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I can't help adding that one media report (which I saw on Facebook, not on Berenson's Twitter feed) mentioned a couple of dozen patients in the UK who died of COVID-19 but had "no pre-existing conditions." These patients were said to range in age "from 48 to 93."

How likely is it that the 93-year-old had no pre-existing conditions? I know a fair number of people in their 80s and one or two in their 90s, and all of them, without exception, have pre-existing conditions. It just goes with the territory. This seems to be yet another example (there is an infinite number of them at this point) of either idiotically sloppy or recklessly alarmist "journalism."

Admissions are way down at most hospitals because elective surgeries were cancelled in anticipation of a surge of 'rona virus cases that never happened

I think people have always been the same, but not the times. Propaganda and info-ops have been perfected throughout the 20th century. It used to be that a king just did what he wanted and off with your head if you disagreed. With a larger population and more interconnectivity and the illusion of democracy, off with your head, does work so well. So mass persuasion has become the methodology of the day. All of the social media, etc makes it possible to monitor and adjust the public opinion. Smart phones allow people to be tracked and further monitored. It's a brave new world.

I don't like it at all.

Amen, Michael! - AOD

ughh…"off with your head, does NOT work so well

last thing I want to say, and I hesitate to do so because it could look like a cheap excuse, is that pneumonia deaths are dropping as covid deaths increase. I think there is some hanky panky going on with the reporting of cause of death and with the figures in general. There are financial incentives to count deaths as due to covid. And Doctors get caught up in manieas too.

Like I said, the true measure of this thing will be to look at the Oct 2019 - Sept 2020 deaths by all infectious disease and see if it varies over each of the past 20 years.

For what it's worth, Mitch Horowitz - writer on all things occult and spiritual - linked to this piece on his Twitter feed:

I think it is worth a read, especially if you're someone who has been reading the "contrarian" pieces overly much.

Michael wrote,

||We live in strange, and deeply stupid, times. But perhaps this has always been true.||

I kind of agree but disagree. Let me explain.

I was imagining what the press would be like if we were back in the 1950s experiencing this thing. I can imagine the newsreel narration:

"The government is teaming up with leading scientists such as Drs. Salk and MacMahon to develop a vaccine to defeat this virus once and for all. In the meantime, no expense is being spared to find and treat every American infected in the greatest pandemic since the Spanish Influenza of 1918."

People would have been dropping like flies, of course, but whatever our efforts were they would have been presented as the latest and greatest in terms of science and supremely confident and competent.

For better or worse, our society has lost that propaganda edge (mostly for the better). It was definitely comforting. It was still alive when I was a kid in the 1970s. We lost it beginning in the 1980s, I think. We feel stupider now because we are no longer so good at putting on a show of competence.

I'd bring it back to my guest posts on Keats and the Mansion of Many Apartments, in which we collectively lose our naive bradado and have to face the fact that we don't actually know all that much.

As for the actual competence of the measures currently being taken, well, there isn't much. To our discredit, we didn't have a written plan for such an eventuality, and we're winging it. We should at least have had a contingency plan. Nevertheless, this is the first pandemic on this scale that we're actually *trying* to fight on a national level (and for that matter, on a global level). We could be doing worse. People are at least cooperative for the most part.

Best practices are understood from doing things more than once. I hope we won't have to do this again soon, but my guess is that we'll do a lot better next time.

I think the whole quarantine business has been a sledgehammer without a lot of finesse. It probably would have been better to quarantine the old and infirm; locate, test, and isolate as many active carriers as possible; and try to keep things running as smoothly as possible otherwise. Maybe we can start transitioning to that.

That said, I don't think it's a bad approach to a problem to do too much at once and then come down from that. In general, it's better than the opposite.

By the way, is the title a reference to the movie "Strange Days" starring Ralph Fiennes?

Wouldn't it have been more cost effective if the federal government had pumped a few hundred billion dollars into public service ads and the mass manufacturing of test kits, face masks, hand sanitizer, etcetera?

A simplistic approach, but it would likely have been about as effective as what we're doing now, and much less damaging and even beneficial to the economy.
That, plus it surely would have lowered the overall incidence of all kinds of viral and bacterial illnesses nationwide.

"By the way, is the title a reference to the movie "Strange Days" starring Ralph Fiennes?"

I don’t know where it came from. Just popped into my head. I don’t think I’ve seen that movie, but I may have heard of it.

" For what it's worth, Mitch Horowitz - writer on all things occult and spiritual ..."

I knew Mitch Horowitz back when he was an editorial assistant at the publishing house that handled my books. Later he became an editor at a different house. Smart guy. He makes many worthwhile points in that article, but I think his focus on NYC may lead him to exaggerate the overall dimensions of the problem.

Regarding Ferguson's study, it's true that the original paper distinguished between three approaches: do nothing, mitigation, and suppression, with lower death tolls as progressively more aggressive measures were employed. Mitigation, which means quarantining only those who are sick or most at risk, "would still likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths [in the UK] and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over."

Suppression is essentially a national lockdown. According to the paper, "The major challenge of suppression is that this type of intensive intervention package – or something equivalently effective at reducing transmission – will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more) – given that we predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed."

So Ferguson's hope for minimizing the death toll was to institute a national lockdown for "18 months or more." The paper is online:

There's no way to defend this. Ferguson was simply wrong, as he has been in other epidemics. An 18-month shutdown of an entire country was never a serious option, yet according to his projections, it offered the only hope of avoiding "hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems ... being overwhelmed many times over" in the UK. Does anyone still believe this? (Note that, given population differences, hundreds of thousands of deaths in the UK equates to at one or two million deaths in the US.)

Mitch doesn't address the IHME model, which influenced US policy, but that model explicitly "assumes social distancing stays in place" for the duration of the pandemic. See the first answer in this FAQ:

The new projections are here:

From everything I've read, the assumption of "full social distancing" was built into the IHME model from the start. If this is wrong, someone will have to find the original April 2 model and accompanying remarks; I can't find it on the IHME site, which appears uninterested in preserving a historical record of its projections, for some reason.

See a scathing analysis here:

That said, I agree with much of what Mitch wrote. The bioweapon "theory" is silly. Bill Gates, as much as I detest him for foisting his crappy software on an inspecting world, is not Dr. Evil. COVID-19 clearly is worse than the flu (sorry Eric); it moves through a population faster and picks off the most vulnerable with frightening efficiency. It may end up producing the same death toll as a *very* severe strain of seasonal flu, but the deaths will be bunched together in maybe six weeks, rather than being spread out over six months — a big difference in terms of both medical resources and public alarm. NYC hospitals may not have been overwhelmed, but some of them came close. (Hospitals elsewhere seem to be doing fine, except for those that are furloughing staff because admissions have plunged.)

I don't think we know when the virus arrived on our shores or how quickly it's moved through our population. We don't know how many of us have been silently infected and now carry antibodies. Serious people disagree on these points, but it's all guesswork because the data are not in. Genetic studies are nice, but only large-scale antibody testing will tell the tale. Preliminary antibody testing in various countries has produced mixed results, from 15% testing positive to 3% or less. It's not even clear how accurate the antibody tests are.

The good news is that the conversation is increasingly moving to how we can restart the world. Ferguson's 18-month shutdown is not going to happen (as any intelligent six-year-old could have told him). Spain, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, is already talking about reopening. The governors of the three West Coast states have begun coordinating a return to relative normalcy. Trump is sending signals that we need to lift many restrictions. And the public is getting fed up. Four percent of Michigan's population — more than 300,000 people —— have already signed a petition demanding that the state lift the lockdown, and the number is swelling by the hour.

Two thoughtful articles on avoiding the false choice of saving Lives vs. Economy.

"COVID-19 clearly is worse than the flu (sorry Eric)"- MP

Just to clarify, I agree that it is worse than the flu for some people. Why we don't know. It's probably a combination of factors.

When I say it's no worse than a bad flu, I mean at the societal level. I am still confident I will be proven correct in that regard and that my estimates of the death toll are going to be way closer to reality than all of the virologists and epidemiologists that directed the horrid policies that have abused our nation.

I almost always look at these events from a societal and policy level and remain dispassionate about the individual citizen level because that is my training and role. I accept criticism from those who are concerned with each individual's experience, but argue back that someone has to do my job too, or our institutions and infrastructure would collapse, which, in turn, would make life a lot worse for each individual.

Let’s say that I get a call from my doctor about the results of my prostate biopsy. The doctor says that I have prostate cancer and probably will die of it and provided some statistics, which at that point my mind had glazed over and nothing he said from that point on made any sense to me. He reminded me that I had a family history of prostate cancer seeing that my uncle had it and died an agonizing death from metastases to his spine. He suggested that I write a will and get my affairs in order.

Does anyone think that that prognosis would have helped me to find a cure for my prostate cancer so that I might survive for another 15 or 20 years? In the 1930s, 40s and 50s people had to think in positive terms if they were to survive the depression and World War II and the Korean War. They had to believe that things would get better, that they would win and that their Commander in Chief was doing the best he could to help them survive. Living in a culture of doom and gloom would not have motivated anyone at that time.

The example of a typical press release in the 1950s, which Matt provided I think is an appropriate bit of ‘propaganda’ if you will of something that helped people maintain a positive attitude about a disease that could have dire outcomes like polio . Those positive affirmations helped everyone to work together as a team to defeat the disease threat. In the 1950s Americans were not fighting each other and the President, they were fighting polio. There were not hateful and out to destroy the President of the United States.

Does anybody think a sports team would be motivated to win if the coach told them in the locker room before a game that they were likely to lose? That they were in for a thrashing from the other team, and they will be lucky to score any points? Yet, there seems to be some people who think that that is the approach to take when opining about the Corona Virus epidemic. - AOD

By the way, in the main post I wrote that meat shortages could be in the offing, given that one of the largest meat processing plants in the US has closed. Well, it looks like they're here, at least in the Northeast. A friend tells me that local markets are sold out of all meats, and a local butcher says it will impossible to obtain more meat of any kind for one to two weeks at a minimum.

The UK's Neil Ferguson said we needed to shut down the economy for 18 months or longer. We've been shut down for less than a month, and we're starting to run short of basic foods. Which was entirely predictable to anyone with the foggiest idea of how the world works.

"Experts" who are so utterly divorced from practical realities are the last people we should be relying on for advice, yet inexplicably they're the ones we turn to.

""Experts" who are so utterly divorced from practical realities are the last people we should be relying on for advice, yet inexplicably they're the ones we turn to."

In my experience, many experts are mono-focused. Their field of expertise is the universe as they know it. It's actually pretty rare - again in my experience - to find people who think in a holistic/systems based manner and who perform a balanced cost benefit analysis. Just because someone is very smart, doesn't mean they get the larger picture. Sometimes I think it's almost a form of autism that allows someone to perform brilliantly at a top notch university in a challenging area of study, and yet not grasp other aspects of life. However, if it's autism, then, like I said, most people have it. Anyhow, being a genius doesn't protect one from having a narrow focus. It also doesn't protect from wanting to be famous, important, accepted and other ego traps.

If you're going to build a house you need plumbers, but plumbers should not be put in charge of the framing or brick work. House building calls for a general contractor who understands how all of the trades and inspections work together to create a finished quality home.

Somehow the plumbers (the CDC and WHO guys) ended up as the general contractors in this situation. The media helped that arrangement develop with propaganda. Anyone who went against the plumbers got attacked. The property owners, driven by fear, demanded that the plumbers be heard well beyond their area of expertise.

"Those positive affirmations helped everyone to work together as a team to defeat the disease threat"

I agree. There's positive motivational speech and then there's destructive propaganda. There's a fine line and one man's morale booster is another's lies and deceit.

When we were a mostly united country, the line wasn't so fine. Now that we are very divided country with radically different and competing ideologies, it's morale booster versus lies and deceit depending on which team you chose to affiliate with.

There seems to be a concern about “perfectly healthy” people dying from Corona Virus. Most people in America apparently don’t want to consider that those “perfectly healthy” people may not have been healthy and may have had in fact an underlying condition that made them more vulnerable to negative outcomes from a Corona virus infection. Dr. Paul Mason, M.D. an Australian physician has put together a Youtube video concerning insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity as they might relate to death from a Corona virus infection not only in the elderly but in anyone regardless of their age. I would highly recommend this video.

Probably most people won’t want to take the time to watch Dr. Mason’s video or most likely they won’t understand much of it. But Dr. Mason tries to explain why insulin resistance and a high carbohydrate diet cause a lowered resistance to infectious disease. If anything should be learned from the Corona virus epidemic in America it is that generally many Americans are not healthy metabolically. While they might not have diagnosed conditions, they may harbor metabolic weaknesses that put them at risk. - AOD

Yeah, you are probably right, Eric.

They are saying now that the virus may have been indeed leaked from a Wuhan lab in China. This was once deemed a conspiracy theory but now there is growing scientific evidence that may have happened. The thing is there is a lot of things they still don't know about Covid-19. We do need to reopen the economy but slowly. There is fear of the amount of damage caused to the lungs and other internal organs of some who survived Covid-19.

New York City is doing something "innovative." They’ve decided to classify nearly 3800 previously undetermined deaths as COVID-19 deaths. In one stroke this raises the city's coronavirus fatality count by 8%. The deceased weren’t tested for coronavirus, but since they died of similar symptoms during the appropriate timeframe, they've been added to the total.

The problem with this: COVID-19 symptoms are similar to more familiar illnesses like pneumonia and influenza. Without a test, there’s simply no way to know if these people died of the virus or not.

Another problem is the terrible reporting that accompanies this announcement. Bloomberg and other outlets breathlessly tell us that sixty percent of the patients died in an ER while awaiting care. This conjures up a picture of overcrowded ERs where helpless people succumb to asphyxiation without even being seen by a doctor.

Anyone who actually looked at the report (below) would see that 60% died in "Hospital/ER,” meaning they were either in the ER *or* the hospital. Many, perhaps most or nearly all, must have been admitted to the hospital as in-patients. But I guess that doesn’t make as good a story.

I was kind of with you until you mentioned Y2K, which was the only thing you mentioned that I know a little about from personal experience. Having worked through it in IT, I can say that problems were averted by a gargantuan effort and expenditure - not because there was no problem. So although there wasn’t the catastrophe that many predicted and some hoped for, it was perhaps, averted by global efforts to make sure it didn’t happen or to minimise the impact well ahead of time.

Whether the lockdown is a good idea or not, I don’t think it’s “sheeplike” to at least initially take the word of people who have far more information. When we have a clear idea of exactly what we’re all dealing with then I’d expect a change in strategy. It looks like we may be getting toward that point. I can’t see people tolerating lockdown for an indefinite period, even here in the UK.

Like many others, I have seen the impact on friends who’ve contracted it and it’s varied from (for those who were symptomatic) moderate to severe with one fit 40 year old on oxygen in hospital for a week. I have never seen anything like that here before. As for the mortality rates, they’ve sky-rocketed here - whether that’s all due to the coronavirus or not I don’t know but it looks like a good candidate to my layman’s eye.

All that said, I fully expect a small minority at all levels of society to try to take selfish advantage of the situation and the kindness of others.

Here's a thread that criticizes Dr. Fauci's refusal to endorse even stopgap use of hydroxychloroquine. (But perhaps he is trying to buy time for hospitals and docs to stockpile enough of it to be able to handle the demand when it is endorsed.)

Dr. Fauci’s own career-making medical research had no clinical control group, used historic controls #coronavirus
Alec Rawls / 7 hours ago April 14, 2020
Guest post by Alec Rawls

"For weeks Dr. Anthony Fauci has dismissed all of the mounting evidence for the efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine treatments for Covid-19 as “anecdotal” and “the slightest hint of evidence” because it doesn’t come from clinically controlled trials. That is just wrong. Valid statistics do need a control group but the control does not have to be clinical."

Human beings have a deep instinctual fear of epidemic disease. We know through stories passed down by our ancestors that terrible plagues have ripped through communities like a viral firestorm consuming young and old alike.In this enlightened age when we can map the genome of a "novel" virus in days, our current best defense is the brute club of keeping our distance. How so 1918 is that? So yeah, it's weird, strange, seeing people in America wearing face masks in public. Would John Wayne wear a face mask? Hell no pilgrim. It's un-American.

One of the ways that we conceal our dis-ease is by telling ourselves hopeful stories. Here's a happy one from another comment here: COVID-19 "may end up producing the same death toll as a *very* severe strain of seasonal flu, but the deaths will be bunched together in maybe six weeks, rather than being spread out over six months." Who needs a so-called "expert" like Doogie Downer, M.D., when one of our very own has channelled from on high a vision of God's beneficent grace. I poke fun at my fellow commenter, because I've made the same kind of dumb ass observation along the way. It's comforting to delude yourself into believing that you sorta know when, in fact, you really don't know jack.

As for the experts (and I mean the unenclosed by quotes kind), their projections are educated guesses, based on experiences with other viruses that the current bug may resemble. This microbial terrorist is what our former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld might call a known unknown. It's an enemy that we know is lethal, but we're not quite sure how lethal. It's very contagious, but we don't know yet just how contagious. Will it subside over the Summer? Maybe. Will it be back with a vengeance in the Fall? Hope not. Will people who catch it once be immune from future infection? That would be awesome, thank you very much. But actually, no one really knows for certain, and that kind of uncertainty is a ripe fermentation chamber for elaborate concoctions of all sorts to soothe our anxiety.

There is a small subset of questions where even a duffer like me can make a squishy guess with a reasonable measure of confidence. Public venues of all sorts will have a lousy year. Companies that previously frowned on telework will be more accommodating and flexible, at least until the all clear is sounded. Those great employment numbers before the bug bit won't be back for awhile. And don't bother looking at your 401K for now. Watch a movie on Netflix instead. Take the advice of the British government in 1939. Keep calm and carry on.

//Here's a happy one from another comment here: COVID-19 "may end up producing the same death toll as a *very* severe strain of seasonal flu, but the deaths will be bunched together in maybe six weeks, rather than being spread out over six months." Who needs a so-called "expert" like Doogie Downer, M.D., when one of our very own has channelled from on high a vision of God's beneficent grace.//

You completely misunderstood my comment. It wasn’t meant as a happy thought but as a sobering reminder of the seriousness of the virus, prompted by some who compared it to seasonal flu. The point was that EVEN IF it turns out to be no more lethal overall than a very bad flu strain, the deaths will STILL have been concentrated in a much shorter time frame, placing more of a burden on medical facilities (at least in hotspots) and alarming the public. This is not a prediction. We already know that deaths are piling up faster in hotspots than they would from any seasonal flu.

I don’t see how you could have missed this context. But at this point I am, quite frankly, losing my faith in the ability of my fellow humans to think clearly on this or any other subject.

It is not entirely correct to say, "Companies that previously frowned on telework will be more accommodating and flexible, at least until the all clear is sounded."

I should point out that telemedicine was not something that Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance companies would reimburse a physician or other health specialist for. Therefore the physician had to charge the patient for the tele-encounter or provide the service for free. = AOD

"Worries about food supply grow as Smithfield closes two more plants"

Apr. 15, 2020 10:23 PM ET|About: WH Group Limited (WHGLY)|By: Stephen Alpher, SA News Editor

I agree with you, Michael, that the media is out of control and relying too much on fear in writing their stories. It's emotionally exhausting, and I'm so tired and annoyed at experts and Bill Gates(?!) saying that it could be years before I can hug my parents again. Just try to be a little more hopeful for once, damnit!

With your original mention about sheeplike tendancies in the public, I think the majority of people are putting up with these measure because they want to help stop this pandemic as quickly as possible, like how families in WW2 had to tolerate rationing and all sorts of restrictions. They knew it was all to support the war effort, and if it helped end the war quicker, then so be it.

However, I think the public will only go along with it for so long. You could still get work in WW2 and pay the bills, which not many people can do now. Worse, there doesn't seem to be a feel of 'We can do this!' Instead, there seems to be a feeling of 'How long is this going to last?!' Unless something happens to help people stay afloat finanfically, I fear people are going to get desperate, and the consequences won't be pretty. But it also might lead to some positive change; the government might temporarily institute a universal income that would last as long as the pandemic does so that people can at least have a minimum amount of money to stay in their homes, or some other measure to relieve our financial burdens.

In any case, I personally think that this is all a good wake-up call to people that we are dependent on each other for our survival and well being. If we all help each other, we all benefit; I may work a minimum wage job at a grocery store, but I feel proud knowing that I'm helping people in my community get the food and supplies they need... save toilet paper. We're still out of that.

I think the virus has peaked and is on the decline now.

I was very disturbed to watch an interview with NJ's Gov on Fox News' Tucker Carlson show last night. Tucker asked the Gov three times about how he had the authority to suspend the First Amendment. The Gov tried to dodge the question, but eventually admitted that the Constitution wasn't and isn't a concern in his decision making - he's just trying to save lives.

That is a very frightening thing to hear. If we don't have a Constitution that means something, even in hard times, then then the country is dead. We are just a geography called "The United States of America", but we are not the United States of America in principle. We are basically a dictatorship somewhere on the Chinese model spectrum.

And to think that all of these democrats have been hooting and hollering for four years that Trump is a wannabe dictator. Self-reflection and appreciation of irony are apparently not democrat strong points.

There’s a bit of a cavalier strain to some of these posts. Lots of unknowns exist around COVID and its long-term damaging effects on the body. Caution is well warranted at this early stage. Please don’t forget the real fears that many folks have regarding the “compromised” condition of their loved ones. The prospect of going back to work In an office with my Trumpy coworkers who take this very lightly is not a pleasant one. I could bring the stuff home to
my asthmatic 65-year-old husband, who would have a good chance of ending up as “toast.”

Jean wrote, "There’s a bit of a cavalier strain to some of these posts."

I don’t mean to be cavalier, and it’s possible there will be more longterm health effects, etc., than we presently know about. On the other hand, we can’t make sensible policy on the basis of maybes and what-ifs.

Here’s what I would consider a cavalier attitude (from a different commenter): "Those great employment numbers before the bug bit won't be back for awhile. And don't bother looking at your 401K for now. Watch a movie on Netflix instead."

When I read stuff like this, I imagine a bored Marie Antoinette saying, "Let them eat cake." Or perhaps a stuffy Victorian businessman turning up his nose at starving homeless orphans begging for a farthing: "These blighted street Arabs are such a nuisance. Driver, use your whip to make them disperse. I’m late for my luncheon at the club."

Yes, it’s easy for those who are comfortably well off (and this includes me) to shrug about "those great employment numbers" that went away. Oh well, la-di-dah, I suppose I’ll have to work from home and binge on Netflix for a while. C'est la vie.

Meanwhile there are millions of Americans and countless hundreds of millions around the world for whom skyrocketing unemployment means disaster. It means the loss of their homes, the loss of any economic gains they've made over the last ten (or more) years, the loss of hope and purpose. For many it will mean addiction to liquor and opiates, depression and chronic anxiety, domestic abuse and child abuse, and suicide. But let ‘em eat cake, right?

After all, you know, they’re people of a certain social class — Walmart shoppers, Trump voters, NASCAR spectators, John Wayne fans. Really, hardly people at all. Certainly no one in my circle would have anything to do with them. The very idea! It’s all very well to have one of them in your house if your bidet is on the fritz or your WiFi goes out, but otherwise ... Why, those proles can’t even discriminate between a good Merlot and an indifferent pinot noir!

This is the attitude that drives much of the shutdown — elitists who are merely inconvenienced by the plunge in "those great employment numbers," but not seriously affected. Most of the policy wonks, journalists, politicians, and pundits who support an indefinite lockdown assume their future is secure no matter what. They can work from home (and sing the joys of telecommuting), or not work at all (thank God mummy and daddy set up that trust fund!), or their jobs are "essential" and thus safe. And the hoi pilloi? My dear boy, the poor will always be with us. God must love them, he made so many of them. Most of them will probably find a way, somehow, to survive (yawn) ... As for those who don’t, well, I suppose this'll teach ‘em not to vote the wrong way.

"I could bring the stuff home to my asthmatic 65-year-old husband, who would have a good chance of ending up as ‘toast."

Then stay home. But why force people who don’t have an at-risk spouse to do the same? There are no asthmatic sexagenarians in my household. Why should I be under lockdown? More to the point, why should we destroy the lives of millions (another 5.5 million filed new unemployment claims last week; we may reach 20% unemployment by the end of the month) for the sake of a minority of people who can self-isolate if they choose?

If you don't want to go back to the office with your "Trumpy Coworkers", then just don't go back until you feel confident that you will not bring a virus back home to your husband. Wear protective gear if you must! I don't understand why apparently you think that everyone should not go back to work because your husband has asthma. This is a country of guaranteed freedoms. Each individual must be responsible for their own choices in life. To sit and wait for the government to tell you what to do is something I just don't understand.- AOD

I have to say it again. Americans are a population of unhealthy people. This epidemic has shown us just how sick many of us are. Everyone should take note now of ways that they can become healthier by strengthening their immune system. People seem to ignore the importance of metabolic health in preventing diseases including type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease and many many other chronic disorders ---and, being able to resist communicable diseases by having a strong immune system. This epidemic is a wake-up call to not only Americans but to all people on earth that to continue to ignore basis practices for good health might eventually lead to mass extermination of the species. - AOD

"There’s a bit of a cavalier strain to some of these posts."

Thank you, Jean. I'm delighted to hear the "feminine" slant on this. And particularly so, because I'm logging in to post a link to this:

Pretty interesting—even astonishing—how countries led by women have fared, isn’t it?

There are many folks at my office with pre-existing conditions, including diabetes, heart issues, and obesity. They would also be put in harm’s way. None of us would have the option of staying home. Folks can have odd and serious reactions to this virus, which we don’t yet fully understand.

Let’s understand this better before we rush back out there! The threat of death is real, and I for one don’t want to be part of a poorly planned reopening experiment.

Michael and Amos: pretty strong reactions to Jean's comment! Though she talked about her feelings and her fears, and she asked for compassion, the only rule, prescription, or policy she suggested was this:

"Caution is well warranted at this early stage."

Why so touchy about that?

Read her comment again, you guys.

What is also strange is that the media is reporting around 35,000 covid-19 deaths as of today in the US.

However, the CDC is reporting < 17,000 (see link - look at columns for covid and for covid + pneumonia)

These are deaths that are actually coded (ICD-10 diagnoses codes) and are thus diagnosed by the treating physician.

The CDC does explain, correctly, that there is some lag in the data. They will not have all of the data for several weeks.

Yet the question remains; where does the 35K+ deaths that the media is tossing around come from? Extrapolation? If so, by who? Methodology? IMO, there is some hanky panky with the figures. As MP notes in a comment (above) NY just added a few thousand deaths because they just decided that those deaths might be CV-19 caused. No tests were done.

"Read her comment again, you guys."

I read it. Jean wants to stay at home. I say: Fine, stay at home. But let those of us who are not at risk (or scared) get back to living our lives.

I'm tired of dealing with hysteria. Yesterday I encountered a woman on Facebook who was terrified of the virus, which, she seemed to think, was sweeping thorough her state like a scythe and mowing down all in its path.

Her state is South Dakota, and the total coronavirus death toll there is ... six.

Would she even notice six deaths in her state over the course of a month if the local TV news hadn't been screaming about every single one?

We're in the grip of a social mania, encouraged by our irresponsible media.

As for "a poorly planned reopening experiment," who's to say it will be poorly planned? It can't be planned any worse than the shutdown, which has already sent us into an economic tailspin. But it seems only the proles, who don't count, worry about things like that.

I'm seeing a huge divide between people who have actual businesses and not-at-home jobs they need to preserve, and people who have little or nothing to lose. Though I'm in the second category, somehow I still remember what it was like to be struggling. Others have forgotten, or never knew, or just can't think that far ahead. Their attitude is: The public and the future be damned — I just want to be SAFE.

Inspiring, isn't it?

Hi Bruce - It's nice to have a defender! Hope you and yours are staying well. All the best.

P.S. (since I haven't gotten myself in deep enough already) ... Jean says other people in her office are unhealthy. Okay, let them stay home, too.

Jean would probably say, "But then they'll lose their jobs!" Well, yes. Most likely. But if the shutdown continues, *they will lose their jobs anyway.* Businesses can't stay solvent forever.

So she and the colleagues who are afraid to show up for work will join the ranks of the unemployed (now 22 million strong) in any event. The only practical effect of a continuing shutdown is that millions more, who are not sick or afraid, will *also* lose their jobs.

I think Jean and Bruce should stay home.

I will go out and do whatever I want to.

We all win.

I agree wholeheartedly, Eric. I don't see why Jean and Bruce should be able to exercise a heckler's veto over those of us who are not at high risk, or who are at elevated risk (possibly I am) but are willing to live our lives and take our chances. If that makes me sound like John Wayne, as someone sniped, so be it. I like John Wayne.

And yes, I'm aware I'm being more in-your-face than usual of late. Quarantine has a way of doing that. My normal outlets for tension are not available. Plus, I have to wonder exactly what people think this blog is all about. It's mainly about life after death and the errors of philosophical materialism. If life after death is real and materialism is mistaken, then why are we clinging to a subpar quality of life? I don't get it.

"then why are we clinging to a subpar quality of life? I don't get it." - MP

Thank you. That's the heat of the thing.

If the veil between life and death is as thin as we believe it to be and life is continuous between physical existence and mental/spiritual existence then our attitudes are what counts most. We can be fearful and surrender to authority, or we can think for ourselves and live - and, die - like free rational men/women.

If authority is God, then surrender is in order.

If authority is just another man?

Fausti = God? Cuomo + God? WHO = angels in heaven?

Or maybe "science" = God.

"I don't see why Jean and Bruce should be able to exercise a heckler's veto over those of us who . . . are willing to live our lives and take our chances."

I assure you: I too am living my life and taking my chances. For all you know, perhaps to an even greater extent than you. Extracts follow:

U.S. economy to reopen in phases: coronavirus briefing

Apr. 16, 2020 6:18 PM ET|By: Carl Surran, SA News Editor
The U.S. expects fewer deaths from COVID-19 than even the most optimistic projections, so the country now should begin to reopen, Pres. Trump said at today's White House coronavirus task force briefing.

"A national shutdown is not a sustainable long term solution," the president said. "We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time. Instead of a blanket shutdown... we will focus on healthy Americans returning to work" as conditions allow.

Trump said the U.S. plan to reopen will focus on sheltering the most at-risk individuals and establishing clear benchmarks on testing.

"Every state is very different," and states will be allowed to remain closed if needed.

The new federal "Opening Up America Again" guidelines detail three "phases" aimed at guiding parts of the U.S. to move incrementally toward loosening restrictions.

Among many comments, Pres. Trump said sports arenas and restaurants will be packed again at some point but may reopen at first with empty seats separating audience members or diners; Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said sports events with audiences are conceivable in Phase 3.

As many as 29 states could open up relatively quickly - "literally tomorrow" in some instances - the president said.

At 6:15: Dow futures +2.9%, S&P +2.7%.

I suspect this will improve Trump's re-election prospects.

Here's a middle-of-the-road position: The lockdown is justified only to "buy time" to prevent hospital ICUs from being overwhelmed and to allow hospitals and doctors to acquire protective equipment and stockpiles of stopgap treatments. And to ramp up production of face masks. Say six weeks or so, depending on location.

Are we all (somewhat) agreed?

"But then they'll lose their jobs!"

Well no, not if they work for the government bureaucracy. - AOD

'If life after death is real and materialism is mistaken, then why are we clinging to a subpar quality of life? I don't get it.'

I would suggest that perhaps it's because a subpar quality of life is at least knowable. You can touch it, see it, and experience it, where the spiritual world - which, for this discussion, we can assume exists - is almost impossible to experience on a normal basis. You can read hundreds of books and thousands of NDE's, but unless you are blessed enough to experience the spiritual world for yourself (which I have not), it remains something that's 'out there' and far away, abstract and ultimately an unsolvable mystery.

In the battle between the known and the unknown, I think most people would choose to stick with what they can experience over what might or might not be. Even if you situation in life is less-than-ideal, it may be better than trying something new and ending up in a worse situation than before. Plus, if most people were to choose between spending their afternoons meditating on spiritual teachings or eating ice cream and watching their favorite movies, I think the majority would go for the later; there's no ironclad guarantee that the spiritual world exists, and you never know if something will happen tomorrow that will keep you from enjoying the pleasures and gifts this world has to offer, so why pass them up?

One valuable activity one can perform while stuck at home is adding reinforcement against earthquakes to one's house.

For a wonderful guide, with hundreds of color pictures, on how to do so by oneself—and/or how to interact with earthquake retrofit consultants and contractors—I recommend: "Earthquake Strengthening for Vulnerable Homes: A Practical Guide for Engineers, Contractors, Inspectors and Homeowners" (Jun 5, 2015) by Thor Matteson, available for $37 at:

Another book that has some useful tips, mostly about tools, is: "Earthquake Retrofitting: The Book," by James Gillett (2010), $32 at:

John Wayne used to be an archetypical American male. His character was an example and inspiration to a couple of generations.

The revolution has flipped that on its head. Soy Boys and Cruela De Ville with Chicom-like allegiance to the authoritarian state and the party are now the models we are supposed to follow.

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