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"It'll all be over by Christmas"

Let me make some predictions, starting with:

No it won't.

Vaccine development will take a flat minimum of 12 months. Then another 1-3 months to ramp up (on a Manhattan Project management basis) and a to-some-extent-overlapping 1-3 months to roll out around the various nations that are involved. (I predict the USA will merrily go its own way and faceplant, unless y'all elect a competent next POTUS. Or VPOTUS, insofar as Biden appears to be past it and Pence is incompetent at anything but arse-licking.)

Meanwhile.

Lockdown can't be sustained more than 1-2 weeks after peak ICU occupancy passes, so it will be lifted in mid-May in the UK and possibly as early as May 1st in the USA. (I know the Eastern Coalition are kicking back against Trump's deranged demand for an early restart: I expect other states may also join in if their estimates of the long-term damage track reality.)

Trump is shooting for May 1st because he's been told the economy will take 6 months to recover, minimum, and he's shooting for the November election deadline. This is laughably optimistic, even if the pandemic had burned out by May 1st: we're in Greatest Depression territory already, the hospitality sector has crashed 75%, airlines have crashed 90%, etcetera. It's not going to be back to normal by November, even if the Fairy Godmother shows up and banishes the horrid virus with a wave of her wand. Period.

So. The immediate peak hospital occupancy will pass, lockdown will be lifted sector by sector (or all at once) and region by region ... and the 50% of COVID19 cases who are asymptomatic will go back to work, mingling with the uninfected.

1-4 weeks later there will be a secondary surge in infections and it'll follow the same exponential growth as the first spike in Feb/March. And lockdown will resume, probably in mid-June. (It may be mitigated by summer heat, in which case things will look good for a month or two longer, but I'm not holding my breath: even if heat prevents spread, the prevalence of air conditioning in public spaces in the US provides a transmission-friendly environment.)

If the howls of rage at the first lockdown are deafening, the second lockdown will be worse: think of toddlers being sent back to bed with no supper. And that's the lucky work-from-home class: the working poor—with no savings and jobs they need to be physically present for—are going to be increasingly angry and fractious at their exposure. Expect civil disobedience and possibly summer riots unless central banks throw money at the grassroots -- and not $1200 for 10 weeks: more like $1200 per week.

Oh, and then there are the hospitals. Hospital staff will begin to catch their breath in mid-May after two months of running at maximum speed ... then it'll all crash again 4 weeks later. They're getting no respite. About 25% of medical staff are off sick with COVID19 themselves at present, far as I can tell: this cohort will be coming back to work by the second lockdown, but a bunch more will be down and sick.

You can't run doctors and nurses at full pandemic intensity for all that long without them burning out, as well as getting sick. There will be horrifying staff attrition, and although this year's graduate cohort got pressed into service early, next year's cohort will be suspended because teaching ain't happening.

So we're going to see repeated 4-6 week lockdown periods alternating with 2-4 week "business as usual" patches. Somewhere during the second or third lockdown most of the pubs/bars/hotels/restaurants that hibernated during the first lockdown and came back from the dead will give up the ghost: by September-November the damage to about 10-30% of the economy, disproportionately the service sector, will be permanent (FSVO "permanent" that means not coming back until after the pandemic, growing afresh from zero rather than reviving from hibernation).

I do not know what the hell Trump will do when his "get America open again" agenda runs into pandemic spike #2, around the beginning of June. Expect denial and heel-dragging and a much worse death toll, this time reaching the rural heartland (where hospitals may not have any ICU beds at all: there's going to be carnage). By August he may well be in full-on meltdown. I wouldn't even be surprised to see a second round of impeachment hearings as the Senate Republican Party tries to throw him under the bus so they can pivot to President Pence. Assuming it's not too late to save their campaign ...

By September there's going to be social unrest just about everywhere that hasn't nailed down a massive social spending/social security project on a scale that makes the New Deal look restrained and conservative.

And that's going to be the picture until June or July 2022.

Extra lulz in the UK: the Prime Minister is out of hospital but hasn't been seen since Monday—my guess is he's hors de combat for at least another two weeks. A quarter of the senior ministers of state are rabid objectivists who actively hate the poor and want them to die, and a majority of the cabinet are still going full steam ahead for a no-deal Brexit transition on January 31st, at which point the UK economy shrinks another 8% overnight. Boris, in principle, has the credibility to pull them back from the brink (and is a perfectly ideology-free vacuum of naked ambition, so he's personally capable of pivoting) but if they try for a maximalist brexit in the middle of a pandemic there will be pandemonium.

Wildcards: we might conceivably find a simple and effective medical treatment. Or vaccine development is ridiculously easy. Or the 50% of asymptomatic carriers are a sign that the pandemic is more advanced than we realize, that immunity is long-lasting, and that we're much closer to achieving "herd immunity" than anyone in the epidemiology community currently realizes. But I want to emphasize that these are all straw-clutching exercises. In all probability, they're not going to eventuate.

Have I missed anything out? (Aside from the giant meteor, Cthulhu awakening, Krakatoa erupting, and a Dalek invasion. NB: one of those things actually happened last month.)

2383 Comments

1:

I know that this blog's commentariat isn't filled with too many sport enthusiasts, but the combination of pandemic-driven lockdowns ending seasons prematurely (see also, the Olympics) and the economic collapse tanking the net worth of owners, there's going to be a bit of a reckoning on that front. I don't know that too many top-flight leagues will collapse, but even they will struggle to reopen for a while, and given that a typical live sporting event is more-or-less ideal circumstances for the spread of infectious disease...

Basically, the bread and circuses meme exists for a reason. And given the important role that sports play in entertaining large swathes of the population (and providing a less-violent outlet for machismo than rioting), the absence thereof is likely to contribute to a whole variety of increased tensions.

2:

The arts sector in the UK is in collapse. Museum entry take? Zero. Bookstores? All closed. Theatres, cinemas, art galleries, exhibition spaces? Shuttered.

Basically our entire cultural life -- aside from what's online -- is down for the count.

(I note that apparently some formula 1 teams have got their drivers participating in e-sports. Not sure how that's doing but it can't be patch in revenue terms of running an F1 season around the world.)

3:

the prevalence of air conditioning in public spaces in the US

Don't understand this one.

The few times I've been in Europe I was amazed by the heating or cooling (depending on the season) of the outside air by stores/restaurants who kept their doors/store fronts wide open blowing conditioned air out.

I'd never seen this in the US outside of some spot locations.

PS: Airline travel has already crashed to the 95% mark. I don't know about Europe but in the US airports are ghost towns.

PPS: Outside of a few nut cases running some of the crazy sports (MMA and friends) most all of the business types drafted by DT to help open things up have politely told him "Are you nuts?". Politely.

4:

This matches my view in broad strokes. I see a few variations that will heighten class-based stresses, though.

The biggest will be the difference between the work-from-home class and the physical-presence glass. The WFH folk may stay on WFH for most of 2020, while the physical-presence class flaps between home and work. This will increase casualties among the physical-presence class, and by extension resentment.

The work-from-home class will get infections from variations in stay-at-home, and group-size limits that public health authorities institute. Less likely to riot and push politicians for structural reforms.

All in all, pulsing the infection hose to keep critical-care rates within capacity will slowly build herd-immunity (assuming that's persistent long enough) at an absolutely stunning cost to everyone involved.

5:

Yesterday the busiest airport in Europe was ... Leipzig.

Leipzig is a freight hub. It's not even in the top 10 for passengers.

6:

As the "open? shut?" progression moves around the world, it gets patchy. As it gets patchy, the timing for the just-in-time delivery of vital materials goes (further) off. As the timing goes off, we discover that the global economy's long capital-optimizing supply chains have no feedback mechanisms, or, more precisely, no feedback mechanisms able to operate on the necessary scale. The machine shakes itself apart.

We're not looking a depression; we're looking at an economic transition like the post-Roman transition, where (for example) what you used for shoes and how you stored food changed.

Like going off the gold standard in the 1920s, going first and fast is going to produce major benefits. With the possible exception of Aotearoa, there's no indication anywhere in the Anglosphere has figured this out.

I'm expecting food issues by August.

7:

Climate change hasn't gone away, you know.

Sea surface temperatures are hitting highs again, leading to predictions of ~ 16 hurricanes in the North Atlantic this year (12 in a typical year), with at least one cat 5.

Florida is already a COVID mess without damaged overflowing hospitals from a hurricane season.

8:

All hail the woken Cthulhu!

I agree, but there are other consequences that I fear (and am virtually certain will come to pass):

Large (almost all non-tax-paying, and often foreign-controlled multinationals) will largely complete their takeover of the retail and hospitality sectors in the UK.

The motor lobby and private motoring will get a massive boost, and more public money will be poured into that sink, despite the fact that we KNOW we can't solve our transport problems that way.

Privacy (and computer security) will get a massive knock, including the near-elimination of cash, and an effective exemption of location data (and some health data) and many 'Internet' and 'telecomms' companies from much of the personal data laws.

In the slightly longer term, our foreign exchange balance will tank, because the EU and USA will NOT allow us to operate our money-laundering and gambling with other people's money (the latter because they want to do it). The last I heard, it was 17% of our foreign exchange income. Greg will remember the days of draconian foreign currency controls - well, they will be back!

9:

Agreed. I think we'll be living with Covid-19 essentially forever. (It will eventually become what those who try to minimize it say it is now: a background endemic disease like the flu. Maybe not with annual vaccines, since it mutates much more slowly than the flu virus.) And I think the impact of the first blow of the hammer will linger for at least two years.

I personally don't think I'll ever go back to grocery-shopping the way I used to. This new method is SO much better. And I'll stick with Zoom over face-to-face...

I wish I believed in the possibility of the GOP throwing Trump under the bus, but I don't think that'll happen. The first reaction of a cult to proof of its error is to double-down on denial.

10:

There is an interesting science paper from Uri Alon's lab on the possible strategy of gradual exit from lockdown without a second spike: Adaptive cyclic exit strategies from lockdown to suppress COVID-19 and allow economic activity

It's still pretty rough...

11:

I think Johnson and the Objectivists (hashtag band name) are gonna get away with blaming the bad side effects of brexit on covid. They're already starting up the blaming covid-on-China line. The local tory-loving folk down our way are out clapping for nhs/boris/the-queen every night.

I'm beginning to get the distressing feeling that Boris is gonna come out of this better than when he went in.

12:

Will temperatures in the summer be even higher due to less 'global dimming' due to reduced economic activity ?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_dimming

13:

Thanks Charlie!

Some stuff that got missed:

The hospital situation is more complicated. In places like New York City, all available nurses are being retrained as intensivists to deal with the overwhelming surge of cases. With their situation and in other places where the surge well and truly hit, you're mostly right.

But there's a financial aspect:

In places like San Diego (actually, I think, everywhere), all hospital elective procedures have been cancelled for weeks, while the hospitals retooled for an expected surge in Covid19 cases that so far hasn't materialized locally. This is good and bad. Good because I don't want my friends to get caught in the surge. Bad because elective procedures are how hospitals make money in the US. ERs (and to a lesser extent ICUs) are loss leaders, services that have to be provided. The hospitals are hemorrhaging money and flexing staff times to cope with the loss of elective surgeries. People like physical therapists are getting a few hours here and there washing down door knobs, pharmacists are getting asked to take additional days off and so on.

Thing is, a pandemic isn't profitable for US healthcare, so keeping hospitals ready to handle being overwhelmed periodically is going to put the weaker ones out of business without government support. They'll get government support, but that means the money has to come from somewhere (probably inflation, aka the government printing money?)

As for rural America, Covid19 is already hitting there. See, for example, this article from Politico on the situation in rural Washington. Politico also covered the mess in Athens, Georgia. Athens is a college town, home of REM and the B-52s. It has a working hospital, while the rural counties around it have been closing theirs for financial reasons. As a result, Athens is getting swamped by handling way too big a district.

In terms of rural response to Covid19 you can also look up the mess in South Dakota, and the protests Thursday in Michigan and Ohio (the last is photogenic).

For the better response in the US, watch what happens on the coasts, especially in California, because we're so far flattening the curve. It is going to get very messy, but there's actually bipartisan action and what appears to be more sophisticated planning.

And if you want to see an example of a second surge, google the Singapore Straits Times.

I also agree with the issue around sports, particularly the minor leagues which depend on attendance. I know US Baseball has organized a spectator-free season between two leagues, the Florida-based Grapefruit League and the Arizona-based Cactus league, that will play in their spring training camps and stadiums in those two states, for TV broadcast. Possibly football will do the same.

Another big loser are going to be all the films and TV shows whose production was suspended. They can't finish shooting without big crews on set, and they can't get the big crews until they can guarantee everyone is healthy. And that's going to be hard. I'm not sure what movies will be playing this fall, nor how many television series will air new shows.

If you add up movies and sports, that's many billions in lost revenue worldwide. It's going to hurt.

One might hope that they'd turn to reading instead of watching videos online, but the question is, which is cheaper?

My 0.000000000002 cents.

14:

I note that apparently some formula 1 teams have got their drivers participating in e-sports.

NASCAR is doing similar. After all the interest the first week they starting doing actual studio commentary on the races the second week. I saw it as I turned a TV on and was impressed that at first glance it appeared the were in a studio together but then looked closer and some careful video stitching was going on.

Watched it for a few minutes. While on pit lane cars could drive through each other. And one driver quickly discovered during the practice session that literally sliding against the outside wall on an oval track with the gas to the floor was faster than driving the course. Quick rule change needed to deal with that.

Oh, and one driver lost his cool, yelled out a racial slur and got dropped by all his sponsors and his team owner. Oops. There's goes a few $million. (All drivers are live mic'd.)

And the driver setups. I walked away from PC gaming decades ago. I was impressed at the video racing setups. 40" wide screen curved displays, realistic shifters and steering wheels. For various definitions of impressed.

15:

To what extent do you think these outcomes might be less dire if a large majority decide to start wearing facemasks in public?

16:

OF COURSE It will be over by Christmas ... just that you have not specified WHICH christmas ....

Charlie
From the previous thread ...
The number to watch is the daily new cases ( coutesy of "Worldometer" ) - it appears to have flatlined in the UK, now.
As soon as that starts to drop, the pressure is going to be on to start lifting restrictions, admittedly slowly & carefully, with *cough* temprary *cough* invasions of privacy for contact-tracing.
Thats' for this country - the USA wil get royally fucked-over because of DT & his goons.
The asymptomatic carriers is the wierdo - lots of people showing antigens, but zero symptoms - something really odd is happening there ....
Brexit - I think - will crash against reality at close-to-the last-moment ( I hope )

Dalek Invasion ... don't ... there's a very silly YouTube of Daleks singing Gilbert & Sullivan on the webz ....

@2
VERY bad for the Arts & culture genarally.
Ditto pubs & restuarants - which reminds me:
Greedy stupid bastatrds include: The professional football fascists, hoding on to their money, the grasping "pubcos" still asking for rent whilst the pubs are SHUT oh & the banksters (again )

Graydon
Food issues sooner than that - for them as does not grow their own.
I note that farmers in E Anglia are anti-Brexiting by hiring workers in from Rumania & Bulgaria - going to be fun in 2021 if Brexit goes ahead...

17:

Another big loser are going to be all the films and TV shows whose production was suspended. They can't finish shooting without big crews on set, and they can't get the big crews until they can guarantee everyone is healthy.

Two big exceptions: (a) talking head chat shows, and (b) animation. We're at a point today where a high-end animation workstation (think in terms of a PC or Mac Pro in the $20-40,000 price range) is able to do realtime photorealistic rendering on 4K or 8K video. Work from home should be practical in the animation sector, so if this drags on more than 12 months expect a bunch of Hollywood money to get turned into Pixar and third party animated TV shows and movies.

18:

I think an interesting dynamic is going to be the tension between the countries which have covid19 under control and those who do not.

The fact that for all relevant measures, China is in the "have" and USA is in the "have not" columns cannot avoid causing "issues".

But the biggest issue is that I cannot imagine USA being able settle the election come November.

By "settle" I mean "carry out the election ceremonies", "certify a result from the election" and "have that result be accepted as legitimate and valid".

As a population USA suffers from Meta-Stockholm-Syndrome.

They have been fed a consistently manipulated view of reality for so many decades that it would take decades to re-educate them enough that they can function like a normal population, they have literally been groomed and primed to accept facism as their saviour from democracy.

So on 20th of january, what are the options ?

There is 50% chance that we will see Trumpolino return victorious like the second coming, and all hell will be let loose because "the voters approved of his policies".

We know how that book reads, we've been there before.

There's a 10% chance the opposition win with a sufficiently humbling margin that Trump will slink out the back door with his "takings".

With a probability of one third, the election is not settled, and Trump uses that as pretext to stay in the job, lighting the fuse on USAs second civil war, and as always, the facists and Trump-jugend are better armed and more willing.

And the last 6⅔% ?

Biden and/or Trump dies between now and November and all bets are void.

19:

I wish I believed in the possibility of the GOP throwing Trump under the bus, but I don't think that'll happen. The first reaction of a cult to proof of its error is to double-down on denial.

I wonder what happens when "their" fans start falling over. Just now the biggest hits have been to the D's strongholds.

There has already been a lot of subdued push back to the various nonsense proclaimed the last few days.

And S. Dakota (that packing plant outbreak is there?) may turn into a total mess of how the pure R way doesn't work at all.

But again, exiting a cult is a hard thing for most to do.

20:

To what extent do you think these outcomes might be less dire if a large majority decide to start wearing facemasks in public?

Lockdowns will remain the same duration but the inter-lockdown gaps will be a bit longer, because masks slow (but don't stop) transmission and multiplication.

A huge part of the problem is that our built environment isn't conducive to social distancing, and can't rapidly be rebuilt to facilitate it.

21:

Will temperatures in the summer be even higher due to less 'global dimming' due to reduced economic activity ?

The short answer is that last time I checked (last week) atmospheric CO2 levels were 3 ppm higher than they were a year ago. The short answer is that greenhouse gas levels have a lot of inertia in them, and it's going to take more than a few weeks of reduced emissions to bend that curve. Indeed, if we cut emissions entirely now, it would still take 40 years or so for the weather to settle out, and a few hundred years for it to return to 20th Century levels.

On the other hand, we might avoid a mass extinction by doing that, and that would be a good thing indeed.

What we're learning right now is that lockdowns actually do affect air pollution (smog) and if they could continue for decades, we'd go a long way towards ameliorating climate change. So our trick now is to figure out how to emulate the effects of a total lockdown without simultaneously destroying society.

My take is that this is probably doable. Indeed, it's massively more doable than, say, building a colony on Mars. Whether we can or will do it is another question.

If someone wants to write a near future SF novel where you can't tell if it's dystopian or utopian, write about the first decade of the lockdown, where we fight climate change, war, the coronavirus, and food waste by sitting tight as much as we could, thereby demonstrating that Taoist inaction could defeat the Four Horsemen. And I'm not being sarcastic on this either.

22:

Grasping at straws --

A group of British universities (including, of course, Edinburgh) and medical research establishments are trialling some interesting technologies in the treatment of COVID-19 sufferers. This isn't magic juju such as megadoses of Vitamin C or the like. Instead they're working on delivering antibacterial and antiviral drugs to the deep parts of the lungs by using fibre-optic guided probes, locations where the coronavirus is doing the most damage. Yes, I did say antibacterial since there's growing evidence that the viral infection is overloading immune systems sufficiently that bacterial infections gain a foothold in some of the more seriously ill intubated patients.

It's not a cure, the best it can do is hopefully prevent serious cases becoming fatal and perhaps improve outcomes for the survivors who might otherwise have lost a lot of their lung function. Like I said, grasping at straws.

23:

Daleks + "G&S" oh dear.

FearItself
ZERO

PH-K
If DT loses - he's going to jail, not slinking away - which is why he will try anything at all to avoid that state.
Your prediction of a US civil breakdown is worrying.

24:

Can't think of anything you missed. Like you, I'm a bit surprised to hear nothing from Bozo (er... BoJo). That suggests he's far worse off than anyone suspected, which you've pointed out elsewhere isn't a good thing.

That being said, I'm more optimistic than you are about viable treatments being developed soon. There's an incredible push on to find useful antivirals and supportive medicines to mitigate symptoms. There's no guarantees, of course, but with so many clinical trials underway and so many labs being diverted into Covid research, someone's going to get lucky eventually. Of course, antiviral research is much like fusion research: the miracle breakthrough always seems to be 20 years in the future.

I've also seen some suggestions that therapies are being better targeted. For example, the current guidelines for use of respirators are based on monitoring oxygen levels following previous guidelines for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which may not be appropriate for Covid-19. (Source: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/04/08/health/ap-us-med-virus-outbreak-ventilator-deaths.html) If this proves to be correct (and please note that the jury is still out on this), treatment success will improve gradually as data on outcomes accumulates and supports changes in the approach.

Also, more PPE will become available as the outbreak slows, including N95 masks becoming available for civilians as medical workers accumulate a sufficient inventory. That should further slow the spread.

25:

First paragraph in the above is a quote. Oops.

26:

all hospital elective procedures have been cancelled for weeks

My teeth cleaning from 2 weeks ago is now set for June. Without daily staff testing I'm not so sure I want them cleaned just yet.

As to electives or non emergencies.
I need
- a tooth implant so I can chew normally again after a recent molar extraction.
- Two spots on my skin removed.
- A lipoma on my face removed.
- A wart on the bottom of each of my feet.

My wife was due for a colonoscopy early this year.

There is a big backlog starting.

And I guess I get to learn how to cut my own hair. I'm easy. I'm very thin on top and switched to a buzz cut a couple of year ago. Others not so much. I think shaggy will get more and more popular.

27:

One thing you're missing - the US is fairly large, with significant regional differences - both in timing of earliest cases and average R0. What this means is that - broadly - the heartlands are probably a 4-6 week behind the rest of the country. Therefore, plan on overlapping waves of lockdowns with only local respite.

Other thing you're missing is that supply chains for food have pretty big presences in the heartlands (low cost, margin) and that stockpiling will probably prove to be rational. [ At least, in our area, 6 weeks in, shortages appear to be getting worse. ]

28:

Like you, I'm a bit surprised to hear nothing from Bozo (er... BoJo). That suggests he's far worse off than anyone suspected

I got a flu variation first of March that wasn't in this year's shot. I was spitting out or swallowing the phlegm I was coughing up every hour or more often for a couple of weeks. (Which in the current situation can clear a circle around you in a hurry.)

I can see BoJo taking it really easy for a bit after Covid. He may be in a situation that he can't do much for more than 10 to 20 minutes before he's winded. I was there after my flu except I could go an hour or so for the first week.

29:

One other thing you didn't mention -- the literal plague of locusts which started spreading through East Africa, from Kenya north, and has now apparently crossed the Gulf of Suez and gotten as far as Pakistan -- while a second wave of locusts, vastly bigger than the first, is hitting Kenya. Famines are likely.

Not directly relevant to the Americas or Western Europe (yet?), but, well... you did mention Krakatoa.

30:

Newspapers that haven't already got a strong online presence (like the Independent) or a strong subscriber base (like the Economist), *especially* those like the Metro that rely largely on passing commuter traffic, are in catastrophic trouble as well. In some cases their owners are trying to use this as an excuse to can the remains of that so-annoying wall between editorial and advertising, but I don't see how that'll help when the things still *can't be sold* and the advertising market is also in meltdown.

31:

My guess is that Boris wasn't actually in immediate need of intensive care -- he was put there as a precaution, because Prime Minister -- but he was still very ill by normal standards. When he was ready to be nursed in isolation at home, they put him in a suit, gave him some very strong stimulants, then rolled him in front of the cameras for 10 minutes -- then got him out of sight and in a car to Chequers before he could crash in public, which would be bad for morale.

He's probably been in bed ever since, but isn't bad enough to have to go back in to hospital. And Chequers is sufficiently isolated that there's no risk of press or public getting to see how bad he is.

I suspect he'll emerge in a week or two, having lost 10-20% of body mass and looking like a shadow of himself -- but he'll be walking unaided and without chemical assistance. (If not, there'll be a sudden air ambulance evacuation to a hospital with a spare ventilator, then black armbands on the news presenters a few days later.)

32:

No one here is mentioning schools for teens and below. (I suspect this aspect of life doesn't directly intersect with many here.)

I live in a decently affluent area. Public school system has 160K students give or take. Plus there are between 20K and 40K in private schools. They just started back up this week after over a month of no school. But it is all at home. One reason for the delay was acquiring all the hotspots to give to families who don't have decent home internet. Plus Chromebooks for those without computers or tablets. 10,000s of both. But if kids are "home" then at least one parent or close relative has to be there also. So not everyone can go back to an office even if they want to.

My neighbor's daughter is a few hundred miles away. She teaches first grade. (6 year olds) and her daughters are in the 2nd and 6th grade. So imagine what life is like at home for them during the day. First off everyone go to a separate room.

Oh, I've had multiple people talk about zoom sessions with 30 pre-teens on the screen at once and the teachers not understanding how to mute. Yet.

33:

Biden and/or Trump dies between now and November and all bets are void.

There is still supposed to be both a Democratic convention and a Republican convention. Both present interesting challenges in risk management. Neither is obviously avoidable.

Keep in mind that in more general terms there has been a demand shift; the global economy literally doesn't produce enough PPE for its present circumstances, and (it being a pandemic) money isn't sufficient. It's going to require either direct (the government does it, none of this PPP nonsense) or local (there are a bunch of firms, none all that large, reasonably well distributed so that "whups!" events in any one plant's workforce don't cause a crisis) production to fix that. Nobody in the Anglosphere has noticed that yet. (Quebec may have; I am hoping their example spreads. South Korea sure has.)

The second part of this is the problem of pricing; we've already got massively distorted prices due to some awful mix of colonialism, refusal to price in fossil carbon, and historical inertia about not pricing the open loop generally. Now no one knows what anything's worth because they don't know if this is a "that was bad, but it's over" scenario or an "Uncommon Cold" scenario, where we don't get a vaccine and we don't get better treatments (though how to apply existing treatments improve with practice) and we can't train medical staff fast enough[1]. We're going to see a decision about which set of prices is correct; it may not be the correct decision. (If it isn't, it won't hold, but it will probably not hold like returning to the gold standard did in the 1920s; it will take years and near-revolution to change things.)

It's not a time to be planning with objectives, either, and hardly anyone knows how to plan any other way.


[1] I have no data, but I'm reminded of the factoid about 3% losses in aircraft sorties. If we're seeing 10% losses in medical staff, it'll go much quicker, and there weren't generally too many to start with.

34:

Insufficiently cynical.

Regardless of how much of a near-miss was had by Boris, he's got a great excuse to keep his head down, because there's nothing to be gained from "being seen to be in charge".

I don't expect Boris to reappear until there's good news to be announced. Meanwhile, all the humdrum to bad news, and any awkward questions, can be announced by, and directed towards, the potential competitors to the leadership.

If he's really worried about someone getting too popular, expect to see them reshuffled into Minister for Health. Priti Patel, perhaps?

35:
I personally don't think I'll ever go back to grocery-shopping the way I used to. This new method is SO much better.
The new method of desperately dashing to one of a few big supermarkets that remain open, every week or so, trying to find anything on mostly empty shelves, and not ordering online because the whole online ordering infrastructure has more or less collapsed under massively increased load, with booking available for about five minutes every midnight until the next daily tranche of booking slots *three weeks away* is entirely consumed?

I don't think that'll catch on, no. If this has taught me anything, it's the fragility of online ordering when everyone has to do it, and that it's just not up to it yet.

36:

I gather web advertising in news media is in crisis: advertisers have a list of block words for content they don't want their ads to appear in proximity to, and COVID19 is top of the list. So some newspapers' online editions are getting almost no advertising revenue at present.

37:

Now off to my UPS store to pick up packages and drop something off for them to ship. These folks are so totally not practicing social anything.

I complained to corporate. I wouldn't go except there is a check and 3 packages waiting for me there.

38:

Re: ' ... much worse death toll, this time reaching the rural heartland'

Still think that as long as the demographic profiles of people who can and do vote don't change much - regardless of the actual number of deaths - DT will be back becuz Electoral College.


Re: Air conditioning

By June DT will be saying that COVID-19 is completely under control and that any/all of the pulmonary problems are due to 'Legionnaire's Disease'. The solution to this is that all loyal, right-thinking, patriotic, flag-hugging Americans need to upgrade their AC now! And of course, the manufacturers/ resellers as well as the electrical utilities will get a huge handout to help them prepare for all the new installations. Hmmm, let's see: current global market share for AC manufacturing is 34% for China and a bit under 6% for the US. And to make it even better for US consumers, DT will impose a H-U-G-E tariff on any Chinese manufactured AC. That'll teach them!

http://www.worldstopexports.com/air-conditioners-exports-country/


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legionnaires%27_disease

39:

On the "what if" front, Someone somewhere now has the job of rewriting London Bridge, to be executed under lockdown.

40:

Since this is a British blog, I cannot resist pointing out that the new (left-wing) Argentine government is handling the pandemic with astonishing skill and rapidity. The whole country went into an extreme quarantine immediately and all stops have been pulled out to send businesses into a deep freeze. It's quite astonishing. The guy has taken a country at least as polarized as the United States and sent politics into a deep freeze, even colder than the frigid gust of unity that you fellows seem to be experiencing. They are planning for short openings followed by closing.

The problem is that testing remains a clusterfuck. If they don't get a handle on that, then the reopenings could become a disaster. (The rogue province of Uruguay is doing better on that front.)

Brazil is doing better than you might think as well, basically because the Minister of Health and the state governors have told the President to fuck off.

Mexico, though, Mexico is a disaster. Not only is the (very left wing) government resisting prophylactic measures, it's refusing to issue debt or print money in order to help the people who are being slammed by the ones currently in place. It's all incomprehensible.

Anyway, there you have a report from America, the not-united states of it.

41:

There is still supposed to be both a Democratic convention and a Republican convention. Both present interesting challenges in risk management. Neither is obviously avoidable.

Washington Post had an interesting article yesterday about Congress trying to figure out how to do business. Meeting in chambers is hard enough, especially for the House but there are about 15K people involved in Congressional operations. And they have been jammed into tight quarters for decades. And there are also Senators and Congressmen who have never rented housing in the area. Sleeping in an office and showing in the private capital gyms. All closed just now.

There are these pesky rules about quorums and such that to change require everyone to get into the room at least once or twice.

It made me wonder about the UK parliament. From what video I've seen of the chamber it makes the US Congressional digs seem down right ostentatious. Plus my understanding is that the actual buildings that are used for offices and staff are falling apart. Literally. Sewage leaks in the ceiling and such.

But at least in the UK you don't have 1/2 of the members a 4 hour or more flight away.

42:

If the Republicans turn against Trump, they don’t need the embarrassment of new impeachment hearings. They can use the 25th Amendment to remove him for inability to hold the office of President, which is certainly true.

43:

Bookstores - Powell's in Seattle is in deep doo-doo, and for those of you who know *anything* of the old underground, the beats, etc, the good news is City Lights Books in SF did a gofundme for $300k... and when I read about it, a few days ago, and went there, it was at $360K.

On the other hand... Mike Resnick's widow is still trying to pay off his medical bills. The gofundme is not quite $63k of $70. I just threw another $25 at it.

Go thou and do likewise. He was one of *ours*.

44:

That's odd, my FacePlant feed is swarming with decorator facemasks. I think that some have already figured out how to take advantage of covid19 advertising. Since fast fashion is a thing and the sweatshops in Cambodia already have clothing piling up because they can't ship to the US and elsewhere, that we'll get "covidwear" as the fashion of 2020 and beyond.

These items may include cute facemasks (out there now, thank you LA Garment District and many others) followed by good looking, readily cleanable clothes, a surge in footwear and belts that can be laundered, and so on.

Since I'm a hospital spouse, we both have to assume we're either uninfected and in danger or infectious and dangerous. As a result, when we come home from shopping or working, the clothes come off and go in straight in the washer, while the person goes straight into the shower. Leather goods get washed with saddle soap once per week worn very carefully if exposed and not clean.

Having good looking clothes that can survive this treatment will be important.

Finally, there's a FacePlant meme to share: a Muslim responded to an online hater by noting that everyone's now veiling their faces and washing their hands at least five times a day, so everyone's become Muslims. Salaam brother!

45:

Oh fuck, just on the basis of her age, London Bridge is quite possibly going to happen (with or without COVID19) during a lockdown period.

Fuck. 2 weeks of media saturation and there's no escape because we'll be locked down. Fuck!

46:

Yes. Right now, there are news stories about farmers dumping milk, eggs, etc... and that's on *top* of the floods last year and this year hitting the US midwest.

Oh, and the meatpacking plant that literally does 2% of the ENTIRE US pork supply was shut down a few days ago for at least 2 weeks.

47:

It made me wonder about the UK parliament. From what video I've seen of the chamber it makes the US Congressional digs seem down right ostentatious. Plus my understanding is that the actual buildings that are used for offices and staff are falling apart. Literally. Sewage leaks in the ceiling and such.

The Palace of Westminster was rebuilt after a catastrophic fire in the mid-19th century. It has now long since overrun its maintainability, and was due to close for a few years and a £5-10Bn reconstruction/renovation (gutting it, removing asbestos and 1910s wiring, and installing modern infrastructure) in the next year or so.

My personal favourite option would be to move Parliament to Wembley Stadium for the duration. Seats 70,000 so there's plenty of room for social distancing even when everyone is present, and the lack of a ceiling means there'd be periodic rain -- a good incentive to keep speeches short.

NB: no, parliamentary constituencies are close in geographical terms by US standards -- but plenty of MPs face a 4 hour (or longer) high speed train ride back to their constituencies. And there are only limited flights from the only airport within an hour of ground transit time from Weatminster (LCY).

48:

To what extent do you think these outcomes might be less dire if a large majority decide to start wearing facemasks in public?
They knock down R0 by a bit, I've been guessing somewhere between 0.5 and 1 (or maybe a bit more) for cloth masks for SARS-Cov-2 because spread by asymptomatic/presymptomatic individuals is substantially blocked, and cloth masks provide some modest protection to the user (e.g. blocking most droplets and some smaller particles). As Charlie says, they would(/might) allow for longer intervals of lockdown relaxation. In combination with partial herd immunity or other effects/measures, they might knock it well below 1.
The natural experiments are being done at a country level (assuming compliance and etc can be measured and compared across multiple countries), with some countries mandating universal mask wearing in public, and other countries being the controls, and the statistics will start being clearer, and one should pay attention to them early. Science!
The science (about mask usage by the public in respiratory virus pandemics and specifically SARS-Cov-2) is currently a little weak but cannot be rationally ignored; there are, that I've found, precisely zero studies that have shown a significant negative effect of mask wearing.
Etc.

Greg 23:
ZERO
On what basis are you making that all-caps assertion?

49:

Noel @40: Bolsonaro has just sacked the Health Minister in Brazil. Breaking news in the past few minutes.

50:

Does Brazil have any kind of presidential impeachment/removal mechanism, short of a military coup?

51:

The problem is that testing remains a clusterfuck.

Testing is difficult.

First, you have correctly identify the antibodies; then you have to run the tests; then you have figure out by some other means what your results mean, because (without an effective test) you don't know.

It takes time, it takes careful stats, and it's biology, so there's... problems.

The "HIV consistent false positive" test issue, for example. See http://nccc.ucsf.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/General-HIV-Testing-FAQ-NCCC_revised-060614.pdf but note
Standard HIV ELISA test specificity is >95%. Specificity for the rapid ELISA HIV test is >98.9%.
• Common causes of a false positive LISA include: administration of flu vaccine, presence of HLA-DR antibodies in multigravada women, presence of rheumatoid factor, positive RPR test, hypergammaglobulinemia (e.g. multiple myeloma) and autoimmune hepatitis.

That took some time and effort to work out. It's going to take similar time and effort to figure out how to test and what to test for COVID-19, and while there's going to be a much greater application of resources, that doesn't make solving the problem quick.

52:

A couple comments: First, the entire U.S. can't be opened by presidential fiat, (policing power is reserved to the governors) and you can expect enormous pushback should Trump try this. One bit of pushback that's already happened is the use of the word "nation-state" by the governor of California; our state is the Fifth-Largest economy in the world, which means that we punch well-above our weight on a whole host of things, and it's not that hard to imagine a civil war starting in the next thirty days should Trump try to force the states to end their shutdowns. I don't think civil war before the end of May is likely, but it's not off the table either.

Second, the impact on the very reddest states which you're expecting in May or June will be obvious by the end of April; some of them have cases increasing by 8-10 percent a day, so you can expect that places like South Dakota or Iowa will be in a full-blown panic by the end of the month. The rural heartland's fuse has already been lit and I'd expect it to go off in the next thirty days. If Trump doesn't shut up and listen to his smarter advisors I'd expect an "impeachment-like event" sometime in the next 90 days.

Third, you are quite correct that whatever restrictions are lifted in the U.S. will happen regionally rather than nationally; the only way this won't happen will be for Trump to start arresting Governors, at which point all hell lets out for breakfast and what will happen in the U.S. becomes very chaotic and unpredictable.

All that being said, what I'd expect to see evolve is a set of scheduled reopenings and closings meant to let the steam off while keeping the numbers low. We'll spend three weeks under lockdown, then on the last week of the month everyone will be allowed to open their stores and go outside, or something like that. But you won't see it until the COVID-19 numbers are a lot lower, which will be 3-4 weeks from now.

I'm also noting an interesting trend in the U.S. The number of new-cases-per-day is going down while the deaths per day are going up. I suspect a lack of tests, (in the U.S.) but it is possible that we're looking at actual positive results from the lockdown. Either way, it's an interesting trend.

The way forward, of course, is to print money and raise the top tax rates. If everyone has enough to pay the bills and buy groceries, while the billionaires are being more heavily taxed, then we'll see a working society with no inflation, and that entire analysis of capitalism blows up completely. A debt jubilee would have the same effect, of course.

Meanwhile, I'm planting a garden. A very, very large garden with a ton of vegetables...

53:

booking available for about five minutes every midnight until the next daily tranche of booking slots *three weeks away* is entirely consumed?
I have a local market (NE US) that only allows booking two days in advance (for outside store pickup), so at 12:05 (+/-) AM I've been able to get a slot, twice. Hopefully we won't have greed-heads grabbing all available slots (using multiple accounts) and reselling them. (Probably already happening, though.)
Not going into the store until mask usage percentage is a lot higher. (Did some minor (not enough) prep buying in February though.)


54:

In general, I agree with OGH. I'm not an epidemiologist, but can do the math and did spent a lot of my lunch hours chatting with the faculty at the School of Public Health.

I think some of the details will play out differently in the USA. Specifically we'll get difference secondary (and tertiary) surges a different times in different areas, with a net effect of giving us a constantly-renewing pool of infection to spread things back and forth. That'll continue until we either get a vaccine or enough people have gotten it and recovered that there's herd immunity. In my somewhat depressing opinion, that'll take a year, and herd immunity is more likely than a vaccine in that year.

We get regular info-dumps from upper management, and people ask a lot of questions about when we're going to be back in the office. The response from management is interesting. As of yesterday, they told us there was no return date yet, and we should assume this will go on into summer (which, around here, is considered June 1). They seemed to be picking their words carefully, and definitely said "into summer", not "until summer." Dollars to donuts they are thinking there will be a second wave, and are trying to steer a course between raising false expectations and depressing everyone with ugly probabilities.

I've also gotten some broad hints that any return date may not apply to me. I was sent to work from home earlier than most, as I'm 67 and my body keeps flirting with diabetes. They're not going to let me back until things are thoroughly settled out, and with my retirement scheduled for end of this year, I will not be surprised if I don't see my office again until it's time to pack it up.

55:

it's not that hard to imagine a civil war starting in the next thirty days should Trump try to force the states to end their shutdowns.

One silver lining to this mess: the business with Capt. Crozier and the USS Roosevelt, and the subsequent resignation of the acting SecNav and rumours that the Navy are considering a way to put Crozier back on promotion path to Admiral (even if he doesn't get his carrier back), suggest that at least one branch of the military is royally pissed off with the White House. Not to the point of mutiny, but they're very unlikely to support a coup or to suppress state governors who refuse to submit to his absolute authority.

56:

One of the stories mathematicians like to tell is how David Hilbert invented something -- now known as Hilbert Space -- that had no applications whatever when he thought of it. Then Bohr, Heisenberg et al discovered quantum mechanics, and Lo: Hilbert Space turned out to be where it lives.

I have sort of the same feeling about the Internet now. Of course, it wasn't invented without any applications in mind. But for years now it's sort of been a solution in search of a problem.

Now we've discovered that the Internet was built to make pandemics survivable. Without the Internet, I'd have died of boredom weeks ago. As it is, I (an introvert) am quite happy sitting at home, watching my streaming movies, Zooming my family, reading my eBooks, and buying groceries for express pickup.

Yes, I realize the analogy is flawed. But I still have some of that, "Oh yeah! So THAT's what this is for!" feeling.

57:

The problem is that testing remains a clusterfuck

I wanted to drag that out, because I suspect it's a global problem.

Note that I'm 20 years past when I was doing PCR stuff, but I don't think the basics have changed, because the expected complaints about shortages are cropping up on Ed Yong's articles in The Atlantic (they're free if they're covering Covid19).

The basic problems, for those who haven't dealt with the process:
--All aspects of the DNA extraction have to be clean. You can't have DNA from junk in the air, on your skin, on the skin of the people manufacturing it, etc. in the mix or it might get amplified. This limits the speed of manufacture. The little Eppendorf tubes have to be virgin plastic (no DNA from whatever they held previously), and so forth. Same is true for the reagents. Long story short, there are problems with the supply chain, certainly for chemicals, and probably for everything.

It's not just a matter of making more plastics plants and more reagent factories, it's both a supply chain and a serious QA/QC problem. They will ramp up, but it's going to be slower than we want.

Another problem is that with DNA, it needs to be held in the -80oC freezer. Haven't heard any complaints about this yet, but you can't buy a -80 in a retail store, so there may be supply chain issues on these in a few months one specimen collection ramps up.

Then there's the PCR machines themselves. They're properly called thermocyclers for a reason, and I suspect engineers reading this just got the problem: the little plastic tubes are held in blocks that are very precisely heated and cooled in sequence. What they do is heat the samples to a precise temperature that denatures the DNA, change the temperature (IIRC cool it a bit) so that the high-temperature polymerase can make copies, heat it again to denature the DNA to single strand, cool it to make more copies, etc. until you've got trillions of copies of the sequence you want and almost nothing of anything else. That heat-cool cycle takes some precision engineering and also maintenance. It's not something that can be made with spare parts from the gel electrophoresis aisle at the local big box grocery store.* I suspect every machine that can be put to use is already in use, but ramping up machines and keeping them working is another major hurdle.

Finally there's the techs. I could make PCR work, but I wasn't all that good at it compared to my friends. It's not hard, but it's something where you can rapidly retrain Jose the Accounts Rep to do as good a job as Amanda with her PhD in molecular biology. You never know (talents crop up oddly), but techs require training and QA/QC. Otherwise you get a string of false negatives from their screwups, and that is bad.

So yeah, ramping up testing is going to take awhile, pretty much globally. We'll get there eventually.

*Gel electrophoresis aisle. Joke from the 80s/90s when gel electrophoresis was popular. You could actually rig at least half the equipment you needed from storage containers from the local grocery store. We actually did have a preferred gel electrophoresis aisle near one school. Alas, this tech is obsolete, and not useful for virus detection in any case.

58:

We, in Australia have (relatively) minute infection numbers and a reported 92% test/track on cases. Opening the economy again will start in four weeks. This raises the question of how earlier recovery will affect various countries and what that will do to the world order. I keep thinking of Steven Bradbury who won Australia's first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in speed skating (2002) when all the competitors ahead of him fell over. What would a post-pandemic "Bradbury World" look like?

On the virus itself, there are worrying signs that survivors of the disease show very few antibodies, and these disappear quickly. A vaccine (when/if it is developed) may need to be taken more regularly than the fluvax. A country needs a well developed/accessible/staffed/paid health system to achieve that universally (and the US does not meet the definition)

Re: the US. Don't underestimate the chances of the Union falling apart as the tension between States and the Federal Government becomes unmanageable.

Re: Africa, Russia, Central Asia. Two years from now, those areas may be unrecognisable.

59:
The new method of desperately dashing to one of a few big supermarkets that remain open, every week or so, trying to find anything on mostly empty shelves, and not ordering online because the whole online ordering infrastructure has more or less collapsed under massively increased load, with booking available for about five minutes every midnight until the next daily tranche of booking slots *three weeks away* is entirely consumed? I don't think that'll catch on, no.

No, I agree, *THAT* is unlikely to catch on. But online shopping the way I've experienced it, which has been much better, could. And it'll get better. The kinks will be worked out.

60:

enough people have gotten it and recovered that there's herd immunity

There is no evidence this happens. We should not expect it and we should not plan on it. (And we could might-maybe feel a bit twitchy as the immune-overreaction lethality mechanism. There are some cautionary tales about SARS vaccine animal models out there.)

I would be delighted to find out it's like measles; survive, and immune for life. But that's not really what to expect from a coronavirus, and we literally do not know -- the virus became a human pathogen six months ago -- anything about degree of immunity, immune periods, and so on.

61:

Yes, and it's been used quite often. You need two-thirds in the lower house and a majority in the Senate. The President is then provisionally removed from office pending trial, after which he or she will be permanently removed or reinstated.

I'm fairly certain that those rumors of a silent coup were planted (with Argentine journalists) in order to remind congresspeople that if they /don't/ impeach an incompetent crazy man they risk something far worse.

The popular center-right governor of Sao Paulo said today that Brazil is suffering from "Bolsonarovirus." Bolsonaro just did something stupid. The only thing holding things back is that VP Hamilton Mourão is even more fascistic than Bolsonaro ... but he is also quite a bit less crazy. That's good in the short-run but means you'd risk replacing a Trump with a potential Orban.

I'd vote to impeach, but it's not a no-brainer.

62:

Online ordering? Wassat then?

I could probably get priority for deliveries on the grounds of being officially high risk. I haven't bothered to find out, though, because of the certainty that they will have made it impossible for me to pay for it anyway. Don't need to look anything up to find that out; the universal policy of every bugger that you might need to pay for something is to make it as difficult as possible, and there isn't the slightest reason to suspect that supermarkets' online operations will be any different, especially since in that case you also know they are going to assume that all their delivery drivers are thieves.

63:

Actually, the COVID-19 tests are run on QPCR ("Q" is for quantitative) machines. The machines are more complicated and expensive -- the reaction is monitored in real time by fluorescence, unlike in the old days where we ran, say 30 cycles, then looked at the results. The need for everything to be scrupulously clean and uncontaminated still holds.

64:

"I was spitting out or swallowing the phlegm I was coughing up every hour or more often for a couple of weeks."

Many of us do that all, or a lot of, the time; unless it impairs your breathing, it's not significant. I agree that it is likely to cause a lynch mob to form in the current climate :-(

65:

I doubt he has any realistic choice. One thing that seems to be fairly clear about this disease is that even when you feel better you still need to convalesce, to sit around for a few weeks being wheeled about in a bath chair like some character recovering from a Victorian disease. Otherwise it up and knocks you right back on your arse again.

Now to be properly cynical one might hypothesise that him having it at all was faked so he could gain sympathy and duck responsibility...

(I'm not actually suggesting that, but someone might.)

66:

Good to know. I left before QPCR became a thing. Whoever's making the fluorescent markers is going to have a very good Christmas this year, lucky bastids.

67:

The Washington Post put up this fascinating little model showing how various types of distancing and quarantine would and wouldn't work (and before you start quibbling, read their disclaimers).

Scenarios 1 and 2 can be summarized as being an ineffective response and everybody gets it. The curve is flatter, but either way the result is 100% transmission.

What I found interesting were the 3rd and 4th scenarios. Scenario 3 looks to me like herd immunity with some people who'd neither been ill protected by the number of folks who caught it and recovered.

Scenario 4 is a drastic shutdown. During the shutdown, spread is an open-ended period where there's no huge number of infected folks at any one time, but there's a long, long period of low-level infection until herd immunity kicks in.

What that graphic doesn't show is what happens if that draconian lockdown is lifted before herd immunity kicks in. My guess (along with OGH) is that the result is a new spike, much as OGH describes. Given the push for early lift here in the states, I think that's what's going to happen in the USA, and likely other countries as well.

68:

Serological tests, i.e. tests for antibodies, are in principle much easier. It's a bulk test, so minute contamination (i.e., a single molecule's worth) is not a problem. Also, tests of this type are routine and can be developed for standard blood-testing machines. These tests, once ramped up, will be much quicker and less expensive than the PCR tests for virus RNA.

As Graydon points out: development and interpretation is not trivial.

69:

Saying it's a mess is putting it mildly. It definitely won't be over by Christmas.

Re: wearing masks of any sort in public. It's not currently mandatory in New Zealand (there are pros & cons) but on balance, it's better to wear than not to wear.

New Zealand has been lucky* and took advantage of it by acting early. We were able to see COVID19 progress in other countries first which gave us time to prepare. And once the first case was identified, preparations were advanced. Initially it was the announcement of the alert levels system and what each level required, which provided some clarity (in principle) of what was coming. But ramping up to the highest level (4) happened very quickly when it came & the country has been closed ever since; you can return to NZ if you are a resident, citizen or a dependent of but once you arrive you'll spend 14 days in quarantine.

Huge support packages have been initiated to help keep businesses & individuals going but clearly life won't be returning to normal any time soon (or if ever). Tourism accounts for ~6% of GDP - well that's gone.

Currently we are in a declared state of emergency (which has to be re-declared every 7 days) and Parliament is not sitting. In its place is the Epidemic Response Committee chaired by the Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges which provides scrutiny. In many ways our democracy is running as it should.

I expect our borders will remain closed for the forseeable future (until a reliable vaccine is available, also a good serological assay, and better data on how lasting is the immunity to COVID19 once you've recovered). The plan is to eliminate COVID19 from New Zealand. If that is successful, the biggest risk of reinfection is from overseas travellers, so yeah, country closed indefinitely...

*One of the pieces of luck has been having PM Jacinda Ardern at the helm providing astute & steady leadership. Our Director of Health Ashley Bloomfield is incredibly competent. I am so grateful for that.

70:

Herd immunity's nice, but we still don't know whether COVID-19 acts like
- measles (get it once and survive -> immune for life) or
- dengue fever (most people survive the first time, but if you get it again it's almost always fatal) or
- chicken pox (get it once, then you stay mostly immune but get shingles later.)

And depending on herd immunity before we know if you get immunity is disastrously stupid; I'm glad somebody whacked BoJo with a stick and told him to stop planning on that.

Elective medical treatment - my allergy shots are just cancelled for a couple of months, and I'll delay my routine dental cleaning and another routine annual appointment that were this month.

Online ordering - my pub (this is in Silicon Valley) delivers cooked food, beer and cocktails, toilet paper, and some uncooked groceries (including black pudding!)
Haven't tried the supermarkets yet.

71:

Agreed. This is one of the things we'll have to watch out for.

Right now there are claims of people testing positive after infection. There are claims of people showing no antibodies after testing positive for infection. There are claims of a dose response, where the sickest people show a strong antibody effect, while people who were weakly infected do not. And there are claims that human immune systems forget how to recognize coronaviruses over time.

I'm not an immunologist. It's worth reading Derek Lowe's post on coronavirus vaccine prospects for more details.

Basically as I understand it, you've got an innate immune system (same as fish and snails) and an adaptive immune system. The innate one is slow and primitive, while the adaptive one is the one that makes tailored antibodies and keeps some around as memory.

So what might be going on:
--Testing positive a second time: False positives? Every test out there reportedly has a false positive rate, so until someone gets infected a second time, we won't know. If they do get reinfected, then possibly either they fought off the virus with their innate system the first time, or possibly the first positive was a false positive and this time they really are sick. Or their adaptive immune systems didn't memorialize their antibodies.
--No antibodies after the illness: possibly a false negative. Or they fought it off with their innate immune systems, and/or their adaptive immune systems forgot.
--Dose response to virus infection? Hopefully this won't be a problem with vaccines...
--Forgetting viruses. Apparently this does happen, especially with noroviruses and (per Lowe) influenza. The solution is annual shots as with influenza. Per Lowe, this is likely to happen, as the vaccine types most likely to come to market first will likely provoke a weak immune response and need frequent boosting. Not a silver bullet, but I think most people will take it if it's available.

As for herd immunity? We can but hope, but I suspect the closest we'll get to it is a combined influenza/covid shot every fall to remind out bodies what to do.

72:

Minus 80? Is that a rounded version of minus 79? I'd have thought you could cover that one using some slabs of polystyrene foam and some dry ice, either obtained as solid or by expansion of gas from cylinders. I'd also have thought that there would be a surplus of both forms around now, so it could be that that part of the process at least is one we can relatively easily avoid getting stuck on.

73:

The problem is which antibodies does the serological test respond to. Coronavirus antibodies include those from common cold strains which everyone on the planet will have. A simple easy-to-apply serological test that only produces a coloured marker (like home pregnancy tests) in the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and no other is very tricky to create and QA.

The first testing that needs to be done is on the tests themselves and the stories appearing here and there amongst the PR puff pieces is that the early contenders for sale to governments quantity ten million hitting the market have a very high error rate for false positives.

74:

What you have missed (or didn't mention) is the rest of the world, namely Africa, Central and South America, India, Russia and most of Asia (e.g. Turkey). The death toll there might well be enormous, especially in Sub-Saharan-Africa, where there is no medical system to speak of (how many ICUs are there in e.g. Nigeria or Congo?).

Add to this the next drought in Europe (when was the last real rain in Edinburgh?) and 2020 promises to be a terrible year.

One upside: 2020 is peak carbon.

75:

Paying for stuff works pretty well actually, as long as you have a credit or debit card. The problem is entirely that the whole thing has seized up under the load as something usually used by at most 20% of the population is suddenly used by almost everyone, and a lot of them are buying many weeks'-worth of supplies at once. (Comparisons to Internet infrastructure, which was not built at lowest possible cost under the lash of intense competition to maximize efficiency and minimize resiliency, are instructive.)

76:

In comment 55, OGH writes:

. . . rumours that the Navy are considering a way to put Crozier back on promotion path to Admiral (even if he doesn't get his carrier back), suggest that at least one branch of the military is royally pissed off with the White House. Not to the point of mutiny, but they're very unlikely to support a coup or to suppress state governors who refuse to submit to his absolute authority.
Three of my good friends are retired career military, all at or near the rank of colonel. It's not too far from the truth to describe them as one left, one right, one centrist. Over the years I've seen one or more seriously honked off by every president since Clinton. This is the first time I've seen all three honked off at the same president simultaneously (and no, it didn't start with Crozier).

But that said, all three seriously believe in the line of command. Trump would have to go way, way further than this for disobedience becoming a possibility. Mass resignation of folks in the officer corps, maybe. But direct refusal to follow an order? I seriously doubt it.

77:
Expect denial and heel-dragging and a much worse death toll, this time reaching the rural heartland (where hospitals may not have any ICU beds at all: there's going to be carnage)

I help organize an event in rural Texas (we called it off a couple of weeks ago, and are already talking about calling off the 2021 edition, much as it pains me). Until 2019, the host county had a five-bed hospital. Now it doesn't even have that. Last I checked it had two C19 cases.

Just as the various U.S. states have not been hit by C19 on the same schedule and have not issued lockdown orders in concert with each other, they won't lift them either (Arkansas not only doesn't have a statewide lockdown, its governor has issued an order denying mayors the power to issue citywide lockdowns, and Mississippi tried the same for a while). We may see some governors being more adventurous/foolhardy serving as negative examples as their neighbors. We're also seeing travel restrictions between states.

trump has made noises about ordering the whole country to reopen, and in theory he could use federal money to give those orders some teeth. It's impossible to predict what he'll really do.

78:

re. BoJo: Even sick, I'd expect him to pick 5 minutes when he doesn't look like death warmed over to appear in public and say "see, I was right, it's survivable and veryone is exaggerating how bad it is". The fact that he isn't doing this is a concern. One can hope for a conversion on the road to Damascus, but one shouldn't hold one's breath.

Re. New shopping model (Montreal, Quebec): We stocked up on non-perishable basics several weeks before Canada when into lockdown, and now do most of our grocery shopping (mostly perishable such as fresh veggies but also staples as we run low) by online ordering. It's still primitive, but works surprisingly well given that this system been bootstrapped into full production mode by our local supermarkets for less than a month. It will get better as they refine the system and hire more staff. Given the speed, we may never go back to in-person shopping, other than for the thrill of fondling the veggies and fruits.

Since my previous post was far too optimistic, here's a nightmare scenario Charlie missed: Donald and Vladimir have a little tête-à-tête a few weeks before the presidential election, and agree that a small, limited nuclear exchange in the Ukraine would give Donald an excuse to declare an emergency and try to shut down the election. (It would also make Vlad very popular at home.) Don't know whether the U.S. has an equivalent to Canada's "war measures act", but I doubt the Democrat states would accept suspension of the election because of war, since that's not constitutionally legal. *Then* you'll see civil war, and it will be interesting to see whether the armed forces fracture as they did during the 19th century civil war or decide Trump is really their enemy. A slightly less pessimistic scenario that leads to a similar outcome would be if Trump loses the election but refuses to step down, claiming (ironically enough) that the Russians hacked the election and he's really still the elected leader. Either way, it won't end well.

79:

Gatwick and Heathrow are also both within an hour of Westminster by tube and/or train (Gatwick within 45 minutes).

80:

"The problem is which antibodies does the serological test respond to. Coronavirus antibodies include those from common cold strains which everyone on the planet will have, etc"

Yes, of course. those are all problems that I meant to cover under the comment "development and interpretation is not trivial."

I'm not really interested in the simple home tests that produce a color reaction. Those are never going to be super-reliable. I'm interested in the tests that will be run on standard blood test machines. You know, when you go to LifeLabs (or whatever) and they suck two tubes of blood out of your arms, then send those off to be analyzed. Those are more robust, yet can be done at scale.

81:

There is still supposed to be both a Democratic convention and a Republican convention.

AFAIK these are optional and IMHO won't happen; the RNC and DNC will declare the candidates.

What will be more interesting is the question of elections; per constitution Trumps term ends on 2021-01-20 12:00 EST.

82:

Also @Heteromeles (and apologies if I'm teaching you to suck eggs)

Here the PCR machines (and research folk) in research facilities have been recruited for COVID19 testing to increase testing capacity. The validated method is qPCR which is working well but non-trivial. One factor is the taking of the sample which can be as easy as sputum or as invasive as a bronchoalveolar lavage. The possibility of a false negative is real (our first case took persistent re-testing before the test came back positive) even when the patient is showing all the clinical symptoms.

Then once you have the sample you have to extract the genetic material before analysis. Because coronaviruses are RNA viruses, you can't go directly to qPCR, you first have to convert the RNA into DNA (DNA is the template the qPCR process works on). And that is non-trivial too. Naked RNA is very susceptible to degradation by RNAses (enzymes that degrade RNA), and RNAses are ubiquitous, so careful handling is needed.

There is a whole lot of effort going on developing better, faster, cheaper, higher throughput tests. This as much as anything will be part of how we get through this.

(Side note: I've always been interested in logistics & supply chains. But none more so than now.)

83:

Year of the Jackpot.

84:

I'll second "Bad Hurricane Season" as a particularly ugly wild card. If we get another hurricane season like 2017 with multiple hurricanes hitting the US, it would be pretty awful on top of the pandemic if we haven't gotten a lucky break on either the herd immunity or the weather slowing it down. Nothing like crowds of people in temporary camps to spread disease.

85:

It's true. The people who write popular descriptions of PCR like to emphasize how "sensitive" it is -- can detect even a single molecule! And this is true. What they fail to emphasize is that PCR is sensitive in all the bad ways as well as all the good. If you've done a lot of PCR, you know that there are a thousand ways it can fail. RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-PCR) is even worse.

One of the things that amused me was learning that Qiagen kits had become limiting for Covid-19 testing. Back when I ran a lab we had a cabinet full of them. (And they were not cheap.) I never foresaw the day when they would become a matter of life and death.

86:

...tip...

Asian groceries are pretty much fully stocked.

Never bet against USain ignorance and stupidity.

87:

You've described SARS in Toronto, writ large.

We had a second outbreak, just as you describe, substantially from asymptomatic transmission inside hospital.

We beat it with what I'd consider a defense in depth. Not just isolation, but a new kind of test that didn't depend on antibody production, painful levels of contact tracing, antivirals, prefab hospital rooms, ventilators, and a push toward a vaccine.

I described the testing part at https://leaflessca.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/memories-of-sars-2-testing/

88:

Yes, supply chain & logistics.

I knew it was going to be a big issue probably around late January with the reporting out of places like Taiwan & Korea but it was brought home when I started getting emails from biotech suppliers increasingly mentioning COVID19 testing primers, kits & reagents.

89:

As an aside, since we noted rather Legalistic threats in the last engagement.

Currently portions of the United Kingdom legal system has been shut down, with cases furrowed and many Juniors concerned. Since many are private practices, and thus 'self-employed' and also not meeting various wage thresholds, there is some concern.

While the UK has not released prisoners yet, there are cases in the United States where prisoners have been released (with threats of "Crime Waves").

There are also multiple cases in the United States (the United Kingdom is not releasing figures as of yet) where prisons have entirely higher number of percentages than the general populace and I suspect that is also the case in the United Kingdom, if we were allowed to release said data.


As a general note: threatening to sue people for libel is in itself a form of "harassment" in that you are attempting to proscribe expression by dint of Legal (and Monetary) weight, when in current circumstances, that is unlikely to occur for many months.


This does tie in to current United Kingdom politics, but we felt it necessary to point out here.

90:

*have

Autocorrect error, apologies.

91:

"Another problem is that with DNA, it needs to be held in the -80oC freezer."

Actually -80 deg C freezers are not needed for DNA so long as you have a clean sample (no nucleases). I generally store my genomic DNA samples in the fridge (to avoid shearing from freeze/thawing), standard samples in -20C. It's only our archival DNA samples that are stored in -80, but that's for long term storage. In practice, it means one less piece of specialised equipment needed in a COVID19 testing lab.

92:
I'm going to drop this in here as unfinished business from the previous thread. If it's out of line, moderators please just delete it & I'll move on.

Charles H @ 1350: You are ignoring the very large number of people who don't own their own homes. They rent an apartment or live on the street. Or with friends or relatives. Or are migrant labor.

Nope. Home is where your heart is. If you live there, it's your home no matter who owns the damn building or even if there is a building.

What I'm getting at is no one should be forced to sell or move out of their "home" because they can't get the assistance they need to live independently. I understand some who are not able to live independently still want to do so & reject assistance. I don't have a good answer for that.

That said, it depends greatly on the quality of the residence you end up in. And more expensive definitely isn't necessarily better. (OTOH, the really low end is as bad as a dog kennel...for abandoned dogs.)

No shit! But better does mean more expensive; more than most can afford. Need to do something about that too.

David L @ 1352:

I wonder how that's going to work for Direct Deposit? I can't remember the last time I got a check from the government. Plus, doesn't a check mean you're going to have to go to a bank to cash/deposit it?

Inside US information here."

If the IRS has a bank account on file for you they are just putting the money in your account. My son already got his money. The paper checks are only if they don't have a bank accounted tied to your tax returns.

Don't know about Social Security processing.

That was supposed to be mild sarcasm. How did Trumpolini expect to get his name printed on Direct Deposits? FWIW, I checked my credit union account. It's in there as "IRS TRES Tax Ref" without any mention of Trumpolini.

stirner @ 1372: Hey JBS, I've passed on your tip about dishwashing liquid/foggy glasses.
You'll be pleased to know some French nurses say thank you.

You're welcome. They're welcome.

Foxessa @ 1374: How big is chiefbloodonhishands and his family's stim chex, and can Deutche Bank take them?

I don't think he's supposed to get one (nor will any of his git) ... they all have incomes above the limit. But if he did get one, according to those rules Deutsche Bank should be able to garnish it.

whitroth @ 1383: IIRC (my late ex was, among other things, a master diver), you could buy some kind of wax-based stuff to rub on them, not messy like dishwashing liquid.

I should do something, since as soon as I put on a mask, either the inexpensive dust masks I have around, or the Designer Ones (well, my SO does Art, so that makes her a designer) she made, my glasses start fogging.

*shrug* Guess that makes me an old foggy....

old foggy ... indeed. Dog will get you for that, and if she doesn't we will!

Doesn't have to be dish soap. It can be regular Ivory bar soap. I use the liquid hand soap I have in my bathroom. You're just going to polish it until it's only a thin, invisible film on the surface anyway. Spit does work, but is not as long lasting and for obvious reasons is probably contra-indicated right now for the same reasons they don't want medical professionals to blow up their gloves (like a balloon to stretch them out) before putting them on.

And I wouldn't use 409 or Windex w/ammonia (or w/o ammonia for that matter) because they won't leave enough of a film, but will make your eyes water like crazy.

93:
Basically as I understand it, you've got an innate immune system (same as fish and snails) and an adaptive immune system. The innate one is slow and primitive, while the adaptive one is the one that makes tailored antibodies and keeps some around as memory.

Actually, the innate immune system is the most rapid and effective arm of the immune system, for the challenges it handles. Since it is indeed "innate", i.e. inborn (think "hard-wired") it's not really great at handling novel challenges. The adaptive immune system is the slow one. (And it is utterly dependent on the innate immune system. The innate system has to send up a flare to alert the adaptive immune system that there's a problem that needs to be dealt with.)

The thing that has bothered me about a lot of the reporting on antibodies is that antibodies are not necessarily the most effective part of the adaptive immune system in dealing with viruses. That would often be the cellular immune system: killer T-cells. Serological tests test for antibodies because that's the easy thing to do, not because they're necessarily the best indicator of functional immunity.

94:

a lot of them are buying many weeks'-worth of supplies at once

That would be me. I'm buying 2+ weeks at a time, because (a) I'm trying to minimize trips, and (b) I'm doing that curbside pickup thing to avoid contact, and those slots are booked two weeks ahead*.

I'm beginning to think a chest freezer would be a good buy.


*And you can only have one open order at once, so no way to do weekly shopping runs.

95:

David L @ 3:

the prevalence of air conditioning in public spaces in the US

Don't understand this one.

IF heat makes it harder for the virus to spread, it could still be spread inside air conditioned spaces. The U.S. has a lot more of them than any other place in the world. Atlanta or Dallas might displace NYC as the biggest Covid19 "hot spot" in the U.S.

96:

Oh, and by the way, fish also have an adaptive immune system that is basically the same as ours. (Well, it's like version 1.2, and we're version 3.8.) There are even fish vaccines.

The innate immune system of snails does not resemble ours, except in its general purpose.

97:

Charlie Stross @ 17:

Another big loser are going to be all the films and TV shows whose production was suspended. They can't finish shooting without big crews on set, and they can't get the big crews until they can guarantee everyone is healthy.

Two big exceptions: (a) talking head chat shows, and (b) animation. We're at a point today where a high-end animation workstation (think in terms of a PC or Mac Pro in the $20-40,000 price range) is able to do realtime photorealistic rendering on 4K or 8K video. Work from home should be practical in the animation sector, so if this drags on more than 12 months expect a bunch of Hollywood money to get turned into Pixar and third party animated TV shows and movies.

The BBC has already been commissioning animated episodes for Doctor Who to fill in the gaps. It can't be all bad if it means we get a lot more "missing" episodes replaced.

98:

Suggest to me where I am wrong here, but are not all immune systems adaptive? One can argue over the efficiency of said systems, but they are rather universal.

All creatures adapt and abapt to their environment and their various relations of predation, parasitism or mutalism.


Excuse me, I only have a slight knowledge of biology.


99:

Ah, yes, rural America... and the South, aka "Trumplandia". The governors are starting lockdowns, at last. Last week, Georgia? One of the Southern states had a press conference, and he said that he'd "only learned in the last 24 hours that you can go for weeks without showing symptoms". !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They cases are picking up, and they do *not* have enough medical facilities, They're going to be hit,and hard.

Then there were the terrorists on the steps of the Wisconsin capital, demanding that the governor, who just shut it all down, reopen. Why, yes, a good number of them *were* carrying firearms.

100:

unless it impairs your breathing, it's not significant.

I didn't get measured but it was obvious to me that I was not getting 2 completely healthy lungs worth of O2 with regular breathing. About 10 days after I got over it I was able to go out sit in a meeting and not feel like I was out of breath for about 3 hours. Each day after that added about an hour to my limits. And the amount of crap I coughed up went down at about the same rate.

101:

Poul-Henning Kamp @ 18: But the biggest issue is that I cannot imagine USA being able settle the election come November.
...
Biden and/or Trump dies between now and November and all bets are void.

That's something that mystifies me. Given the way he behaves (and that you don't know who has it until they start showing symptoms, but it's contagious as hell before then), why isn't Trumpolini already in ICU on a ventilator?

102:

John Horton Conway - inventor of "The Game of Life" & cellular automata has jsut died of the Corvid.
Sad.

Reports that mad US Libetarians are surrounding some gov's residences & demanding "FREEDOM!" - to die of disiease, because they are stupid ...

Nix
My heart bleeds - not ....
Havinh just dug a super-pokey sring onion or 2 to go with my left-over beef recycled as Stroganoff, with leeks & onions. ...

Noel Maurer
The problem is that testing remains a clusterfuck. - Just like here, in fact ...

Bill Arnold
Face Masks prevent other people from getting whatever you have ... mostly.
They don't protect you from getting what other people have ... much

49/50
Insanity even greater than DT?
Or the strict ultra-orthodox in Israel refusing to lockdown? - see also "mad US Libertarians", above.

Troutwaxer
PROVIDED Trump doesn't succed in blaming it on the JewsChinese, of course.
But you may be correct ... a straight-out showdown between Congress, esp the Lower House & the Governors on one side & DT & the rethuglicans on the other is going to be ... interesting.
And messy, as in blood-on-the-streets messy.

Steve Simmons
We get regular info-dumps from upper management, and people ask a lot of questions about when we're going to be back in the office
Well, the Boss has been working from home for all the lockdown, plus 4 days ...
Her firm have looked at the results ...
A LOT of working is going to be done from home, afterwards, doubtful if many people are actually going to be physically "In the Office" for more than 3 days a week.
Adaptation has been very fast.

& @ 75
Nuremberg defense: "Is that a legitimate oder ... sir?"
"I am taking advice as to whether that's a legitimate order"
And other methods of Schweik-ing it at a higher level ....

Wyvernsridge
Correction:
"Re: Africa, Russia, Central Asia. Two years from now, those areas mayWILL be unrecognisable."

Geoff Hart
The Secret Service staff who guard Trump swear their loyalty to the US Constitution, don't they, not the POTUS?

103:

The Orange Psycho doesn't dare lose. And if he does, he won't be shuffling out the door, he'll be on a plane to his dacha on the Black Sea, because there are at least half a dozen DAs and federal prosecutors that are going to chow down on his ass, and everyone around him, when he can't pardon them. Money laundering, emoluments, fraudulent contracts, insider trading... and that's not even counting the sex lawsuits.

With the news that his name is going to be on the memo on the physical checks going out for relief, someone's response was, "if I wanted Trump's signature on a check, I'd have been a porn star."

104:

Ah yes
XKCD on J H Conway A fitting tribute

105:

The problem is entirely that the whole thing has seized up under the load as something usually used by at most 20% of the population is suddenly used by almost everyone, and a lot of them are buying many weeks'-worth of supplies at once.

And in the US (Europe I have no idea about it) the supply chains for food have the same issues as for toilet paper. 40% give or take of the usage has switch from business/school/restaurant to home. And as an article I read last night said, most grocery stores really don't know what to do with a 40 pound sack of flour.

106:

Odd. The news stories I've been seeing have all been thta pollution is *way* down, because commuting is a fraction of what it was, as is flying.

Btw, people may get smarter soon, since the airlines aren't flying, and so the Chemtrails!!! aren't there....

107:

Re: BBC shows

Started watching BBC comedy/quiz/panel shows on YT - entertaining, irreverent and more educational than the stuff over here esp. QI (esoteric trivia) and Mock the Week (UK political headlines).


108:

Ghu.... Yeah, my about to be 8 granddaughter has had some issues, not being able to be with friends, just yelling to them across the street.....

109:

but I doubt the Democrat states would accept suspension of the election because of war, since that's not constitutionally legal.

The election of 1864 took place. With some serious footnotes about some states but it did take place.

110:

Suggest to me where I am wrong here, but are not all immune systems adaptive? One can argue over the efficiency of said systems, but they are rather universal.

All creatures adapt and abapt to their environment and their various relations of predation, parasitism or mutalism.

You are quite right. This is a problem of confusing terminology. All immune systems are adaptive, in the sense of allowing organisms to deal better with their varying environments. However, in the field of immunology specifically, "adaptive" has another meaning. The immune system of vertebrates has two arms: the innate immune system, which we're born with and, except for genetic variation, is basically the same in all of us (eliding certain unilluminating complexities). But we also have an "adaptive immune system", which is called that because it changes itself in response to the challenges it faces during your life. It is this adaptive immune system that makes vaccines work.

To go a little beyond your question, the adaptive immune system has two main molecular adaptive responses: humoral and cellular immunity. Humoral immunity is the production of antibodies that recognize the invader. These are released from the cells that make them and float around in your blood (and other body fluids). Cellular immunity is based on a different adaptive molecule, the T-cell receptor, which is stuck to the surface of T-cells and allows them to recognize cells harboring an invader (such as a virus).

111:

In addition to the old dust masks I have in boxes, *I* have two Designer masks. Ellen made them in the next room, she's my designer....

On the other hand, I'm not sure what you mean about piling up clothes in southeast asia - two weeks or so ago, I started seeing stories about people there in desperate straights, since all orders were cancelled, and there was no work.

112:

I'm beginning to think a chest freezer would be a good buy.

I understand they are in short supply just now. That was last month's purchase.

113:

Yes, he turned into a glider gun. It was heartbreaking.

114:

Geoff Hart @ 24: Can't think of anything you missed. Like you, I'm a bit surprised to hear nothing from Bozo (er... BoJo). That suggests he's far worse off than anyone suspected, which you've pointed out elsewhere isn't a good thing.

I've seen some stories that people who have been placed on a ventilator suffer an extended period of loss of lucidity after they're taken off of it. Maybe he's still "Non compos mentis"?

Doesn't bode well for Trumpolini if he gets it. OTOH, how would you tell?

I've also seen some suggestions that therapies are being better targeted. For example, the current guidelines for use of respirators are based on monitoring oxygen levels following previous guidelines for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which may not be appropriate for Covid-19. (Source: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/04/08/health/ap-us-med-virus-outbreak-ventilator-deaths.html) If this proves to be correct (and please note that the jury is still out on this), treatment success will improve gradually as data on outcomes accumulates and supports changes in the approach.

Also, more PPE will become available as the outbreak slows, including N95 masks becoming available for civilians as medical workers accumulate a sufficient inventory. That should further slow the spread.

What we really need is a fast, reliable CHEAP test to tell if someone is contagious or not. Does anyone yet have a test that can tell if someone is contagious RIGHT NOW? ... one that has a low incidence of false positive/false negative but can tell right away if a person is contagious; not looking to tell if they've had the disease some time in the past or have recently been exposed to it, just can they give me the disease today if I am exposed to them?

I'm thinking something like a breath analyzer. You blow into a disposable tube and if you're contagious the indicator turns blue or something like that.

115:

Or the strict ultra-orthodox in Israel refusing to lockdown

The refused, or tried to, in Brooklyn last year. Created a real mess with measles.

Talk about an insular enclave. I rode through that area last year. You could easily tell you were "not in Kansas anymore".

116:

Also, one thing you missed is the probability of mutation. My limited understanding is that the Spanish flu didn't start out particularly deadly, but became so at some point. Given the current world population and the, um, lack-luster response in the US and possibly the EU (deaths per capita seem high) - there is a pretty likely set of futures where a mutation happens and we lose something bigger than 2% of the population, starting here or thereabouts.

Given that there haven't been that many pandemics and at least one of them mutated, this wouldn't even be unexpected.

117:

David L @ 26: And I guess I get to learn how to cut my own hair. I'm easy. I'm very thin on top and switched to a buzz cut a couple of year ago. Others not so much. I think shaggy will get more and more popular.

"High and Tight" is REAL easy for DIY. I did it for years & years. Since I no longer have to keep the 1SG happy, I don't cut it at all. That's easy too.

118:

On the other hand, I'm not sure what you mean about piling up clothes in southeast asia - two weeks or so ago, I started seeing stories about people there in desperate straights, since all orders were cancelled,

Getting stuff from there to here is an issue.

For whatever reasons DHL raised their airfreight rates 30% a week ago and today another 30%. Which tells me that there isn't much space for freight to get back and forth.

119:
I'm thinking something like a breath analyzer. You blow into a disposable tube and if you're contagious the indicator turns blue or something like that.

We do have a test like that, but it is slow and expensive. You find someone ("the substrate") who has never had the virus, then have the person to be tested ("the testee") spit on the substrate. If the substrate becomes Covid-positive within two weeks, the testee was contagious. False negatives are a possible problem.

We can probably do better than that, but I'm willing to guarantee that the instant breathe test you envision is not gonna happen.

120:

All of this...plus escalating wildcat strikes from "essential" workers as more and more of them get sick and it becomes clear that there's nothing their employers can (or will) do to protect them. How many Republican governors in the US will least attempt to use the National Guard to force migrant workers to pick crops?

121:

whitroth @ 46: Yes. Right now, there are news stories about farmers dumping milk, eggs, etc... and that's on *top* of the floods last year and this year hitting the US midwest.

Oh, and the meatpacking plant that literally does 2% of the ENTIRE US pork supply was shut down a few days ago for at least 2 weeks.

The milk thing seems to be due to a packaging bottle-neck. A substantial portion of the milk produced in the U.S. was packaged as individual servings for school kids and all of a sudden demand for those dropped to nothing and demand for bulk packages (quart, half-gallon, gallon) skyrocketed and the dairy's couldn't get enough of them. Plus the grocery stores literally did not have enough room in their dairy coolers to hold all the milk that was now needed & they couldn't move it into the display shelves fast enough.

A substantial portion of "eggs, etc" also goes to restaurants and that demand has just disappeared as well, along with another logistics bottle-neck switching over to supplying grocery stores.

The meat packing plant apparently had a bunch of workers come down with the Covid19 at the same time & had to close for decontamination AND find new workers.

122:

I learned to cut my own hair decades ago, with a hand mirror and a $20 hair cutter. It takes a bit of practice, but it's not hard. If you're trimming the back of your neck, you really need two mirrors to see what you're doing, hence the hand mirror.

123:

That's something that mystifies me. Given the way he behaves (and that you don't know who has it until they start showing symptoms, but it's contagious as hell before then), why isn't Trumpolini already in ICU on a ventilator?

Because he's really a Visitor, and lizards don't get coronaviruses?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V_(1983_miniseries)

124:

Part of me wonders whether hospitals, not shops, workplaces or parks, are going to be the major transmission route. It seems a lot of NHS staff are getting it, proportionally far more than any other sector of the population, and then spreading it either to their families or other patients. The question becomes whether, to spare the staff, it would be too harsh on patients, if coronavirus starts to rub against or breach hospital capacity, to stop treating coronavirus at all to ease pressure on the brave staff? Maybe a delivery service to serious patient's homes of oxygen cylinders and a non-invasive ventilator with an instruction manual? If a case is so bad that non-invasive ventilation can't save them could we assume their chances with more support still would have been very low? Then let the hospitals keep working for all the non-covid-19 health issues they usually have to treat, the sort of issues which don't stop just because a nasty new virus rears its ugly head. There is then ofcourse also the matter than if NHS staff trying to get a break from their stressful work can no longer walk down a street without a neo-stasi neighbour reporting them and leaving threatening notes, or up a hill without a power crazed cop with a new toy harassing them by drone, and they can't get the luxury food they really want, and they fear a drop in pay if the economy can't soon get going again to fund the NHS, then they'll be in an even worse place to take the stress of their jobs. Right now I'm a lot more scared of lockdowns and other extreme policies damaging my: civil liberties, mental health, availability of supplies, and my job, than of the virus itself. I keep trying to think what we can do to end this lockdown in a way which won't overload our brave NHS staff, won't cause even worse trouble for our vital food supply and delivery infrastructure (people with mild sickness may have to work and spread it if the alternative is mass starvation) and won't play into the hands of dictators and would-be dictators.

126:

Deaths of despair? It's been discussed a little, but only in the economic context as far as I've seen. What about it sinking in that, unless you were already shacked up a month ago, you might not be touching another human being (I don't mean only sexually) until ..... ? Zoom is great, but it does. not. replace everything we're replacing with it.

(I for one have ended my prior long-term relationship with the word "introvert.")

A couple weeks ago there was an article somewhere, people talking about expanding their social distancing bubbles, how and whether to do that, the ethical considerations, etc. Medical professionals were (perhaps correctly) tutting at this; but the parallels to post-AIDS management of intimacy jumped out at me. I'm (just) young enough to have been an adult only since the "miracle drugs," but the prospect of trading off human connections with a deadly disease (if a more infectious, though more immediately if less certainly deadly, one)... might be time to reread some Sarah Schulman.

127:

There was potential for a similar issue with covid-19 in an area north of the bronx called New Rochelle, but the governor of NY called in the national guard as soon as things looked to be going exponential. Ostensibly, they weren't there to enforce a lock down, just to "help clean and sanitize public spaces and hand out food to those who need it". But I think the message was clear.

Across the border in NJ, there's a town called Lakewood with a large ultra-orthodox population that has also resisted a lockdown, up to & including attending a large funeral for a Rabbi that died from coronavirus.

I don't mean to pick on that population either: There are pockets of people across the country of varying political or religious groups that seem predisposed to resist the lock-down for one reason or another. I don't think that's going to improve as things continue, and if society/business basically re-opens in a few weeks and another spike comes along, that toothpaste is going to be much much harder to put back in the tube for increasingly less ideological-motivated groups.

128:

cut my own hair

Then there is this for the DIY crowd.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowbee

129:

Arguably a test for anti-bodies to detect previous exposure might be more useful than an anti-gen test for current contagion. Would let them find out whether the virus has spread a lot more then believed, arguably a good thing as it would put us closer to a form of herd-immunity and imply a lower death rate than we had expected. Or a little more than believed, more worrying as it would imply the death rate is as expected but further spread and more who might have spread it further early on leading to future infection spikes. Combined with anti-gens it would also let you separate hospital staff into those with the virus now but minimal or no symptoms (work with the COVID-19 patients), those with immunity (for work that might take them back and forth betwen coronavirus and non-coronavirus wards) and those without (keep away from COVID-19 patients where-ever feasible).

130:

Or the strict ultra-orthodox in Israel refusing to lockdown

The refused, or tried to, in Brooklyn last year. Created a real mess with measles.

Interesting story here:

https://www.rawstory.com/2020/04/trump-appointee-calls-on-new-jersey-governor-to-send-troops-to-ultra-orthodox-jewish-enclave-to-enforce-social-distancing/

The coronavirus infection rate in the Jewish enclave of Lakewood Township in New Jersey has surpassed surrounding towns by nearly two to one. Now, Councilman Barry Calogero is calling for the National Guard to enforce social distancing rules on the community, according to the Shore News Network.

Calogero, who is also a politically appointed executive director of the Trump administration, called on the Army National Guard to deploy to his town and towns surrounding Lakewood to enforce Governor Phil Murphy’s quarantine orders.

131:

New Rochelle

That was the real start of hot spots as I recall.

My problem with New Rochelle is I keep thinking of Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.

132:

Whatever happens we need that freight, transported cargo is what keeps people alive, infrastructure maintained and businesses running. With borders with few people crossing but plenty of freight we can sustain an existance of some level, imagine the damage brexit will do if we stop getting the freight as well as coronavirus reducing the abilty of people to trave.

133:

>> Lockdown can't be sustained more than 1-2 weeks after peak ICU occupancy passes

Why not? Too much social/political pressure to reopen? If so, wouldn't that be overcome in lockdown 2.0 when people have had a chance to see what opening too early looks like? Especially if it hits rural heartland areas as you predict. Right now, those folks view this as a "city" problem, and a small segment of them have a "let it burn" attitude. Once it hits home though, all the rhetoric from Trump in the world won't overcome "it killed so I'm staying put". Or so I would think. Reopening after lockdown 1.0 looks like just severely misinformed decision making. After 2.0 it would be undeniably reckless to a much larger group.

134:

Would jump at the chance to wear a facemask if that could help end the lockdown. In the UK we could perhaps use a law requiring all buildings to have openable windows for ventilation rather than ghastly disease-spreading air-con systems, I think that change to our build environments could be made pretty easily compared to any others. I'm fairly sure that in the UK we get cold and flu viruses in the winter because they spread easily through air-con systems, and they relent in summer when people are not breathing each other's air, we ofcourse don't yet really know if COVID-19 will follow this pattern.

135:

Brazil is doing better than you might think as well, basically because the Minister of Health and the state governors have told the President to fuck off.

That would be the *former* Minister of Health, who Bolsonaro just sacked. According to the current headline in O Globo,

Novo ministro da Saúde, Nelson Teich diz que tem 'alinhamento completo' com presidente Bolsonaro.

Which Google Translates as,

New Health Minister Nelson Teich says he has 'complete alignment' with President Bolsonaro.

Complete alignment indeed.

136:

Agreed. I've been flogging serological tests for weeks, even b efore they appeared in the news. Aside from the advantages you mention, they are quick and inexpensive.

137:

Or maybe they're desperate, because traffic's down.

138:

ill Arnold @ 53:

booking available for about five minutes every midnight until the next daily tranche of booking slots *three weeks away* is entirely consumed?

I have a local market (NE US) that only allows booking two days in advance (for outside store pickup), so at 12:05 (+/-) AM I've been able to get a slot, twice. Hopefully we won't have greed-heads grabbing all available slots (using multiple accounts) and reselling them. (Probably already happening, though.)
Not going into the store until mask usage percentage is a lot higher. (Did some minor (not enough) prep buying in February though.)

I hadn't planned to go out until the 1st of May, but I had to go pick up a book today. So I "girded up my loins", put on my face mask & ventured forth.

Bought on-line for pickup at a local store. They sent me a form to print out. I was supposed to drive up to the store, park in their parking lot & call the telephone number on the form. I had to tell them my name and make & model of my vehicle. Then I was supposed to show them my form (with bar code) & a government issued photo ID to prove I was who I said I was & not there to steal someone's book ...

I got there and I was the only car in the parking lot, right in front of the door and they didn't even look at my form or my ID ... just had me roll down a back window so they could dump the book in on the back seat.

While I was out I stopped by Walgreen's and got some Breathe-Rite strips (I can't breathe through my nose without them) & stopped in at Aldis to stock up on additional groceries. I may have gotten enough that I don't have to go shopping again at the first of the month after all.

Still going out twice a day for walks so the dog can do his thing, keeping my social distance which is hard to do sometimes because he's a cute little thing & very popular with the ladies.

139:

Why wouldn't they want to appear next to COVID-19, everyone is reading about it, more people would see their ads. And if they're advertising face masks, hand sanitiser, work from home tools,... it's an even better pace for their ads to appear.

140:

And the US was already dealing with the opioid crisis, and a *lot* of suicides, because the jobs were gone already.

141:

It's a regional issue. President "Absolute Authority" decided to today to punt critical decisions to the governors" on how to deal with the shutdown.

Thing is, some states are just hitting the exponential growth period (South Dakota, Indiana, etc), some are in it (California, Michigan), some are perhaps leveling off (New York, Louisiana) and no one's out of the woods. Because the virus is spreading at a diversity of speeds, one size can't fit all. I'd note that even President OrangeVid16 wants to see two weeks of decreasing infection/death rates and robust testing before a reopening. Given that there's a testing bottleneck, it's going to be awhile.

The big question is how long before Agent Orange reneges on this statement and starts squalling for a reopening? Perhaps he'll start squawking "May Day, May Day"...

142:

I've been flogging serological tests for weeks

Accuracy and reliability is another matter. The British government has an open chequebook and initial orders for 17.5 million serological antibody tests which work as advertised. What they've got from the various snake-oil salesmen are test kits that have an enormous error rate when put under the microscope. No firm orders have yet been placed.

143:

A lot of survivalist, outdoor, and camping gear too showing up near Covid19 stuff. Guess the independent survivor fantasy market is still strong.

And to be fair, some of these companies say they're trying to stay open so that they can keep employing their people and give them health care. I'm sympathetic, but there's not much I need right now.

144:

And a lot of the folks outside metro areas are going to wind up dying in place, because there are *no* local hospitals, and "they're going to tough it out, it's all fake news".

145:

Charlie Stross @ 55:

it's not that hard to imagine a civil war starting in the next thirty days should Trump try to force the states to end their shutdowns.

One silver lining to this mess: the business with Capt. Crozier and the USS Roosevelt, and the subsequent resignation of the acting SecNav and rumours that the Navy are considering a way to put Crozier back on promotion path to Admiral (even if he doesn't get his carrier back), suggest that at least one branch of the military is royally pissed off with the White House. Not to the point of mutiny, but they're very unlikely to support a coup or to suppress state governors who refuse to submit to his absolute authority.

The Navy brass were already pissed off at him over the Eddie Gallagher pardon. The Army would also be unlikely to support unlawful orders vis a vis the State Governments. It's just NOT their thing. I don't know if they would openly defy him, but there'd be SO MUCH FOOT DRAGGING that it would amount to the same thing. The Air Force .... ummmm, I don't know.

146:

It's not the big question. He is increasingly irrelevant and ignored (which is somewhat of a problem because workarounds by states acting in groups are potentially slow and messy), but you already have 7 northeastern states acting in a coordinated fashion and the three pacific states doing likewise.

147:

Charlies,

Lockdowns are not ending in the US on May 1.

The lockdown in NY has already been extended to May 15 and as the 7 northeastern states are coordinating, they will do likewise. And, given the slowness of bending the curve, it is likely that this will be extended again and again.

Moreover and importantly, in a number of states school is not going to start again this academic year. If school doesn't start it is difficult for work to start generally as some parents will need to stay home with their children.

Long story short, I don't expect any of this to start easing until mid-late June and even then it will be limited (e.g. construction yes, hospitality and entertainment no).

148:

LAvery @ 59:

The new method of desperately dashing to one of a few big supermarkets that remain open, every week or so, trying to find anything on mostly empty shelves, and not ordering online because the whole online ordering infrastructure has more or less collapsed under massively increased load, with booking available for about five minutes every midnight until the next daily tranche of booking slots *three weeks away* is entirely consumed? I don't think that'll catch on, no.

No, I agree, *THAT* is unlikely to catch on. But online shopping the way I've experienced it, which has been much better, could. And it'll get better. The kinks will be worked out.

Other than that first week when all the toilet paper disappeared at once I haven't really noticed any bare shelves around here, other than hand sanitizer and to be perfectly honest I haven't looked to see whether there was any of that on the shelves after that first time when I looked just to satisfy my curiosity. On my April 1st trip I had to settle for 2% shelf stable milk because there was no 1% shelf stable milk, but there was plenty of 1% milk in the dairy case and while they were limiting frozen meals to "two per customer" it was two of each specific kind, so you could get 2 + 2 + 2 + ... which was what I usually do anyway.


149:

"Still going out twice a day for walks so the dog can do his thing, keeping my social distance which is hard to do sometimes because he's a cute little thing & very popular with the ladies."

Sudden thought on reading that: are there apparently random people he decides he doesn't like the smell of, who a few weeks later you realise aren't around any more?

Or has anyone else thought to find out if dogs can smell the infection? They can some things, I believe.

150:

We pretty much know it is not like the second option, there have been suspected instances of people who got it twice, not quite proven. But what they got the second time was less severe than the first time. Right now there seems to be the suggestion that most people who get it have some level of immunity, possibly time limited though, but the possibility that some patients don't get immune does seem to exist and whether immunity is eternal is obviously unproven.

152:

Martin Schröder @ 80:

There is still supposed to be both a Democratic convention and a Republican convention.

AFAIK these are optional and IMHO won't happen; the RNC and DNC will declare the candidates.

What will be more interesting is the question of elections; per constitution Trumps term ends on 2021-01-20 12:00 EST.

The Republicans have already announced they're going ahead with their party rally in Nurmeberg convention in Charlotte. The Democrats haven't announced yet but seem to be leaning towards doing some kind of virtual convention on-line.

The Republican plan for the election seems to be to disenfranchise as many likely Democratic voters as they can, interfere with voting anywhere they think Democrats are likely to have a good turnout and then screw with counting the ballots everywhere else hoping it will be enough for Trumpolini to eke out another Electoral College win (and for them to hang on to the Senate). They may be able to pull it off. I don't know.

The interesting question is what will the Republicans do if they lose and it's so obvious it can't be denied?

153:

Nah, the interesting question if the candidates for POTUS and VPOTUS of both parties die between the conventions and the election. (And throw in Bernie, too.)

Likely? not especially. But the scope for interesting is well outside the usual, just right now.


154:

convention in Charlotte.

The city of Charlotte is run by a D majority council. And the D governor seems to have his head on straight. I suspect they both might tell the R convention to stick it. Then the R controlled legislature will toss a major hissy and everyone show up in several court rooms at once.

155:

Likely? not especially

But I can see one or more of them on a vent on election day.

156:

On the plus side, technology has advanced enough that we can routinely sequence whole virus genomes which is being done with COVID19, and the results are being shared.

https://nextstrain.org/ncov/global

It's an important tool to track where the different strains are going, as well as new strains as they mutate.

157:

David L @ 111:

I'm beginning to think a chest freezer would be a good buy.

I understand they are in short supply just now. That was last month's purchase.

I looked at chest freezers, but even a small one would have to go in the basement and I'd have to be climbing down & up stairs every time I wanted to put something in or take something out.

I found a small upright freezer on-line (3.0 cu ft - about the size of those "dorm refrigerators"). It fits in the cubby I made for a dishwasher when I was redoing the kitchen. I can't put a dishwasher in there because I screwed up the drain pipe & I'll have to go back inside the wall to fix it before I can (the pipe that goes into the wall is up too high). It's not that big a problem because I don't use enough dishes to need it. I can wash dishes by hand.

They promised to deliver it within three weeks, but it only took a week to get here. About a week and a half before I expected it I opened the front door to take the dog out for his walk and it was sitting there on the front porch.

Probably ordered it just in time.

158:

I agree about civil war. I think the only legal way it could be invoked is if the states secede. If they simply ignore stuff that the POTUS tells them to do that isn't legally binding, the military I suspect will say that there's no legal rationale for them getting involved in civilian politics.

As for a limited nuke-off in Ukraine, the problems are:
1. Who'd trust either side to keep their bargain?
2. There's likely nothing in the Football that covers this, and
3. Developing such a strategy might lead to wholesale leaks and resignations among the USAF strategists tasked with developing it.

The bigger concern is the Supreme Court and the judiciary in swing states being yanked to do voter disenfranchisement. They pretty clearly want to.

As others have pointed out, we're predicted to have an active Atlantic hurricane season and western brushfire season during the late summer, and wildland firefighters may be more susceptible to Covid-19. Hopefully there won't be a fire crisis, but the pile-on of crises is going to be bad.

And finally, as the meme has it, the big question in Presidential politics is "Are you better off now than you were four years ago? You may take off your mask before you answer."

Biden, whatever his flaws, is part of the team that helped fix the 2008 Great Recession. And he's an older southern-ish white guy whom the African-Americans decided to back. What might beat him is lack of voter turnout, not sentiment. His team's biggest job is to get the voters out in the swing states.

159:

First week? Hell, I just got a brick of extra sharp cheddar at the Safeway for the first time in OVER a month. And there was *nothing* else in the large bricks, and that whole section has been empty for a month.

160:

LAvery @ 118: We can probably do better than that, but I'm willing to guarantee that the instant breathe test you envision is not gonna happen.

We need to or we're going to be stuck in limbo forever.

Doesn't have to be a breath test ... could be a "spit in this tube" test or a "give me your finger so I can get a drop of blood" test, but it needs to be a test that gives results RIGHT NOW.

161:

Biden, "Southern-ish"? Not hardly, he's from Delaware. You know, what we used to call the state of DuPont (Chemical), and where a zillion corporations are registered, because of their laws.

However, he has huge cred in the black community, because he was willing to be second to a black man as President.

Now, I'm waiting for him to pay us progressives, and any middle-of-the-road woman for VP is bullshit. I did see, yesterday or today, that Warren was saying she'd be willing, if asked (I assume a reporter asked her).

162:

"Right now" might not be so vital, within a few hours would be good enough if the test is cheap and reusable. Everyone could have one at home and test once a day, that way there would at maximum be one day worth of spreading that someone could do before they realised they were sick. More than enough to drop R0 well below 1, even if some people might still have to pop out of the hosue for a last minute emergency shopping trip despite knowing they were positive.

163:

See, that's exactly why it won't work. "I'll be careful" is not something you can say to biology under any circumstances.

If you want testing to work in a solves-the-problem way, you test everybody, and you isolate everybody who tests positive. (You eventually get stats on false positive rates this way.) But it's isn't optional in either respect. You keep this up for probably not more than six months. So far as we know, no zoological reservoir; if we can get it out of the human population, it's gone.

If a sufficiently useful test is possible, and if it can be produced in sufficient numbers, and if someone can find the wits to explain that the goal is to kill the disease, that's what you go for. Since you need to go at least as far as national mobilization to make this work, I doubt anywhere larger than New Zealand or Singapore could manage to pull it off.

It would be worth trying, all the same.

164:

NERVARestarted @ 128: Arguably a test for anti-bodies to detect previous exposure might be more useful than an anti-gen test for current contagion. Would let them find out whether the virus has spread a lot more then believed, arguably a good thing as it would put us closer to a form of herd-immunity and imply a lower death rate than we had expected. Or a little more than believed, more worrying as it would imply the death rate is as expected but further spread and more who might have spread it further early on leading to future infection spikes. Combined with anti-gens it would also let you separate hospital staff into those with the virus now but minimal or no symptoms (work with the COVID-19 patients), those with immunity (for work that might take them back and forth betwen coronavirus and non-coronavirus wards) and those without (keep away from COVID-19 patients where-ever feasible).

Without a test that shows current contagion, how do you know who to keep away from you?

165:

In regard of testing positive after infection... it feels more likely to me that this is latency and resurgence, like the British nurse Pauline Cafferkey who got Ebola, got better, and got sick again. She wasn't re-exposed, because the source of exposures was over in Africa. It had lurked in her cerebrospinal fluid.

166:

You may well be right about the latency, but I'm hopeful that it's a false positive. Latency would be a real nuisance in slowing the spread of this virus.

167:

AFAIK these are optional and IMHO won't happen; the RNC and DNC will declare the candidates.

While they may be optional from a legal perspective, they likely are essential from a media coverage - reaching potential voters - issue and so they will both desperately try and find some way to do something.

168:

Biden, "Southern-ish"? Not hardly, he's from Delaware. You know, what we used to call the state of DuPont (Chemical), and where a zillion corporations are registered, because of their laws

Yes, I know. I was being sarcastic because Delware's borders the Mason-Dixon line and their corporatist politics seem almost southern.

I think we're all hoping he picks someone really competent and organized (other than Hillary) for his VP choice.

169:

A vaccine (when/if it is developed) may need to be taken more regularly than the fluvax. A country needs a well developed/accessible/staffed/paid health system to achieve that universally (and the US does not meet the definition)

The US, like Canada, allows pharmacists to administer the flu vaccine. Thus limited room for problems other than the anti-vaccine idiots.

>> Lockdown can't be sustained more than 1-2 weeks after peak ICU occupancy passes

Why not? Too much social/political pressure to reopen? If so, wouldn't that be overcome in lockdown 2.0 when people have had a chance to see what opening too early looks like?

The problem is that governments aren't reassuring citizens that their costs will be met - so much of the public, worried about paying basics of the rent, for food, etc - and for the unexpected costs - computer that little Timmy suddenly needed to go to school online with, can't shop for deals, etc. - so many people will fall victim to the urge of some right wingers to get the economy open. And given the financial costs of the first shutdowns, and the lack of effective government support, second or more shutdowns will be very problematic. Particularly when the northern hemisphere is into the "nice weather" and will push against to being locked inside again.

Why wouldn't they want to appear next to COVID-19, everyone is reading about it, more people would see their ads.

And then those people associate the product with Covid-19, and all the negatives that will have - deaths, forced lock downs, job losses, financial hardship. And that negative association can continue for years afterwards.

Some certain Covid-19 related products may like it, but given the overall lack of demand they won't be paying a lot for those ads.

170:

Pigeon @ 148:

"Still going out twice a day for walks so the dog can do his thing, keeping my social distance which is hard to do sometimes because he's a cute little thing & very popular with the ladies."

Sudden thought on reading that: are there apparently random people he decides he doesn't like the smell of, who a few weeks later you realise aren't around any more?

Or has anyone else thought to find out if dogs can smell the infection? They can some things, I believe.

I haven't noticed anything like that. None of my neighbors appear to be missing. He doesn't like other dogs. Doesn't bark at them, just kind of tries to hide behind me whenever we encounter someone else walking their dog, even when they're on the other side of the street.

The only guy he's ever barked at since I got him was a UPS guy who of came up on us kind of sudden like just as we were about to go into the house. I think he only barked at him because the guy startled us.

He does bark at the front door when he can hear people outside, but we've been outside when the mailman came by & he didn't bark at him then when he could see him.

171:

David L @ 153:

convention in Charlotte.

The city of Charlotte is run by a D majority council. And the D governor seems to have his head on straight. I suspect they both might tell the R convention to stick it. Then the R controlled legislature will toss a major hissy and everyone show up in several court rooms at once.

The convention is not until August, so the Mayor and the Governor are apparently taking a wait and see attitude for the time being.

And what's the problem if they do make each other sick and they all die?

172:

Going by what's happening out there at the moment, China has got a handle on non-imported infections, and that rules out too aggressive a whack-a-mole problem with latency. Otherwise it would be reigniting in "clear" areas.

173:

There's no practical way you can run a world in which every person is tested before every social interaction, and even if you could it wouldn't be worth it. We need measures to reduce the dangers of the virus while preserving quality of life, not intrusive authoritarianism in a desperate grasp to save everyone. That would be guards at every door, every shop counter, so many fingerpricks you'd do some real damage to your skin. Remember that there is a death rate of around 2%, substantially less than that outside of the elderly and those with existing conditions, although somewhat higher if hosptials are overwhelmed. That isn't 2% risk per social interaction, rather it seems like a (possibly)2% risk for you and me each as individual people across the entire duration of the pandemic. Utter elimination of the virus can be done almost as well with softer measures, if we can keep R0 below 1 then the virus will come to a halt. More extreme measures trying to reduce R0 from (wild guesses here but nonethless) 0.2 that you might get if people have the max of a day infectious before quarantining themselves versus down to 0.001 for a test before you walk past every person in the street, aren't going to have much pay-off but will be societally damaging. The problem really isn't stopping the virus, the problem is stopping the virus while keeping the lives of survivors, the asymptomatic and the uninfected worth living.

174:

Oops, I just responded to you thinking you had commented on my point about tests with a few hours to give a result rather than immediate. My last comment was very much about tests which can test infectivity this second vs a home testing daily scheme I considered. And yes, they did imagine the anti-gen type rather than anti-body testing. Without testing for current contagion you don't know who has it right now for person-to-person scale scenarios and testing the contacts of other cases, but you do get macroscale information across the population which can still identify hotspots and un-dreamed-of peculiarities of transmission routes.

175:

Counter-example: Hong Kong. One of the densest cities in the world (more than half a million people per square kilometer in Kowloon), one of the first places to be infected, no mass testing, no lockdown (only measures: testing and mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals, school closures, and a ban of all meetings of more than 4 people). Oh, and the city has loads of elderly people (it recently beat Japan for the longest life expectancy for women).
And yet, three months later: only 1000 cases (out of 7 million people), and 4 deaths. For the past week, there's been only 3-4 new cases a day.

Why? Simply because of early reaction and good practices.
Early reaction: everyone in HK knows that China lies all the time, hence everyone prepared for the worst when the epidemic became public in Wuhan.
Good practices: you can't go out in HK without a mask these days. Not because it's mandatory, but because people give you the evil eye if you try. Also: lift buttons, door handles and handrails are disinfected every hour. Many building have a pail of bleach water at the entrance, and you are expected to wash your shoes in it before going in.

Compare with another counter-example people mention these days, Singapore (where I happen to live): yes, we've recently seen a second and a third wave. But:
- The second wave was mostly returnees, Singaporeans returning from abroad. This wave is over.
- The third wave is mostly foreign workers living in cramped dorms. Yesterday, out of 750 new cases, 700 were in dorms, and 50 were outside (and a significant proportion of these 50 were in retirement homes).
Cramped quarters (be they cruise ships, aircraft carriers, dormitories or nursing homes) are a terribly bad idea in an epidemic: when you put many healthy people next to an infected person, you always end up with nearly everyone infected. Everywhere in the world, we've forgotten this simple rule, but the solution is well known: immediate testing of all people in the building or ship, and segregation of the sick and healthy.
So, if you extract these cramped quarter contagions from the figure, you get maybe 20-30 new cases a day in Singapore, out of a population of 3.7m: better than in many other places, but still not as good as HK...
...Because Singapore didn't make masks mandatory until a few days ago. (And I'm yet to see a single pail of bleach in buildings.)

All this to say that there are some very low-tech ways to get the epidemic under control.

176:

Low tech ways are good, they don't assalt people's liberties, they don't bring societies crashing down. They blend into the background and do the unglamourous work which politicians consider too dreary to be talekd about. We should be glad that COVID-19 is not like the norovirus (that can survive a month on surfaces and is tough to kill) or measles(extremely contagious, Ro of typically 15 versus 2 for regular flu and 3 for coronavirus), it can be killed easily with a wide range of sterilising agents and spreads via droplets rather than in a fully airborne way. We need all those basic measures ramped up to fight it, and even once we've got a COVID-19 vaccine kept up to ensure that the next novel zoonotic virus can't spread easily.

177:

Another element worth mentioning: the actual lethality rate of the virus seems to be lower than initially expected, which would imply that there have been many more low-grade infections than we know.

The initial mortality rate estimate, two months ago, was 4.1% based on Chinese figures

A second estimate came a month ago: "the Chinese health system was probably overwhelmed, so we should expect a rate between 1 and 2% in Europe"
Instant reaction: "Even 1% is ten times worse than the flu"

But it's impossible to reconcile the number of cases in HK with even a 1% mortality rate: they've had 4 deaths so far, which implies 400 cases 3 weeks ago -- and indeed, they had 410 official cases at the time.
But official cases are only the tip of the iceberg.

Similarly, the French Health minister mentioned yesterday that according to some studies he saw, up to 10% of the French population could already be immune. I have no idea which studies these are and what they're worth, but you can't reconcile this figure with a 1.5% or even 1% mortality rate. You need to cut it to less than 0.5% to get to 10% of the population already infected without anyone noticing.

Some testing done in rural Colorado seems to point in the same direction: https://reason.com/2020/04/08/mass-antibody-testing-in-this-rural-colorado-county-sheds-light-on-covid-19s-prevalence-and-lethality/

178:

whitroth @ 160: Biden, "Southern-ish"? Not hardly, he's from Delaware. You know, what we used to call the state of DuPont (Chemical), and where a zillion corporations are registered, because of their laws.

However, he has huge cred in the black community, because he was willing to be second to a black man as President.

Now, I'm waiting for him to pay us progressives, and any middle-of-the-road woman for VP is bullshit. I did see, yesterday or today, that Warren was saying she'd be willing, if asked (I assume a reporter asked her).

I think Warren would be a great Vice President, although I think she'd do more good staying in the Senate. The only other woman I can think of who would really fit the bill is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but she won't be old enough until 2024. She will be 31 years old on November 3, 2020, but you have to be 35 years old to be President or Vice President.

I don't know. Bernie wouldn't be a good VP choice for Biden (just as Biden wouldn't have been a good VP choice for Bernie if he'd won the nomination).

Bernie might have been a good running mate for Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris ... or hell even Tulsi Gabbard ... but he and Biden are both older than Trumpolini and having both on the ticket would hand the GOP an undeserved wedge issue.

It needs to be someone with strong progressive credentials who doesn't scare the "old guard". How about Tammy Duckworth?

She's old enough; Asian-American1; double-amputee Iraq War Veteran (who won a disability waiver to continue serving in the National Guard after being wounded); strong record on the environment, foreign policy, gun control (a gun owner rated at only 7% by the NRA on pro-gun rights), health care, veterans affairs & immigration.

1 Although born in Thailand, she does meet the criteria for "natural born Citizen"

179:

The Orange one has already backed down and the States will decide when and how lockdowns end

The state that will likely take the lead in this is California, since they are furthest along the cycle

So far California has been immensely sane, rationale and scientific do this bodes well for a sane rationale lockdown easing for most of the US

I wouldn’t be surprised if some states down in JesusStan fuck it up and get a resurgence but I doubt we see a general one in the US. I do expect the lockdown to take quite awhile to be eased

I also expect either a vaccine or a solid treatment by EOY. There is a lot lot lot of money to be made by whomever gets there first

So that’s the good news. The bad news is the global economy is a smoking fucking ruin and the V shaped recovery is a Wall Street wet dream. Gonna be nasty

180:

NERVARestarted @ 172: There's no practical way you can run a world in which every person is tested before every social interaction, and even if you could it wouldn't be worth it. We need measures to reduce the dangers of the virus while preserving quality of life, not intrusive authoritarianism in a desperate grasp to save everyone. That would be guards at every door, every shop counter, so many fingerpricks you'd do some real damage to your skin. Remember that there is a death rate of around 2%, substantially less than that outside of the elderly and those with existing conditions ...

I'm 70 years old, cancer survivor, Type II diabetic, high blood pressure. Your 2% risk is 100% risk for me. If I catch the Covid19, I die. I know all about "fingerpricks". I have to do them to monitor my blood sugar.

181:

Similarly, the French Health minister mentioned yesterday that according to some studies he saw, up to 10% of the French population could already be immune. I have no idea which studies these are and what they're worth, but you can't reconcile this figure with a 1.5% or even 1% mortality rate.

So far as has made it into the public press, there's no basis to decide if anyone is immune. There's certainly no basis to decide that they'll be lastingly immune; the disease has only existed for six months. There's some things it takes time to learn, and we haven't had the time to find out how immune responses drop off in survivors.

There is very little we actually know about this disease. Treating rough guesses as certainties is how BoJo got to the unfortunate notion of a herd immunity strategy.

182:

Uh, Russia, yeah.

I've been looking at these charts at 91-DIVOC. All numbers are of course inaccurate, and some are more inaccurate than others, so I'm most interested in looking at the increase and derivative of the curves in the first picture. I think the data comes from John Hopkins University, so it should be as good as it gets.

Now, because I live close by, I've been looking at the Russia curve. The (exponential) growth has been getting a bit smaller, but it has been basically straight line in the log scale for the whole time (since 100 cases) with little signs of getting flattened. Currently it's been running at 1.14-1.16 times for the last three weeks. The absolute numbers are not that big yet, but if they continue on that course, they'll pass Iran (in absolute cases) at the same point in their curve (31-32 days in) and would reach the US in about two weeks time.

The curves start from 100 confirmed cases, so you can follow how the numbers different countries have changed. The dates in the horizontal axis are not the same dates.

Anyway, Russia is on a scary tracjectory, though the absolute numbers are not that big yet. However, the number of cases will double every 4-5 days, so in a couple of weeks they'll start getting scary absolute numbers. I admit that I don't know how they are reporting, but anyway they are under-reporting the real numbers (like everyone else) and very probably not over-reporting.

It's just that I'd very much like them to be relatively stable in the foreseaable future. However, if they are being hit hard by the COVID-19, it's going to be tough, and for now, to me, it seems that Russia is not on top of the problem. One of the curiouser things here is that there isn't that much news about that even here in Finland - I see much more about the US and UK than Russia in our news.

183:

@144 -not so long ago the US airforce was under heavy attack from christianist subversives. The Colorado academy was the poster child for this; an old friend was active in trying to fight back. Obviously the intent was to gain de facto control of nukes.
They’d use them in a heartbeat. There really are people that think The Handmaid’s Tale is an instruction manual.
What we have to hope is that none of the boomer captains are part of the cabal.

184:

What's a haircut?

I will be finding out in an hour or two if the flour supply is reviving...
I've managed to get everything else we need for some time - very fortunately we made a big delivered order about a week-&-a-half before the lockdown started, on general principles.
The other problem is/are supposedly "Non-urgent" supplies which are still going to be needed - like plumbing "bits" & car spares & supplies, when all the shops selling them are closed, or paper for your printers ( Rymans are closed for instance )
Stuff wears out & breaks & suddenly it's actually essential that you get a replacement, oops.

Statler @ 174
VERY interesting, especially everyone in HK knows that China lies all the time
"Cramped quarters" - prisons & schools as well ...

Yes, what's the real rate of infection & why do "so many" (?) people seem to be already immune or almost-immune to a supposedly previously-unknown disiese?
Like others have said - Biology is not simple.

185:

Re: 'Latency would be a real nuisance in slowing the spread of this virus.'

I've been wondering whether COVID-19 could be like CMV - mostly silent but when activated can do damage to almost any part of the body.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cmv/symptoms-causes/syc-20355358

186:

The other problem is/are supposedly "Non-urgent" supplies which are still going to be needed - like plumbing "bits" & car spares & supplies, when all the shops selling them are closed, or paper for your printers

Interesting. Here in NC, USA those are all considered essential. They can be open but only if they provide a means to keep everyone away from each other by at least 2m. The major office supply chains have been actively promoting order online and they ship or you can drive/walk to the front door and they bring it out to you. Auto parts and hardware stores are a bit different as it almost always requires a lookup and a visual match to make sure you get what you want. But when I was in the auto store a week or so ago they, like other stores, had inventory carts in front of all counters to keep you from getting too close to the staff.

And when I say bring it out, if you're in a car they will put it in your trunk/boot when you pull up. Or sit it on the sidewalk.

I bought some birdseed the other day and they do not let you in the store. You have to call ahead and pay in advance (as all of the above). Let them know when you will be by and the put your order on the sidewalk with your receipt taped to it when you're due to arrive. While not considered essential, they are allowed to be open if they prevent contact.

As for "what is a haircut", some of use have oily hair and I just got tired of looking like a parakeet on a bad hair day when I got up. My morning routine is so much easier without it.

187:

XKCD on J H Conway A fitting tribute

I found it a beautiful touch that the guy disappeared but a glider flew off into infinity.

188:

"Yes, what's the real rate of infection & why do "so many" (?) people seem to be already immune or almost-immune to a supposedly previously-unknown disiese?"

When they say "immune," I think they mean "already infected and recovered." You can make your own estimates by following this procedure:
- Start with the total number of deaths as of today: for example, 4 in Hong Kong.
- Divide it by the assumed mortality rate: say, 1%. 4/0.01 = 400: this is the total number of people that must have been infected as of 3 weeks ago (the average time it takes to die, from the start of symptoms). As it happens, Hong Kong officially had 410 cases as of 3 weeks ago: so our estimate seems in the right ballpark (but there's more than meets the eye, and I'll come back to it).
- Then, you can estimate the number of people who have the disease today, by taking assumptions on the rate of contamination.
Lots of assumptions everywhere -- with factors that can change over time. For example, the rate of contamination should decrease when social distancing measures are put in place -- but by how much? So, of course, this method is full of holes -- but (with a truckload of salt) it gives a rough estimate of where we stand.

If you apply a 1% mortality rate to the official death count in France, you get to 2.6% of the population already infected as of 3 weeks ago. It takes a "heroic" rate of contamination to get to 10% today, especially with the current lockdown.
Similarly, the 1% mortality rate gave us 400 cases in HK 3 weeks ago -- which was near the official count of 410. But HK didn't test the entire population, so these 410 were only the tip of the iceberg. There must have been other infected people, probably unaware of it because they had mild or no symptoms -- which implies that the mortality rate must be lower than 1%.

Alternate hypothesis: a number of covid-related deaths have flown under the radar. That's possible too -- there have been reports that the flu season was worse than usual in Italy and elsewhere. But I tend to believe HK statistics -- I think they've been on the lookout since the start (I was there on Jan 22 and they were already checking everyone).

189:

Nope: you're looking at the train time from their respective stations to the airport station. First you've got to get from Westminster across Central London to the rail terminii (Victoria for Gatwick, IIRC, and Paddington for Heathrow) then wait for a train (10-20 minutes, depending). And then you have all the usual fun of check-in, security (even with a priority lane), and getting to your gate (upwards of a mile of walking at either airport -- airports are huge).

You might be able to get to check-in at Heathrow in an hour if traffic is very light and you time getting to the platform at Paddington a minute before the train departs. (It's a 20 minute ride.) But check-in invariably closes half an hour to an hour before departure anyway.

You might be able to do better if there's an executive helicopter service between LCY and LGY or LHR, but that's going to look kind of bad to the voters if you're using it every week and claiming it on your parliamentary expenses. Maybe even worse than Jacob Rees-Mogg's duck house.

TLDR is, in my experience of domestic UK air travel, it is almost always faster to go by train unless there's a direct flight and no direct train journeys to your destination, or you're trying to do something Silly (Aberdeen to Penzance -- yes, there's a direct train: it takes 10h30m and is the longest train route in the UK -- nearly 800 miles).

190:

(Aberdeen to Penzance -- yes, there's a direct train: it takes 10h30m and is the longest train route in the UK -- nearly 800 miles).

That sounds something I'd like to try some time. I'm not sure I ever will, though. Currently the world situation is not very accommodating for leisure travel, and I'm not sure that service will run from one country to another in a few years. (Also, I'm trying to find it on the internet, and I can't find one which would run next week...)

191:

On the subject of the UK legal situation -- bear in mind Scotland is Different. But in England/Wales, my understanding is: Jury trials have been halted/postponed indefinitely, hearings are now being conducted via telepresence (a barrister of my acquaintance is isolating at home but still able to work), the CPS has been instructed not to bring charges in minor cases -- only serious charges and violent offenses will result in a trial at this point. And there's some discussion of releasing offenders near the end of their sentence and/or minor offenders, but: Priti Patel. (A smiling sociopath at the top of the Home Office -- she's going to be trouble. No, she already is trouble. Luckily she's screwed things up so badly she's currently fighting a rearguard action to avoid having to give evidence under oath about her misconduct in front of a Commons committee ...)

Meanwhile prisons have discontinued in-person visits during lockdown, but are providing prisoners with a ration of free letters and phone calls. The real problem is overcrowding and lack of healthcare. I suspect there's a growing crisis of COVID19 deaths in prison among elderly lifers that aren't being reported at present.

However. Barristers are self-employed on a fairly archaic basis, and they've already been under immense pressure as successive Tory governments have axed the legal aid budget. (We have a problem with people accused of criminal offenses having to defend themselves in court because they can't afford legal representation. This is not good: the courts hate it as it generates huge amounts of spurious delays and results in miscarriages of justice.) And lots of barristers are much closer to personal bankruptcy than their public image (upper class rich gits) would lead a casual observer to imagine.

192:

We did the Edinburgh to Exeter part of it with very small children a couple of times to visit Noocky's Grandfather. Much easier doing a long jopurney by train with restless small people - you can take them for a walk without stopping the car, and flying wasn't a practical option.

193:

The "lockdown" in Sydney continues to be half-arsed, there's slightly less road traffic and some shops are shut. The open ones are doing a bit of distancing, mostly, especially the national chains. Some of the smaller local shops are doing distancing or cleaning, some appear completely indifferent.

The good news for me in the supermarket was: hot cross buns appear not to have sold in the expected numbers, so are still available (they're shipped frozen so can be thawed anytime); and my preferred rice milk is back in stock in quantity. So now I have ~3 weeks worth. I still haven't managed to buy rice though, meaning "100kg or more of organic long grain brown rice in 20kg or 25kg sacks", but I continue trying to find it. I might be reduced to the big non-organic co-op rice at this rate.

Both the big box hardware (Bunnings) and supermarkets had obvious pandemic measures but were not especially busy and seemed to have all the usual things in stock. Eggs, pasta and toilet paper were still somewhat short but there seemed to be enough that everyone could buy the two item limit without hassle. Stuff like potato chips (either sort), milk, cheese etc were there in the usual ridiculous excess.

The one big change was that I got stuck behind a woman who apparently had never bagged her own groceries before, so that was a bit of an ordeal. Apparently the checkout operator needs to unlock it with a special code if it times out due to inactivity, otherwise it voids the incomplete sale. She'd never seen that before, I'd never seen it before, but apparently 5 minutes after the last scan it does indeed lock the screen.

194:

(And withroth @ 160) What about the old adage about "A VP should be a sitting presidents best life insurance"...?

(Explanation for anyone that needs it: to prevent assassinations, palace coups etc the president should choose as a vp someone who is a worse alternative for anyone contemplating offing him/her...)

195:

Yes, precisely. USA local airports are run far more like European trains than British airports but, even there house-House time is significantly larger than the flying time. Even Cambridge-Montgenevre was 1 (one) hour longer by train than by aircraft!

For extra fun, people who don't know about the UK might like to try planning a trip from Lerwick, Kirkwall or Stornoway to Westminster - especially when strong winds are forecast (quite often, there) :-)

196:

You appear not to understand how advertising (or marketing) work. Hint: it's raw emotion, and you don't give people the warm fuzzies about your product by associating it with the Plague.

197:

That is sad. Conway was a nice guy and very helpful to other people, too, which not all geniuses are. He was why I changed from pure mathematics to statistics - I could see the difference between a first- and second-rate pure mathematician, and felt that the world didn't need more of the latter.

198:

The following has been doing the rounds recently:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.09.20059451v1.full.pdf

It states:
"the epidemic should almost completely finish in July, no global second wave should be expected,except areas where the first wave is almost absent."
and has some nice graphs to support that view.

My ability to critique the paper is fairly limited so do any of the regulars or OGH see anything immediately fishy about it?

199:

One of the more gruesome aspects of Ebola is that it lurks in various odd reservoirs in the body -- including the testes: there was at least one report of a woman contracting and dying of Ebola after sex with a man who'd recovered from it a few months before.

Sexually-transmitted Ebola.

I swear, if I shoved that into a dystopian novel everybody would shake their head and say "Charlie, you're over-egging that pudding ..."

200:

Hot tip: wait for CrossCountry to retire the crappy Voyager train sets and replace them with something newer. And only do that run in first class (remember, UK trains have a narrower loading gauge than continental ones -- so the seats are narrower).

The Voyagers are 4 and 5 car diesel multiple units (one diesel generator under each car's floor, all cars have a powered axle, AIUI). They were designed to tilt, but the tilt mechanism was permanently switched off years ago due to maintenance issues. The result is that they're even narrower than regular British passenger trains. I racked up a lot of miles on them visiting my mother in her nursing home, and second class is excruciating if you have to ride for more than a couple of hours.

(Here's wikipedia on the CrossCountry route.)

201:

I used to be injected against TAB once every 6 months. It's not a big deal if it has a very low risk of harm (which TAB innoculations did not!)

All that is critically needed in the longer term is a vaccine that either gives over 2/3 immunity or reduces the incidence of severe effects by a factor of (say) 5, or some combination. It is possible (but completely unknown) that simple infection with it will deliver that. That won't stop a huge number of vulnerable people dying from it (a major problem in the short term), or it becoming a long-term major cause of death in the vulnerable, just as pneumonia used to be, of course.

Yeah. I don't relish becoming road-kill on the road to the future, but am rational enough to distinguish personal or short-term effects from long-term social ones.

202:

A lot of survivalist, outdoor, and camping gear too showing up near Covid19 stuff ... And to be fair, some of these companies say they're trying to stay open ...

I made my first (and so far only) mail order purchase from REI about a month back, a compass I don't need but had dithering over for a while. It got delivered very quickly and I can only assume the camping equipment business is pretty slow right now.

I don't know how much of their current sales are to apocalypse fans, nor do I know what fraction of the usual customer base they might be.

On a brighter note, I hear Powell's has had to call back more workers to fill all the orders for books they're getting.

203:

I get the feeling that Russia might survive this, they started with a very high staffing number of ICU beds etc as a proportion per million (NBC/CBRN or SARS prep?). Plus autocratic gov. run by a president-for-life who does play chess, well. They isolated the border with the Middle Kingdom very early in this pandemic.

However there was a curveball when they went into lockdown. It was discovered that they have unknowingly had an extra million + ‘gast-arbeiters’ black-market workers, especially from FSU republics, and these became homeless/jobless on day one of RF lockdown. Unknown consequences.

Thankfully, many average Rus are highly sceptical of Covid-19, after many years of training never to believe official stats.

Here in Italy, have learned things here that might be relevant to survival until Christmas, in short: avoid Nursing Homes - where some Governments temporarily parked asymptomatic & mildly symptomatic frail elders, to lower the peak surge effect on ICUs allegedly.[1]

I have just downloaded the civil protection iOS app, following an SMS request by Lombardy governor. I'm required to answer about ten questions about my health, daily. I guess it does some tracking pings too. Part of the return to new-normal life, I can hear the increased traffic already. There was a time, about two weeks ago, when nothing moved - surreal.

Italian Lockdown, regionally ending on 4th May with Quattro-D:- Distanza (keep a metre away), Dispositivi (face masks, sanitizer - always ubiq.), Digitalizzazione (still work digitally from home, wherever possible) and finally Diagnosi (we are promised blood based testing - including complete serology of an entire location, to understand the representative depth of the spread - and then, individual tests, believably ramping-up, from Roche?)

[1] RAInews24 satellite channel, 19.2°E Astra 1L/13.0°E Hotbird 13C. Teletext/Ceefax service, a bit ephemeral, but reliable, nostalgia. (Murder investigations are afoot in a few countries, Spain etc. Finance cops seizing documents in Milano RSA) 57% of all deaths?

204:

I always factor in door-to-door time.

So, for me, Edinburgh-London is 4h20m on the train but actually about 5h to 5h30m door to door depending on my final destination within zones 1 and 2 (longer if outside zone 2). It's almost identical by air, but with much more walking/messing around/security theatre (30m to the airport, allow 2h for check-in and arrival at gate, 1h-1h30m for the flight, then 1h-2h to final destination in zones 1/2 -- more if I have checked baggage).

One reason that (pre-Trump) I spent more time in the US: my door-to-door time to somewhere in Manhattan is only about 6 hours longer than London (depending on the amount of queueing at my arrival airport -- last time was a horrendous 2 hours to get to the immigration officer's rubber stamp). And 4-5 hours of that extra time is spent chilling with a book and headphones in an airliner seat.

Also, Edinburgh to Amsterdam, Paris, or Berlin is only about 30-60 minutes further than London.

And I don't like London.

205:

It is possible that it is a bit like Lyme disease. Because most initial reactions are near-asymptomatic, testing is extremely unreliable (and expensive), and it is generally observed only when it flares up at some later stage, we don't actually know how many people have it. That's what those 10% infection guesses are based on.

Vallance (Chief Scientific Adviser) was blithering on about our current guestimate of its incidence last night. From the way that he was flannelling and producing evasive nonsense about the (fairly simple) scientific procedure to get a pretty good estimate, it is clear that he was covering up either a major political row or spectacular cock-up, and probably both.

A second possibility is that a immunologically similar but more-or-less harmless virus spread recently, and was not recognised in the morass of respiratory viruses, so some people have partial immunity.

A third is that a similar epidemic occurred some thousands of years ago, and some peoples (specifically northern and possibly southern European) evolved to be resistant to it. Given our very high resistance to quite a few such infections, it's very plausible. That would account for some of the observed death rates.

206:

A couple of side-notes that no-one else seems to have covered yet:

One (absurd) factor I suspect is adding to Trump's push for an early "reopening" is that there is one big USian company experiencing a massive surge in orders, profits, and stock-market value right now. Because you can't go shopping, but Amazon are still delivering, and Trump really hates him some Bezos. Obviously a personal feud with a billionaire wouldn't normally be expected to push federal policy with millions of deaths on the line (at the very least, not openly!), but the current US administration is not normal, even by post-Reagan Republican standards.

The other thing is climate change. The covid-19 situation is both a handy demonstration of exactly how hard those currently in power will try to retain the old normal, and a convenient lever for them to use in doing so. It's more vital than ever that we move to a new normal - renewable-energy based, with much less travel than at present, and getting rid of wasteful make-work - but even governments that have reluctantly accepted lockdowns may prove much less reluctant to retain bans on public gatherings.

(Related, an excellent if depressing video (YT, 10 minutes, English-language subtitles) discussing how the Covid-19 response shows just how badly we're under-reacting to climate change.)

207:

Re Palace of Westminster
I was working there in timber restoration until recently, and I can categorically tell you it is fucked. The roof has weeds up to waist level (not exaggerating, looks like they only keep them under control where visible from the ground). The stone is not particularly good quality, and didn't deal well with the pH of Central London rain. Underpinning is already overdue past the point where it was predicted to be too late, and previous construction projects have run into the problem that the extra weight of scaffolding makes it start sinking. The utilities haven't been replaced wholesale ever, if you open bits of (bone dry with a 190 years of dust) panelling there is lots of abandoned wiring - disconnected, but running alongside live wiring. Overheating solenoid locks in the doors. No sprinkler system, the fire department are on permanent foot patrol. The average room size is very small; it's the prototype Victorian office block, and no definitive plan exits for where all the abandoned wiring, plumbing etc actually are, and before anyone finds out by direct inspection all the brown asbestos has to be dealt with.

If C-19 delays everything by another two years or more, it's a write off.

208:

It's appallingly presented, and I am disinclined to waste the time to reverse engineer what it is saying, but I think it is (a) assuming no reinfection or continuing infectivity and (b) not taking account of the fact that a large proportion of vulnerable people are currently isolated.

If those things are true, then the 'herd immunity' approach is not unreasonable - at least in the current form of trying to manage the chaos while the population develops it. But if not?

209:

Thanks for this.

I'm no epidemiologist so I hate to weigh in, but there's a lockdown so I've not much better to do.....

Even if those things are true, surely herd immunity requires 90-95% immunity in the population and given the elderly / at-risk group comprises more than 5-10% of the population, surely we can't get there without significant excess deaths? (prompt vaccine notwithstanding)

210:

I'm currently too tired to go through it thoroughly, but it starts with an assumed mortality rate of 0.9% (tell that to the Italians) and then says that they think the true mortality rate "could be up to 5-10 times lower". Mortality rates as reported to date are mostly falling in the 2% to 5% range, so my alarm bells are ringing quite loudly.

211:

I suspect the USAF may have trouble functioning without the active support of it's constituent national guard units.

212:

NERVARestarted said "Part of me wonders whether hospitals, not shops, workplaces or parks, are going to be the major transmission route."

That's what happened in Toronto, with it being one of the first transmission routes, then one that caused an unexpected second outbreak.

Doctors and nurses would get sick and start "work quarantine", in which they worked heavily gowned with the confirmed SARS patients until they got too sick. Once they recovered they went back on regular (horrible) shifts.

Late in the first outbreak we got the dna-based nose-swab tests, and we could identify the infected hospital personnel while they were still symptom-free, and get them quarantined early.

Some hospitals let recovered SARS patients volunteer to help others.

And yes, I blogged about that too (:-))
https://leaflessca.wordpress.com/2020/04/14/there-are-two-kinds-of-tests-but-lots-of-names/

213:

Statler @ 174
So, if Hong Kong can do it, so can the rest of the planet - are they going to?
Nah - "Not Invented Here"
Astounding results, though.

Charlie @ 190
Patel makes May look nice to know - I do hope she over-reaches & crashes ....
Not just a sociopath, I think she's got semi-fascist sympathies, as well oh & a control freak - how nice

EC
it is clear that he was covering up either a major political row or spectacular cock-up, and probably both. How about complete ignorance, which he's not allowed to admit to by the fuckwit politicos?

Meanwhile I'll go with your second possibililty - very likely

214:

I am cynical, but not cynical enough to assume that a Chief Scientific Officer is a both a complete statistical ignoramus and has not been informed by someone with minimal statistical nous. I think that it's a political cock-up, where Halfcock, Rabid etc. are failing to take a simple decision, and he was trying to cover up.

215:

The thing that you have missed is that the 2-5% death rates are based on the number of people with fairly severe symptoms. There is considerable data (including from Italy!) that there are many people who get it and are essentially asymptomatic. The UK has an annual death rate of c. 1% normally, which gives a baseline.

As Whitty (Chief Medical Officer) has said, the figure that really matters is the number of excess deaths for 2020 - but, obviously, we won't know that until 2021.

216:

As Whitty (Chief Medical Officer) has said, the figure that really matters is the number of excess deaths for 2020 - but, obviously, we won't know that until 2021.

Jurisdictions where the death rate is reported weekly aren't especially encouraging with respect to the accuracy of the mortality rate assigned to COVID-19.

I think it's pretty clear that there's something important we don't know about transmission and severity of infection, but I don't claim to be able to mystic it up out of the great beyond. Given time and effort, it'll get figured out.

217:

Old Bailey wondered: “Suggest to me where I am wrong here, but are not all immune systems adaptive? … Excuse me, I only have a slight knowledge of biology.”

The distinction is that we humans have two parallel immune systems: one that’s an innate generic “that looks odd; better attack it” system, and one that’s an adaptive “I’ve seen that before and know how to attack it” system. Jargon available on request, but you suggested simpler would be better.

Greg Tingey noted: “The Secret Service staff who guard Trump swear their loyalty to the US Constitution, don't they, not the POTUS?”

Don’t know for certain, but it doesn’t matter. Trump and the Republican senators all swore an oath to uphold the constitution. How’s that working out for the Americans? Oaths are only meaningful if sworn by people who honor the meaning of their oath and if there are consequences for breaking it. So far as I can tell, there are no consequences. Were there, the Dems would be prosecuting half of the Senate.

JBS noted: “What we really need is a fast, reliable CHEAP test to tell if someone is contagious or not.”

The problem with antibody-based tests is that they won’t tell you whether someone is in the early phase of an immune response to an infection (not yet producing antibodies vs. starting to produce small numbers of antibodies), at the peak of the infection (many easily detectable antibodies), or in the recovery phase (antibody titers diminishing). What you really want to do is identify the presence of the virus, not antibodies, and (ideally) quantify the viral load. Via Twitter, I suggested to Charlie that something like DNA microarray technology might work (on the rationale that if researchers are developing RNA-based vaccines, a microarray could be developed to detect the actual virus via its RNA). But taking that idea further is well beyond my expertise, so I’d throw that question open to Heteromeles and Soon Lee: Is that approach feasible, with appropriate modification? I’m familiar with the microarray tech only from editing papers on GWAS research, where the microarrays are expensive and slow to read because they’re so large and are one-off designs. But a microarray with only a handful of coronavirus markers should be much less expensive (it’s much smaller and can be mass-produced) and much faster to read.

Hetermeles responded to my suggestion of a limited nuclear exchange: “As for a limited nuke-off in Ukraine, the problems are: 1. Who'd trust either side to keep their bargain?”

No need for trust. Trump asks Putin (in an unrecorded private meeting with no eavesdroppers) to drop a small (tactical?) nuke somewhere unpleasant in the Ukraine. Putin does this because why wouldn’t he? It's not like he cares about international opinion, and he’ll have a lot of domestic support, witness the whole Crimea thing. Trump declares a state of emergency and sends troops somewhere foolish near the “incident”. Crisis now established, we have a follow-on constitutional crisis in the making.

Heteromeles: “3. Developing such a strategy might lead to wholesale leaks and resignations among the USAF strategists tasked with developing it.”

Trump doesn’t have to drop the bomb or consult anyone, so no worry about leaks and resignations. All he has to do is persuade Putin to do it. Maybe he could find a sympathetic Oliver North character willing to sacrifice his career to “take one for the team” and deliver a tactical nuke. Doesn’t make much sense on the face of it, but what about the past 4 years makes any kind of objective sense? More to the point, this just requires a handshake deal with Putin if the American military isn’t asked to drop a nuke.

218:

There is considerable data (including from Italy!) that there are many people who get it and are essentially asymptomatic.

https://gcaptain.com/aircraft-carrier-outbreak-could-hold-clue-to-coronavirus-spread

[EXCERPTS]

The Navy’s testing of the entire 4,800-member crew of the aircraft carrier [USS Theodore Roosevelt] – which is about 94% complete...

Roughly 60 percent of the over 600 sailors who tested positive so far have not shown symptoms of COVID-19...

“With regard to COVID-19, we’re learning that stealth in the form of asymptomatic transmission is this adversary’s secret power,” said Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the Navy.

The figure is higher than the 25% to 50% range offered on April 5 by Dr. Anthony Fauci...

219:

The Navy was already pissed off at Trump for his pardon on that Navy Seal whose crimes were so heinous his entire unit testified against him, and that was after they kept sabotaging his weapons so he would stop killing innocents.

Then you have your SecNav publicly slam a ship Captain, on his own ship, after his crew gave him a standing ovation when he was fired? I almost think the SecNav did that on purpose as his exit strategy from Trump's trainwreck.

I'm waiting for the Joint Chief's to issue a public statement to the effect of "this guy is an idiot"...most Flag officers I could say I was familiar with already grate at having to serve under civilians who never wore a uniform, working for this guy who has stated more than once "[he] knows more about war than the Generals" has got to a good measure of their professionalism and tact.

220:

"No need for trust. Trump asks Putin (in an unrecorded private meeting with no eavesdroppers) to drop a small (tactical?) nuke somewhere unpleasant in the Ukraine. Putin does this because why wouldn’t he? ..."

Yer, whaa? Even by the standards of the Russophobes on this blog, that's batshit crazy.

Putin is extremely ruthless, probably a sociopath, but he is paranoid even by Russian standards, most definitely NOT irrational, and would suspect Trump was luring him into a trap - specifically, giving the USA and NATO an excuse to wage war on him - or, at the very least get international sanctions really screwed down on Russia.

Furthermore, Crimea was and is something entirely different. He has repeatedly denied any territorial interests elsewhere in Ukraine, NOT annexed even the most Russophil areas, called for an international conference to resolve the matter, and is supported by Russians on that matter. No, it would not, repeat NOT, get the same support from Russians!

221:

(And withroth @ 160) What about the old adage about "A VP should be a sitting presidents best life insurance"...?

If Biden picks an unknown, then we get into Hillary Clinton territory, with her what's-his-name?--Oh yeah, Tim Kaine--choice for VP. Perfectly cromulent dude, and 160 million-odd voters stayed home and threw the election to Trump (yes, Hillary got two million more voters. Since they were all Californians and New Yorkers and we've got that stupid electoral college, big whoop).

Biden's problem is that the Democrats are deeply divided between the old guard corporate shills retaining power like it's water (Pelosi, Biden, Schumer, and friends) and the new guard progressives who want action on climate change and inequality so that they don't have to die horribly. Sanders and Warren are the leaders for that faction.

If Biden doesn't unite these two wings big-time, he's going to lose, not because progressives are going to vote for Trump, but because they're not going to vote out of despair. I don't think many in the democratic party think Biden can hack this mess by himself: it's up to the team he chooses to bricolage whatever pieces Trump leaves into some sort of new normal.

Obama already threw a hard nudge on Twitter to pick Warren for VP, and Biden's already said he'd pick a woman VP. If the Biden and Warren can get along (which I don't know), Warren would be a good first officer hardass to Biden's touchy-feely captain. Abrams might be a decent choice, but she's a little-known black woman, so that's a big hill to climb and problematic for a lot of democratic crypto-bigots. Kamala Harris is a prosecutor and corporatist (and also, blackish), and she's got a mixed reputation in California. We're happy to have her as senator and to imagine her chewing on Trump during a debate. It's that big money thing that's the problem.

I totally agree that Warren (or any of these women) isn't the usual life insurance VP, but I think a lot of right-wing lone wolves would rather keep Biden around than have a super-competent woman completely in charge instead of just organizing things. So that's his insurance.

222:

I'm lucky enough (and it is really rolling double sixes six times in a row kind of luck) that might, all things going well, be out of lock-down in 4 weeks with zero community transmission and the remaining cases being monitored closely in an infectious diseases ward.

Unfortunately my work (used to) involve regular travel to the US and Europe because some stuff just doesn't translate well over Zoom.

I'm shitting myself for my friends and colleges in the US, EU and Nordics. If things go great, there is zero chance of seeing them face to face until the entire travel path is vaccinated and/or verifiably rona free, and the air travel industry re-builds to the point where I can afford an airfare again.

But the thing that is actually scaring the shit out of me is that there will be a COVID syndrome. Something will be discovered in 6 to 24 months and the Nazi ass-hats that are trying a stealth herd immunity will find themselves double rat fucked. Nobody can travel, they have will have 100s of thousands dead, and find themselves with a new disabled class. Then it comes back for season 2. I keep on thinking of Scalzi's Locked In series, which now seems way too real and way to optimistic.

On top of that the meteor is that up side of globalization ends and that fear of the other is no longer just prejudice.

223:

"Paying for stuff works pretty well actually, as long as you have a credit or debit card."

But I would still have to go out to put money on it before I could do that. The only reason I can use it at all without incurring additional risk is that I can put money on it at the same time as I pay for my food shopping. The idea of using it for food shopping is all a bunch of contradictions.

(Also, half its meagre monthly capacity is already taken up by paying regular bills that I simply can't pay over the counter, and the way they work out the limit is really fucked up so only about half of the theoretically remaining capacity is actually usable. So even aside from the contradictions it still wouldn't have the spare capacity available.)

It's really annoying to get a letter from the NHS telling me not to go out at all for 12 weeks even to get food or medicines, and dismissing the really obvious problems with that suggestion by assuming I can just have things appear on my doorstep by magic. It doesn't tell me what spell to use to get people to stop expecting to be paid for things, so while it might function as an excuse to jump the queue for food deliveries it still doesn't stop me having to go out to fuck around trying to make payment possible. I don't have to pay for my prescriptions, but the pharmacy switched off their delivery option (I guess they couldn't cope) before I even had a chance to ask about it.

224:

Agreed on the batshit. Geoff...really?

The problem with nuclear war is that it tends to run on "use it or lose it" principles, which is why it's such a great threat against invasion. Launching a tactical nuke at an area you want to conquer, that has a lot of good cropland, and is right next door to you is batshit insane to snorting lines of Covid-19 levels. It would be like the US nuking Canada's wheat fields so that Putin could become czar, all on the assumption that it won't start WW3. Why do it?

Anyway, Putin already demonstrated that he could nuke US elections via the internet, and the 2020 sequel is like the Hollywood blockbuster sequel version of what happened in 2016. We're going to see massive efforts to get voters to stay home, via disinformation, security panics about coronavirus, probably election hacking, conservation judges disenfranchising voters wholesale, lack of disaster aid to democratic districts, and so on.

We don't need nukes. This is going to be a fucked up year regardless.

Oh, and just watch what happens with Russia, since apparently Covid-19 is starting to do it's exponential boom and invade the countryside thing there right now. That's going to suck, bigly.

225:

LAvery @ 118: We can probably do better than that, but I'm willing to guarantee that the instant breathe test you envision is not gonna happen.

We need to or we're going to be stuck in limbo forever.

Doesn't have to be a breath test ... could be a "spit in this tube" test or a "give me your finger so I can get a drop of blood" test, but it needs to be a test that gives results RIGHT NOW.

Not gonna happen. Think about it. "Contagious" is a word that encapsulates a mort of complicated and opaque biology. A test that reliably tells you RIGHT NOW if you're contagious is way too much to ask for. We don't have that even for diseases that have been killing us for millenia.

And yes, indeed, "we're going to be stuck in limbo forever". The genie is not going back in the bottle. We'll learn to live with it. Limbo will moderate. Limbo will become normal.

226:

"What's a haircut?"

What's hair?

"The other problem is/are supposedly "Non-urgent" supplies which are still going to be needed - like plumbing "bits" & car spares & supplies"

I haven't noticed stuff like that being a major problem. Yes, some suppliers have closed down, but some have not, and quite a few of those are saying they are officially staying open for the duration. You just have to look around a bit more.

227:

I've been using online ordering with home delivery for groceries since it was a novelty fifteen years or so ago. I've managed to book a slot every week so far and have the next three weeks booked in advance into May. And that's just sticking with Tesco - there's also Sainsburys, ASDA and Waitrose that I've used in the past.

228:

No need for trust. Trump asks Putin (in an unrecorded private meeting with no eavesdroppers) to drop a small (tactical?) nuke somewhere unpleasant in the Ukraine. Putin does this because why wouldn’t he? It's not like he cares about international opinion, and he’ll have a lot of domestic support, witness the whole Crimea thing

In addition to the other objections raised, what does Putin get out of this that justifies the risk?

In many respects Covid is an added bonus to Putin's efforts - he put the village idiot into the Whitehouse, thus isolating the US from the world stage - he got Brexit, to help break up Europe - and now Covid is showing fault lines all over the place as cooperation goes out the window in a newly me first world.

Setting off even a small nuke risks suddenly refocusing all those populations and politicians into remembering that they need to cooperate to survive against a state willing to go nuclear. Thus throwing out almost everything Putin has achieved over the last 5+ years.

229:

I'm afraid the timing of the original post's last line is off. Cthulhu awoke in mid-2016, as reflected by voting in both the UK and US. But it was a long nap and he/it/they needed a couple of years to stretch, get the kinks out, and drink some Old Ones equivalent of coffee.

230:

online ordering with home delivery

We've been using both integral store (supermarket) delivery and independent pick-up-and-deliver services like Glovo with good success. The store ones have a few-day order lag and the independent ones, which mostly work with smaller markets, are generally same-day.

231:

China has increased the Wunan death toll by 50% now that they have had time to go back and look at what was happening during the crisis

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-52321529

232:

"in my experience of domestic UK air travel, it is almost always faster to go by train unless there's a direct flight and no direct train journeys to your destination, or you're trying to do something Silly"

Yeah...

Which is one of the things that gets on my tits with people obsessing about making trains high speeeed, when it's quite obvious that they're fast enough as they are.

They already beat cars, and that's not going to change because nobody's really going to raise the 70mph limit and even if they did the roads are too crowded for it to make any noticeable difference.

They already beat planes, and that's not going to change because of aerodynamic drag and the speed of sound and stuff.

Making trains go faster than they already do just gets you whacked round the head with that same aerodynamic drag hammer and its square-law energy consumption and cube-law power supply capacity increases, the square law of centrifugal force, and various other inconvenient power laws, to no good end. It then throws away much of the gain in any case by acquiring the aeroplane disadvantage of dumping you in a silly place miles from anywhere you might want to go instead of in the town centre.

Indeed, given how little time current "125mph" trains actually spend going that fast (by and large), it's pretty pointless to construct new capacity even to that standard. 100mph line speed will do fine as long as you don't have to keep slowing down for bits the Victorians didn't build to allow it.

233:

Problem: we need more capacity on the network.

A lot of slow traffic is blocked by the need to accommodate our current 125mph inter-city services on the same track, with their increased stopping distance requirement. This is especially a problem entering and leaving stations, as the high speed express trains have to traverse track at speeds optimized for commuter and freight services.

Moving high speed passenger services onto a separate track network would work wonders in freeing up track slots for commuter trains as well: that's what Japan did in the 1960s (with the Shinkansen network), and that's kinda-sorta what HS2 aims to do. HS2 has a wider loading gauge, remember, even though it runs on standard gauge track. (Shinkansen is standard gauge, but Japan's previous track network was all narrow gauge, because 1860s politics.)

And once you've got the fast stuff moving on segregated tracks, why not go faster -- if your energy budget permits?

234:

Something awoke forty years before that. I'm not sure if it was something else entirely or if it just took Cthulhu that long to go from "I think I need a piss, but I reckon I can still put off doing it for a bit" to actually putting a tentacle out of bed, but it's something that doesn't want us to retain awareness of what it did.

235:

To be clear to those who objected to my suggestion that Putin could be persuaded to nuke the Ukraine, I remind you that I concluded that note with ***"Doesn’t make much sense on the face of it, but what about the past 4 years makes any kind of objective sense?"***

Conventional options such as moving troops and hardware towards a NATO border, thereby "forcing the U.S. to respond" would clearly be less drastic and more practical, but nukes do tend to focus one's attention most wonderfully. So if you're Trump and want all your russophobe supporters to jump up and down and demand retribution, a nuke is (you should pardon the choice of words) your trump card.

236:

Oh, yes, it's clear that it could be a good deal for Trump, but it takes two to tango.

Actually, I don't understand why people think that the past 4 years don't make sense - most aspects were eminently predictable as a possible outcome decades ago. What I find baffling is why otherwise rational people are so badly in denial about that.

237:

‘Something awoke forty years before that’
What happened in 1976?

238:

What I find baffling is why otherwise rational people are so badly in denial about that.

Goodness as identity rather than evaluation.

With a few more words, "I am good" as an axiom, rather than "on the balance of available information, that had a good result". It's one consequence of the whole "no facts! facts are the devil's ploy!" political position pushed by various right-wing factions.

239:

RE: Covid19 latency, reinfection, asymptomatic infections, etc.

Here's what I don't know: the false positive and false negative rates of the various RNA and antibody tests out there.

Here's what I think I know:

The only drive-up (antibody) Covid test station in San Diego got shut down a few days ago, because it hadn't complied with some paperwork. This wasn't a hospital operation, this was a group that was swiping credit cards for tests and having people wait for the results 15 minutes later. The Public Health officer claimed something wasn't right about it, and now both sides are lawyering up.

How often does this happen? Who knows? There are a bunch of tests out there, and while I'm pretty sure most of them are mostly accurate, I haven't seen a report yet that any are perfectly accurate. The example above is one case where, just perhaps, it was a little too inaccurate.

Another thing I know is the local hospital I've got ties to has so far done over 700 Covid19 tests on people being admitted to the hospital. They're running north of 90% negative on tests. Now realize they've basically cancelled all procedures that are immediately necessary, so they're screening a lot of people presenting with Covid-like symptoms. While this won't catch asymptomatic people unless they have to go to the hospital for some other reason, most people showing up aren't infected, per the tests.

Are they getting false positives and negatives? I presume so, and I do know they confirm diagnoses, as there are a bunch of patients in the "might be infected" category.

We've also heard that there's a high rate of asymptomatic spread on the USS Roosevelt carrier, but that's where you have thousands of reasonably fit young people in close proximity sharing just about everything, so that shouldn't be too surprising. They're not a typical population either, and we're fortunate that most are robust enough to handle this. Tl;dr, we need to be careful about extrapolating from any case across larger populations.

So let's add this up: there are thousands if not millions of tests going on, the tests have error rates, and there are comparatively loose controls on which tests are getting administered compared with normal times, because even mildly inaccurate data are better than no data. There is asymptomatic spread, but there are also a lot of negative results on tests.

Under these conditions, I'd take a wild guess that the weird reinfections and so on are quite possibly the result of testing errors, not HPV or Ebola-type latency. We will of course find out when someone gets around to tracking cases carefully, but right now we need better than anecdotal evidence to be sure of that.

240:

"This is especially a problem entering and leaving stations, as the high speed express trains have to traverse track at speeds optimized for commuter and freight services."

Yes, but you can't avoid that problem. You could maybe mitigate it by majorly reworking the approaches and building extra platform roads for the fast trains, but you still encounter it to some extent because the trains still have to call at the stations - if they don't, they cease to provide a service.

"And once you've got the fast stuff moving on segregated tracks, why not go faster - if your energy budget permits?"

We need to convert to a less damaging set of energy sources; I think that barks (ie. we can take it as dogma). It's also pretty uncontroversial that this is a major task and involves a whole bunch of major pains in the arse. One such pain in the arse is electrifying the railways, and its nature is apparent even under current circumstances.

Increasing speed puts up the energy consumption by the square and power consumption by the cube, so you get a square law pain in the arse increment on supply and a cube law pain in the arse increment on distribution. The consequential increments on systems beyond the railway itself are a lesser proportion of the total but still follow the same power laws. Avoiding cube law pains in the arse is generally considered to be a really good idea, and needs a really good reason to not do it.

There are similarly savage power laws applying to just about every other aspect, too. Permissible minimum radius of curves is an obvious one, which canes your choice of possible routes. Forces on the track, with consequences both for how often you need to maintain/replace it and the tolerances to which it needs to be built and maintained. Similarly for wheels and suspension components. Then you get clobbered all over again on those factors when you also need to increase the weight of the carriages to make them strong enough that they can come off the rails and dissipate square-law energy flying about the landscape without disintegrating. Braking distances, which goes in complete opposition to any intent to increase capacity. This stuff goes on and on and on.

Not increasing speed means you avoid suffering from these huge increases in pain in the arse factor. So you can provide a given capacity increase for a whole lot less hassle, or you can accept the same level of hassle but get a vastly bigger capacity increase for it, or something in between the two. However you share it out it's a much more sensible approach both for improving the railways themselves and (granted, in lesser proportion) in terms of how it affects energy supply replacement.

241:

I'd be very happy if he picked Warren and wouldn't complain about Abrams, but I get slight sociopath vibe off of Harris and she makes me a little nervous (for reasons other than her corporatist politics.)

242:

Am reasonably sure that to a calculator like Putin, Trump has outlived his usefulness.

Sure he's weakened the USA enormously, but he's also weakened the global anti-COVID19 response. Putin is about to get 100% focused on COVID19 at home within the next 4-8 weeks, at which point his priorities are going to change out of all recognition. He can lose all the relative gains he's made on the diplomatic front overnight if he doesn't react effectively to the pandemic, so pandering to Trump will suddenly be deprioritized.

(Possible exception: if it turns out that Putin is personally invested in HCQ/Azithromycin, or one of the other quack cures Trump is peddling, and stands to make a big personal profit.)

I doubt that Putin would pivot towards Biden, but backing away from Trump and making nice with Pence isn't inconceivable. Pence is a fellow Christian conservative and equally likely to degrade US soft power abroad if he becomes POTUS, so although he's not as obviously on the payroll he may be a preferable alternative ...

243:

What happened in 1976?

Jimmy Carter. An outsider, numerate, and determined to do well by the American people.

Since one thing that oil crisis (any of them) made obvious was that the right thing to do was to move the economy off fossil carbon -- this is purely as an economic and strategic statement, never mind climate change -- it created a conflict between facts and the incumbent Oil Empire power brokers and "we've got a good thing going on here" carbon extraction plutocrats. So 1976 is about when the alternatives between "change the basis of the economy" (and admit the DFH were right about anything) and "make change impossible and guarantee the continuing increase of my fortune" became stark to the plutocrat class.

And here we are; the carbon plutes have decisively won the argument, to the great detriment of everything else.

244:

We had an unusually long hot dry summer (in the UK), and I guess it brought something out of hibernation, or at least started it off. Maybe. Principal consequence that has remained obvious is that a few years later we got Thatcher.

245:

A short treatise on the efficacy of soap:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0wQU7fJEVQ

246:

timrowledge @ 183: @144 -not so long ago the US airforce was under heavy attack from christianist subversives. The Colorado academy was the poster child for this; an old friend was active in trying to fight back. Obviously the intent was to gain de facto control of nukes.
They’d use them in a heartbeat. There really are people that think The Handmaid’s Tale is an instruction manual.
What we have to hope is that none of the boomer captains are part of the cabal.

I know that. That's why I had that long ".... ummmm, I don't know" assessment of the Air Force.

Fortunately for us I think, the Air Force doesn't have any "boomers" of their own. They all belong to the Navy.

247:

I fully agree, with one niggle. I have never seen a scrap of evidence that Trump ever was on Putin's payroll - he was just a useful idiot, and Putin knew how to play him. But, given Trump's increasing dementia, Putin will have realised that he will be increasingly difficult to control, even as he becomes easier to manipulate.

248:

I'm going to write one massive reply, to save time. Here's what I see/believe:

1) The GOP in the USA will try to win by voter suppression; the Federal courts are on board. Or shall I say 'The Federalist Society'.

2) The US economy is going down soooo f-ing hard. The GOP's 'bailout' was for the rich, with as little as possible for anything else. Those stimulus checks are also the banks' for the taking.

3) I believe now that the GOP elite (a) figure things are going to h*ll, so loot like crazy now; (b) they don't know how to do anything else, even to save themselves.

4) The military would not p*ss on Trump's lap if he were on fire. Right now they're trying to control the pandemic in their own ranks (and probably trying to figure out their supply lines). Other federal forces, such as the FBI and Secret Service, are probably arm-wrestling for the privilege of 'walking' Trump out of he White House. ICE undoubtedly supports Trump, but they specialize in f*cking over poor migrant laborers - they'll have no taste for anybody shooting back.

5) The 'Heartland' states are flaring up, and they have minimal healthcare systems; the urban centers are already swamped.

6) The US healthcare system is going to break. Right now COVID is racing through hospitals, and workers are using trash bags as 'PPE'. Hospitals are firing people due to lack of money. This will likely lead to serious actions.

7) The US will not ramp up the manufacture of PPE and other COVID-related equipment that much. The Trump family is seizing it and reselling it for extreme markups. They profit from the shortage.

8) There are a lot of trial balloons being floated on the right for a 'Blame China' campaign.

249:

Vaccines will take as long as you predict, but a drug to ease the disease is quite possible a lot earlier. Possibly as soon as a few months.

That said, it's also likely to require hospitalization for treatment, even though it drops the death rate quite substantially.

OTOH, it's also likely that when the vaccine appears, it won't produce a durable immunity. Whether this is because of mutations, or for other reasons (many corona viruses don't seem to produce a durable immunity). So the vaccine will need to be given repeatedly...possibly every year, but also possibly on an unpredictable schedule.

Additionally, this virus doesn't look as if it has a season. So the waves will happen when something occurs rather than at predictable times.

Then there's the question of what those people who overcome the disease, and then become active again means. Nobody really understands that yet, including whether they are transmitting COVID after it becomes active again. But they often have no or minimal symptoms.

I can't really speak to your predictions of civil unrest. I wish they sounded less plausible.

250:

One of the things I left out of my earlier reply to your first post on this thread was the sentence "We might even see the pee-tape in the next ninety days."

At the time it seemed a little over-the-top, but now that you've brought up the relationship with Putin... and of course we don't know whether there really is a pee-tape, but those Deutsche Bank debts might suddenly come due, or maybe some bit of evidence will surface about what the Putin/Trump relationship is really about! - Or whatever Putin can throw that he thinks will stick!

251:

The airforce does, however, have lots of ICBMs and airplanes which can launch cruise missiles. If you've never seen it, watch the movie "Dr. Strangelove" for more on this important matter. Much will become clear to you...

252:

Pigeon
when it's quite obvious that they're fast enough as they are.
NO - WRONG
The French / Germans /Dutch / Belgians / Spanish (etc) disagree with you as demonmstrated by experminet & engineering.
Speed is extra capacity, too ( As I note Charlei adds )
What we need is a time machine to kill off Chris Grayling, the turd.
Indeed, given how little time current "125mph" trains actually spend going that fast (by and large)
Also wrong
Average speed for trains London-York, including one stop is between 95 & 102 mph ...

Joshua & others - 1980, actually - Ronnie Raygun was elected - ah -= Graydon - you are saying the REACTION to Carter, yes?

253:

COVID-19 - China

China reviewed deaths in Wuhan during this epidemic - death rate is 50% higher than originally reported. Hopefully they'll also share all the details so that physicians and mortuaries elsewhere can avoid making similar mistakes re: correctly identifying and reporting CoD.

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/akwbng/china-raised-the-wuhan-coronavirus-death-toll-50-but-insists-there-is-no-cover-up

Even if these latest numbers are accurate, there's still a large discrepancy in death rates between China and Italy. Yes, risk factors (age, underlying medical conditions) are part of it but so are treatment protocols and with other viruses - the particular virus strain. The first two factors have been discussed in the news but so far I haven't seen anything that compares/analyzes the symptom severity or mortality risk by strain. So far, all I've read is that this particular corona virus doesn't appear to mutate very fast but at the same time there is evidence that it has mutated enough so that it has been possible to determine that most of the US cases are of the European (not original Wuhan) strain. If there's a difference in severity or transmissibility or any other important aspect, then whatever test kit is used will also have to be able to identify the strain.

254:

...I agree with absolutely everything you've said in that post.

Putin doesn't have his army in the Ukraine because he wants to conquer it, he has them there because it shows the Near Abroad that Russia is to be feared. That they should tread very carefully, and align themselves towards Moscow rather than trade deals with the EU, etc.

Likewise, he still has his soldiers in Georgia because it keeps the boot on their neck, and their mouth shut. It's a practical lesson to any neighbour that unless they're already part of a military alliance, he can bring down their government by (quite literally) parking his tanks on their lawn - and that exactly no-one is going to ride in on a white horse to stop them. There are still Russian soldiers in Georgia, holding Georgian territory.

As you say, a lot of this is for domestic political advantage - it keeps him looking strong, and plays well to the Nationalist narrative. It's a bit like looking at the greyest wing of the Tory party; shaking their heads at the world as it is, looking back fondly to an imagined past where the globe was painted red, where citizens of the Empire could walk freely because no-one, but no-one, would dare screw around with them (for fear of having a battleship, sorry Alpha Team, arriving to deliver a brutal attitude-adjustment).

As you say, he's got everything he wants - why would he risk what he's gained already, just to help a Trump reelection? He can already do that with the trolls out of St.Petersburg, and a few million in dark funding. It worked last time, after all...

My worry is that he errs in his calculus between "doing something for domestic consumption" and "doing something that badly damages international relations" - so the fallout from shooting down MH17 was manageable. The fallout from spreading Po-210 around London, or nerve agents around Salisbury, was manageable. He's been lucky so far - but what if his chosen operators really screw up? It's not as if GRU are as good as they obviously think they are (see: getting arrested in Holland and Qatar, and detected elsewhere; getting unbelievably careless in their domestic PERSEC).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_29155

The nightmare is that the next time he goes after an opponent, he decides to use a lethal biological weapon (after all, he's ordered the use of chemical and radiological warfare agents in the UK, why not collect the whole set?); and it turns out to be much more transmissible than intended...

255:

The US economy is going down soooo f-ing hard. The GOP's 'bailout' was for the rich, with as little as possible for anything else. Those stimulus checks are also the banks' for the taking.

In normal times a crashing economy would be doom for the incumbent.

In terms of politics we haven't been in normal times for a while now, so who knows.

But with most/all other governments around the world screwing things up just as badly (from an economic perspective if not the health perspective), the idea of blaming China taking hold as an excuse gains some credibility for the Trump base.

256:

Mikko Parviainen @ 190:

(Aberdeen to Penzance -- yes, there's a direct train: it takes 10h30m and is the longest train route in the UK -- nearly 800 miles).

That sounds something I'd like to try some time. I'm not sure I ever will, though. Currently the world situation is not very accommodating for leisure travel, and I'm not sure that service will run from one country to another in a few years. (Also, I'm trying to find it on the internet, and I can't find one which would run next week...)

There are a number of heritage steam excursions in the UK that have been on my "bucket list" for quite a while. One in particular boards in Cambridge and travels up to Fort William, where you stay overnight and the next day take the Jacobite excursion out to Mallaig. Then on the third day you return to Cambridge with various stops along the way where the train does "run troughs" for the photographers on board.

The reason I took my R&R from Iraq to Scotland in 2004 was to ride the Jacobite. Unfortunately, I was delayed and didn't arrive until after it had finished its season. The day before I was due to leave, my Commander asked me to swap off with someone who had a family emergency (his father had a heart attack and he wasn't eligible for emergency leave). Of course I agreed, but his slot was a month later than mine, and the Jacobite's season ended in the interim.

Still, it was the best damn vacation I've ever had. I walked all the way around the town of Stirling in a pouring rain looking for a place to take a photo of the castle (because someone recommended Stirling Castle as the quintessential Scottish "castle on a hill"). And just as I finally found the spot, the clouds broke open, the rain stopped where I was and I got a photo of the castle with a double rainbow over it.

https://flic.kr/p/9eZi5S

I did take the train from Fort William to Mallaig, walking back to Arisag, stopping to visit the silver sands & walk the length of the River Morar. I've sailed Loch Ness from both ends.

Some day I want to come back for a longer visit. But now I'd want to bring my little buddy along with me. What are the requirements to bring a pet along to visit the U.K.? He's neutered & has all his shots. I'm guessing there's a quarantine period. Would I be able to visit him during the quarantine?

257:

Some day I want to come back for a longer visit. But now I'd want to bring my little buddy along with me. What are the requirements to bring a pet along to visit the U.K.? He's neutered & has all his shots.

https://www.gov.uk/bring-your-pet-to-uk

Not in particular the link about banned dog breeds in step 1.

258:

Graydon - you are saying the REACTION to Carter, yes?

Yes. The reaction to Carter included the October Surprise, arms-for-hostages election manipulation which was some pretty blatant election rigging and those responsible got away with it.

259:

Well, except for all the people it takes to run the convention center and the hotels and restaurants, and, we are talking the GOP - the hookers, and that's a lot of folks who don't deserve catching it.

260:

Jails and prisons... oh, crap. In the US, at least in many jails, there's a racket - mind-boggling rates (think pre-breakup of Mother Bell, then add) for calling prisoners.

How many are going to be able to afford this? When my late ex was in the Brevard Co. jail in '04, it was something like $40 *month* or two for one call a week.

261:

Ok, you beat me. I only buy sacks of 10-15 lbs of rice, but I can get it at the local alternative supermarket "Korean Corner", caters to Asians, and Hispanics esp.)

262:

Yeah, well, for the GOP, that's "someone batshit crazier than the presidential candidate", while for the Dems, and they really have *not* been doing this, just trying to pick someone who'd appeal to x sector of the voters, it should be "someone who scares the shit out of the GOP's owners".

Warren would be all of the above. Also, given how Obama handed a lot off to Biden, *and* that Biden hasn't committed to run for a second term....

263:
To what extent do you think these outcomes might be less dire if a large majority decide to start wearing facemasks in public?

Lockdowns will remain the same duration but the inter-lockdown gaps will be a bit longer, because masks slow (but don't stop) transmission and multiplication.

A huge part of the problem is that our built environment isn't conducive to social distancing, and can't rapidly be rebuilt to facilitate it.


That makes sense. Given that 1) the biggest impact of face masks is to protect others and 2) it looks like many/most infected people are asymptomatic, facemask use would have to be nearly universal to make a difference, but I think social pressure might make that possible* - especially after the second lockdown.

If, as result, we can slow the cycle down, we might both A) lower the number of infections at each peak, making them more manageable by health care systems, and even B) reduce the number of lockdown/reopen cycles between now and when a vaccine and/or improved treatment arrives.

*Some places. Of course, here in the US the facemasks would almost certainly become badges of political identity, with liberals wearing them and conservatives not. But in less socially pathological cultures, it could make a real, positive impact.

264:

Did I mention that when my ex and stepson were in the UK for LonCon III, we traveled a bit? I *really* wanted to get a Britrailpass... but the price for the three of us, with the stepson being 16, was more than another airline ticket, for the cheapest rate (travel 7 days out of 14). The upshot was that we rented a car. And, since they wanted 80# more for a second driver, I did all the driving.

Spent about 2 days or so in London, then rented the car. Turned it back in 8 days later, before we grabbed the tube to Worldcon.

We'd put about 1000mi on it.

(London->Stonehenge (religious pilgrimage)->Reading (dinner with friend)->Bath, next Bath->Glastonbury Tor, next ->Bristol, next -> Aberystwyth, (two days later)->(stop at Ffestinog)(stop for slate mine tour)->Llanbaries->Birdosvald(sp?)(Hadrian's Wall)->Hadrian's Wall near Newcastle->Cambridge,next -> London.

(pant, pant, pant).

265:

Other than one statistician, several mathematicians, one guy I can't find, and not one seem to have anything to do with either medicine or medical stats, nahhh, nothing fishy here, move along, move along.

266:

That's wonderful. I'm hoping to visit Powell's some day.

267:

Sorry, your post is off the wall.

1. There are people, not elected, to whom their Oath of Office matters. I know a number of feds... including my son, to whom it matters.
2. Putin drop a nuke just because? What world are you living in, the GOP world inside the Earth? Where would the fallout go? What gives you the slighest idea that Russians would sit for that, and not have him the way the Italians did Mussolini?

268:

So, you're thinking that Carter's election, after Nixon and the GOP bought the racists and the funnymentlists, and the ultrawealthy figured that was the time to go for it?

269:

Putin owns him. The Deutschebank money laundering was heavily from Russian sources, apparently.

And, of course, all the personal stuff that Putin has on him (the pee tape is trivial).

I meant to write Putin, via the Ambassador, an anonymous letter a couple years ago, suggesting that a master craftsman doesn't use flawed, bad tools.

270:

[quote]...necessarily the most effective part of the adaptive immune system in dealing with viruses. That would often be the cellular immune system: killer T-cells. Serological tests test for antibodies because that's the easy thing to do, not because they're necessarily the best indicator of functional immunity.[/quote]

That's a really good thing to hear. I've been worried that the low antibody counts meant that a vaccine wouldn't work. But I sure hope they come out with better tests.

271:

To go into biologists' war stories...

In my time at university, I did plenty of PCR, but IIIR[1] RT-PCR only once; the staff used to joke some people were excreting more RNases than others, because it never worked with them, I can't remember if it was only when they did the experiment or like with the Puli effect when they were merely present. Err, I have no recollection if the RT-PCR worked.

So I'm not that surprised of people being tested negative for the virus by PCR, but still being infectious. Or people relapsing after a negative test.

In other news, the paintball mask arrived a few days ago, and Mk1 of the microfibre mask is ready; I got a second one today (ebay sent a repay for the first one because it seemed it was lost)., and I might take some photos when building a second microfibre mask and put them up on BGG.

Schools are going to open on Monday in Germany, so my brother the teacher got some cotton masks; I proposed getting an UV-C lamp to disinfect them between uses, problem is I mentioned the word "cancerogenic", so my mother is vehemently against it; at the risk of repeating yourself, when you have been a diagnosis for being, errr, hereditary neurodivergent, no, that doesn't mean the rest of your family is, err, "normal" (OK, neurotypical).

[1] It's been about 15 years, and chronical severe atypical depression makes for patchy memories. Still, been there done that, got the t-shirt, err, master degree.

272:

As a mechanism of disrepute, there is very little to fault in the particular tool.

And keep in mind Trump is not the primary tool; that's Mitch.

273:

It's not the worst theory I've ever heard.

274:

Mike E. @ 219: I'm waiting for the Joint Chief's to issue a public statement to the effect of "this guy is an idiot"...most Flag officers I could say I was familiar with already grate at having to serve under civilians who never wore a uniform, working for this guy who has stated more than once "[he] knows more about war than the Generals" has got to a good measure of their professionalism and tact.

Except that you have to understand that (as the English would say) ... is ... just ... not ... done! ... at least not until someone is out of uniform. The American military swears an oath to the Constitution and to obey the orders of the President (with the understanding that the President WILL NOT order them to violate the Constitution).

They might obfuscate, delay, say "Yes Sir!" and do nothing, but they will not publicly criticize the President while still in Uniform.

They might resign en masse and THEN publicly state their reasons for doing so, but as long as they remain the Joint Chiefs they will refrain.

And there are plenty of examples of what happens to flag officers who don't adhere to those rules: the a fore mentioned Curtis LeMay - forced into retirement for his intemperate opposition to LBJ & McManara's handling of the Vietnam war;
Douglas MacArthur - who despite the many standing ovations his views on the Korean War attracted, was still relieved of command and "faded away into retirement;
Maj. Gen. Harold N. Campbell - forced to retire because he “violated (military law) by uttering disparaging remarks about the President”;
Stanley A. McChrystal - who didn't even make his statements in public (they were reported in a Rolling Stone article), but was none-the-less forced to resign.

275:

mdlve @ 228:

No need for trust. Trump asks Putin (in an unrecorded private meeting with no eavesdroppers) to drop a small (tactical?) nuke somewhere unpleasant in the Ukraine. Putin does this because why wouldn’t he? It's not like he cares about international opinion, and he’ll have a lot of domestic support, witness the whole Crimea thing

In addition to the other objections raised, what does Putin get out of this that justifies the risk?

I agree that the whole idea is "Batshit Crazy" and that there isn't any benefit for Putin. OTOH, I think you overstate Putin's risk and note that people have done stupider things. Putin won't do it for Trump, but it's not entirely beyond the realm of possibility he might do it for himself if he saw an advantage to it. Putin's ambitions in Ukraine go beyond Crimea.

276:

As to whether the US rural population will consider COVID a serious problem:
You need to consider sources of information and the time delay between exposure and any visible effect. Also that for most people there will only be slight effect.

If the media that they trust are telling them that it's a minor problem, most people will accept that it's a minor problem, even is their cousin died of it. It didn't hurt them. And if it killed them, they won't be around to say it should be avoided.

That said, I, personally, only feel that COVID-19 is a problem because I trust the media that are telling me it is. I haven't seen any direct proof. (And I'm just as happy to keep it that way, thank you.)

I don't see anyway around this problem. Those who don't believe it's a real problem will only believe that it is when confronted by evidence that they trust. That I think where they place their trust is foolish isn't going to convince them. Their brother or sister dying of it might, but most people live through it without serious problems, and without knowing they had it.

277:

Lost the link ... but I saw a suggestion that a method was being trialled of extracting antibodies, via blood Plasma from people who have recovered from the Corvid & then either multiplying those up &/or using them to treat victims ....

278:

Schools are going to open on Monday in Germany, so my brother the teacher got some cotton masks; I proposed getting an UV-C lamp to disinfect them between uses,

UV-C is ineffective bordering on useless to decontaminate viruses. It's pretty damn good on bacteria but the size comparison I saw once was that a bacterium was the size of a double-decker bus compared to a virus the size of a chihuahua. The coronavirus everyone's worried about currently is about the same diameter as a wavelength of UV-C light (ca. 230nm) so it's difficult to hit one with enough energy to damage/disrupt its capsule.

In addition high intensity UV-C light will damage materials like cotton, plastics etc. so structured material like filter sheets with precisely-sized holes will stop working properly.

If your brother has enough masks tell him to simply rotate their use -- the coronavirus will not stay viable for more than a couple of days on something like a mask. Put a used mask in a glass jar and wait. If he's got seven of them label each one with a day of the week. A boil wash will also work but that will destroy any elastics keeping the mask fitted tightly to his face.

279:

Barry @ 248: 6) The US healthcare system is going to break. Right now COVID is racing through hospitals, and workers are using trash bags as 'PPE'. Hospitals are firing people due to lack of money. This will likely lead to serious actions.

The U.S. healthcare system is already broke ... and broken. It's gonna' get a lot more broke & broken before it ever gets fixed.

280:

Um, about that:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/17/rural-america-coronavirus-kansas

It has started - one of the Dakotas, or Montana, something like that, has startted seeing it, and a map I saw yesterday shows a *serious* center in Nebraska. Whether or not they stay open, or reopen, it *will* hit people hard in the "heartland", as it already is hitting in the US South, and he's in charge... and there's no Democrats in power to blame for their GOP state and local government.

281:

Of course, here in the US the facemasks would almost certainly become badges of political identity,

Just got back from the grocery. A fairly large store. (Larger than anything I've seen in Europe.)

Maybe 40% wearing masks. I think that tribe has less to do with it just now than age. Of course it's the younger asymptomatic ones who SHOULD be wearing masks to not be spreading instead of the older ones trying to not catch it.

282:

Lost the link ... but I saw a suggestion that a method was being trialled of extracting antibodies, via blood Plasma from people who have recovered from the Corvid & then either multiplying those up &/or using them to treat victims ...

Don't know about multiplying, but this is a standard treatment. The problem is that there aren't a lot of recovered people, and IIRC it's sort of a 1:1 treatment (1 plasma=1 treatment).

283:

Yup. One of my colleagues was one of the first 10 people in Ontario to recover. Got a picture of him donating plasma at the hospital where he was born and encouraging others to do the same.

284:

[quote]There's no practical way you can run a world in which every person is tested before every social interaction, and even if you could it wouldn't be ...[/quote]

OTOH, if there's no durable immunity, that might be a 2% per year fatality rate. Well, say 1%, because you don't start out elderly. That means 1 chance in 10 you die before you're a teenager of this one cause and one chance in 10 you die as a teenager of this one cause and...

That's not something we want to promote. Either a vaccine or at minimum an effective treatment is far preferable. It wouldn't kill humanity ... directly. People have survived worse problems, though not in a world with MAD weapons systems.

285:

Troutwaxer @ 251: The airforce does, however, have lots of ICBMs and airplanes which can launch cruise missiles. If you've never seen it, watch the movie "Dr. Strangelove" for more on this important matter. Much will become clear to you...

I saw it in the original theatrical release ... several times. Plus again multiple times in re-runs (I worked in theaters part time from Junior High through High School).

There are a couple of other good films that came out in 1964 (both of them based on novels I read before the films were made) that I can highly recommend to help illuminate the (American) "military mind":

Fail Safe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=filmUN4W59I

Seven Days in May

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcEW9LuE0VI

Keep in mind that much of today's top military barely served in Vietnam or the Cold War. Vietnam ended 45+ yeas ago and it's been 30+ years since the Cold War ended. The current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs had less than a decade of service before the Berlin Wall came down. He would have been 6 years old when those films came out.

286:

Schools are going to open on Monday in Germany

What are they planning to do to keep students and staff safe? Unless German schools are very different from Canadian school I don't see a way to stop asymptomatic spread.

I've seen what Taiwanese schools are doing, and I honestly don't see that working in Canada.

I may be projecting my personal worries, but in Canada teachers usually (absent pandemics) suffer a higher rate of infectious diseases than other professions. Lots of forced close quarters with a population who "may not be fully compliant with hygienic practices", coupled with building designs that leave little space for personal cleaning and budgetary cutbacks eliminating the staff required to properly clean classrooms.

287:
The coronavirus everyone's worried about currently is about the same diameter as a wavelength of UV-C light (ca. 230nm) so it's difficult to hit one with enough energy to damage/disrupt its capsule

Err, I'd like to see the citation for that, since it contradicts quite few studies, e.g. this one and that one.

And actually, I wouldn't go for the capsule, either. but for the ssRNA.

In addition high intensity UV-C light will damage materials like cotton, plastics etc.

That might be a problem, I agree, still the other options seemed worse.

A boil wash will also work but that will destroy any elastics keeping the mask fitted tightly to his face.

You might want to read this one comparing methods...

288:

The chance of a treatment (or a mitigant) prior to a vaccine (or effectively at all in the next decade) is essentially zero. We are really not good at treating viral disease and even worse at curing it

289:

God help us, yes :-( See my comments in #8 for some associated predictions.

290:

whitroth @ 261: Ok, you beat me. I only buy sacks of 10-15 lbs of rice, but I can get it at the local alternative supermarket "Korean Corner", caters to Asians, and Hispanics esp.)

Last time I was in there Wegmans did have 50 lb sacks of rice.

I thought my foray yesterday was going to set me up until at least mid-May, but this morning I realized I forgot to get butter. I've got enough to last until May 1st at the rate I use it (I think I've got enough), but not enough to get me through until May 20th.

291:

It is very unlikely to behave that way, even if there is no long-term immunity. Firstly, the risk of 1% is a population average, and is dominated by the risk among the elderly - the risk among the young is MUCH less. Secondly, even with no long-term immunity, the chances of severe effects on a second infection are probably much smaller than they were first time round; I stress the probably, because its pure guesswork, and it's not impossible that they are larger.

My back-of-the envelope calculations are that it would reduce the life expectancy by a year or few (depending), but otherwise drop back into the noise. Remember that people survived before modern antibiotics, weird and wonderful drugs, fancy surgery and advanced hospitals.

292:

Unless German schools are very different from Canadian school I don't see a way to stop asymptomatic spread.
You mean spread from breathing and talking by asymptomatic people? Cloth masks would block a lot of that, and schools that can enforce a dress code could enforce masking.
(There would still be risk, perhaps too much.)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.


293:

Unless they are testing the corpses, you should assume that the COVID death count is a drastic undercount. So I would assume that the 1% death rate is a reasonable guess. This could be way off, but so could any other guess.

294:

I heard of one district where they moved all their buses with WiFi to locations where largish numbers of students can use them.

295:

We're in Montgomery Co, Maryland. The county council, last week, made it a *law* that you must wear a face mask to go into a supermarket or grocery.

Not everybody last week, but the beginning of this week, yep, everyone.

296:

Maybe 40% wearing masks. I think that tribe has less to do with it just now than age.
It probably depends on exactly where you are. Here in the liberal Maryland suburbs of DC, masks in the grocery store were required today (and only so many people were allowed in the store at once). I think the state gov't has dictated these policies, but everyone complied and nobody was complaining. It's probably different in Pennsylvania (or at least, in the Alabama part of Pennsylvania, which is where I grew up).

297:

Putin does not control every Russian or everything that goes on in Russia, any more than Trump controls every American and everything that goes on in the USA. After the breakup of the USSR, a VAST amount of Russian shady money started to appear - but it varies from stuff he controls down to stuff controlled by his arch enemies and kept as far way from Russia as possible. 'Russian money' is more of a propaganda term than anything else.

298:

Oops, county gov't, not state. (I'm in Montgomery County, like whitroth #295.)

299:

I did a market run yesterday morning, and in my area (northwest L.A.) the mask-wearing rate appears to be well over 90% - businesses can decide whether to require masks, and some do. So it's easier to wear them the rest of the time, too. Mailbox place is generally empty, but they wear masks.
(I do wonder where all the medical masks came from, though. I've been using a bandana.)

The assumption seems to be, in the blue states, that we'll need at least 30 days without new cases to open up, maybe more. California is figuring not before late May, at the earliest, though we can go outside and walk around.

300:

Those studies are generally aimed at treating drinking water which is mostly transparent to UV-C with high-power high-intensity lamps, 30W and more mounted very close to the serpentine water tubing that wraps around the lamps. One abstract you linked to suggests they were using 1400J/m2 intensity normalised per second which is Death Valley levels of light but purely in the UV-C spectrum.

Coronavirus embedded in a mask's material is going to be shadowed by fibres, coverings etc. dramatically attenuating the light intensity -- if you can't see through it then UV won't get through either. Like I said it's not that UV-C won't damage coronaviruses, it's the problem of getting enough energy on a very small target on an uneven substrate. Either you use an unholy intensity of UV-C light or lots of it over a very long period, moving the lamp around continuously to cover the cracks and crevices and it's still likely you won't get all of the embedded coronaviruses.

Storage for a few days in a glass jar will work to deactivate any coronaviruses on a mask, no magic tech or chemicals or boiling needed.

301:

whitroth @ 269: Putin owns him. The Deutschebank money laundering was heavily from Russian sources, apparently.

And, of course, all the personal stuff that Putin has on him (the pee tape is trivial).

I meant to write Putin, via the Ambassador, an anonymous letter a couple years ago, suggesting that a master craftsman doesn't use flawed, bad tools.

I doubt the "pee tape" even exists, because if it did Trumpolini would have already tweeted a link. When you're a star they let you do that!

Don't think of him as a flawed tool, but rather as a disposable one ... like a cheap paint brush.

302:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554776/

Features, Evaluation and Treatment Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Marco Cascella; Michael Rajnik; Arturo Cuomo; Scott C. Dulebohn; Raffaela Di Napoli.

Thus, SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the betaCoVs category. It has round or elliptic and often pleomorphic form, and a diameter of approximately 60–140 nm. Like other CoVs, it is sensitive to ultraviolet rays and heat. Furthermore, these viruses can be effectively inactivated by lipid solvents including ether (75%), ethanol, chlorine-containing disinfectant, peroxyacetic acid and chloroform except for chlorhexidine.

Nojay's cautions about the practicalities of UV sterilization should be noted.

303:

> diameter of approximately 60–140 nm

P.S.: I looked up the diameter the other day on reading in an otherwise not-bad article that the spikes on the virus are "red." Oy.

304:

Thus his refusal to properly fund the USPS (which is at the edge of going broke, because of PAST efforts to privatize it at public expense). Trmp believes they give Amazon special deals on shipping, therefore hit Bezos by hitting the USPS. (His ignorance of reality hurts everyone else.)

305:

The very-much-rural county where I lived in west Texas (35K people, 1000 square miles) is asking people to wear masks, and business that are open can require them to do so. They've been locked down for about three weeks, at the local level.

306:

[quote]Actually, I don't understand why people think that the past 4 years don't make sense - most ...[/quote]

Most people refuse to understand the moral structure of the leading US politician. I must admit that I'm among them. I can't predict his actions, only that they are going to be evil and directed at damaging the country. They will also usually be selfish. But that leaves a wide variety of choices, so I don't understand him well enough to predict which evil choice he will make...though it makes "sense" afterwards.

307:

The very-much-rural county where I lived in west Texas (35K people, 1000 square miles) is asking people to wear masks,
Very Republican I presume? I'm encouraged.
The masks-for-all influence movement has been politically quite mixed. Many of the selfish-subset-of-conservatives have been a bit confused about the "masks are mostly to protect other people" aspect, but have eventually worked out that their risk is reduced too.

More creative people should be focusing on developing/tuning non-pharmaceutical interventions that have a low economic cost. There's a lot of potential, and any new techniques will applicable to future pandemics.

308:

Mitch is not Putin's tool at all; he is the oligarchs' tool. The interests are not identical.

309:

Hey, there - where in MoCo? Actually, get my real email from the admins, or you can get to me via my writing website, mrw.24.5-cent.us After this calms down, maybe have a bheer together.

310:

One view of the current state of the U.S. Economy and the government's response:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/opinion/trump-coronavirus-economy.html

311:

On the contrary, I find Trump's actions dismayingly easy to predict.

For any given situation, can he manipulate it to make money or to get somebody to give his ego a hand-job? If so, he'll pick one of those options. If not, he'll go with whichever option his minions present him with which is most damaging to somebody who didn't pay him the respect he feels the universe owes him. Fin.

312:

You mean spread from breathing and talking by asymptomatic people? Cloth masks would block a lot of that, and schools that can enforce a dress code could enforce masking.

That would require a 180° reversal among administrators who made it a point of human rights that we couldn't enforce a dress code.

We can't even have administration keep the halls clear enough to walk down without stepping over students sitting in their lawn chairs with their legs out.

313:
What are they planning to do to keep students and staff safe?

From what I got from my brother? Not much. Please note that using my brother as a source of information is subject to the "I'm not the only neurodivergent one in this family" provision I mentioned above.

Also, let's just say media contradicts itself quite often on the details.

According to German newspapers, school is only starting for the last class before final exams in NRW. Which is somewhat less insane, classes are smaller, and the people involved are over 18 and can vote and drive cars, so usually they can playact responsible at least for the duration of school.

('mkay, I just remembered that one time I was stoned in a biology class in my corresponding year on a Friday, last course before weekend. Strike out the "playact responsible")

According to other sources, it's voluntary, and pupils can stay home if they want. German Fridays for Future says they are going to stay home.

(Err, I can't say how classes worked when I went to school, no, I was only stoned and drunk on the weekends, but I usually only slept around 4 hours a day. OK, paint over "playact responsible" with a really heavy marker...)

Still other sources say Monday is the day the teachers get together to make plans, (voluntary) school starts on Wednesday; did I mention my brother is somewhat less patient than me and was sparse on details?

Since we're speaking about values of "insane", final exams are going to start on 12th of May in NRW. Err.

As for other Länder and younger pupils, opening schools is planned in very late April or early May.

Please note there being a power struggle in the CDU makes for interesting speculations, NRW's Laschet seemed like the least bad alternative, let's see how he gets out of this one.

Unless German schools are very different from Canadian school I don't see a way to stop asymptomatic spread.

If things haven't changed too much, we're talking about classes with about 15 persons in the last three years; mean class size for younger pupils is about 25, so if you take some of the bigger rooms, you might get about 1 metre of distance.

And AFAIK nobody has mentioned mandatory face masks yet.

I may be projecting my personal worries, but in Canada teachers usually (absent pandemics) suffer a higher rate of infectious diseases than other professions.

For added fun, till recently my brother was much more in contact with my parents than me; I was often using bus and train and thus somewhat self-isolating.

My father is in his late 90s but is quite healthy, my mother is in her 80s and suffers from hypertension and diabetes.

I'm really thinking if I want to start a new job RIGHT NOW, especially since for my parents and my brother, I have a feeling reality is something that happens to other people...

314:

"As you say, he's got everything he wants - why would he risk what he's gained already, just to help a Trump reelection? He can already do that with the trolls out of St.Petersburg, and a few million in dark funding. It worked last time, after all..."

Seconded. Remember that Putin has the GOP as an effective fifth (and sixth, seventh and eighth...) column.

He would *love* Trump's re-election, because IMHO the US would become totally corrupted by friendly forces, and knocked several notches down in the world.

I'm wondering about China's leadership. Given the chaos, and China's higher place in the world, if I were them I'd want Trump out, and likely (for now) the GOP control of Congress temporarily gone. They've got to rebuild the system, and would like a breather. And they also have the GOP helping them as a convenient bomb built into the system.

At this point, anybody who doesn't like the USA can count on the GOP to trash the USA. Their only problem is not being caught in the damage.

315:

[quote]It has started - one of the Dakotas, or Montana, something like that, has startted seeing it, and a map I saw yesterday shows a *serious* center in ...[/quote]

I didn't say it wouldn't hit them. I said they wouldn't know about it. Do you think they trust the Guardian? If Fox covered it they might trust it. If their preacher believed in it, they'd be likely to believe it. The news has to come from sources they trust. And they've been sold for years that the media lie to them (except Fox, etc.).

P.S.: The media *do* lie. You can hardly trust a word they say. I've been on site for 3 or 4 stories that I later saw on TV or in the newspaper. But what they did in those cases was extract features of the news out of context, and present it as the whole picture. IOW they process the news to be more exciting. But that *is* a lie.

316:

That would require a 180° reversal among administrators who made it a point of human rights that we couldn't enforce a dress code.
If you have vaccination requirements, it could be piggybacked on them rhetorically(/as an analogy).
Might bend/contort the minds of some anti-vaxxers, but fuck 'em. :-)

317:

Well... no.

Vaccination requirements come from the province. (Canadian provinces own health care.)

Dress codes come from school boards. If the province tries to impose a mask requirement specifically on school children, it'll turn into a bureaucratic tussle with school boards and then fail in court.

No province (so far as my desultory news-tracking goes) has mandated or wants to mandate mask wearing because mask supply is sparse and patchy and domestic production -- absolutely the only solution possible given a global demand-exceeds-supply situation -- is not happening yet. It's going to, but how long it takes is an open question.

318:

[quote]The chance of a treatment (or a mitigant) prior to a vaccine (or effectively at all in the next decade) is essentially zero. We are really not good at treating viral disease and even worse at curing it[/quote]

And I *am* skeptical about the antivirals, but there are other approaches. Something to minimize the cytokine storm, something to fluidize the mucus and make it easier to extract (ideally just by changing the body position), something to kill off invasive bacteria. There's lots of things. They all seem to require medical support, but there are even anti-virals being investigated that might work.

319:

Oh, that Ballard were still writing! "The Presidency of Donald J. Trump Considered as the Use of a Disposable Paint Brush".

320:

Thus his refusal to properly fund the USPS (which is at the edge of going broke, because of PAST efforts to privatize it at public expense). Trmp believes they give Amazon special deals on shipping, therefore hit Bezos by hitting the USPS. (His ignorance of reality hurts everyone else.)

This one isn't so much Trump as the GOP in general (remember, Congress controls the money).

And if the USPS collapses prior to the November election, mail in voting becomes problematic.

321:

THAT is scary....

322:
One abstract you linked to suggests they were using 1400J/m2 intensity normalised per second which is Death Valley levels of light but purely in the UV-C spectrum.

I'd like to know where you get the "per second" from? Please note 1 Joule per second is 1 Watt, so why not "Watt/s"?

As it is, you first of said UVC wouldn't work at all because virus particles are too small; so I gave you studies that showed it worked.

Funny thing, one could interpret your

Like I said it's not that UV-C won't damage coronaviruses, it's the problem of getting enough energy on a very small target on an uneven substrate.

to say you said all along UVC worked, but it's not working under those conditions, where it's explicitly stated in this article it worked under the conditions in the study, one 40W UVC lamp, 1760–1810 J/m^2.

Your objections concerning the influence of UVC on the lifetime of filters is noted.

I see little use in continuing this discussion.

323:

In re Putin owning or controlling Trump - it's not required, and would be an extremely dangerous strategy to pursue. Why do it, if you can get what you want without it?

Let's assume Putin's goal is to reduce the effectiveness of the US across the board. So he wants us to have bad policies and lots of confusion. Working behind the scenes to get Trump elected to his first term was effective in that purpose.

With respect to a second term, those same goals are best bet by helping Trump get re-elected, waiting for his second term to start. Then further the chaos by releasing the pee tape (if it exists) or similar. But such things should be released piecemeal. The Republicans will eat the Trump shit sandwich if it's presented to them one bite at a time. Each time they'll hope it's the last one they have to swallow. They'll keep swallowing it until the moment their party loses the Senate and the next national election. Only then will they turn to something else.

324:

This could be marketing/market manipulation (though there is a video involved), but worth keeping watch for the actual results. (
Early peek at data on Gilead coronavirus drug suggests patients are responding to treatment (Adam Feuerstein, Matthew Herper, April 16, 2020)
A Chicago hospital treating severe Covid-19 patients with Gilead Sciences’ antiviral medicine remdesivir in a closely watched clinical trial is seeing rapid recoveries in fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients discharged in less than a week, STAT has learned.
...
The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with Covid-19 into Gilead’s two Phase 3 clinical trials. Of those people, 113 had severe disease. All the patients have been treated with daily infusions of remdesivir.
“The best news is that most of our patients have already been discharged, which is great. We’ve only had two patients perish,” said Kathleen Mullane, the University of Chicago infectious disease specialist overseeing the remdesivir studies for the hospital.

The large number of clinical trials of treatments is part of why I've been hesitating making predictions on this thread. Another is that the D.J.Trump administration has been making a bunch of desperation moves, mostly inept. (The blame-China thing (Miller? Pompeo?) might grow some legs if the media is manipulated into playing along, but there has been some resistance.)

325:

Err, make that "why not W/m^2"

326:

e.g. sample twitter thread (that means click through for link to whole thread) suggesting caution about the statnews piece:

I'm seeing people hyping Remdesivir treatment for COVID, citing study claiming great improvement. While that's hopeful news, please know study is funded by Gilead, the publicly traded company that is the sole manufacturer of Remdesivir. It's on-patent & costs an est. $1000/dose.

— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) April 17, 2020

327:

Actually, "Ballardian" was the word describing my feeling during our semi-lockdown.

I liked it somewhat.

328:

Allen Thomson
Furthermore, these viruses can be effectively inactivated by lipid solvents including ether (75%), ethanol, chlorine-containing disinfectant, peroxyacetic acid and chloroform So, a spray on to a suspect surface with WD-40 will do the trick, as I suspected ....

Charlie@ 311
SPOT ON
To which you must add ... "If Obama did it, I'm going to scrap it" - like the Pandemic-response preparation unit he shut down ... or the Hg release by coal/chem users ....

mdive
And if the USPS collapses prior to the November election, mail in voting becomes problematic.
Oh, how VERY CONVENIENT

329:

"NO - WRONG
The French / Germans /Dutch / Belgians / Spanish (etc) disagree with you as demonmstrated by experminet & engineering."

Sorry, no. Those countries cover a contiguous area which is MUCH BIGGER than Great Britain. (Especially since you can pretty much ignore the bit north of the Glasgow-Edinburgh axis.) What's appropriate on the continental scale isn't automatically appropriate for our much smaller and denser bit of land. Kind of like whether a Ferrari or a Morris Minor is more appropriate for driving around London.

"Speed is extra capacity, too ( As I note Charlei adds )"

Actually, no, he didn't, and as I pointed out, it isn't true. Speed reduces capacity because the required braking distance increases as the square of the speed. If trains are going twice as fast then the one in front has to be allowed to get four times further beyond a given point before you consider the section empty and allow the next one to pass that point, which takes it twice as long. So the minimum time between trains passing that point is doubled and the capacity as measured in average arses per minute is halved.

"Also wrong
Average speed for trains London-York, including one stop is between 95 & 102 mph ..."

No, that's why I said "by and large". That route is an exception. Even the GWML where they first introduced the HST doesn't have that degree of racetrack quality. If you look at the total route mileage in the country served by stock which is mechanically fit for 125mph and consider the percentage of that total where the trains are actually going that fast, it's not large.

330:

That was Graydon's idea; I was viewing things more from a UK perspective. My comment on that aspect would be to note that Carter, these days, has become not memorable.

331:

"The coronavirus everyone's worried about currently is about the same diameter as a wavelength of UV-C light (ca. 230nm) so it's difficult to hit one with enough energy to damage/disrupt its capsule."

If the principle behind that statement was valid, you would be blind.

332:

That link doesn't work.

333:

I did say it's difficult, not impossible. Very high intensity UV-C light will damage and disrupt viruses but that's not the principal use case for the lamps used in water purification and other situations, they're used more for the bactericidal properties since the low intensity/duration will do more damage to bacteria than viruses.

In the case of water purification systems water flows through a quartz tube a few mm from a 20W or 30W UV-C lamp. The UV intensity is high but the water is only exposed for a few seconds as it passes the lamp so the actual exposure duration is quite short. The lamps used to kill bacteria in unused operating theatres and closed-off hospital corridors operate for minutes or hours at a time but they have to cover large areas so the intensity is actually quite low -- there are some neat Roomba-type UV-C lamp robots that can patrol a room or corridor to eliminate shaded areas that wouldn't be directly illuminated by a fixed lamp.

These lamps are dangerous to the naked eye and skin, a few minutes exposure to some of the more powerful ones will do significant damage. They also degrade some plastics, fabrics etc. so their use in places like hospitals have to be planned out beforehand to avoid destroying wall surfaces and floor coverings, camera sensors etc. Amateur use of such lamps is contra-indicated.

334:

If things haven't changed too much, we're talking about classes with about 15 persons in the last three years; mean class size for younger pupils is about 25, so if you take some of the bigger rooms, you might get about 1 metre of distance.

Mandated pupil-teacher-ratio is 23. That counts people like guidance counsellors, librarians, special ed teachers etc as teachers, so actual class sizes average around 30. My average this year is 29. (My biggest was 48.) I could probably get a metre between people, if they came into and left class in order and didn't move around.

Hallways are jammed (in Canada students rotate between rooms in high school). Not as bad as the Beijing subway, but packed enough to make the average mall look empty.

And there's also the special needs children who have the legal right to be included in regular classes.

Biting. Kicking. Spitting. Scratching. Punching. Blows to the head. Aggressive, often violent, reported incidents against educators are on the rise, a Globe and Mail survey of data from school boards across the country has found.

Educators at the Toronto District School Board, the country’s largest school district, logged 3,831 reports of workplace violence over the past academic year, up from 1,894 reports in 2014-15. In Edmonton, the number of violent incidents against staff members involving students documented by Edmonton Public Schools more than doubled between the 2015-16 academic year and 2017-18. At the Surrey School District, the largest in B.C., the number of reported violent incidents by a student against a staff member climbed from 190 in 2008-09 to 1,642 in the 2017-18 school year.

New research by University of Ottawa professors Darcy Santor and Chris Bruckert confirms the troubling rise. In a paper released this month, the researchers say that while 7 per cent of educators in Ontario’s schools reported being the target of physical violence by students in 2005, by 2017-18, the rate had increased to 54 per cent experiencing violence by physical force, which included being hit, kicked and bitten by students. It characterizes the rate of violence as “alarmingly high."

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/education/article-as-teachers-report-more-violent-incidents-in-schools-boards-struggle/

Some of the increase is probably down to more reporting. When I was assaulted* (as a new teacher) my principal told me the kid really didn't mean it and I shouldn't get him in trouble — and I followed her instructions because I was young and foolish and in my probationary period where I could lose my career unless I had her approval. People are more likely to report it now. But a big factor is the inclusion of special needs children in the regular classroom, often without any extra support for the teacher. One of my nieces was assigned as a special ed teacher for a year, was assaulted by a student twice her weight, and was told that being injured was part of the job and she should just suck it up. She didn't report it (despite my urging) because she wanted the principal's approval for a transfer to another school

Trying to keep those kids following social distancing and hygiene procedures is going to be interesting.

*Not by a special needs kid, just a bully who'd learned how to get away with intimidating people.

335:

If you have vaccination requirements

We do, with a REALLY big loophole:

Under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, your child can be exempted from immunization for medical reasons or due to conscience or religious belief.

Given that we have parents taking their kids on month-long trips to a beach Mexico for "religious reasons" or "family emergencies", I wouldn't put much faith in that.

336:

I should note "we" in this case is Ontario — in Canada education is a provincial responsibility.

337:

I didn't realise it was a contest. I try to buy enough that it's worth a commercial supplier delivering to me, and TBH if someone said "a pallet or nothing" I'd take the pallet. I can buy more plastic drums, the stuff keeps for years if it's cool (for Sydney values of cool) and dry and pest-free (not many pests breathe 100% argon).

The real issue is the drought. It has sort of broken so next year I will probably be able to buy as much as I want, and I am starting to think that should be a pallet. But in the meantime it's bloody hard work finding any at all.

338:

So, a spray on to a suspect surface with WD-40 will do the trick, as I suspected ....

Eh? Which of those does WD-40 have?

339:

Agreed on the use of UV-C. Anything strong enough to degrade DNA and cells is fairly harmful.

One thing I'm doing, more as a goof than anything else, is throwing my mail in the oven and cooking it for ten minutes at 250oF (120oC). My understanding, not supported by much research, is that the virus has problems when it gets much above body temperature (37oC). The oven temperature is above the boiling temperature of water, but below ignition temperature, and paper documents survive it just fine. The plastic windows in envelopes do not, and I wouldn't put anything other than paper and staples in such a treatment.

However, if you're thinking about sterilizing masks, you may want to look at temperature sensitivities for Covid19 and whether all the stuff in the mask will survive heating to 120oC. If it works to denature pathogens and the mask will survive the treatment, then perhaps baking them is a simple way to more-or-less sterilize them without damage.

340:

RE: "(It may be mitigated by summer heat, in which case things will look good for a month or two longer, but I'm not holding my breath: even if heat prevents spread, the prevalence of air conditioning in public spaces in the US provides a transmission-friendly environment.)"

It's also _possible_ that seasonality has more to do with UV intensity than it does air temperature.

341:

Nope, no contest. But then, I'm currently doing most of the cooking for two of us, both older, neither doing heavy labor....

I like being ablt to go to them and buy a bag ($15-$25), and support a non-chain stupormarket.

342:

We've been putting the mail and newspaper (yes, we're old fogies who still get a paper newspaper) in the oven at 170F for 30 minutes. This paper ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14631830 ) says the virus is rendered non-infectious in 30 minutes at 75C (167F).

343:

I think Trump would be more or less immune to a pee tape. He would just deny and deflect, claim it's not him etc. etc. None of his true believers would change their view one bit.

What Russia has on him is likely a thoroughly documented, comprehensively detailed dossier describing just how much his purported fortune is based on corruption, bogus loans and money laundering for (a selection of) oligarchs and mob types. Enough evidence and primary documents that are complete and (importantly) true that he will lose everything and spend the rest of his life in prison - probably at least some of his spawn as well.

344:

Poul-Henning Kamp @ 18: With a probability of one third, the election is not settled, and Trump uses that as pretext to stay in the job, lighting the fuse on USAs second civil war, and as always, the facists and Trump-jugend are better armed and more willing.

I don't think that's as true as a lot of people are led to believe, at least on the willing part. The militant Left is active in the United States in ways it hasn't been in generations. I think disparities between the extreme right and left would even out quickly in the event of general civil unrest.

345:

Meanwhile I have ~10 cubic metres of fresh woodchips thanks to a powerline crew who went down the street during the week. Half of it is out the back now, but there's still a goodly pile to shift once I have had a rest. I went and bought a proper mulch fork (more tines closer together than a pitchfork, but I reckon the lynchers won't worry about that sort of detail). Anyhoo, mulch fork makes moving woodchips much easier.

Fill 220 litre bike trailer bin, walk ~40m, tip trailer out, walk 40m to front of property, repeat until tired. By walk I mean run, obviously, walking is for people with much longer attention spans than I have.

346:

I also have two not-quite-baby chickens who are growing fast and becoming curious about me as much as fearful of me. I've been handling them every day to get them used to that, and that idea is working. They sleep inside and get taken out to the cage during the day. Used to be that catching them to take them outside was a bit of a challenge and no-one really enjoyed it. Now it's just hold out my hand until they approach, pick one up and put it in the wine box, the other one stands there going "oooh, what happened" until I pick it up and push it in the box, then they get carrying around and released. Much less fuss now.

347:

then perhaps baking them is a simple way to more-or-less sterilize them without damage.

At which point it might be worth reminding that the Stanford paper that covered this regarding making N95 masks "safe" for additional use specifically advised not to use your kitchen oven for it...

Anyone interested can find the link in the previous threads, but in the meantime it appears there is now an entire website dedicated about decontamination of N95 masks
https://www.n95decon.org/

348:

We are likely seeing something of a permanent transition in educational models right now. School for my 2 yard apes has been cut off entirely, only this week starting up.

The school system has taken some time to adapt, but I am now seeing online education happen in a big way, and I strongly suspect this will be a one way transition. The local school authorities are talking about a partial, staged return to school in the next year, combined with online components. If this approach works I can see it sticking.

349:

And lockdown will resume, probably in mid-June. (It may be mitigated by summer heat, in which case things will look good for a month or two longer, but I'm not holding my breath:

See this guess quite a lot (and in fairness, our host is indicating scepticism)

My immediate response would be why then are the countries that are closer to the equator having trouble with Covid?

Mexico City has a weather forecast of around 28C for the next 5 days, Panamá City is up in the 33C range (with over 4,000 cases and 116 deaths). Dominican Republic is at 200 deaths.

So why is there this hope?

Note this comment - "Health officials also are concerned about the virus returning in the fall" - in an article about British Columbia planning to start easing restrictions.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/covid-19-bc-modelling-data-1.5535716

So apparently even the experts on dealing with this seem to believe hot weather will "deal with it", yet all the data shows Covid doesn't seem to care at all about the temperature (or perhaps more accurately human behaviour in warmer temperatures).

350:

why then are the countries that are closer to the equator having trouble with Covid?

This was just another gaping hole in the "reasoning" put forth by the world's greatest leader so I think most of us just skimmed on by. But I can vouch for my bit of Sydney hitting 30 degrees pretty regularly as we head into winter, with overnight lows around 10°C.

I kinda suspect that if the US started getting overnight lows of more than 30° the virus would go away from much of the country. That's since clearly just hitting 30° isn't enough, obviously you need to go hotter and stay hotter. But it wouldn't be because the virus can't spread at that temperature, it would be lack of hosts...

351:

Point of correction: Powell's City of Books is in Portland, Oregon; I shopped there somewhat more often than I could afford when I lived in Portland. I like how new and used books are shelved together and found the Burnside store much better organized than The Strand in New York City.

When I packed up to move from West Coast to East Coast, I got over $1000 in store credit selling books to Powell's.

352:

Haven't seen the word "Singularity" in this thread. Feels like it though. Covidian Singularity?

353:

That photo from Ohio has been doing the rounds, with comments along the lines of “So this really is the zombie apocalypse after all!”.

354:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/12/uk-government-using-confidential-patient-data-in-coronavirus-response

Technology firms are processing large volumes of confidential UK patient information in a data-mining operation that is part of the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

Palantir, the US big data firm founded by the rightwing billionaire Peter Thiel, is working with Faculty, a British artificial intelligence startup, to consolidate government databases and help ministers and officials respond to the pandemic.

I'm not sure that's actually better that putting all the non-anonymised data on the public NHS website.

355:

Pigeon
I'm really suprised that you have fallen for the anti-HS-rail"argument" the Britain is "Special" & it can't possibly work here, because of that...
[ Used many times in the past for all sorts of other cases, too - & always wrong, as it turned out, what a suprise. ]
Just not the case.

Allen Thompson
WD-40 contains a mixture of volatile & non-volatile oils, none of which are reallyhealthy for water-based life, as the virus is, which thrives in the salty world-girdling Ocean that we all still carry inside us.

356:

Point of correction: Powell's City of Books is in Portland, Oregon; I shopped there somewhat more often than I could afford when I lived in Portland. I like how new and used books are shelved together and found the Burnside store much better organized than The Strand in New York City.

The exterior shot of Powell's used in advertising is this view, the older entryway to the main store downtown at 10th & W Burnside. (OGH may have at hand a photo of that sign saying Charles Stross.) It may not look that impressive at first glance, until you notice that the whole block is one giant rambling book store. The attached coffee shop is to the left, past the Devil's Testicle Tripod street art. What looks like a three story building to the right is more of Powell's, built in the 90s to replace a single open warehouse sized room full of books. Out of sight on the opposite corner is the newer entrance which is of course also full of books.

357:

Charlie @ top: If the howls of rage at the first lockdown are deafening, the second lockdown will be worse: think of toddlers being sent back to bed with no supper. And that's the lucky work-from-home class: the working poor—with no savings and jobs they need to be physically present for—are going to be increasingly angry and fractious at their exposure. Expect civil disobedience and possibly summer riots ...

It's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Scylla and Charybdis.

No lockdown: an overwhelmed health system and also a trashed economy as everyone limits spending as much as possible, so riots, rain of frogs, cats and dogs living together.

It will take deft and bold leadership to prevent delegitimising the government and the institution of democracy.

I don't think the UK political elite wants to work that hard, and more to the point, I don't believe they're up to the job. Any of them. This is really a Banksian outside context problem for them.

The idiots braying about the lockdown infringing on their ability to go boating or to the club really should be careful what they wish for. As W. W. Jacobs said, they might get it. As H. L. Mencken said, they deserve to get it - good and hard.

Anyway. Come April 2030, things will have settled down. One way or another. Ah, the luxury of being a long way from anywhere. :-)

358:

The problem is, if it comes to street battles between the neo-nazis and antifa, the police will invariably side with the neo-nazis. And US police forces are scarily heavily armed these days. Doesn't matter if the activist left have AR-15s too: the police have APCs with heavy machine guns.

359:

Off topic, but on the other thread you said: But how many items of children's clothing made of leather have you seen?

Is this a British thing I'm missing?

One of leather's great properties is that it wears very well, whereas almost all clothing for children is basically disposable because they'll grow out of it quickly. So I'd expect relatively little leather to be used there relative to adult wardrobes.

(Calibrating data: I had leather belts as a kid. Also a cowboy vest which might have been less silly in the early 1970s. Footwear I mostly don't recall. Offhand I don't remember any leather jackets before adulthood. On me as I type this are a leather belt, pocket knife sheath, wallet, and boots; that's probably more than average but not remarkably so.)

360:

almost all clothing for children is basically disposable because they'll grow out of it quickly.

And families have typically 1-3 children these days.

Go back a century and things were very different! Child clothes were expected to be handed down and re-used by younger siblings until they more or less fell apart.

Belts: leather is common, if you use a belt. (Sweat pants? Not so necessary.) However, it's pricier than fake-leather plastics, and street fashion sells on price. Shoes ... there are a lot of synthetics these days: trainers often have little or no leather. Wallets and phone cases and other accessories are a "maybe". But as a primary material for clothing leather is mostly restricted to outdoor use (jackets) and the occasional fashion fad (leather skirts came back from the 80s a year or so ago, seem to have disappeared again).

361:

(I do wonder where all the medical masks came from, though. I've been using a bandana.)

They have started to appear on Amazon. I ordered some for my wife (1000 miles away) and they should be there this week.

The channels are starting to open up. One of my clients who does a lot of overseas supply chain work has started to sell in larger quantities. 2000 for the disposable surgical masks. 500 for industrial N95 ones. I'll not post links unless Charlie says it is OK. And this is for US only.

362:

Very Republican I presume?

As the bodies start to accumulate and hospital beds fill up most of the state and local R office holders are pushing back on the "we must open it up to make money" crowd. Even with their constituents yelling at them.

With a few notable exceptions. The South Dakota governor being a big example.

363:

And families have typically 1-3 children these days. Go back a century and things were very different!

Excellent point. (Eldest of two here; I've only got two sisters because of remarriage.) I don't recall anyone with four or more kids in my family this side of WWII.

As I'm sure you know, clothing is much more affordable now than it was a century ago, and much more than it was two centuries or more back.

Between new materials and more efficient manufacturing techniques, we can have lots of cheap clothes and don't have to care much if it's poorly made because there's always more crap t-shirts.

On the gripping hand, I dropped a wad on my Doc Martens - but that was most of a decade ago and they're going strong; I got my money's worth.

364:

According to German newspapers, school is only starting for the last class before final exams in NRW

Based on my daughter's experience (US 12th grade equivalent in Germany) doesn't the German school system split kids out into 2 or 3 tracks around age 12? And the tracks are literally in different school buildings?

At one end are the kids never expected to desire more than driving a truck or waiting tables and at the other end are the ones headed to nice universities?

365:

This one isn't so much Trump as the GOP in general (remember, Congress controls the money).

Actually both houses tried to put money in the last bill for the USPS and was told in no uncertain terms that DT would veto it over that no matter what else was in it.

366:

Born in the mid-1950s I was the youngest of three brothers spaced about 7 years apart and I rarely if ever got new clothes, subsisting mostly on hand-me-downs. Shoes were new when needed, cheap and practical, one pair at a time and generally made from plastic and cardboard IIRC. No fashionable trainers or colourful clothes at all for kids at that time, mostly grey or navy or black colours.

Times have changed.

367:

is throwing my mail in the oven and cooking it for ten minutes at 250oF (120oC).

I'm just tossing mine into a pile and ignoring it for a few days. And wiping down my hands after bringing it in. Groceries that can sit stay in the car trunk/boot for a few days. Perishables get to the fridge for a few days before I start on them. Lots of alcohol based wipes in the processes.

I have a container of wipes in the car and go into any public space like a store with one in my hand.

368:

mixture of volatile & non-volatile oils, none of which are reallyhealthy for water-based life

First test for any such thing. How does it feel when it gets into / onto a scratch on your skin.

Calcium Chloride water mix was always fun. It is widely used in the US in tractor and heavy equipment tires to add weight. Get a leak and you quickly discover all the scratches you have recently gotten.

369:

An interesting point of comparison is Ireland v the UK
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/14/coronavirus-uk-ireland-delay?CMP=share_btn_tw
This basically notes that (even allowing for somewhat lower pop density) and even before we go into the UK death toll being suppressed due to not properly counting nursing home deaths, Ireland is doing much better than the UK.

We watched in disbelief the fecklessness of the UK while we were already *voluntarily* locked down.

370:

So I'm curious.

It must be grinding Greg's gears that much of the "life" discussions here are US based. I am very curious as to how the local politicians and public in the UK and Europe are reacting to go home and stay there orders?

371:

And remember that was a response to a posting in which I said "in my lifetime and in the UK". I am 72. See also Nojay #365. Actually, in the UK, one now needs to go back a century and a half before they were very different! Figure 1 in this is the best data I can find - note that the completed family size was much the same in 1920 as it is today, though the number of stillbirths was higher:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/conceptionandfertilityrates/bulletins/childbearingforwomenbornindifferentyearsenglandandwales/2015-11-10

372:

As usual, Airstrip One is behaving much as if it were located somewhere in mid-Atlantic. The more civilised parts of Europe (e.g. not Hungary, Poland etc.) are behaving very differently from the USA, though Spain and Portugal were too late in acting (just like the UK).

373:

Go back a century and things were very different! Child clothes were expected to be handed down and re-used by younger siblings until they more or less fell apart.

Even though child clothes could be better made, generally, there are some which are good quality. At least my kids have had a lot of clothes as hand-me-downs from relatives and friends, used those for a while and then the clothes get handed to somebody else. Some indoor clothes can last 4-5 children even nowadays. Of course there's the thing that there can be so many clothes that a particular piece of clothing gets worn three times before it's too small.

Some of the clothes wear out (especially trousers), but much of it gets used on multiple children, even if the families are smaller.

374:

There was an opinion poll shortly after lockdown began last month that showed 91% public support for the policy and less than 6% opposition.

That's about as close to unanimity as you get in a democracy: it's war-of-survival level support.

I suspect some erosion of support has occurred since then as folks on lockdown go stir-crazy, but at the same time the news from the hospitals is probably pushing back against that (it's terrifying). Having the Prime Minister in intensive care for a few days rammed the point home.

Our cabinet contains more than its fair share of disaster capitalists and swivel-eyed objectivists and even so, they're being very careful not to start calling for things to get back to normal. There's nothing like Trump here.

375:

Late 50s here. Up until I started secondary school where long trousers were uniform (though that had only been extended to all pupils a year or two earlier) shorts were standard for us boys all year round because they didn't need replacing so often. My younger brother got my hand-me-downs, and while most of my clothes were new (being the eldest) a proportion was from jumble sales or friends of our parents with older broods.

376:

Germany has a very strong apprenticeship / craft education system, the people in the non-academic track are supposed to be aiming educated as plumbers, welders, machinists, ect, ect. If you are neither handy nor academic, you are of course kind of screwed, but.. well, in that case you are pretty much screwed no matter what the educational system is like, and your only hope is future medical innovation is going to fix whatever is wrong with your brain.

377:

Leather items of kiddiewear run pretty reliably at two per kid: one on each foot. The schools require it.

IIRC there was a bit of a movement at one time to wind down the requirements for school uniform and in particular the "expensive" leather shoes. But one of the odder consequences of the phenethylamine explosion was that phenethylamine-addled adults started making a big fuss about who could wear the most ridiculous liquorice allsorts on their feet. So the prices of liquorice allsorts went through the roof. Then kids started copying their parents and demanding their own and squabbling at school over mine are more ridiculous/expensive than yours, nah nah nah. Reinstating the requirement for black leather shoes removed the cause of the silly squabbles and with the prices having gone mental the "expensive" counterargument no longer applied.

Something like that, anyway, was the impression I got, though at some remove since I had no personal connection with the question. And I believe there are regional variations to some extent. But certainly round here all the schools have uniforms and the kids have black things on their feet.

I always had leather shoes in school and mostly out of it, too, at least until I became a teenager. I also had a leather satchel (and used the end of the strap as everlasting chewing gum. It was indestructible; I can see the logic of starving people trying to eat boots but I can't see how they could ever manage it). These days I wear leather shoes from choice, have a leather belt, and also various items of leather protective gear.

378:

Face masks.

Canada says come Monday you can't enter an airport or fly without one.

https://onemileatatime.com/canada-masks-traveling/

379:

My current procedure for mail is, if it's just a letter, open it, read it, chuck it down, then go and wash my hands. If it's a package, they nearly all come in a plastic bin liner thing these days and have been in transit for long enough that any nasties on the thing inside won't be viable any more, so I peel off the bin liner like a banana skin without touching the inside, allow the contents to fall out somewhere clean, chuck away the bin liner, wash my hands, and then start playing with my new toy.

Hand washing = soap and water; they reckon it's more effective, and I've got a bigger stash of soap than I have of meths.

380:

allow the contents to fall out somewhere clean, chuck away the bin liner, wash my hands, and then start playing with my new toy.

Similar. I have a knife cutter next to my front door and slice and dump there. Of course with some Amazon things I get it less than 3 days after placing the order which means someone touched it in that period. So I let it sit unless urgent. Then I wipe it down before opening.

381:

I found this article regarding why ordinary flu declines in the summer very interesting: http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2014/the-reason-for-the-season-why-flu-strikes-in-winter/

The summary is that the flu really does not like humidity. Summers tend to be humid, winters not.

382:

Re: ' ... both houses .. DT would veto'

They're not trying hard enough. Make that: they're not even trying!

If both Parties were honest about wanting to pass legislation to help the American John/Jane Q Public, they could easily override DT's veto: it just takes a two-thirds majority in each House. Both Parties continue to be so obsessed with holding/grabbing power that they're screwing over the voters.

Mercutio: 'A plague on both your houses!' (Rome and Juliet: Act III, Scene 1)

383:

David L
Sorry, you've confused me there...
Who is pushing back & which way?
Are (some of) the R's now changing tack & resisting instant re-opening, as I interpret it?
...
@ 369
Most people are accepting it as an unfortunate necessity - our dance-group's trip to Germany for the end of August has just been cancelled/postponed to 2021, as the people in Germany don't think the event is worth the risk & they are being sensible.
How long we can cope with this, or if we get "open/closed" cycles is another matter entirely.
Our semi-lockdown is actually reasonable: Stay more than 2 metres apart, wipe things, only go out for food-shopping or exercise or essential work.
Fortnuately for me my excercise is also essential work - food production for me.
SEE ALSO Charlie's answer @ 373
The ONE THING the tory wankers are NOT doing is trying to postpone Brexit, in spite of a clear majority for doing so, even amongst brexit voters ...

@ 364
SO DT wants USPS to crash ... before the election - how convenient.

SS
What is the "Cost per Wear" ratio? A different iteration of the Vimes' Boots problem, in fact.

EC
France has got it bad, Germany is doing well - looks as though Sweden have changed their mind, no idea how Benelux & Denmark are managing.. Switzerland??

SFR
Problem: Mercutio said that in his last moments before dying

385:

Problem: Mercutio

Yeah - I know.

What we're seeing is willful negligence. DT can hide under governmental immunity - within the US but not in an International court* - I'm not so sure that Congress can.

* Probably the real reason why he wants out of the UN/WHO.

386:

Canada says come Monday you can't enter an airport or fly without one.
Interesting, thanks. The natural experiments (re high-compliance mask usage as "source control") are being done.

FWIW, I've been digging through what literature there is opposing universal mask usage by the public as a source control method to slow the spread of respiratory viruses in epidemics/pandemics. Will try to narrow it down to a representative paper or three. Intriguingly, as one drills down into their references the "anti" case starts to fall apart, well, degenerate into something like:
there are no good randomized controlled trials of cloth masks as a source control method to reduce R0 in a deadly pandemic. [We pejoratively reference these studies from the first half of the 20th century about gauze masks being used to protect health care workers, betting that you are too lazy and gullible and confirmation-biased to actually look at them.]
Of course, that could be my confirmation bias. :-)

387:

Who is pushing back & which way? Are (some of) the R's now changing tack & resisting instant re-opening, as I interpret it?

Short answer is that most of the governors are not idiots. D or R. Only a few R are saying everyone can be smart on their own and so we'll not make anyone do anything.

The bigger dynamic has to do with DT's popularity with the R "base". They are fanatics who just don't get it at all. So I'm betting since things like the USPS funding can be put off for a few months, it will be. So it will be more obvious it MUST BE DONE and DT will look more silly yelling about it as it will hurt more of his base if it doesn't happen.

As for overriding a veto, currently the House and Senate are operating on "voice consent" so they don't have to pull everyone in for roll call votes. Proforma sessions and all that.[1] But all it takes is one member who IS there to object and gum up the works. So for now they are working on things that no one will object to passing. But a veto override would likely NOT be unanimous for various reasons so no one wants to go there until they might have to. Sort of like pushing a vote of no confidence in the UK is in no one's interest. At this moment.

[1] In the US I think both houses are holding 2 sessions a week so they are "in session" and don't have to officially adjourn. Current Senate/House leader calls things to order and then dismisses for a few days all by voice vote with no dissent. Which is also where DT got in a snit for a day or two last week as it also keeps him from installing people without a Senate vote.

388:

no idea how Benelux & Denmark are managing..

Denmark apparently in the restart the economy slowly phase - they allowed primary schools to open again this past week.

389:

The ONE THING the tory wankers are NOT doing is trying to postpone Brexit, in spite of a clear majority for doing so, even amongst brexit voters ...

I'm calling it for a VERY quiet negotiated 1-year extension in November or December. They'll try and keep it out of the press, but it's possible that one or more members of the ERG will kick off -- for example, Jacob Rees-Mogg. (Probably the one most likely to think of Brexit as a personal investment opportunity rather than some incoherent mish-mash of objectivism and Empire 2.0 nonsense.)

By December it'll be quite obvious that COVID19 isn't going to be other for months, if not an entire year, the global economy will be deep enough in the shitter that it's obviously not going to get back to normal before the Tories are up for another general election (in 2024) and the idea of inflicting another 5-10% shrinkage of GDP on top will be very unpalatable.

Wildcard factor: May 2021 sees the last possible date for the next Scottish parliamentary election to take place. On current form the SNP will win an absolute majority. If they slip an "independence or bust" promise in their election manifesto it will put BoJo (or whoever is in Number 10 by then) in a very tough position. Backpedaling on Brexit or adopting the capitalist equivalent of war communism might play into the electoral calculus of the Conservative and Unionist Party ... if they're looking even six months ahead. (Then again, it may not.)

390:

One of the things frequently speculated about is how/if tourism will rebound.

Bloomberg has an article on Carnival Cruises, and what appears to be a generally inept handling of the pandemic as it unfolded. But the most interesting stuff in the article is in the final paragraph.

"half of customers who sought cancellations between March 2 and March 15 for upcoming bookings opted to take credit for future cruises instead of a full refund. Almost all the passengers interviewed for this story say they’d cruise with the company again."

https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-carnival-cruise-coronavirus/

391:

[quote]It's also _possible_ that seasonality has more to do with UV intensity than it does air temperature.[quote]

This varies a lot with the disease. For some what matters most is the humidity. Others are more temperature sensitive. And I expect there are a few that are more light sensitive. I don't see any reason to favor one sensitivity over another for COVID-19, unless you have some experimental evidence. Since COVID can last several days on a smooth surface (e.g. steel) at room temperature it can't be too sensitive to any of those. I do wonder how it would respond to a very weak solution of hydrogen peroxide, ethanol, and detergent since all will damage it's survival, but I haven't seen any studies.

As for using UV to sterilize a porous surface (say a mask), sterilizing the surface wouldn't suffice. So you need something that would penetrate. But storing the stuff for a week and a day in a dry container at room temperature would work. If you need it faster you might need to depend on ethanol...but that may change the thing you're cleaning.

392:

Cruises sell a potent combination of pleasant travel, remoteness, and illusory affluence/class elevation.

Of course people want to keep doing that; it's (for the existing repeat customer base) really effective insecurity management with respect to social position, affluence, and normalcy.

The really bad thing about a pandemic is often not the pandemic; it's the people who respond to the pandemic by asserting their imagination of the former normalcy on a "or die trying" basis. (Guess what the US administration/GOP were already doing.)

We are not, no way, no how, keeping the former normalcy; not for climate change, not for this the first of several pandemics, not for the inherent instability of using money wrong. But a substantial fraction of those in power would rather die, and might-maybe shall be able to arrange the "die" part generally.

393:

I never comment but follow this blog obsessively. Another reader in the USA, NC specifically. But these times are different.

Been thinking about the dustup over USPS financing. In the end the money will be appropriated, because the corporations want it. Much has shifted to the web, but millions, mostly older, pay from paper bills sent through the postal service. Business interests need the postal service to get those bills paid.

Trump seems to hate Bezos, but does what corporate America wants, Amazon aside.

394:

Re: ' ... mask usage by the public as a source control method'

Okay - so no randomized controlled trials among the public. That leaves: so how do mask manufacturers convince/sell their masks to their primary intended target markets (hospital/medical workers, lab techs). Would be very surprised if some sort of 'testing' didn't exist.

For the folks here who've ever worked in a lab/hospital:

(a) Who was the decision-maker for masks for the staff and on what basis (selection criteria)?

(b) If anyone at your hosp/lab ever requisitioned/ordered a different type/make of mask: why?

I'm guessing that even manufacturers of inexpensive throw-away hosp/lab products probably have some sort of 'unique selling proposition' -- and if there's more than one manufacturer/supplier, they probably even do some sort of user satisfaction survey which typically means getting ratings on 'key attributes'.

395:

[quote]We are likely seeing something of a permanent transition in educational models right now. School for my 2 yard apes has been cut off entirely, only this week starting up.[/quote]

This implies that at least one parent stays wherever the teleconferencing setup is, and is able to ensure that the kids pay attention. With 2 kids of different ages this may mean 2 parents staying home and two different teleconferencing setups.

Current reports seem to show that "school attendance" has not been high for remote learning.

I think it could probably work, but it would require a drastic redesign of educational models, into something where coerced attention wasn't needed (so parents only needed to be present, and could work on something else). Even then...

396:

What Charlie Stross Said I've been saying for weeks already, but nobody wants to hear it, of course.

What Charlie left out is that major climate crash events are continuing even now around the world, and are not going to stop, but intensify. This really and truly sucker punches the supply chairs from source to processing to distribution to delivery.

I think about two weeks ago, thinking with my already 4 week self isolation (I started early), that in June - July we're going to be seeing riots and blood in the streets and elsewhere. For all sorts of reasons, including the major encouragement and wish of chiefbloodonhishandsforpowerprofitrevengelulz.

397:

SFR
Note my follow-up post, about DT openly calling for civil disorder in Dem states?
Anybidy else want to remark on that exteremly worrying trend/
And surely that is flat-out illegal, anyway?

Jargon Societgy
Thanks for that first post - most informative.
So, even if DT wants USPS paralysed, because "No Postal Voting" he ain't going to get it, because US business wants stuff shifted, yes?

398:

Cruises sell a potent combination of pleasant travel, remoteness, and illusory affluence/class elevation.

It depends.

Some of them provide guided tours combined with a single moving hotel, so that you wake up at a new tour destination each day -- for example, around the Med. So there's no "dead time" devoted to travel by train/plane/automobile.

And then there are those, like the now-notorious Antarctic cruise tour vessel, that provides access to places where there's no permanent tourist/hotel infrastructure.

Others ... Carnival Line are basically a floating resort hotel/casino experience: I'm not sure what the point is if there's no shore time to speak of.

And sometimes there are full-blown conventions held on board cruise ships.

But the real issue is "tourism". Which was something the aristocracy sent their eldest sons to do back in the 18th century -- to get a bit of culture before they married and settled down as landowners -- and which in turn built on the Catholic pilgrimage tradition (which in turn leveraged various pre-monotheistic religions' peripatetic traditions). But by then we're into migrant lifestyle rather than luxury/recreation: that only showed up in the 18th century version.

399:

I'm guessing that even manufacturers of inexpensive throw-away hosp/lab products probably have some sort of 'unique selling proposition' -- and if there's more than one manufacturer/supplier, they probably even do some sort of user satisfaction survey which typically means getting ratings on 'key attributes'.

My son's SO is a nurse with a local very very prestigious large medical system which is a part of a local university medical school.

Based on what she and a few others have said I suspect the following criteria is there now.

- can you ship 500K or more and when
- do they fall apart if used all day
- do they stay in place
- do they work (various definitions here)
- do they cause issues with staff who are wearing them

Everything else is secondary. Most nurse type people get one a day just now. Which some (inside and outside the system) complain about. But behind the scenes they are really trying to figure out how to build up a year or two of supply in case this goes on for a year or few and maybe China and Trump get so pissed at each other that China stops selling to us.

Now repeat across 1000 or so hospital systems across the country. Then various doctors. Grocery stores. Dental offices. Restaurants.

Now toss in Japan, Canada, UK, Europe, etc...

The demand is almost infinite just now. And I suspect that the demand from places like India and South America is just starting to grow.

400:

Greg, your link isn't working. You might repost it.

401:

Only two weeks at once? Naaah. My next-door neighbour bought *twelve weeks* of supplies at once, because she's 96 with no Internet or mobile phone and is self-isolating for all that time. I do wonder how many people did that, but if a lot did, that might explain quite a bit. :)

402:

"I'm really suprised that you have fallen for the anti-HS-rail"argument" the Britain is "Special" & it can't possibly work here, because of that..."

That's not really what I'm saying. Great Britain (a geographical term, not a jingoistic one) is objectively different (as opposed to "special", in quotes) from continental Europe, in terms of size and density. We've got roughly the same population as France but squeezed onto a tiddly little island; to be sure continental Europe has a few dense patches, but taken as a whole it's a whole lot bigger and more spread out. Consequently the transport requirements of one are very different from the requirements of the other, and it's not valid to assume that something appropriate for one is necessarily appropriate for the other.

(I'm not considering the divots who say things like "they've got one so we've got to have one too or else it's embarrassing"; that "argument" is worthy only of defecation. Same for anything involving "vision" or "fit for the 21st century" or other such meaningless bollocks spoken as though it was important.)

The geography of GB - or the two thirds of it where the question isn't merely can it have a rail service at all - is such that existing trains are already able to get you there quicker than internal air services (which is where we came in), and also quicker than cars at least over the kind of distances where internal air services may come into consideration. Since neither aeroplanes nor cars can (realistically) go any faster, that position isn't going to change. (The cases where it doesn't apply and there is a need for improved journey times are mostly down to things like the crappy provision of transverse links or Wales having been nuked.) So there is no need for trains to go any faster either. They're already faster than the alternatives, and any further increase is just another instance of the eternal futility of "more, more, more" when we should be thinking in terms of "less, less, less".

"Can't possibly work" is a bit nebulous. Anything can be made to "work" if you throw enough effort at it and adopt a suitable definition of "work". What I'm saying is there's no point, and that the pointless endeavour is a waste of resources which would be better applied to effectively solving problems which actually exist.

One such problem is capacity. Increasing speed reduces capacity, so advocating higher speed to increase capacity is basically bloody daft. What you end up with is a fearfully expensive construction project which is less effective at increasing capacity than a cheaper normal-speed one would be. This is silly.

Another one is that rail fares are eyewateringly frigging expensive to the point that there are cases where it is cheaper to buy a banger, drive it on that one journey and then abandon it. This is also silly, and one thing that you can be sure will not make it any better is for governments with an obsession with private finance to build a fearfully expensive line that provides fewer seats to sell tickets for than a cheaper one would.

Then there are all the things that need doing which have nothing to do with route capacity into and out of London, like removing local bottlenecks, replacing level crossings with bridges, fixing things like Morpeth, and so on, plus of course the crappiness or absence of transverse links. Rather than blurging everything on an inefficient method of addressing nothing but London-radial capacity, it makes more sense to provide more such capacity at less expense and use the difference to sort a bunch of other things out as well.

It's not a matter of "falling for" spurious handwaving "anti" arguments; it's a matter of acknowledging that there are strong factual "anti" arguments, of a fundamental nature (since they derive ultimately from the basic physics of awkward things that go as speed to the n), while the specific factual geographical qualities of GB reduce the "pro" arguments to weak handwaving themselves.

403:

So, even if DT wants USPS paralysed, because "No Postal Voting" he ain't going to get it, because US business wants stuff shifted, yes?

Business wanting bills paid is just part of it. Campaign flyers are a big business in the run up to an election. 2010, 2012, or 2016 I was able to literally cover my living room floor with the "vote for/against" flyers.

Then there's the ads.

The problem with the USPS is that some want it to be a social service, others want it to pay it's own way just like FedEx and UPS. And all want it to serve every single address in the US at a single rate. (Contractors in Alaska ship concrete building blocks via the USPS as it is cheaper than normal freight there.) And raising rates is always fed through a Congressional lens where "it will hurt grandma on a fixed pension" pops up. So the rates always lag behind the true costs. Which is why big river or even sellers in Hong Kong find it cheaper to ship stuff to a postal drop and "dump it on the floor".

It is a long term political piñata and has been for decades.

And since Jeff bought the Washington Post DT wants to hurt him by indirectly going after the USPS.

I'm sure the UK has some similar interesting topics everyone wants to fix but no majority is willing to back any of the solutions.

404:

*twelve weeks* of supplies at once, ... I do wonder how many people did that, but if a lot did, that might explain quite a bit.

Actually what she did was tie up 12 times the normal amount. It doesn't take many of those to drain the supply chain for food.

405:

UK winters tend to be not far off saturation for months on end, but we still get our flu shots in the autumn. The article doesn't really seem to have noticed that.

406:

Re: Masks
'do they fall apart if used all day
- do they stay in place
- do they work (various definitions here)
- do they cause issues with staff who are wearing them'

Apart from the 'various definitions' of work which could be parsed out just by segmenting the type of environment the user is working in and what things they are using the mask to protect against, there's probably enough data available to make a good guess as to potential effectiveness by mask type.

There's also a variation on 'post-launch marketing research' possible here that can answer the utility/effectiveness of masks including which specific types/materials and manufacturers. Basically you ask every person tested for COVID-19 about their mask-wearing history, social distancing, personal hygiene plus assorted other info (demos, med history, etc.) then run some basic stats tests between various subgroups of interest (med staff: work in hosp vs. work outside of a hosp), GenPop (tested neg, indeterminate, pos) and mask type/manufacturer, home-made, none, etc.

The above is an intro level marketing research study design - very easy to administer and analyze. Plus because you wouldn't have to pay for a respondent sample - super cheap to recruit for.

The major downside to the above design that I see right away is that you're counting on people having an accurate memory and not lying.

407:

Cold air doesn't carry moisture well, warm air does. It's why central Antarctica is rated as a desert in terms of annual precipitation.

My landlord here in Edinburgh has a 140-year-old Steinway boudoir grand piano in the living room. The piano's wooden underframe is cracked from being kept in a dry centrally-heated home before he became the current custodian of it. To prevent more damage occurring due to the frame warping he runs a humidifier during the winter to maintain the room at about 50 to 60% humidity, but during the summer he can switch it off most of the time since the ambient humidity is about that figure.

408:

You catch the flu when it starts spreading. Flu has a big human reservoir, up to a fifth of the population at any given time. (Asymptomatic flu is a thing, too.)

The R₀ value for the flu is (thankfully!) around 2, just large enough to reliably spread, so coming into closer contact (school years starts in the fall, fewer vacations, less outside, fall consumerism uptick....) matters to when it starts spreading.

Flu with an R₀ of 5 would be an entirely different beast and not likely seasonal in the same way if was seasonal at all.

Note that we don't have an especially accurate notion of what R₀ for SARS-CoV-2 is; all the total-case numbers are estimates with big error bars, and they're currently trying to back-infer the greenfield numbers from the social distancing numbers. (And the problem is hard in general; the error rates want to stack.) But we can be reasonably sure that it spreads without much regard for outside temperature, and probably without much regard for humidity, either.

409:

"I'm not sure what the point is if there's no shore time to speak of."

The pictures of the things certainly make it look as if you could get a comparable experience much more cheaply on land, for instance by punching a copper. Maybe the food wouldn't be as good, but on the other hand you don't have to fight your inner ears to keep it down.

410:

P J Evans @ 299: (I do wonder where all the medical masks came from, though. I've been using a bandana.)

Probably like the toilet paper shortage. "They" continued manufacturing masks all along & adapting manufacturing capacity where possible to increase output, so the shortages are slowly easing. Plus a lot of people have made their own using plans from the internet. Cloth "surgical" masks are fairly easy.


411:

Troutwaxer
Don't know what went wrong there ..
Try this re-post - Trump calls for civil disorder. If he succedds, where is the US - Rome in the time of Marius/Sulla - with DT as Sulla
Let me know if it - the link - works this time?

Looking at "Wordlometer" for the UK & coronavirus, daily new case seem to have approximately flatlined at about 4.5k cases per day & the log-plot of total cases is slowing.
It's a start.
I note JAPAN is now panicking that their medical system is going to buckle.
Um

SHortages
STILL no bread flour(s)

[[ what went wrong was a misspelling of HREF as HRFE, not for the first time - mod ]]

412:

As for baking masks, I actually agree, because the thermoplastic in envelope windows curls and deforms at 250oF. I assume the plastic in the masks does likewise. Even if it's not the stuff in envelopes, it does depend on having proper diameter mesh, and if that gets deformed, the mask becomes problematic.

Thanks for the fact sheet. They talk denaturing SARS-Cov2 at 60oC, 80% humidity for 30 minutes, and state that the N95 mask(s) they're studying can survive five cycles of this.

Now again, I'm cycling paper at 120oC for 10 minutes. If you've got a plastic mask, do something else. The reason I started baking mail was that it wasn't clear to me how long mail could sit before it was clear of viruses, and knowing my household pretty well, I figured that 4 separate piles of mail composting viruses was an invitation to grab the wrong pile and waste the whole effort. I'll also admit that, depending on the mail, I may sort it over the recycling can and not bother bringing anything inside to heat. Depends on the day. And I always wash my hands after handling dirty mail.

As for groceries, I don't think anything is necessarily safe from any pathogen, just because it's been sitting in the fridge. Produce and similar gets washed right before I eat it. I assume the fridge is fairly dirty, and food is stored in sealed containers.

413:

Bread flour is particular to specific wheat varieties; those are nigh-all tied up in commercial contracts where some of it is now surplus to requirements but nobody has a way to sell it in five kilo lots. (And where everybody who has extra is used to thinking in quantities of train-loads at a minimum, can't get that many flour sacks, et multi cetera.)

If you look at http://nogger-noggersblog.blogspot.com/ and the right-hand sidebar, you get plant-and-harvest dates for wheat (among other things). It's going to be a good long while before the supply chain could react to the shift in demand by increasing hard bread (and pasta) wheat planting, if that's even going to be a thing; total bread demand might have dropped. It's likely a question of how to shift the supply around, and plausibly much more the supply of flour sacks and pallets than the supply of wheat to mills.

(If you have a competent government, start pushing for a ministry of food to get this stuff untangled. We're going to need it.)

414:

Actually, restaurants around here were selling of 2 pound/kilo bags of flour from their stocks, although I suspect they're pretty much out now. The smarter ones who shut down in March quickly went to sell off their pantries, just to recoup the cost of the food at a time when the supermarkets were getting cleaned out. Kudos to them.

I also know of at least one hospital cafeteria that set up a grocery store selling eggs, flour and a few other essentials, just so that the people in the hospital (workers mostly) didn't have to stand in line to get in to a grocery store and buy stuff.

I also suspect that a fair amount of formerly restaurant-bound food is now being bought by food pantries, using money that people like me donate to them*, and being repackaged by volunteers and given away to those in need. There were already channels to give surplus food to pantries, and I'm hoping those have enlarged as needed.

*If you've got the extra money, now's an excellent time to donate to food banks, because a lot of the paycheck-to-paycheck crowd doesn't have any work right now and they need help.

415:

Rocketpjs @ 342: I think Trump would be more or less immune to a pee tape. He would just deny and deflect, claim it's not him etc. etc. None of his true believers would change their view one bit.

What Russia has on him is likely a thoroughly documented, comprehensively detailed dossier describing just how much his purported fortune is based on corruption, bogus loans and money laundering for (a selection of) oligarchs and mob types. Enough evidence and primary documents that are complete and (importantly) true that he will lose everything and spend the rest of his life in prison - probably at least some of his spawn as well.

The putative "pee tape" is a non-issue. He just doesn't care.

Russia doesn't need any kind of dossier on him. They have him by the balls "purse-strings". Where else is he going to find financing? All they have to do is hint he needs to "do them a little favor" before they invest any more in his "brand".

I wonder what's going to happen when he's no longer in the position to do them favors?

416:

... USPS financing. In the end the money will be appropriated, because the corporations want it. Much has shifted to the web, but millions, mostly older, pay from paper bills sent through the postal service. Business interests need the postal service to get those bills paid.

I believe there's a lot of overlap between USPS employees, and Trump supporters. It has a wide presence in rural and Southern areas, and working there isn't upscale. Killing the USPS would damage Trump's base economically.

417:

Graydon
We used to have a Min of Food, headed by Lord Woolton

Flour:
Hard ( Probably Canadian ) bread flour / "00" flour / "French" baguette flour ( v finely ground ) / White Spelt / normal Spelt / white Rye / "Gram" ( Chickpea ) ...
And "Plain" - what a USA-ian would call "All purpose.
I use all of those in greater or lesser quantities.

418:

April_D @ 343:

Poul-Henning Kamp @ 18: With a probability of one third, the election is not settled, and Trump uses that as pretext to stay in the job, lighting the fuse on USAs second civil war, and as always, the facists and Trump-jugend are better armed and more willing.

I don't think that's as true as a lot of people are led to believe, at least on the willing part. The militant Left is active in the United States in ways it hasn't been in generations. I think disparities between the extreme right and left would even out quickly in the event of general civil unrest.

The fascists DO have a lot more guns though, and are just itching for an opportunity to use them on a bunch of commie-pinko lefty bastards (which is to say all those N****** & N*****-lovers who put that Kenyan in the White House). If it happens, it ain't gonna' be "general civil unrest", it's gonna' be Rwanda or Bosnia all over again.

419:

... existing trains are already able to get you there quicker than internal air services (which is where we came in), and also quicker than cars at least over the kind of distances where internal air services may come into consideration. Since neither aeroplanes nor cars can (realistically) go any faster, that position isn't going to change.

Well, there's the off-chance today's drones will grow up to be autonomous air taxis. But they won't cope well with bad weather, something most of the proponents haven't thought through.

Rather than faster - faster, I vote for speed-up-the-slow-bits. There's a "light rail" in Silicon Valley, which I took a few times. It was nice, but the average speed was dominated by the many stops. At least subways don't have to wait at lights to cross intersections !

420:

Probably like the toilet paper shortage. "They" continued manufacturing masks all along & adapting manufacturing capacity where possible to increase output, so the shortages are slowly easing.

Not quite. The demand for masks (or any PPE) has exploded. Like 10x what was used before. Or more. If proper protocols were followed with general mask usage and disposal the new rules would have people like nurses using 10 to 100 per day now vs 3 or 4 per day on average across a hospital in prior times. So now you have people wearing a disposable mask all day or a half day instead of the old way of tossing it between patients. With most not needing any but now they all need them.

Imagine the need for TP is people started crapping 10x per day on average.

421:

Killing the USPS would damage Trump's base economically.

And his base don't care - none of his stupid trade wars (China or non-China) have dented his support even though every country has in retaliation chosen specific products that target Trump/GOP voters, and have thus led to job losses and other financial harm to Trump/GOP voters.

422:

The geography of GB - or the two thirds of it where the question isn't merely can it have a rail service at all - is such that existing trains are already able to get you there quicker than internal air services

Rail only has 33% of the trips from central Scotland to London, which pretty much tells you that improvements are needed and that rail isn't currently suitable for a lot of the people making that trip.

423:

Exactly, the disruption to their cash flow would be extensive until new alternatives are worked out; and the current alternatives, primarily UPS and FedEx, don't deliver to all addresses.

424:

Scott Sanford @ 362:

And families have typically 1-3 children these days. Go back a century and things were very different!

Excellent point. (Eldest of two here; I've only got two sisters because of remarriage.) I don't recall anyone with four or more kids in my family this side of WWII.

As I'm sure you know, clothing is much more affordable now than it was a century ago, and much more than it was two centuries or more back.

Between new materials and more efficient manufacturing techniques, we can have lots of cheap clothes and don't have to care much if it's poorly made because there's always more crap t-shirts.

On the gripping hand, I dropped a wad on my Doc Martens - but that was most of a decade ago and they're going strong; I got my money's worth.

I'm the oldest of four all born after WWII. My family was not untypical of families around here during the post-war boom up until the 1960s.

I'd guess a lot more children's clothing ends up in thrift shops than actually gets worn out by the first child who wears them. They do wear out, but sometimes they get worn out by two - three different children.

I was issued two pairs of leather boots when I arrived at basic training in 1975. Even though I was issued additional boots over the years, those first two pairs were still serviceable when I retired (after 32 years) - I finally donated a bunch of them to Goodwill a couple of years back just to reduce the clutter around here.

I still have a wearable pair of 40 year old jungle boots & the desert boots I was issued in 2003 as we got ready to go to Iraq (the best fitting pair of boots I was ever issued, so I still wear them occasionally). My primary footwear these days are a pair of Vasque hiking boots - high tech combination of leather & man-made materials.

"Fabriqué en Vietnam"

425:

Bingo. Given Trump's disinclination to show his taxes, I suspect his biggest secret is that he's not a billionaire* and that he's actually owned by his creditors. That the Russians (and the Saudis?) are the only ones willing to lend him money via a reputedly problematic (ahem!) German Bank probablyt most means that they told him to get into politics as a way of getting some forgiveness on his loans by shoveling government money their way.

*Remember, as always, that billionaires are about control, not ownership. The assets they "own" they actually control, while (if they have any intelligence), a trust/charity/corporation infrastructure actually owns the assets.

Trump would shrivel if it turned out he was effectively pretending to own his assets, while in actuality they were hocked to 200% of their real value to his lenders in order to keep him appearing solvent.

426:

Note my follow-up post, about DT openly calling for civil disorder in Dem states?
Anybody else want to remark on that extremely worrying trend/
And surely that is flat-out illegal, anyway?

When the GOP Senate declined to impeach Trump, they effectively signaled that nothing Trump does is illegal (at least while in office and only subject to the limitations of Congress or the courts).

So whether what he is doing is illegal is sadly not relevant, as there is no one to hold him accountable.

So, even if DT wants USPS paralysed, because "No Postal Voting" he ain't going to get it, because US business wants stuff shifted, yes?

Difficult to say. While Trump/GOP haven't gone as far publicly as Boris and his merry band of Brexiters, much of what they currently do tends to be done against the wishes of business (US business doesn't want the endless and pointless trade wars, which has caused significant damage, for example yet it continues - and numerous other issues that business hates and yet Trump does anyway - in general, the only ones who have liked Trump have been the very rich and Wall Street and of course his gullible base).

427:

Re: 'Where else is he going to find financing?'

Non-EU countries for a start esp. Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, NKorea, Turkey and -- of course -- the UK.

SA is now one of China's largest trade partners and unless China decides to buy Russian oil to 'help' Russia reverse its fairly large negative trade balance with it, SA might think twice about ticking them off esp. since China is also one of the top arms manufacturers/exporters. NKorea would be totally screwed - literally cut off from everyone - if it became too friendly with anyone that China doesn't like.

The UK is the only country listed above that does not have a trade deal with China. Plus, it relies heavily on the financial sector for a healthy looking GDP/growing economy.

428:

Current reports seem to show that "school attendance" has not been high for remote learning.

I've been running mine asynchronously (ie. no live video classes) because I'm very aware that many of my students are sharing equipment with siblings also in school (and the older ones are babysitting the younger). So lessons posted with stuff to read, videos to watch, simulations to run, and small assignments to do so I can check if they actually understand. Only 1.5 hours of work a week (per course), because that's what the school board announced. (Students take 6-8 courses, so that's 9-12 hours of school a week — as opposed to 25 hours in-person classes plus 10 hours homework.)

I'm getting between 30 and 60% participation, depending on the class.

Some of that may be because the school board also announced that whatever mark a student had on March 13 can only go up, not down, based on what they do online.

Next year will be interesting — those students who have a decent mark but are missing 1/4 of the prerequisite material for a course because they didn't bother trying right now. (Or, for semestered schools, 1/2 of a semestered course.)

429:

Non-sequitur from the deep past of civilization:

scientists, working with HEMA artists, learned something new about how bronze swords were used. They found by taking modern replica blades, giving them to martial artists, examining the wear patterns from known activities, that the wear patterns and damage on ancient bronze swords showed that specific techniques were used in specific areas at specific times. So, as in the Renaissance and more recent history, there were regional schools of swordplay back in the bronze age. Here's a link to the published study (not paywalled for a change).

So there's a new possibility for our historic fantasies: bronze age martial arts, with warriors actually learning and practicing to use the world's first purpose-built murder cutlery, rather than brawling and flailing without technique.

You're welcome. Back to reality when you're ready.

430:

And for general interest, I've somehow ended up on the mailing list for a Republican politician from Indiana. Here is their page on Covid:

https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/2393.htm

I find it interesting that they have 2387 empty ventilators. Aren't there other states that are short?

According to Wikipedia, Indiana is a Republican stronghold.


Also, this is the breakdown by race*:

Race Type % of Cases % of Indiana population
White 50% 85.1%
Black Or African American 17.5% 9.8%
Other 12.9% 2.6%
Asian 0.8% 2.5%
Unknown 18.8% 0%


*Whatever that means in American political terms.

431:

Nix @ 400: Only two weeks at once? Naaah. My next-door neighbour bought *twelve weeks* of supplies at once, because she's 96 with no Internet or mobile phone and is self-isolating for all that time. I do wonder how many people did that, but if a lot did, that might explain quite a bit. :)

I expect a lot of people did like I did ... mostly bought enough to last 2 weeks, but stocked up where they could find some items they could keep longer.

I bought ingredients to make spaghetti sauce & the batch I made is enough I can have spaghetti once a week and it WILL last for 12 weeks. I've got enough fresh/frozen/canned fruit I can make smoothies once or twice a week for another couple of months. I've got rice & cous cous enough to last several months and I have enough pasta to last at least as long as the spaghetti sauce.

I have plenty of canned vegetables, but I bought some more anyway, along with frozen vegetable side dish mixes.

I got enough coffee filters for the rest of the year, but I'm probably going to have to buy more coffee by the end of June (I buy whole beans & keep them in the refrigerator until I'm ready to grind them). I've got toilet paper to get through August (but I buy that in bulk anyway & it was merely a coincidence I needed to make my latest bulk purchase right at the start of the "run").

OTOH, there's no way to stock 12 weeks of fresh milk and powdered milk tastes awful (even if you could get it, although I would use it where a recipe calls for milk). I did get two packages of "shelf stable" milk & one of them can stretch fresh milk out an extra week.

432:

“I am very curious as to how the local politicians and public in the UK and Europe are reacting to go home and stay there orders?”

The Times had an article today about this for the UK: “Troublemaker or realist: coronavirus lockdown tribes” by Tom Ball. It looks at polling of 2000 people by a company called Auspex (apparently ex-Cambridge Analytica employees) that breaks the UK into five tribes

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/troublemaker-or-realist-coronavirus-lockdown-tribes-vr0twnqsp

Behind a paywall, so I summarise -

1: One third “Pragmatic Realists”, who support the government and are complying with its measures. Better educated and from a higher socio-economic background than other, and typically older.

2: One quarter “Nervous Dependants” - most scared by the pandemic, pessimistic, think lockdown will go on for six months. More likely to trust scientific authority figures, very supportive of the NHS. Leftish, typically work in teaching, the arts and healthcare.

3: One fith “Resentful Pessimists” - negative about the future as shaped by the virus, but aggrieved at losing their freedoms and view most government interventions as unacceptable. They consume less news than other groups.

4: 14% “Deluded Optimists” - male and poorer, they are least afraid of the virus/ death rate. More likely to continue doing as they please. Watch less TV but are more frequent visitors to YouTube and online chat forums.

5: 10% “sceptical troublemakers” - also not scared by the pandemic, most likely to actively go against public health guidance. They are more likely to be young, male and comfortable. Audi and BMW are their favourite car brands.

None of these people have guns, well, not to speak of.

And an aside -

Not that coping with Covid-19 is a war per se, but I was wondering if the response from some gun-waving, flag-toting people in eg Michigan was because the US has not been involved in a war in more than 150 years, and so the population has no social or cultural memory of dealing with government-mandated privation in time of national emergency. Obviously the US has sent forces abroad in vast numbers to lots of places, but since the Civil War they have not had a war come to them in their homes and cities, so they are not culturally prepared for it (except, maybe, for Cold War nuclear duck-and-cover threats and exercises).

Even in the UK, with little experience of occupation compared with much of continental Europe, there is a vast reservoir of national memory of aerial bombing, wartime privations, Blitz spirit, rationing, make-do-and-mend, dig for victory and threat of invasion from 20 miles away. Though all this stopped 75 years ago there are plenty of people still around with the memories, like my mother and the Queen (both 93), all of which makes the social and political culture, I should think, rather more amenable to being told what to do by central government in a situation of national emergency.

Talking of long memories, there was a 108-yo woman who died the other day of Covid-19 - she had survived the Spanish flu which killed her sister 100 years earlier.

[[ link fixed: 'smart' quotes had broken it - mod ]]

433:

Basically you ask every person tested for COVID-19 about their mask-wearing history, social distancing, personal hygiene plus assorted other info (demos, med history, etc.) then run some basic stats tests between various subgroups of interest (med staff: work in hosp vs. work outside of a hosp), GenPop (tested neg, indeterminate, pos) and mask type/manufacturer, home-made, none, etc.
This will get some statistics on personal protection offered by masks. It will not provide a measure of how effective the masks were at preventing the infection of others. The primary argument for facial masks is that they may/probably/but-no-RCTs provide some reduction of spread in the population at a mid to high level of compliance, i.e. a reduction of R0. For that latter you need to do statistics at a population level looking at levels of mask compliance (and quality of masks etc). These experiments are being done, live.

434:

DonL @ 415:

... USPS financing. In the end the money will be appropriated, because the corporations want it. Much has shifted to the web, but millions, mostly older, pay from paper bills sent through the postal service. Business interests need the postal service to get those bills paid.

I believe there's a lot of overlap between USPS employees, and Trump supporters. It has a wide presence in rural and Southern areas, and working there isn't upscale. Killing the USPS would damage Trump's base economically.

Seems like a lot of the shit he does is actively harmful to his "base", but doesn't affect their loyalty.

I think maybe Abraham Lincoln explained it best:

You CAN fool some of the people all of the time ...
435:

The one thing that might work and could be faster than a vaccine is a cocktail of monoclonal anti-bodies. It should, in theory, be relatively quick to synthesize and mass produce and you could have shorter trials; however, I'm not sure that mass production of this can be done much faster than mass production of vaccines.

436:

And (sorry for replying to my own comment) even Donald Trump is not amenable to being told what to do by central government in a situation of national emergency.

437:

Also not as well understood as vaccines and drastically dangerous.

You have to pick out the specific antibodies, from the general haze of beta coronavirus antibodies, which probably overlap.

Then you clone up a bunch and give that to someone. If your particular mix of antibodies gives the test subject an immune panic reaction of one sort or another, they probably die. In both SARS and COVID-19, this is already a known lethality mechanisms, implying it's not that hard to do for at least some part of the population.

438:

Re: ' ... personal protection offered by masks. It will not provide a measure of how effective the masks were at preventing the infection of others.'

True - it's only a partial solution to the infection equation.

439:

David L @ 419:

Probably like the toilet paper shortage. "They" continued manufacturing masks all along & adapting manufacturing capacity where possible to increase output, so the shortages are slowly easing.

Not quite. The demand for masks (or any PPE) has exploded. Like 10x what was used before. Or more. If proper protocols were followed with general mask usage and disposal the new rules would have people like nurses using 10 to 100 per day now vs 3 or 4 per day on average across a hospital in prior times. So now you have people wearing a disposable mask all day or a half day instead of the old way of tossing it between patients. With most not needing any but now they all need them.

I don't see how that contradicts my assertion that the (increased number of?) "medical masks" P.J.Evans wondered about (@299) are probably accounted for by continuing manufacture and additional manufacturing capacity coming on line [along with people making their own masks at home] slowly easing shortages.

Imagine the need for TP is people started crapping 10x per day on average.

The toilet paper shortage appears to have been caused by a shift in demand (from office/commercial use to home use), rather than any absolute increase, and it appears manufacturers have adapted capacity to increase production of the latter, easing those shortages as well.

I haven't seen any change in the pattern of my own bowel movements. I'll admit that Covid19 frankly does scare the shit out of me, but I'm not using any more TP than usual.

440:

I believe there should be a couple of trials of monoclonal antibody treatments starting in the summer; but I would tend to bet on vaccines as being likelier to work and to be produced in quantity.

441:

I was wondering if the response from some gun-waving, flag-toting people in eg Michigan was because the US has not been involved in a war in more than 150 years, and so the population has no social or cultural memory of dealing with government-mandated privation in time of national emergency.

You're half right. There was rationing during World War II, not to mention government control of heavy industry (everything got turned to war production) and there were rules which mandated that the lights in coastal cities be kept dark during night-time. So more realistically, 75-80 years, which is more than enough time for a spoiled people who don't study history to forget everything they learned.

442:

I am very curious as to how the local politicians and public in the UK and Europe are reacting to go home and stay there orders?
In France, the parliament has given the government the right to make laws by decree and has then adjourned. A parliamentary commission has been set up to review these laws and all govt actions after the emergency.
Opposition politicians mostly keep quiet (except on some minor issues), the only strident dissident voices are online, along with many shades of fake news.
After some initial resistance, the population mostly follows restrictions. Non compliant individuals have been handed 135 euros fines and repeat offenders have copped 7 months sentences and heavy fines. They will fill the space vacated by the 20,000 inmates who have been released from prison.
Locally (Paris working-class suburb), a great majority of people behave responsibly, and the food banks are back at work and recruiting volunteers. The grocery shops are fully stocked, bakeries are open 7/7.
The usual suspects, predictably, did not comply. They had taken to meeting at night in a parking lot with loud rap music, drinking and smoking with no discernable social distancing. The local citizens commitee first gave them a *stern* talking-to. Alas, to no avail. They next have been teargassed (and the car that provided the music totalled), and are not to be seen (or heard) anymore.

443:

Narmitaj @ 431 And an aside -

Not that coping with Covid-19 is a war per se, but I was wondering if the response from some gun-waving, flag-toting people in eg Michigan was because the US has not been involved in a war in more than 150 years, and so the population has no social or cultural memory of dealing with government-mandated privation in time of national emergency. Obviously the US has sent forces abroad in vast numbers to lots of places, but since the Civil War they have not had a war come to them in their homes and cities, so they are not culturally prepared for it (except, maybe, for Cold War nuclear duck-and-cover threats and exercises).

I would say probably not. When was there a time in the last 150 years when the U.S. was NOT involved in some kind of war somewhere?

The gun toting, flag-waving mob are an expression of the politics of resentment fomented by a certain segment of "American" politicians for fun and profit.

Take your "Deluded Optimists" and combine them with your "skeptical troublemakers", then strip out both the optimism and the skepticism and replace it with the resentment of the "Resentful Pessimists".

Plus these people are the result of a century long war on public education because public schools might teach evolution, race mixing and how to think critically which inevitably leads to people asking Preachers & Politicians awkward questions.

444:

Scott Sanford @ 362: As I'm sure you know, clothing is much more affordable now than it was a century ago, and much more than it was two centuries or more back.

Between new materials and more efficient manufacturing techniques, we can have lots of cheap clothes and don't have to care much if it's poorly made because there's always more crap t-shirts.

On the gripping hand, I dropped a wad on my Doc Martens - but that was most of a decade ago and they're going strong; I got my money's worth.

My stepdaughter has four children. They've been clothed in hand-me-downs from her friends, from thrift shops (here called op shops, op for opportunity), and from the local version of eBay (TradeMe). This despite clothing being much cheaper now.* Clothes nearly all synthetics and cotton, shoes nearly all synthetic rubber and woven plastics. Where I live, this seems to be the experience for the majority of parents (and elders).

I think you've basically come around to my point of view, that leather is an expensive niche product for the well-off.

Like you with your Doc Martens, I fondly remember a pair of Florsheims that I wore for about 15 years. Second most comfortable leather shoes I ever owned. I think they were re-soled eight or nine times. But I won't be buying another pair.

* More efficient manufacturing has less to do with the price of clothing than globalisation, and millions of sweating women in Bangladesh being paid a dollar a day (if lucky).

445:

More puzzling data.

https://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2020/04/15/boston-homeless-population-coronavirus-asymptomatic-universal-testing

TLDR: Homeless shelter started testing all arrivals. “Of 397 people tested, 146 — or 36% — came up positive.” “Every one of these folks were asymptomatic. None of them had a fever, and none of them reported symptoms”

WTF?

446:

Narmitaj @ 435: And (sorry for replying to my own comment) even Donald Trump is not amenable to being told what to do by central government in a situation of national emergency.

Does not signify. Cheatolini iL Douchebag was not amenable to being told what to do by the government or anyone else LONG before the national emergency; even before he ran for President.

It doesn't matter what the rules are, he has to break them to prove the rules don't apply to him. He's a narcissistic sociopath and a pathological compulsive liar. He HAS to lie even when the truth might be in his favor.


447:

Rail only has 33% of the trips from central Scotland to London

Scotland is bigger than it looks, and rail electrification pretty much stops at Edinburgh/Glasgow. If you want to get to the northernmost tip of Scotland from Edinburgh you've got about 280-330 miles to drive, or you can catch a slow, stopping diesel-electric train (the most northerly express service stop I am aware of is Aberdeen).

It's no surprise people fly. If you'd ever seen the roads, you'd understand too: they're frequently a single lane for both directions with passing-points every quarter mile, once you get outside the (few) cities.

The trouble is, the highlands are too sparsely populated to support the huge infrastructure investment of installing overhead electrification for hundreds of kilometres of track, let alone building motorways through mountain country.

448:

The scriptwriters have given up even pretending to take their jobs seriously.

Pro wrestling 'essential' under Florida governor's order
https://manchesterinklink.com/pro-wrestling-in-florida-is-essential-continues-to-operate/

U.S. President Donald Trump tapped World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon as an adviser on reopening the U.S. economy. Rating: TRUE
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/coronavirus-vince-mcmahon/

449:

There are a couple of other things which get into TMN territory, so I'll keep them brief.

One is, indeed, Gun Culture and all that, mixed in with the authoritarian follower complex as focused on the current President.

Another is straight up far right zealots causing trouble.

A third is apocalyptic fervor. It doesn't help that we've got a coronavirus, when the First Horseman (disease) wears a freaking crown. Anyone who's read Revelations can spot the symbolism and think that the End Times are on us.

Now these all mix in a toxic brew. For example, there's a strain of white nationalism that wants to bring on the end of civilization so that the Tough White Men (tm) will survive and all those weak races will perish.

And there's probably other people who want to cynically cull the herd by getting the tools out to scare their political enemies and possibly get infected and die.

And then there's the people like us who are paying them waaay too much attention.

And then there are the people who are probably going to suffer, who are infected not during but as a downstream consequence of virus communication during these events. That's the real tragedy of it all, especially if they didn't get to live free before they died.

450:

In these dark times, it's nice to glimpse some silver lining
Meet the council to re-open America
https://uziiw38pmyg1ai60732c4011-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/dropzone/2020/04/crap-510x292.jpg

451:

Robert van der Heide @ 444:
https://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2020/04/15/boston-homeless-population-coronavirus-asymptomatic-universal-testing

TLDR: Homeless shelter started testing all arrivals. “Of 397 people tested, 146 — or 36% — came up positive.” “Every one of these folks were asymptomatic. None of them had a fever, and none of them reported symptoms”

WTF?

A couple of thoughts.
How many of those asymptomatic homeless people later developed symptoms?
Maybe homeless people who do have symptoms go to the ER (A&E in the U.K) instead of the homeless shelter?

I can see how that might skew the data.

Do y'all have homeless people in the U.K. How do y'all handle them?

452:

When was there a time in the last 150 years when the U.S. was NOT involved in some kind of war somewhere?

There's a huge difference between imperial expeditionary wars overseas and being under direct attack at home.

There's no American equivalent of the way British got bombed during the Blitz within living memory. Last time there was actual war-fighting on US soil was 1865.

I submit that it's not just government-mandated behavioural restrictions that drive things home: it's actually being on the sharp end, of knowing your own home and family may be destroyed, that creates long-term willingness to comply with civil defense measures. (Short-term propaganda campaigns like the Cold War civil defense campaigns work after a fashion, but the folk memory fades rapidly.)

453:

(re: the US Post Office)
"Exactly, the disruption to their cash flow would be extensive until new alternatives are worked out; and the current alternatives, primarily UPS and FedEx, don't deliver to all addresses. "

The USPS delivers everywhere; everybody else delivers where profitable. Last I heard, for example, FedEx only delivered to Maine in the sense that they dropped all parcels off at the largest city's post office, and let the USPS deliver it from there.

454:

There are at least two types, officially.

Chinese scientists identify two strains of the coronavirus, indicating it’s already mutated at least once

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/04/coronavirus-chinese-scientists-identify-two-types-covid-19.html

There are more than likely two more: COVI19-VIP wherein the subject requires only six or seven days to get better, never enters hospital and remains entirely functional and COVID19-WASTE wherein the subject is marked as 'permanently infectious', but doesn't have any symptoms and should be moved to a more permanent living arrangement, like a nice FEMA camp. There is also COVID19-INDIGENOUS which is 'nicely' fatal:

the navajo nation has officially exceeded 1000 COVID-19 cases. statewide data shows:
• in NM, +36% of all positive cases are native
• in AZ, natives make up 16% of COVID-19 deaths
=the navajo nation is disproportionately impacted + it’s not being talked about enough.

https://twitter.com/canoecanoa/status/1251171003754967040

First Yanomami Covid-19 death raises fears for Brazil's indigenous peoples
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/10/first-yanomami-covid-19-death-brazl-indigenous

If you cannot spot that plague leads to social impacts, you're in for a shock.

For the UK - the entire L party got bought out & are being walked through the current crisis via "managed democracy"

They’re just playing with him like two cats with a cloth mouse.

https://twitter.com/yet_so_far/status/1251053814020558854

Skip to 0.50-54 -

"What I do not like is selling myself... interruption"

Star can't read autocues very well, you're not supposed to read out the "interruption" bit for the cut back to the smirking radio host. Given everyone knows the donor list and the delay tactics and who are on that list and the current inter-alia drama involving absolutely all those involved (including Panarma) as grossly overpaid for their talent levels, the outcome is obvious.

UK politics is on a Kamikaze dive bomb mission, only cost ~£500k to get it done. To say these people have learnt nothing is a bit of an understatement.

UK society is also going insane:

"doing donuts in my ferry in support of health care workers" sounds like a dril tweet

https://twitter.com/nessathemself/status/1251091264277266432

Apparently after stacking an entire Westminster bridge with people to clap ("It sounded like infernal screaming from the hospital" is a choice quotation) ignoring social distancing and producing Vendetta / Apple Ad tributes, they're now zooming ferries in circles as some kind of mad ritual.

Yes, that did happen.

Lest American readers feel left out:

Dudes rock

https://twitter.com/miniondeathcult/status/1251313958423683072

That is an ex-US Navy Chief, standing in the tides declaring his freedom to not social distance. Or something. He has a sign. And that's actually a proper uniform. Thoughts and prayers given there's no drycleaners open at the moment.


On a more serious note, you're seeing the first inklings of proper riots in various places, which is the actual point of all of this.

455:

What's the test testing for?

If it's one of the antibody tests, it's going to have questionable results.

The other tentacle is that of course the homeless are not self-isolating; they can't. They're going to have infection rates like the incarcerated.

456:

Troutwaxer & Narmitaj
Also, we've had various collections of nutters bombing us over the years, to remind us to "keep in practice" - at closing ranks & marching on, if nothing else.
PROVIDED we are not obviously lied to for the benefit of the "ruling elite" - that would cause an almost-instant reversal ...
The same is true in the rest of Europe, to some extent.
- see also stirner @ 441!

JBS
cynical but horribly true

RvdH
"WTF" indeed.

Charlie @ 446
12.00 ex-KGX ... 20.06 into Inverness
let alone building motorways through mountain country.
Except, of course, that is almost what has been done with the A 9, hasn't it?

Heteromeles @ 448
Sulla for president! Oops, Trump ... yes, well ...
the authoritarian follower complex as focused on the current PresidentConsul

JBS
Yes, we do - about as badly as evryone else - efforts are being made to get them into shelters/hostels

457:

"Rail only has 33% of the trips from central Scotland to London"

Scotland is bigger than it looks, and rail electrification pretty much stops at Edinburgh/Glasgow.

Sorry, meant to include the link, but the definition of "central Scotland" (as defined by Transform Scotland)is Edinburgh/Glasgow.

So the fact that the railway north of those 2 cities may be poor isn't relevant.

http://transformscotland.org.uk/blog/2017/08/21/new-research-shows-shift-from-air-to-rail-has-cut-carbon-in-scotland-london-travel-market/

458:

TLDR: Homeless shelter started testing all arrivals. “Of 397 people tested, 146 — or 36% — came up positive.” “Every one of these folks were asymptomatic. None of them had a fever, and none of them reported symptoms”

Not a surprise at all, it just yet again demonstrates that the current statistics on those infected are essentially made up numbers.

The real surprise is that the number wasn't much higher - you are talking about a population that frequently is malnourished, poor hygiene, with little in the way of social distancing. (frequently not always by choice - for example it is rather hard to wash hands frequently when living on the street without access to soap and water - and harder still when the usual places are now all shut down to the public).

As noted, those with symptoms are out of the shelter system either because they were caught at admission (article indicates they were testing those with possible symptoms already), they will have already gone to an ER or, sadly more likely, they are avoiding shelters because they are afraid of being forced into the health care system.

459:

That definition is of the central belt, where about 60-70% of the population live in two large cities plus satellite towns.

(Geographical Central Scotland is actually about a hundred miles north of there. "Central belt" is a bit of a misnomer -- it means the chunk of the lowlands between the Highlands in the north and the Border country in the south.)

Thing is, there aren't many roads south: you've got the M6 from Glasgow in the west, and the A1 from Edinburgh in the East. The A1 still has a long stretch of single carriageway (south of the border, north of Alnwick) because Highways England couldn't be arsed upgrading it to dual carriageway, let alone motorway. So if you drive you will get stuck behind slow trucks or farm tractors using it as a shortcut.

You can use the west coast route from Edinburgh, but it requires a 40-mile dogleg along the busiest motorway in Scotland, the M8 (the main Edinburgh-Glasgow road link) which goes right through the centre of Glasgow, and guess what it's like at rush hour.

Either way, if you want to drive from Glasgow or Edinburgh to London within the legal speed limit (hint: there are cameras) you're looking at a minimum of 8 hours driving. And it's much more exhausting than the equivalent distance on US interstates -- believe me, I've done both.

The trains take about 4h30m to 5h depending on city, but they're very expensive unless you pre-book months or more in advance -- the walk-up second class fare from Edinburgh to KX is about the same as a return flight from EDI to one of the London airports.

460:

The United States Post Office is mandated in the Constitution. The war began on it under Nixon, because the post office is -- was an enormous source of patronage jobs, really good jobs for people of all sorts, everywhere, because the post office was mandated to service everyone. White postal workers wouldn't go into black neighborhoods, so there was a very high number of African American postal workers employed in the large cities. They were centers of political party organization and voting. A very large black vote was always of great value to any party.

When Woodrow Wilson officially made the US government one of apartheid, the only gove