Watching this coronavirus thing unfold reminded me of this clip in Men In Black where the question is whether or not to tell people something since “they are smart.” The retort is that a person is smart. People on the other hand are stupid, panicky, etc. If you ever doubted this, I set before you the coronavirus.
From everything we know so far, the coronavirus is not that big of a deal. Or, I should say, COVID-19, because in fact there are many other varieties of the coronavirus; so, strictly speaking, its a coronavirus, not the coronavirus. But that nuance takes a bit of the wind out of our panicky sails, doesn’t it?
I emphasize what “we know so far” because its possible that there are important things to be discovered which may make it particularly worrisome. It may be the case that when the ‘we’ is our government officials, what ‘we’ know is already worrisome… that is, perhaps it is an escaped pathogen from China’s bioweapons lab in Wuhan. If that were the case, extra diligence does indeed seem warranted. However, the Chinese deny it–and we always believe the Chinese, don’t we? and the idea was mocked in the media–and we always believe the media, don’t we? Presumably, it was mocked in the media because our own government denied it–and we always believe our own government, don’t we?
At any rate, I’m operating on the assumption that there is no other shoe to drop when it comes to the virus, which leaves us with the devastating conclusion that the coronavirus is just “meh.”
I don’t wish to belabor it much, as it is so often the case that the people who need to hear it the most will never find this post in the first place whereas the people who do find this post are already “on board.” Nonetheless, let’s put it in a manner in which many others have characterized it, just to set the context:
From the CDC website:
Both methods had similar findings, which suggested that on average, about 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from flu each season, with a range of between 3% and 11%, depending on the season.
This does not count those who get the flu but experience no symptoms, which to keep it apples to apples with coronavirus, we should incorporate, perhaps. If we did, the same site says that up to 20% get the flu. But just to stick with the 8%… 8% of a population of 330,000,000 is… wait for it…
That is the number, approximately, who get the flu and are symptomatic, each year. EACH YEAR.
As to this year, here are the CDC’s figures:
- 34,000,000 – 49,000,000 flu illnesses
- 350,000 – 620,000 flu hospitalizations
- 20,000 – 52,000 flu deaths
For those incapable of thinking for themselves, and require ‘experts’ to take them by the hand like the children they are, I’d like to repeat, this is from the CDC. THE CDC. THE EXPERTS.
Now, in the main, from my observations, individuals have correctly intuited that in proportion to illnesses we already have ‘built into’ our social fabric, the coronavirus is far, far, far, disproportionate. It is not hard (for individual adults) to understand scale and proportion when you are laying some 25,000,000 against 1,000 cases and 30,000 deaths against 20. People, however, have lost their minds.
Most individuals are bemused by what is happening, but only to a point. On the one hand, there is the lurking fear that the ‘panicky’ reaction to the virus (by the media and our government) indicates there is something we have not been told about it. Moreover, China’s own massive response serves as an alarm bell. (But see below). On the other hand, there is the ominous signs that massive infringements to our liberties are coming down the line. Not to mention the severe blow to our economic well-being, as whole sectors of the economy are thrashed.
Most individuals can comprehend such realities if the danger warrants it. However, from what we currently know, the danger not only doesn’t warrant it, but is well below any reasonable threshold for the kind of concern we are seeing lavished on the matter.
I saw the news last night that Senator Ted Cruz has ‘self-quarantined’ himself for 14 days because he came in contact with a person who tested positive with the coronavirus. Let’s say that in that 14 days, it is discovered that he does not have the virus, and emerges from his quarantine. He goes about his business, which, in his case, explicitly requires hourly and daily interaction with hordes of people. A few days later, he comes to find out that he has come into contact with another person who then tests positive.
With the virus now showing signs of ‘community spread,’ and postulating that it will continue to do so in an increasing manner, this possibility is not at all unlikely. So then he puts himself into quarantine for another 14 days, again. Once again he emerges from his quarantine, having discovered he did not have the virus.
Now, as this virus continues to spread, are we to really expect people to be constantly putting themselves into isolation for two week periods? Over and over again? For the rest of our lives?
I mean, isn’t that the theory? If we all take these measures, then we can stop the spread of the coronavirus. Right? The problem is twofold.
In the first place, if we stop the spread of the coronavirus, it will mean that the population will never build up an immunity to it. The population will therefore always be vulnerable. As such, we will always have to employ fairly draconian measures in order to keep the virus away from people. Forever.
It would be as if the Europeans, having discovered the Americas, recognized that their presence among populations who did not have immunities to European diseases would lead to mass casualties among New World citizens, and so realizing, chose to ‘quarantine’ the Americas rather than colonizing them.
Now, this would be noble, to a point. But does anyone think that this would have been the best, most appropriate way forward FOR THE NEXT 500 YEARS?
That strikes me as absurd.
While it doesn’t follow to me that the only solution would be to eventually give in and allow the contamination to proceed, it also doesn’t follow that isolation for perpetuity is the right answer. Why? Because of the second place…
In the second place, we pretty well know that even with the most severe measures in place, there just isn’t much we can do to stop a lot of diseases. The influenza class appears to be a case in point. Appearances are that COVID-19 is similar in this regards. Which means, practically speaking, no amount of self-quarantining and worse is ultimately going to stop it, although, in theory, we could prolong it all for decades, if not hundreds of years.
Now, if you think that the idea of individuals self-quarantining themselves 9 months out of every year for the rest of their lives until, alas, they inevitably get the disease, is a good approach, then I really can’t help you. But it is precisely this kind of direction we appear to be going.
As with individuals, so with whole populations.
As I write, a huge section in Italy has been put into quarantine. SIXTEEN MILLION PEOPLE.
This would be as if we put Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, into lock down. Heck, we only have 4 states that have more than 16 million people. So choose any combination you want.
So let’s say that you put these 16 million people into ‘quarantine’ for 3 weeks (the quarantine lifts April 3, three weeks from now). Meanwhile, there is ‘community spread’ already well under way all around the globe. It is inevitable that some of these people are going to make their way back to Italy. The rest of Italy, which presumably was spared from Lombardy’s cases, will themselves have to go back into quarantine. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. But even in Lombardy, where
Under the new measures, people are not supposed to be able to enter or leave Lombardy, where Milan is the main city.
“There will be no movement in or out of these areas, or within them, unless for proven work-related reasons, emergencies or health reasons,” Mr Conte told reporters.
is the case, presumably, the virus will have been held in check. Which means that Lombardy itself will remain vulnerable, and, like the Perpetually Self-Quarantining Ted Cruz, presumably will have to go back into quarantine AGAIN.
This is the solution? This is our plan?
This is dumbassery of the highest proportions.
Look, China did almost the same thing in Wuhan. China, the most brutal and bloodthirsty regime on the planet. And yet, the virus still got out. The ‘staggering’ global death toll: 3,888. (As of this writing; please remember how many died in the US alone in one year from the flu.)
I said above that the fact that China went full dictatorship in Wuhan is a worrisome alarm bell as to what kind of virus we are up against, but there again, we need to keep things in perspective. It is CHINA. These are the people putting Muslims into concentration camps, who [insert long list of human right’s abuses here], etc. That they could, or would, lay siege to tens of millions of their own people is an ‘alarm bell’ we should take with a grain of salt.
But EVEN THEY, with THEIR EXTREME and DRACONIAN MEASURES, could not keep the virus contained.
Just what do we expect the Siege of Lombardy to do?
I mean, get real.
I would like to reiterate that if this was a disease which melted people from the inside and spread as fast and broadly as the regular flu does, then yea, we gotta do what we gotta do. But the regular flu already kills tens of thousands of people every year in the United States alone, and we’re not locking down cities and states for it.
I really don’t get people.
Obviously, we need a new plan. This one sucks.
As you can imagine, I have much more to say about this, but I still have some things I’d like to do today.
Let me start the wrap up with a reflection on the other side of Agent K’s comments about ‘people being dumb.’
Now, if you are surprised by the fact that people are freaking out, buying up supplies, etc, then you really have not been paying attention. First of all, every movie which has ever interacted with such material makes it perfectly plain that when push comes to shove, its not usually the ‘thing’ we have to worry about (eg, in this case, the disease), but the people.
Forget the movies, real life examples are everywhere. It is such realities that lead so-called ‘preppers’ to go far beyond stocking up on food and such, but making sure they are prepared to deal with ‘people.’ To put it starkly, while everyone else right now is buying toilet paper, these people are buying ammunition. I mean, they stocked up on toilet paper years ago. LOL.
Personally, I don’t look down on those making a run on toilet paper (no pun intended). As individuals, they’ve heard all the talk about quarantines of 2 weeks or longer, and put two and two together that if we go that route, it ain’t just going to just be 2 weeks. They’ve calculated that they can put up with a lot of … well, you know… but in the end (baddabing!) they want to make sure they’ll be able to clean up their business.
My only problem with them is that they should have done this a lot earlier. Like, a year ago. DHS itself has been warning people to prepare for emergencies for years–since 2003, evidently. See ready.gov. The problem isn’t that people shouldn’t be stocking up for a 2 week quarantine, the problem is that people are doing it all the same time.
My real problem with these people is that the whole reason we’re having to put up with these asinine measures coming down the pike is because of them.
What I mean is this:
Let’s say that Ted Cruz did not put himself into self-quarantine. People would go nuts. They’d lose their minds. They’d thrash him endlessly. Cruz knows this.
Similarly, if our public health community was not out there making a big deal out of the coronavirus, you know full well that the media would be jumping up and down on their faces. Not to make this political, but all the more if people thought beating up on the public health officials could give them a way to beat up on Trump, too. I actually think that both Trump and the public health community has done a relatively good job, all things considered. But all things considered, its clear to me they’ve had to make this relatively minor issue into a massive one, or else the ‘people’ would get riotous.
The public health community is well-versed in the dangers of public opinion gone awry, as one might expect when the bulk of them consider their job basically to be the massaging of public opinion “for the common good.” Even if they know that what we’re witnessing is a massive exaggeration, they know better than most the dangers of not going along with the hysteria. You can see that they are trying to temper it as best they can.
Notwithstanding that, it strikes me as extremely likely that we are going to see whole regions of the United States put into lock down. Not because the coronavirus is a danger that justifies it, but because people are idiots, and would slaughter (hopefully just metaphorically) those who would shy away from doing “everything in our power” to mitigate the harm.
People aren’t terribly bright, so they haven’t quite processed just what would be required to actually end the coronavirus threat. The murder of all 7 billion of us would do it.
Not to put too fine a point on it, from an entirely disinterested economic perspective, the COVID-19 might even prove mildly beneficial in the long term by disproportionately culling elderly dependents.
Hey, I’m just giving my ‘disinterested’ analysis. Don’t get all bent out of shape. Its just a fact. If we were all culled, we could not get the coronavirus. I’ve also heard that if we took Jeremy Warner and shredded him into a bloody mist, we could feed two pigs for a day. Hey, I’m just saying! “have I caused offence by pointing out the blindingly obvious? [4 Mar 2020 9:30AM]”
But seriously, to actually end the coronavirus, you’re going to have to engage in some of the most draconian measures conceivable. Remember, Draconian China did the same. And failed.
So it is that we’re probably going to have to endure those measures because people are idiots. Only after they’ve been locked up in their own homes for 6 months or so, and then STILL get the coronavirus, will they figure out for themselves what a stupid plan it was all along. Will they have the presence of mind to see that it was their fault to begin with? Doubtful, but a different post.
Behold, my friends. It is a black swan event. Learn from it and be wise. And don’t wait, either. Learn from it now.