reverse Ebola

Red alert, day 45. Lockdown, day 35. Suffolk has 896 (+21) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 2244 (+42, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 586 (+0, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning.

The UK has recorded 152,840 cases on 669,850 tests (+29,058 , some on the same people). A total of 20,732 (+413) deaths in hospital have been recorded, including these Suffolkers profiled in the East Anglian Daily Times.

To reiterate, this is definitely an undercount and the level of government response is nowhere near what it should be. In Finland, 12 out of 26 residents of one nursing home have died and there are surely similar cases in total institutions everywhere. We’ll have to to wait for Private Eye to tell us, or whatever bureau keeps tabs on funerals. Another chilling detail: in the US, people are attending funerals by sitting in their cars outside the cemetery.

The most frightening social media chain letter of the last 24 hours is the Washington Post story (also without paywall in The Independent) about the clotting ability of the virus, or one version of the virus. It is causing strokes in young patients and, in the most striking image, seems to make clots form faster than surgeons can remove them. Like Ebola in reverse.

I am trying to level up in cooking by copying dishes from friends’ social media posts. Tonight: egg noodles with oil and peanut butter (this friend adds peanut butter to everything), and sauce of egg and mushrooms and herbs. His also had pepperoni and parmesan. I forgot the parmesan in my vegetarian version, but will add next time, along with some more spinach and maybe garlic.

Today I hosted my first nonclass Zoom a high school friend. We invited six others to see if we could maintain a single threaded conversation (plus chat) with that sized group. It worked well and I think this crowd will be having more of them. One friend was spending the afternoon on a virtual bike ride on an app called Zwift that connected with his exercise bike, and shared the screen (below). Now I’m wondering what other augmented virtuality apps can be meshed with Zoom. Nobody expects to be traveling anywhere before July at the earliest.

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the long 2020

Red alert, day 44. Lockdown, day 34. Suffolk has 877 (+27) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 2202 (+183, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 586 (+4, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning.

The UK has recorded 148,377 cases on 640,792 tests (+28,760, some on the same people). A total of 20,319 (+813) deaths in hospital have been recorded. That curve definitely hasn’t turned. We are not getting out of lockdown on early March.

Local politics in Ipswich is frozen as council elections have been postponed to 2021. This means 16 councillors will serve an extra year. Mayor Jan Parry and Deputy Mayor Jane Riley will also serve an extra year in those posts as the annual meeting to elect the mayor can’t be held (Ipswich Star).

Nationally, the thing to be furious about this week is that the UK government’s scientific advisory group also includes Dominic Cummings, as well as the brother of a government software supplier who has worked on Vote Leave and has a contract for the NHS tracking app among others (Carole Cadwalladr reports).

Someone with a bigger platform than me (599K followers) agrees that the US needs a shadow government:

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equal sleeps

Red alert, day 43. Lockdown, day 33. Suffolk has 850 (+149) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 2119 (+190, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 582 (+18, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning.

The UK has recorded 143,464 cases on 612,031 tests (+28,532, some on the same people). A total of 19,506 (+684) deaths in hospital have been recorded. Every life a story. Obituary writers are trying to keep up.

Finland Sanna Marin gets the good press today for holding the first children’s press conference. It’s like PMQs, but with (future) voters! (YLE transcript, Areena recording, English news story on This is Finland PR site)

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piling up

Red alert, day 42. Lockdown, day 32. Suffolk has 814 (+99) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 2069 (+89, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 578 (+15, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning.

Today’s Public Health England release logs 138,078 cases on 583,496 tests (+23,560, some on the same people). A total of 18,738 (+616) deaths in hospital have been recorded. Some of the bereavement announcements on social media are for not just one death in the family, but several.

In the daily US briefing, President Trump advised people to use bleach (taken internally) or ultraviolet light against the virus. Unlike on television, no staffer piped up, “With respect sir, no, they should not, that will kill them.” Only in living rooms did this happen (Dr Frank Wu video). The New York Times framed his comments against a mushy second opinion (“some experts”), and only later took a firmer stand.


After the remarks blew up, Trump said he was using sarcasm. Breitbart said he didn’t say it at all. The Guardian reported that he’d received a letter from a televangelist touting bleach as a cure. CNN suggested he seemed to be playing off comments about the efficacy of bleach and light in killing the coronavirus on surfaces, made by a Homeland Security official earlier in the conference and just before it (an interpretation favored by Dr Deborah Birx). Two days later (click thread to see how much money they’re up to):

Meanwhile what other news have we missed? Well, in supply chains, the UK could run out of warehouse space in a fortnight as imports pile up, says the Loadstar. These would be imports that were already on their way by sea, before things seized up, but can’t be moved further into closed retail chains.

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silent hypoxia

Red alert, day 41. Lockdown, day 31. Suffolk has 715 (+14) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 1980 (+51, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 563 (+3, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning.

The UK has recorded 133,495 cases on 559,935 tests (+22,814, some on the same people). A total of 18,100 (+759) deaths in hospital have been recorded.

Today’s scary symptom to watch out for is silent hypoxia. Asymptomatic patients can be losing lung capacity without realizing it, and when they finally collapse it is too late: (click for thread/link):

Germany’s Angela Merkel gets the good press today for speaking the truth:


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head of the class

Red alert, day 40. Lockdown, day 30. Suffolk has 701 (+45) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 1929 (+37, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 560 (+10, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning.

The UK has recorded 129,044 cases on 535,342 tests (+18,206, some on the same people). A total of 17,337 (+823) deaths in hospital have been recorded. About 100 UK healthcare workers are known to have died.

ONS figures indicate that deaths may be 41% higher than officially reported, Sky News said on Twitter, although the linked story does not seem to have that figure.

The House of Commons returned.

Massachusetts will keep schools closed through the end of the year.

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new gestures

Red alert, day 39. Lockdown, day 29. Suffolk has 656 (+38) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 1892 (+46, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 550 (+2, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning.

The UK has recorded 124,743 cases on 501,379 tests (+19,316, some on the same people). A total of 16,509 (+449) deaths in hospital have been recorded. The second derivative on deaths is negative at the moment, but so is the second derivative on testing.

Deaths include Margaret Tapley, an 84 year-old auxiliary nurse for the NHS who at the beginning of the outbreak was still doing three night shifts a week as she had for 40 years. Auxiliary nurses are nursing assistants, and seem to be paid, although the name suggests the sort of volunteers this country seems to run on (volunteer judges, volunteer police, unpaid interns).

Advice for the single:

Dr Fauci says we may never shake hands again. Fine with me.

A high school classmate who has been living in Hong Kong for 20 years says the flat curve there is partly down to changes already made for SARS: people with respiratory symptoms wearing masks (he says normally about 50% do this), establishment of public hand sanitizer stations, regular refilling of soap dispensers in public bathrooms.

US oil prices turned negative, as in oil companies will pay you to take the stuff because they’ve run out of storage space. Stalled production and traffic is the immediate reason, along with secular supply-demand trends such as green energy use no doubt.

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fifteen pages

Red alert, day 38. Lockdown, day 28. Suffolk has 618 (+18) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 1846 (+65, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 548 (+5, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning.

The UK has recorded 120,067 cases on 372,967 tests (+21, 626, some on the same people). A total of 16,050 (+596) deaths in hospital have been recorded.

A 99 year old veteran, not the one who walked a marathon in his garden, has died here in Ipswich. The friend who is an ER doc back home reports all hospital staff have had their salaries cut 20% (as part of university-wide pay cuts) and his N95 mask is wearing out.

Boston friends agree four to six pages is normal.

It’s Patriots Day tomorrow and back in Massachusetts, the traditional battle re-enactments will be virtual. Two members of the Bedford Minute-Man unit made the traditional walk to Concord Bridge this morning, using social distancing, according to the town nostalgia page on Facebook. Nothing further seems to be planned. There is a more extensive schedule for Lexington (via Cindy W), and another from the Lexington historical society – mainly video replays of previous years’ events on town cable. (Old peeve: cable as a public information channel is discriminatory – not everyone has cable.) It is possible that on-demand recordings might show up later.

Also back in the hometown, army reserve forces have landed at Hanscom AFB to help with medical care in the region. The big church up the street is working with a research firm to open a pop-up COVID testing center in a tent on the edge of the Common. Too bad we don’t live there anymore. Down in Florida, Fisher’s Island, an all-millionaire community, is reported to have bought enough tests for all 800 families and staff. In Navajo Country, people are trying to do CV hygiene without water or electricity. As they say, we are in the same storm but not in the same boat.

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banker’s hours

Red alert, day 37. Lockdown, day 27. Suffolk has 600 (+55) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 1781 (+60, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 543 (+8, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning.

The UK has recorded 114,217 cases on 460,437 tests (+21, 389, some on the same people). A total of 15,464 deaths in hospital have been recorded. For the week ending April 3, deaths exceeded the five-year average by 6,042 (ONS release, and it is the nature of recent counts that further deaths may be retroactively recorded).

Deaths have included at least 62 healthcare providers (daily Twitter wall of names), including nurses Donald Suelto and Michael Allieu. The NHS has a lot of male nurses. Patients who have died include Matthew Seligman, the jogging bass player from Bowie’s Live Aid gig [1] and a collaborator of New Wave acts like Thomas Dolby (who organized a Zoom wake). In his offstage life, Seligman was a human rights solicitor and writing “an autobiographical science fiction novel.”

The Times has published an investigation of how the government bungled preparing for the virus, which is great, but doesn’t help with the current state of crisis. Owen Jones has tweeted the key points. The fact that is getting the most coverage overall is that Boris Johnson doesn’t do chairing meetings and won’t work weekends. A friend suggests that Theresa May would have been a better leader in a pandemic, and I don’t think that’s a controversial take.

More authorities worldwide are saying everyone should wear masks (Cuomo in New York is ordering it), but not as many are giving people ways to get them.

Twitter has an explanation for the US small business grants that seemed to be going mainly to large chain restaurants: it’s just more of the industrial-lobbying complex drive to squeeze out independents. Or at least that’s going to be the effect.

In silver lining news for NUMTOTs and other new urbanists, a UC Davis study finds California is saving $40 million per day from the lack of car crashes. This could have been better phrased in terms of the human cost – 6000 fewer injuries or fatal accidents per month.

Penguins are walking the streets of Cape Town.

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no surprises

Red alert, day 36. Lockdown, day 26. The Internet tells me it’s Friday. Suffolk has 545 (+46) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 1721 (+132, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 535 (+26, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning. The BBC lookup applet has just made it harder to get figures by requiring a full postcode rather than a county or city district name.

Public Health England reported 108,692 positive results (after 438,991  tests, some on the same person) in the UK. There have been 14,576 (+847) patient deaths. The UK is four days past its peak of 1,156 deaths, according to the current COVID-19 projections from the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Education (via Robert Bernstein).

The United States also supposed to be past its peak; however Massachusetts is still 12 days away from a peak of 241 COVID deaths. These are exceptionally clear graphs; however we know the official numbers are underreported (e.g. deaths at home, care homes, prisons, homeless shelters, and homeless deaths are missing from the UK figures) and we don’t know by how much.

The US is set to reopen on a phased plan requiring two-week checkpoints. To pass the checkpoints, each state or region must show a decline in cases, a decline in reported symptoms that don’t trigger tests, the ability to treat all patients without crisis care, and testing for health workers, including antibody testing to catch asymptomatic cases. If you’re wondering what’s wrong with that, this thread is a start:

Social media is still full of people cottage-manufacturing PPE – more masks in the US, more face shields in the UK. Meanwhile NHS staff, more than 50 of whom have already died, are being asked to work without gowns.

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the pandepression

Red alert, day 35. Lockdown, day 25. Suffolk has 499 (+6) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 1589(+27, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 509 (+13, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning. Public Health England has recorded 98,476 positive results (after 398,916 tests, some on the same person). There have been 12,686 (+761) patient deaths.

There are now 2 million cases counted worldwide, up from 1 million just two weeks ago.

The death galleries have begun, in the Guardian (April 11) and the New York Times.

22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last month. Total unemployment is around 30 million, facing the delays in benefits payments noted yesterday. This is estimated at about 20 percent of workers, compared with 15% in 1931. And the only radical candidate for President has folded.

Anecdata: The Royal Mail is not working as dependably as usual.

Interesting: Muslim women who wear face coverings say niqab wearers are getting less flak now more people are masked.

In higher education news, Durham, one of the Russell Group of top UK universities like us – it is more or less the UK’s Williams, and I always think of QMUL as the UK’s CCNY, back when CCNY had Nobel prizewinners – is planning to restructure to offer some online-only degrees, cut subjects, and outsource. The student newspaper broke the story.

I finished the gigantic pile of marking (50+ papers), first pass, still need to go through and harmonize the scale and do the bookkeeping, and went to a couple of social meetups. The Zoom background game has gotten competitive, with several people using Simon Stalenhåg’s mashups of apocalypse and Swedisn normalcy. There is also a trend of projecting a picture of your normal surroundings but tidied up. I experimented with a couple of green towels and sheets as projection background, but Zoom really requires a professional green screen or a better camera to work. Until then, it’s the bookshelf view.

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parting gifts

Red alert, day 34. Lockdown, day 24. Suffolk has 499 (+6) confirmed cases in today’s figures, neighboring Essex has 1589 (+27, about 2X Suffolk population) cases and Tower Hamlets has 509 (+13, about 0.5X Suffolk population) confirmed cases as of this morning. The UK has recorded 98,476 positive results (after 398,916 tests, some on the same person). There have been 12,686 (+761) patient deaths.

Health Minister Matt Hancock denied having promised there would be 25,000 tests a day by now. (On April 14, there were 15,994 tests.) Hancock’s headline message today was that he he wanted to ensure people who were dying could see their loved ones. According to Twitter they now seem to be getting to see them on a nurse’s or doctor’s phone if they are lucky. He also pledged to expand care home testing.

In what would become his most mocked talking point, Hancock, who has rejected NHS nurse pay raises in a vote referenced without a date by Twitter, said he wanted carers to be recognized with a badge that said CARE. Apparently they would have to buy the badge.

Hancock also praised a 99 year-old veteran who walked a marathon in his backyard to raise money for the NHS, because apparently we can’t do that by taxing companies and oligarchs. The 99 year-old veteran now has a slew of imitators. (I will confess to never having understood the logic of funding individuals to run and walk and swim to raise marginal funds for healthcare. How about we all just march at a slow and inclusive pace to the polls and elect a government that will collect the taxes? I don’t mind being taxed a bit more too.)

The Duke of Westminster has donated £12.5 million to the NHS, although Twitter says he could have donated as much as £3.3 billion if he’d paid his inheritance tax. (The Grosvenors own large slices of central London and are good at trust funds. May I point out that equivalent slices of Helsinki are owned, or used to be, by the University of Helsinki Students’ Union. This is the difference between the countries in a nutshell.)

At least two thirds of graduating students have had job offers withdrawn because of the virus, the Guardian reported, citing a survey of 5,000 students.

The drive to recruit more farmworkers to pick harvests has been unsuccessful. Planeloads of Romanian workers are being flown in as usual. What critics have not taken into account is that the farms are in remote areas and many require you to leave your family and live on site. Also, picking at speed is not exactly unskilled labor, any more than most other tasks whether they’re insecure and poorly paid or not.

Anecdata: New York Airbnb hosts are unable to rent their properties as hotels and so will be dumping them onto the normal rental market, or possibly the sale market, creating downside pressure on real estate (@teroterotero). We can dream. Other lifestyle indicators: bicycle use is up, Netflix value is up.

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