Thursday, March 26, 2020

How Does This End?

I've cut back on blogging, because, well, I got a little burned out looking at the numbers, but more so because I became distressed thinking about the future.

Italy, where the number of new cases per day seems to have peaked, says its lockdown will stop "well before" the end of July, though it might be piecemeal. The US just passed Italy in number of cases (but not per capita), though perhaps the New York City region has.

Yet Italy is no longer resuscitating people older than 60. (Snopes: "mixture")

This feels now like this situation is moving beyond mere numbers. Numbers are fun, until they aren't. The US has remained 15 days or so behind Italy for at least two weeks. There's no reason to expect that the next two weeks will go differently. NYC hospitals are already on the brink of being overwhelmed, and will certainly be so soon.

Overwhelmed hospitals is not something I've ever thought about, let alone thought would ever occur in the US. Could ever occur.

And yet I still don't know anyone who actually has Covid-19, let alone suffered from it, let alone died from it. It's still only prevalent at around 1 in 1000. But what I read scares me, which makes for a strange reaction to something that so far, to me, has only been abstract. I work at home and am disconnected from the work-a-day lifestyle. I haven't felt a visceral impact from this disease. I buy groceries as normal. Yet something is different.

I don't know exactly what that is. It's like waiting for the the other shoe to drop, but I have yet to see the first shoe drop. It's up there somewhere over my shoulder. Having to call for an ambulance at 11 pm because I can't breathe no longer seems difficult to imagine. Improbable -- I guess -- but imaginable.

So I've cut back on downloading the latest statistics, and cutback on reading news articles. They no longer say anything I can't imagine.

Please keep commenting as much as you wish, even though I can't always keep up. But I know you each well enough now that it's reassuring in its way. Just now it seems bigger than numbers, bigger than science, bigger than the news.

The other problem is I can't see how this ends. Yesterday my sister texted me and said, "I hate Trump more than ever," and I certainly feel the same. Yet I can't see self-isolating happening much past Easter, if even that long. Not in Italy, but even worse in America, where too many people think they have a right to do anything they want regardless of the consequences. But what else can work? Nothing I have read about. There's no vaccine, no special behavior, no epidemiological secrets. So what's supposed to happen? The US economy won't remain closed until July or whatever the necessary date is. So the only thing that can happen is, as far as I can see, the virus will surge, as will the deaths. Deaths of a million or two, I'm afraid.


Entropic man said...

I know the feeling. I see horror stories I would not believe in television but my home town is almost unaffected. It seems unreal,like watching a 1950s sci-fi movie.

David Appell said...

EM, thanks, I'm glad to know I'm not alone.

William M. Connolley said...

> But what else can work?

Masks; hand-washing. I'm not sure why people are so keen to ignore these possibilities.

> I still don't know anyone who actually has Covid-19

Me neither.

Layzej said...

My wife has a friend who fell ill shortly after returning from New York. I don't have details on whether she's been tested. It's hard not to suspect COVID.

My mom doesn't have COVID but has been having real problems breathing. She was gasping for breath when I talked to her over the weekend. She's afraid to go to the hospital because of risk of infection. It's really not a good time to need a respirologist. She's been prescribed steroids and ventolin. They seem to be doing the trick.

I'm also worried, but USA is in good shape to handle a large number of cases. Death rate has been kept low. Social distancing efforts put in place over a week ago should start to curb the number of new cases. I'm hopeful.