Spring has been cancelled

Not really, of course. But the Church announced that the public has been invited to watch 2020 General Conference from home. Church meetings worldwide are suspended until further notice. Many universities have cancelled in-person instruction and will conduct the rest of their semesters via remote instruction.

Summer events such as the June conference of the Mormon History Association may be cancelled, depending on the COVID-19 precautions recommended as weather warms. [Current expectation is that COVID-19 will *not* be slowed by the advent of warm, humid weather.]

Even those of us without a tradition of spring cleaning are purchasing the products that get rid of 99.99% of viruses and wiping down surfaces that many hands touch. I and others have been offering outstretched elbows to bump in lieu of the traditional hand shake.

A few years ago a bad flu season blew through, and I switched our household from using common cloth towels for hand drying to paper towels – reportedly more hygienic than common air dryers. It’s a switch which I am glad to maintain in the face of this season’s challenge.

This isn’t the worst disaster. Even the worst projections I’ve seen for COVID-19 pale in comparison to the numbers who died from the Spanish Influenza a century ago.

But this is the disaster of our day. What tips do you have for how to adjust to the social distancing we’re all having an opportunity to practice?

This entry was posted in General by Meg Stout. Bookmark the permalink.

About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

33 thoughts on “Spring has been cancelled

  1. I’m actually really frustrated with the hysteria. H1N1 was far more dangerous, and yet none of these steps were taken. I’m frustrated with the mis-information, facebook posts etc, being shared without any sort of corroboration (the one from the person allegedly in an Italian hospital detailing people dying in the halls), data from all sorts of websites, but without really checking who is behind those websites, where they originate from, where their data is coming from.

    But, at least I held off buying a ticket up to BYU Women’s Conference. They axed that too….

    But when this peaks in 2-3 weeks and we’ve wrecked our economy and people’s livelihoods, will anyone care then?

  2. Joyce I suggest the CDC website as a good source of accurate information. HINI pandemic flu was not more dangerous than COVID19; COVID19 has a case fatality rate about 10 times that of influenza. I disagree that cancellations of public gatherings are inappropriate in this situation.

  3. Joyce,
    I am no alarmist, I did not run out and buy mountains of TP and bottled water. But you could not be more wrong. The H1N1 flu of 2009 had a fatality rate of 0.03%. Nothing like the Spanish Flu from 2018-2019, which had a fatality rate of about 3% and killed tens of millions (and nearly killed a young Ezra Taft Benson and shut down General Conference). The current flu virus of 2019-2020 has a fatality rate of around 0.1% That is actually pretty bad. COVID 19 is deadly for certain demographics of our population. It has a fatality rate of 1.0%, or ten times a bad flu year. For older persons (60+), it is as bad as the Spanish flu if not worse.

    In order to prevent COVID 19 from overwhelming our medical system we have to take actions to inhibit the spread of the virus and get us to summer. We will still have to make it through the winter of 2020-2021 without a vaccine. If our medical system is overwhelmed, we will not have the technologies available to aid the vulnerable segments of our population. Anything after that is speculation and I don’t want to go there. Shutting down large events and social distancing are rather moderate actions to take given the potential cost in fatalities.

  4. Hey Joyce,

    I think I purchased all my paper towel dispensers in 2009 in response to H1N1. That was scary, and I had colleagues who lost friends to that pandemic.

    The World Health Organization statistics for March 11 showed 224 new cases in the United States since the prior day. Total US deaths are at 25 currently, with total confirmed cases at 696, for a rolling mortality rate of ~3.5%. It would appear that the United States is at the beginning of its COVID-19 journey. It would be nice were that journey to end within three weeks, though that seems unlikely. It might be possible that the number of cases under treatment could peak within three weeks.

    An interesting way to view the data is the total number of cases under active treatment. I was heartened to see a graph showing China has already experienced “peak COVID-19”, if you will. China’s experience should be considered somewhat a-typical, since they were the first to be hit hard by the virus and were therefore reactive rather than proactive. Being China, officials were relatively slow to react.

    A goal of the current measures is to ensure that infection rates are reduced sufficiently to avoid overloading the capacity of the healthcare system. The CDC has a nice graphic which attempts to explain this.

    Another goal of folks currently cancelling gatherings might be to avoid being the cited cause of COVID-19 infections and deaths. We’ve experienced this in the DC area. Rev. Timothy Cole is a rector at Christ Church Georgetown, a prominent Episcopal church in Washington, DC. Rev. Cole announced on March 8, 2019, that he was the person Washington DC officials had been referring to as “patient 1.” Several hundred people who had attended services at Christ Church Georgetown since 24 February 2019 have been asked to self-quarantine. Obviously Christ Church Georgetown is closed until further notice.

    President Nelson did promise that “General conference next April will be different from any previous conference.” For me and my house, we are delighted that this unique experience will not be tainted by any possibility that it furthered the spread of COVID-19.

  5. Most of us in the United States will be fine. May even get the virus and not know it. It’s important for people over 65 and with respiratory problems or compromised immune systems to avoid crowds. Otherwise, younger and healthier people have little to worry about. Fatality rate for people under 60 is .1%. 60-69 is 1.4%. 70-79 is 4%. 80-89 is 8.2%. 90+ is 14.3%. That data was from 8342 cases analyzed on March 9th.

  6. Looking at the CDC’s Pandemic Severity Index, a case fatality ratio above 1% would render this a Cat 4-5 pandemic.

    By definition, a pandemic that has a case fatality ratio of, say, 3.5%, also has a case survival ratio that is close to 100% (96.5% for the hypothetical CFR of 3.5%).

    Comparing a Cat 5 Pandemic to a Cat 5 Hurricane, we can calculate a fatality rate for Hurricane Katrina. The Louisiana Depatment of Health and Hospitals determined Katrina was directly responsible for 1,170 fatalities in Louisiana. Using estimates that 150,000-200,000 individuals remained in the path of the stormth, we get a fatality rate of 0.56-0.78%. In other words, over 99% of those in the direct path of the storm survived.

    COVID-19 is likely to be more lethal than Katrina for those who experience COVID-19. So let’s do our part to minimize the number who do experience COVID-19, even if the vast majority will survive the experience.

  7. Ironically I struggled with the idea of self quarantine even though I have several risk factors including my age of 77. I have made a practice of attending the temple twice a week for an endowment session followed by a sealing session. This past Tuesday endowment session went well. I had a tube of set hand sanitizer which I used a couple of times. However, during the sealing session a woman entered the room. After coughing several times into her right hand she proceeded to participate in a sealing ceremony. Her wet cough was evidently not an indicator of coronavirus, but although I am currently healthy, her behavior reminded me that I have no control over strangers. I live with a son who has several health issues. I decided on Wednesday morning to follow a modified quarantine. I shop early while stores are nearly empty, have requested home sacrament service, and plan to maintain a distance of six feet from visiting family members. I notified a granddaughter that I no longer planned to attend a concert. I felt a bit sheepish at taking these steps, only to hear the news about the changes in Conference. My granddaughter’s concert was canceled but will be streamed. Last thing in the afternoon I watched President Trump announce a European travel ban, learned that several members of the Jazz and Tom Hanks and his wife had tested positive. The Spanish Flu interacted with strong immune systems in a way that took out the strongest. Some illnesses target children, but Covid 19 seems most dangerous to the elderly with few if any fatalities in children, for which I am very grateful. However the most endangered are often in positions of power and influence. All the potential candidates for 2020 and the senior leadership of the Church are in the high risk demographic.

  8. Random tip overheard (in addition to washing hands with soap for 20 seconds, drying with paper towels, staying 6 feet from others, avoiding touching your face, etc):

    Drink something every 15 minutes.

    Not sure if the benefit would be primarily from remaining hydrated or from all the handwashing associated with downstream effects of that much fluid intake…

    According to Snopes, “Drinking more water, while good for your overall health, will not keep anyone from catching the coronavirus, according to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University.”

    Kind of like how the CDC suggests the efficacy of Asfeddy bags (Asafoetida – stinky stuff worn around people’s necks to ward off illness) was likely because people would keep their distance from the stink, rather than any medicinal value.

  9. It occurs to me that if the Church leadership has been inclined for a while to add something to our canon—maybe a proclamation about family structure, for example?—they could do it at the upcoming conference with relative ease. “No” voters could still be advised to talk to their stake presidents (which most of them won’t do), and there wouldn’t be a bunch of anonymity-emboldened jack-donkeys getting on the six o’clock news by making a scene within the Conference Center itself.

  10. I read the comments and I appreciate reading them, coming from people who have a lot of experience.
    That being said, I am tired of the coronavirus and I wish it would just go away. I am definitely going to put this in the category of things that I want to change but can’t change, rather than in the category of things that I want to change and I can do something about.

  11. Just heard BYU and many other universities have decided to cease on-campus classes. BYU classes are cancelled for a few days and when classes resume, they will be conducted online.

  12. Check the Church Newsroom out. The Brethren have cancelled ALL local meetings. Local leaders are to arrange providing the sacrament to the wards once a month.

  13. We have largely forgotten that meeting houses per se did not exist in the early church. Meetings would be held in public halls, even in Nauvoo, in homes, in groves. The two first temples were used for meetings when near completion but the Church was organized in a home. When I lived in Virginia there were several times when priesthood bearers were authorized to administer the sacrament in their homes because of blizzards or hurricanes. I would suggest that a good way to manage the sacrament would be to have the priests quorum in charge of taking the sacrament to those without the priesthood in their homes. Otherwise the priesthood age sons and priesthood bearing father of a family would be responsible for the ordinance. I can see a number of positive results of this practice. I saw some people worried that they could not hold baptisms if large gatherings are banned, but the most sacred baptisms in our history were somewhat private. The added frills of buffets, large gatherings of ward members and extended family etc. sometimes obscure and blunt the meaning of the essential ordinance. How many guest really need to attend a sealing?

  14. Temples, where allowed, will be open for living ordinances only. Sealing group size will be limited. In making this decision the core of what is essential is affirmed.

  15. The only available “half way meaningful” stats for “case fatality rate” available are Italy and S. Korea.

    Two caveats: the sample sizes aren’t large enough to really be meaningful, and conditions in the US will be different than Italy and S. Korea.

    Here, under “Prognosis”:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus_disease_2019

    It’s pretty high for those 70+, which would include a lot of temple workers.

    The rates are likely much lower, because the true denominator is not known, ie, people who have a mild case and it just looks like a cold or normal flu, aren’t counted in.

    But early estimates are the “R0” or “basic reproduction rate”, of covid-19, ie how many people does one person infect, is about twice as high as it was for the 1918 flu pandemic. I’ve heard R0 = 3 for Wuhan in China.

    Spread is exponential, So if drastic measures are not taken, 3/4ths of the population could get it. 1918 flue had a 28% infection rate in the US (ie 28% of population got it), and between 500,000 and 675,000 died, which is about a 2.5% case fatality rate.

    Co-morbid factors are: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. So… if you are under 70 and don’t have any if those, it will be like a normal flu if you catch it.

    Disclaimer: all those numbers on that wiki page are uncertain and changing fast. No one knows exactly what will happen.

  16. The chances of the fatality rate being 1% or above are very low. Why? Because people would be dying all over the place without treatment. What we are seeing is statistical sampling bias — people who are sick that go the hospital and get tested and depending on region 1-3% of those people die.

    But that’s not a 1-3% mortality rate for the virus. When it’s all said and done, we’ll find out that no more people will have died from this than various other flus in the recent past. And we’ll pat ourselves on the back that it’s because we reacted so boldly.

    But in reality, it will be because most people don’t get sick, many others get sniffles and aches, and those with an unfortunate combination of circumstances will get seriously ill or succumb to the disease. And we’ll have spent many hundreds of billions, driven the economy into recession, create more demand for intrusive government action and caused more harm than 10-20,000 deaths could otherwise possibly do.

    You can bet money on the fact that this is a more likely outcome than a massive pandemic that will kill millions. Why? Because the results in China quite frankly aren’t that bad at all. And it’s not because the church shipped facemasks, they bleached the place and closed factories. Anyone telling you that is selling something.

  17. The awesome thing about social distancing is we don’t have to trust that the people around us are being similarly careful. Because we’re not physically close to them.

    There’s an awesome graph about the difference in the Spanish flu severity between Philadelphia and St. Louis. St. Louis was able to implement drastic social distancing, similar to what we are doing now. These measures were credited with reducing the peak number of infections in St. Louis compared to Philadelphia, which began to experience the pandemic before the scientists recommended social distancing.

  18. Sute, I don’t think your reasoning properly takes into account the R0 of Covid-19, and the age-related and comorbidity-related aspects of the case fatality rate.

    Chinese doctors reported a whopping R0 of 3 for Wuhan. That puts it at the upper end of the 1918 flu. Even if you optimisticly diminish that because we do not have the same conditions as Wuhan, an R0 of 2 still puts us in Spaniah flu territory. That means _at least_ 28% of Americans (as in 1918/1920) will get it, over a two year period. That’s a “best case scenario”. (and yes, an R0 over 2 usually means a second season of it.)

    Then break down the case fatality rate by age range. Start with South Korean numbers, and optimistically revise downward, due to people having the virus, but not being counted in the denominator.

    But also realize the “people missing in the denominator effect” plays into all examples/samples, past and present, hence, the factor cancels out.

    I ran some numbers in a comment at Jr G, and on the optimisitic end, 210,000 people over age 70 could likely die,
    and 57,000 ages 60-69,
    and 21,000 ages 50-59,
    and 10,000 ages 40-49.

    So, optimistically speaking, my guess (I’m no epidemiologist, just a numbers guy), I think 300,000 deaths is the lower end estimate.

    Excuse the macabre tone, but if we have to lose 300,000 (or more) people, it’s going to be 2/3rds elderly and already-sick people. A “cull” if you will.

    Your “don’t worry, it’s just another flu” is only applicable to people under age 60 without co-morbid factors.

    Again, those are taking the Korean percentages, and revising down drastically, to compensate for a) people not being counted in the denominator in S Korea, and b) hopefully we’ll do a better job than S Korea.

    And, my numbers assume we’ll have only a 25% infection rate compared to 1918/1920’s 28%. Supposedly we’re “better” than the country was in 1918, but the population density is much higher. It will depend heavily on what degree of social isolation we can achieve.

    Fauci’s high end estimate today was 1,600,000 deaths, which is about what I came up with using a 50% infection rate (of 329,000,000 total US population, and an _average_ case fatality rate of 1% across all age groups.

    With an R0 of 2 we could still get 50% infection rate without sufficient social isolation. So, just being a civilian guy who plays with numbers, I have to believe Dr. Fauci’s estimate is in the ballpark of possible, 1,600,000 deaths of mainly people who are already old or sick.

    An average CFR of 1% of all age groups means something like .05% of under-40’s going up to 8% (and higher for comorbidities ) of over-70’s.

    If the South Korea and Italy stats are anywhere accurate for their locale, and the R0 is mid 2’s or higher, then the Trump administration could even be downplaying the danger we face.

  19. There is a real difference in reaction to the ‘Draconian’ actions being taken. For those who are not identified as targets, ie. middle-aged and younger, and relatively healthy, there is a real sense of frustration at what is perceived as over reaction. For those, like me, who are squarely in the target demographic, we welcome information and actions that might allow us a few more years with our families and friends. Setting aside the disturbing sense of glee manifested by the media as they contemplate the possibility that this will succeed in taking down the current president, a significant portion of the powerful are in the target demographic, including most of our national political leaders. So on the one hand the response is ‘What’s all the fuss about?” and on the other you have folks like me who have established protocols for social distancing and feel that in the long run the gains may outrun the losses. For one thing, the Church has long been trying to discourage extra meetings. Yet some seem to feel that meetings are the main purpose of the Gospel. The CES has tried to emphasize the use of online resources for those who desire education, yet many of us continue to disdain the value of degrees obtained from remote forms of study. I hope my own precautions will enable me to be around to view the eventual fallout of these actions by the Church and nation.

  20. An argument that the actual mortality rate is less than X% because many individuals never present themselves to facilities makes sense, except the same is true of other past diseases. I know I rarely alert my doctor to the fact of having flu.

    So we’re back to saying that whatever the actual mortality rate, it is more than standard flu.

  21. Bookslinger”s estimated mortality numbers line up with estimates I have seen as well; best case scenario 300,000 US deaths, worst case scenario 1.7 million US deaths. This truly is a situation that calls for drastic measures to save lives.

  22. As someone long interested in the history of infectious disease, Bookslinger’s numbers sound plausible, and reflect the thinking by the scientists and medical professionals of the CDC and WHO. Here in Washington State, the early epicenter of the outbreak, many seemingly drastic measures are being taken, including as of this morning, the closing of restaurants and bars except for takeout and delivery. This follows closely the closing of all public schools in the state for six weeks, perhaps longer. From my reading about the 1918 Influenza pandemic, and multiple yellow fever outbreaks in the US through the 19th century indicates that we are in for a rough ride.

    Yes, medical care has improved, but remember that we have no vaccine, and likely will not for at best a year. The idea that this will blow over in a few weeks seems overly optimistic. Forget what you know about normal; we are rapidly making up the rules as we go, and there will be a new normal in place that reflects the pandemic circulating around us. Think about months, rather than weeks. Follow the guidelines for hygiene and social distancing, leave some of what you find on the store shelves for your neighbors, and as the hymn suggests, “Be still my soul, thy best, thy heavenly friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”

  23. E: Actually, I think the 1.7 million figure is the mid-point of the “most likely” range, or in other words, the peak point on a bell curve of possible outcomes.

    The “range” of “likely” is 25%-probability (not 25% of the count), or so, on either side of the bell curve’s center peak.

    So, it looks to me like Fauci is being a straight-shooter using that number as a current best-guess, neither diminishing nor exaggerating.

    This web page: https://arguablywrong.home.blog/2020/03/10/epidemiological-modeling/ has a worst-case estimate (if everything goes wrong, or the R0 and CFR gets worse) of 5,000,000.

    To recap the range of possibilities:
    — Minimum: 300,000.
    —- Low-end of likely: 700,000.
    ——– Middle (most) likely: 1,700,000.
    —- High-end of likely: 2,700,000.
    — Maximum: 5,000,000.

    The wiki page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus_disease_2019
    shows that the Italian and South Korean case fatality rates have been revised upwards for those 70-79 and 80+.

  24. Here’s a credible voice saying it’s all overblown:

    https://wmbriggs.com/post/29830/

    Read previous of his posts for more graphs and stats. He seems to be saying Covid-19 will just be in the upper end of the normal range of fatality numbers for a regular flu.

    Other positive developments:

    1. Ventilators can be easily jury-rigged to supply air to up to four patients simultaneously, in life or death situations. This was done during the Las Vegas shooting. the worst-case scenarios are based on a fixed limit of ventilators, not taking this into account. Moreover, the manufacture of new ones, and the reallocation of ones in military-DoD inventory is going on.

    2. A handful of drugs have been successfully used in treatment of covid-19, and that knowledge is spreading. hence, case fatality rates will go down.

    3. Cross-state telemedicine has been approved.

    4. Retired doctors and other retired medical professionals are offering to be of service.

    5. Blood plasma from recovered patients is somehow being used in treatment.

    6. Fatalities still seem mainly limited to age 70+ with comorbid conditions.

    7. The infection rate in the US is not as bad as was initially predicted to be at this point.

    8. Wuhan-like hotspots are not cropping up in other Chinese cities, as would have been expected, given that Wuhan was not isolated immediately, and Hubei province was isolated even later.

    My updated take: hand-washing and other common sense measures will keep this at the lower end of the numbers I previously used. I think our rates will be a fraction of S Korea’s.

    Pessimistic:
    ** Minimum: 100,000.
    **** Low-end of likely: 300,000.
    ******** Most likely: 700,000.
    **** High-end of likely: 1,700,000.
    ** Maximum: 2,700,000.

    Optimistic:
    ** Minimum: 50,000.
    **** Low-end of likely: 100,000.
    ******** Most likely: 300,000.
    **** High-end of likely: 700,000.
    ** Maximum: 1,700,000.


    To put it in perspective, a commenter at JrG pointed out that in the US in 2017, there were 1,819,317 deaths of people over age 70. As per, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr68/nvsr68_09-508.pdf

  25. I suspect more caution is warranted than Mr. Briggs calls for. There is an interesting graphic that shows the increase in cases for various countries since the 100th case presented. For almost all countries, this shows countries (including the US) are experiencing case increases of ~33% per day.

    As is discussed many places, this virus infects you and makes you infectious before you exhibit symptoms. This differentiates COVID-19 from other serious Respiratory Syndrome outbreaks in the past few years.

    Recent media messaging is also clarifying that ending up dead isn’t the only bad thing. Surviving but with impaired health is still unpleasant.

  26. Yes, the residual health-effects at all ages, even if it shortens life-span by only one year per infected person, would wipe out 65 million man-years of life at a Swine Flu (2009) infection rate of 20%. Assuming an average life-span of 82 years, that’s the equivalent of an “extra” 790,000 lives.

    Based on recent positive developments, and a vaccine currently being tested, I currently believe we’ll do better than S Korea. (Again, I’m just a guy with a spreadsheet, not an expert.) There is plenty of evidence that the doom-sayers have over-estimated things.

    Is the lockdown of the citizens of Wuhan over, or are they allowed out and back at work?

  27. More reasons to be optimistic. Most of these from the John Batchelor radio show, interviewing Victor Davis Hanson, and Richard Epstein.

    1. your 33% increase/day figure is due to the sudden increase in availability of test kits. This is just catching-up in detection, not true spread. We’ll get a truer view of the _trend_ in 10 to 14 days.

    2. I learned a few key things about N Italy: a) It’s an enclave of Chinese ex-patriots, many retired. Northern Italy has direct flights with China (don’t have to go through Rome) which Italy allowed through the end of Feb. Many of the people there are from Wuhan. b) Also, N Italy is a work zone with lots of Chinese workers due to China investing there. c) Fatality rate: Italy has a 25% smoking rate, versus 15% for US, and has a higher average age, and less health care infrastructure.

    3. Korean hot spot source: a church group traveled to Wuhan, and came back and infected 1,000 people in their church. They were identified, tracked, and isolated.

    4. In the US, the biggest fatality hotspot was that single nursing home, old and sick people clustered together. So while it is a warning to other nursing homes, its situation cannot be extrapolated to the general population.

    i’m leaning towards thinking even my last optimistic guesses above are an order of magnitutde too high. And that the CDC/NIH prognosticators did not take likely adaptive measures into their early forecasts.

  28. Sweet Bookslinger, given that the 33% number covers many different countries with different onset dates, your test availability hypothesis fails to explain the scope and breadth of the data.

    There is a story I heard once, possibly on NPR. At any rate, there was a group of people who were hiking in the west in a desert canyon. The stunning curves of this canyon had been carved by the forces of water action.

    During the hike, a thunder clap was heard. The guide immediately screamed, “Flood! Follow me, NOW!” And the guide proceeded to hoof it. Two or three others followed, but the majority decided to discuss what was going on, heard calling the guide’s instructions into question as those fleeing ran out of earshot.

    The guide and those who immediately fled were the only ones to survive, and that barely. The wall of water that scoured the canyon parted the survivors from their clothes, but it had parted the laggards from their lives.

    Obedience is a thing many scorn, glorying in their ability to act in accordance with their personal observations. Why flee when there was no visible sign of rain? Why heed commandments when one is unwilling to perceive harbingers of societal destruction? Why heed the call to engage in social distancing since folks around us seem healthy?

    As for me and my household, we are practicing the social distancing we have been advised to practice, albeit often because life activities we have habitually engaged in have been canceled.

  29. 1. I’m not arguing against social distancing, closing churches, schools, dine-in restaurants, sporting events, etc. I am complying and will continue to comply with all directives from authorities. I believe those are the very things that will keep sickness and death at a minimum.

    2. Testing supplies were late arriving and are still in short supply in other countries too. And while newly available testing supplies are now in the field, all over the world, they are still being rationed in many countries to be used only on those showing the major symptoms or those vulnerable people who were known to be in close proximity/contact with known infected people.

    Until a country/region has enough testing supplies to start doing random samples, or to test everyone with a cough, both the raw number of infections and the slope, and the second derivative too, are not going to give accurate projections.

    the fact that advanced countries (such as south Korea, UK, Italy) have been testing for 6 or more weeks, does not mean they were testing in sufficient numbers, or from a wide enough sample, from which to draw meaningful case fatality rates, nor meaningful R0/infection rates.

    One of the numbers-people mentioned that you also need a certain number of tests to come back (true) negative in order to have a confidence level in what the overall numbers are saying.

    There also needs to be some blind random sampling done on the general population to get an accurate picture of the spread.

    The epidemiologists are right to point out worst-case scenarios, and include figures for what could happen without mitigation and adaptive responses. But we are adapting, and we are mitigating.

    What I am warning about, is to not panic when the major media outlets hold up the “outliers” (Northern Italy) and say those situations and numbers are typical. The “back stories” are slow to come out.

    And, to take things in context. Such as deaths on a cruise ship, in which one death per ship per cruise is normal. (Or was it one death per ship per week?) That stuff masks the data we get from the Princess cruise ship. (All those stories of outbreaks of norovirus are the reason that I’ve never been on cruise ship. Cruise ships have always been cauldrons of contagious stew in my mind.)

    So, yeah, a couple weeks ago, preliminary data made things look grim. But the adaptations are now in effect, and the mitigation procedures are rolling out.

    But…. we need 3 to four weeks, after adaptations (social isolating) are in effect, in order to go through two “generations” of person-to-person incubation periods, to see what the “new” post-adaptation infection-rates are like. And… that still also depends on testing having gone beyond the “catch up” phase.

    And maybe it’s true that the medical community, and civil authorities, still have to hype the upper range estimates in order to goad people into compliance with adaptive measures.

    You’re an engineer, so I assume you’re processing all that’s going on and being reported with dynamic, as opposed to static, analysis ; and that’s in addition to thinking “okay, and what relevant tidbit was left unsaid?”

    Let’s keep in mind that for every “thing” politicians and media tell us, there are many other things that they, either by choice or by lack of sufficient time, are not telling us. “Selective reporting” is a fact of life. On top of that, partisans of all stripes tend to mischaracterize things.

    “Numbers don’t lie?” Well, sometimes “the REST of the story” (read that in a Paul Harvey voice. G’day!) paints an entirely different picture.

  30. I think this time of being indoors more on average and the noise of some of our favorite things we do now gone, we may take a spiritual pulse of ourselves. Sobering.

  31. I have been commenting at JrGanymede, but I want my friends here to see this link. Google translate will be sufficient to translate from the original Italian:

    https://www.ecodibergamo.it/stories/bergamo-citta/quasi-mille-morti-nella-bergamascai-sindaci-ma-sono-molti-di-piu_1346006_11/

    “Almost a thousand deaths in the Bergamo area
    Mayors: ‘But there are many more'”

    Please read the whole thing, wash your hands, keep proper distances, avoid crowds, and stay at and work from home to the extent you reasonably can given your individual circumstances and local conditions.

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