral RNA itself. Case counting and cause-of-death counting vary by nation and, within nations, by the state of the infection and the healthcare system. Tests have false negatives. And so on. Toss in that the virus is so poorly known, and the “fog of war” effect is much thicker than normal!

        • Deanna Johnston Clark says:

          Yes…independently verified causes of death by doctors NOT under the hospital power structures. That’s a biggie.
          Why is the mail still being delivered? Why is the Red Cross advertising for blood? Why are there Amazon deliveries all over town and the warehouses fully operational with toys, books, slave made clothes, electronics? Why is immune strength and prevention not even in the discourse?
          The only “side” I care about is transparency and Hypocrates.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        WS, while trying to get my old but very thorough science education focused on the data available, it seems to me at this time that the cases and death numbers announced so far are actually being kept as LOW as possible.
        While it is easy to attribute this suppression to countries generally accepted as more authoritarian, it certainly appears to be happening everywhere, likely to keep down the panic, as is clear from the low early level of formally announced restrictions and their gradual increases.
        ”Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive” might be made clear eventually, likely not until after November in USA, but we can hope sooner in more responsible guv mints.

      • Greg Hamilton says:

        When seeking the truth, healthy skepticism is required. That is why you have the scientific method.

      • Cas127 says:


        “The available mortality data summaries for the US are over a year old (2017 & 2018 data).”

        So does that mean the C19 deaths on the chart are from this year and all other cause of death data points are from previous years (2018 and 2017)?

        If so, the chart may be misleading if *this year’s* non C19 deaths go down (because they have become pre-existing conditions for C19 deaths).

        This would be very, very important information for estimating overall death rate.

        Could you please clarify/confirm the vintage year of the non-C19 causes of death on the chart?

        (If they are in fact from 2017/2018, how can the CDC generate C19 in near real time…but heart disease/cancer – the two other biggies – take over a year – absolute minimum – to generate?)

        • CrazyCooter says:

          This is the single most important unanswered question in my mind.

          Could be wrong, just my opinion, but if average deaths are up 50% or more, new fatalities are being introduced – otherwise we are “bringing forward demand” (sounds horrible, but is what it is) and at some point … ahem … the Fed might have to step up and try to fill the gap to keep deaths from crashing – oh god, too much tome on econ blogs.

          I say this as a person in a town on lock down – who knows not a single person – nor coworker with close relationship to an infected person (we have a response system at work for our 65 employees – hasn’t been triggered yet).

          There are reported cases in town, but double digit totals.

          Our local economy is totally going to hell and no one is sick.



        • Wolf Richter says:


          Consider yourself lucky. If your local economy has an outbreak like New York, then you could consider yourself unlucky. The lockdown will hopefully prevent the latter. Refrigerated trailers for bodies and mass graves are no fun. But that’s what you can end up with if you let this thing run its course.

    • MC01 says:

      According to the first data from Italy over 75% of Covid-19 victims had “two or more pre-existing conditions”, but the hospitals in the North are emptying only slowly so that data set may change over the next month or so: diabetes and high blood pressure seem to be the conditions putting a patient at risk the most. But, again, they may just be indicators of overall poor health and it doesn’t take a genius to understand this category is the most at risk from infections of all kinds.

      What has not changed since the beginning of the epidemic is the age: the average Covid-19 victim in Italy is 79. The data is most likely skewed by extremely high mortality among the elderly in the North: in my province the average victim is 81.

      It’s beyond doubt there’s a very strong relationship between the healthcare system and this disease. The “joke” around here is the virus is just the final gust of wind pushing over the hedge folks only kept alive by an excellent healthcare system but as new cases wind down (in a way proving that nothing goes to heck in a straight line, not even epidemics) it sounds less and less like a joke.

      • MB732 says:

        Excellent reporting by Wisdom Seeker but the first chart using current daily covid deaths vs historic daily ‘other cause’ deaths implies that covid is not reducing ‘other cause’ deaths by killing very sick persons.

        Article does mention average daily mortality in US of 7708 (2017) and current daily covid death rate 2000. Using 7708, if total stays same, then covid is having zero added risk. If total is 9708 deaths per day, then every additional death is attributable to the virus.

        We know the truth is somewhere in between, but if we don’t know the relationship between the two, how can we calculate acceptable risk?

        • Kent says:

          We may never really know the relationship between the two. The technology to have that knowledge at any level of precision may not exist. I don’t know.

          So what do you do under that circumstance? You’re stuck making a political decision. Does the body politic take a more conservative approach, keeping lock-downs longer with masks, etc…? Or does it take a more liberal approach, opening up and returning to normal a little earlier?

          I’m probably somewhere in-between, opening up a bit, thinking about how to do things differently, moving the needle one way or the other based on the results. But I’m not dictator, so I’m stuck at the whims of the nation at large.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          We won’t know until the death rates for 2020 are tabulated, which will be in couple of years.

        • Cas127 says:


          Considering this is a ntl emergency and the G is somehow able to generate near real time C19 death stats (not with a 1 to 3 yr delay), why should it be “impossible” for the G (at whatever level…NYC would seem to be most crucial) to total up just non C19 heart disease/cancer deaths in near real time?

          If HD/cancer deaths are in fact falling (because they have become C19 death pre existing conditions) that is absolutely crucial info to have.

          One way or another, total NYC death stats are going to be generated/estimated – from multiple possible sources – and no one is going to wait yrs for it.

        • Gerrard White says:

          Acceptable risk is to be calculated on the basis of or with a situation existing within the framework of acceptable prevention and intelligent preparation – one may take an example in South Korea

          To calculate acceptable risk when the situation is out of hand becomes impossible – hence the self justifying circular arguments about lockdown – those who so evidently failed at the one can only be regarded as probable if not certain failures at the other

          Acceptable risk can only be calculated and decided upon by governments or representatives who have already proved their capacity to do so by previous effective acceptable risk calculations as to preparation and prevention

    • james wordsworth says:

      Many locations are not counting deaths outside of a hospital or deaths in a hospital where Covid 19 was not confirmed. We will only know at some point in the future when overall death rates are compared. Example being the Netherlands:

    • Dave says:

      In the COVID ICU I have worked in 75% of the patients are older (>60yrs old) and most of them have co-morbidities (not a surprise given their age). The hospital I work in is also a level 1 trauma teaching hospital in an economically challenged area of a major city, so our patient base has an unusually high level of co-morbidities.

      Yes we do have healthy younger patients who are very sick from this, and some of these have died. They are much less prevalent than the older patients.

  3. Keepcalmeverythingisfine says:

    Well, you had me for a while with the common sense stuff, but then you lost me when you started making sweeping anti-business statements like “Your boss may feel any risk to you is okay, as long as his profits are protected” and then you really went off the cliff with – make the USA just like South Korea – bit. We have a huge mess on our hands, and we need to pull together as Americans. Winston Churchill said it best: “Americans always do the right thing, but after first exhausting all other possibilities.” We are not perfect, but we do things the American way, and it has worked pretty damn well so far.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      I’m not saying we should stop being the USA. But we should be learning from Korea and Taiwan, since what they are doing is working and we could be getting to the “do the right thing” part a lot faster.

      Failing to learn from Asian experience, and adapt it to Western systems, is why Europe and the USA have the highest caseloads and mortality rates in the world now.

      • Mr Wake Up says:

        Thanks for the AlARA introduction.

        The other challenge the west faces in comparison to Asian countries – they have been wearing face masks as a daily routine for quite some time. So this is not a new concept for their societies.

        Here in the west the face masks are in the form of cosmetics.

        Maybe the middle east has it correct we can all start wearing hijabs too?

        Living in NYC the street sounds been replaced with ambulance sounds like screams from people’s suffering with covid for weeks now. But that sound has been slowing down and replaced with morons walking with zero protection up and down the street I fear they will be the ones to impact us when the 2nd wave arrives and we are once again placed under further lockdowns but with harsher penalties.

        I agree though many industries can be opened in phases and strict guidelines with industries such as entertainment, sports, mass gatherings etc pushed to the final phase. Instead of an all around lock down?

        I’m curious as to every 1 week for business closures how many weeks does it take to recover those losses?

        In other words I use back of the napkin math for real estate.

        Maybe my napkin logic is even incorrect but
        Every month a building is vacant you lose another $1 sqft so if your asking $20 and it takes 3 months to lease In essence your $3sqft is $17 taking into account the lost rent vs the lease term.

        So again very curious to understand how one week of closure vs reopening could be calculated in terms of regaining the losses.
        And for small business how long will it be feasible to even repay the SBA loans Because in a world of slow return to normal, opening in phases the music will start but the party for many will be over before the guests arrive.

      • Ed says:

        Failing to learn from others is a great way to fail, whether you are an individual or a country.

        Recall that the U.S. ‘learned’ a lot from England before our industrial revolution really got rolling. Early on, the inventions — steam engines, looms, mills — came from England. Americans did not hesitate to copy what worked!

      • timbers says:

        Please oh please say USA needs to stop being USA! The world would rejoice.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          :) Every nation has good elements that are worth preserving, and other elements that are worth improving! Just like the people within, I suppose…

        • Happy1 says:

          Does that include people from all over the world literally dying to immigrate to the USA?

        • Broker Dan says:


          I can agree with that.

          And btw, I LOVE this country and cannot imagine ever loving elsewhere.

      • Caticorn says:

        I think all should be keeping track of Sweden and what happens there as they are not shutting down everything and also paying more attention to reinfections in Asia. Until we know more, I would rather stay home, not overburden the healthcare system and let researchers work on a vaccine and experimental treatments.

    • RK says:

      “….and it has worked pretty damn well so far.” You are clueless and in denial. As one minor example, how has it worked out for African Americans or the myriad of white workers (of all stripes) who are brainwashed to hate everyone BUT THE CAPITALISTS who are in fact their true enemy. What a joke.

      • IdahoPotato says:

        Americans love the idea of America. We just don’t like other Americans.

      • Scott says:

        If you are not happy here, go somewhere else. English Americans, German Americans, Polish Americans, Swedish Americans, Mexican Americans, Japanese Americans, and African Americans all seem to be doing pretty good compared to where they came from. The progress isn’t uniform, but it gets better every year.

        • Zantetsu says:

          Or alternately, stay and try to improve things. Maybe send those who like things the way they are somewhere else? That might be a good start …

        • Stuart says:

          Hardly. How do explain 32% of people in the U$A couldn’t pay their rent this month ? Capitalism is a disease and Socialism is the cure.

    • Jdog says:

      People are always motivated by the two basic emotions, fear and greed.
      Which of those emotions do you think motivates the business people?

    • Old-school says:

      My brother and I grew up in a small town in USA. We are both retired and had good careers and good retirement. Three of our four kids are doing much better than we did. USA is still a pretty good place if you get the right training or education and catch a few opportunities along the way.

    • I am Jack's Big Yawn says:


    • noname says:

      Like white on rice, here comes the good ol’ anti-America screed from Paulo.

      This time he left off his sister’s new activity, sewing masks (like many other volunteers across the US)—I can’t believe he failed to mention that!

      I’d really like to know who did you so wrong back when you were here in the USA.

      You must be on some strong heart meds to keep it ticking! Sh/t!

    • Happy1 says:

      Many problems here. But also many many good things. Canada is also a great place. Imagine it might be a little different if Mexico were at your southern border perhaps?

    • Duke DeGuise says:

      Jeff Bezos seems more than happy to risk his worker’s lives in order to maintain or expand his profits, if the walkouts at Amazon fulfillment centers are any indication.

      Apologists for killer neoliberalism are such snowflakes.

      • Interesting and I would describe their definition of the economy as neofascist. I concur completely that firing that guy over a strike he led for protective gear is going to be a story for a long while.

  4. Kevin says:

    Regarding the leading cause of death being Covid, how fair is it to take total pneumonia/influenza deaths and average them out daily when it’s clearly a seasonal disease? Seems massaged in order to make covid the leading cause of death.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Flu/pneumonia is never the leading cause of death. Pneumonia/influenza averages to 153/day out of 7708/day total. It’s one a few percent. You could multiply it 10x to account for seasonal peaks and it won’t catch COVID.

      And not all those pneumonias are flu-driven.

      Finally, annual averaging makes sense because we don’t have any significant evidence yet that COVID is seasonal.

      • backwardsevolution says:

        Hey, what happened to my comment about pneumonia?

        Completely gone, erased.

        What’s going on?

        • Wolf Richter says:


          I would rather shut down the entire comment section forever before I allow people to abuse my platform to promote drugs, supplements, and miracle cures.

      • Javert Chip says:


        Are you really implying 600,000 US COVID-19 deaths?

        Your chart comparing 599,000 annual cancer deaths expressed as 1,641/day, to the highest individual COVID-19 death/day is massively misleading and wildly irresponsible.

        The cancer deaths will indeed proceed for 365 days @ 1,671/day = 599,000/year.

        However, no credible source is claiming COVID-19 high death rates will continue for a full year.

        Yours is a stunningly inappropriate post.

        • Javert Chip says:


          Please review my above comment.

          Massively inappropriate display of data in this post is unbelievably inappropriate.

        • Happy1 says:


          Right now COVID-19 is killing more people than cancer and heart disease on a daily basis. This is fact. That’s why people are concerned. It’s why we are taking enormous economic consequences to address it. No one knows how long this will continue. It could last for a year or more. His reporting is factual and far better than much of the news media coverage.

          What would you prefer he should say? That if we average this over a year it’s less than cancer? Sheesh.

        • Brian says:

          There’s nothing wrong with his math. The problem is that the R-naught and the mortality rate are not accurately known. If R-naught is 3.0 and the mortality rate is 1% then 2 MILLION people will die in the USA alone.

          300M * (1 – 1/3.0) * 1% = 2M

          The R-naught is defined by the disease and social distancing but if we assume life will eventually go back to normal (i.e. no more social distancing) then it’s only a factor of the disease.

          If we can bring the mortality rate down to 0.1% (i.e. that of the normal flu) then there are only 200K deaths (with an R-naught of 3.0).

          I’ve heard recent R-naught estimates of 2.5 (ignoring social distancing) which would lower those numbers by 10%.

          We just don’t have enough data to know those numbers within about 25% for R-naught and an order of magnitude for the mortality rate.

          This of course assumes no vaccine before reaching herd-immunity levels, which is likely true.

          It also assumes that our individual immunity lasts long enough that we can actually reach herd-immunity which, though likely, is not guaranteed.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          Javert – No, I’m not implying 600,000 COVID-19 deaths. I recommend reading the whole article, slowly and carefully, with an open mind, and taking care to suppress emotional responses until you get to the end.

          The first paragraph does say COVID is killing 2000 people per day currently. But the rest of the essay notes that we’ve checked the spread, we have the tools to dial the death rate down, but those tools do economic damage. Looking down the road, we need to be having a national conversation about the proper balance point between COVID risk vs. economic risk. Unless you just want the President and his advisors to decide this, without any national dialogue?

        • Joe says:

          For each of the last five days, the US death count from COVID-19 has been over 1,800 PER DAY. (And that’s DESPITE the ongoing lockdowns.)


          1,800/day x 365 days/year
          = 657,000 PER YEAR

          So there’s the math. And it’s irresponsible of YOU, JavertChip, to call it “massively misleading and wildly irresponsible.”

          And if you don’t like it, then the burden is on YOU to prove your case and refute the facts I and WisdomSeeker have posted. Until you can offer a better argument (which you can’t, because facts are facts), take your dangerous agenda of misinformation elsewhere.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Javert Chip,

          “However, no credible source is claiming COVID-19 high death rates will continue for a full year.”

          If we stick closely together at work, in bars, at ball games, public events, etc. and if we don’t do all the things we’re now doing to slow the virus (social distancing), and if we therefore let the virus do its thing, it could be a lot worse than your numbers. Just look at the current trajectory of covid-19 deaths. Then remove the effects of social distancing, and recalculate.

          So right now, on a daily basis, this is what you have. The expectation is that we can lick this thing, and that the annual totals won’t get there. That’s the hope. But right now, that thing is still growing in leaps and bounds. And the daily death rates will go higher still. And hopefully at some point they’ll decline. But that point hasn’t arrived yet.

          So look at this as a “rate.” There is a daily rate, and a monthly rate, and an annual rate. For something that moves this fast, we need to look at the daily rate. That’s why you see all the reporting on daily rates. And then, for perspective, we can compare this daily rate to the daily rates of other diseases.

        • Greg Hamilton says:

          I believe you are on to something.

        • Javert Chip says:

          Of course I understand the author is comparing current DAILY actual Covid death rates with ANNUAL AVERAGE DAILY death rates for (among others) cancer.

          With all due respect to the above commenters, I sincerely disagree.

          It’s an apples-to-handgrenades comparison, and is grossly misleading.

    • Old-school says:

      The real question is what is the total number of deaths going to be from all causes? People that I know that are working from home are living much healthier life with much lower stress and less driving.

      I am not sure we will ever go back to packing ourselves into crowds again. I never enjoyed it myself, but did it a few times.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        If the pandemic leads to new approaches to living healthier, less stressful, less polluted lives for all, that would truly be a silver lining. Have to wait and see.

        Right now, working from home works for some, but I know a lot of people with young children who are tearing their hair out trying to be good parents and productive employees at the same time. And then there are the >16 million unemployed who are getting really, really anxious about their futures. There are also millions who are “essential” employees outside the home, but whose employers cannot or will not provide them with adequate distancing or PPE right now. They’ve got huge anxiety because they run an infection risk every day they go to work, and that puts their families at risk too.

        • MD says:

          “If the pandemic leads to new approaches to living healthier, less stressful, less polluted lives for all, that would truly be a silver lining. Have to wait and see.”

          Well that requires a fundamental ‘pivot’ to an economic system that enables us to live and prosper in a steady state, rather than having to produce continuous ‘growth’ which means that if you kill yourself to hit targets this year, you’re going to have to ‘kill yourself +10%’ next year in order to hit the inevitable target for next year.

          At a fundamental human level this requires [mostly wealthy] human beings saying “enough – I’m happy with what I have”.

          Can you see that happening? ‘Cos I’m afraid I can’t.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        I just heard that the crime rate in San Francisco is down 40% since the lockdown :-]

  5. Michael Engel says:

    1) Read my leaps :
    2) Wave A down was completed on Mar 23rd(L).
    3) Wave B : a-b-c up, either completed, or will be completed next week.
    4) Wave C down, – x5 waves lower – is likely to start next week.
    5) Wave 3 of 3 will follow wave 2 up, will follow the bs.

  6. Bobber says:

    Most people would agree it’s better to be young than old, because you have your whole life in front of you. Therefore, it might be more helpful to tally years lost, rather than total deaths. If we lose a 20 year old to a disease, humanity loses about 60 years. If we lose an 80 year old, humanity loses maybe 5 years on average.

    Also, by shutting the economy, we are investing trillions to attack this virus. How much do we spend on cancer, which has a more taxing an longer term effect on humanity? How much do we spend on auto accident prevention, which is also more taxing and has longer term effect?

    My point is we are either spending way too much on this virus, or we are under-funding much bigger health threats out there.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Bobber, I’m pretty sure COVID the leading cause of death in New York for all age groups right now, or anywhere else we let it go out of control. With the possible exception of 5-15 year olds. So if you want to save years-of-life, it’s still the biggest issue. The reason why this works out is because overall mortality rates rise with age in pretty much the same way that they do for COVID.

      As for why we’re sacrificing trillions to stop COVID … plenty of cities and countries tried ignoring it, and are now wishing they hadn’t. No doubt a few more will try again as people get sick of staying home. But it really is a pandemic, so it destroys nursing homes and hospital systems if you don’t do anything. And once you destroy your hospital system, all other medical issues get far worse.

      BTW, US healthcare spending is over $3T/year already.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      “How much do we spend on auto accident prevention, which is also more taxing and has longer term effect?”

      A HUGE amount. Check the safety features in your vehicle from side-impact bars and crumple-zones to airbags and sophisticated braking systems. Every car built has a long list of these features, and there are about 17 million new vehicles sold per year, and if those safety features sell for $2,000 at retail per vehicle on average, US consumers pay about $34 billion every year just for the safety features on their vehicles. Then there are the costs of building, maintaining, and improving safety features on streets, roads, and highways, from better entrance ramps and medians to traffic lights and the like. Then there are the costs of the healthcare system that deals with the traffic accidents. And, and, and…

      • weinerdog43 says:

        “And, and, and…” Exactly. And don’t forget that neither auto accidents nor cancer are contagious either.

        • Bobber says:

          That doesn’t matter. They have killed and will kill many more people over time. That’s a fact.

          If you asked the average person what they are most concerned about – getting heart disease, cancer, into a severe auto accident, or something else – I think this virus would be way down the list, even for an 80 year old.

        • Happy1 says:


          The average person should be far more concerned about getting this virus than any of the things you listed right now because in the US right now, and particularly in a few states, this is the most serious health threat for most people of all ages above 40 by a sizable margin.

          That doesn’t mean you’re likely to die if you get it, you are not, but if you are over 50 there is a finite chance of your death and a sizable chance of hospitalization for a disease that in some communities is now at a tested prevalence of around 1 in 500 people (ski counties in my home state of CO for instance). What would that prevalence be without these extraordinary measures? What would your individual risk be? Substantially higher than your risk of any other serious disease.

          And an 80 year old in this environment is at extraordinarily high risk, approaching 20% mortality. There are nursing homes in my state with more than a dozen deaths. An 80 year old who is looking to live would be a complete fool to be anything but very wary of this disease.

    • MD says:

      …but you can’t transmit car accidents or cancer between human beings. Ergo those conditions don’t grow exponentially during normal human interaction. So the argument is specious.

      You say the fact they are not contagious is ‘irrelevant’ – but of course that is nonsense, because healthcare systems will never be totally overwhelmed by cancer or car crash victims.

  7. Joe Lalonde says:

    In some private for profit age homes and mental disabilities homes in Ontario and Quebec, profit was more important than workers safety. They left as they had no protective wear. At $10,000 a month, and 140 residents you would think that they would supply some protection for the staff…

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Thanks Joe. I’ve read a few of those horror stories already – honestly, enough for one lifetime. This is part of why I put in the bit about greedy bosses forcing some workers to take needless risks. The link in that section is to a similar story from near Los Angeles.

      Most people I know are good people, and that includes more businesspeople. But there are far too many COVIDIOTS out there right now. Many of them are being fed a false sense of security by propagandists of various stripes, but others are simply people still trapped in denial because COVID is such a mind-bending change in everyone’s life. And as they say, it’s hard to get someone to believe something when their paycheck depends on not believing it…

      • Bobber says:

        I appreciate your perspective. The key problem here is that some people are OK living with risk, but others aren’t. In most health matters, the risk-tolerant types can smoke, drink, work 24/7, etc. to their hearts content without impacting others, while the risk-averse types eat their beans, sprouts, etc. before a long jog.

        This shut down is different because it requires buy-in from everybody, and we’ll never get that. Its possible, at this point, that the views of a risk-averse minority are overriding the views of a risk-tolerant majority. I don’t see the shut-down lasting very long for this reason.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          Bobber, the idea that risk-takers can smoke, drink, work 24/7 “without impacting others” is utterly false and a big reason why otherwise intelligent Libertarians never get elected.

          “No man is an island”, wrote John Donne centuries ago, and he’s right.

          If you get COVID, you will likely infect your entire household, you might have infected others you met at any time in the past 1-2 weeks, and you risk infecting any medical staff who put their lives on the line to help you get back to living your life “without impacting others”. Risk gets socialized by a pandemic.

          What I think we will see is that regions with a risk-averse majority will slow the virus and get their economies back online much earlier than regions with a risk-tolerant majority, because the risk-tolerant folks are going to be infected up the wazoo and will be facing much higher caseloads for a lot longer!

          Fortunately the survey data I’ve seen put the “risk-averse” group in the vast majority.

      • Philip Frank says:

        Wisdom Seeker,
        Your comments regarding who are counted, how and by whom are very interesting, there seems to be plenty of obfuscation from certain groups.
        From my point of view as a Truck Driver that goes to the NE regularly.
        I’ve been “screened?” (via a video interview)? I was/am a positive for Covid?, very mild case thankfully. I finished my “14 day quarantine over two weeks ago. But I’ve never been “tested” by any other means because of my “low priority, with limited availability of (unnamed) testing”.
        So supposedly, from what I have sorted out from all the hysteria. I probably, today, would test negative for a Covid test, but would come up positive for an antibody test.
        Both of which are effectively, “not available” because I “am/was not sick”.
        I think I, and the large number of people are in limbo with this. I can see however, that certain bean counter groups either want me in the Covid count and other more fearmongering bean counters want me to be not counted for their statistics.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Phillip, I would like to thank you for driving and helping to keep us fed. Truckers have always been under appreciated and much more so now.

    • MC01 says:

      Joe, here in my province (Northern Italy, eye of the storm etc) nursing homes entered a complete lockdown on February 15 already. This full lockdown means no visits period, keeping patients separated, staff wearing facemasks and gloves at all times etc.
      In short these folks have been completely isolated for almost two months now.

      But as the epidemic starts dying down among population at large (and it’s effectively over in the South) and testing capacity is freed up nursing home patients are being tested regardless of symptoms. And it’s absolutely shocking.
      Over 50% of the new cases come from nursing homes: those big spikes among the downward trend this week? All nursing home patients.
      The only silver lining is these new cases appear to be overwhelmingly of the mild or even very mild variety but with no “wonder drug” available all that can be done for these folks is keep them isolated and hope for the best.

      So, how did these people get infected? Cannot blame quarantine breakers for this and cannot blame a few “Typhoid Mary”. This stuff is basically in every single nursing home in the country, and was probably already there before they shut down.

      • Gandalf says:

        My mother lives in a retirement apartment complex that has a skilled nursing facility attached to it. Management revealed few days ago that one of the floors of skilled nursing had an outbreak of COVID. 5 staff and 9 residents tested positive, so far.

        COVID was almost certainly brought inside by one or more of the employees, who then infected the patients. The staff are mostly African (immigrants) or African American. I’m pretty sure they are paid minimum wage. As with all low income Americans, they have the fewest resources to social distance, keep their homes perfectly germophobically clean, or to avoid public transportation.

        The residents of the skilled nursing facility are heavily dependent on the staff to help them take baths or showers, to eat, and to clean up their poop.

        Ah, about the poop – the COVID virus appears in the poop of infected patients! The virus can be detected in appreciable amounts in the wastewater of sewage systems of cities afflicted with COVID pandemic.

        Studies done in the Netherlands and in Massachusetts have shown that the viral load of the wastewater of any one region can in fact reflect much higher levels of COVID infection in the local population served by the sewage system than reported patient testing numbers, the implication being that the testing is missing large numbers of positive infections in the community.

        Back to the poop in the nursing homes. Did you know that when you flush a toilet, many toilets often aerosolize the contents of what’s in the toilet bowl? It’s long been known that toilets can spread fecal germs to everything else in the bathroom this way – towels, countertops, etc. Almost certainly the COVID virus can get spread around by poop this way also.

        So, imagine ONE employee of the nursing home gets COVID, with mild symptoms. He/she still goes to work, comes into close contact with multiple nursing home patients. Social distancing is not part of the job description – everything is close contact. These residents need to be lifted, turned, helped into wheelchairs, onto beds, toilets, bedpans. Some need to be spoonfed.

        A few residents get COVID. They start shedding the virus in their coughs, in their poop. Their bathrooms get covered with COVID virus from the toilet flushes. Different shifts of nursing home workers come into the bathrooms, or come into close contact with these patients. They get the virus also, and spread it to other residents. The infection spreads all over the nursing home.

        Voila, a nursing home pandemic. This is not a job or an environment where social distancing to avoid the viral pandemic is possible, not unless everybody is wearing a Hazmat suit all the time.

  8. Dan Romig says:

    A Belgian physicist, Bert Blocken from Eindhoven University of Technology, has released an interesting set of video simulations for dispersal of the pathogens, and it makes sense when one watches it.

    “Keep exercising but stay out of the slipstream.” is his advice. He was looking at what should the physical distancing look like when moving, or more importantly, when behind someone who is moving. Runners leave a wake of dispersal, but cyclists leave a trail that may extend up to 20 meters.

    It was a beautiful in Minneapolis today, and the parkways were not too crowded with pedestrians, runners and cyclists, but there were lots of people outside enjoying the day. It was pretty easy for me to keep a distance, or at least keep aside of other cyclists on my daily ride, but what I observed was most other bikers and joggers did not stay out of the ‘draft’ very carefully.

    For runners or walking into a head wind @ 14 km/h, 10 meters is a proper distance. A brisk walk is 5 meters.

    Good luck to all Wolf Street followers out there; stay safe, eh.

    • Ed says:

      Thanks for this!

    • andy says:

      A Belgian physicist, hmm..
      Is that not common sense knowledge. Like not peeing against the wind, pardon my french.

    • andy says:

      Also, thanks Wolf!
      Hope we have another fans’ get together when all is back to normal :-]

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Dan – very good! We had that conversation on the Wisdom Seeker family hike today. Upwind vs. downwind, hazards are different.

      More distance also needed in tunnels and other more-confined spaces. 6′ rule is no good on buses or subways, for instance. Key study out of China showed one person infecting half of a bus, at distances of up to 4.5 m, and delays (after the infected one got off) of 30 min.

      Which is why the police in Philly were entirely justified (in my view) in enforcing the local rule that anyone wanting to be on a bus had better be wearing a facemask… Again, doesn’t need to be a medical-grade face covering to be useful.

    • Happy1 says:

      The risks of transmission from a passing encounter with a runner or cyclist are not currently quantified.

      What is clear is that close contact for a prolonged period is very risky (roommate, co-worker, sharing space in hospital, dorm, church, nursing home, etc). Most cases that have been traced fit this category.

      Respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces and physical touching are most likely the main problems. People touch their faces with hands constantly and wash hands infrequently, and sometimes cough and sneeze. Aerosol transmission is a possibility but has been mostly demonstrated in similar viruses (SARS and MERS) during medical procedures that produce aerosols, like intubation.

      In other words, running 6 feet away from someone is probably not what you should be worried about. You should be worried about the door handle at Walmart and the shopping cart at Costco and the card reader at the grocery store. Or your children playing with other children and bringing it home to you. Notice all the outbreaks in ERs and nursing homes and such, and none among hikers or runners per se.

      • roddy6667 says:

        All day I see people wearing masks touching door handles, elevator buttons, escalator rails, taxi door handles, etc with their bare hands. Some even shake hands with each other. They all wash their hands when they get home. I don’t think that putting millions of germs on your hands and washing them off hours later is a plan.

      • Philip Frank says:

        Your comment is interesting, from my point of view as a Truck Driver that goes to the NE regularly.
        I’ve been “screened?” (via a video interview)? I was/am a positive for Covid, very mild case thankfully. I finished my “14 day quarantine over two weeks ago. But I’ve never been tested by any other means.
        So supposedly from what I have sorted out from all the hysteria. I probably today would test negative for a Covid test, but would come up positive for an antibody test.
        Both of which are effectively, not available because I “am/was not sick”.
        I think I and the majority of people are in limbo with this. I can see however, that certain bean counter groups either want me in the Covid count and other more fearmongering bean counters want me to be not counted for their statistics.

  9. gorbachev says:

    Thanks for the work Wisdom Seeker. Knowledge and

    truth fused together becomes armor. This is getting harder

    by the day.Many things to learn.

  10. Greg Smith, MD says:

    More testing, more testing, more testing. The only half-way viable answer between lots of people dying and killing the economy. We should be shifting money and focus from ventilators to massively increasing the testing capacity. Only way to restart the economy in a rational way. Excellent interview with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, at Also good article (skim through the first part) at

    • Escierto says:

      There are vested interests in this country that do not want such a program of testing. They are guided by emotion rather than facts so by all means, let’s not have any facts.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Dr. Greg, thanks for the links!

    • Karen says:

      Gottleib has been a knowledgeable, non-partisan and indefatigable voice of reason since this thing broke. We are very lucky to have him.

    • Martok says:

      Dr Greg Smith,

      Excellent articles and I also believe massive testing has to be in place before any rational go back to work policy is in place, or we will be doomed to repeat this again, and again.

      Many jobs can continue with work at home remote policies, and eliminate a large amount of risk to the populous, by staying away – we have the capacity to do this.

      Companies need to rethink and implement these policies – ASAP.

      Workers that provide services or working in factories need daily testing before they enter their workplace, the St Louis Fed chairman talked about this, – my analogy is like medical people who have radiation exposure pins on.

      This is what Bill Gates believes, and I think he’s right – his foundation and others are testing 7 promising vaccines and setting up factories to mass produce the most effective, – but that is at least a year+ away at best.

      Conclusion: Pragmatically for everyone in the USA being on the “same page” of listening to science and implementing these things is low.

      The old saying of “pay me now or pay me later” comes to mind, and I believe the latter will happen multiple times because COVID-19 will/has mutated to COVID-?? and without a vaccine given on Herculean massive scale we will be plagued to repeat this over and over.

      The cost of NOT implementing these policies will dwarf the cost of the the recurrences years later.

      • Martok says:

        Also there is a way for people to help who have a spare computer and are willing to let it be used for research tied with 1000’s of others. It’s a Stanford University project that just might help us find a cure, using them all as a supercomputer.

        • Martok says:

          Or use it on your main computer too, it can be throttled manually, so far on my main it’s using very little resources at full throttle.

          Be a part of the solution and help out, it runs on Windows, Linux, Mac

    • Greg Hamilton says:

      How accurate are the tests? Where are the studies?

      • Greg Smith, MD says:

        The short answer to your first question is I don’t know exactly but from South Korea and other places we know they are good enough when combined with other standard public health practice like contact tracing and isolation. I should note that there are two different kinds of tests: one detects the virus itself (= active infection) and the other detects antibodies to the virus (= has had an infection but might not necessarily now be infected). The first kind of test lets you know who needs to be isolated and their contacts traced and tested. The second gives you information about how many people have already been infected in a population, patterns of spread, combined with clinical history how many have infections without showing much if any symptoms, etc. Multiple companies and organizations are developing tests, so I don’t know where they’re at but I assume they are only getting better.

        The bottleneck at this point is production, both enough facilities to produce the kits and the raw materials. (Perhaps an argument that we should not have outsourced so much of our ability to make things in the US.) Where are the studies? Scattered all over the internet and changes all the time. We’re still in the “good enough” stage and also still learning how to best use each type of test, but clearly from experience in other countries even if tests are not as good as they will be, they are good enough to make a huge difference (combined with isolation of those with active infection and with contact tracing).

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      How often should we re-test people that have tested negative?

  11. Michael Engel says:

    1) The young will start first, seniors will have to wait.
    2) The health sector is already fully deployed. High tech is next.
    3) Service area that can benefit from social spacing & conference calls : Accountant, lawyers, banking, insurance, plus essential industries…including energy & Utilities, will follow.
    4) Restaurants & bars will be last.
    5) Cooks, waitresses, musicians, artists and athletes will seek employment either either sectors 1) to 4,) or in new sectors like cleansing hazard, babysitting, protection, or security guards.
    6) College professor will shift gear into trucking.

    • OutWest says:

      When is the time to reboot? In my state, Washington, the time is now if you ask me.

      Stay at home orders and social distancing have worked and I know that to be true because I work in health care on my states ‘surge’ to get people out of acute care settings when ready. I see the raw data on a daily basis.

      Our governor states publicly that our hospital beds will not overflow, thankful, so in a sense we are now in maintenance mode. I call that a relative success for now so let’s start giving people a chance to begin rebuilding their financial lives and, respectively, I realize that most states have at least a few more brutal weeks ahead.

      In Canada, I’m told, many construction workers are on site since they can social distance on the job. One example of what my state should be implementing soon…give workers a chance!

    • andy says:

      Stephen Curry has 5-years $200 Mil contract ( I heard in the news some months back). He can throw ball very very well.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      Re you 3) on office arrangements: the geniuses at McKinzie will charge their clients $millions to undo the “open office concept” that they charged them for in the first place past ~ 20 years.

      People can fear the sicknesses, but I always feared the blabbermouths.

    • Greg Smith, MD says:

      For 5), I might add and argue for employment to trace contacts of those test positive for coronavirus. Contact tracing is key to control of an infectious agent in a population. To do this at scale will take a huge number of people even when augmented with technology. (Note: I am a little worried that Congress in its rush to get financial relief for people might have made it difficult to induce some people to go back to work when and where they are needed.)

  12. Jdog says:

    We have to come to grips with the fact that life as it was before Covid is now over, at least for the foreseeable future.. As Wolf said, essential business is and will be conducted because it has to be.
    The problem is that more than 50% of the American economy is based on non essential business.
    Our comfort level for being in close proximity to other humans has changed, and that is a game changer.
    So much of our service based business, which makes up 70% of the economy, depends upon cramming as many people into a confined space as possible. Not a lot of service based businesses could or will survive an environment where people are uncomfortable being close to other people.
    Confidence once lost is a hard thing to regain. When the joy of eating out, or watching a performance is tempered with the fear the person next to you may infect you with something life changing or even fatal, it makes it very hard to relax and enjoy yourself.

    • Bobber says:

      That’s interesting speculation. I see it the other way though.

      Look at the crowds in the national parks in China. People wait in line, shoulder to shoulder, to see a lousy rock formation.

      I, for one, would have no problem going about my daily life next month. I would surely take some reasonable precautions, but if I caught the virus I would have a very small chance of serious injury. On the plus side, I would likely get immunity and then be able to visit with my elders without concern.

      Look at all the people smoking. Do you think they would be afraid of a virus? How about the people that eat sugar and fat relentlessly. What about all the motorcycle riders, or the people who work stressful jobs? Fact is, a majority of people have no problem sacrificing some life span for some perceived benefit.

      • Happy1 says:

        Follow up on this thread in 6 months, there is almost no chance there will be large concerts or live spectator sports, especially if a few of these events are allowed and large numbers of people are sickened.

        Airlines will probably recover because travel is so essential, but it will take a long time. Probably will require serum antibody testing or something?

        And the cruise industry may be completely bankrupted. What kind of person would consider a cruise given the last few months? It will be years before the industry recovers.

        • AlsoInDenver says:

          Did I read somewhere that almost none of the cruise companies are domiciled in the U.S., which in turn makes it easier to hire poorly paid non-U.S. workers? Add that on top of the “norovirus barge” problems, and maybe losing the cruise industry wouldn’t be the most terrible thing that could come out of this crisis.

        • Bobber says:

          Who really cares about the concerts, cruises, and professional sports events? I’m sure a small percentage of people derive frequent enjoyment from those things, but I’m guessing the average person attends one of those things maybe once or twice a year. The ability to have smaller social gatherings is much more important.

          I’m most concerned about the impact on schools and kids’ happiness. Kids can’t be depended on to follow rules and maintain social distancing. Until the virus is near gone, which could take years, schools would require a drastic transformation from in-person to on-line. It would be near impossible for kids to develop normal friendships. The life and times of a kid would be drastically altered, even though they are the least susceptible to the virus.

          Also, think about the dating and mixing rituals of young adults. Social gathering seems necessary to dating life and obtaining a happy marriage.

          Would Grandma and Grandpa really vote to restrict the happiness and social development of their grandchildren in order to squeeze out a few more years?

          I guess the answer to that question depends on how long the social distancing must last. If the virus is going to prevent social interactions for many years, I know my Grandpa would have said “let nature take its course”. That’s exactly what he said when the doctor proposed to put a $10,000 pacemaker in him at age 80. He died at 82 from lung cancer.

      • Jdog says:

        “if I caught the virus I would have a very small chance of serious injury”.
        That is where you are very, very wrong. You are not as knowledgeable about this subject as you should be. You have the same chance as anyone else. This virus has killed of all ages and all health spectrum’s.
        Some people to whom it has not been fatal have suffered permanent lung and or organ damage.
        Yes, some people live in denial of consequences, but definitely not the majority. The vast majority of people have given up smoking, drinking and driving, unprotected sex, and many of at risk behaviors they practiced in the past. Most will view social grouping much different on the other side of this, at least for a few years.
        When talking about changes in the economy, you need to consider what the changes will be, not what will stay the same.
        Anyone who thinks the economy is going back to where it was is in for a very big disappointment…..

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        And with your immunity you can carry the virus in to your sequestered elders and perhaps kill them. Immunity means you are immune, you can still be a carrier.

    • Other Dave says:

      Call me lacking compassion for the vulnerable, but I keep coming back to the fact that for MOST people, symptoms are mild. I think that most people have this in mind as I see them in stores, on the hiking trail, etc. People know of some risks and are making choices. This could apply to reopening some businesses. If you have any of the common comorbidities, then you should be DAMNED CAREFUL if you want to stay out of the ICU and otherwise alive.

      Having said that, I was an early adopter of wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer, avoiding crowded area, washing everything from the grocery store, etc.

      • Jdog says:

        You are making the mistake of equating this virus with a regular flu or seasonal virus. As of yet there is no confirmation that there is any sort of immunity to this virus. In fact there is some evidence that people who have recovered have become infected again and died.
        It may very well be the case that while you may be able to fight this virus off once, the damage done by it, may make it harder to fight off if reinfected.
        Civilization is judged on its morals, the most important moral standard I know is that people come first, then money, and then things. If you begin to believe money is more important than people it really begins to put your moral compass in question…

  13. Marc says:

    Hi all

    Anyone that thinks that we should all just harden up and get back to work belongs in a asylum IMHO as they are clinically insane.
    Most countries are still just entering the eye of the storm so sending the masses back out just now really wouldn’t end well for most. They are not even sure if those that have had it with even mild to no systems actually have any immunity or not and if it proves no immunity then what? Even if they green light a vaccine super fast it will still be months before mass vaccinations can even start. They are also not sure that once this first wave subsides it won’t be followed by a second wave and then what happens?
    We are all living in a new world now and unlikely to return to the one we had before IMHO, They might as well just continue the illusion of money and print a few more thousands of trillions of $ so we can all continue our make believe game of monopoly. Its either that or I dare not think of what the new reality will be.

    • studeba says:

      Right. All indications are there will be a second wave. Without a vaccine, why wouldn’t there?

      I don’t see how most all of us don’t end up getting the virus to varying degrees. All it takes is a few people to carry it through this cycle and then infect the next wave. It’s not going away. Until there is a vaccine, there isn’t much you can do. By all accounts, a vaccine is 8-12 months out. Then production and distribution comes into play. So add some more time.

      I find it interesting the think about a next wave. What happens? Do the President and State Governors call for another “Shelter in Place” order? If they don’t, does it mean they overreacted calling the first one? Seems like a bit of a pickle for our politicians?

  14. Olivier says:

    Can you really catch the virus from contaminated food? Chapter and verse please.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Olivier – If someone coughed or sneezed on your meal, would you eat it? ;)

      The US CDC claims “no evidence” of transmission via food, but then they immediately hedge by saying “more investigation is needed”. I wouldn’t put my life on that line. Nor yours. The WHO already got badly burned by stating “no evidence yet of human transmission” (on January 14). And since then, over and over again we have watched people get sick because of failures to properly respect the threat. Given that this virus is new and poorly understood, I think both the CDC and WHO language is wrong. The mindset and burden of proof here should be “infectious until proven otherwise”, not “no evidence, don’t worry”. I’d be much more comforted if they were citing a dozen studies where COVID-contaminated food had been eaten by susceptible lab animals and none got sick. But I don’t see any of that. Do you?

      We know the virus comes out of infected people primarily in respiratory droplets of varying sizes. We know it can infect people via at least 3 places: nose, mouth and eyes. So logically we have to be concerned about any pathway in which those droplets can end up in those 3 places before the virus is deactivated.

      I haven’t seen a study of how long the virus survives on various types of food, but multiple studies have been done for survival on various dry surfaces, with the short answer being “days, not weeks”. And some foods are in fact dry surfaces. So I think the risk from contaminated food is real, and I expect the medical community to catch on eventually too.

      But food that you buy in the store is supposed to be okay, and the industry is generally very vigilant. Last time I shopped, I noticed that they’ve bagged up all the produce whose outsides are supposed to be edible, and made sure no bread is poking out of the bags “ready to sniff” anymore. And typically that food has taken a few days in transit, so any virus from the production side should be gone. But you still have to worry about the other shoppers! Especially the ones not wearing masks.

      Personally I let all non-perishable food sit in a “decontamination area” for 2-3 days before I bring it inside, and all perishable food packaging is wiped down with a disinfectant solution, because that’s not hard and fits within ALARA. I know many others doing the same.

      For the current official story from US CDC, you can go here. Just remember they have been playing catch-up since Patient Zero.

    • nick kelly says:

      How about you go first: why wouldn’t food contaminated from a prep person NOT transmit the virus?
      Is food supposed to be an anti-viral? If it was then eating would be a treatment.
      When they cultivate viruses or microbes they do it in petri- dishes with human- edible substances and often in eggs.

  15. timbers says:

    Watching the body language of our American leader – let alone what he says – I doubt there is an opening to learn from Asia…short of a well thrown brick hitting his head. Americans will likely have to do this on their own individually, collectively, through states that get it right and other means, etc.

    • WES says:


      We up here in Canada should be grateful that the coronavirus fight was being lead by the ten provinces not by dithering Trudope. He was more interested in obtaining a seat on UN security council!

      Maybe you should be grateful that your coronavirus fight is being lead by your 50 states too! But note the drug companies are not happy about using cheap proven drugs to treat virus! Trump faces uphill battle against corrupt CDC and FDA. Trump is at least trying.

      • MD says:

        Yeah you see spreading infantile conspiracy theories like the CDC and FDA being ‘corrupt’ really doesn’t help anyone in this very difficult situation.

        Grow up.

        • roddy6667 says:

          No, criticism of the CDC and FDA doesn’t help now, but that doesn’t mean the criticisms are not valid. It is time to get them geared up to be ready for the next outbreak, not the squabbling tribal factions gathered under one roof they have now.

        • Greg Hamilton says:

          Has the virus been isolated from fresh tissues? Furthermore has the virus been isolated as a stable particle? That is, the virus had not been isolated from either fresh tissues or culture, which means that its existence had not been proven and this situation has not changed up to the present day…I am saddened that there are forces at work that have consistently prevented purposeful but friendly debate

    • Happy1 says:

      We already have learned, despite our national political leadership, a couple of the most affected early states are now bending the curve (WA, the bay area, and my home state of CO), many other less affected states are doing the same (MN is prominent in that regard) and the epicenter in NYC is probably peaking as we speak. Per capita, the death rate is Italy and Spain is far worse.

      But everyone, including Asia, needs to figure out the next step.

  16. Jeff Relf says:

    A coward dies a thousand deaths.
    I’m completely relaxed, I don’t need pot;
    this virus thing doesn’t bother me at all.

    • Happy1 says:

      There is a difference between cowardice and prudence. I’m not afraid, but I am very careful to limit my activity in places with many people (stores and work, which is hospital based), and I am meticulous with handwashing. If I were 20 years younger I would be unconcerned for myself but aware of the older people around me.

    • MD says:

      Well then you’re a selfish fool and no amount of quoting Facebook-style aphorisms changes that.

      I only hope your immaturity doesn’t lead to someone else losing a loved one.

      • Jeff Relf says:

        Mr. “MD” replied ( to me ):
        > > A coward dies a thousand deaths.
        > > I’m completely relaxed, I don’t need pot;
        > > this virus thing doesn’t bother me at all.
        > then you’re a selfish fool […]
        > I only hope your immaturity doesn’t lead
        > to someone else losing a loved one.

        Cause-n-Effect it isn’t as simple as:

        > Jeff might’ve exposed her to the virus;
        > so he might’ve “caused” of her death.

        These viruses are everywhere,
        especially in over-crowded hospitals.

        Also, pot-induced paranoia is debilitating;
        weed is -not- better for you then organic,
        locally-produced kale.

  17. IdahoPotato says:

    Thank you, Wisdom Seeker.

  18. Rusty Trawler says:

    Roughly 7,700 Americans die every day from various causes.

    We’ve had THREE DAYS worth of death from this virus thus far over more than a month’s time. Is it material? Yes. Is it the end of humanity? No.

    • Joe says:

      We’ve had over 9,000 deaths in the US from COVID-19 in just the LAST FIVE DAYS.


      And despite the lockdowns, nearly 30,000 NEW cases are found DAILY. Only about 10% of cases have yet resolved: 60% of them recovered, and 40% died. The other 90% of cases are STILL ACTIVE, awaiting their fate. Many of those cases will continue getting worse in stages until they die.

      There is a lag time of multiple WEEKS between infection and symptoms and death. Do not get fooled by dividing current deaths by current case count. The outcomes are far worse when you account for the lag time and look at the actual death-to-recovered ratio of resolved cases.

      • Cas127 says:


        It is very hard to tell how Worldometer (or its source) is defining “resolved” – since a high pct of positive test cases never end up hospitalized, when/how is that group defined as “resolved”?

        That said, your pt about lags distorting ratios is well taken.

  19. farmboy says:

    What burns me up is not the level of response but the atrociously inappropriate response measures that were taken by the authorities in the USA.

    They had a full 2 months to prepare with a multi billion dollar intelligence gathering apparatus,and a Military to dwarf that of any other nation on the planet. And a Federal reserve with an unlimited ability to print.

    The federal Government should have funded and coordinated with the state Governments, a national response effort to set up Covid hospitals when and where needed throughout the United States.

    It’s total lunacy to depend on current local hospitals to take care of their regular patient flow and then be prepared to take on the multiple surges of Covid patients and be responsible to not spread it to their own staff and then to their regular patients. And it is criminal to have cancer and other immune compromised patients be forced into close proximity to Covid infected people.

    The setting up of these Covid Hospitals in existing buildings and mobile units, should be headed up by the Army Corps of Engineers, By offering good pay, They could hire healthcare professionals such as Doctors Nurses Paramedics dentists and provide additional training as needed for a appropriate medical response to a super contagious and deadly Epidemic.

    This type of response should have been done from the beginning but starting now would be far better than never.

    • Happy1 says:

      Government coordinating the actual care? Terrible idea. Look at the VA. With rare exceptions, the health industry is very well prepared and far !ore flexible in response than what you have outlined.

      Government coordinating testing, allowing private sector testing at an accelerated rate, and locking the borders, shutting down international travel, quarantining all arrivals, and quarantining cities with hard blocks on people moving around? Government providing large quantities of PPE? Yes, agree.

  20. Crush the Peasants! says:


    CDC: 80,000 people died of flu last winter in U.S., highest death toll in 40 years

    • Happy1 says:

      There is a nursing home in my home state with 14 COVID-19 deaths. The flu does kill but it’s an order of magnitude lower than this. We don’t respond to the flu like this because it’s far less deadly. Best estimate for “non response” in the US is several hundred thousand deaths. Look at the curve for all countries prior to isolation policies and draw it out to include 20-40% of the population. There is a reason no country has decided to try this course.

      • Crush the Peasants! says:

        You must take into account the development of immunity in a previously naive population. Projecting death rates based upon data from a naive population without taking into account the development of immunity would be a faulty methodology resulting in incorrect conclusions.

    • David H says:

      You are not comparing like for like
      If Covid spread to 80% of the population you’d have A LOT more than 80k deaths. I don’t want to hazard a guess but could be more like 1 million+

  21. TXRancher says:

    CDC just press released that 90% of the hospitalized Corona virus patients have underlying conditions. Maybe the virus is just the catalyst? Maybe the virus is just a wake up call for health(y)er living?

    • SocalJim says:

      Political … the “underlying condition” story calms down the panic since most people think they are healthy. The 90% is a joke.

    • timbers says:

      One theory is that Covid somehow activates, rejuvenates latent, dormant, defeated TB in the system. Doesn’t make it less deadly through.

      • Jim says:

        Total bs about activating latent TB.

        The urrent thinking is that BCG vaccinations have helped provide added immunity in countries that have undertaken population wide campaigns to protect people.

        Japan and South Korea are two examples and there are studies and vaccination programs going on in several countries to use BCG to boost the immune system – espacially for medical workers.

        • timbers says:

          I think we are saying the same thing.

          Sorry if I worked it badly.

          That theory is based on what you just wrote is what I was referring to – that those who bot TB vaccinations early in life might show better resistance to covid.

    • HK says:

      And also a more accessible health care delivery system to address chronic ailments

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Need a link, I can’t find press release on CDC website. But consider:

      1) A large fraction of the population does have underlying conditions, even if most don’t realize it. Being overweight is all it takes and that’s like 70%. Toss in smoking and a couple of other widespread issues and you might get to 90% of the population without even trying.

      2) Adverse selection bias in the sample: Given the growth rate of the virus, most infections have happened recently, and it’s the sicker people who wind up in the hospital first.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      How many Americans have “underlying conditions?” Cancer, asthma, hypertension, A-fib, obesity (= one-third of all Americans), overweight and obese (= two-thirds of Americans), heart disease, diabetes, etc. etc. Having “underlying conditions” describes the majority of Americans.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      Another reason for me to attend The Church Of The Sunday Long Run holiday services today.

      Some high school runners in town are talking about a flash mob midnight 5K on the grounds of one of the local golf courses. Should be ok as the local cops are plenty busy parked in front of the fenced and locked track.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        @Shiloh – Running in a herd right now brings entirely new meaning to Keynes’ saying (paraphrased): “after the long run, we’re all dead”, doesn’t it!

        • WT Frogg says:

          WS: Actually the saying that came to mind after Shiloh 1 ‘s

          comment was : ” You can’t fix stupid. ”

          Informative article. Thanks for your effort.

  22. BackToBasics says:

    Would it not be ironic if the very people who are likely to die from this virus, those 80 and older, are the ones whose immune systems hold the keys to solving this pandemic through antibodies. It is fact at this point that the oldest amoung us produce the most antibodies from the coronavirus if recovery happens, and so far 8% of humans produce no antibodies after infection and thus can get infected instantly again as they have no immunity. To me, this is not a normal virus, it is something between engineered and and abomination, so until we engineer a solution, this is not going to be a few weeks of panic and Dow 30000 by early May no matter how many binary digits the Fed prints. See article below:

    Thus as we debate allowing the elderly to perish to save the Dow and our materialistic lifestyles, perhaps we should pause and wonder if there are any unintended consequences to doing “the obvious”. I am young, yet I do not believe the old should die for my lifestyle as all I need is food and some shelter, and that is easy enough even with the economy shut down for a few months at a time over the next few years. The $100k sports car and the $12,000 vacation can wait indefinately. “Back to basics” forced upon us by this pandemic may be our best cure for our self-inflicted complexity…TBD

  23. SocalJim says:

    Just look at the stock market. It tells us that the smartest people in the world have decided this is a temporary problem and they expect parts of the economy will be opened shortly. This should pass.

    It is a beautiful thing watching the president, the gov. of California, and the gov. of NY working together and complementing each other. This is big and you can see the poll numbers of all 3 rising. The public wants more of this and the public is done with impeachment and investigations. This is good for the country and the markets.

    • timbers says:

      Yes that Covid immune umbilical cord from Darth Powell’s printing presses direct to Wall Street is working out just swell. Do let’s have 4 more years of this.

    • Zantetsu says:

      If you really think that stock market moves reflect the judgement of the smartest people in the world, well … that does explain a lot about your comments.

      The stock market is just herd mentality combined with unbridled greed. No smarter than any other herd, but a lot more greedy.

    • Bobber says:

      If the smartest people in the room set the prices, then the smartest people in the room believe the best asset to own right now is a useless yellow rock that has been soaring in price. What does that tell you?

      They believe other investments, including stocks, bonds, and RE, offer less relative value. Something less than useless is, of course, a future loss.

      • timbers says:

        Actually if you follow insider trading, the smartest people in the world exactly follow Darth Powell’s printing press whims. If that’s considered smart.

      • Tony says:

        yes, and that yellow rock you speak of was deemed illegal by President FDR. They could easily do the same again.

        • Raymond Rogers says:

          The whole point of flattening the curve is just that- to flatten the curve in order to ensure that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed.

          The way we are going, the suicides from a destroyed economy are going to outpace the destruction of the virus.

          It may very well be the case that this Coronavirus may act as it’s common cold brethren (about 30%) wherein a good number of people will not develop sufficient antibodies. In these instances, having the antibodies dispels that this is simply a matter of false positives and false negatives.

          If we are to incur such a scenario, then prudence would dictate closing and opening things regionally. The entire country shut down this go round on several hotspots. The national economy cannot take much more of this.

        • MD says:

          Yes but these days you can sell it all in 30 seconds to someone anywhere in the world.

          So if you’re aware of that, it’s totally logical to conclude that any ban on holding gold would be totally futile and therefore pointless.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          @Raymond – No, suicides are not going to outscore the virus. Suicide is a real problem, but the data say that COVID is orders of magnitude worse.

          People can and will pull together to stop this, and we’ll help each other where we can, and it won’t be perfect but it’ll be enough to keep suicide off the top 5 causes of death list that COVID currently leads.

      • PGibby says:

        It sounds like you’d leave a $100 bill on the ground since it would also be “useless” by your definition since it’s just paper.

    • cesqy says:

      An estimated 20% drop in quarterly GDP and a 15-20% unemployment rate should cleanse the market. Don’t lose confidence…its only fiat money.

    • Happy1 says:

      Smartest people in the world couldn’t figure out that this was going to be a problem until mid March?

    • Jos Oskam says:


      For your information, an extremely popular book on this subject was published in 1841. It is titled “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”. Amongst others, it describes the South Sea Company bubble of 1711–1720, the Mississippi Company bubble of 1719–1720, and the Dutch tulip mania of the early seventeenth century.

      All phenomenal examples of “the smartest people in the world” acting out in “markets”.

      So forgive me if I fail to see how “this is good for the country and the markets”.

      • MD says:

        Jim means it’s good for his own personal investment portfolio. If you hang around a while you’ll see this is his sole focus in life and therefore anything he has to say can be safely ignored.

        • David H says:

          Ironically I think the fact that they’ve pulled out a lot of stock buy backs (greed at its worst) will probably be the catalyst for the next market fall / leg down

          Apparently nobody seems to think it is possible even though it happened a few weeks ago…….! Craziness

    • fajensen says:

      Given infinite money, I can also win the lottery Every week with probability 1.0 and thereby becoming one of the smartest people alive!

    • Eferg says:

      I am not so sure about the collective “intelligence” of the stock market showing that this is no big deal. If it were so smart why have there been such wild gyrations both up and down over the last few weeks? I suspect the recent optimism of the stock market is just greedy drooling over getting some share of the trillions of new dollars pouring out of the Fed.

    • That is the most convoluted reading I have encountered. Passive investors may have submitted their proxy votes, (many haven’t looked at their retirement statements) The public is notoriously slow to react to market changes. I would not count the governors and the WH on the same page with back to work orders. The market is not smart, nor efficient, it serves to put money to work, and money can be created out of nothing for the purpose of inflating assets often at great detriment to the underlying currency. Powell pledges no fealty to the mighty dollar, or to fiscal demi-gods, like the great OZ thinking his money is manna from heaven. Good news, the sickness is about to pass…

    • Jdog says:

      If you think the actions of the stock market are dictated by the smartest people in the world, you have a very serious reality check in store for you.

  24. David Hall says:

    Hospitals are depleted of medical staff due to illness. Not enough facilities have oxygen. Testing has been ramped up, but may not be able to keep up with the rapid spread of infection. Some results are delayed seven days. There is a spike in the number of people dying at home who are not counted as virus fatalities.

    Grocery store workers are becoming infected. Home food delivery infrastructure is underdeveloped.

    South Korea and China have rebooted. Singapore is going to lockdown. China has an outbreak at its border with Russia, but may have sealed that city with guarded checkpoints. Japan declared an emergency and has warned people to avoid prostitutes.

    South Korea reopened with a sophisticated track, trace and quarantine system the administration can not fathom. Austria may try a limited reopening.

  25. Tom Stone says:

    Wisdom Seeker, thank you for a thoughtful and thought provoking post.
    My understanding is that we can’t get a handle on this virus until sufficient adequately reliable tests are available.
    You can’t trace if you can’t test.
    And there is, according to the reports I have seen, a shortage of the needed reagents.
    If that is the case production of the reagents will have to be ramped up and I have no idea how difficult that will be (Quality control is essential) or how much lag time is involved.
    Here in Sonoma County testing has ramped up, to 200 tests per day for a population of 500K…

    Anyone who doesn’t realize that our world has changed radically and permanently is delusional or talking their book.
    “Adapt or die” is as true for businesses as it is for individuals.

    • Tesing_Man says:


      So you are going to test people how many times?

      Once a week?

      Once every two weeks?

      Testing only provides data a point in time.

      The first time the test may be negative.

      The second test a week later may provide a different, positive result.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Hey Tom – Testing capacity is increasing, production is ramping up globally. Meanwhile, the coronavirus infection rate in the Bay Area is starting to decrease. So long as both of those continue, we’ll return to the point where we can test adequately to contain the remaining cases better. In the meantime, watch the Sonoma county dashboard (it’s one of the better ones), and keep an eye on the percent of tests that are positive. If it stays at 10% or less, that’s a positive sign.

  26. HK says:

    Wisdom Seeker
    Thanks for pointing out the ALARA concept. When I worked on projects in the Norwegian sector of the North sea the rules tend to be very proscriptive. In the UK sector the rules follow the ALARP concept – As low as reasonably possible.

  27. Tony says:

    That chart is comparing COVID-19 Year to date deaths to average DAILY deaths of other diseases? What is this the stock market timeframe?

    Has anyone else seen the research of antibodies….They are saying that the reason why California’s numbers are so low is because Californians have already been introduced in the fall of 2019 and a lot of people have already had the virus. (Thus why they were reporting a very early FLU season) They are literally researching this right now. This is not propaganda.

    I was very sick in December of 2019. I came back from a backpacking sick and my girlfriend was home sick. She was very ill and lying in bed, heavy breathing, fever, etc. Then I contracted also….same symptoms and I’ve had the flu plenty of times but this flu was really aggressive. I swear I’m not making this up…and go figure we live in San Fran Bay Area.

    Go look up the antibody tests from herd immunity. This is from the Hoover institute.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Tony: the graph is DAILY deaths from COVID vs. daily death rates from other causes. Apples and apples. COVID is singly largest cause of death in US this week.

      Would love to hear how it came to California early and somehow didn’t destroy the medical system. I also had a nasty pneumonia last fall, also in Bay Area and would love to be past COVID. But I have a lot of other fantasies too. Can’t wait to see that research!

      • Tony says:

        Daily deaths from other causes that have been around a lot longer to a brand new COVID-19?

        That’s like comparing an IPO to the S&P 500. I’m sorry to say but this virus will go away ONCE we en masse get it and the numbers will drop significantly.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          COVID vs. everything else is a valid comparison until about 5 billion people have had COVID. Even assuming 10x more undetected vs the known confirmed, the process by which “we en masse get it” will take a year or more.

          Letting “everyone get it” more quickly has been shown to destroy the medical system, and that leads to scenarios with at least 50 million dead worldwide. (7 billion people, 70% infected before herd immunity, 1% fatality rate: 50 million dead.) And likely much higher since 1% fatality is only with good care. So no one is trying that.

          Slowing the spread to avoid the destruction of the medical system has brought the death rate down, and will save millions of lives because more will get decent care. But at slower infection rates, the virus will not just go away, because we aren’t all going to get it anytime soon, there’s no cure yet, and there’s no vaccine yet.

          Even after we’ve all had it once, there’s still the problem that building full immunity might require more than one infection, and the other problem that the virus might mutate into a new strain that voids existing immunity warranties.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      “They are literally researching this right now.”

      Yes, they’re researching it… but they don’t know yet. The study hasn’t come out yet. They just published a what-if teaser perhaps to promote the startup that is doing the test kits for the study. Those tests may be unreliable like so many COVID-19 tests, and show false positives, or false negatives, and then all the presumed answers will be wrong. This will take a while to establish. First, they have to prove that the particular tests are accurate, and that hasn’t happened yet.

      • Tony says:

        You guys are not answering the question…WHY is California’s numbers so low? Just answer that. California is one of the biggest international hubs in the world and went into “shelter in place” only two days before New York did. Please explain that logic and like I said in past comments on your other COVID-19 articles….People were traveling the globe way before any travel bans were implemented.

        The data is literally convoluted. You can only have accurate data in a controlled environment.

        I’ve heard numerous claims that this virus is asymptomatic. How do we know first responders don’t have it and they’re spreading it? How do we know grocery stores aren’t the new cesspools of the virus? This data is literally convoluted and is 100% counter-intuitive.

        Have you ever tried patching a leaking roof? This is exactly how the current global situation is. You need to fix the whole roof to fix the leak. This will not end with a vaccine. It’s quite obvious.

        Now we have Google and Apple teaming up to manage our contacts in our phones to determine if we’ve been around any potential virus patients. Thank god I don’t keep my phone contacts on my smart phone— and this is not paranoia. This is what’s going to happen. They pry into our lives and think that they’re making us more “safe” by being more intrusive.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          “You guys are not answering the question…WHY is California’s numbers so low? Just answer that.”

          You’re going to have to wait until there is accurate verifiable data on this issue. A lot of smart minds are researching all kinds of things, but science takes time. And Covid-19 is so new.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          @Tony – Not sure where you’re getting your info for the Bay Area vs. New York comparison. First, the Bay Area started serious social distancing measures in early March, a few weeks before New York did, and took them far more seriously than New York did at every stage of the game. Second, New York has an intrinsically higher infection rate because of its high population density and high-social-contact way of life. Hence the large set of super-spread situations that have been documented for NYC. New York needs to run harder, faster and longer in this race than anywhere else, just to avoid falling behind.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          There will also be more clear data coming out of the very distinct differences of timing and duration of the lockdowns of various counties in FL.
          Alachua, always ahead of most other counties in FL in such actions, (at least starting with voting for the non-crook pres candidate in 1972,) began a well coordinated lockdown of county and Gainesville early on,,, most of the rest of the state much later, and some areas still today not paying attention, and it’s showing up already.
          Here’s the link to excellent FLDOH site tracking per county and sometimes even zip code, other sites show zip codes per county better if you search by county.

        • Jdog says:

          As I remember, CA was one of the first States to be locked down.
          In addition the spread of viruses are going to depend in large part on lifestyle. Cities where public transportation is widely used are going to be much different than cities were individual cars are the normal mode of transportation. Apartments are going to more susceptible than suburbs. Places where clubs and restaurants are more frequented will have more spread. Also peoples attitudes are going to have a big impact. We are just now starting to see the stories of the spring breakers who ignored recommendations and the tragedies associated with their decisions. It stands to reason people who practice common sense are going to have less contagion than people. who do not. Our culture is not the same everywhere in the country.

        • c1ue says:

          We’ll know more in time, but it is very likely that there are multiple reasons why California is less affected:
          1) New York got nCOV from Italy, and pretty early on. In contrast, it seems clear California received nCOV significantly later.
          2) New York is a lot more dense than California. Density = less average social distancing
          3) New York city residents use a lot more public transit than Californians
          4) The entire NY/NJ/CT region is a lot more interconnected, on a daily level, than California overall or even say the Bay Area in particular. SF is relatively unaffected vs. Santa Clara, for example.
          It seems likely that 2) is the primary factor.

    • Happy1 says:

      The entry of COVID-19 into any country has not been subtle or containable, typically a couple of cases requiring prompt hospitalization, multiple infected healthcare workers, and and then large scale uncontrollable outbreaks within a few weeks. The idea that there were sporadic cases in any part of the US in late 2019 that simply died out without a pandemic is highly unlikely and makes no epidemiologic sense. Remember one lawyer traveling to Italy was the proximate cause of more than 1,000 cases in Westchester County. If you had COVID, everyone you know would have been sick.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        It might make very good sense if research eventually establishes that this virus ”started” much earlier as a much or significantly less lethal/dangerous mutation.
        If so, there very well could have been a world wide — or at least very widespread among people who traveled widely and those close to them — spread months ago that was subsumed under the ”usual” flu experience…
        A while back, last week or two, someone on here commented that there were at least 10 known ”clades” of this virus and at least 100 known ”sub-clades,” at that time.
        That alone indicates/suggests both that we are not anywhere close to being done with this virus, similar to the common cold, ”normal” seasonal flu, etc., as well as supporting the possibility of earlier version(s) being around previously.
        Time and especially quality research will tell us eventually; meanwhile, please do what I am doing, and Stay Home as much as you can.
        Thanks WS, appreciate your work Biggly!

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          @VV – there are now about 3600 differentiable genomes terminating clades for this novel coronavirus from the 6 or so root branches.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          @Lisa – be careful with the genetic stats. A single base-pair difference counts as a mutation, but nearly all are irrelevant to the functioning of the virus. Ditto for influenza. Only time will tell how rapidly we get functionally divergent strains capable of evading prior immunity or require separate vaccines.

      • LifeSupportSystem4aVote says:

        I suggest that you watch the American Experience episode about the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 and note the how the initial contagion (in the US) was small and mysteriously went away before returning later that year to become a world wide pandemic.

        • Gandalf says:

          The Smithsonian channel had a better program on the Spanish flu, which makes it much more clear that strict wartime censorship by the Federal government and President Wilson complete disregard for the health and safety of American soldiers and the American people as the pandemic raged in the midst of surging demands for money (leading to mass congregations of people in war bond rallies), war material (leading to factories running full bore with masses of young men working to crank this stuff out), and cannon fodder to feed into the war led contributed greatly to the severity of the pandemic in the U.S.

          Newspapers that tried to report the ongoing deaths from Spanish flu were visited by military officials and told not to run the stories or they would get sent to prison.

          It was by far worse than anything the local Wuhan officials did to try to suppress early information about COVID. The censorship went on for the entire duration of WWI, months, and ultimately lead to the deaths of 675,000 Americans

          I think it also explains why so many of the Spanish flu victims were young healthy men. These were either workers in the war factories living in small crowded factory housing, or soldiers.

  28. Jeff T says:

    I am wondering in all of these statistics about the virus, the lack of infection or reported infections and deaths in homeless people. What is going on here?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Jeff T,

      Just because you don’t read it doesn’t mean it’s not getting published.

      Here in San Francisco, in just ONE homeless shelter, they found 70 homeless people infected with COVID-19, reported all over the news. Google it.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      There is testing among the homeless, and there are infections among the homeless. I watch some of the San Francisco Bay Area county reports and it’s sometimes explicitly there, and sometimes implicit in the city-by-city data. Alameda County in particular reports specifically on “homeless” as one of the “city of residence” options. The others have “unknown/other” as an option and presumably homeless fall into that group.

      I expect we’ll get more data as things evolve. But now is probably the worst time to be homeless.

  29. RD Blakeslee says:

    “This virus (is) just an excuse to erode your rights and create a totalitarian society.”

    If you are among the unlucky who can’t breathe and die, tell us that, again.

  30. kleen says:

    We may need to consider different rules for different areas. Some areas has fewer cases and perhaps should have less restrictive rules. If things change, well change the rules. But it’s worth trying.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Yes, this might be a situation where the “50 state laboratories” idea comes in to play. Different states, different counties within each state, will all be trying different approaches based on local needs. Some will do worse than others, but we might be able to learn more quickly what really works.

  31. DO says:

    Let me see…100k global deaths…let’s shut down the world economy… I will be shocked if deaths exceed 1M in the world…out of 2.7billion currently quarantined in some way….The economic misery will be the fun part…but hey…some people got bailed out…makes sense…thanks for saving us.

    • Happy1 says:

      Prepare to be shocked. Deaths in Italy have been understated by a factor of 2 per WSJ analysis of excess mortality. Deaths in China and Iran are probably also understated by more than a factor of 2. The same will hold for the 3rd world. There probably have already been 200K deaths.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      @DO – it’ll be great if deaths stay under 1M, but if they do, that will only be because everyone was horrified at the 50-250M alternative in the “do nothing” scenario.

  32. kleen says:

    Another issue everyone is having is defective tests. I’ve heard of many being only 80% accurate.

    False results is worse than no testing.

    I’m not sure anyone knows what they are doing. It’s all so new, everyone is learning.

    There are no experts on Covid19. They are all observing and learning and they have more questions than we do.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      @Kleen – I agree with your points but I want to clarify one point abut the testing: If you have an 80% accurate test, you can convert it into a 96% accurate test just by doing the test twice in sequence (independently). And so long as the errors are random, you can convert that into a 99% accurate test by doing it 3 times in a row.

      But 1-4% false results can still cause trouble with a highly infectious pathogen, unless you have some other data to go on.

      And of course the math approach fails if there’s a systematic issue with the test. Like if you’re doing an upper respiratory swab and the virus just ain’t there because it’s hanging out in the lower respiratory tract and not shedding much.

  33. Mars says:

    “In this essay I’m going to outline how we can balance between stopping COVID and saving the economy.”

    I read this essay twice and, um, hmm, well, I’m a commenter on Wolf Street and I can explain what’s shown in a eutectic phase diagram involving three non-ferrous metals, and, I can show you the points I like using a Ruy Lopez opening but I’m not sure I would tackle the blue sky claim in the opening sentence.

    There is so much negative economic overhang from the previous decline in the business cycle and now demand destruction vectors running through all sectors from COVID-19. This will play out for years, IMO. Then there’s the Fed. The rate of infection (re-infection of recovered patients/mutations) may flatten or go hot. We’ll see… Anyway, if we accept the premise a commenter is expressing an opinion then mission accomplished.

    You may consider the Iceland cohort in your next essay. Approx 10% tested, approx 50% asymptomatic.

    I’m a grumpy “essential worker” with 850 Interstate miles per week to company locations and live in one of those states where the Governor ignores math and science. The infection rate is still ramping up on the state graph.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Mars, thanks for the comment. Do you have a recent link on Iceland data? I’d looked at that when they were at 3% tested (they also had 50% asymptomatic then). I’m guessing some of those “become” symptomatic while others don’t, but I need to look into it more.

      BTW, I agree that even if we do get to a good balance between COVID vs. economy, both are going to be pretty bad outcomes. But the alternatives are even worse.

      Nearly every state is flattening out in terms of daily new infections, and a few have begun rolling over. Yours will get there too, it just might take some extra endurance.

    • MC01 says:

      Mars, the only data I have are the tests carried out on the whole staff (doctors, nurses, janitors, maintenance technicians etc) of the main hospital here in the province: out of 6,300 378 tested positive. This is exactly 6% of the total, a far cry from all catastrophic predictions about “asymptomatic carriers”, especially considering most of them had the number one indicator for mild and very mild forms (problems with the senses of smell and taste). And these are the folks with the highest chances of catching the disease.

      But… nursing homes are another matter completely. Now that we are starting to have the capacity to spare we are testing the patients there and it’s a complete disaster.
      I’ll give you an example I know well: a small nursing home specializing Alzheimer’s and Parkison’s diseases had 6 positive patients out of 10. All the staff tested negative: it’s suspected the “Typhoid Mary” is already healed and infected the patients 7-10 days ago. For the record all nursing homes here went in full lockdown on February 21.
      These cases range from mild to very mild but, unfortunately, most Alzheimer’s sufferers are in no mental conditions to answer the list of questions used by GP’s to see if a patient is to be tested or not.
      Like all mild cases they will be quarantined at “home” and tested multiple times to rule out false negatives during the recovery phase. Sadly I don’t know what difference it makes dying of Covid-19 right now or of the consequences of Parkinson’s in a couple of months.

      Now for my next trick: living in the trenches for almost two months now has given me a different prospective.
      First thing: new cases don’t behave like a nice clean graph. First they shoot into the stratosphere, then they flatten out and finally they start zigzagging lower. This has far more to do with testing capacity ramping up than with how the disease spreads: at first only serious cases are tested then as capacity becomes available up milder and milder cases are tested. Finally in the final phase of the disease there’s enough spare capacity to test nursing homes and the like. That’s why the big daily spikes after the downward trend has started.
      Second thing: this disease doesn’t behave the same everywhere. For example right now the whole Region of Molise has just 2 Covid-19 patients in the ICU and has had just 2 new (and very mild) cases over the past week. But the full lockdown started a whole week later than in the North, where new cases are on the wane but still way too high. Why? Nobody has a clue? Really?
      Third thing: trust no one. Literally. According to the models peddled at various times by the government we should be either already have had an extra 30,000 dead or that the full lockdown would have put the virus under control by March 20 already. Right.
      Fourth thing: beware of politicians. Rather self-explanatory, isn’t it? ;-)

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        @MC01 – Excellent comment. Just want to mention, re Molise, that I think the results of a lockdown are more dramatic when it’s applied earlier in the infection curve. It’s much easier to cut infections when there are few to start with, and the available tests and tracing can be focused on a smaller number of cases.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      To clarify: in the earlier Iceland report, they tested about 3% of the population (~10,000 out of ~340,000 in all of Iceland), and at that time they found about 200 positives. (2% of the 10,000). Of those 200, about half had symptoms and half didn’t. So that’d be 1% asymptomatic out of the 10,000 tested, which could be a false positive rate for the test. Or it could mean that some people were in early stages of the infection and would get symptoms later. Or it could mean other things. It’s a really important long-term study but interpretation is going to be complicated for a while.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Mars, you say, ”I can explain what’s shown in a eutectic phase diagram involving three non-ferrous metals, and, I can show you the points I like using a Ruy Lopez opening…”
      Please understand the difference between your two examples based on physics, albeit one the physics underlying the chemistry of the metallurgy, and the epidemiology of a sociological event, both the former being based on ”hard” sciences, both the latter being based on ”soft” sciences.
      While epidemiology has proven to be helpful for determining likely disease causal factors, some of which have been eventually proven by other means, it is, after all, nothing more than an agreed to be valid form of statistical analysis of aggregated anecdotal information, while hard science results can and must be consistently reproduced by others before being generally accepted as true.
      IOW, at this point, all predictions of outcomes for this disease are speculations, AKA, generalizing on insufficient data.

      • Mars says:

        Thanks VVNV – that was my point. This presentation is positioned as an interpretation by “a physical sciences Ph.D”, an inference, IMO, that this is a data driven thesis. Yet, it is speculative and solutions are presented as “I feel…, We could…, I think…”

        My 2 cents. I will bow out of this thread’s presentation and comments at this point.

  34. LouisDeLaSmart says:

    Dear Wisdom Seaker, thank you for the great article and the effort you placed into replying to the commment section. It was a delight reading both, truly a conversation starter.

  35. Michael Gorback says:

    These discussions are like a fly with one wing: it just flies in a circle but it stays busy.

    We have no reliable data.

    We have no effective medication.

    There might never be an effective vaccine.

    I’ve been accused of being too pessimistic but those are the cold hard facts.

    Ursula K. Le Guin said, “When action grows unprofitable, gather information; when information grows unprofitable, sleep.”

    We don’t have enough information so any talk about recovery action is useless.

    Worrying and obsessing doesn’t change the future and hope is not a plan.

    Enjoy using that single wing.

  36. Michael Gorback says:

    I think we need to address more immediate problems that do have potential solutions, and let the researchers do their job.

    We are experiencing Bastiat’s “What is not seen”. People are lined up at food banks while dairy farmers are pouring thousands of gallons of milk into manure pits, beef ranchers are culling their herds, and pork bellies are being rendered into lard instead of bacon. Much of the food business was geared to restaurants and the agricultural industry doesn’t have the supply chain capacity set up to provision supermarkets.

    I’d like to see someone go to work on straightening out that mess than just sending checks to farmers. There are probably hundreds of retired military veterans who have experience with supply chain logistics. At least that’s one problem with a tangible solution. We know where the farmers are and we know where the supermarkets and food banks are.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Michael Gorback,

      I bought some bison steaks (ate for dinner earlier today… delicious) at our local rundown lousy Safeway. They were marked down by a huge amount, apparently because no one was buying them. Range-fed, grass-fed, etc. This would normally cost a bundle. But they were cheap! That Safeway never had bison before. Clearly this was meat destined for restaurants, and the restaurant supply chain has collapsed.

      So now everyone is trying to figure out how to get this stuff to consumers, but no one is set up for it.

      All the stuff that hotels, office buildings, schools, universities, etc. used to buy just sits around with no place to go. This includes beef, toilet paper, flour, milk, bananas (individual bananas rather than bunches), etc. The big differences are related to packaging and sometimes quality and to the fact that a supplier to restaurants or office buildings, for example, doesn’t have an in with Safeway and can’t easily sell to Safeway.

      Lots of people are furiously trying to work this out. But it’s not easy.

      • Michael Gorback says:

        Wolf, all you’re saying here is what I just said.

        And the news of relapse/reinfection in South Korea pretty much wiped out the relevance of 99% of this post and ensuing comments.

        As I said, we don’t have enough information at this time to have productive conversations about re-opening the economy. We do, however, have the talent and resources to fix broken supply chains.

        Rule #1: Survive

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          @Michael – I haven’t seen South Korea demonstrate that their testing is accurate enough to distinguish between 100 people being “reinfected” vs. 100 people who “tested negative twice by accident” out of a large sample population.

          It’s also possible that mild/asymptomatic cases don’t confer immunity.

          To fix the broken supply chains is crucially important, and if we have surplus production capacity that can make it a lot easier at the system level, even if it’s a pain in the ass for some of the producers. And if you want to fix those supply chains you HAVE to partially re-open parts of the economy. We don’t have a crystal ball on this virus but we CAN measure hospital loads and death rates well enough to be able to throttle public health measures up or down as needed, wait a few weeks to see the effect, and then iterate as needed.

      • Gandalf says:

        It’s a supply imbalance and reveals just how wasteful American use of food sources really is.

        At the grocery stores, the shelves for canned soup, dried noodles, and other storable foods are nearly empty.

        More importantly, there has always been a huge wastage of food from restaurants and institutional food places. All the uneaten food from the plates of patrons get thrown out if they don’t take it home in a doggy bag. A lot of the doggy bag food gets thrown out also. At the restaurant, all the excess supplies of food that was bought and got old before being used in a dish for a customer gets thrown out.

        So a substantial amount of the food that would have gone to restaurants and institutional food preparers would have been thrown out at the end of the food supply chain.

        People generally don’t throw out canned soup or noodles that they have prepared at home, it’s a more efficient use of individually packaged food items.

        So, the food suppliers now having to destroy their supplies shows just how much excess capacity for food production there had been in this country to accommodate the wasteful state of food usage in restaurants and institutions before the pandemic

    • Xabier says:

      A logistical nightmare from the point of view of packaging, which is the essence of the supermarket model.

    • Engin-ear says:

      100% agree.

      The lockdown measures will have unintended and unforseen consequences.

      As a minor example, the simple applying of social distancing reduces the capacity of supermarkets to deliver food to the customers.

      By the way, the whole article is great, but doesnt adress the question of “when to reboot” (I understand it does a decent job in How to reboot).

      My current understanding is that we’ll spend 1.5 years in partial lockdown hoping for vaccine and wonder drugs. Then we’ll discover that 80% of population is already immune… and that’s all.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        @Engin-Ear – In the article, I suggested starting the reboot when the daily fatality rate comes down to about the level of flu&pneumonia, or about 5% of typical daily mortality. Assuming we would phase in the reboot to maintain that possibly “acceptable” risk level.

        Also, I don’t believe it’s true that social distancing is keeping people from buying what they need in supermarkets due to capacity limits. I’ve been to a few places in the past few weeks, and had to wait in a line to get in the store sometimes, but they weren’t turning people away, just making sure the store didn’t get crowded. And if turning people away really were a problem, they could keep the stores open longer. Instead they have tended to reduce hours. Are you seeing something different in other cities?

        • VintageVNvet says:

          All/most stores selling food in tpa bay area now providing ‘set aside’ hours for elderly and disabled, and most also providing call or order online ahead ”concierge” service, taking (paid in advance and bagged) food out to vehicles in parking lot.
          Heard of one guy who was in a hurry and said when he called from the lot that there was a $40 tip in the back of his vehicle!
          And, as you said, lines to get in some places at some times, but people, employees and customers in general wearing face masks and doing their best to observe distancing. One way aisles in some markets as of Friday.

        • Engin-ear says:

          @Wisdom Seeker

          I’ll reply just for the link of causality between the social distancing (which I don’t criticize) and the shops selling capacities.

          Because it is a minor and a simple point.

          I have no facts to support my hypothesis, and I will not fight to defend it; but it seems to pretty obvious from my personal process analysis experiences.

          You increase the waiting time in the “critical path” of the process, and you decrease the output.

          We have currently no problems here, because other factors play too. This is entirely compensated by the spreading of the purchases through all day.

          Anyway, thank you for the efforts to build a bigger picture of the situation.

  37. kleen says:

    Asian population tends to be slim. Obesity is a high risk factor. So it will hit us harder than it hit Asian countries.

    • Xabier says:

      The fatties need a wake-up call, it will do them good.

      Although one must add that many non-Western culltures do seem to value obesity as a sign of wealth and strength, and even desirability in women.

  38. kleen says:

    New York’s Unemployment Fund Will Be Insolvent In 2 Months

    New York’s trust fund had a solvency level of 0.36 as of Dec. 31, where a level of 1.0 means the state could pay out claims for a year at the average level of the worst three years of the past twenty, according to the U.S. Labor Department. California, Texas, New York, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania are among the 22 states and jurisdictions that do not meet the recommended standard of solvency. Only California’s unemployment trust fund is in worse shape than New York’s, according to the department: almost as if the most liberal states also happen to be most insolvent.

    It gets worse: there are now nearly twice as many people claiming or already receiving unemployment benefits as there were over the comparison period, meaning that with current claims, states would run out twice as fast, the Tax Foundation’s Walczak wrote.

    The economic stimulus signed by President Donald Trump provides additional federally-funded benefits to unemployed workers, and expands eligibility to previously uncovered workers, but states are still on the hook for regular benefits.

  39. carlos leiro says:

    With all my respect, Lord. My texts are not well written, I hope that my poor ideas are understood.
    As I read it, I seemed to feel that humans are rational robots that move like puppets.
    You forget certain things, this is not a war, your best friend could infect you, yes, it is invisible like radiation but there are no lead plates. Experts do not know everything about this virus, on top it is mutating (for now there are three strains), there are certain things that can be put into play such as other pandemics or epidemics, but the virus is not radiation or even life, it only places its RNA in our cells, it may disappear in a week, it may reappear, nor does the virus itself know it.
    I have been reading Wolfstreet for a long time and I am very curious, Wolf had been warning of serious economic problems in this globalized system, the virus is not in itself the problem.
    There are problems because marketing invades too many places, they sold people that Fracking is wonderful, isn’t it, a note came out in NYTimes: Coronavirus May Kill Our Fracking Fever Dream.America’s energy independence was an illusion created by cheap debt. All that’s left to tally is the damage.By Bethany McLean or look for information from Art Berman who I think is one of the people who knows the fossil fuel issue the most in the US
    But back to the note, there is the problem of putting the production and logistics system of inputs and products manufactured in different countries in perfect condition.
    To Wolf: Wells Fargo seems to be having trouble with mortgages in India.
    Sir, what you are proposing could perhaps be done in a great dictatorship like the one in China that handles every minimum information that reaches the Chinese or in a war.
    There are many things but I will focus on one. The media and your great eagerness for Morbo, you can explain everything rational that implies your plan in central hours and in the most viewed portals on the Internet. But if later images of the coffins buried in New York appear or the terrible testimony of a young woman who tells of her agony over this disease, even opioids had to give her pain in her lungs, fighting with the virus for more than 30 days. horror. Everything rational goes down the sewers.
    People can go back to work but many will be terrified and fear, among other things, makes us make mistakes. It seems to me that we are in too strong a change to recognize it.
    A left-wing thinker said a phrase about a historical time of crisis that impressed me:
    The old world is dying. The new one takes time to appear. And in that chiaroscuro the monsters arise »

  40. Lew Patrick says:

    You are using CDC data???? LOL.

    • Kent says:

      That’s what I was thinking too. It’s the preferred data source of President Trump, so we know it must be wrong! Like you, I’m getting my data from the NY Times, and MSNBC. Not fake news from Trump!/s

  41. Xabier says:

    Excellent article.

    Unfortunately, advances in medical science have led us to believe in the reality of an unreal bubble, in which death has almost come to be viewed as an aberration and in which there must always be some technological fix to what ails us.

    We have thereby lost the psychological and spiritual adjustment of our ancestors to very high levels of mortality while still going about our lives -not that they were immune to grief, of course.

    Normality for us, as for all creatures, implies Mortality, and this pandemic is a salutary reminder of that.

    The happiest person I know during this epidemic (apart from myself) is my gypsy cousin, who is resigned to what she calls Fate.

    We will see how it turns out for her (quite a few co-morbidities I suspect!) but at least she is not living in fear -and she is obeying the restrictions in Spain of course.

  42. Ole C G Olesen says:

    Thank You for this relatively comprehensive Listing of prophylactic measures !
    It surprises me that so few focus on some stark facts of this “ Crisis “

    1. The FACT that all western countries were caught unprepared
    With their pants down : Too little of everything : too little testing gear
    too little protective gear , too few ventilators , too few intensive care beds ,too few hospital beds, too little Medical staff . too little of medicines
    This shortness of vital equipment is the more stark considering
    the astronomical costs of healthcare especially in the USA
    of which an unproportionate part goes to overhead especially admin costs

    2. Ofc part of the crisis is due to the FACT that a big part of the industries producing VITAL Medical Equipment and Medicines have been OUTSOURCED by greedy WESTERN Companies into low labour cost countries with taxation benefits … and that such a situation has been allowed by I – responsible Politicians and Governments .
    One can hardly blame China or similar Countries for this situation especially since approx. 40 – 50 % of all Industries in for ex China are OWNED by Western Multinaltional companies domiciled
    and selling their stuff in Western countries while hiding their Profits in off shore destinations

    3. It further surprizes me that so many swallow the official narrative . Especially as there are a Host of suspicious FACTS surrounding this “ Pandemia “.

    To name some of these :

    a. What did all the people allegedly harbouring Corona Virus die of ?
    b. Did these people really harbour Corona Virus ..or was it false positives ? The tests are higly unreliable !
    c. Did the patients suffer from something so far Unknown, was the Diagnosis Correct ?
    d. Why is there such an enormous gap between death rates ..even between areas in close proximity ? … Data simply don’t fit .. a baffling and medically unexplainable FACT ! …

    4. In a situation where one does not know what one is up against is common sense to prevent as much as is possible .. described so very well in the article under the ALARA Heading !

    In that context I BLAME all Western Governments for having acted TOO SLOW …
    They got at least 2- 3 month WARNING , but did not ACT adequately .
    The Infection Load could have been Minimized by much earlier closure of Borders as well as protective meassures of milder sort than those draconic actions which later became necesary . Measures which will further undermine the fragile Economies of Western Countries especially those of the USA ..

    • Keepcalmeverythingisfine says:

      Well put. We (and the western world) will likely do things differently next time given the experience from this time, and unfortunately there will be a next time with another virus hatched from China.

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        Presumably “We in the Western world” means the Western world’s national governments. All of them have always been too preoccupied with contemporary affairs and, even more so, too ponderous – they literally cannot react quickly. The cures they eventually employ have to be oppressive, requiring the obedience of an entire population.

        There has been, is now, and will be what to my mind is a better way: Be prepared to personally defend your way of life. That necessarily implies a way of life that is defensible – living apart from major population centers with the means to isolate yourself and family.

        Nothing’s perfect but that way is best, IMO.

    • Engin-ear says:

      In fact your are blaming our current bio-tech for its unability to instantly cure the viruses.

      But is it meaningful? Bio-tech advances as it advances, following our sensibilities and research capacities.

  43. Kenny Logins says:

    How can we reasonably say what we need to do under acceptable risk when we don’t even know what the risk is?

    Over ~ 300mill population, how many will die from Covid19?
    How many will have covid19 as a contributing factor to death?

    For all anyone knows right now, we’re still guessing in regions that are orders of magnitude out.

    For all we know the virus is very weak and we’re at the ‘peak’ right now, and it’ll disappear by autumn having been around tens of millions of people already.

    Or it might be quite high mortality rate, 5% or so worst case, and we’ll be doing this management for years on end.

    You can plan for the worst yes, but you’re screwing over your economy for nothing if you do.

    Why no random sampling testing to determine these core figures more accurately, to then plan properly with both human cost, economic cost, and health service burden all balanced correctly?

  44. max says:

    “But as of April 6, COVID-19 became the leading cause of death in the United States, as shown in the graphic below.”

    National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSR) are regular issues from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) that cover provisional birth, death, marriage, and divorce statistics.

    Deaths: Final Data for 2017
    All causes 2,813,503 100.0

    1) Diseases of heart 647,457 —— 23%
    2) Malignant neoplasms 599,108 —— 21%
    8) Influenza and pneumonia 55,672 —— 2%

    you can check numbers for 2015 and 2016

  45. darwin w holland says:

    What about dollar bills, do they carry the virus?

  46. John says:

    Thanks Wisdom and Wolf,
    It’s getting personal for me now. Ex sister in-law succumbed to the virus. She had diabetes and two heart stents. She got it from her twenty-four year old son who has athsma and who is hospitalized and very weak. About eight or nine days they were worse off. Her sugar count dropped. Another person in Queens, senenty year old, by herself was told to stay home. Her son is trying to get the malaria drug and cannot find it anywhere in New York. I also heard it is not in New Jersey and heard a pharmacist is getting many scripts for this drug and reporting the doctors. Overwhelming!

  47. Rui Ventura says:

    I suppose the numbers depend on what the actual cause of death was.


    Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci pushed back on conspiracy theories suggesting that coronavirus deaths in the US are being inflated, especially among those dying with existing underlying conditions.

    “We’ve made it very clear, every time I’ve been up here, about the comorbidities,” Birx said Wednesday during the White House press briefing. “This has been known from the beginning. So those individuals will have an underlying condition but that underlying condition did not cause their acute death when it’s related to a Covid infection.”
    “Having an underlying condition and getting this virus, we know, is particularly damaging to those individuals,” Birx added.

    Fauci took things a step further, saying, “You will always have conspiracy theories when you have very challenging public health crises. They are nothing but distractions.”

    “I would just hope that we just put those conspiracy stuff — and let somebody write a book about it later on, but not now,” he continued.


  48. Portia says:

    Personal responsibility is not a strong American trait. That’s the scariest thing about living in this reactive culture.

    • Keepcalmeverythingisfine says:

      Whoa! Speak for yourself. That has to be the worst comment I have ever seen on this site. Talk about ignorance of American history! Wow.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      One does not have to live in the dominant culture, Portia. See my comment, above.

      • Portia says:

        Well well, I seem to have hit a few nerves here. Just HOW does one escape the “dominant culture”? Is that your way of saying “If you don’t like it here, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out” ?
        I direct your attention to Idaho, which is now a “Hot spot” near Ketchum where the locals were infected by the affluent fleeing from who knows where. Their lives are now fucked for who knows how long. Perhaps these affluent infectors were trying not to live in the “dominant culture”. Who the hell knows?

        • RD Blakeslee says:

          Portia, you are talking about recent panic escapism. I’m talking about the plan of a lifetime. For example I have lived in out in the country in a house I and my family built 42 years ago.

        • Portia says:

          If you really read my initial comment, you would understand that I am talking about my trepidation about reactivity without considering consequences, i.e. personal responsibility for one’s actions. It’s fine that you have lived in the country and have no uncontrollable urge to “bug out” like people with 2nd homes in rural areas. You had better hope that the city locusts do not descend on your community and clean out your stores in one fell swoop, and monopolize your services. I am confident you have planned for that also, however.

  49. Ishkabibble says:

    Was the pre-corona world — the one that we lived and worked in literally a few weeks ago — the best world/matrix/arrangement that the vast majority of humans could imagine? Do the great masses of people who were slaving their lives away at crap jobs think that their pre-corona lives were wonderful and incapable of being improved?

    Obviously, the microscopic percentage of the population called the Elite, and their astronomically-well-paid political and MSM slaves, think that the pre-corona world/system was absolutely perfect as it was. So now, during our present corona situation, they must somehow imagine a means, a method, to put their pre-corona, horn-of-plenty cash-cow into hibernation, suspended animation, hit the pause button, etc., from which it can be resurrected or re-animated or merely hit the “play” button, after corona is conquered and things will resume exactly as they were pre-corona.

    The Canadian Elite have imagined such a way to do just that.
    From the above:

    “The multi-billion-dollar program, called the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), is designed to help companies avoid laying off employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused many businesses to shut their doors as the country comes to a standstill. The CEWS is intended to encourage companies to rehire workers by offering a 75 per cent wage subsidy over the next three months to businesses that have lost 30 per cent of their revenue due to the crisis. Companies will need to reapply for the program each month. It is estimated to cost the federal government $73 billion.”

    Great idea, right? Yes, if you want to keep the pre-corona system exactly as it was. (The last sentence of the above is an outright lie; “the federal government” should be changed to “future Canadian taxpayers”.) A tattoo or pizza parlor etc. owner/employer who would have gone out of business and would have had to fire employees because of a loss of customers, is going to be kept in business (and able to keep employees “employed”) for as long as this program lasts. Business owners and their employees will be paid to sit at home and spend their waking hours watching Netflix, or running around the neighborhood, or “making babies”.

    Unfortunately, the day after corona is either licked (pun definitely intended) or brought under firm control via permanent changes in human behavior and “apparel”, that wonderful program of systemic hibernation that afforded formerly-suffering people a brief reprieve from their misery will come to a sudden, psychologically-painful end. “OK, everybody back to work!”, the Elite will demand. And the tattoo and pizza parlors, the gyms, the movie theaters, the restaurants, the airlines, the tourist museums, the toy stores, etc. etc. etc. — all of those “non-essential” businesses that were closed down during corona — will be “open for business!” Joy of joys!, right?

    But, but, but what happens if the human beings that own those businesses or slave away in them for very little pay don’t want to go back to work? What happens if all of those business’s pre-corona customers no longer “want” to get a tattoo, work out in a crowded gym, roll the personal-health dice in a restaurant, run the TSA gauntlet in a packed airport in order to suffer in a crowded jet for hour after hour, and then, after running another TSA/customs gauntlet, suffer in a crowd of tourists packing a Venetian canal or public square, or get coughed on in a packed movie theater? What happens then? Do all of the failed business owners and their employees just go out on the street and beg for money so that they and maybe their children can survive for another day?

    All of us should take this unprecedented, probably-never-will-occur-again opportunity to turn off Netflix and all of your favorite shows and activities and imagine a world, a system, that is better than the one that existed pre-corona. Believe me, the Elite are not going to help us imagine that better world. Quite the opposite, they’ll do everything in their power to prevent us from imagining that better world, let alone bringing it into reality.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      IMO, its futile to think about changing the world and highly productive to think (and act) to build ones own microworld. See my comment, above

      • Gandalf says:

        RD Blakeslee,

        Your comments are reading more and more like David Geffen gloating about self isolating on his $590 million yacht, while everybody else in this world struggles with unemployment and lost income.
        Do you realize that if EVERY human being tried to do what you did:

        1. There wouldn’t be any internet or computers for you to even post comments like that
        2. There isn’t enough livable land left on planet Earth to space out 7.6 billion human beings. Wrap your head around that figure and try to think others on this planet instead of gloating about your fabulous rural lifestyle.

        PS, I imagine you greet the rare visitor and deliveryman/repairman to your rural abode with a shotgun, and a thermometer to check for a fever, while wearing an N95 mask and PPE. Because if somebody from Outside does bring in the virus to your family, it will be a bit of a drive to find good healthcare for everybody.

        Geffen on that

    • RD Blakeslee says:


      If you want to post a duplicate, just add a comma to a previous one.

      My bad …

  50. Shiloh1 says:

    American history and way of life changed a lot in last couple of generations in terms of personal responsibility within the greater culture. Of course their are many individual exceptions, but in the main Portia is correct. Somehow today personal responsibility is deemed to be telling somebody else what to do, how to think, etc.

  51. Michael Engel says:

    1) The average CPI in the last 12Y is 2%
    2) A dollar in 2009 is worth only $0.785 today.
    3) US10Y was 2% in 2009 // today its 0.7%.
    4) My $1,200 in the bank from Uncle Sam is equivalent to a $171K 10Y
    bond portfolio. In 2009 it was worth only $60K 10Y bond portfolio.
    5) SPY rose from 67.10 in 2009 to 339.08 in 2020 // 1:12Y = 0.08333.
    [339.08 : 67.10}^ 0.08333 ==> 14.466% /y.
    6) My brother is a wall street lawyer (fake). He manage wealthy doctors, dentists and widows portfolios.
    7) The chance of recession after 2009 was low for the next 9Y-10Y.
    8) My brother built a model with the following parameters : after 2009(L) there is 80% chance of gaining 15%/y and 20% chance of losing 30%/y, for the first 9 years.
    9) After 10 years there is 50% chance of gaining 15%/y, but 50% chance
    of losing 60%/y.
    10) Most of my brother customers sold half of their portfolio in 2018 and moved to cash, TLT & gold.
    11) TLT is up from 82.20 in 2007 to 171.29 in 2020 // Gold is up from
    $1,000 in 2009 to $1,750 in 2020. Both TLT& gold are lagging SPY in the last 12 years.
    12) The doctors and the dentist bug my brother with questions almost every day, but the widows don’t care.
    13) My brother cannot tell his customers that during wave 3/of 3 both TLT & gold will be liquidated to cover margin calls, because they are so liquid.
    If he will, he will lose the portfolio he built in the last 12 years.

    • Iamafan says:

      #12 and #13 are super interesting.

    • Xabier says:

      Dear Michael

      The way things are going, I’d like to meet a prematurely ) wealthy widow.

      Simply to advise her myself on her investments.

      Any directions gratefully received……

    • cd says:

      gold is going to be much higher as the dollar gets ridden down to the bottom

      3-5K is now a very real target, not some gold bug dream….

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Does that mean that all the ”gold diggers” of 2020 are going to be the best cohort ever??
        Just asking..LOL ( OK, also asking to help Xabier get a good focus going forward.)

  52. kleen says:

    This could be our worse nightmare, if true/correct. Of course they are trying to figure out, but here it is:

    “South Korea Says Nearly 100 Recovered COVID-19 Patients Tested Positive Again”

    “South Korean officials on Friday reported 91 patients thought cleared of the new coronavirus had tested positive again,” Reuters reports. “Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a briefing that the virus may have been reactivated rather than the patients being re-infected.”

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      @Kleen – This is a concern, but we need to consider this as one of the statistical consequences of testing a large population, using a test with a significant false negative rate (and/or false positive rate).

      For example: South Korea has around 10,500 confirmed cases, of which nearly 7400 are now recovered cases according to the JHU dataset. Typically one has to be symptom-free and get 2 consecutive negative tests to become “recovered”. But if the test has a 20% false-negative rate, you’d expect 1 in 25 of people who actually have the virus to get 2 false-negative results in a row. So 300 of the “recoveries” would be wrong. Some of those would actually recover anyway, but some would get symptoms.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Thanks for that WS,
        I had seen the data re recurrence in SK, 50 known, and China a bit earlier, with a death or two included in SK, and your explanation of the false results from earlier testing rings true.
        We can not only hope, but insist to all of our leaders, elected or otherwise, that we are ready in the fall for the next likely wave of this virus, no matter what mutation may have happened by then.
        Ready with plenty of good face masks for all people who need to be in any public setting, along with other clear items, yes; but, IMO more importantly, ready with our protocols, from initial test needs to ‘best practice’ remedies at all levels.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      There is something else this article said: that the tests could be unreliable, giving false negatives and false positives, and there could be other causes too. From the same article:

      “False test results could also be at fault, other experts said, or remnants of the virus could still be in patients’ systems but not be infectious or of danger to the host or others.”

  53. MB732 says:

    One major factor I don’t see discussed much is contagiousness. For the sake of discussion with fewer variables (hypothetical!) let’s say this virus is exactly the same ‘deadliness’ as a previous bad flu season, but it is much more contagious.

    In this example you would expect to see what we are seeing…the virus is getting around to many more of the most vulnerable much more quickly, and it will kill many more people that you may or may not have thought were vulnerable (or simply would not have heard about in years past).

    This example seems to fit the reality that MC01 is seeing in northern Italy. A big spike in deaths averaging(!!) 79 years old, followed by a big spike in cases due to testing availability and reporting. I think it will be a mistake to continue extrapolating the number of expected deaths from ratio of deaths to infections during the initial spike of the most vulnerable.

    This example also fits with my understanding of the early responses, which were efforts to slow the initial spread to ‘flatten the curve’ of numbers of people requiring intensive care. The plan was never going to be to prevent everyone from catching it, ever. Talk of staying locked down for weeks or months is distraction.

  54. Saylor says:

    So, if I am to understand things correctly, our ‘common cold’ is a corona virus. We have never found a cure for ‘the common cold’.
    Again, from my understanding, a large part of the problem is that it mutates so readily.

    In the face of these ‘facts’ (again, if I am correct) the COVID-19 is not going to get a vaccine anytime in the near (less than 3 years IMO) term. This would tell me that it is now endemic and will be with us ongoing.

    That said, can we surmise that the leading cause of death for many older people (at the least) will be from this virus and this virus will continue to come in ‘waves’. And even if many people (of all ages) don’t die, there will be many that get severely ill and perhaps even permanently disabled?

    How can this not impact our current society and culture in very very profound ways? We can expect this to mutate over time. Either by random acquiring of DNA or the evolutionary drive of the virus doing what it needs to do to propagate more effectively.

    The potential of this virus remaining so embedded in our lives is making my head spin.

    • Xabier says:

      You can stop your head spinning( I know the feeling well!) by thinking of this: all our ancestors lived with endemic disease: and, guess what? Life went on.

      • Happy1 says:

        Actually during some periods, such as during the black plague, life didn’t “go on” for a great many of our ancestors.

    • Phil says:

      Generally put, you’re not understanding things correctly. There are many different common colds, and only a few of them are coronaviruses.

      Coronaviruses don’t mutate very quickly. Maybe you’re thinking of the flu.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Coronaviruses are RNA viruses. RNA viruses are the most mutagenic viruses. They mutate easily, quickly and often.

  55. Eferg says:

    This is a tough subject that needs lots of discussion. My compliments to Wisdom Seeker and those commenting here.

    A huge issue from my perspective is that this is all being done in a knowledge vacuum. We do not know vital parameters about the disease: What is the spread rate (how many others does an infected individual pass it on to). Virus spread is a geometric progression and small changes in spread rate have large impacts on the outcome. We do not know how much of the population is susceptible. It is probably high, but not 100%. And, 75% versus 100% has a big impact on the spread. 50% versus 75% has a huge impact. Finally what is the mortality rate for all infected people. We do not know because we can only guess at how many have really been infected. All these things have major policy implications. We do not know whether we are over or under reacting.

    Another area of unknowns is possible future treatments. Lots of ink consumed on this subject, but it is all conjecture. Should we set current policy based on something that might not develop? Should we wait until something positive happens? If we do, will there be anything significant left to salvage? Tough issues that have no black and white answers. But, decisions must be made – and, there are trade-offs that must be made between physical health and economic health.

    There is a strong focus on models predicting case and body count. This is wrong. In fact, publishing case and body count forecasts at this stage is really modeling and journalism malpractice. The proper focus should be determining what are the critical unknowns that impact the progression and outcome of the disease. Then, conduct programs to quantify those unknowns. Only then do models begin to have some ability at prediction. AND, at that time, the importance is not body count, but rather intelligent policy setting.

    • stan6565 says:

      It seems to me that this virus deploys a number of independent variables in its spread. Qualitative and quantitative alike.

      1. It seems possible for a healthy or even not so healthy person to be exposed to, and receive the virus, without becoming ill. The so exposed person can test positive or negative, but, then, see #2.

      2. It seems likely that repeated exposure to virus can trigger a test positive, or indeed create a greater likelihood of illness. If you were tested negative two weeks ago, a receipt of further quantity of virus may now show you positive. This brings #3 into the frame.

      3. It seems almost certain that quantity of exposure to various sources of virus, combined with your general health state, can determine whether the outcome is illness,

      4. It seems that two disparate mechanisms can bring illness about, in similar orders of likelihood; one, you are young and healthy but exposed to large quantities or various strains of virus (hospital staff), or, two, you are old or frail or obese or have another serious underlying health issue but only exposed to a limited quantity of virus or limited quantity of strains (examples of people from North Italy as reported by MC01).

      5. When illness comes about, the outcome starts to be a chance event. If a cytokine storm comes about, this seems to guarantee curtains.

      This reminds me of my studies of quantum mechanics; everything is clear until I have to repeat it.

      At the moment all I can say there is some correlation there that minds greater than mine have not explored yet.

  56. Xabier says:

    However, what we do know is that good personal – and corporate – hygiene and masks, etc, are both very effective and low-cost tools in dealing with this ghastly situation,and can be applied universally in a short time-frame.

    Let epidemiologists wrangle over their defective models, and make ill-founded policy recommendations, and let politicians boast about how many ventilators (largely useless) they are ordering, we can get on with applying these simple strategies.

    And don’t forget to stockpile true essentials: supply- chain disruption is building rapidly.

    I buy an awful lot online, and its getting ever harder and harder – closures, order rationing, ‘out of stock’, etc.

    The store will not announce in advance that it’s going to be empty tomorrow…..

  57. James W Fry says:

    As an Electrical Engineer in Municipal, Utility and Industrial construction for my long seasoned career, I’m observing a multitude of broken and breaking supply chains. We must get back to work in many areas, sooner than later or we’ll be subject to both the broken knowns and the broken unknowns. Every facet of human life and society is subject to movement and processing of resources and the industries I’m most concerned about are Nuclear, Utilities, Food Production, Food Processing, OTR Distribution and Medical supplies (of all kinds). Though many may think this proposal is insane, I deem we should be building and retrofitting specific factories now in the US, with intelligence applied, to address many of the global supply chains that may never return to previous efficacy.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Excellent comment and I think you’ve just nailed the top priority for the first phase of whatever restart path we start down. Defense Production Act could be applied if needed too.

    • Saylor says:

      Yes! This is a big one. Truck parts, drilling equipment, nuke plants, they all keep a certain amount of parts on the shelf because they cannot afford to go down even for 24 hours. While they still have replacement inventory they should be reaching out to machine shops, plastics molding/extrusion, board fab and stuff and sheet metal shops to supply them with samples to scan and start replicating. It would also go a fair distance in re-igniting the economy. There are still those operations running in the U.S. believe it or not.

    • Saltcreep says:

      I was considering this just yesterday, James, when we went out for our daily escapade (not a full lockdown in my country, we can go out, but are asked to maintain distance) to walk along a river here that is lined with old factory buildings from the birth of the age of industry, and walked past old factories, now repurposed to residential and service sector use, that used to make anything from screws and nails to match sticks to power turbines to margarine. None of that stuff is made here any more. We ended up down by the port, where the old slipways and dry docks where ships were built up until the latter part of the 20th century now serve as decorative displays in what are now upmarket surroundings.

      Hey, we even have trawlers off the coast here that now freeze the fish they catch and then travel around the world burning fuel to have them fileted or otherwise processed and packaged in East Asia, and then much of the processed fish is shipped back around the world again for consumption…

      We should in my opinion very much be reconsidering how we operate our societies. But relocating value chains will firstly demand that we accept a large aggregate reduction in our material consumption, and secondly will result in our financial markets having to shrink and give up much of the illusion of wealth they currently provide.

      That actually sounds quite refreshing to me, but it surely won’t be accepted, and I reckon everything possible will be done to try to extend the existing systems and kick the can a bit further along.

    • The shutdown might actually be good for the economy. We are going to need more people while the computers come back on line and data refills, and commerce returns to normal levels, if it ever does. Our labor market was tight before the crisis, so it will put an extra burden on workers. Then as workers ask for higher wages that will put pressure on the companies who are at that point neck deep in IT spending with little in the way of results. Consumers change their habits so inventory and demand changes. Utilities for instance are pushing off hours usage to spread their load. Now with everyone home 7/24 that concern has little or no meaning. We need to jumpstart IT, but it is going to take people to bring this economy back.

  58. BenX says:

    Can someone get Wolf to lead the COVID-19 response? Because that’s the kind of plan I would expect from our national leadership. Instead we get excuses, blaming, self-congratulating, and chaos.

  59. raxadian says:

    You can’t save the economy when people start to walk out of jobs due to their employees not taking precautions against a freaking plague.

    Hellooo the ship is sinking! Patch the darn holes before you think about reaching port and selling the cargo!

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      @raxadian – take a closer look at the article, I covered that issue.

  60. flashlight joe says:

    It would be very interesting to see the chart “Top 15 Causes of US Death” compared to last year. That could reveal diagnosis coding issues, for example, did the flu-pneumonia cause of death go down because they are being coded as covid, or is covid replacing the flu-pneumonia, or is flu-pneumonia deaths the same and this covid is new and attacking a different population.

    Somebody has already done this.

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      @Joe – no, they haven’t yet, because it takes a long time for our system to aggregate the data accurately. The most recent data we have (used in the graphs) is from 2017 and 2018. We don’t know what happened in 2019 yet, and we won’t have 2020 data for a while. I’d argue that we should tighten this system up to have it run like the economic reporting systems, with much more attention given so that we have only only a 1-2 month lag instead of 2-3 years.

    • c1ue says:

      Flu deaths should have gone down a lot – lockdowns would do that.
      Data from Italy and New York make it quite clear that nCOV is killing people far above and beyond what’s normal – as Wolf notes above.
      Lombardy – where nCOV started in Italy – is over 10,000 mortality per 10M population. Compare with New York: over 4800 mortality per 10M population (and still rising rapidly).
      Normal Italy monthly mortality is in the 8600 range (per 10M pop) and New York monthly mortality is in the 6500 range.

  61. Mary says:

    Excellent post. Together with some of the comments covers the topic in a most interesting way. All in all, Wolfstreet is offering smart, useful coverage of economic and financial issues relating to the virus.
    Thank you.

  62. Wisdom Seeker says:

    For those interested in a similar-but-different take, also from a Bay Area perspective, and a day later than our discussion, there’s a good article in the Mercury News today which touches on many of the same issues raised here!

  63. ML says:

    As someone renowned for his wisdom, indeed strangers frequently remark that something I have said is “very wise” – as if it is possible to have shades of wisdom – I am not impressed by ‘wisdom seekers’: to my way of thinking one is either wise or not.

    I don’t know what others think to make themselves wise, i only know how I think. And since i’m told that most people don’t think like me I can only imagine that something powerful has got in their way. Which if I had to hazard a guess would be what I call adverse effect on social conditioning which results in most people being scared to go it alone because they are inhibited by a desire to be popular. To be accommodating and compromising is all the rage – and it shows.

    I don’t profess to know it all, why would I want to. I agree that there is a heck of a lot we don’t know about COVID-19 but that’s the medics and scientists realm. Beware of scientism. I also think it is pointless to compare ‘success’ rates of other countries: it is too early to tell. What each individual does have (more) control and understanding of is their immune system. Personally I think that should be the starting point. The essential is why do people attract …. but let’s do one step at a time. How do people attract this virus in the first place. What most likely self-inflicted habit have they formed that has weakened their immune system.

    Unless they have a genetic issue, which is a reason but not an excuse, the short answer is that they take their health for granted. Health isn’t merely about not being ill. It is also about attitude and life-style. About self-respect. Sure for most people the challenge in rethink and reorganising lifestyle – to complement health, as distinct from provoking – is often to frightening to even contemplate but that’s no excuse. Anyone who is willing to risk their health by eating and drinking harmful ingredients, anyone who is willing to risk their state of mind by mixing with angry people, anyone who is willing to risk weakening their immune system by socialising with people with underlying health conditions – socialising includes being a member of an audience at the theatre, cinema, rock concert, sporting event – anyone who can risk what in effect boils down to compromising their own health can surely do so in a way that is not prejudicial to their well-being.

    When faced with a choice of whether to eat chocolate and hesitating, I am amused by the phrase typical of encouragement , “go on, spoil yourself”. Spoil myself. Why would I want I do that?

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      @ML – “It is better to keep your keyboard closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

      • ML says:

        @ Lisa_Hooker

        Thank you.

        “It is better to keep your mind open and let possibilities come your way than to close it and be stuck in a rut.”

  64. CreditGB says:

    When the CDC issued guidance that Covid 19, whether confirmed or just suspected, is involved in a death, that Covid 19 is to be reported as the cause of death, superseding other long term causes present like cancer, emphysema, diabetes, asthma, and old age, what the hell did we think was going to become the “greatest number of daily deaths”??

  65. Phil says:

    My good friend is 43 years old with diabetes… if Covid19 kills him, it will be Covid19, not diabetes, because otherwise he can easily live another 30 years.
    The callousness of people amazes me.

  66. Michael Gorback says:

    Today’s news blows up this entire discussion. South Korea is reporting “reinfections ” (although as I mentioned above these could be reactivations).

    Brazil has reported problems with cardiac rhythm problems with patients on chloroquine. This is not surprising since it has long been known that about 10% of people who take chloroquine get EKG changes.

    For unknown oil wn reasons China has ceased the Gilead study.

    Twitter has banned Zero Hedge and Steve Bannon for alleging the virus started in China, while the Chinese are still on Twitter blaming the US.

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr had an interesting interview on RT about Bill Gates’s not-so-humanitarian involvement with vaccines, including regulatory capture of CDC, WHO, and FDA.

    And please bear in mind that flattening the curve merely reduces the acute burden on hospitals while EXTENDING the duration of the pandemic.

    The so-called authorities are now walking back their baseless predictions of reopening the economy in a couple of months.

    This is FUBAR on steroids.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      “And please bear in mind that flattening the curve merely reduces the acute burden on hospitals while EXTENDING the duration of the pandemic.”

      Thank you for stating the obvious. This needs repeating, Often. A lot of people just don’t get it.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        It’s actually much more subtle than that.

        If you flatten the curve and extend the duration, you push a lot of infection times out on the calendar. If the timelines we’ve heard for development of treatments or vaccines are accurate, then curve flattening can delay many infections to the time where treatments or vaccines become available. So curve flattening can dramatically reduce overall mortality.

        In addition, a lower, flatter curve is much easier to control with accelerated test-and-trace protocols. So the prospect of actually eliminating the disease increases dramatically.

        And finally, the different between overwhelmed hospitals and functional hospitals is worth 5-10x in overall mortality from COVID, with a bonus in reduced mortality from all other causes.

  67. Bill Brown says:

    Because of the coronavirus pandemic, a global crisis is coming. People lose their jobs. Last week set a record for the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits. Now more than ever, the ability to work remotely is important. But not everyone has the opportunity to work on the sofa at the computer at home. What should a simple worker, such as a builder, do in such a situation? The only answer that comes to my mind is to live on savings, do your favorite hobby at home, do sports at home or to get lead certification online.

    It is useful to say that the coronavirus behaves very similar to the flu virus, in terms of symptoms, mortality (2%), contagion, and prevalence among the elderly. But the flu virus does not have this impact on the global economy.

  68. joe says:

    Gee. Sure looks like the “new normal” is designed for the soon-to-be poor population – work at home, exercise at home, eat at home, vacation at home. I hope you have a home.
    Now just what are those young people living in the new “pods” going to do? work in bed, exercise in bed, vacation in bed?

    Serfs up.

  69. Anon1970 says:

    The county with the highest number of cases of the covid19 virus per 100,000 people is most likely Rockland County, NY. It is a major center of ultra orthodox (Hasidic) communities which were very slow in adhering to public health regulations regarding social distancing. Like their fundamentalist Christian counterparts, they believe that the government has no business interfering in their religious practices (First Amendment). The New York City metro area, including nearby counties in Upstate NY, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut probably accounts for at least half of all of the cases in the country. In poor, congested neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, the mortality rate of infected residents is much higher than in other parts of the metro area.

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