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  • Covid-19 Weekend Update/Random Thoughts

    Posted by Dan from Madison on March 21st, 2020 (All posts by )

    This morning I went on a long hike up at Devil’s Lake State Park. It was chilly, but there was no wind, which made it absolutely wonderful. I took the “hard” way, meaning I went up and down the bluffs twice as I made my way around the lake. The photo above is from the west bluff. There was hardly anyone there, which was eerie and peaceful, as this is Wisconsin’s most popular state park and I have never seen it so devoid of people. You could hear the ice heaving and breaking on the shore, and I heard some interesting birds making calls that I don’t typically get to hear. The migration is in full swing. During this time I prayed, meditated and got my workout in. I am very glad I did it after a long week.

    During the drive back, I noticed that a lot of farmers were spreading. The cycle of life continues here behind the cheddar curtain.

    So, some random Covid thoughts. I have enjoyed Governor Cuomo bitching and griping for help over the past week. What a whiner. Hey Cuomo – who has run New York for the past, ever? Maybe you should look in the mirror before you start playing politics. Same goes for Lori Lightfoot. Hopeless.

    My Illinois facility will remain open during the “stay at home” order issued by Gov. Pritzker as HVAC is an “essential business”. While I typically loathe anything this man does, he did a nice job with the presser yesterday, I will admit. Contrast that with Lori Lightfoot, who bitched and whined about the lack of federal response. There is one bit of hilarity in Pritzker’s “stay at home” order (yes, I read the whole thing). Can you tell me which one of these things is different from the other?

    Section 12 (h)
    Definition of Critical Trades
    Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, exterminators, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, and Essential Businesses and Operations.

    Oh yea, he kept the pot shops open too.

    I am refreshed and pleasantly surprised by the State of Wisconsin coming forward with a united front and saying that there will be no “stay at home” order (otherwise known as government overreach). At least for now.

    I stopped at a convenience store on the way home and picked up a dozen eggs. They were $1.49 and there were plenty of them.

    Well, that’s about all I got. Hope everyone had half as good a day as I did. Let me know what you are seeing/feeling in your neck of the woods.

     

    33 Responses to “Covid-19 Weekend Update/Random Thoughts”

    1. Mike K Says:

      California has also kept the pot shops open as “essential business.”

      Nobody has yet begun the think about the respiratory complications if one of those pot heads gets COVID 19.

      I really don’t care.

    2. Mr Black Says:

      It’s seems to be the standard line of places that are in the early stages of mass infection that nothing will change and “stay at home” is off the table. 3 weeks later when the infection spread is clearly out of control, they reverse themselves but now it’s too late.

    3. Dan from Madison Says:

      Mr. Black – I would submit to you that Wisconsin is a very different place than New York or LA or Chicago.

    4. Mike K Says:

      What is “out of control” is the public hysteria.

      Someone else who agrees with me.

      Needed fast: a plan to open up the economy again in a virus-safe way. Every business should be (and likely is) working hard to figure out how to operate in a virus-safe way. Federal state and local government need to be working 24 hours a day during the next few weeks to promulgate virus-safe practices. Not because they are particularly good at it, but because they are the ones shutting things down, and their permission is needed to reopen, fully or partly. People also will want the confidence to know that businesses they patronize are compliant. You’ve got two weeks — figure out what combination of personal distancing, self-isolation, testing, cleaning, etc. will allow each kind of business to reopen, at least partially.

      I picked up take out Mexican food tonight from a favorite restaurant. I suggested to the girls at the front counter that they should be using wait staff to deliver. Give them a chance to make some money.

    5. Bill Brandt Says:

      I went to In-n-Out Burger – drive in only. Traffic density on roads is about 1/2-2/3rds down.

      Went to the store – of course aisles with TP paper was empty – what’s with that?

      On my Facebook group one member works at Edwards AFB and a man in his group was diagnosed with Covid-19.

      Nowhere does it say where he was or how he got it.

      I think there’s too much hysteria.

    6. Jonathan Says:

      Beautiful place, Devil’s Lake.

    7. Dan from Madison Says:

      Bill – I will admit that I am also enjoying the lack of traffic.

    8. Mike Doughty Says:

      Maybe we’re going about this the wrong way.

      If I’m reading the death statistics right, this is a disease that kills mostly old people…people over 70. In Italy that age group accounts for 80+% of fatalities and the rest of the population death rate is similar to the “normal” annual flu. It seems to me that rather than shut down everything and bring massive societal disruption and the world’s economies (and specifically ours)to a grinding halt, perhaps we ought to be working hard to find a strategy to protect the “old people” that isn’t at the expense of everyone else. I say this as someone 74 years old with several “underlying issues”. I hope that’s what’s being done, as a complete shutdown of everything for several months, just doesn’t seem to be a viable approach.

    9. Dan from Madison Says:

      Mike – good point – In addition, I’m starting to wonder what if we didn’t even know about the Wuhan flu. Wouldn’t we just scratch up these (relatively) few casualties to our standard influenza season? All over the world?

    10. Helian Says:

      Devil’s Lake is definitely a treasure. It’s good they keep the houses well back from its shores.

      I’m glad to hear my home state isn’t in full panic mode. I understand there have been some cases near Madison, including in the Sun Prairie High School, so it’s not just a hypothetical question. Credit where credit is due. If you think the lack of traffic is nice there, you should see the DC area. We were finally kicked out of the office on Friday, but for several days previously there had been no rush hour!

    11. Mike K Says:

      An interesting perspective on Italy’s experience.

      Palù told CNN that the Italian government failed by refusing to impose a wider and stricter lockdown earlier on, instead of the initial restrictions that focused on 11 areas Rome placed in a “red zone.”

      “We should have done more diagnostic tests in Lombardy where there was a big nucleus. There is no sense in trying to go to the supermarket once a week. You have to limit your time out, isolation is the key thing,” he said.

      Palù also believes that politics delayed the government’s reaction, which he decried as “lazy in the beginning,” saying there is “too much politics in Italy.”

      The virologist added, “There was a proposal to isolate people coming from the epicenter, coming from China.” However, he says the Italian government balked at the idea of singling out travelers coming from China out of concern it could be construed as racist. “Then it became seen as racist, but they were people coming from the outbreak.”

      “Hug a Chinese Day” was not such a good idea.

    12. Mike Doughty Says:

      I’ve seen a couple of articles that attribute the high death rate of over 70 people in Italy, China, Korea and other non-US countries to a significantly higher number of “multi-generational” families where 3 generations live in the same household, making it difficult for the elderly to keep themselves isolated. Makes sense to me.

    13. Lexington Green Says:

      Lots of smokers in Italy, as well, especially among the older folks.

      I have barely gone outside for a few days, but I am inclined to do that anyway.

      A bunker with books, food, and coffee is not exactly utopia for me, but it is not a hardship either.

      I gave up liquor for Lent. But if this is still going on at Easter, there is some alcohol as well.

    14. Uncle Max Says:

      It’s all well and good not to panic, but in States that are cracking down, it’s crazy. I’m in Texas, (DFW) and it’s nuts. Traffic is down at least by half. The grocery store nearest me looks like we had a zombie attack. They get a truck twice a week and they can’t keep up. Eggs, meat, paper products, bread, rice, beans, … all zeroed out. It is weird what is getting snapped up and what is available.. bars are all closed and the ” take out ” order for restaurants isn’t working well.

      Folks just aren’t.. and it’s killing business. Now all non-essential retail is closed. My neighbor got laid off from book store she works at as they were ordered closed. It’s tough not to feel the over-bearing disruption as more and more is happening.. and the bogeyman virus that may get here… someday… or kill us all… so we must take extraordinary measures… it’s so bizarre.

    15. Anonymous Says:

      Big issue on how to count the virus deaths. 87% of the Italian infection deaths are older folks, but the virus gets the credit even if they actually died from their underlying serious pre-existing heath issues. Some other countries only count it as a corona virus death if that is the only or major factor in the death. Very gray area that could greatly confuse statistics about mortality rates being reported.

      Death6

    16. Sgt. Mom Says:

      In Texas as well, in San Antonio … and it’s mixed. The gyms are closed, and restaurants are take-out and delivery only. My Next Door App has contributors encouraging us to patronize local restaurants with that, as much as possible. Also passing around information as to when is the best time to hit the local grocery stores, as well as what they have stocked. Also offering extra milk, TP, sanitizer, to those who have come up short. It’s in a crisis that we are best, not that you’d ever see this in the Establishment National News Media.
      On a cheerful “all in this together”note, the local HEB chain has restricted hours to 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening, given a raise to their current employees for heroic service over the last week, hired more (as has the local Amazon delivery service, and IIRC, Walmart, too) and set up a system for free delivery to seniors. The nearest HEB to us, which is relatively small and kinda low-rent – the staff has been amazing, in keeping stuff stocked. They well-deserve that raise, IMHO. Corporate HEB has also given a generous donation to a local infectious disease research activity, with the hopes that they can get a handle on the Chinese Corona-virus.

    17. Seppo Says:

      I live on a small farm near a large university, which is now a ghost town. All businesses not deemed essential to health and wellbeing are closed in our state, restaurants are take-out only, and they don’t seem to be doing much business. A family member’s elder care facility is locked down, no visitors allowed, including the barbers and hairdressers.

      One family member is extremely high risk, had to retire from a high skilled healthcare job when diagnosed with a rare autoimmune lung disorder. So our infrequent visits to the stores for provisions are like a guerilla operation, meticulously planned to minimize contact and maintain strict hygiene. I see store shelves missing many common items, no masks, gloves, disinfectants for sale, paper products missing, no dishwashing liquids, pasta and sauce aisles look like something from the old East Bloc. Sadly, there are many people behaving badly, eating as they walk around the store, chatting on their phones, picking up produce and putting it back, bumping into other shoppers, signs of poor hygiene. I set up a separate scrub station to use before entering the rest of the house when returning from these excursions.

      We have numerous friends still working in health care, they are exhausted already and dealing with cases that could be flu, could be coronavirus, working whether they themselves feel well or not. The closer they are to the action, the more worried about the progression of this pandemic they are. Our state’s cases are rising rapidly, leaving urban areas and spreading to some very rural counties. The only people I talk to who are not worried do not have elderly or respiratory or immune-compromised family or close friends. I know that my own family member, seemingly healthy and quite active right now, is unlikely to survive contact with the CCP coronavirus.

      It may seem like we are overreacting, but who knows? My retirement accounts are down 40%, friends and family are laid off or facing large losses in their small businesses, and farm incomes don’t look good for this year. We are all sharing in the suffering.

    18. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Seppo: “My retirement accounts are down 40%, friends and family are laid off or facing large losses in their small businesses, and farm incomes don’t look good for this year.”

      Note that all those harmful events are caused by our societal reaction to the Panic Virus, not by the Panic Virus itself.

      We are in a situation where there are no painless choices. If we simply let the virus run its course, there may be as many deaths as in a normal flu season. If we shut down in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, people will lose their jobs, their savings, their homes, their marriages, even their lives — and maybe in the end all this suffering and loss will not stop the virus after all.

      Thoughtless over-reaction is probably the worst and most painful choice.

    19. Mike K Says:

      My wife and I are both high risk. She has an immune deficiency, I have pulmonary fibrosis. We have a supply of hydroxycholoroquine and are staying mostly isolated.

      I think it was foolish to close the schools and think us older types should self isolate. The restaurants are hurting badly as are small businesses.

    20. Mike K Says:

      More good news being ignored by the Media.

      John Ioannidis, writing for Stat News, said that based on these findings, “reasonable estimates for the case fatality ratio in the general U.S. population vary from 0.05% to 1%.” In other words, very much like the seasonal flu.

      The Democrats are blocking the bailout bill in the Senate and maybe they will do so for long enough for the pandemic to lift.

    21. MCS Says:

      As time goes on, I’m less inclined to bailouts. If American Airlines goes bust, somebody else will buy the planes and hire the pilots. That’s risk.

      I read an article about some big real estate investor about how the commercial mortgage market needed bailing out. What he meant was that the risk should transferred from the investors to the tax payers. The holders are going to have to share some of the pain rather than sit back and collect like nothing happened. The building will still be there and the viable businesses will carry on.

      Somebody else has my exact take on the cruise industry.
      https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/coronavirus-economic-stimulus-cruise-lines-not-vital-industry

      This bailout will just be another huge bucket of swill into the trough. Let’s reinforce unemployment and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t think Planned Parenthood should get a blank check from the government, neither should Boeing.

    22. Jonathan Says:

      commercial mortgage market

      If you you can’t carry your properties during an unexpected multi-month crisis you might be too highly leveraged.

      There are probably plenty of prudent investors out there who are sitting on cash and would be interested in picking up commercial property at the right price.

      Bailouts reward the wrong kinds of investors and teach everyone the wrong lessons.

    23. MCS Says:

      Too much, by which I mean any at all, of investing is is on auto pilot. Index funds look really good as long as everything is going up. We are about to find out which were actually well managed an which were along for the ride.

      If you don’t understand something, you better hire somebody that does. The cheapest one isn’t likely to be the one you want. How many people in REITs have the slightest idea what they actually have invested in? Most pooled assets use a few outstanding ones to hide the real dogs. A local adviser is pushing annuities as if they are somehow immune from the virus.

    24. Owen Says:

      Random info from suburban Denver. My youngest son just “escaped” from NYC temporarily, he’s in Med school and says that NYC hospitals may be overwhelmed within another week or so. I believe you can find John Mauldin’s latest piece on the web, I recommend reading it if you still think in terms of “ordinary flu season” as I did until recently. I just found out that an old tennis teammate, his wife and son all went to a funeral recently and all three got the virus. Mom is OK at home now, dad and son are both in the hospital, dad is on a ventilator. The couple are probably late 60’s, in good health. My guitar instructor sent me a message received from a “sister of friend” who is a nurse working on the front lines in a CO hospital. They are already overworked, stressed out, running short of supplies, etc., and it’s very early here for the virus. She has already been told to review cancer patients (not virus patients) and to start determining who will continue getting attention and who will not. That is, they are already into “who is going to die” decision mode, and not yet for virus patients. CO is under “semi-shutdown”, that is restaurants, bars, etc., but lots of other businesses are closed or have reduced hours. My wife went to a local mall last week to pick up something (wouldn’t do it now) and was the only customer in a Dillard’s. President Trump has just announced a review coming fairly soon, as to whether the “health cure” is worse than the “economic disease”. I’m not sure what good that will do when so many shutdowns are at the state and local level. Or if that is even the right approach. We are going to have to pick between very bad choices and truly awful choices. Stay safe.

    25. Mike K Says:

      The stories are starting to trickle in of people who got the virus, got sick, and then took the chloroquine drugs plus or minus Z Paks.

      I would like to know how many people in ICU care have been treated with either hydroxychloroquine or remdesivir.

      I still think the hysteria is overblown but we have very little data on treatment. My wife is very high risk and mine is sufficient to be concerned. We have a supply of hydroxychloroquine as she was taking it for rheumatoid arthritis. I got a supply to my son who is a paramedic and diabetic.

      My personal opinion is that the elderly and those with chronic illness should self isolate and let most people go back to work.

    26. Mike K Says:

      I should add that I consider NYC to be a special case because of public transit and population density.

    27. Jonathan Says:

      The media are terrible, showing a combination of innumeracy and partisanship.

      NYC by a large margin has the highest population density of any major US city. The population is heavily dependent on mass-transit. How many media reports about Coronavirus mention these obvious facts?

    28. MCS Says:

      In other words, New York looks a lot like an average Chinese city give or take a few wet markets and migrant worker dormitories. Yet the Chinese contained this in a couple of weeks with just 2,000 deaths. All with a typical communist medical establishment; state of the art for party bigwigs, long lines and cash in advance for everyone else. Truly a miracle.

    29. MCS Says:

      When I drive in to work today, I’ll give thanks that I’m not doing it on a bus loaded with the other essentials.

    30. Anonymous Says:

      MCS:”Yet the Chinese contained this in a couple of weeks with just 2,000 deaths.”

      I for one just do not believe the reported numbers. Multiply by 10, and perhaps you are closer to reality.
      I do not wish this upon anyone, but based on the propensity of the Party minions to report that which is expected, without regard to actual numbers, or face ‘problems’, the expectation of ‘reduced numbers’ being substituted is real.
      As I understand, this virus is very contagious compared to recent varieties. That alone would lead to more infections.
      NYC will be reporting in the near future what we can expect to a degree in the rest of USA. The subway is a very effective virus distribution system, and people were not warned of precautions to take until too late. I think.

    31. MCS Says:

      Me either. I’m sure it’s only a small matter of the number of zeros. Three, five, seven, it’s a country where we can’t even estimate to the nearest ten million how many citizens have been killed for political expediency over the last 70 years or within the nearest hundred thousand per year now.

    32. Wendy K Laubach Says:

      Mike K asks: “I would like to know how many people in ICU care have been treated with either hydroxychloroquine or remdesivir.”

      I, too, would very much like to start getting some data on this. New York was to have started widespread treatment with chloroquine plus Z-packs about two days ago. There is a palpable reluctance in the media to talk about this.

    33. Dan from Madison Says:

      “There is a palpable reluctance in the media to talk about this.” Or anything else positive.