Essay: Coronavirus Spring 2020

May 4, 2020

Steve Plotkin
Credit publicity photo

Welcome to week 17 of WWIII Biological Warfare.

Breaking all records, The U.S. took merely 3 months to reach

1,000,000 cases.

WWIII has killed 60,000 Americans in just 100 days. 

It took a decade in Vietnam to approach numbers like that.

I wonder where they will place the public memorial for this war?

Coronavirus Spring 2020.

Many can see the end of the war, without claiming victory.

Battlefront, by battlefront, they slowly return back to pseudo-normalcy. 

However, while this rolling cease-fire is underway, others raise an alarm about a re-occurrence, a major counterattack, a viral "Battle of the Bulge", scheduled for Fall 2020, concurrent with the normal flu season.  Thus, we cannot become complacent.

Imaginary Numbers

On one hand, we are assured of robust testing on demand by our federal compatriots.  On the other, our regional leaders tell us we are dangerously undershooting the mark.

I recall a concept in high school algebra called "Imaginary Numbers".

We added a small "i" next to a number to signify that it was not real, but make-believe.

During the ongoing national skirmish over testing, wouldn't it be nice if our leaders used imaginary numbers when speaking of testing, face masks, and the like?

Testing

Lack of testing the public for the virus has taken on a life of its own, and will reverberate through the election, which is 183 days away.

While we hear the happy talk, coordination between the White House, CDC, and NIH has left us with a minor league national testing plan, which severely misses the epic proportions of our problem. 

So, out of necessity, we have all become mini-epidemiologists.

A new Harvard study says we should be testing 5 million people a day by June, and 20 million a day by late July.  So far, These are imaginary numbers.

The real numbers are about 300,000 tests per day.  And there are big states that have tested merely 1% of their population, like Texas.

Political

Knowing how easy tyranny can emerge from a crisis, there is concern among libertarians of a pandemic power grab, based on recent restrictions on citizens.  I hear a constitutional confrontation heating up in our liberal democracy.

After the pandemic, then comes the debt, maybe $4 trillion, on top of the already $23 trillion.  This places America firmly among the highest debtor nations in history.

Overall, Republican governors seemed slower to implement public safety measures, while faster to execute an exit strategy.

So, what do we know?

We know this virus is dominantly asymptomatic.  Everyone is a suspect, all the time.

We know that our cars are getting 3-weeks to the gallon due to the virus.

When we come out of this twilight zone, many will be amazing cooks.  The rest will practice refrigerator social distancing.

Drive-in movies are coming back in style.

We also know that 1 in 5 New Yorkers tested, had antibodies, hence the virus.

In NYC, 9 of 10 people on ventilators did not make it.

We know that data is the fulcrum, that must govern future decisions, and that U.S. based, homegrown statistics are now freely flowing.

We also know that contact tracing is coming, and we will move from defense to proactive offense, identifying and following all future cases.

Finally, we know that restrictive travel, using a mask, social distancing, personal hygiene, and no handshaking, are the new normal, for the foreseeable future.

Beware of Biology, and think like a virus.

This is Steve Plotkin