Coronavirus

Chewy509

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And due to new outbreaks in Victoria (as Tea mentioned), hording of various cleaning products and toilet paper has started again... Stores have applied limits on the number of items thankfully...

I'm 1500km+ away from Victoria, (I'm in Queensland), and hording has started here as well, despite on official numbers we only have 1 active case (and they are in hospital)...
 

snowhiker

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The only limits still active on TP and other paper products here in AZ, USA are at Costco. One item/household/day. No limits at grocery stores, just crazy high price. Still some limits on cleaning products and hand sanitizer. No limits on any food items.
 

DrunkenBastard

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Full five day lockdown for 9 public housing estates in Melbourne, enforced by 500 police per shift, nobody to leave their apartment for any reason while mass testing underway:


From the sounds of it there's outbreaks/lock downs in other areas too but they are still allowed to leave their residence for four reasons including getting groceries etc. I guess the housing estates are more vulnerable like nursing homes.
 

Chewy509

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The only limits still active on TP and other paper products here in AZ, USA are at Costco. One item/household/day. No limits at grocery stores, just crazy high price. Still some limits on cleaning products and hand sanitizer. No limits on any food items.
Well, where we are (SE QLD), we had most restrictions/limits removed a few weeks ago as stock levels got back up and people realised that panic buiying/hording wasn't necessary... (we were nearly back to normal).
 

Handruin

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Man, I hope this upward trend doesn't continue to escalate for you guys. Hang in there...


Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 9.14.02 AM.png

Supplies in my local supermarkets are better with there still being some enforced limitations for things like soaps and cleaning supplies, etc. My state has opened up a bit more like other states so it may start to see an upward trend again. I've been slowly stockpiling my own stash waiting for this to all happen again. :-/
 

time

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Wow, numbers in the US have gone nuts in the last week.

A sign of how dramatically things have changed is that the Texas Governor has now mandated masks in public places - penalty $300. That's a massive turnaround.

Apparently one in three tests in Arizona are returning positive - is that true? (Doesn't mean 1 in 3 of the population are infected, obviously).

I ordered something from Amazon US a week ago but the order has remained untouched. Is the recent rapid spread and consequent reintroduction of restrictions paralyzing some industries?
 

Handruin

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Yep, it's a shit show here. Lots of continued disinformation and people still claiming their freedoms are violated by having to wear masks. It's truly embarrassing. Wearing a simple mask is the least anyone can do with almost zero inconvenience FFS.

Amazon delivers throughout the beginning of covid and current times have delays in their shipments/fulfillments of products locally. I can't speak to international deliveries but I wouldn't be surprised if they are also delayed.
 

time

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Paul Krugman piece from NYT
reprinted at Sydney Morning Herald:
Indeed, at this point Arizona, with 7 million people, is reporting about as many new cases each day as the whole EU, with 446 million people.

Amazing.
 

Handruin

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In the continue regime of trump we are now seeing his typical play from his book to attempt to discredit our lead infectious disease expert Dr Fauci because the information he's delivering doesn't fit his narrative. He hasn't been allowed to update the public in weeks and our covid task force is more or less disbanded. I assumed this would eventually happen and it's very concerning.

At the same time there is a fight with the local governments to get schools opened to give the appearance that things are ok and to make people forget about covid. We've already seen examples of a summer school teacher who took precautions and died from covid. Since the US failed to manage any of this it's simply not safe to send kids back to school yet.
 

Newtun

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From my daily NY Times Email (sorry for formatting issues from this cut-and-paste):

There is now only one high-income country in the world in which the virus is spreading rapidly: the United States. Even in Sweden — which has had one of the least successful responses to the virus — the number of new cases has plummeted in the past two weeks.​

By The New York Times | Source: Johns Hopkins University​

In China, Japan, South Korea and several other Asian countries, the virus is under even better control than in Europe or Canada. In the chart above, lines for those Asian countries would be barely indistinguishable from the zero line.​
In other virus developments:​

  • The Trump administration has abandoned a policy that would have forced international students to leave the U.S. if their university coursework was entirely online. More than a dozen states and some universities had sued to block it.
  • The United States economy is headed for a tumultuous autumn, with the threat of closed schools, struggling businesses, new lockdowns and empty stadiums.
  • The administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all virus data directly to Washington. The move breaks with longstanding tradition and alarms health experts who fear the data will be politicized or withheld from the public.
 

jtr1962

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In the continue regime of trump we are now seeing his typical play from his book to attempt to discredit our lead infectious disease expert Dr Fauci because the information he's delivering doesn't fit his narrative. He hasn't been allowed to update the public in weeks and our covid task force is more or less disbanded. I assumed this would eventually happen and it's very concerning.

At the same time there is a fight with the local governments to get schools opened to give the appearance that things are ok and to make people forget about covid. We've already seen examples of a summer school teacher who took precautions and died from covid. Since the US failed to manage any of this it's simply not safe to send kids back to school yet.
The smarter states like those here in the Northeast are now requiring a 14-day quarantine for people traveling in from states where the virus is out of control. Of course, the larger question is how rigorously will this be enforced. If it were up to me, I would march people right from planes from those states into quarantine. Those driving in represent another problem, but most of these states are too far from the Northeast for most people to drive. If we quarantine the air travelers, we already dealt with 99% of the problem.
 

Handruin

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I've seen the 14-day signs when I traveled back to MA from CT while seeing my dad. I don't see how it's enforceable though. I took my own precautions and I've stayed pretty much at home since but there was no validation or anything. There's no one single solution here but there should be a much stronger effort to have a clear single unified message from above with regards to continued social distancing, mask usage, washing hands, no hoarding, etc until we get this much more under control. This should be coming from the experts. Why has every other country been able to manage this but here?
 

snowhiker

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There are six first-world, "western" countries that have a higher COVID-19 death rate per capita than the U.S. so the U.S. must be doing something right. Or are those six countries getting it even more wrong than we are? And the U.S. is supposed to have the crappiest health care in the world so I'm confused. And yes I know there are thousands of possible variables that will effect the death rate per capita.


  • The Trump administration has abandoned a policy that would have forced international students to leave the U.S. if their university coursework was entirely online. More than a dozen states and some universities had sued to block it.
  • The United States economy is headed for a tumultuous autumn, with the threat of closed schools, struggling businesses, new lockdowns and empty stadiums.
  • The administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all virus data directly to Washington. The move breaks with longstanding tradition and alarms health experts who fear the data will be politicized or withheld from the public.
Of course universities are suing. They can't lose that sweet $20-90k/year/student, there a business after-all. A Chinese student enrolled at Harvard but studying on-line, IN CHINA, isn't going to pay top dollar.

The economy is bad because of the lockdowns, businesses closed, capacity reduced and the fear, panic and behavior changes that has caused. This is mostly not Trump's fault. Or any person's fault. Its COVID-19's fault. If Trump has acted magically perfect the economy wouldn't be much/any better than it is right now.

The data is already politicized. Somebody dies for reason XYZ, but they are COVID-19 positive, they are sometimes classified as a COVID-19 death so hospital can receive more funding or insurance money. Some testing centers were ONLY REPORTING POSITIVE TESTS. Others were counting negative results multiple times, etc. It's a complete mess.
 

Handruin

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There are six first-world, "western" countries that have a higher COVID-19 death rate per capita than the U.S. so the U.S. must be doing something right. Or are those six countries getting it even more wrong than we are? And the U.S. is supposed to have the crappiest health care in the world so I'm confused. And yes I know there are thousands of possible variables that will effect the death rate per capita.


Of course universities are suing. They can't lose that sweet $20-90k/year/student, there a business after-all. A Chinese student enrolled at Harvard but studying on-line, IN CHINA, isn't going to pay top dollar.

The economy is bad because of the lockdowns, businesses closed, capacity reduced and the fear, panic and behavior changes that has caused. This is mostly not Trump's fault. Or any person's fault. Its COVID-19's fault. If Trump has acted magically perfect the economy wouldn't be much/any better than it is right now.

The data is already politicized. Somebody dies for reason XYZ, but they are COVID-19 positive, they are sometimes classified as a COVID-19 death so hospital can receive more funding or insurance money. Some testing centers were ONLY REPORTING POSITIVE TESTS. Others were counting negative results multiple times, etc. It's a complete mess.
Death rate per capita is a small part of picture here. When I said every other country being able to managing this (exception Brazil)...I'm talking about containment/management at this point in time. The US is basically starting over with hitting record numbers almost every day. If we keep this up eventually the US will be near the top of deaths per capita. Look at the measured new case count today. This past week. This past month. It's not because we're testing more. After 5 months into this and still many states (36+) are at a rising trend with Florida winning the medal here? How are more states not on a downward trend?

Screen Shot 2020-07-15 at 7.56.49 PM.png
(https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases-50-states)

The economy is bad because of covid, I totally agree. Why it's not going to get better soon is because the message communicated via the white house administration in the past several weeks is that the pandemic is over, get back to a normal life. Had they kept a clear message and urged states to comply earlier and consistently with support, many of the states could all be on the downward trend like many other nations thereby giving us an improved chance to begin recovering the economy sooner. Why aren't we continuing to see the infectious disease experts provide their message from the white house? It's not because Fauci doesn't want to provide information; I see him speak in other media outlets.
 
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Regarding death rates, Sweden hace had problems with Covid entering elderly homes and that has been quite problematic + we have seen quite a few structural problems that we have to adress.

And of course, the treatment methods improves over time. I think the death rates in Sweden right now is <0.5% rather than >4% (i believe) when this started.
 

snowhiker

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Australia put a travel ban on incoming Chinese travel very early on during the early stages of the forming epidemic and they now have a fantastically low number of deaths, only 119. Excellent. When such measures were considered here all I heard was, "That's racist" and "You're an alarmists, calm down."

It looks like the USA peak deaths has passed. We'll find out soon enough if re-opening the country and the protests riots will have a negative effect on this.
CDC Chart from above link:
CDC death chart.JPG

Regarding death rates, Sweden hace had problems with Covid entering elderly homes and that has been quite problematic + we have seen quite a few structural problems that we have to adress.

And of course, the treatment methods improves over time. I think the death rates in Sweden right now is <0.5% rather than >4% (i believe) when this started.
fb when you say "elderly homes" are you referring to nursing homes/senor care/hospital/health-care/retirement facilities or simply homes of elderly people? The U.S. has had MAJOR problems with COVID-19 in nursing homes. Big problems.
nursing home Gov.png
 

jtr1962

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It looks like the USA peak deaths has passed. We'll find out soon enough if re-opening the country and the protests riots will have a negative effect on this.
You're forgetting that deaths lag case count by at least several weeks. In this case, it might be more because the majority of new cases are younger people, versus when this started and a lot of older people were getting sick. Basically, it would work something along the lines of young people get sick, a relatively small percentage of them die within a few weeks, those young people infect older people in the course of the next few weeks, the older people get sick, larger numbers of the older people die.

The 7-day average for deaths bottomed out at 500 in early July. Now it's getting near 800. My guess is by the end of August the average daily number of deaths will be in the 5K area as the older people infected by younger people start dying in large numbers. When fall comes those numbers will probably go up even more. I'm tentatively estimating 1 million dead in the US by 2021 from the disease itself, maybe ten times that number from starvation and lack of heat as supply chains collapse. We're going to see a disaster of epic proportions. Anyone with any sense should be stocking up on 6 months to a year's worth of supplies. If we lose power my mother most likely won't make it through the winter. If I see things are bad by mid fall I'll start digging a grave for her in the yard just in case.

Of course, a vaccine by early or mid fall could drastically change this outcome for the better. In fact, at this stage the only hope for the US is a vaccine. We've already thrown in the towel fighting the virus, not that it was even all that great a fight.

This person has a lot of the same feelings as me:


Assuming we get past the virus before economic collapse, there might be some hope to avoid the worst of his fears.
 
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jtr1962

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Regarding death rates, Sweden hace had problems with Covid entering elderly homes and that has been quite problematic + we have seen quite a few structural problems that we have to adress.
A spread in nursing homes is probably inevitable due to the nature of them, with caretakers often working at multiple facilities. I know it's fashionable now to blame the governors in some US states for helping it spread in nursing homes, but it was destined to happen. Nursing homes has always been hotbeds of misery and disease. If there's any good that comes out of this, it might be fewer people putting their parents in those horrible places. I would rather euthanize my mother than have her in one of those shit holes. When she was is one for two months for supposed rehabilitation 2.5 years ago she was miserable. So was I just visiting her. Those places are ultra depressing. I'll take my own life before I would live in one of them.
 

jtr1962

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Since "freedom" is often been the reason people aren't wearing masks, here's a good article on what freedom really means:


In essence, you only own something if the government says you do. If so, then said government is obligated to protect you if anybody tried to take what you own. However, what the government allows you to own can change at any given time.

There's also a great paragraph on the situation most Americans find themselves in, which in my opinion has helped fuel the protests and riots:

More broadly, whether any dollar of income goes to one person or another depends almost entirely on how the state has constructed and shaped the economy, through its laws on property, corporations, labor, taxes, welfare, finance, and so forth. Today, the vast majority of Americans get their daily bread through a production system which is rigged against them in a hundred obvious ways. Wages have been stagnant for decades thanks to anti-union laws, declining taxes on the rich (indeed, the ultra-wealthy now pay a lower rate of tax than the poor), slanted trade deals, and other mechanisms by which the rich funnel money to the top. We pay a great deal of tax but receive little for it in the way of social services. Welfare benefits are meager, with the explicit intention of starving people into accepting low wages and making profits for the rich.

America's extreme inequality is, in other words, a priori evidence of a vast and implacable tyranny — a nation of the one percent, by the one percent, for the one percent.
 

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One of the thing with masks is that very early on in the US authorities told us that masks didn't help, and to reserve the PPE for medical workers doing their job.

Now we are told to wear masks. Understandable that many are confused by the mixed messaging.
 

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That was like 5 months ago when there was debate on the efficacy of masks and also a preservation attempt for medical workers and first responders. Now the mask debate doesn't appear to be a matter of confusion or availability; what is happening now is something else entirely and political.

I don't agree that the mixed message should be accepted for those reasons...now. Right now the US continues to lack of clear, continuous message from US authorities to continue wearing masks, wash hands, socially distance, etc. That mixed message could have been resolved months ago if the covid task force actually wanted to clarify. The time used for the covid task force could easily get Pence, Fauci, and Birx up on the platform for 30 minutes, twice a week repeating this message for as long as it takes to continue clarifying. Keep the platform small with just 2-3 people like the ones I mentioned and leave Trump to other matters. Update the people where things stand with resources, hotspots, problems being worked on, etc. Just stick to the basics and facts as we know them. None of us should need to rely on some media outlet interviewing Fauci to get these updates when US citizens are paying to have him (and others) hired and part of a task force to give us this information. I don't think any of what I'm suggesting is difficult or unobtainable and it would go a long way to reenforce the message of safety. If they wanted that.
 

jtr1962

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One of the thing with masks is that very early on in the US authorities told us that masks didn't help, and to reserve the PPE for medical workers doing their job.

Now we are told to wear masks. Understandable that many are confused by the mixed messaging.
I agree but given the PPE shortage I don't see how they could have handled it any differently. Also, we knew about the virus in December. We should have used that time to build up a supply of masks to avoid the exact situation we found ourselves in.

Another factor here is we're learning about this as we go on. That means some of the initial advice by experts is going to be wrong. The American public expects "experts" to be right all the time. If they're wrong even once then many think nothing they say is of value. I chalk this up to the poor state of science education in this country. For example, look at this scathing assessment of Fauci.
 

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Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely pro mask. But it seems like the CDC and WHO have both been very hesitant to talk about aerosol
transmission, to presumably avoid panic. Now whether that's due to political reasons I don't know.
 

jtr1962

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Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely pro mask. But it seems like the CDC and WHO have both been very hesitant to talk about aerosol
transmission, to presumably avoid panic. Now whether that's due to political reasons I don't know.
I think it's more a case of being cautious so they don't have to back track later if they give out incorrect info. As we've seen, there's only so many times experts can be wrong before they lose credibility with much of the general public. As an engineer and scientist myself, I'm a lot more tolerant of experts making mistakes when dealing with something new. In fact, that's how science works. You formulate a hypothesis to fit the facts. Sometimes as you learn more your original hypothesis turns out to be dead wrong. Everyone here is learning as they go along.
 

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I don't see many negatives with any of the administration, be it the WHO, CDC, whitehouse reenforcing even some of the basics like socially distancing, cleaning hands, avoiding large groups, etc. Even if there is speculation on the masks there is at least scientific data to suggests the masks do help with reducing transmission from the person wearing them even if it isn't 100% effective in stopping covid. Wearing one shouldn't be a detriment to people as long as it comes with the guidance to also socially distance and basic sanitary measures.
 

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I agree but given the PPE shortage I don't see how they could have handled it any differently. Also, we knew about the virus in December. We should have used that time to build up a supply of masks to avoid the exact situation we found ourselves in.
During the early stages of COVID-19 China IMPORTED over 2 billion masks, PPE and medical equipment from the U.S. and all over the world. Kind of hard to build up a supply of equipment if China bought a huge portion of it. Before they told the world the real story or before the WHO (heavily controlled by China) said we should prepare for a pandemic.

What equipment China didn't need was then sold back with huge markups. Didn't sell much to the U.S. due to trade war, and sold various amounts, with varying prices to the EU based on how favorable said country was to China.

This info-graphic is interesting:
NY covid deaths.jpg

The drop from 16,000 to 4,000 NON-COVID deaths is a medical miracle. Praise Jebus!

Did sick and dying people refuse to go to hospital out of fear of COVID and ended up dying of COVID at home instead? Did these people die of COVID before they would have normally died from non-pandemic diseases? Did COVID simply speed up their conventionally caused death? Did they die from cancer, heart disease, stroke, etc, but COVID positive at time of death so labeled a COVID death?

So during that time frame 16,000 didn't die simply from COVID. COVID led to 6,000 additional deaths. Tripling the apparent COVID death rate. POLITICS and PROFIT have been placed far ahead of public health, science, common sense, ethics, morality, honesty, etc., etc.
 

jtr1962

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The drop from 16,000 to 4,000 NON-COVID deaths is a medical miracle. Praise Jebus!

Did sick and dying people refuse to go to hospital out of fear of COVID and ended up dying of COVID at home instead? Did these people die of COVID before they would have normally died from non-pandemic diseases? Did COVID simply speed up their conventionally caused death? Did they die from cancer, heart disease, stroke, etc, but COVID positive at time of death so labeled a COVID death?

So during that time frame 16,000 didn't die simply from COVID. COVID led to 6,000 additional deaths. Tripling the apparent COVID death rate. POLITICS and PROFIT have been placed far ahead of public health, science, common sense, ethics, morality, honesty, etc., etc.
It's entirely plausible many of those 12,000 who didn't die from that list of ailments did in fact contract covid, which in turn killed them. Remember this diseases LOVES preexisting conditions. Also, many of those with those conditions would be in nursing homes, and hence more likely to contract covid.

Another possibility (and hear me out on this) is that people who would have died from those conditions didn't die because they didn't go to a hospital out of fear of covid. Why didn't they die? Because they avoided hospitals and doctors who make mistakes which kill thousands each year. In fact, medical errors are the single biggest cause of death in the US.

I also don't doubt a lot of the flu deaths at least were attributed to covid instead, even if no test was actually done.

With people in lock down, doubtless the number of accidental deaths decreased dramatically.

Finally, how many people died at home not of covid, but from lots of other conditions, but never had a cause of death determined simply because doctors were too busy treating covid patients? The death certificate might just say "natural causes". I wonder if there was a huge increase in that during the same time period. That might account for the mysterious decrease.

A better gauge of the true number of covid deaths is to examine the number of excess deaths above and beyond what you would normally expect:


By this metric there were 5,000 excess deaths in NYC where covid-19 wasn't listed as the cause of death. A similar study for the entire US show the same thing. If anything the official figures are probably lower than the actual total, not higher.
 
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time

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The drop from 16,000 to 4,000 NON-COVID deaths is a medical miracle. Praise Jebus!
I understand your skepticism, but there's a few problems with your graph.
I used the CDC page you linked and came up with a 2020 total deaths for that period of about 25,000. So that bar is wrong.
For deaths that have been attributed on the basis of the details on death certificates, I suggest you try:


If you export to Excel etc, you can see that the CDC is actually highly conservative with their numbers, and as Jtr points out, they are highly likely to be an underestimate - this is normal in an epidemic. On this basis, they only attribute 7,000 deaths solely to COVID-19 for that period. So compared to 2019, they are actually missing 2,000 for starters ...

Flu cases are way, way down - by a factor of more than 10 down here in Oz. This is entirely expected, because social distancing / lock downs / job losses have crushed the normal vectors for that virus. Remember, coronaviruses in general and COVID-19 in particular are way more contagious than influenza (and far more lethal, only with a different age distribution). Imagine how much it would have spread if we had done nothing! Actually, left uninhibited, it would have infected almost everyone in the US some time ago, and no doubt killed 10-20 million people.

The overall drop in mortality from other causes has been observed around the world. It's easier to see in a place like Australia where we have hardly any COVID-19 deaths. Raises all sorts of questions about how damaging modern lifestyle and work environments actually are.
 

jtr1962

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Went back to working in the office three weeks ago, after working from home since March... Now back to work from home for the next 7-8 weeks... (Damn you second wave).
By the standards in the US, Australia barely has the virus, and yet they'll go back to drastic measures at the slightest sign of an increase. We have more people dying in 6 hours than you've had since it started. Meanwhile here in the states they were opening bars, tattoo parlors, places of worship (three things that could frankly stayed closed forever without much effect) while the rate of positive tests were well above 10%. I dread to think what our final death toll is ultimately going to look like but our deaths per 100,000 are already approaching those of the worst hit European countries and we're far from done.
 

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The cure might just be worse then the disease.

X number of people die from COVID-19. 10 times X (or up to 100x) die from famine caused by the massive collapse of the world's major economies. This collapse caused by the business, industrial and agricultural shutdowns and the restrictions in their related distribution channels. We should just rip the band-aid off and re-open the economy. Minor restrictions/tweaks can be implemented based on local or regional situations. The longer the pandemic continues and begins to effect the next local food growing season the worse the famines around the world will be. More deaths up front but a lot less further down the road.

The complete plan for how we do this is a mystery to me, but the "lingering pseudo-land of half lock-downs, half fully-open needs to end."

"Famines related to the COVID-19 pandemic"

"Why most Covid-19 deaths won’t be from the virus"

"Hunger killing over 10,000 children a month owing to Covid-19"

"Covid-19 pandemic could push 130 mn more people into chronic hunger"

"Hunger to kill 128k more children over Covid-19 pandemic’s first year"

"UN warns of 'biblical' famine due to Covid-19 pandemic"
 

jtr1962

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The cure might just be worse then the disease.

X number of people die from COVID-19. 10 times X (or up to 100x) die from famine caused by the massive collapse of the world's major economies. This collapse caused by the business, industrial and agricultural shutdowns and the restrictions in their related distribution channels. We should just rip the band-aid off and re-open the economy. Minor restrictions/tweaks can be implemented based on local or regional situations. The longer the pandemic continues and begins to effect the next local food growing season the worse the famines around the world will be. More deaths up front but a lot less further down the road.

The complete plan for how we do this is a mystery to me, but the "lingering pseudo-land of half lock-downs, half fully-open needs to end."

"Famines related to the COVID-19 pandemic"

"Why most Covid-19 deaths won’t be from the virus"

"Hunger killing over 10,000 children a month owing to Covid-19"

"Covid-19 pandemic could push 130 mn more people into chronic hunger"

"Hunger to kill 128k more children over Covid-19 pandemic’s first year"

"UN warns of 'biblical' famine due to Covid-19 pandemic"
Trying to get to herd immunity really isn't possible. For starters, the best estimates would be 10 to 20 million deaths in the US over a relatively short time frame. That many deaths, plus several times that number too sick to work, will basically collapse society. Our supply lines will come to a halt, the garbage won't be picked up, electrical power will go out in large swaths of the country, millions more will die from famine and disease. I'd say it's a fair bet that if we did nothing in the beginning, within a year or so one in five Americans would die from either covid-19 or the fallout from it. This is way different from the 1918 pandemic in that we're a lot more interdependent. Back then a lot of people either grew their own food, or sourced it locally. There was no danger of mass starvation when lots of people died or got sick. We were also far less dependent upon electrical power. Lots of places didn't even have it back then.

Other countries with larger percentages of young people might fare better. Fewer will die, fewer will become too sick to work. But getting to herd immunity might still cost several percent of the population in a relatively short time frame.

I know 20-20 hindsight is everything, but the best solution would have been containment. Had China been more honest with us, and had we followed the lead of places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan which had already been through the SARS outbreak, the virus might have been contained mostly to China. Australia and New Zealand also did a great job handling the outbreak. There was no reason for the US to ever get to the point it did had we acted early enough. Given the resistance of Americans to rules and science, it was pretty obvious that if we had community spread containing it would become near impossible. That's exactly what happened, unfortunately.

Another reason we can't just rip the band-aid off, as you say, is human nature. The government could say all it wants about keeping the economy open. If people see the disease is spreading, many just won't go out and patronize businesses out of fear for their lives. Indeed, I didn't go to the store for over three months after this started. I only started going again in early July when the numbers dropped to something I considered safe. The general public thankfully seems to have a pretty low tolerance for deaths. Even in midwest states where this was initially treated like a hoax, and reopening caused massive outbreaks, we're seeing people starting to take it seriously, with the numbers now heading in the right direction.

Ultimately, either way there's going to be collateral damage from this because we failed to contain it. The only real long-term solution is a vaccine. Normally I don't think we should cut corners but this is an emergency. It might make sense to start vaccinating people right now with the candidates which did best in the tests on a purely voluntary basis. The elderly are most vulnerable to this, so that might be a good place to start. Even if the vaccine has some long-term side effects like cancer due to improper vetting, most vaccinated elderly would be dead from something else long before they got cancer.

A lot of the hunger problems you mentioned were starting before the covid outbreak. That made them a lot worse, unfortunately. I think the US still has a surplus of food. We should try to set up food drops in the places where famine is imminent.
 
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