Joseph here. I've had a couple of questions about the coronavirus. First: I'm wondering how to spell the word: Capital C? Should it be two
words? The most common spelling seems to be one word, small c. So I'm going with that, even though it looks wrong to my eyes.
Second: I'm wondering if I caught the thing.
Even though I don't get sick very often, I recently recovered from a bout of the flu. Well...maybe
it was the flu. Let's just say that, whatever it was, it's an illness that, on the severity scale, situated itself somewhere between the flu and a cold. For a couple of days, I mostly stayed in bed with a fever.
Unfortunately, I did not have my all-time favorite symptom -- trippy fever dreams. Y'know what I'm talking about? Those intense, hallucinatory, sometimes scary, sometimes groovy, let's-return-to-the-60s
dreams? Dreams so vivid that you kinda enjoy
None of those. Bummer.
After that came the cough. There has even been some minor difficulty breathing, which never has never been a problem for me before. The sniffles never really showed up; usually, when I get a cold, an annoying degree of congestion lingers for a while.
(AFIB also returned, but that's a cardio issue, presumably unrelated.)
Here's the thing: It was all very low-level. I've had way
worse tussles with influenza in the past, and so have you. If that
was coronavirus, then what's the big deal? And if it wasn't, then what's the difference between this Big Bad Virus Scaring Everyone and a normal old flu?
Some of you may now be desperate to tell me that I should go to the doctor to find out if my flu was just
the flu. Sorry; no can pay. Besides, I'm over it, mostly.
Some of you may now be desperate to inform me that I should quarantine myself. At this point, I must go into crazy-eyed Manson mode: "Man, I been in quarantine ALL MY LIFE! That's where your society has put me, man -- in QUARANTINE! ISOLATED! That's why I'm FREE
(Seriously, I have no friends and I don't go places. So, no worries.)
Let's zoom out for the larger question: Just how problematic is this damned virus that threatens to upend our economy? We don't really know how many people have the illness here in the United States, because the tests are not available and the numbers are iffy. We keep hearing the words "two percent fatality."
But is that number accurate? Fauci once said that, when all the facts come in, the real number will be closer to one percent.
In South Korea
, where testing is better, the reported death rate is 0.77 percent.
has had three deaths out of 1966 confirmed cases. That's 0.15 percent (presuming that I can still recall how to calculate percentages). Yet Trump has banned travel from Germany.
Norway has had 629 cases and no
fatalities, yet Trump banned travel from Norway.
Latin America has had 222 cases and two deaths, for a fatality rate of 0.9 percent. Trump did not ban travel to and from South America. That situation may change soon, thanks to this embarrassment
(Could Trump himself have been exposed? He didn't look well when he spoke to the nation from the White House last night.)
It is true that China has had a fatality rate of nearly four percent, if these figures
are correct. The fatality rate in Italy is highest of all -- 4.25 percent as of four days ago. Looks to me as though the strain of the virus in those countries may be more dangerous than elsewhere.
Nobody ever called me an optimist, but isn't it possible that we've overstated the problem?
I mean, it seems likely to me that a lot of people may have had the coronavirus without realizing it. Many people may have presumed, as I have presumed, that their relatively "soft" illness was just another bout with the flu. Perhaps just a cold. If we learn that coronavirus cases are more widespread than current figures indicate, then the fatality percentages will go much lower. Perhaps they will end up on a par with the death rate for "normal" influenza strains
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that the mortality rate for seasonal flu is 0.1 percent.
Now, I appreciate that Trump has suffered from the (no doubt correct) perception that his administration has mishandled this problem. You've probably heard that Trump fired the White House pandemic response team. That claim is rated as "true" by Snopes
, but only "half-true" by Politifact
. (Read both articles for the full details.) It is indeed true that Trump sought to reduce funding for the CDC, but Congress didn't go along with his plans.
Bottom line: Trump's history on health issues, coupled with his marble-mouthed statements, just plain looks bad.
Good. I'm just cynical enough to state that whatever makes Trump look bad in an election year is good news.
What's not so good is the possibility that you may lose your job due to an economic clampdown. What if you work for a movie theater? A sports arena? A restaurant? A school? A museum? An amusement park? A brothel?