Observations on the Great Hunkering (6)

I am sure everyone heard the startling unemployment claim numbers yesterday (over 3 million in one week), but the magnitude of it is even more dramatic when presented in a time-series graph going back over 50 years:

I’m still wondering whether a very nasty bug I had back in late November/early December, with unusual, persistent symptoms that sound like COVID-19, could have in fact been COVID-19. It did come upon me a couple weeks after I had returned from Europe, where I had been both on a cruise ship and around a lot of Chinese tourists in Italy. Probably can’t know for sure until I get tested for antibodies, which will have to wait, but this Huff Post story raises the possibility:

There’s evidence the coronavirus started spreading in America earlier than people were really tracking it. Some experts suspect that the first U.S. cases began in January. Lee Riley, chair of the division of infectious disease and vaccinology at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, told Medium that it’s safe to assume the virus has probably been spreading in your community for about two weeks before there’s a confirmed death.

Combine all of these facts, and the theory that some people may have already been infected with the virus and recovered isn’t an outrageous one. That may be slightly comforting, especially since some experts believe you may have some level of immunity once you get COVID-19.

If this turns out to be roughly correct, it would mean the mortality rate of COVID-19 is likely more on the low end of the estimates.

A juxtaposition to ponder:

“Wolves have been seen in downtown Cleveland, like Rome during the black plague.”

—Walker Percy, Love in the Ruins

“Coyotes are being seen on the empty streets of San Francisco.”

San Francisco Chronicle, March 26, 2020

I’ll want to do a long separate article later when I have more time, but as a placeholder for the moment let us revel in the fact that all of the virtue-signaling nostrums of the left are going by the wayside now that something serious is underway. Reusable grocery bags and and personal coffee mugs have been banned, and plastic bags are making a comeback. Even the New York Times admits that high-density urban form and mass transit, which environmentalists have been trying to cram down our throats for the last 25 years, are detrimental to controlling a pandemic:

. . . “Density is really an enemy in a situation like this,” said Dr. Steven Goodman, an epidemiologist at Stanford University. “With large population centers, where people are interacting with more people all the time, that’s where it’s going to spread the fastest.”

The challenge facing New York and other tightly cramped cities around the United States can be seen by comparing the country’s largest city to its second biggest, Los Angeles.

As of Monday, there were more than 13,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York and about 500 in Los Angeles. New York reported 125 deaths; Los Angeles reported seven.

The population of Los Angeles is about half of New York’s, and it has conducted significantly fewer tests for the coronavirus. But researchers said one of the biggest reasons for the difference may be that in general, California residents live further apart from each other.

“Out here, we’re spread out,” said Dr. Lee Riley, professor of infectious diseases at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health. “People use cars, the public transportation system is terrible. Whereas in New York City, you have the subways, the buses, Times Square, people living in your small apartment buildings.”

And don’t even get me started on the indispensable role of all those assistant deans of diversity and inclusion that have sprung up like topsy on every campus. How can we possibly overcome this health crisis without them? (I’ll come back to this later, too. The financial hit colleges and universities are going to take from this is likely to be substantial, with many colleges perhaps going out of business as soon as next fall or the year after. And perhaps the necessary belt-tightening to stay alive will see some of these asshat administrators given their much-deserved pink slips.)

For comic relief, always good to have J.P. Sears on the job, explaining why we shall all panic more:

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