Friday, February 14, 2020

Concerning Common Sense



A myth from Pliny the Elder. But only for ostriches.















We'd have made these comments at the site in question, but we have evidently offended the host's delicate sensibilities, such that we are apparently verboten from either cheering or jeering there, let alone apologizing. (Not sorry for telling the truth, but that his feelings are hurt.) His site, his rules, his butthurt. So be it. (Oh, and Fran, assuming I am the He Who Shall Not Be Named there, I use the alias because I work in Hollywood. Since the 90s. For a decade and more, it put food on my table and a roof over my head, and I'm addicted to making a living. I commend to your fund of historical agnosticism both mark twain, and Silence Dogood. Not to mention john Wayne and cary Grant. The precedent is long established. I own what I write, and I always sign it. I am as much Aesop as you are Fran. Just not on my birth certificate. {My mistake. - A.} I like a lot of what you write, or I wouldn't bother with your site. Get over yourself, and stop being a Drama Queen. You'll be happier for it.)

Under the heading of "Stay In Your Lane", we bring you a sterling example of how not to deal with coronavirus, or any other viral outbreak, if it becomes as endemic as the flu:
"The reaction to this new disease that gets the most air time and column-inches has been hysteria: a pseudo-panic more appropriate to a potentially world-ending event – and I have a sneaking feeling that it’s mostly a media artifact.  
Nevertheless, I’ve been seeing emissions such as this one rather frequently:


Such recommendations, to my mind, are more dangerous than the Coronavirus itself. To follow it in its entirety would be to abandon society, personal affection, and all external involvements in the name of germophobia. Among other things, it would result in a severe reduction of economic activity – and a healthy economy is one of the requirements for maintaining a healthy population. Contrary to a lot of Leftists’ opinions, medical products and services do not grow on trees.  
One respondent said that “some temporary adaptation to environment may be necessary.” If we were talking about the Bubonic Plague, I might agree – and the response that physician recommended would be more appropriate. Indeed, it would be near to mandatory, especially for anyone with dependents. But this is a flu-like virus that has a mortality rate (reported) of about 5% — and apparently that mortality rate is skewed by age and other factors. So an "adaptation to environment" that amounts to huddling behind a locked door strikes me as excessive, and probably worse for us than maintaining a reasonable facsimile of our usual affairs."
Matt Bracken's list, contrary to that assertion, is how you stop a pandemic. They are nothing but simple common sense and distilled wisdom. They're even a pretty good way to make flu orders of magnitude less severe every year, if people had half the wits they think they do.

Sorry it offends the novelist's sense of propriety, but viruses cannot be reasoned with. If he would do so, Fran Porretto can shove his head in a very dark place all he wants. It's a free country. And the media may indeed be hyping this beyond rationality, as we've noted on this blog. But the fact remains that coronavirus enjoys a mortality rate of between 2-4%, with an average of 3%.

Influenza, FTR, runs at about 0.1%.

3% versus 0.1%? "Well then, this would be more, wouldn't it?"
 
Influenza kills about 50K/yr here since ever.
Thirty times worse, assuming influenza-like spread, would be 1,500,000 Dead.
But it could be worse still.
Depending on the total spread, Kung Flu coronavirus could kill as many as 9,000,000 here.
For Common Core grads, that would be 3% of 300,000,000 people.
If it becomes a pandemic here. Which it may, or may not.
Or, it could kill none.
It depends entirely on how far and wide it spreads here.
12 cases isn't worrying me much.
At 12,000, the cat's out of the bag, and it's almost certainly going to go nationwide.
(Ask China about that. With a pop. of about 1B, they're looking at a potential for 30,000,000 dead, from simple, unadulterated Kung Flu coronavirus. That is "Bubonic Plague" at those numbers, and it's possible that they're pretty handy with an abacus, and have figured that out already.)
 
But once it does spread, that 3% average mortality is pretty well carved in biological stone.
 
Shoving your head into a hole about that reality that doesn't make it go away.
And taking reasonable precautions to limit that spread will not destroy all life, affection, and commerce in the nation. At most, it'll be a minor annoyance for a season or three.
 
So if it does become widespread here, the best thing one can say is that such willful ignorance will be its own reward. Hence the Gilligan Effect*. Except for those others with whom Gilligan comes into direct contact. Bummer, friends and family. Guess Gilligan's not really your friend after all.
 
If one cannot wrap their head around such common sense, and grasp those basic scientific realities, perhaps one should stick to writing works of fiction. But learning anything from research pretty much goes by the wayside at that point, doesn't it?
 
"Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"
- Robert Browning
 
 
UPDATE: From Comments (h/t commenter nick flandrey), direct from the usual gang of idiots at the CDC, on what measures they will recommend if/when this breaks out widespread over here:
" FOR EXAMPLE, IN GENERAL, SOCIAL DISTANCING, SCHOOL CLOSURES, CANCELING MASS GATHERINGS, SORT OF NONPHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTIONS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THINGS LIKE TELEMEDICINE, TELESCHOOLING, TELEWORKING SO THAT AT A SOCIETAL LEVEL WE TRY TO DISRUPT THE SPREAD. IN A SITUATION LIKE THIS WHERE WE DON’T HAVE A VACCINE AND WE DON’T YET HAVE A SPECIFIC COUNTERMEASURE, THOSE KIND OF NONPHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTIONS AT A COMMUNITY LEVEL ARE REALLY IMPORTANT."
IOW, everything the MD linked by Matt Bracken said, except turned up to 11.
Look, I'm the first and loudest one to point out that the CDC isn't the brightest lights on the Christmas tree (in fact, they usually underperform even my lowest expectations), but when even they're telling you this thing is going to affect your daily life a wee bit more than the flu, maybe suck it up and listen up, no matter how smart you think you are.




 
 
 
 
 
*(The Gilligan Effect is that in every group, someone is the dumbest left edge of the bell curve of IQ. And that person is the weakest link in every problem, including pandemics. If the castaways had killed Gilligan in S1E2, the show is over in a week or two when they get rescued. True in TV land, true IRL. Don't be Gilligan. No, really.)

16 comments:

Linda Fox said...

The thing is, all of the stats are crap, as long as it's China creating them. They could be more or less correct, they could be wildly understating the danger.
But there are few ways to check the numbers.
I once took a history class on the Civil War era. We had to do some research on specific units, and their experience in the war. It was fascinating, and a good introduction to how to read official reports.
BOTH sides said they killed MANY, MANY enemies, and had few casualties. When we asked how we could verify the truth of the casualties, my professor said,
"Look at the day's muster. That's the roll call from which they generate payroll. Since they won't pay the dead, that gives the true mortality for that battle."
Similarly, don't look to the numbers in China. Look at how they are handling it - the quarantine area, and the numbers affected, are way out of line with a relatively low-level epidemic. Look at the response of the Elite of China - they got the hell out of the region. And, now, they are grabbing all available masks and testing materials for us by the Elite. As in the case of the old Hunan famine, they are writing off the region.
Are the hospitals overwhelmed? Yes.
Are those reporting on this being shut up? Yes.
Are those with access to people in the affected areas reporting information at variance with the official reports? Yes.
So, yeah, until and unless the nearby countries have sufficient numbers affected to show otherwise, I"m gonna treat it like a potential pandemic.
Chine is the country that has developed a reputation for lying so routinely, that, even if they are telling the truth, no one believes them.

Aesop said...

Concur, absolutely.

"Don't watch their mouths. Watch their hands."

A.B. Prosper said...

Anyone whose blog has pro freedom or about liberty in its header can be causally ignored.

Such people are libertarians who put economic activity above all other concerns. This is not especially harmful in a healthy homogeneous society but if we lived in one, which we don't, well we'd all have better things to do than blog.

Aesop said...

But he writes a lot of good stuff, AB.
Commentary to that effect yesterday apparently occasioned today's retort.

Apparently, he can't get his head around being right about one thing, and wrong about another, on the same blog!, and pointing out the Emperor's nudity in the latter instance was one straw too much for that particular camel.

Whatever helps him get through his day is his problem.

I'd rather get things right than be liked, and while I'll take the ones I find, I don't go online to make new friends. If no one can ever tell you you're wrong, there's no sense having a scoreboard at sports games, but I've never seen a field without one.

Anonymous said...

Aesop, again, thanks for your thoughts.

Living across the river from Omaha and the University of NE Med Center, we try to keep tabs on the goings on. They have increased BLIV beds to 25, and when next expansion is done they will be at 150 beds. Or juggling more knives depending on viewpoint.

Just had a wonderful Valentine’s dinner with my wife and old friends, he happens to be very well connected in Nebraska politics. In discussing the CV, he was torn between believing what the leaders of the Med Center, and local and state gov’t guys were telling him, the status of the quarantined individuals here, and his own “lying eyes”.

The whole evening the thought was in the back of my head that this may be one of my wife’s and I’s last public outings.

Then on the ride home we heard on local talk radio news that one of the people quarantined at Camp Ashland National Guard camp has been moved to the Med Center due to exhibiting symptoms.

Might have to hit Sam’s Club one more time.

Anonymous said...

Loos like the MSM finally caught up to your Monday post...

https://www.breitbart.com/asia/2020/02/13/coronavirus-outbreak-exposes-chinas-monopoly-on-u-s-drug-medical-supplies/

Ned2 said...

Franks just selling books.
Move along, nothing to see here.

nick flandrey said...

CDC posted the transcript from today's briefing call, and their web geniuses have made a couple of mistakes. If the URL gets corrected, it will probably link from their main page-- https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/archives.html --Transcripts tab-- until then:

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/t0214-covid-19-update.html.html

that link goes directly to the current transcript, but the recording of the call doesn't work. I'd really like to hear her voice on some of the stuff said.

Reading the transcript, it sounds like battlespace prep. And a seriously bad battle coming up too.

"THIS IS A DIFFICULT AND CHALLENGING TIME ON MANY FRONTS. THE FOOTAGE OUT OF CHINA IS UPSETTING. OTHERS ARE BEING QUARANTINED IN OTHER COUNTRIES INCLUDING ON THE DIAMOND PRINCESS CRUISE SHIP. ON THE RESPONDERS’ SIDE THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK AROUND THE WORLD TO TRY TO CONTAIN THE DAMAGE. I LOOK AROUND AND I SEE PEOPLE WHO ARE TIRED BUT WHO ARE DETERMINED AND GOVERNED BY A SENSE OF URGENCY THAT THE HEALTH OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS DEPENDENT AT LEAST IN PART ON THEIR WORK. THIS NEW VIRUS REPRESENTS THE UNPRECEDENTED PUBLIC HEALTH THREAT AND WE ARE TAKING AGGRESSIVE ACTION TO KEEP THESE PEOPLE, OUR FAMILIES AND OUR NATION SAFE. "

...

"HOWEVER, WE MUST PREPARE FOR THE POSSIBILITY THAT AT SOME POINT WE MAY SEE SUSTAINED COMMUNITY SPREAD IN OTHER COUNTRIES OR IN THE U.S. AND THIS WILL TRIGGER A CHANGE IN OUR RESPONSE STRATEGY. THIS WILL REQUIRE THE EFFORTS OF ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT, THE PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM AND OUR COMMUNITIES AS WE FACE THIS CHALLENGE TOGETHER. "

...[really bad that healthcare workers are getting sick, we're going to try to avoid that]

...[we're adding testing for WuFlu to our existing nat'l flu surveillance system]

---break----

nick flandrey said...

"THIS IS JUST THE STARTING POINT AND WE PLAN TO EXPAND TO MORE SITES IN THE COMING WEEKS UNTIL WE HAVE NATIONAL SURVEILLANCE. THIS IS LEVERAGING OUR EXISTING INFLUENZA AND VIRAL RESPIRATORY SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS. THIS IS AN EXTRA LAYER OF OUR RESPONSE THAT WILL HELP US DETECT IF AND WHEN THIS VIRUS IS SPREADING IN THE COMMUNITY. ALL OF OUR EFFORTS NOW ARE TO PREVENT THE SUSTAINED SPREAD OF THE VIRUS IS IN OUR COMMUNITY BUT WE NEED TO BE PREPARED FOR THE POSSIBILITY THAT IT WILL SPREAD. RESULTS FROM THIS SURVEILLANCE WOULD BE AN EARLY WARNING SIGNAL TO TRIGGER A CHANGE IN OUR RESPONSE STRATEGY. "

...[oh btw, regular flu is still out there and killing people, including kids and we have tools to fight FLU...]

" I UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE ASKING ABOUT IS THE CHANGE BETWEEN CONTAINMENT AND MITIGATION AND WHAT IT WOULD LOOK LIKE AND THANKS FOR THAT QUESTION BECAUSE IT ALLOWS ME TO SAY THAT IT’S NOT BLACK AND WHITE. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THOSE COMPONENTS MERGED TOGETHER ACROSS THE UNITED STATES, POTENTIALLY AT DIFFERENT LOCATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES DEPENDING ON WHAT HAPPENS. WE’RE CONTINUING TO HOPE THAT WE WON’T SEE COMMUNITIES SPREAD AND CERTAINLY HOPING THAT OUR MEASURES GIVE US EXTRA TIME TO PREPARE BY GAINING OURSELVES THIS TIME, THE HOPE IS THAT WE’LL HAVE MORE TIME TO PREPARE. BUT FRANKLY OUR MODEL SUGGESTS THAT WE MAY BLUNT THE HEIGHT OF ANY CURVE AND THAT WOULD BE THE VALUED OUTCOME. WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE, MITIGATION, IS WHEN YOU STOP TRYING TO TRACE CLOSE CONTACTS AROUND EVERY CASE TO CONTAIN THE CASE, AND INSTEAD TO FOCUS ON — FOCUS ON THE DISRUPTION AND THE COMMUNITY TRYING TO DECREASE THE BURDEN, TRYING TO DECREASE THE MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY. DOING EVERYTHING TO HELP AT A SOCIETAL LEVEL. THE KIND OF THINGS THAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ARE COMMUNITY LED LEVEL DECISIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, IN GENERAL, SOCIAL DISTANCING, SCHOOL CLOSURES, CANCELING MASS GATHERINGS, SORT OF NONPHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTIONS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THINGS LIKE TELEMEDICINE, TELESCHOOLING, TELEWORKING SO THAT AT A SOCIETAL LEVEL WE TRY TO DISRUPT THE SPREAD. IN A SITUATION LIKE THIS WHERE WE DON’T HAVE A VACCINE AND WE DON’T YET HAVE A SPECIFIC COUNTERMEASURE, THOSE KIND OF NONPHARMACEUTICAL INTERVENTIONS AT A COMMUNITY LEVEL ARE REALLY IMPORTANT. THAT’S WHY IN THIS TIME THAT WE HAVE GAINED OURSELF IS WORKING CLOSELY ACROSS ALL OF GOVERNMENT AND WITH OUR LOCAL AND STATE PARTNERS ON PLANNING FOR THOSE OPERATIONS. "

--go and RTWT

nick

nick flandrey said...

Sorry about the wallotext and lack of formatting, that's straight from the CDC transcript.

n

Aesop said...

@Anon 7:51P

UNE can add all the beds they want, but if they don't have any trained nursing staff for the beds, their BL-IV capacity is still only 4-6 patients at once. Like always.

If you read at some point later on where they're hiring and training 500-600 new BL-IV ICU nurses, give a holler. That's what it'd take to staff 125 BL-IV beds, minimum. That's also about a $10M personnel investment, annually, even at NE nursing rates.

For comparison, my mid-level hospital has about 150 ICU nurses on staff, total, for 30-something ICU beds. It takes about 5 FT nurses to staff one bed for one week.

@Anon 8:02P
TPTB @ CDC et al either read this blog, or they're always about a week or two behind common sense on medical topics, going back to 2014. It's not hard to be a week smarter than they are, I have them beat by about 60 IQ points, I don't have any overhead, no one to answer to, and no @$$#$ to kiss. But when they do stuff like this, they make the memo I sent last weekend to my director sound like I'm a frickin' jet fuel genius with a magic crystal ball.

@nick,

No prob. Thanks for the link and the info!

Wayne said...

@Aesop. You're a "jet fuel genius" with a "crystal ball?"
Sounds like you're Tommy Shaw from Styx. /sarc

Anonymous said...

Two weeks ago I posted my thoughts that by Valentines Day we should have a better idea of what will happen here in the US. My thoughts were if we saw 30 or more person to person contacts it was going to be bad. I am so happy to say I was way too pessimistic. There are not even 30 cases here in the entire US presently. There are only 15 total, and I think only two were from person to person contact(?), and the other 13 were people that were in China. There are actually more Americans with COVID-2019 / SARS-CVID-2019 / 2019-nCov / Wuhan Pneumonia on the Plague Princess cruise ship in Japan. Last report I saw was there were 20, but that was 48 hours ago.

The latest news is the US will repatriate all the US passengers to the US, like I hoped. See the linked article below. That should stop the spread amongst our citizens on the ship, by removing them from that ship. I wonder if any other countries will or can afford to do the same? Will India do that for their citizens in the crew and passengers? Can their government afford to do anything similar for their people?

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/15/coronavirus-live-updates-china-reports-143-more-deaths-2641-new-cases.html

I still believe that the number of person to person transmissions are the important data to watch. If we see 30 cases of person to person infections, then I think we will see an epidemic occur. Let's see what happens by Leap Day?

I am following this so closely because I take immunosuppressive drugs, and I am in the higher risk group of 60+.

Aesop said...

It's early yet.

This is just getting warmed up.

And unlike Africans, Chinese don't lack for airfare; and the screening at US airports is a joke.

@Wayne,

I've got too much time on my hands.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Dear Aesop:

1) You assumed incorrectly.
2) Now that you have insulted me, well...have a nice life.

Regards,
Francis W. Porretto

Aesop said...

Dear Fran,

My apologies for my error. I'll amend my post accordingly. And good luck with whomever you were addressing in your post. As my comments at your site suffer the same fame as those of your mystery addressee in any event, you can perhaps understand from whence my confusion came. Hopefully that unknown person for whom you intended your post will figure it out on their own, and save you any further distress as well. As to any insults, truth is an absolute defense. But I'm genuinely sorry about your feelings nonetheless. And you have a nice life too.

Best Wishes,
Aesop