There has recently been heated debate over lock-downs in the United States. There are groups emerging with very strong opposition to lock-downs and have made their views known. While I understand the frustrations over these lock-downs, we must find a way to get back to work wisely.
States and counties across America began issuing shelter in place and lock-down orders in March. Since that time, Americans have largely cooperated. However, tensions have begun to boil over in recent weeks. Millions of people are losing jobs, businesses, and the means to support their families. As a result, some are demanding local officials loosen the shelter in place orders. In fact, their have been large protests at state capitals across the country to allow businesses to re-open. These concerns are very real, and should be listened to, but we cannot go back to business as usual.
The coronavirus has killed more than 80,000 Americans since February, and will likely reach over 100,000 soon. It is plausible this virus could kill over 200,000 people by the end of the year. The number of dead from coronavirus will be many times higher than our annual “flu-related” deaths, which are questionable to begin with. In addition to the death rate, people are ignoring other possible complications.
People are getting strokes, having heart attacks, and some doctors suspect children may be developing Kawasaki syndrome from the virus, though more investigation is needed. There is a lot we do not know about this virus, and with so much uncertainty and a high death rate, we must remain cautious while opening the economy.
While a cautious open seems sensible, I am not seeing this sentiment as much as I would expect. Fox News has imbecile pundits comparing coronavirus to heart attacks and diabetes. Additionally, family and friends do not want to wears masks simply because a government official told them they should. This is nonsense. And interestingly, the same people who want to open the economy without precautions (like mask wearing) often believe the virus is a bio-weapon. This leaves me scratching my head. The same people who refuse to wear a mask because the county judge says so also believe coronavirus is a bio-weapon? Of course my sample size is not statistically significant, but I have seen this sentiment echoed many times. It is obvious that this line of thinking is insane. If the coronavirus is a bio-weapon, then we should certainly be wearing masks and other protective gear when possible.
I realize this post appears to bash people in favor of opening the economy. However, these people are correct in one thing: we have to get the economy moving again. We just have to be wise about it. Wear masks when you work in public, avoid large crowds like clubs and concerts, and lets beat the virus while getting back to work.
Nassim Taleb is a prolific thinker, writer, and former options trader. Most places on the internet will document his rise to prominence around 2008 financial crisis. Nassim Taleb wrote two famed books: Fooled by Randomness, and The Black Swan, before the Great Financial Crisis. In fact, when I found Talebs work it was do to interviews I found on YouTube. He was one of the few people who had documented warnings of an impending financial crisis, and he appeared to have a strong understanding of our financial problems.
Fast forward to late 2018 and early 2019. I began re-reading and listening to Fooled By Randomness, and Talebs more recent book Antifragile. In Antifragile, Taleb discusses how people can benefit from disorder and crisis. Generally, Taleb talks about these things in terms of trading in the financial markets. However, he also mentioned how a person with stores of extra supplies could find themselves anti-fragile during a crisis. For example, if someone stores certain types of commodities or resources for a rainy day, not only will that person have extra supply for themselves, but they could might sell extra supply for a profit and make money during a crisis, this is anti-fragility. After reading Antifragile, I tried thinking of various products I could sell, or businesses I could start, to take advantage of disorder, but I did not come to any actionable conclusion. I had already started importing and selling some small fitness products online, so I resigned myself to that activity, thinking my dreams of anti-fragility would have to wait.
As time passed I found my ability to compete by importing and selling products was diminishing. I was not buying enough inventory to lower my costs, and my competitors were in the no-skin-in-the-game business of “drop-shipping”. As a result of my higher prices, I ended up holding one third of my inventory from early 2019 until this year(2020). However something unexpectedly changed. As the CCP virus spread and many aspects of the economy shut down, I began to see the demand for my leftover inventory sky rocket! One year ago I was lucky give away my extra inventory at a minor loss, now I am getting messages everyday from people on Facebook and e-commerce sites who want to buy immediately. Simultaneously, the bullshit artists who do drop-shipping for their entire business model have found the cost of shipping from China drastically higher, and factory lead times much longer. Thus I havefound myself in an anti-fragile situation. Not only did I have extra inventory for myself, but I actually benefited from selling inventory into the crisis.
I did not expect to benefit in any way from the pandemic. However, my online selling strategy is the opposite of fragile model that many “drop-shippers” use. Since I only sold inventory I owned, and I never borrowed money to buy inventory, I never ran the risk over extending myself. And my selling reputation is untarnished, because I did not sell people goods that could never be delivered. On the other hand, online sellers dependent on “efficient” supply chains from China found themselves fragile, and must deal with the consequences.
This week I was listening to an interview by Tucker Carlson. He was interviewing Peter Walker, an ex-executive at Mckinsey & Company, a world famous consulting firm. In the interview, Carlson primarily questions Parker about his praise for the CCP and whether he regrets Mckinseys role in de-industrializing America. Mckinsey & Company has a reputation for advising businesses to relocate manufacturing over-seas, this strategy can decrease costs and increase profits. In addition to Carlson interview with Parker, the cultural atmosphere has changed. Many people are are upset that Americas industrial capacity has been handicapped, and this got me thinking about Peter Thiels critique about innovation and technological progress.
In numerous interview across the World Wide Web, Peter Thiel asserts that technological progress has stalled in America. Of course he is not referring to computer and digital technology, but the physical world around us. Thiel often illustrates his point by asking listeners to think about a bedroom or living form the 1970’s. Aside from extra screens like phones and computers, there has not been much transformation in the physical world. He further illustrates the point by contrasting differences in the physical world from the 1920’s – 1970’s, and the 1970’s – 2010’s. Thiel points out that radical physical transformation across the country had taken place throughout the last one hundred years, but we have not seen the same radical physical transformation in the last fifty years.
While reading Thiels book Zero To One , he noted the that in the modern world economic growth primarily comes from technological innovation and globalization. Innovation creates new industries and production capacities previously unavailable. With innovation we can develop new types of energy production, access new types of energy, create products that were impossible before, and radically expand economic capacity. Some examples of this would be the combustion engine, cars, techniques to manufacture stronger metals, airplanes, and computers. On the other hand, growth through globalization does not rely on radical new invention but on trade, it takes ideas and technology from one part of the world and brings them to another.
We have all heard the saying “necessity is the mother of invention.” In our modern world, globalization may have killed Americans perception of “necessity. I believe Thiel is correct, that radical physical change has not been occurring, and that it is because of our reliance on globalization.
Over the last fifty years production and consumption have become global. Therefore, companies can see growth by producing in one place and selling in another. This has created many cheap products for Americans. We have cheap goods of all types. Walk into a Walmart and you will find a plethora of inexpensive toys, clothes, and gadgets. Also in America, if you cannot afford something nice like a new car or house, it is easy to get credit. In America it has become relatively “easy” to acquire many of our modern conveniences, so where is the necessity? The necessity for companies and individuals to innovate new industries is not so high when they can continually market cheap new gadgets and toys at low costs. As long as Americans can pay for the new toys and gadgets or take out loans, the economy keeps on moving. However, since the low-cost production strategy has now put America in a bad strategic position with China, globalized economic growth is at risk. And as the economic crisis brought on upon America by the CCP virus unfolds, we may be forced to create economic growth through new physical innovation, not merely through creating and trading new and marginally interesting gadgets.
When the CCP Virus began spreading in January, people across the internet pointed out the existence of a virology lab in Wuhan, China. There were videos and pictures pinpointing a lab in china using publicly available data, and people were raising the possibility that the virus originally came from a lab and not a wet market. In addition to “internet investigators”, Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas was shown in a viral video noting the existence of a bio-safety, level-four lab, in Wuhan that should be investigated. In the video Senator Cotton alleges that Chinese scientist work on many deadly viruses, including coronavirus.
After Senator Cotton made the claim back in January, news outlets around the world began “debunking” the Senator, and anyone else who questioned the origin of the virus.
shown above is a headline from Business Insider(BI). The BI article asserts that Senator Cottons CCP Virus claims were “debunked”. BI also conflates Senator Cottons statements about the bio-safety lab with the “bio-weapon” theory. Therefore when Senator Cotton said we should investigate the bio-safety lab, the mainstream media made the statements about “bio-weapons” instead. According to the BI’s own article, Senator Cotton never mentions “bio-weapon”, see the screenshot below.
In addition to Business Insider running cover stories for China, The Financial Times and Science Magazine did the same. The Financial Times ran an article stating “Coronavirus was not genetically engineered in Wuhan lab”. Once again, a large media platform deflected questions away from the origin of the virus to whether or not it was genetically modified. This trick has been constantly used to discredit people who question the origin of the virus. When people ask questions about the Wuhan bio-safety lab or China CDC lab, attention is deflected to genetic engineering. Since “experts show” the virus was not “genetically engineered”, the claim that the virus was natural occurring, but may have been accidentally leaked from a lab is usually disregarded as well.
Below is an article from Science Magazine debunking “rumors” about the origin of the virus.
This is a quote form the article –
“A group of 27 prominent public health scientists from outside China is pushing back against a steady stream of stories and even a scientific paper suggesting a laboratory in Wuhan, China, may be the origin of the outbreak of COVID-19″
The vast majority of articles discrediting the leaked virus theory came out from January through March. However, since the medias initial campaign to debunk the leaked virus theory, a different story has begun to emerge. Remember earlier how Business Insider “debunked” Senator Cottons theory about the virus origin? Two months later, they are running headlines speculating the virus may have come from a lab.
It only took two months for Business Insider to essentially reverse their initial stance that the virus was not leaked from a lab. Here is another article from the Washington Post, they discuss how the virus could have accidentally been leaked.
It is astonishing how media convinced millions of people the virus could not have been leaked from a lab, only to reverse course months later. I have seen many arguments breakout between friends on social media over the origins of the virus. Most arguments were fueled by naive trust in media to convey truth. This blind trust in media has been substituted for critical thinking. The CCP Virus is tricky and hard to understand, and you cannot trust mainstream media to help you. They will be months behind the curve, just as were for telling people to wear masks. To stay ahead of the CCP Virus, read, think critically, and trust your instincts.
It is now April 12th, and many parts of America are still “locked-down” because of the CCP Virus. I put lock-down in quotes because I am not sure about the best way to categorize what is happening in America. Most State Governors have issued “Stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders, but the level of legal consequence varies widely across states and localities. Nevertheless, businesses around the country have been closed, gone out of business, or are barely hanging on through delivery services. Martial Arts schools, concerts, dances, are shutting their doors. Since March, 16 million Americans have filed unemployment claims, but society is looking for the next steps to take. How do we get out of this mess?
When we can move out of our homes and back to work is proving to be an impossible task to predict. Though I am seeing two schools of thought emerging. One side believes governors should immediately lift “Shelter in place” orders and allow people to go back to work. The other approach is to create a system of identifying infected people and separating them from others.
First lets look at the immediately lifting “shelter in place” orders. The logic behind this position is based on the perceived severity of the CCP Virus, and damage to the economy. Since many places outside of New York are not experiencing outbreaks and hospitalizations with similar severity, people are questioning the need the for lock-downs across the country. Proponents of immediately lifting “shelter in place” orders believe they will not experience much local disruption if the virus spreads, and assume they can handle the burden that arises. Additionally and most importantly, people are growing increasingly nervous about the economy. At first glance it may seem callous to worry about the economy when lives are stake, but medicine and economics are interlinked. It’s obvious that hospitals need money to run, and people need money to pay. Drivers delivering medicine and much needed PPE need fuel, food, etc. these supplies require a supply chain of people to work. Therefore a functioning economy is necessary for vital systems to remain functioning. There is also a growing concern about millions of Americans being pushed into poverty, with livelihoods being destroyed which may cause more deaths. The implications of staying locked down are legitimate, but all options must be explored.
Another way to begin re-opening the economy is to identify and create virus-free zones, then separate regions by whether or not they have the virus. In the virus-free zones, called green zones, people could work at full capacity(theoretically). Overtime as people recovered and developed antibodies to the virus, they could go to work, and overtime turn red zones into greener zones(or yellow). Simultaneously, as red, yellow, and green zones are being established, newly infected persons would need to quarantine and allow for contact tracing. People that were identified through contact tracing would need to quarantine as well, to maintain green zones.
I am currently in favor of the second option. I would like to see green zones identified where people can immediately get to work without fear of the virus. Overtime we can expand green zones, track and trace the sick, and decrease the size of red zones. This options seems it would mitigate the disease burden, while allowing economic activity to resume, but there are obstacles to achieving these zones.
One of the biggest obstacles is testing. To determine who has antibodies, we need testing on a massive scale. It appears we do not have infrastructure in place to take care of this scale of testing. We also need testing for the virus on a massive scale. In addition to testing for the virus and antibodies, we need the ability to isolate infected people and trace contacts. While self-isolation is the most viable option in America, we have to figure out how to trace at scale. There are numerous ideas being thrown around, including Google and Apple developing systems to alert people if they have been in contact with someone who is infected. Obviously privacy concerns come into play with technology and contact tracing. However, another problem is how to maintain green and red zones.
People have been floating the idea of providing certificates or “papers” to certify that a person has antibodies to the virus or has been tested. This would allow green zones to prohibit entry to people who do not have antibodies or people who are infected. Practically speaking this seems like an obvious strategy. Though when dealing with a country like America, we must respect civil liberties, so these ideas must not be taken lightly.
Which strategy we choose remains unclear, though peoples impatience and institutional incompetence are pushing Americans towards option one: opening up the economy without a mitigation strategy. If we go down this path, people should prepare for more deaths locally. People should also be prepared to isolate themselves or their families independently of government or social decree. This is a critical time to educate yourself, and push for the future you want.
As the CCP Virus (Coronavirus) continues to infect the world, infection and death rates are going up at an exponential rate. As of writing this, the United States has seen over 7,400 deaths in nearly two weeks. However, as Americans continue to “shelter in place” the future remains unclear. When will this be over, and how damaging will the virus truly be?
To answer the question about how bad this virus will be, we are looking at estimates. The current estimates for the total number of deaths are between 100 ,000 – 240,000. However, many people have been questioning the various models and projections coming out of CDC. For example, Mike Cernovich has rightly been pressing the issue of model accuracy while maintaining that this virus is dangerous.
Additionally Neil Ferguson, an Epidemiologist from Imperial College London, has come under fire for “revising” his estimates about the projected coronavirus deaths. Though Ferguson maintains that his revisions were still inline with his previous estimates, assuming countries (UK) took extreme mitigation efforts.
Experts, business people, techies, and more are beginning to ask hard and serious questions about the CCP Virus models. These models are currently holding hundreds of millions of people hostage, and we have a right know what’s going on, but how much trust should place in these models?
All the talk of models and assumptions made me curious about the flu data: exactly how accurate are annual flu infections and deaths? This year many people wrote off the potential damage from the CCP Virus based off “60,000 people died last year from the flu, it’s no big deal.” Considering the impact coronavirus is having in America, and that the death toll in the U.S. is officially 7,400, did 60,000 people really die of the flu last year?
According to the CDC’s website , there were an ESTIMATED 34,157 deaths from the flu between 2018 – 2019. There is a range of death estimates from 26,000 – 52,000. I capitalized “estimated”, because these are not recorded deaths. In fact, the recorded deaths from the flu are likely considerably lower, since the according to the CDC, they use a multiplier to account for non-documented deaths that “should” be attributed to the flu. Before going into death rates, lets dig in to how the flu hospitalizations and illnesses are tabulated.
Below is how the CDC calculates hospitalizations. The CDC “assumes under-detection of influenza” and therefore must make an “adjustment” to find the accurate numbers. The under-detection has various reasons, one of which is the “average sensitivity of influenza tests.” We will come back to this later. Though it should be noted: influenza tests may not be sensitive enough to pick up all influenza infections.
In addition to test in-sensitivities and limited geographical flu testing, actual flu data for a given year can lag up to two years. Therefore the CDC uses data from earlier seasons to make estimates for current seasons. While I cannot debate the efficacy of the CDC flu estimates by directly looking at their models, these “assumptions” , “estimates”, and lack of “test sensitivity” make me very suspicious about the accuracy of CDC flu numbers.
Lets move on to how the CDC estimates flu illnesses in the America.
The CDC extrapolates total illness based on hospitalizations and how many people sought “medical care for an influenza-like illness.” based on a 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. What on earth is an “influenza-like illness?” Is it wise to base flu illness off of a survey? Surveys require people to use their memories to answer questions, we know memories are not good guides to providing hard and reliable data. Additionally, people can experience fevers, coughs, congestion, headaches, etc. for many illnesses besides the flu, this survey seems weak, and should be investigated.
When looking at flu deaths, the CDC uses a model to estimate a ratio of deaths to hospitalizations(which is already estimated), After making “adjustments” they look at death certificates and estimate flu “related” deaths because they don’t all occur in the hospital. The CDC may also include data from people who died of pneumonia and other respiratory and circulatory causes. Once again, these estimates seem a bit suspect in their accuracy.
Lets see why the CDC doesn’t just count death certificates of people who died from influenza.
The CDC may count people who died of pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in their flu death estimates. Many deaths in America are being estimated as flu-related, yet these estimates cannot be verified . The CDC makes these estimates because they are confident the flu is under-reported. How does the CDC know the flu is under-reported? Because the “virus is only detectable for a limited number of days after infection.” , thus many people who actually have the flu may come up negative for the flu infection. This is why the CDC discusses “test sensitivity” in one of their many reasons for using various “estimates” and “adjustments” to calculate flu illness and hospitalization.
Finally we can look at admitted limitations of “Influenza Burden Estimates”, according to CDC.
First off, the CDC acknowledges that hospitalizations are based on reporting, and hospitalization reports are refined over-time as more data is collected.
Second, in-hospital flu deaths are adjusted based on flu testing rates and the test sensitivities( which are suspect). However, during current seasons CDC isn’t aware of “testing practices”, therefore they use data from prior seasons, then CDC “updates” their estimates when more data arrives about “testing practices”.
Third, CDC estimates of illness, medical visits, and hospitalizations may not be accurate ” if patterns of care-seeking have changed.” But I’m sure the CDC is constantly searching the United States to examine peoples behavior, so nothing to worry about.
Fourth, CDC deaths for current seasons may be estimated from prior seasons if current data isn’t available. And their models use “frequency of influenza-associated deaths that have cause of death related to pneumonia or influenza (P&I), other respiratory or cardiovascular (other R&C), or other non-respiratory, non-cardiovascular (non-R&C) to account for deaths occurring outside of a hospital by cause of death.”
Fifth, currently CDC uses statistical methods to calculate the influenza burden that cannot be compared to years before 2009. So you cannot compare current flu illness, visits, etc… to years prior to 2009, because the models have changed.
At this point the limitations of flu data coming from the CDC should be obvious. There are many assumptions about how flu illness, medical visits, hospitalizations and death are calculated, these assumption should be constantly reviewed and updated, are they being constantly reviewed? The underlying assumptions about the flu are extremely important today, as many people used flu statistics to dismiss the danger of the CCP Virus. In addition to dismissing CCP Virus dangers, many people are currently confused about how deaths from the CCP Virus are calculated, and skeptics believe we are over counting deaths because some patience already had underlying conditions(possibly severe). However as noted above, many people with heart and lung problems, who have never tested positive for the flu, are counted as flu-related deaths every year. Therefore while questioning the validity of data and modeling about the CCP Virus, we should also take a look back at the flu, and maybe even CDC.
As the CCP Coronavirus (Coronavirus) began spreading across the globe in February, Americans began receiving strange advice from the U.S. Surgeon General. Americans were told to stop “hoarding” masks because they don’t work, and medical workers need them. In addition to the Surgeon General misleading the public about the efficacy of masks, posts have been circulating around social media sites blaming “hoarders” for the lack of masks and medical equipment in American hospitals. This has raised an important question: are American “hoarders” to blame for the lack of protective equipment, or did someone else buy up medical supplies and send them out of the country?
A recent article by the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that a Chinese property developer called Risland Australia, bought up over 90 tons of medical supplies in Australia and sent them to Wuhan, China in February. This was done on multiple occasions. Another major property developer called Greenland Australia also sourced and sent large amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) back to China from Australia in February. These were massive efforts, and drained many stores of their mask and glove supplies.
This is not only an Australian phenomenon. Organizations, businesses, and students across America began buying up massive amounts of N95 masks and other protective equipment throughout late January and early February to send back to China. Below is picture from the China General Chamber of Commerce in America (CGCC). They sourced and donated tens of thousands of dollars of supplies from cities across the United States to China. The CGCC began sourcing supplies in January.
Below is a woman buying so many boxes of N95 masks(sent to China), they barely fit in her vehicle. After her, there’s a Tweet about a man in Massachusetts who sent $5000 worth of masks and other medical supplies to China.
In addition to these individual efforts, international Chinese students wanted to help their “Motherland” by raising money, then sourcing supplies in America to send to China. Below are two students who raised over $ 50,000 to buy and send masks and needed medical equipment to China.
Similar to other efforts, these students began raising money and buying supplies as early as January. It is important to note that organizations began buying up medical supplies in January, and throughout February. Stores across America and the world began reporting shortages and increased sales throughout January and February, before many Americans realized the full potential of the CCP Coronavirus.
An article by Business Insider noted that ” US sales of medical masks soared 428% in the week ending January 25 compared with the same week a year ago.” Americans began waking up to the threat of the CCP Coronavirus in late February. By that time, massive efforts had been underway by companies, organizations, students, and citizens with strong ties to China, to buy massive quantities of medical supplies from all over the world, and send them to China.
There are many more stories of people and organizations with strong ties to China bleeding their host countries of medical supplies throughout January and February, but I cannot discuss them all here. I do not believe sending medical supplies to China is the only reason Americans and others lack sufficient amounts of PPE, but it likely contributed in a significant way. It should also be investigated in more detail.
I should also clarify, this is a difficult situation. Many Chinese nationals and companies around the world did not have bad intentions when they bought up supplies of masks and gloves. They genuinely love their country and families, and wanted to help. However, we must ask ourselves: should this type of behavior be acceptable on a such a scale during a global crisis? If a large American population in China went to Chinese stores, pharmacies, etc. to buy face masks and sent them to America during this outbreak, would this be acceptable in China? I do not think so.
Moving forward, we cannot allow strategically important supplies to be removed from our country during a crisis. We must communicate honestly as well: Americans are not “hoarding” medical supplies, many of them were sent back to China.
It is day 7 of the CCP Coronavirus lock-down in Houston, and we are all still alive, for the most part. There are now roughly 150 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2 deaths in the Houston area, and testing sights are still ramping up.
The overall feeling seems okay. I believe anxiety levels are rising among people, as many do not know when they will be able to return to work. People are also bothered by the uncertainty: not knowing how long things will last, or what the world will look like when we are finished.
Shopping centers are still being crowded, and rumors are circulating about more strict lockdwons.
It has been six days since the Harris county officials placed strict rules on certain business activities, but life has substantially changed.
While Houston is not in a formal lock-down, many restaurants, bars, and gyms been restricted from operating normally. Restaurants must provide drive-thru, take out, or delivery services only. This may seem like a slight inconvenience but it is having a big impact on small business. In addition to dining restrictions, business and events across the county have been cancelled and postponed.
Drive through the suburbs of Houston and its clear that life has changed. People are still out on the roads, but many strip centers are comparatively empty, unless there is a supermarket within walking distance. The grocery stores are packed everyday, and many stores in Houston, such as HEB, have changed store hours to better cope with increased traffic.
Fortunately the mood is not dire. People are able to move around, though many are not working. The mood online has been changed from curiosity to anxiety. Some are not only concerned with the duration of an imminent economic shut down, but also the possibility of people they know getting sick and dying. Luckily the Houston area has not been extremely hard.
As of yesterday there were about 105 confirmed CCP Coronavirus infections, and at least 1 death, but many are nervous about what the future holds. For now, Houstonians are showing their resilience in the face of this virus, I pray we continue to do so.
Since the coronavirus out break began in January, media coverage has been severely lacking. Media outlets in the United States appeared to publish occasional headlines of some mysterious disease afflicting people in China, but no serious warnings or analysis was widely spread.
After China decided to shut down the City of Wuhan, the province of Hubei, and then expanded the lock down to a few hundred million people, the “Western Media” still failed to grasp the size and possible danger the Coronavirus posed. In fact while still living in Taiwan, I began regularly communicating with my best friend(he watches the news everyday), he informed me that he had no idea of the lock downs happening in China. It seemed very strange that non-Asian media was failing to report on events as important as those unfolding in China.
After returning from Taiwan and self quarantining for about two weeks (back in early February), I began informing friends and family about the situation in China. Most people I interacted with had absolutely no idea what was happening, and they believed it was a problem for China not America. However, this was about to change.
As February came to a close and cases of the Coronavirus began sprouting up in America, people were being told it was “just the flu”. It seemed everyone I talked to was now aware of the virus, but the media and government officials insisted the virus was no worse than the flu. The “just the flu” propaganda was compounded with media pushing a “stop panicking” narrative. According to the mainstream media people were being tricked into “panicking”. The idea that Americans across the country were panicking was hilarious. No one was panicking. I had not encountered anyone in my local circle that cared, none of my several hundred friends on Facebook posted anything about the virus. Influential people on Twitter reiterated that no one they saw was panicking. Yet the media continued pushing the “stop panicking” narrative. In addition to my anecdotal evidence of American apathy towards the Coronavirus threat, until last week(March 2nd – 7th), people were regularly attending large gathering across the country. In fact, Americans had their heads so far in the sand, many were genuinely surprised that someone had unwittingly exposed thousands of people to the virus at CPAC, a well-known politically conservative conference.
As of this week March 8th, Americans have been divided by the “Stop panicking” media into two factions: Pro-panic and Anti-panic. Of course these options are not real, but it appears constructed to shame people who have been preparing for the virus. If you post information on social media for people to buy supplies in case of quarantine or lock-down you are encouraging people to “hoard supplies” and “spread panic”. If you wear an N95 face mask, it is because you aren’t aware “they do not work” and might “spread fear”. Meanwhile Hong Kong and Taiwan have both had very limited outbreaks as people immediately began wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.
Additionally, since many people do not want to be socially shamed, they are staying with the “anti-panic” camp for now. I believe this will continue until localized outbreaks become larger and medical facilities began expressing concern with over-capacity. Once the majority of Americans realize they have been tricked into letting their defenses down, it will be too late or hazardous for people to go out and begin stocking up on supplies for a lock down or “containment zone” .
Now it is March 10th. Most people I know in Houston still do not believe we will have a problem here. Most Americans did not believe there would be problem in America, but New York state has now issued orders to create a containment zone to “stop the spread”. Despite the fact that China, South Korea, and Italy have all instituted lock-downs and quarantine zones, Americans have largely failed to prepare for a lock down scenario.
I will emphasize that I do not believe this virus will wipe out America in some apocolyptic event. However, healthcare systems around the world are struggling and some failing to deal the with large amounts of people needing ICU support to survive. If ICUs and hospitals become too over-burdened in a short period of time, experts warn we will see an increased death rate directly from the virus, and from people unable to be treated for problem like car accidents and other illnesses.
Americans must slow the spread of Novel Coronavirus or risk a wide-spread healthcare crises. Preparation is not panic.