Why I’m Self-Isolating

I wrote this on March 19. I’m shocked and alarmed at how the statistics have exploded since then. If you read nothing else about the Covid-19 virus today, at least read these two articles to their conclusions:

https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/the-story-of-a-coronavirus-infection.html?utm_source=fb

Otherwise, you may find the following information not just helpful, but also (literally) life-saving:

You all know that I write, so you also know that I read — a lot. I’ve been a bit obsessed about our current health crisis because I need to know what’s going on in the communities where my beloveds live. I’m also trying to track how the rest of the world is managing its pandemic so that I can plot a potential trajectory for the US. Mostly, I want to know what the disease looks like, why it’s so different from the flu, and why it poses such an immense threat to everyone on the planet, regardless of their location.

So the two sources above give you two perspectives of this disease. One is the imagined story (based on what is known about Covid-19 so far) about a person who contracts the disease. The benign manner by which she obtains the infection is a HUGE lesson to me about how to behave in public (assuming I choose to go out — which I’m not, except in very limited circumstance.)

The other is an analysis of what’s happened in the world so far and how the disease has been handled in China (pretty good), Italy (not so good), and Iran (terribly). The charts are fascinating and terrifying. They demonstrate clearly why any community that is not severely limiting social interactions already will have its health care system overwhelmed within weeks. The problem with not restricting movement is that it allows the spread of the disease and there are not enough medical supplies available to reach every victim. Doctors in other countries are having to determine who gets access to life-saving equipment and who doesn’t. Those who don’t will most likely die. And no, the US doesn’t have enough either, and no, it can’t manufacture the volume needed within the month or so FROM NOW when the disease is estimated to reach its peak.

I’m also looking to see which abatement strategies have been successful.

China:

Did great by locking down the 11 million people in Wuhan and its province. They also prohibited travel and contained the virus to the smallest community possible. They are now reporting no new, community-based cases (not the same as travel-related cases), which is a huge success and a sign of hope for us.

Italy:

It was slow to recognize the threat, and infected-but-asymptomatic people were carrying the virus far and wide. When it woke up to the disaster, it initially quarantined 16 million in the north in early March, then realized their problem was more significant than they realized, so now the WHOLE COUNTRY is in lockdown. Between March 13 and March 18, the number of confirmed infections rose from ~15,000 to 31,506 — IN FIVE DAYS. its total death count is over 2500. (It’s over 35,000 today.)

Iran — worst-case scenario

As of today, the disease is killing one person EVERY TEN MINUTES. Every HOUR 50 people more people are infected. The disaster is unfolding the way it is because Iran’s leaders (many of whom have been killed by or are suffering from the disease) lied to their public about its presence and threat. There are a reported 16,000 confirmed cases, but the number of actual cases is probably in the tens of thousands. Two days ago, the Iranian media predicted a possible FOUR MILLION deaths if people don’t (finally) heed warnings and stay away from each other.

In the US:

Mayo Clinic suggests the worst-case scenario (like Iran’s) could mean 40 to 70% of the country could become infected (between 132 and 231 million people), partly because it MUTATES ABOUT EVERY OTHER WEEK. They don’t know if the mutations make it less or more deadly. An effective vaccine won’t be reasonably available for at least a year.

The challenges in the US are many. Reports that it is a hoax prevented the real message of the disease from getting out in a timely way; millions were duped into believing that there was no concern even while the virus was spreading through their communities. Many still do not understand or believe that the threat is real, so they continue to expose themselves to risks and to pose infection risks to others. At least five college students who were partying in Florida for Spring Break last week have tested positive for the disease.

Lack of planning time means most communities don’t have the medical services available to treat infections, so they will be overwhelmed very quickly. Confirmed cases coming after the overwhelm has set in won’t get the treatment they need (if they get any at all), which will lead to deaths that could have bee prevented if people had just stayed home.

Not enough people are looking to the CDC or the WHO for information. The White House is not a trustworthy source. If that’s where you get your info, at least PLEASE seek out a health-based source as well, such as the CDC or WHO.

PLEASE understand that this is NOT a political concern. The reality is that you can pick up the virus anywhere from anything or anyone, and you won’t know you have it for at least a few days. That gives you time to infect everyone you come in contact with over that space of time. You may recover, but they may not. And the people they infect may succumb while they, themselves, recover. You just don’t know. So err on the side of ultra-caution — stay home.

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