a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: COVID-19 (the virus formerly known as Novel Coronavirus) - March 13

Thursday, March 26, 2020

COVID-19 (the virus formerly known as Novel Coronavirus) - March 13

SUMMARY: The world is a little nuts right now. Wrote on March 13... And I still haven't inserted the missing photos or info, so this just has to go up now.

Backfill: July 16, Added some photos. Couple of formatting things & a few words here and there.

(Following are some from my FB posts or comments between March 2 and 13)

We just don't know enough. And our lovely Prez, who disbanded the infectious disease/pandemic organization that Obama set up, and his lovely organizations, have been very much less than helpful.

The crises in Wuhan, in Italy, and in S. Korea are big klaxon warnings of what could go wrong here.  So far it hasn't, but cases are climbing daily (how much? Dunno? CDC and cronies are sitting on info and questioning tests...), and here in Santa Clara County, we're one of the lucky "hotbeds". With 45 people identified so far-- but there are limited test kits! And CDC (?) is refusing to deal with tests for people who are not exhibiting enough symptoms!

My theory--and I'm not the only one, and I'm talking about in the medical community--is that it's already very widespread, but because so many people are asymptomatic, and because it's Cold Season anyway so mild symptoms are likely treated like a cold anyway, it's already rife in the community.

Talking about it is EVERYwhere because the stock market is tanking (2 weeks ago I thought I was a few months away from retirement finally. Now--??  Who knows.), the economy is tanking, businesses are worried about going out of business, lives are completely disrupted, people are out of work...

I haven't tried to count how many posts in FB I've read in the last couple of days that deal with COVID-19 in one way or another. I've certainly contributed. But it has to be a very high percentage. Yesterday morning while reading the SJ Mercury News, I counted how many articles had some mentions or were entireley about it. Yesterday — yes, 33; no, 24.  Today — yes, 41; no, 19. No wonder it feels overwhelming.

TO DO:  >> Take photo of front page of SJ Merc and sports and business fronts...

And a lot of info is nonsense--and the more detailed and technical it gets, the more it seems to depend on which expert you're quoting. But there are very common and very ignorant posts that are viral:
  • Insisting that COVID-19 is "just the flu". Yep. Like measles is just the chickenpox. Nope, entirely different viruses. Flu vaccine doesn't work for COVID-19. But you all knew that already. And we have no idea really how this virus is going to progress, mutate, etc. (The 1918 Spanish Flu is a huge precautionary tale.)
  • If you think you've been exposed, drink a lot of water to wash the virus into your stomach where your stomach acid will kill it.  (Whaaaaa? Seriously? Avoid getting a virus by DRINKING it???)
  • If you think you've been exposed, take a slow deep breath; if it doesn't make you cough, you're good, otherwise your lungs are already infected with fibrosis.  (I can't even...  I mean...  )
Well, I mean, it *is* overwhelming. I went out into the yard to play with the dogs in the sunshine for a while. Go thou and do the same! As Dan Rather said in an eloquent post: Steady!

My county. March 1. Only two people here so far. But other places, spreading like wildfire
(and we Californians know too much about spreading wildfires.)
So, caution is good.  How much caution?  I cannot begin to tell you how much the world has been disrupted.  NBA cancelling the rest of their season (now that 2 players have tested positive with apparently mild symptoms). Arenas and theaters and schools and Disney parks (!!) closed, mostly "until the end of March, and then we'll reevaluate".  My photo club canceled our 2 march meetings (I was in favor of it, watching the situation in the overseas countries).  The Sunnyvale Historical Society cancelled a speaker I had been looking forward to hearing.

March 2 is when I really started thinking about The Risks Of Going Out:

Went out to dinner last night, after reading articles about how the prudent thing to do is to avoid touching things that others have touched, and to disinfect or wash your hands if you have to touch something. It's daunting: You either keep on living as you have been or you stay home, I suppose:
  • Door to restaurant, opens only by pulling.
  • Host does a quick wipe-down of our table before we sit--was that a fresh unused cloth?With disinfectant? 
  • Handed us menus: How many times have these been handled (and/or coughed on) by people in addition to the host? 
  • Given water glasses by bare hands.
  • Given bowls with chips and dip, bowls touched with bare hands.
  • The napkins and silverware placed on the table--bet it was pulled out of the dishwasher with bare hands, placed on the table with bare hands...
  • (Yes, apparently the virus can survive on fabric and paper.)
  • The little booklet containing the bill, containing a pen to sign the credit card bill....
  • And how is food prepared in a way to prevent the transmission from someone with a cough or drippy nose... or who has no symptoms but is shedding germs as they go?
  • A restaurant is not the place to be to avoid your hands or other objects touching YOUR MOUTH. 
    Well, I enjoyed the meal anyway and set those thoughts aside for now.
    (My county now has I think a dozen confirmed cases. Out of 2 million people. I'm still not super worried...)

    Lucky's TP supply, March 12.
    Before Santa Clara County(?) shelter-in place goes into effect...
    before it's even announced. My timing was good, because later that day,
    after the announcement, chaos and panic buying got even worse.
    People are insanely hoarding-- toilet paper of all things is being cleared from the shelves as soon as it goes out (although yesterday morning at Luckys: TP was sparse, but there was plenty available. Might depend on the time of day you go. As I understand it, there is plenty of toilet paper, it’s just that they don’t stock a lot of it because it takes up a lot of space at any given store, so they have to wait for the next shipment to come in, which might be each day (just ask).); same for hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes.

    (Fortunately I already had those things Just Because, but have a very limited quantity of wipes and would like to get more, because I am using them. But-- Was feeling smug. I *always* have little bottles of hand sanitizer in various places, so doesn't matter if the stores are out. In fact, had a cold last November and so I had them throughout the house.
    Before going out last night (March 2), I went to get one. And... spent half an hour looking, and couldn't find a single one! WTF? I have one in my car that I often use--nope, none there. I always have one in the bathrooms that guests use--nope, not there. Not by my desk (but someone rearranged things for me, so it could be anywhere random). Always one in my computer case for work--nope. I moved one out of the way constantly in my bedroom until not long ago-- nope. Where did they all GO? In what "safe, rational" place did I put them away until later? (did later find 2 bottles))

    My preciousessssss.......

    What about grocery shopping? I agree that avoiding hanging around other people, like standing in line, could be a risk, now that they've decided that it *can* be transmitted through the air. But I also have been thinking a lot about what to do if I have food delivered--wear gloves, disinfect each item as I take it out of the bag? That's a possibility certainly for cans, bottles, and boxes, but fresh veggies and fruit might be challenging.

    But then, I went shopping yesterday and when I got home, I thought, wow, the checker actually handled every single thing to ring it up, so I have the same problem there.
    (I did not sit there wiping everything down--I don't actually have 60%+ alcohol wipes, so it's a little challenging. I do have alcohol and an empty spray bottle... )

    This is all for 45 *known* cases out of 2 million people in Santa Clara County. But, last time we had reasonable data, the cases were increasing exponentially.  The  goal at this point everywhere is only partly containment--it's clear that it's a bit too late for that probably--but mitigation: Ensuring that the cases are spread out across the coming months instead of all hitting in a huge mass within a couple of weeks, swamping the health infrastructure and insuring that more people will die than necessary.

    Healthcare capacity could be a huge issue; that’s what people have been talking about mostly in the trenches. The simple graphic shows why.
    “The reason for trying to slow down the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.....
    "One week ago, Italy had 2,502 cases of the virus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19. At that point, doctors in the country’s hospitals could still perform the most lifesaving functions by artificially ventilating patients who experienced acute breathing difficulties.
    Today, Italy has 10,149 cases of the coronavirus. There are now simply too many patients for each one of them to receive adequate care. Doctors and nurses are unable to tend to everybody. They lack machines to ventilate all those gasping for air..." (March 11 article:)

    And I, finding myself in a higher-risk group (interestingly, young children seem to have only mild cases, no deaths so far), I'm happy at this point to be cautious everywhere.

    From CDC March 15. Not great to be over 85. Not good to be 65 or older.
    THESE are the numbers that particularly worry me.  (CDC as of March 15)


    TO DO: >> Insert photo of movie stub

    So HOW cautious should I be?  Last week I went to 3 movies over at Oakridge. Safe?

    • (1) To get into the theater, I do not have to touch anything if I'm careful: Doors into the mall are automatic; 
    • (2) if I'm careful on the escalator I don't need to touch the handrail; 
    • (3) I buy my tix ahead of time and so the ticket taker just scans my phone (dilemma: I collect those stubs that they hand back--do I take it?  He's wearing gloves, but what has he touched while wearing them?  I did take it, and didn't try to disinfect it. It's a tiny square of paper); 
    • (4) walking into the theater itself, as long as I don't arrive late, the door is open for me to walk in;
    • (5) again, if I'm careful going up and down the stairs, I can avoid the handrail. 
    • (6) before sitting, I wipe both armrests widely with sanitizing wipes, and the buttons that control the seat, and the tray table if I think I'm likely to touch it, but 
    • (7) I sadly have given up buying concessions for the moment, to avoid handling food containers (and food) handled by others.  
    • (8) I do my absolute best to avoid the restrooms, because, you know, faucets, toilet handles..
    • (9) Do my dangdest not to touch my face... Then, afterwards, 
    • (10) when I return to my car, I wipe down my hands anyway. And 
    • (11) when I return home, I wash my hands with soap & water and wipe down my car door handle and steering wheel.

    Nearly empty for a prime time of day. Maybe one person or couple per row, if that.
    (My images behind came out too dark--but you can kind of see rows of seat backs with no one in them.
    One blob towards the back, right of center (black/reddish) that is a person.)

    And it has been OK, because no one else seems to be going to the movies. (Well, not quite that bad last week--but people were buying seats farrrrrrr apart from each other, not crowding into the middle as usual.)

    So, basically, my point is, the world has become like a snowglobe that someone picked up and shook--everything's in flux and topsy turvy and you don't really know where it's all going to land.

    TO DO: >> Take some photos! Or post in a later post & point to it from here.

    ON THE UP SIDE,  I suppose: We (individuals, governments local and national) are learning a heck of a lot.

    Best advice from some travel sites: If you must travel, just go to a park and go hiking! Probably no risk there!  My knee isn't quite there yet, but I am trying to remind myself to get out of the house, just into the yard or walk around the block.

    And, yes, Go Thou And Do Likewise.

    Predicting that the US will blow up like Italy has (as of March 15):

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