Corona Part 6 - How Screwed Are We?
Lars Poulsen - 2020-10-25
What have I told you?
Over he last 6 months, I have written several blog pages
about the Corona virus, and how it is affecting our life.
Corona Lockdown This piece was explaining why we needed to "flatten the curve".
Without any intervention at all, the vius would pass though the
whole population in just a month, but might cause a death toll of 7
million people in the USA. The good part: The survivors would have
immunity, and the virus would be gone.
The guidance was to slow it down enough that it would not overwhelm the
ICU beds in the hospitals; the projection was that if we could spread
the passing through the population over 3 to 6 months, we might only
have 100,000 to 250,000 dead in the USA.
We did slow it down, but we reached 200,000 dead over the 6 months, and
we still have only had about a quarter of the popuylation infected.
So in the absence of a vaccine, we are only halfway through the death
Testing and Opening Up - To open up, we would need at least one of these:
So far, we do not have any of these. The projection for a vaccine in
late spring of 2021 still seems right. Treatments are still not quite
- a) the virus runs out of steam (seasonality) and becomes less
infectious than the common cold or the flu.
- b) population incidence gets high enough that we are protected by
herd immunity (maybe 40% to 60%)
- c) a vaccine is available. Probably 12 months.
- d) a treatment is available so that when someone gets a bad case, we
can get it under control (like we can with bacterial pneumonia). Could
be 6 months if we are lucky, could be 2 years. So far, in clinical
trials, the hydrochloroquine touted by the president seems to kill more
people with heart attacks, than it saves from reduced lung edema.
When Can We Reopen? - Explained the concept of "the hammer and the dance".
That is what we are mostly doing, while tuning the criteria for opening
and shutting down as we go.
How About That Re-Opening - "outside of hotspots, we have very little COVID disease at this
point. We need to control the hot spots ("bring down the hammer") as
needed, but we can open for more activity in many places."
Nothing much has changed - except that areas with republican
government have not been willing to shut down enough to contain the
virus. As the early hot spots came under control in April, nothing was
done in areas that had not been hit yet, with the result that we hit a
second peak in July, without ever having come down much from the first
peak. The reductions in the places that were hit early, masked how fast
it was growing in the mid-west. After that July peak (at twice the
March/April peak rate), it came down a little with summer weather, but
then started rising again as universities opened up in September, and it
is still growing.
Where are we Now?
Right now, we are matching the numbers from July, but
the curve is still going straight up. While we can rightly blame the
Trump administration for its lack of leadership, it is notable that most
of Europe has been following a similar pattern.
Where people are wearing face masks and maintaining social distance,
there is not much virus circulating in the general population. Where
people go to bars and crowded events without masks, it is rising and in
some places link Idaho, Mississippi and North Dakota, ICUs are
overfilled like they were in New York in March.
In our own area - Santa Barbara County - the South Coast (Santa Barbara,
Goleta and Carpinteria) is doing well, Santa Maria (poor workers in bad
housing) and Isla Vista (college students and immigrants in crowded
apartments) are not.
Nothing is likely to change much for the next few months, until we get a
vaccine and more effective treatments.
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