Monday, March 2, 2020

Speculation on Coronavirus - An Introduction

If I actually hit the publish button, this will be one of a series of posts on the coronavirus COVID-19.  It is totally my speculation about what has, is and will happen.  I'm not a doctor.  My Ph.D. is in physics and electrical engineering, so I am good at solving problems.  But any or all of this could be nonsense!

From the numbers posted by Johns Hopkins University, the death rate for those diagnosed with the virus is now at 3.4% (March 2, 2020).  Reports seem to indicate nearly all deaths are the elderly or those with pre-existing health conditions.  For some reason, the accepted 'truth' is that the death rate is between 2 and 3 percent.  I'm not sure how they make that conclusion, but I suspect they are assuming there is a significantly large undiagnosed group of people with coronavirus--that have not died.

Either way, that means if the virus spreads in your community, you might expect one out of thirty to fifty people that catch it to die.

They also 'say' that the virus survives longer outside of the body than the flu, that it can 'hang' in the air longer, and that it may also be spread through fecal matter.  I would therefore guess that it is significantly smaller than the various flu viruses, and can probably penetrate cells easier.  Combined with the fact that you cannot tell whether a person is infected before symptoms show, and that a number of people have recovered (according to CDC tests) and then later tested positive again, one has to assume that this spreads much easier than the flu.

That is, if it gets out in your community, a lot of people will catch it.  That doesn't mean they will all show bad symptoms, get very sick, or even die.

One thing about the source of the virus.  It seems pretty amazing that China's most infectious bio-research facility was a couple of miles from the alleged food market where they say the infection started.  It seems more likely than not that COVID-19 was part of a Chinese bio-weapon or bio-research project that accidentally got out.  It's ease of spread, and worse-than-flu effects, seem consistent with a man-made or man-modified virus.

There are two things that really concern me about the virus and what happens in the future.  First, my wife has asthma and her lungs are not in good shape.  I'm really worried that she might catch it with a bad outcome.  Second, China and Italy have responded by isolating communities.  Some schools in the US have been closed.  If the virus spreads and the death rate stays high, we may see community closures throughout the US.

The problems with a city or town closure are how to distribute food, water, fuel and electricity safely.  I saw a run on gasoline a couple of years ago after storm damage to off-shore and near shore facilities.  The gas at stations disappeared in a day.  Luckily, gas availability returned in a few days before the cars ran dry and people were stuck.

But what if a city closure means no gas and diesel trucks get in.  No food gets to market.  Will the electricity grid stay up from power stations outside the isolated city? What about city water? How will they get their fuel.  With a claimed 14-day incubation period, you figure any isolation is going to be a minimum of 14 days and probably 30 days or more.  How many people keep that amount of food, water and/or fuel around?  If the U.S. starts to isolate cities or communities, there are going to be runs everywhere--on everything!

Clearly, the spread of COVID-19 is not at that point in the U.S., and President Trump has done a good job of delaying or slowing down the spread in the U.S.

Obviously, I don't want a panic, or think that one is appropriate now.  I do think you should start thinking about where you would get water and how long your food would last if they said no-one was going in or out of your town (without HAZMAT clothing) for the next 30 days.  Personally, if current outcome probabilities are accurate, I think town/city/region closures would be much more destructive than the virus.  They should be avoided in almost all cases.

One last point.  I'm pretty disgusted about the Surgeon General and others deriding citizens for buying face masks.  They claim they don't help prevent catching the virus (point 1), then they claim they want the masks available to protect doctors and nurses (point 2).  If they don't help prevent catching the virus, what good are they to doctors and nurses?  I know this is over-simplified.  But pass a law that in a national medical emergency, the Government can prioritize purchase/delivery of medical items to medical facilities and professionals.  Don't expect citizens in an open market to not make a choice in their individual best interest.

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