It is easy to overdo COVID-19 quarantines

We have learned historically that if we can isolate sick people, we can often keep a communicable disease from spreading. Unfortunately, the situation with the new coronavirus causing COVID-19 is different: We can’t reliability determine which people are spreading the disease. Furthermore, the disease seems to transmit in many different ways simultaneously.

Politicians and health organizations like to show that they are “doing something.” Because of the strange nature of COVID-19, however, doing something is mostly a time-shifting exercise: With quarantines and other containment efforts, there will be fewer cases now, but this will be mostly or entirely offset by more cases later. Whether time-shifting reduces deaths and eases hospital care depends upon whether medical advances are sufficiently great during the time gained to improve outcomes.

We tend to lose sight of the fact that an economy cannot simply be shut down for a period and then start up again at close to its former level of production. China seems to have seriously overdone its use of quarantines. It seems likely that its economy can never fully recover. The permanent loss of a significant part of China’s productive output seems likely to send the world economy into a tailspin, regardless of what other economies do.

Before undertaking containment efforts of any kind, decision-makers need to look carefully at several issues:

  • Laying off workers, even for a short time, severely adversely affects the economy.
  • The expected length of delay in cases made possible by quarantines is likely to be very short, sometimes lasting not much longer than the quarantines themselves.
  • We seem to need a very rapid improvement in our ability to treat COVID-19 cases for containment efforts to make sense, if we cannot stamp out the disease completely.

Because of these issues, it is very easy to overdo quarantines and other containment efforts.

In the sections below, I explain some parts of this problem.

[1] The aim of coronavirus quarantines is mostly to slow down the spread of the virus, not to stop its spread.

As a practical matter, it is virtually impossible to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

In order to completely stop its spread, we would need to separate each person from every other person, as well as from possible animal carriers, for something like a month. In this way, people who are carriers for the disease or actually have the disease would hopefully have time to get over their illnesses. Perhaps airborne viruses would dissipate and viruses on solid surfaces would have time to deteriorate.

This clearly could not work. People would need to be separated from their children and pets. All businesses, including food sales, would have to stop. Electricity would likely stop, especially in areas where storms bring down power lines. No fuel would be available for vehicles of any kind. If a home catches fire, the fire would need to burn until a lack of material to burn stops it. If a baby needs to be delivered, there would be no midwife or hospital services available. If a person happened to have an appendicitis, it would simply need to resolve itself at home, however that worked out.

Bigger groups could in theory be quarantined together, but then the length of time for the quarantine would need to be greatly lengthened, to account for the possibility that one person might catch the disease from someone else in the group. The bigger the group, the longer the chain might continue. A group might be a single family sharing a home; it could also be a group of people in an apartment building that shares a common ventilation system.

[2] An economy is in many ways like a human being or other animal. Its operation cannot be stopped for a month or more, without bringing the economy to an end. 

I sometimes write about the economy being a self-organizing networked system that is powered by energy. In physics terms, the name for such a system is a dissipative structure. Human beings are dissipative structures, as are hurricanes and stars, such as the sun.

Human beings cannot stop eating and breathing for a month. They cannot have sleep apnea for an hour at a time, and function afterward.

Economies cannot stop functioning for a month and afterward resume operations at their previous level. Too many people will have lost their jobs; too many businesses will have failed in the meantime. If the closures continue for two or three months, the problem becomes very serious. We are probably kidding ourselves if we think that China can come back to the same level that it was at before the new coronavirus hit.

In a way, keeping an economy operating is as important as preventing deaths from COVID-19. Without food, water and wage-producing jobs (which allow people to buy necessary goods and services), the deaths from the loss of the economy would be far greater than the direct deaths from the coronavirus.

[3] A reasonable guess is that nearly all of us will face multiple exposures to the new coronavirus. 

Many people are hoping that this wave of the coronavirus will be stopped by warmer weather, perhaps in May or June. We don’t know whether this will happen or not. If the coronavirus does stop, there is a good chance the same virus, or a close variation of it, will be back again this fall. It is likely to come back in waves later, for at least one more year. In fact, if no vaccine is found, it is possible that it could come back, in various variations, indefinitely. There are many things we simply don’t know with certainty at this time.

Epidemiologists talk about the spread of a virus being stopped at the community immunity level. Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch originally estimated that 40% to 70% of the world’s population would come down with COVID-19 within the first year. He has revised this and now states that it is plausible that 20% to 60% of the world’s population will catch the disease in that timeframe. He also indicates that if the virus cannot be contained, the only way to get it under control is for 50% of the world’s population to become immune to it.

The big issue with containing the coronavirus is that we cannot really tell who has it and who does not. The tests available for COVID-19 are expensive, so giving the test to everyone, frequently, makes no sense. The tests tend to give a many false negatives, so even when they are given, they don’t necessarily detect people with the disease. There are also many people who seem to spread the disease without symptoms. Without testing everyone, these people will never be found.

We hear limited statements such as “The United States surgeon general said Sunday that he thinks the coronavirus outbreak is being contained in certain areas of the country as cases of the virus rise across the United States.” Unfortunately, containment of the virus in a few parts of the world does not solve the general problem. There are lots and lots of uncontained cases around the world. These uncontained cases will continue to spread, regardless of the steps taken elsewhere.

Furthermore, even when we think the virus is contained, there are likely to be missed cases, especially among people who seem to be well, but who really are carriers. Getting rid of the virus is likely to be a major challenge.

[4] There is an advantage to delaying citizens from catching COVID-19. The delay allows doctors to learn which existing medications can be used to help treat the symptoms of the disease.

There seem to be multiple drugs and multiple therapies that work to some limited extent.

For example, plasma containing antibodies from a person who has already had the illness can be injected into a person with the disease, helping to fight the disease. It is not clear, however, whether such a treatment will protect against future attacks of the virus since the patient is being cured without his own immune system producing adequate antibodies.

Some HIV drugs are being examined to see whether they work well enough for it to make sense to ramp up production of them. The antiviral drug remdesivir by Gilead Sciences also seems to have promise. For these drugs to be useful in fighting COVID-19, production would need to be ramped up greatly.

In theory, there is also a possibility that a vaccine can be brought to market that will get rid of the virus. Our past experience with vaccine-making has not been very good, however. Out of 200+ virus-caused diseases that affect humans, only about 20 have vaccines. These vaccines generally need to be updated frequently, because viruses tend to mutate over time.

With some viruses, such as Dengue Fever, people don’t ever build up adequate immunity to the many disease variations that exist. Instead a person who catches Dengue Fever a second time is likely to be sicker than the first time. Finding a vaccine for such diseases seems to be almost impossible.

Even if we can actually succeed in making a vaccine that works, the expectation seems to be that this will take at least 12 to 18 months. By this time, the world may have experienced multiple waves of COVID-19.

[5] There are multiple questions regarding how well European countries, Japan and the United States will really be able to treat coronavirus.

There are several issues involved:

(a) Even if medicines are identified, can they be ramped up adequately in the short time available?

(b) China’s exports have dropped significantly. Required medical goods that we normally import from China may not be available. The missing items could be as simple as rubbing alcohol, masks and other protective wear. The missing items could also be antibiotics, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications that are needed for both COVID-19 patients and other patients.

(c) Based on my calculations, the number of hospital beds and ICU beds needed will likely exceed those available (without kicking out other patients) by at least a factor of 10, if the size of the epidemic grows. There will also be a need for more medical staff. Medical staff may be fewer, rather than more, because many of them will be out sick with the virus. Because of these issues, the amount of hospital-based care that can actually be provided to COVID-19 patients is likely to be fairly limited.

(d) One reason for time-shifting of illnesses has been to try to better match illnesses with medical care available. The main benefit I can see is the fact that many health care workers will have contracted the illness in the first wave of the disease, so will be more available to give care in later waves of the disease. Apart from this difference, the system will be badly overwhelmed, regardless of when COVID-19 cases occur.

[6] A major issue, both with COVID-19 illnesses and with quarantines arising out of fear of illness, is wage loss

If schools and day care centers are closed because of COVID-19 fears, many of the parents will have to take off time from work to care for the children. These parent will likely lose wages.

Wage loss will also be a problem if quarantines are required for people returning from an area that might be affected. For example, immigrant workers in China wanting to return to work in major cities after the New Year’s holiday have been quarantined for 14 days after they return.

Clearly, expenses (such as rent, food and auto payments) will continue, both for the mother of the child who is at home because a child’s school is closed and for the migrant worker who wants to return to a job in the city. Their lack of wages will mean that these people will make fewer discretionary purchases, such as visiting restaurants and making trips to visit relatives. In fact, migrant workers, when faced with a 14 day quarantine, may decide to stay in the countryside. If they don’t earn very much in the best of times, and they are required to go 14 days without pay after they return, there may not be much incentive to return to work.

If I am correct that the illness COVID-19 will strike in several waves, these same people participating in quarantines will have another “opportunity” for wage loss when they actually contract the disease, during one of these later rounds. Unless there is a real reduction in the number of people who ultimately get COVID-19 because of quarantines, a person would expect that the total wage loss would be greater with quarantines than without, because the wage loss occurs twice instead of once.

Furthermore, businesses will suffer financially when their workers are out. With fewer working employees, businesses will likely be able to produce fewer finished goods and services than in the past. At the same time, their fixed expenses (such as mortgage payments, insurance payments, and the cost of heating buildings) will continue. This mismatch is likely to lead to lower profits at two different times: (a) when workers are out because of quarantines and (b) when they are out because they are ill.

[7] We likely can expect a great deal more COVID-19 around the world, including in China and in Italy, in the next two years.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases to date is tiny, compared to the number that is expected based on estimates by epidemiologists. China reports about 81,000 COVID-19 cases to date, while its population is roughly 1.4 billion. If epidemiologists tell us to expect 20% to 60% of a country’s population to be affected by the end of the first year of the epidemic, this would correspond to a range of 280 million to 840 million cases. The difference between reported cases and expected cases is huge. Reported cases to date are less than 0.01% of the population.

We know that China’s reported number of cases is an optimistically low number, but we don’t know how low. Many, many more cases are expected in the year ahead if workers go back to work. In fact, there have been recent reports of a COVID-19 outbreak in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, near Hong Kong. Such an outbreak would adversely affect China’s manufactured exports.

Italy has a similar situation. It is currently reported to have somewhat more than 10,000 cases. Its total population is about 60 million. Thus, its number of cases amounts to about 0.02% of the population. If Epidemiologist Lipsitch is correct regarding the percentage of the population that is ultimately likely to be affected, the number of cases in Italy, too, can be expected to be much higher within the next year. Twenty percent of a population of 60 million would amount to 12 million cases; 60% of the population would amount to 36 million cases.

[8] When decisions about quarantines are made, the expected wage loss when workers lose their jobs needs to be considered as well. 

Let’s calculate the amount of wage loss from actually having COVID-19. If workers generally work for 50 weeks a year and are out sick for an average of 2 weeks because of COVID-19, the average worker would lose 4% (=2/50) of his annual wages. If workers are out sick for an average of three weeks, this would increase the loss to 6% (3/50) of the worker’s annual wages.

Of course, not all workers will be affected by the new coronavirus. If we are expecting 20% to 60% of the workers to be out sick during the first year that the epidemic cycles through the economy, the expected overall wage loss for the population as a whole would amount to 0.8% (=20% times 4%) to 3.6% (=60% times 6%) of total wages.

Let’s now calculate the wage loss from a quarantine. A week of wage loss during a quarantine of the entire population, while nearly everyone is well, would lead to a wage loss equal to 2% of the population’s total wages. Two weeks of wage loss during quarantine would lead to wage loss equal to 4% of the population’s total wages.

Is it possible to reduce overall wage loss and deaths by using quarantines? This approach works for diseases which can actually be stopped through isolating sick members, but I don’t think it works well at all for COVID-19. Mostly, it provides a time-shifting feature. There are fewer illnesses earlier, but to a very significant extent, this is offset by more illnesses later.  This time-shifting feature might be helpful if there really is a substantial improvement in prevention or treatment that is quickly available. For example, if a vaccine that really works can be found quickly, such a vaccine might help prevent some of the illnesses and deaths in 2021 and following years.

If there really isn’t an improvement in preventing the disease, then we get back to the situation where the virus needs to be stopped based on community immunity. According to Lipsitch, to stop the virus based on community immunity, at least 50% of the population would need to become immune. This implies that somewhat more than 50% of the population would need to catch the new coronavirus, because some people would catch the new virus and die, either of COVID-19 or of another disease.

Let’s suppose that 55% would need to catch COVID-19 to allow the population immunity to rise to 50%. The virus would likely need to keep cycling around until at least this percentage of the population has caught the disease. This is not much of a decrease from the upper limit of 60% during the first year. This suggests that moving illnesses to a later year may not help much at all with respect to the expected number of illnesses and deaths. Hospitals will be practically equally overwhelmed regardless, unless we can somehow change the typical seasonality of viruses and move some of the winter illnesses to summertime.

If there is no improvement in COVID-19 prevention/treatment during the time-shift of cases created by the quarantine, any quarantine wage loss can be thought of as being simply in addition to wage loss from having the virus itself. Thus, a country that opts for a two week quarantine of all workers (costing 4% of workers’ wages) may be more than doubling the direct wage loss from COVID-19 (equivalent to 0.8% to 3.6% of workers’ wages).

[9] China’s shutdown in response to COVID-19 doesn’t seem to make much rational sense.

It is hard to understand exactly how much China has shut down, but the shutdown has gone on for about six weeks. At this point, it is not clear that China can ever come back to the level it was at previously. Clearly, the combination of wage loss for individuals and profit loss for companies is very high. The long shutdown is likely to lead to widespread debt defaults. With less wages, there is likely to be less demand for goods such as cars and cell phones during 2020.

China was having difficulty before the new coronavirus was discovered to be a problem. Its energy production has slowed greatly, starting about 2012-2013, making it necessary for China to start shifting from a goods-producing nation to a country that is more of a services-producer (Figure 1).

Figure 1. China energy production by fuel, based on 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy data. “Other Ren” stands for “Renewables other than hydroelectric.” This category includes wind, solar, and other miscellaneous types, such as sawdust burned for electricity.


For example, China’s workers now put together iPhones using parts made in other countries, rather than making iPhones from start to finish. This part of the production chain requires relatively little fuel, so it is in some sense more like a service than the manufacturing of parts for the phone.

The rest of the world has been depending upon China to be a major supplier within its supply lines. Perhaps many of these supply lines will be broken indefinitely. Instead of China helping pull the world economy along faster, we may be faced with a situation in which China’s reduced output leads to worldwide economic contraction rather than economic growth.

Without medicines from China, our ability to fight COVID-19 may get worse over time, rather than better. In such a case, it would be better to get the illness now, rather than later.

[10] We need to be examining proposed solutions closely, in the light of the particulars of the new coronavirus, rather than simply assuming that fighting COVID-19 to the death is appropriate.

The instructions we hear today seem to suggest using disinfectants everywhere, to try to prevent COVID-19. This is yet another way to try to push off infections caused by the coronavirus into the future. We know, however, that there are good microbes as well as bad ones. The ecosystem requires a balance of microbes. Dumping disinfectants everywhere has its downside, as well as the possibility of an upside of killing the current round of coronaviruses. In fact, to the extent that the virus is airborne, the disinfectants may not really be very helpful in wiping out COVID-19.

It is very easy to believe that if some diseases can be subdued by quarantines, the same approach will work everywhere. This really isn’t true. We need to be examining the current situation closely, based on whatever information is available, before decisions are made regarding how to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. Perhaps any quarantines used need to be small and targeted.

We also need to be looking for new approaches for fighting COVID-19. One approach that is not being used significantly to date is trying to strengthen people’s own immune systems. Such an approach might help people’s own immune system to fight off the disease, thereby lowering death rates. Nutrition experts recommend supplementing diets with Vitamins A, C, E, antioxidants and selenium. Other experts say zinc, Vitamin D and elderberry may be helpful. Staying away from cold temperatures also seems to be important. Drinking plenty of water after coming down with the disease may be beneficial as well. If we can help people’s own bodies fight the disease, the burden on the medical system will be lower.


About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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4,403 Responses to It is easy to overdo COVID-19 quarantines

  1. Yorchichan says:

    I have it on good authority (i.e. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble) that in the covid-19 ward of York hospital there are already six patients on ventilators, including a cardiologist who works in the hospital. I don’t know how many spare ventilators there are, but within a few days decisions will have to be made on who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t. The impersonal criteria have already been drawn up by a panel, to remove the dreadful responsibility from doctors.

    Bad news for any London residents: in the whole of London they are already down to only one free ventilator.

  2. Fast Eddy says:

    Ironically (and tragically) one person I know who suggested the virus was ‘hype’ (an MSM ploy to make money) is now currently trapped in a third world country and infected with the virus.

    Funny it does not occur to people who believe this is an MSM fabrication to sell ads that those who might buy the ad spaces… are not buying because the MSM ‘fabrication’ is bankrupting them…

    Funny those who believe the ‘fabrication’ benefits the MSM when the share prices of the MSM are tanking (see the above for the reason) …

    Funny those who believe the ‘fabrication’ do not realize that many MSM franchises are subsidiaries of conglomerates such as GE — and GE is suffering terribly due to the ‘fabrication’ (anyone buying jet engines at the moment???)

    If this is a fabrication then the MSM is committing suicide.

    • Tim Groves says:

      I suggest that in our era, the media is the magic. The MSM are magicians for hire performing a stage show designed to fool, deceive and hypnotize the punters. So while we in the audience can enjoy the emotional roller coaster produced by their shock and awe pyrotechnics, we should never, on principle, unquestioningly believe half of what we see and none of what we hear or read.

      As far as I can discern from my rather unfashionable and isolated vantage point, we’re currently witnessing a controlled demolition of the world economy—possibly into its own footprint at close to free fall speed, but I digress—but a demolition that is going to devastate the lives of billions of people. The virus is being used as both and excuse for and a distraction from that.

      Since the world economy is structurally unsound and likely to collapse at any time given a strong wind, demolishing it in a controlled fashion might be less damaging than letting nature take its course. But the people whose lives are going to be devastated are not likely to see the utilitarian logic involved. By using The Virus, it is possible to camouflage the demolition behind the facade of a partially natural disaster, thereby avoiding becoming the focus of direct blame, and also minimizing the damage done to the assets, position and status of the controllers.

      I’m not wedded to this viewpoint and will be happy to abandon it if it becomes untenable. But I think it’s a reasonable provisional stance given what we know about human social and institutional behavior.

      • 09876 says:

        Could be Tim. Could be. We wont know. People believe that money is magic. We will see soon enough.

    • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “Funny those who believe the ‘fabrication’…”

      I think the “it’s fake” crowd will have almost completely disappeared in a few weeks…

      it will take a little more time, so we just need patience…

      there’s always a fringe group but, to most persons, the evidence should be overwhelming by mid to late April…

      “April is the cruellest month…” – T.S. Eliot

      • Tim Groves says:

        I think the “it’s fake” crowd will have almost completely disappeared in a few weeks…

        This is quite possible, David, if the propaganda is kept “on the boil” for long enough.

        However, lots and lots of people might suffer and die from all sorts of horrible lung problems and the narrative that this is the work of the Novel Coronavirus could still be fake.

        How do you know any of these deaths are caused by The Virus? Can we trust the PCR tests to tell us how much of The Virus is infecting a person. Can we trust the assumption that a person dying from certain symptoms is doing so because of the action of The Virus and not from other causes?

        As others have pointed out on this thread, we are governed by people who believe, as Rahm Emmanuel put it, in never letting a good crisis go to waste.

        And we should also remember that they also embrace a philosophy summed up by Carl Rove as, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. ”

        And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the “Big Lie” technique. American psychoanalyst Walter Charles Langer wrote in his secret wartime report on AH:

        His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

        What we the people are allowed to see and what we are prevented from seeing is mediated by those who run the circus. There are lots of filters in place, lots of conditioning going on, and a great deal of what we are told and shown in the news is proven fakery. We all have our pet examples of fake news, from a nurse who told Congress she witnessed Iraqi troops killing babies who turned out to have been the Kuwait Ambassador’s daughter with coaching from Hill & Knowlton to CNN reporters pretending there’s a hurricane blowing a gail while passers by pass by seemingly unaffected by the wind, to the many crisis actors who star in all sorts of events we’ve come to know and love.

        But as Harry Field Senior. explained,
        “People want to marvel. Fake only disappoints, when found out.”

  3. Oil shows a lot of low prices:
    Mexican Basket is $16.84. Western Canadian Select (from the oil sands) is $9.09.

    • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      Saudi Arabia is quoting $25 to $26.50…

      I wonder if they really are giving their supposed “big discount” off of those prices, because right now those are about average prices…

  4. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Well, if there is Justice in the Cosmos, this may turn out to be the leading example.

    Pangolins smuggled into China have been confirmed to contain viruses closely related to the one sweeping the world.
    Sale of the animals in wildlife markets should be strictly prohibited to minimise the risk of future outbreaks, says an international team.
    Pangolins are the most-commonly illegally trafficked mammal, used both as food and in Medicine
    Further surveillance on pangolins in the wild in China and Southeast Asia is needed to understand their role in the emergence of coronaviruses and the risk of future transmission to humans,
    The ant-devouring scaly mammal, said to be the most widely trafficked mammal in the world, is threatened with extinction. The animal’s scales are in high demand in Asia for use in traditional Chinese medicine, while pangolin meat is considered a delicacy by some.

    These creatures are threatened with extinction….maybe what goes around comes around👍😘

    • I saw another article in which someone claimed that the virus in the pangolins wasn’t really close enough. There needed to be another step in between. There seem to be a lot of non-peer reviewed studies, claiming one thing or another.

      • Duncan Idaho says:

        It’s not close enough.
        There is a bat virus that has 98% similarity on 29,000 positions.

      • SomeoneInAsia says:

        And one claim being seriously considered is that the virus is by nature at least partly artificial… and deliberately released.

        (I’m not posting this for the reason that I want to ridicule those who think eating pangolins is bad, by the way. I’m 95% vegetarian — just a wee bit of fish for me sometimes.)

        It just gets sickening how elusive the truth is regarding this stupid virus. Too many vested interests around that want to keep the truth hidden — and not just regarding the virus, but regarding well nigh everything of import under the sun from resource shortage to hydrogen peroxide. Don’t you just wish the Blue Fairy really existed? Sigh…

        Hey, just for the fun of knowing. Suppose there’s a mastermind behind this stupid virus. Suppose he’s being identified at last and is now standing in front of you, all tied up and completely helpless. You can do to him whatever you want.

        What would you do to him? I would… No, I won’t say it, Gail will immediately delete my post. 😛

        • Tim Groves says:

          It just gets sickening how elusive the truth is regarding this stupid virus. Too many vested interests around that want to keep the truth hidden — and not just regarding the virus, but regarding well nigh everything of import under the sun from resource shortage to hydrogen peroxide.

          Yes! Yes! Yes! +++++++

          Oh, I used to be disgusted
          Now I try to be amused
          But since their wings have got rusted
          You know the angels wanna wear my red shoes…

        • Robert Firth says:

          First thoughts only. I would kneel before him, and say, “On behalf of all creatures great and small, of all the wise and wonderful things that now will be spared extinction, I thank you.”

      • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

        I’m of the mindset like yourself, about peer reviewed papers. Best to select one position that suits ones point of view.

    • Robert Firth says:

      And if we humans go extinct, the price of pangolin scale futures will fall through the floor. O the horror! Martian bank intervention desperately needed.

  5. Chrome Mags says:

    US +13,968 just today to 82,179 to lead all other countries as #1 in Corona virus ‘OFFICIAL’ Caseload. Disclaimer: I realize this is just based on the above linked official numbers and it is likely the number of cases in China is much higher.

    • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      China silver medal

      Italy bronze medal

      USA! USA!

      we’re number one!

      good thing Mardi Gras (February 25th) wasn’t cancelled… nor the mid March “spring break” vacations for college students… we needed that to get to the top…

      • Chrome Mags says:

        Yeah, US went for the gold and got it! We never settle for being 2nd. Now we’ll show other countries how to build on a lead. “Let’s have a block party! Hey, wait a minute, don’t go back in your houses.” Got to have a little fun with this stuff.

        • SomeoneInAsia says:

          We Chinese will never be behind anyone in anything! NEVER! We WILL be number one! Just you wait and see!

          Well, at least we’re already number one in lying and BSing… 😛

      • SomeoneInAsia says:

        Too bad the Tokyo Olympics got cancelled. Not that I’ll miss it — I always figured the Olympics is something stupid.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      Just as a side note: I went to the hardware store today and wore my mask. Last time there I got some ‘what’s this guy doing?’ looks, but this time only a few days later was completely different. Some other customer was wearing a mask and clear plexi particians had been added to the counters to reduce customers from breathing & sneezing on the cashiers. The cashier said she was expecting to get a mask in the mail in a couple days. Get that, in a hardware store there aren’t any masks. This report is from No. California.

      Also, on the way there was a flashing sign that said, ‘shelter in place’, ‘health officer’, ‘fines’. So I hurried home afterwards.

      Also, we were suppose to receive a delivery of food noon-2pm that never came. I wonder what happened.

      • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

        might be very tempting for a delivery driver to take home some free food…

        who knows…

  6. Jarle says:


    > Norway 3,346 cases, up 262 in one day…
    > only about 10% up daily… no worries…
    > 14 deaths and 6 recovered…
    > isn’t that just like the flu… only 70% die? (sarc)…
    > and 70 more cases in the serious/critical category…
    > is that fact or fiction?

    Please …

  7. Jarle says:


    > surely cases in Norway are doubling every week, as they are almost everywhere else…

    Infected != dead.

    > the real spread is always higher in cases and farther in distance than the reported numbers… and that is a fact…


  8. Jarle says:

    Fast Eddy:

    > Well… I have not been to Italy lately… but I picked up this message which was monitored out of the Death Zone…. it’s nearly 3 weeks old… it could be fake… just like your mate’s wife’s report could be fake…. who knows….

    Give me strength …

    >This could be taking place on a Hollywood set…
    > But somehow I do believe these are real…. otherwise why shut down the entire country?

    Gail, what do you say?

  9. MM says:

    In all media outlets you read that the corona bill by the senate is 2 Trillion but when you read it, you will see that it is only 1.65 Trillion and 400 Billion is “side effects from the economy itself”.
    The Cheque for the public is worth 1 month
    We will definitively not be over this in 1 month!
    Everybody mixes up economy with a financial system and a goods economy being based on money.
    Everything in this economy is based on energy or a bet on future available energy. A few more lessons to learn for the public here…

  10. MM says:

    Considering unknown unknowns there was a report today in Germany that due to reduced economic activity the return of recycling paper is going down drastically. That will be a problem for the producers of food products as they envision a shortage in packaging material.
    The movie for today is not “Contagion” but “Flatilners”

    • MM says:

      Flatliners of course in case you did not notice

    • Chloroquineinamonthorayearoradecade says:

      “That will be a problem for the producers of food products as they envision a shortage in packaging material.”

      another lesson for the public:

      there might be plenty of beans at the bean company, but if they run out of cans, then there will be no cans of beans on store shelves…

      even without just the paper labels for the cans, how could the bean company sell it’s beans?

      • DJ says:

        Dry them and sell unpacked.

        Harder for milk…

      • Kowalainen says:

        Where do we find evidence that the almost completely automated packaging industry is affected by this?

        “The increased demand and urgency to keep food companies at full tilt has thrust companies like packaging machine maker Delkor Systems onto the list of essential businesses staying open during the coronavirus pandemic.

        Orders for the company’s bus-sized packaging robots are coming in so fast from food companies such as Daisy Sour Cream, Hershey, Hormel and Great Lakes Cheese that the Arden Hills factory is adding space and more than 30 new workers to keep up with demand.”

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