Social Distancing: There are two sides to this coin

All in the family gif

Social distancing is a deeply personal and public issue, and our society and much of the civilized world has chosen to close down for safety reasons.

COVID-19 is a contagious disease. Back in January when Coronavirus became international news, people were thinking the disease had an RO of 3.8. Now it’s considered to be 2.0 to 2.5 RO. (RO is mathematical for determining how quick a disease spreads and reproduces itself)

There is some wisdom to social distancing. Obviously, with such a contagious disease, we want to avoid people who are sick. If you are sick, everyone agrees, quarantine yourself. Isolate the vulnerable elderly.

That said, and I know this is going to come off as controversial in a time when most states are shut down to some extent, but I’m observing when governments force social distancing on major cities, if enough people are infected in that city, forced social distancing can dramatically drive up case and death toll #’s as families huddle together, like we’re seeing in New York City.

Allow me to explain.

The current epicenter of Coronavirus cases in America is in Corona (Queens), NY. That’s an interesting enough coincidence, and it got me digging into demographics and trends.

Corona (Queens) was the fictional setting for the 1970’s television show ‘All in the Family’, which at the time was a cultural blockbuster hit, with over 60 million Americans tuning in to watch each week.

The opening credits of All in the Family had Archie and Edith Bunker singing the opening show theme as the camera hovered over New York City, eventually zooming into Queens, and ending at the Bunker House. Can see the opening theme on the below GIF. And as an All in the Family fan, I’ve been to the Bunker house that was used in the credits.

Two weeks ago I began arguing that the trends show Coronavirus clusters were showing up in densely populated residential areas. The All in the Family opening (into Corona) credits shows exactly what I’m talking about.

Higher case trends in the New Orleans region is another example. After mass crowds were shoulder to shoulder at Mardi Gras in February, the locals went back to their homes not far away and mostly spread the virus to family members.

The media doesn’t talk about this, but it’s become clear to doctors in NYC (who are learning more and more about Coronavirus each day), that the vast majority of Coronavirus cases are spreading at home, among families living together in those homes. Not just in NYC (Brooklyn, Queens), but overseas, in densely populated ares of Spain, France, Italy and China, where strict social distancing orders went in place in the last 1-3 months. These NYC doctors working at the big hospitals are seeing large amounts of sick patients each day, and are coming to their own conclusions on what the trends are, and how the virus is spread.

What we’re hearing now, is transmission of Coronavirus is more likely to happen when a person touches or is in sustained contact (15 to 30 minutes) with an infected person who has symptoms (fever, aches), or that infected person is 1-2 days away from getting sick.

Nothing new here, but the quickest way to get infected (if you’ve been in contact with an infected person is to touch your face (eyes, nose, mouth). So washing hands, and using hand sanitizer are highly recommended, and there is sound wisdom there.

Also, becoming clearer for some, that if you are sick, NYC doctors appear to prefer folks go to the hospital for evaluation if you have shortness of breath. Having a fever, and aches can be symptoms of COVID-19, but most people are not going to get sick from COVID, and more likely will have the cold or flu. Shortness of breath is when things are considered to be problematic. Also, for the statistically tiny % of the population that gets really sick from COVID-19, you really don’t want to be on a ventilator.

Rare for me to make such a statement, but if someone is that sick, options could be tough. Some may well consider taking something like Hydroxycloroquine that has some side effects, vs. going on a ventilator, and being heavily sedated for 7-10 days in a near coma. If a really sick person goes on a ventilator, and they are lucky, maybe they’ll come out of the experience not the same, but still alive.

Which brings me to the COVID-19 models, which are only as good as the best data, and the data has been lousy. In January, when ‘the experts’ thought COVID-19 was 3.8 RO, they were also saying 65 million people would die (globally). I documented this on Jan 25, and referenced that statistic for this post. Then last month, the experts said 1-2 million people could die, and showed those models to states and cities who hysterically shut down their economies, and now we’re near shut down as a nation. The Global death toll today is 82,191.

The most cited model now (IHME) projects (In USA, not globally) near 82,000 will die by August 4. Now everyone is dramatically scaling back their projections on death toll, hospitalizations, # of needed ventilators, to # of infected. Why? As I pointed out in my Detroit post on March 30, not every city is as densely populated as New York City. And, for a big region to see a spike in cases, need a lot of people infected in one densely populated area. That’s not happening everywhere.

I’m arguing, in a major city like New York City, after 1-2 months of mass transit closeness (subway, cab, uber, rail, etc), where people traveled together for sustained periods of time and got infected, once the state social distancing orders went into effect, masses of people were forced to stay at home in densely populated residential neighborhoods, with lots of families living together, and then things got really bad, really quick. Notice how NYC and Italy soon exploded in cases and death tolls when the lockdowns began?

Even as models are now scaling back the apocalyptic projections, the IHME model (subject to change based on new data) is saying this for peak dates, and death toll projections:

New York (Peaks tomorrow): Near 16,000 deaths by Aug 4.
New Jersey: (Peaks on April 11): Near 5300 deaths by Aug 4
Michigan (Peaks tomorrow): Near 2300 deaths by Aug 4
Louisiana (Peaked April 4): Near 850 deaths by Aug 4
Colorado (Peaked April 4) Near 300 deaths by Aug 4
California: (Peaks on April 13): Near 1600 deaths by Aug 4
Washington: (Peaked on April 2): Near 700 deaths by Aug 4

Model Link: https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america

We’re still in a national emergency, and will be for awhile, but trends, data and reality are going to become clearer and clearer in coming weeks, and millions of people are going to be asking tough questions about why this happened, and I’m arguing a day of reckoning for the experts could be coming.

So here we are now. Many businesses have shut down, 10 million (minimum) Americans are out of work, we’re likely into a severe recession (or worse), and many businesses (and retailers) have invested and implemented social distancing guidelines, and overhauled their operations for public safety, and that’s the way it needs to be for now.

But I’m arguing, by simple observation, that as the experts who predicted mass death are now scaling back their projections, and have to save face by saying social distancing is working (and it does to a point), on simple observation, forced social distancing IS also the spark that makes the pandemic explode in big, densely populated cities.

COVID-19 is a contagious disease. There are no easy answers.

There are probably going to be several more smaller COVID-19 peaks through 2021. And we need to reopen our economy, and be smarter about trends, why some big cities see explosions in cases and death tolls (and most don’t), transmission realities, and how to do social distancing reasonably, so we don’t have a multi-year year severe recession, or economic depression.

Gif: All in the Family Opening/Theme (Top)
Photo: All in the Family House, near 50 years later (Photo Credit: Me)
All in the family

Some Perspective (Coronavirus)

Problematic clusters of Cornavirus cases appear more likely in:

1. Densely populated major cities, but not as severe in the downtown of a big city.
2. Uptown areas of a metropolitan area
3. Suburban neighborhoods closer to a big city
4. Inner City
5. Some tourist regions

At this time, New York State has 22x the case rate as Detroit area, and 176x the case rate as San Francisco.

Major State/County/City Case #’s (At this time)

– NYS: 60,000
– Detroit (County): 2704
– Seattle (County): 2077
– Los Angeles Area: 1818
– New Orleans (County): 1350
– Miami: 1192
– San Jose: 591
– Dallas (County): 488
– San Francisco: 340

In Michigan, 46% of the state’s cases are in Wayne County (Detroit area). Put another way, 82% of all cases in Michigan (at this time) are in 3 counties making up larger Detroit Metro, and outskirts.

In New Orleans, about 1.4 million people crammed into the city for Mardi Gras in February, so there’s a tourist connection, and explanation (I think) on why Louisiana is a hotspot.

In California, at this time, the state has about 5,700 cases vs. New York at near 60,000 cases.

– Los Angeles has 32% of California’s cases.
– Combined, Bay Area, Orange County and San Diego have 44% of the state’s cases.

Map: State of California Coronavirus ClustersCoronavirus CACredit: KSBW8/John Hopkins map

AP Headline: NIH’s Fauci projects possible ‘millions’ of US coronavirus cases, ‘100,000-200,000’ deaths.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is the medical expert face behind Coronavirus, who just significantly downsized his projections.

That 1-2 million death toll number that made everyone lose their minds and clean out supermarkets is no longer being used.

Here’s some math on Fauci’s new projections:

At 1-2% mortality rate in USA, to see roughly 100,000 to 200,000 deaths means 5 to 10 million people infected. Would need to see 300-600 deaths a day in America for the next 1-2 years to see that kind of death toll.

Using the mortality rate mostly seen in big city suburbs, or uptown parts of big city metros, Fauci’s projections would suggest 10 million Americans will get Coronavirus.

An estimated 61 million were infected with Swine Flu in 2009, and 12,400 died.

The news outlets got their big headline this morning. I’m skeptical.

‘How Dwight D. Eisenhower Quickly Contained the Spanish Flu at Camp Colt (Gettysburg) in 1918’

‘How Dwight D. Eisenhower Quickly Contained the Spanish Flu at Camp Colt (Gettysburg) in 1918’

The story I am about to tell has been sitting in a few books (documented for any future reader) on my bookshelves for years.

Also, it is well documented the pandemic of 1918 was known as the Spanish Flu, just as in 2020, some call it the Chinese Virus (or Wuhan Virus). As it is now clear, the obsession with racism made Coronavirus cases in Italy and New York City EXPLODE, so I find accusations of racism over the use of a flu origin to be both ridiculous, ignorant, and dangerous!

In 1969, The Washington Post would say of Eisenhower after he died (March 28,1969), “It could be argued that the General is the greatest figure in American and world history.”

In the final eight months of World War l, just as his military career was getting started, Eisenhower arrived at Camp Colt (on March 24), and turned a Gettysburg battlefield into a tank corps, where Eisenhower would command 10,605 men to train them to fight overseas in World War l.

From 1918 to 1919, over 500,000 Americans died from Spanish Flu. 50 to 100 million died, globally.

In 1918, while some say a first case of the pandemic in USA was reported in Kansas, I’m going with the Spanish Flu entered USA through a port in Boston, and made it’s way to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, where the first case was reported on Sept 8, 1918.

Soon after, 124 men (many infected) in Fort Devens were transferred to Camp Colt, where Eisenhower was in command.

As men in Camp Colt (Gettysburg) began getting ill, initially camp doctors thought the cause for the sickness was aftereffects of inoculations. It took about 24 hours to identify it was indeed the Spanish Flu.

Eisenhower and his chief surgeon Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Scott moved quick to isolate the patients into tents. No more than four men per tent.

On Eisenhower’s order, Camp Colt was quarantined. Not the town of Gettysburg. Just Camp Colt.

What Camp Colt MPs did do, was prevent any soldier that did not have a medical pass from leaving the camp. In the city (town) of Gettysburg, restaurants could not serve soldiers, and Gettysburg churches were off limits to Camp Colt soldiers.

On sunny days, tents where infected men at Camp Colt were quarantined, were opened up, and the bedding was exposed to the sun. They scrubbed the floors daily with Lysol and kerosene. All solders were given a medical examination daily.

Between Sept 15 and Oct 5, 1918 (3 weeks), 427 soldiers were hospitalized, and 175 died. By mid October 1918, the worst had come and gone at Camp Colt.

Less than 2 months after the first Spanish Flu case in USA was reported near Boston, The Gettysburg Times wrote (Oct 24, 1918), Camp Colt was “practically free of influenza”.

175 deaths, and 427 hospitalized out of 10,605 men was a pretty good outcome compared to other Army posts who got hit much harder, and in a nation where over 500,000 people would die from the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919.

The outcome of Eisenhower’s (and Surgeon Scott’s) efforts were so good, that Eisenhower’s leadership of the pandemic at Camp Colt got the attention of the War Department, who wanted to learn what measures Eisenhower took to stop the virus so soon at Camp Colt.

Tomorrow will be the 51st anniversary of Eisenhower’s death, which in 1969 was a huge deal, as is the death of most any President. But at the time, Eisenhower’s passing was a monumental loss to the nation.

On Oct 14, 1918, (Eisenhower’s Birthday) an impressed War Department promoted Eisenhower to Lieutenant Colonel, for his efforts at quickly containing the Spanish Flu at Camp Colt.

Soon after, the War Department sent their new rising star to France, just weeks before World War l ended.

As it turns out, the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic was where the legend of Eisenhower began.

Photos: Eisenhower and Camp Colt

Coronavirus – Panic Justified or Overhyped?

I tend to agree, for now.

“But in spite of the global panic in the news about this virus, you’re unlikely to contract COVID-19 unless you’ve been in contact with someone who’s recently traveled to certain parts of China.

There’s no need to worry about the 2019 coronavirus if you haven’t recently traveled to China or been in contact with someone who’s been diagnosed with the virus.” (Link Here)