Coronavirus : Update 10 from the Epicenter

Posted by in Coronavirus

First, from a fascinating look at the impact of the Spring Breakers that I briefly wrote about at the end of Update 7. Jason links to a remarkable video that shows how cellphone metadata can be used to identify the cellphones from just one beach in Florida :

…and trace their way into streets, shops and homes across the country :

America – now that damage is done check out this National Geographic article on the way 36 cities used social distancing during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic to flatten their curves :

Secondly, a brief update on our curves. I added graphs for cumulative deaths (both standard and offset / delayed) as well as an offset / delay for death to case ratios :

Nothing particularly new to report. We can see that the US is accelerating the fastest, and that its death-rate hasn’t ’caught up‘ yet. Germany continues to positively surprise in the resilience of patients, and the UK looks to be aligned with Italy…

Thirdly, I decided to try and put the pandemic in perspective. Not a very ‘nice’ thing to do under the circumstances, but I think it’s worthwhile. Below I created a table of the total deaths to date per country, against the equivalent deaths during the same period (2019) due to smoking and outside air pollution :

Covid19 deaths to date       10,779        1,228          2,484             541          33,966
Days since first death4025312045
Smoking deaths in same period         9,096        5,342        40,767          6,630        616,438
Air Pollution in same period         3,170        1,448          6,586          2,032        517,808

This is not to say that our response is out of proportion – far from it. However, once we’ve put this behind us, perhaps we can start thinking about an appropriate response to the big killers that we tolerate every day…

Finally, I’d like to link to the intro to the latest episode of Eric Weinstein’s excellent podcast. If you don’t know his work, Eric is a genius polymath who can (and does) talk without apparent preparation but with incredible prowess about a vast range of topics. This week he reminds us that the Coronavirus has not taken us unawares – far from it. We knew that an influenza or corona virus was an existential threat to humanity (even Bill Gates has been waxing lyrical about it for years) :

…and we knew that we were woefully underprepared in terms of surge capacity for respirators, as the following literature predicts :

Weinstein points out that “we got here not because we couldn’t foresee this future – in fact we extensively studied it – but rather because we decided to ignore a future that we knew was coming…”

This is not a specific attack on current administrations, but rather an observation about our collective inability to calculate risk and plan appropriately.