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Basically correct.

I don't know what the exact stat would be, but I gotta assume that infectious disease killed at least a couple percent of the global population every year before 1900 and probably several decades into the 20th century. The US population as well.

So what people are freaking out over now was just a fact of life in, say, 1880: tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid fever--I mean, the list was infinite. We have gotten used to lives in which such diseases can't kill us all that much.

That said, a lack of ignorance isn't bliss. Whereas the flu of 1918 simply wiped out 1% of the global population ( without (it seems looking back) anyone doing the kinds of things we are doing now (lockdowns of entire states, countries, etc.), we have curse of foresight, or at least current sight. We know we can preserve lives, or have the chance of doing so, so we fumble in that direction.

If we had a more robust economy, one more amenable to adjustments on the fly, it wouldn't be such a big deal, but these are primitive times (as surely the future will assess us), and we must react one way or the other. Then again, the future is bound to say we had the most ridiculously inadequate medical technology and couldn't even tackle a wee virus to save ourselves. They may not laugh at us, they may not sneer, but I can't help but think they will look back on us incredulously.

Well said, Michael.

Hi Michael,

One of the things that keeps occurring to me, despite some of my own coronavirus and political-related posts on Facebook is that my opinions, even though strongly felt and sometimes strongly expressed, don’t influence anything at all. I, personally, lean toward the public health perspectives being emphasized over the financial, but does it matter in any way, practically? Like most people I have a lot of strong feelings about a lot of things, but those feelings don’t alter policy outcomes, even if I manage to articulate them in a cutting or witty way on Facebook. In fact, the only outcome I seem to have achieved is to have isolated myself from some of my family members.

We as a culture, despite it being an apparently materialist one, seem to really believe deep down that our own and others’ thoughts and feelings are molding our collective reality - that if only we could get others to stop thinking and feeling what they do and think and feel what we do instead that the world would take on the characteristics we wish it would.

As part of my wish momento mori, recently, I’ve been recognizing that I have been taking my own and others’ sentiments far too seriously and attributing far too much importance to them. We’re all addicted, really, to these thoughts and feelings - some of them are very strong and even exciting to have when they’re coursing through our brains and nervous systems - but those are probably the only material places where they’re very impactful unless we’re lobbyists with the means to bend a congressperson’s ear.

So, what’s my point? Idk entirely, aside from that a lot of us can spend our time thinking and feeling and talking about our thoughts and feelings and all that happens is a lot of sounds emitting from throats. If those throats aren’t connected to bodies with political and economic power attached, then they’re not responsible for worldly outcomes, even if they vehemently hold beliefs that accord with current outcomes - anymore than a child who excitedly roots for his father’s favorite team is responsible for that team winning and the other team losing simply because of his cheering and happiness and wearing the team logo on his hat.

Said vulgarly, “Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.”

Add my name to the "well said" list. Your first paragraph clearly articulated what I have been thinking but couldn't quite put into words.

I'm inclined to agree, but I have a nagging concern over what would have happened if we hadn't done anything other than say, public service announcements and hospital funding.
If the 'experts' are to be believed, we would likely have had well over three million people die in a relatively short time, with a nightmare flood of critically ill patients into hospitals. That would have a profound impact on the economy.
The big difference in our current situation and other medical emergencies is we are completely unprepared for it. Of course, we're likely overreacting in some ways.

Your second point nailed it as well. I've forgotten what it feels like to not be sure of the continuation of consciousness. I take it for granted, but most folks don't.
I've been walking around feeling like most people should know this by now, but obviously they don't. In my mind, that creates unnecessary stress, but after all, they are my fellow citizens.

I have two questions in my mind that hasn't been asked, much less addressed anywhere by our politicians or in the mainstream media.
How are we going to pay for this multi-trillion dollar 'stimulus?'
Will we be able to avoid runaway currency inflation?

I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I sure hope some really, really smart experts have some good answers, fast.

Hope you're safe from CV19, I'm dealing with patients without protections due to the inpreparation of our politicians.
BTW I've published an article on this topic, hope you will like it.
Best regards.

In these weeks of the pandemic we are all experiencing a totally new and obsolete situation: deserted cities as we have never seen them, no chatter, shouts, traffic, there is an unreal silence that surrounds us and frightens us.
At worst you get used to it and all the noise of modern life, despite the annoying effects it causes us all, let's face it ... we miss it.
We had to forcefully change habits: no trips out of town on the weekends, no aperitifs and various, dinners, pizzas and mandolins ... nothing at all, now it seems to live in a cemetery. In fact, this is becoming the whole country with the hundreds of deaths that go daily to magnify the statistics that are shot by TV, the Internet and newspapers every five minutes. Perhaps a similar situation is comparable only to what happened during the last world war, but our grandparents and parents had much more frugal ways of living and managed to adapt more easily to the many deprivations. We don't miss food, heating, lighting, etc. compared to them we only lack the freedom to move, so the only thing that unites ours to their tragic experience is FEAR.
Fear of the bombing of which my mother spoke to me who suffered them in Foggia where she lived, fear of her neighbor who could go and tell untrue things about you to create a safe conduct, fear of not having enough food, etc.
In the end, however, all these fears can be summarized in one:
And already, Death, that common destiny that awaits us around the corner and that can materialize in the moment of a car accident, or an earthquake, or painfully wait for months, years following chronic diseases and that today it is triggered by a microscopic non-living creature that invades our body and can lead us to the grave.
I remember a famous Disney cartoon, in which Maga Magò challenged the wizard Merlin to a duel. After unsuccessful attempts at reciprocal transformations into hideous and flaming beasts, Merlin finally comes out and turns into a ... VIRUS!
Well, today we are afraid of something sneaky, invisible, silent ... it is not a lion that roars before tearing us apart, it is not even a house that is about to collapse on us, because, in such cases,we have at least a moment of perception of a danger, no it is a danger that we cannot see with our senses, this is the most upsetting thing.
Once infected, we can only count on good luck and our immune defenses.
This topic has always fascinated me that's why I decided to specialize in Infectious Diseases after graduation.
I followed with great devotion the teachings of my Masters, including the unforgettable Prof. Ferdinando Aiuti and the new discoveries of Immunology, among which the currently famous Cytokines that are so much arousing interest in these days.
Good times ... But I don't want to further bore the Readers with these medical ramblings and I will immediately explain why,
from a spiritualistic point of view, this epidemic is a positive fact.

As you well know, we are here, immersed in a world made of very dense matter, to learn through personal experience and we already decide, before incarnating ourselves, the "guidelines" of our future existence. There are many possibilities, but all have a common denominator: the loss and the pain it generates. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, perhaps at a very young age as happened to us Amputees, or the loss of work, money, prestige, etc. if you notice, every human tragedy is marked by this occurrence, not least our death,
or the loss of what we consider most precious:our own life.
Even those who, at least apparently, seem happy and lucky, over the years will begin to fear that they have reached the end of the line and, the richer, happier and luckier they are, the more they will suffer, even going so far as to commit suicide, because by now have had everything from life ... or so they believe.
It is obvious that if you morbidly attach yourself to everything material - and here I also include the affections - and you don't investigate the true meanings of our existence, any change in your lifestyle becomes a threatening nightmare and you go panic, ignoring what all religions teach us, that is, detachment from materialism.
How not to think,then, that in a world dominated by malice, arrogance, money, the "Covid Lesson" has not come
ad hoc? That God, through his Great Enlightened Spirits, has not decided to send us this healthy lesson?
Warning: I said LESSON, NOT PUNISHMENT, because more and more souls understand that the ultimate goal of every existence is only PURE AND UNCONDITIONAL LOVE as it is the only way to free ourselves from the cycle of reincarnations in a world that appears horrible to us! Be careful, however, because there could be other far more terrible in which to reincarnate, if we do not learn the lesson and do not put it into practice and I do not mean Hell, but real material worlds much more barbaric and bloodthirsty than the current one. In this perspective, the pandemic should serve to reduce the many behaviors that we are led to follow because of the wicked economic policies that have been under way since the beginning of this century. I think of the famous GDP that must always go up (could we not be satisfied with keeping it stable?), The planned obsolescence of consumer goods, the forced ingestion of increasingly unhealthy foods, the exploitation of the fear of diseases that leads us to consume drugs that , as Prof. Garattini said, are 50% useless. As long as we continue to behave like the dog that bites its tail we will not be able to progress and then the pandemic is welcome to break this nefarious circle!

That said, I just have to wish everyone a GOOD QUARANTINE, reminding you that avoiding contagion to ourselves means above all NOT TO INFECT our neighbor.
Here is an obvious example of PURE AND UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!

One last thing. We're about to find out what happens when a major city does absolutely nothing to address the coronavirus.
Mexico is is not only ignoring it, their president is actually encouraging people to hug each other.

I don't know who said it but I like the parody of the Kipling quote, to wit: “If you can keep your head about you when other people are losing theirs, then maybe you don’t understand the seriousness of the situation.” - AOD

I think the "panic", certainly the political and media response, is very little to do with fear of getting it or dying of it (unless you or or your loved ones are in the most vulnerable can be as accepting of death as your like, but less so if its today, or someone else's), its more to do with the consequences of not arresting its spread in terms of the overwhelming of the health system (perhaps a moot point in the US) and the decimation of vital services with vast numbers of people being off work simultaneously. The mortality rate may say sound trivial but a small percent of a huge number is still a huge number. 1% of the worlds population would be 750 million deaths. It's not an over reaction to try everything to reduce that toll.

Correction..I meant 75 million. A greater toll by far than the second world war.

I have two elderly parents a wife with asthma and six year old son with asthma. All high risk categories. I am not particularly keen on sacrificing them to prop up the economy.

Let's say 40% of Americans get COVID 19 and we have a .6 percent death rate. That is over 800,000 dead. Don't you think that would ravage the economy too? Don't you think that would also spawn other problems, particularly suicides.

It seems no matter what the economy gets ravaged however it seems the safest way to do it is to try to slow the COVID 19 so that our hospitals are not overwhelmed. Hence what we are doing.

"The mortality rate may say sound trivial but a small percent of a huge number is still a huge number. 1% of the worlds population would be 75 million deaths."

"Let's say 40% of Americans get COVID 19 and we have a .6 percent death rate. That is over 800,000 dead."

Or ... we could look at an Oxford study which suggests that half the population of the UK already has the virus: "If this modeling is confirmed in follow-up studies, that would mean that fewer than .01 percent of those infected require hospital treatment, with a majority showing very minor symptoms, or none at all."

I think it's possible I had the virus myself. In January and February I had a persistent respiratory issue that my doctor could not diagnose. This problem was going around; I talked to other people who had it, or whose children had it. Even my doc's husband had it. All my doctor could suggest was that it might be an allergy brought on by unseasonably warm winter weather. I was skeptical of this explanation, as very little was actually blooming. My symptoms (sore throat, dry cough, fatigue, but no fever) would come and go. The problem would seemingly clear up, then return. Antibiotics were ineffective (though they may have helped stave off sinusitis as a complication). The condition persisted even after I went to Arizona, which has different vegetation from New Jersey. After about six weeks it went away for good.

Was it a very mild case of COVID-19? Who knows? It's possible that the virus has been circulating for months, and that much of the US population has been exposed already, with minimal effects.

If the Oxford study is correct, then even if 40% of Americans get infected (140 million people), fewer than .01% (14,000) will require hospitalization, and most of those will recover. On a worldwide basis, if the entire global population (7.5 billion people) were infected, fewer than 750,000 would be hospitalized and most would survive.

How does this compare with seasonal flu? In the US only, "CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010."

Globally: "The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide, annual influenza epidemics result in about 3-5 million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths."

So it *may* turn out that COVID-19 is considerably less lethal than ordinary seasonal flu. Time will tell. In the meantime, predictions of massive death tolls need to be taken with a grain of salt.


"If the Oxford study is correct...."

The problem is this contradicts every other study done on this issue.

Let's look at the current numbers from South Korea.

There has been 9137 confirmed cases with 126 deaths. Or basically if catch disease you have a 1 in 72 chance of dying.

Of course you can postulate there are more unknown cases then the confirmed but you can also postulate more unknown deaths from COVID 19.

So let's stick with that 1 in 72 number

If all the US gets COVID 19 you have approximately 4,700,000 deaths.

People can quickly figure out if say 50% of the nation gets COVID 19 based on the number above.

That is the low end estimate.

Italy has a 7.2% death rate for COVID 19

If we had that death rate we would have almost 25 million people die assuming 100% infection.

None of these numbers are particular comforting.

Don't you think we should be taking all of this very very seriously.

Michael wrote,

||My symptoms (sore throat, dry cough, fatigue, but no fever) would come and go. The problem would seemingly clear up, then return.||

Yep, I've had the same thing. I think this might have been "It." I've had it the past two weeks and I've been very lethargic in proportion to the lack of other symptoms. This leads me to believe it is not a virus I've experienced before.

"I think it's possible I had the virus myself."

Me too, now that you mention it. Shortly after attending an Xmas party with a bunch of relatives, including four young children, I developed a ten-day case of a very runny nose and the coughing up of weird-looking phlegm, but no fever. I felt not too bad otherwise, so until this moment I had dismissed the idea that I had had it. Especially since none of the kids showed subsequent symptoms. (But they wouldn't, would they?)

"In recent weeks, I’ve learned not to post anything on Facebook, because people decide I’m a hater if I so much as suggest that there might be another metric worth considering besides the coronavirus mortality rate."

Robert Heinlein wrote, in "the Puppet Masters" (I think) (A great read, BTW), "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is in for a hell of a ride."

Some Coronavirus Humility
The pandemic may prove as bad as some warn; it is also possible that our response could prove as harmful as the virus itself.
Victor Davis Hanson March 16, 2020

"If the country goes into a serious recession or even depression; if trillions of dollars more of investment and liquidity continue to be wiped out while businesses crash and jobs are lost; if millions of unemployed cut back on their scheduled health care; if they increase their use of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, and get less exercise and suffer depression holed up in their homes or must borrow or scramble to find daycare for their school-age children; if they even contemplate suicide—then the human toll spikes in concrete terms of life and death. In the long term, arming ourselves against the virus could be as serious as the virus itself, though to suggest that in these dark days of plague is heresy.

"In 1976, also an election year, the country overreacted to the threat of the swine flu, when the press and “experts” warned of a likely return of a 1918 Spanish flu epidemic that this time around could kill “500,000 Americans” and infect “50 million to 60 million.” By early 1977, Americans were panicked and ready for mass inoculations of a rushed and unproven vaccination. Some 45 million were vaccinated; many had adverse, but limited, reactions, and about 450 reportedly ended up with crippling Guillain-Barré syndrome. The current popular creed that critical vaccinations are dangerous grew in part from the well-publicized 1976 mishap—with unfortunate, and in some cases lethal, consequences in convincing citizens not to get their necessary flu shots. In the end, there were about 200 cases and one death due to the great swine flu pandemic. I remember as a student at Stanford waiting in a campus line for the vaccination, then driving home for spring break and ending up in bed with a bad reaction to the shot.

"In 2009, the U.S. was probably too lax in not issuing travel restrictions following rapid spread of the H1N1 swine flu that this time really was virally similar to the agent of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. The border with Mexico, where the contagion probably began, was never really closed. For months, no national alarm was sounded. Even today, we still don’t know how many were infected or died, given overlaps with other strains of annual flu, early lax reporting and monitoring, and general public nonchalance. Later government guesses of infection ranged from 43 million to 89 million cases and deaths between 8,870 and 18,300. Children were especially vulnerable; perhaps more than 1,000 died. Are we then to think that, either by act of commission or omission, knowingly or unknowingly, a decision was made that the economic vitality of the country was more critical to the nation’s health than the real chance (in retrospect) of the H1N1 virus infecting, say, 50 million Americans, and killing perhaps 12,000, including 1,000 children?

"The point isn’t to blame Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, or Barack Obama for their responses, but to realize that what we are first told about an epidemic—even from “experts” armed with “data”—is not always accurate and will likely be later radically readjusted."

"Or ... we could look at an Oxford study which suggests that half the population of the UK already has the virus: "If this modeling is confirmed in follow-up studies, that would mean that fewer than .01 percent of those infected require hospital treatment, with a majority showing very minor symptoms, or none at all.""

"If the Oxford study is correct, then even if 40% of Americans get infected (140 million people), fewer than .01% (14,000) will require hospitalization, and most of those will recover. On a worldwide basis, if the entire global population (7.5 billion people) were infected, fewer than 750,000 would be hospitalized and most would survive."

Speaking from Italy: hospitals in Lombardia are on the verge of collapse (there are many stories of old people let to die at home because there is no place to hospitalize them) with about 20000 infects with a population of 10 millions. And in Madrid the problem is almost worse, with patients sleeping in the hospital aisles:

And about the number of infects on a "normal" population, there is the case of a small veneto town called Vo Euganeo, where all the citizens have done the test and (from a local newspaper):

"Here were the first 2 cases, we swabbed everyone, even if the 'professoroni' said it was wrong: 3000 swabs, we found 66 positives, we isolated them 14 days, and in the end there were still 6 positives . So we ended the game"

So even in a region where the contagion is widespread (and had plenty of time to spread) there are only a 2% of infected, cause the autorities decided to close all activities and in/out from town in the first days.

You make a good point regarding mortality Michael. I’d also add that getting a real idea of the potential meaning of death and survival beyond it can’t, for most of us, be acquired quickly. It’s not like “cramming” for an exam. For most of us, even the very real experience of personal bereavement doesn’t spur much effort to find out more.

With regard to priorities, it’s interesting where opinion divides. Having to unexpectedly consider out mortality as a fact is a big shock for most of us. I’ve often thought that how we treat the vulnerable in society gives an insight into our true values. Here’s another opportunity to see what we’re really like when the pressure is on.

Best wishes to everyone here and a safe passage through this current crisis.

Well put, Michael. Spirituality can be an enormous comfort during times like these. Knowing (or, at least, being 90% sure) that I will continue to exist after physical death, and that something greater and more beautiful awaits us makes it easy to go through the days. I work at a grocery store, which means - even with washing my hands dozens of times a shift and taking other precautions - I have a pretty good chance of catching this virus, but my attitude is, "If I get it, I get it. If I don't, I don't." If it's my time to die, then so be it.

However, this whole pandemic has made me think about the kind of spiritual messages that can both help and hurt us. If the advice we get is, 'life is suffering, so suck it up and accept your lot,' how is that going to inspire people? Personally, I find Mr. Pisani's article to be in that category. How is being told that our lives are a pre-planned stream of misery and loss (enabled by God) that only ends with death supposed to help us? Doubly so when we're told that if we don't become all-loving people in the midst of unimaginable suffering, we'll have to do it all over again in an even more hellish environment. How many Holocaust victims are currently incarnated in some barbaric hellworld because they didn't learn to love the Nazis who were sending their children to the gas chambers? Or slaves who were ripped from their families in Africa and were never able to love their slavedriver masters unconditionally? It's a 'Beatings will continue until morale improves' system that turns our Maker into an abusive parent.

When I've prayed on what kind of message we should take to heart, the answer I get is twofold:

1. We should see this pandemic as an opportunity to reach out and help those around us, for if we all help each other, everyone is better off.

2. In everything we do, we should ask God/Source for guidance on what we should do with our lives and interactions with others. Focusing on the highest good that loves us and wants to help us can make even the most unhappy situations bearable.

"Half of United Kingdom Already Infected With Coronavirus, Says Oxford Model
"Great news if true, but only massive population testing can tell us if that's really so."
RONALD BAILEY | 3.25.2020 12:55 PM

A New York Times op-ed that more or less agrees with Michael.

Sample quote from the article:
“If that is the true rate,’’ Ioannidis wrote, “locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.’’

\\"Some of us have made preparations for our inevitable demise and are at peace with it." - Michael Prescott//

There is a part of me that is looking forward to it. Life after death that is. If it is anywhere near like what I have read in many NDEs and deathbed visions it will be quite nice.

I used to watch a show called "Heroes" about a group of young people with superpowers. One of them was Hiro Nakamura, a young Japanese guy who was the master of time and space. He simply had to think of a time and place and he was there, sort of like in Mark Horton's NDE description.

Hiro Nakamura, master of time and space... youtube

Excerpt from Mark Horton's NDE description,
"From this vantage point, I had to merely think of a place and time and I was there, experiencing everything about the place and time and people present."

Anyway it would also be nice to see and communicate with my mom again too. I haven't seen her since I was 15 years old which was over a half century ago, and I still miss her.

COVID-19: Updated data implies that UK modelling hugely overestimates the expected death rates from infection
Posted on March 25, 2020 by niclewis | 54 Comments
By Nic Lewis

tonyb | March 25, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Reply
The Imperial study came from the same group that forecast 400,000 deaths from BSE a decade or so ago. To date it is 175. Their modelling is highly theoretical and did not examine all the factors,

And now for something completely different:
The following was sent by me to Vapers News at on 3/23, along with this intro paragraph:

In the comments section of an article on the Reason magazine website within the past week, these four comments appeared. The 1st and 3rd cite a study that found that mice in a controlled atmosphere containing polypropylene glycol did not contract an introduced flu virus, but mice in an ordinary atmosphere did. If pro-vapers aren't aware of this study they should check it out, including locating and questioning its authors (and other epidemiologists) about the protection vapers might be getting against the coronavirus.
“lafe.long, March.16.2020 at 3:50 pm
The Protection of Mice against Infection with Air-borne Influenza Virus by Means of Propylene Glycol Vapor.
They have now extended their observations to the effect of propylene glycol vapour on influenza virus. Vapour was employed instead of an aerosol because it has been found that the glycols are much more active in this form, very much smaller amounts being required for effective air sterilization.

Preliminary experiments were made to determine the amount of atomized virus suspension required to produce regular infection of mice followed by extensive lung consolidation and death within 4 to 10 days. Mice were then exposed to this lethal concentration of virus in a chamber into which propylene glycol vapour had been introduced; they regularly failed to contract the infection.

Diane Reynolds (Paul.), March.16.2020 at 4:00 pm
So… vaping protects you from virus infection?

lafe.long, March.16.2020 at 4:12 pm
According to this study, at least for mice, it would appear so.

Thirty-two control mice all died in 6-10 days with extensive lung consolidation, whereas 32 mice exposed in the glycol chamber all remained well and showed normal lungs when killed on the 8th day.

Roger Knights, March.16.2020 at 7:48 pm
“So… vaping protects you from virus infection?”

I hope “Are You a Vaper?” gets added to questionnaires given to Covid-19 test-takers and hospitalizations. And that its results indicate a strong prophylactic property. And that the government is then forced to encourage the purchase of e-cigarettes and refills by compensating buyers for their costs. A scene I’d like to see.

Maybe a machine could do the vaporizing, in hospital rooms, say.” [AFTERTHOUGHT: If Propylene Glycol could be vaporized in a humidifier, it would provide constant protection and should be tested for real-worlds effectiveness. (It costs $33 / gallon on Amazon.)]

Hi Michael,

Good essay. In the end, there will be nowhere near as many deaths as suggested by the panic-loving press. For a more rational look at the likely course of the virus, see:

However, like you, I am avoiding making any such rational statements in very public places. There is a mental stampede going on out there, and the stampeding herd turns and tramples anyone who says anything that doesn't support mass hysteria and draconian clamp-downs.

However, if this faux pandemic gets people thinking about death, there will at least be some positive outcome in the midst of all the economic and social destruction caused, not by the virus itself, but by the unbalanced response to it.

Last week I was asked to give a talk on death at a church here in South Africa, where my wife and I are now living. Being a Swedenborgian minister, I have no fear of death. I see it as simply a transition from this temporary life to our permanent life in the spiritual world.

Death looks like a tragedy to material-minded people here on earth. And it is true that we will miss friends and loved ones who depart this world via death. Grieving the death of someone we love is not irrational. However, from the perspective of people living on the other side, every death is a new arrival, and an event to be celebrated. Sometimes it is even worth celebrating on this side, I think:

Personally, I am looking forward to the time when my work here on earth is finished, and I can move on to a better place.

Having said that, I have no intention of hastening my own death. I still do have much work do to here. And I do support efforts to keep people healthy and alive to live out their threescore years and ten, at least.

But even if deaths from the coronavirus do reach or exceed those from the regular seasonal winter flu (which currently seems unlikely), every single one of those deaths is not really a death at all, but a passing from this world of darkness and confusion to a world of light.

Not to say recessions are good, but the hype that they cause excess suicides and shutting everything down for 40 days will lead to more deaths than the disease from mass starvation and people jumping out of windows is based on junk science.

Also, is "The strongest economy the world has ever seen, not even close" really so fragile that it will totally collapse like a house of cards if we put it on hold 40-60 days to give time to ramp up production of test kits, masks, chloroquine tablets, and to successfully isolate those who are infected and do contact tracing?

Are people's lives so meaningless that they would rather risk turning a recession into a major depression by letting the disease spread out of control just because they can't sit on their asses for a month out of sheer boredom?

Some potentially good news out of the U.K. (The London Times article is paywalled, but this recap hits the highlights.)

Enoch, even a very strong economy can’t remain afloat if nearly all commerce grinds to a half indefinitely. Many small businesses have limited cash reserves, basically making payroll every month with little left over. A few weeks of complete down-time will bankrupt them. Then the owners are ruined, their employees are jobless, and their customers have lost a valued local resource. As for the health effects of a severe recession, we can look at the epidemic of opioid abuse among chronically unemployed men in the Rust Belt, whose mortality rate spiked as their jobs went away. Or we can simply compare longevity in Third World countries to longevity in First World countries (affluence does translate into longer life).

Regarding the Oxford study, I have no idea if it will prove accurate. My point, though, is that politicians and media types who say we must let "science" decide are apparently unaware that science is not a monolithic entity. Some scientists think the death toll will be so huge that the most restrictive measures are justified. Others think the death toll will not be so high, and that we're overreacting. Support for the latter opinion might be found in the experiences of countries that did not impose such restrictive conditions, like South Korea and Sweden. The South Korean outbreak appears to be over, and Sweden also may have turned the corner.

Instead of looking at those countries, everyone is focused on Italy. But Italy may be an outlier. Consider:

A. Italy imported 300,000 Chinese workers to labor in the Lombardy region. Many of those workers traveled back to China for the Chinese New Year and apparently returned with the virus.

B. In response to concerns about xenophobia when the virus became known, authorities urged Italians to hug Chinese people as a show of support. Possibly not the wisest advice.

C. Lombardy, the hot spot of the outbreak, is known for high levels of air pollution. Many locals already suffer from respiratory problems.

D. Italy has a high percentage of smokers, especially among men. Smokers are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

E. Italy has one of the oldest populations in Europe, and many Italians live in multigenerational homes where grandparents and grandchildren share the same bathroom, kitchen, etc., increasing the chance of transmission.

F. The Italian healthcare system is seriously underfunded, with far fewer ICU beds per capita than, say, the US.

G. The mortality rate of COVID-19 in Italy may be overstated, because many patients showed multiple comorbidities, and the principal cause of death can only be guessed at.

Italy may be a "perfect storm," a worst case scenario. Most of the world may be quite different. The media like to say we are only a week or two "behind Italy." Why not say we are a week or two behind South Korea?

Just FYI, the new jobs numbers came out today. More than 3 million people are newly unemployed, and this only counts those who are able to file for unemployment benefits. Our unemployment rate just rose from 3.5% to 5.5% in a single week. This is not sustainable.

At the link, a chart showing new jobless claims from 1969 to the present. The huge spike on the right side of the chart, dwarfing everything else, is what happened last week.

Michael has it right. Many people in the US live pay check to pay check. That situation is not good, but when the economy is booming, they always have that paycheck. Many of these are younger people just starting out on their own in life. They haven't saved, but they may have their first child, first home loan, first car payment, etc. If they are out of work for a month or more, they don't make the payment. When they eventually default on the loan, the banks get clobbered. There are ripples effects all over the larger economic system.

This is really simple. The bottom line here is that covid-19 has been confirmed in the US for over two months and as of today there are a mere 1,046 deaths in the entire country attributed to the virus; not even a blip on the mortality radar in light of the 7,500 +/- people who die *every day* - not even close to the 137 people, on avg, who die in the US everyday due to the flu.

The nightmare panic scenarios just aren't happening. And that's going along with the assumption that all 1,046 dead since January 19th - when the first case appeared - would not have been killed by the flu or some other condition during the same time frame; an assumption I find faulty. In Italy, the fatalities almost 100% were elderly (avg age 81) and had serious comorbidities that were going to kill them anyhow.

As far as hospitals being overwhelmed, since Jan 19, there have been < 70K cases of covid-19 identified in the US. Most not requiring hospitalization of any kind, let alone an ICU w/ vent. Compared to the seasonal flu, this is nothing; barely a blip on the infectious disease radar, if that. If not for media hype (+hype from CDC and WHO), no one outside of the CDC would even know the virus existed.

There really is no "curve" to flatten. Hospitals are not going to be overwhelmed. Bodies are not going to be piling up in the streets.

If the elderly and infirm are the demographic that is really at risk, then quarantine those people. They aren't working. Keep them safe and let the rest of us get back to life as usual.

Everyone needs to calm down and get a grip on reality.

I've been working in healthcare data for just about 20 years now. I study the cost drivers at the diagnosis, procedure, demographic level. I am very familiar with who gets sick, how bad, and with what. maybe that's why I'm not shocked by a 1,000 deaths due to a virus. It's just not abnormal. I see clinical situations that are far worse and that occur year after year to cohort after cohort. I see the ravages of the seasonal flu, venereal diseases (including HIV/AIDS), diabetes, chronic heart disease, renal failure, mental health disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction and overdose, strokes, suicides, car accidents and on and on and on. No one freaks out over any of these. No economies shut down.

Oh and cancer, the Big C. How could I forget that? And so many more conditions.

Everyone should take a look at some basic actuarial tables and then look at the causes of death. World wide, Rabies kills more people every year than have died from covid-19. Should lock ourselves in our homes because that squirrel outside our window might bite us? Or our car might crash on the way to liquor store?

I was talking to someone whose brother is a doctor in an NYC hospital. According to the brother, things are getting pretty bad, and the fear is a shortage of ventilators. It seems that COVID isn’t that bad for the vast majority of people, but with some patients it can develop into a life-threatening condition with amazing rapidity. I think this makes a case for isolating the elderly and infirm, rather than shutting down the whole country. But one way or another, I don’t think COVID can be accurately characterized as just another flu. I think we should take it seriously but not overreact. I also think China needs to pay a price for covering up the outbreak early on. At a minimum we should be sure that essential pharmaceuticals and medical gear are not manufactured exclusively in China.

Eric wrote,

||Should lock ourselves in our homes because that squirrel outside our window might bite us?||

Absolutely! Even one death from the Nut Brigade is one too many!!!

Eric Newhill said:

"There really is no "curve" to flatten. Hospitals are not going to be overwhelmed. Bodies are not going to be piling up in the streets."

This isn't just aimed at you Eric, but at everyone here and elsewhere making similar points: If you are right (and I'm not entirely ruling out the possibility that you are), then why/how are so many people in such powerful positions wrong? Why would several countries wreck their economies on such a wrongheaded response? How could so many people with advanced degrees from top notch universities, with a grasp of sophisticated mathematical models and nuanced understanding of infectious diseases blow it so badly?

Is there a conspiracy? If so, what is the endgame? Is this whole thing just the result of bureaucratic idiocy and there is no conspiratorial endgame whatsoever? That would strike me as even less believable.

I have a friend who I'm confident has coronavirus. She lost her sense of smell and taste and has been having breathing difficulties for about three weeks now. The disease takes a big toll, even if it doesn't kill you. I don't want to get it. She just got tested today, so we'll see if that's what it was - but what other diseases make you lose your sense of taste and smell?

Anyway. It's ironic. Years ago I flocked to blogs and sites like this one to escape the scientific monoculture that ridiculed the possibility of the afterlife. I can still see how the scientific community could get spirituality wrong, but I find it very hard to see how they could get something in their own "province" this wrong and the people in the comments sections of fringe sites and blogs (no offense meant by this) get it right.

I guess I'll continue to wait and see. However, if it turns out that they blew this, I think it's over for science as an authority in our society and all bets are off from here on out as to who gets to wield the power of authority, making decrees about what constitutes reality and what matters and doesn't matter, moving forward.

"Or ... we could look at an Oxford study which suggests that half the population of the UK already has the virus"

The study has been widely misreported. It doesn't suggest that at all. It looks at a range of different possible sets of assumptions which would fit the number of deaths per day in Britain and Italy. They also include assumptions in which far fewer people have been infected so far, and in which the projected number of deaths would be far larger.

The point they are making is that we need more data on how many people are currently infected, and how many have been infected. That is quite right, and it is being pursued as a matter of urgency.

While the extreme set of assumptions you mention would fit the narrow subset of the data they consider - recent death rates in Britain and Italy - it seems completely at variance with the evidence from China and elsewhere. That evidence was not considered in the paper.

It is also obviously inconsistent with current test data in the UK, which is largely confined to people showing severe symptoms, and in which the rate of positive tests is currently only 22%.

While the paper has been badly misrepresented by the media, the authors are at fault for not making it much clearer what they were trying to do and what they were not trying to do.

"F. The Italian healthcare system is seriously underfunded, with far fewer ICU beds per capita than, say, the US"

In reality I have read from an italian newspaper that Italy had (in 2017) 3,2 hospital bed per 1000 people vs 2,8 for Usa And Italy has free healthcare, so there is less risk that poor and lonely people are not properly treated.

"G. The mortality rate of COVID-19 in Italy may be overstated, because many patients showed multiple comorbidities, and the principal cause of death can only be guessed at."

It seems that mortality is being understated, because a lot of old people die in their house or in retirement homes and don't get swab:


What's not generally understood is that people, including very smart and highly educated people, think and act based on certain assumptions or axioms that form the basis of their worldview. If those assumptions are correct, then the mental superstructure they build on top of them may be sound. But if those assumptions are incorrect, then all of the conclusions they draw will similarly be faulty.

Because of this phenomenon, it's not a matter of who is best educated. It's a matter of who best understands the fundamental nature of reality, or of a particular part of reality such as health and disease, and has enough knowledge and learning to develop that into a coherent view of reality as a whole, or of that particular segment of reality.

Materialists and atheists, for example, base their entire worldview on an axiom that they cannot prove: that there is no God, no spiritual world, and no afterlife. They believe that they believe this on rational grounds, based on evidence. But the reality is that for various reasons--some of them perfectly legitimate, such as a bad religious upbringing--they do not want to believe in God, spirit, and an afterlife. Their rational mind then scurries about gathering all sorts of "evidence" to support their chosen assumption about the nature of reality, until they are fully convinced that it is correct.

For more on the issue of what evidence we are willing to accept based on what we want to believe, please see my article "Where is the Proof of the Afterlife" here:

Many atheists are very smart, well-educated people. But their atheism is a choice, not something that can be rationally demonstrated. There is a vast amount of evidence for an afterlife. Atheists and materialist reject all of that evidence, because they do not want to believe what that evidence would have them believe.

Similarly, medical doctors and politicians are usually well-educated people. But they have placed certain axioms about the nature of health and disease, in particular, at the center of their worldview. If those axioms are correct, then their medical and political prescriptions will be accurate and well-directed. But if those axioms are incorrect, then they will mishandle major episodes of disease, such as the spread of the coronavirus.

We can argue until the cows come home about the particularities of whether their view of health and disease is correct or misguided. That's something that I personally am not willing to do in a public place, because I have devoted my life to people's spiritual health and wellness--and getting embroiled in political and scientific debates detracts from that.

However, in answer to your general question of how so many very smart and well-educated people could be wrong, it all depends upon their basic assumptions about the nature of health and disease. If those assumptions are correct, or at least reasonably close to the truth, then their prescriptions and actions will be well-taken and helpful. But if those assumptions are incorrect, then their actions, while they may do some good, will also cause much harm, even if they have the best of intentions, and even if they are the most brilliant, well-educated people in the world.

As a perhaps somewhat silly example, consider a situation in which the world's most brilliant cosmologists had it implanted indelibly in their minds that the earth is flat, and the sun orbits the earth, such that they were unable to question or challenge this basic "axiom of science." Then they are set loose with the best telescopes, computers, and scientific instruments in the world. Every conclusion these brilliant minds draw would be faulty, because they are looking at everything from the perspective of a faulty basic premise. No matter how smart and well-educated they are, their conclusions would be false, or at least seriously compromised.

This is how so many smart, well-educated people could be wrong about the threat of the coronavirus, and could act in ways that do more harm than good.

Meanwhile, time will tell what the truth of the matter is. But only for those whose eyes are open to the truth for the truth's sake.

Even if our current medical and political authorities turn out to be completely wrong, and COVID-19 takes nowhere near enough lives to justify the draconian measures currently being taken, most of them will still not change their views. Most of them will justify their actions, and will believe that if they hadn't acted the way they did, things would have been much worse, and their would have been the millions of deaths that the most extreme models predicted.

Therefore I would suggest not assuming that people will learn from this, or that if the extreme predictions about the death toll from the coronavirus turn out to be completely wrong, this will destabilize the current political and medical system, and lead to a new world order.

In the event that the currently reigning models and predictions turn out to be wrong, it is much more likely that a few people's eyes will be opened, but that most will continue to believe what they currently believe, and there will be only incremental changes to the political, scientific, and social order of things. People have an amazing capacity to interpret reality to support their own view of things, even if they are completely wrong. The reigning view in any society, right or wrong, takes on a life of its own, and is remarkably resistant to change.

"I don’t think COVID can be accurately characterized as just another flu. I think we should take it seriously but not overreact." - Michael

Agree. Sometimes I say it is a flu not because I think it is a flu, but because it's effect on the population is like a bad flu. It's not, precisely speaking, a flu.

A flu is cause by influenza viruses and this is a corona virus. It is similar to several other well known corona viruses, which typically cause upper respiratory distress to some degree; though this particular coronavirus may be more aggressive.

What has NYC done in bad flu years? We know that as of today, the flu infects and kills far more people. Are not some of those flu victims on vents in the ICU?

"then why/how are so many people in such powerful positions wrong? Why would several countries wreck their economies on such a wrongheaded response? How could so many people with advanced degrees from top notch universities, with a grasp of sophisticated mathematical models and nuanced understanding of infectious diseases blow it so badly?

Is there a conspiracy?" - Philemon

Personally, I am not a conspiracy theorist in the common use of that term. Sometimes real conspiracies happen, but usually events are better explained otherwise and the theory is full of holes. That said, we have the problem of defining "conspiracy". If you have three people in a social or professional relationship and two of them start making plans without including the third, that's technically a conspiracy. I think the concept of criminal intent needs to be brought into the definition.

Anyhow, what I think we're seeing is the perfect self-organizing storm.
1. You've got lots of people wired into the techno-media, enduring blaring crisis after crisis for several years. The images are horrible, the background music is scientifically designed to cause excitement. The stories are alarming and the language scientifically designed to shock. The people are floating in a pool of ambient anxiety. They are primed.

2. What could be more shocking that a killer pandemic? No one is safe. The media is incentivized to turn the amps up to 11 to keep viewership captured in the resulting mania. The people are basically made to feel afraid with nowhere to shelter. They look to the techno-media for answers; perhaps the emergence of a leader who will show them the way out of this mess.

2. You have political leanings in the science based organizations and you have all kinds of normal human greed and ego. The normally obscure members of the CDC, for example, get to appear important. Moreover, they get to ask for funding that will last for years. How can they be denied in the midst of a killer pandemic?

3. You have politicians that must react so they don't appear to be fiddling while Rome burns.

4. The entire phenomenon because self-reinforcing. The reaction of the politicians serves as evidence to the people that this thing is serious. It gives the techno-media complex more fodder for their hooting and hollering, which in turn further increases the people's anxiety - the whole cycle repeats with more force over and over again, like the forming of a psychological tornado forms.

Try reasoning with a tornado.

Predicting the progression of a communicable disease throughout a given population is a kind of fortune-telling, maybe more like a ‘cold reading’ of a medium or psychic based upon past experiences and knowledge of infection control and current observations of the disease or similar diseases. But at the bottom line it is still prognostication. Some people are better at it than others.

There are many variables which could change the reading of the cards or outcome of a communicable disease. Variables might include the health or age of individuals in the population; individual nutritional status; an individual’s willingness to maintain some given distance from others or to isolate himself or herself for a recommended period of time; sanitation of the person and the environment; availability of resources e.g., care-givers, respirators, ventilators, masks and maybe the weather. But it is difficult to factor-in all possible variables so whether one is a ‘scientist’ or not it becomes a lot of guesswork. - AOD

Here's the kind of data I reflect upon for perspective when hearing stories about Covid-19.

Note that some of the graphs, like the bar chart are in thousands (e.g. so 456 = 456,000).

When this is over, the proper analysis will be to look at mortality rates this year versus previous years. That will clarify if there is a significant increase in mortality due to Corona virus.

There is no way to know what the eventual death rate from this strain of this virus or one might develop from it will be. I wonder what a statistical analysis of the Black Death was this many weeks into the pandemic of that.

There is also no way of knowing what the economic effects of not sheltering will be or what the effect of doing so much better than is possible in the United States under the combination of responsible and irresponsible governors, mayors, federal leadership, etc. has been.

"Italy had (in 2017) 3.2 hospital beds per 1000 people vs 2.8 for USA."

This tracks with what I've read, but the relevant statistic now is critical care (ICU) beds, not ordinary beds.

According to the linked article, dated March 12 of this year, the US has 34.7 critical care beds per 100,000 people, while Italy has 12.5.

Although I see some merits in the contrarian position (and my hope is that this thing is a lot less lethal than the consensus position suggests), I think there is a fact that it can't deal with:

Some hospitals have a lot of people sick with this thing, and some are totally overwhelmed at this point.

We hear about the hospitals in Italy, and there is a makeshift morgue outside Bellvue in NYC.

Now, it could just be that this thing is more contagious the flu and perhaps slightly more lethal, and that's why it's creating victims faster but won't, over the long term, cause the millions of deaths that are feared. Fingers crossed. But the spike in deaths still needs to be explained. We don't see the flu doing that every year.

That's a good point, Matt. I believe the Bellevue morgue is being set up in case it's needed, but it hasn't been put to use yet. Still, the death toll is mounting, and while the numbers are still relatively small, the deaths seem to be coming fast. The speed with which the virus operates (on vulnerable patients) seems to be the key difference.

One thing to keep in mind is that overcrowding at NYC hospitals isn't new. Last year, nurses at three NYC hospitals threatened to strike over this very problem.

//For months, nurses have warned about overcrowding that has forced medical staff to treat emergency room patients in hallways, where they have no privacy and face the risk of infection.

Nurse Anthony Ciampa said he had to choose recently between feeding an elderly patient at New York Presbyterian and treating several acutely ill patients because there weren’t enough other nurses on duty.//

Anyone who has spent time in an ER knows it's not unusual to see patients on gurneys in corridors, while the wait time to see a doctor is measured in hours. This is true even outside big cities. I'm not saying the problem isn't worse now, but it has been an issue for years. It just hasn't gotten much attention.


I have worked for over 10 years as a medical interpreter in Indianapolis and have spent a lot of time in ERs and other parts of hospitals, and I have not seen conditions like that. I've seen long waits in the ER, but the people who were truly critical were getting taken care of.

Of course, what you are talking about certainly happens. I'm only taking issue with, "Anyone who has spent time in an ER knows it's not unusual to see patients on gurneys in corridors."

Yeah, I agree that critical cases are seen immediately. But lots of non-critical patients do end up lying around in corridors.

At least in New Jersey. Other states may be different. The high population density of the NY-NJ area isn’t matched in too many other parts of the US.

FWIW, a medical student tells the Power Line blog: “[T]he reason NYC is hurting so bad is because the EDs there operate just on the edge in normal times. Would never consider residency there because residents already worked like dogs with minimal resources / support. Programs malignant. Now they are seeing the results.”

This tracks with what I’ve read about NYC emergency rooms for years. They seem to be chronically understaffed and overcrowded even in non-outbreak conditions.

Chris wrote, "The [Ferguson] study has been widely misreported." I’m not so sure about that. Deborah Birx, an epidemiologist on the presidential task force, has said, "I’m sure many of you saw the recent report out of the U.K. about them adjusting. If you remember, that was the report that said there would be 500,000 deaths in the U.K. and 2.2 million deaths in the United States. They’ve adjusted that number in the U.K. to 20,000. So half a million to 20,000. We’re looking into this in great detail to understand that adjustment.”

Ferguson himself has tried to save face by claiming that the initial prediction was based on the assumption that the government and general public would take no preventive actions at all. But this is absurd. Obviously people will take some preventive measures to avoid getting a widely known contagious disease, with or without government directives.

The media, who are hooked on worst-case scenarios, have been downplaying Ferguson's retreat and demonizing Birx as a partisan hack, even though she is a recognized expert with no known partisan leanings.

"Deborah Birx, an epidemiologist on the presidential task force, has said, "I’m sure many of you saw the recent report out of the U.K. about them adjusting. "

On the 19th the Brits downgraded the virus to be considered in the same category as the flu (as I've been saying it should be). Notice that no one in our government or media is talking about that downgrade - too many hogs at the $2.2 trillion trough now and media ratings too good.

This is going to be revealed as one of the biggest and costliest hoaxes ( or hysterias or info ops - depending on your level of distrust) in the history of the world. Right up there with Iraqi WMD. Of course the politicians will say that it turned out no worse than a bad seasonal flu because of the smart and aggressive actions they took. Anyone questioning that official meme will be dismissed as a "conspiracy theorist" .

There has been no spike in infectious disease deaths or mortality generally over previous years (adjusted for this and that to normalize the data). There is no "there", there.

Birx has lavishly praised Trump's responsiveness to COVID-19, putting to rest any notion that she's non partisan.

"I've seen long waits in the ER, but the people who were truly critical were getting taken care of."- Matt

I worked my way through grad school on the psych unit of Kino Community Hospital in Tucson. Part of what I did was help keep insane people under control in the ER before they were processed to the lockdown unit involuntarily. The ER of the hospital could get pretty well stacked up with all kinds of patients and beds in the hospital could fill up to capacity- or exceed it - on occasions.

Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY is recognized as a top tier teaching facility and is a big regional care provider. Both times I've been there it has been crazy busy and the ICU full with patients in beds being stacked everywhere and triage Dr.s making decisions constantly as to which patients to attend to.

My wife almost died from an allegoric reaction to bee stings and I was on the ICU by her side watching all of this craziness. I think it depends on the hospital and region as to what is normal. That's why I'm dismissing these anecdotes about covid-19 and the impact on the hospitals.

I can also tell you from my career in healthcare insurance that when I was involved in analysis for contracting and for utilization reviews, I heard nothing but whining and complaining from the hospital admins and physicians. They always tell you they are on the verge of bankruptcy and ruin, they can' staff at adequate levels, can't buy the latest technology, etc, etc...yet many of these same hospitals are building new wings or otherwise expanding. I wouldn't take the doomsday reports from Dr's and hospitals too seriously.

Eric Newhill said:

This is going to be revealed as one of the biggest and costliest hoaxes ( or hysterias or info ops - depending on your level of distrust) in the history of the world. Right up there with Iraqi WMD.

I've been saying that future history textbooks will place it alongside the Salem witch trials as an example of mass hysteria.

We think we're much too educated and advanced for that in this modern age, and that we've left such superstition behind. But to me, it's hard to view this "pandemic" in any other way. The facts on the ground simply don't justify the crazed reactions from politicians, doctors, and the masses of people who listen to them.

As a society, we no longer believe in literal invisible evil spirits that curse us with evil spells. But the human mind still thinks the same way. It's just that in this age in which science has become the new religion, invisible evil spirits have been replaced with invisible viruses and bacteria that flit about silently among us and strike us down with curses and spells.

This is indeed the 20th and 21st century equivalent of 17th century witch trials.

It’s just one data point, but a rash of suicides in Tennessee may suggest the unacknowledged costs of our sledgehammer approach to combatting the coronavirus.

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