Coronavirus

Do we still say “that much ink has been spilled?” There’s no ink anymore, or not much, just electrons. But even though it is easier to find information, most of it is probably wrong. Some of it – early on – was wrong by the design of the Chinese government. I still can’t get a read on what the mortality rate of this virus is, though it is clear that it spreads fairly quickly. Anyway, here is some info that probably isn’t fake news.

Are we surprised that a government coverup/screw-up is probably at the heart of this? WaPo – Early missteps and state secrecy in China probably allowed the coronavirus to spread farther and faster.

So leading up to the Chinese/lunar new year, there was a festival in Wuhan, but people went because…

The government says it’s not a problem, there are no cases anymore.

Faced with a potential pandemic, the Chinese government wanted to put on a good show of “We’re in control; there’s nothing to fear.” So how’s that working out?

An analysis of those early weeks — from official statements, leaked accounts from Chinese medical professionals, newly released scientific data and interviews with public health officials and infectious disease experts — reveals potential missteps by China’s overburdened public health officials.

It also underscores how a bureaucratic culture that prioritized political stability over all else probably allowed the virus to spread farther and faster.

“It’s clear that a much stronger public health system could save China lives and money,” said Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medical professionals who tried to sound an alarm were seized by police. Key state media omitted mention of the outbreak for weeks. Cadres focused on maintaining stability — and praising party leader Xi Jinping — as the crisis worsened.

And those Chinese .gov functionaries who arrested some doctors for trying to get the truth out… 8 people were dealt with according to law because of spreading false information about Wuhan Viral Pneumonia online. How much pain, suffering and death will they ultimately be responsible for, no one can say at this point. But they surly didn’t work to stop the spread of the disease. (That’s a Google Translate of the original article. I wish I had notes on who directed it to me, but I can’t find anything other than a mention in Twitter.)

For the details on what is happening, see NY Times – Coronavirus Live Updates: Vietnam and Australia Curb Access to China as Death Toll Passes 250.

Travel restrictions. Canceled flights. Quarantine. Welcome to the pandemic.

Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity

Because I guess people need to know if there is something wrong with their beer. ‘Corona beer virus’ searches suddenly spike on Google after deadly coronavirus outbreak.

To be crystal clear (and we can’t quite believe this might need explaining) there is absolutely zero connection between Corona beer and this deadly virus. So if you’re looking forward to relaxing this weekend with a beer and zesty lime, please do go ahead and indulge.

Now I’m willing to conceded that at least some of this is the result of autocomplete. You start typing in a Google Search bar, and they fill in what they think you are really looking for. It is one of the more infuriating features of Google, and one of the many reasons that I switched to DuckDuckGo.com a long time ago.

As for the title to this post…

“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”

― Robert A. Heinlein, from the novel Time Enough for Love

I can’t find a reference to which character spoke that line, but it was probably Lazarus Long.

Why Do I Feel Like They Aren’t Telling Us the Whole Story?

And now coronavirus is in the US. College student quarantined in Texas with suspected coronavirus case.

China extended its severe travel ban to additional cities, cutting off travel for 20 million people during a time when millions are expected to be traveling for Chinese New Year.

So there’s a coronavirus patient in Seattle, and college student in Texas. The Chinese are imposing a large quarantine.

The quarantine began Thursday in Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities shut down transportation in the 11-million-person city, prohibiting people from using buses, trains or ferries, and canceling flights and trains leaving Wuhan.

Those travel restrictions have been extended to the nearby cities of Huanggang [population 6.2 million] and Ezhou [population 1 million], both in China’s Hubei province.

For a virus with 600 cases, and 11 deaths, this would seem to be an extreme response. But then I’m not an epidemiologist.

Here is some info on the virus. Deadly coronavirus outbreak: What to know.

Meanwhile the World Health Organization is saying, “Nothing to see here. Move along.” Or something to that effect.