Welcome to Pandemia

As we’re all fretting and worrying, here’s the thread to do so.

I’m currently somewhere between annoyed and worried about other people. The neighbouring region in France was declared an outbreak area yesterday. Of course the kids have come to school in Germany all the time including today and we have quite a couple of kids who live in France (it’s 500m from school, many people take advantage of the lower French taxes until they notice that they also get lower French social pay…). As of tomorrow kids and teacher who live in France can no longer come to school for two weeks.

Actually we’re all just waiting for schools to be closed down completely, but we’re also asking ourselves what our politicians have been doing. Because it’s not like these scenarios  were unpredictable. Any somewhat competent administration should have discussed “what if”, decided on triggers and measures and therefore have their plans ready. Instead what we get are reactions which take precious time. Not to mention that we tend to get our information from the media, not the ministry of education.

Well, at least you should get some resin project pictures.

Personally I just told both my parents and my in laws that we’ll keep our distance. I’m not worried about me, Mr. or the kids, as we’re not risk groups, but very much worried about my mum and my father in law who probably check all the boxes on people with high fatality rates. Of course my mum thought I was overreacting…

So, share your woes, fret and complain, be annoyed with the powers that be.


  1. says

    In a rare instance our government has pleased me. Today I found this in our post box:

    It is a good way to try and reach as many people as possible, even those who do not have internet and do not watch news on TV. It debunks the most egregious misinformation about Covid-19, it informs what people should be doing and how and what the current situation is. Short, to the point, factual. And signed by an actual epidemiology expert.

    As of today, Czech Republic, a country of roughly 10 million people, has tested roughly 2000 people for the virus, which is 200 tests per 1 million citizens. The number of performed tests is daily updated and published.

    Contrast that with USA, where the number of performed tests is not properly and transparently published and is currently about 20 tests per million citizens.

    It seems that USA is only scratching the surface with its insufficient testing. I suspect that the spread of the disease in USA is far greater than the official numbers let on.

  2. Nightjar says

    I’ve never been so happy (?) to have a grant to write. I would be staying home and socially isolated anyway, it just happened a little earlier. Deadline is March 31, until then you bet I’m not contributing to spreading any virus and I don’t even need to make any special effort. Unfortunately it still isn’t occupying my mind enough to keep me from being worried and angry.

    I’m worried for my mother and I’m worried because my uncle is in the hospital after an emergency surgery because his stomach cancer was blocking his digestive tract. He’s doing chemo too. And with all the restrictions and suspensions of hospital visits, I’m starting to fear I won’t be able to visit him. Or see him alive ever again.

    I’m also angry. I’ve been reading about how places like Macau, Singapore and Hong Kong have apparently controlled the epidemic successfully and wondering when we can officially disqualify the so-called West from the list of developed countries. What a pathetic response from Europe and North America. I hope when this thing is over voters will punish these incompetent “leaders” accordingly. Out of fear of disrupting the economy and in the name of normality they’ve jeopardized both of those things and added a needlessly high death toll on top of it.

  3. rq says

    As of today, the government has declared a state of emergency. Schools and other institutions are closed until April 14, all state travel for work (incl 2 upcoming trips for me) has been cancelled. Some panic buying observed.
    The hardest thing right now is wanting to take a moment to panic a bit myself, but having to maintain the calm rational front for the kids (also debunking some info from class chats). Which will be good for me in the long run, but I’d like to cry in a corner right now, thanks. I’ll be better tomorrow, work is still on and Husband is pretty sensible, too. Boughtvlots of soap today.
    Stay healthy everyone and wash your hands.

  4. says

    Cal State Fullerton is online classes until further notice. Shadow will be happy, all her humans are home. We’re going to the mall tomorrow so Kitty can buy the Nintendo Switch she was going to buy for spring break. I’m trying to figure out what groceries to buy now, where to put them, and how to pay for them, our budget not being that stretchy.

    I’ve been inventorying supplies for planned projects, of which there are far too many. But at least I found my good gold paint and the sandpaper collection.

    Take care all of you, this is going to get worse for a while.

  5. says

    As I usually catch every bug that infects the community at large, I can’t see me avoiding it for too long. Oh well, hopefully the health system doesn’t collapse before I need it in earnest.

  6. dakotagreasemonkey says

    Charly, good to hear from you, and that you have decent information!
    Nightjar, I just checked with my mother (85), too. She’s fine, other than being mad that the NBA cancelled the rest of the season. She, too, lives in a very rural area, away from most people. Portugal is high on my list of places I want to visit, once I start traveling.
    rq, Fighting the “wish to PANIC!” is the hardest task I have now. Letting yourself actually cry ( in a time while in your husbands arms) will actually help. Release your fear, let it wash over you, and pass away. Then let your husband cry in your arms, for the strength to protect your family.
    Anne, online classes are a great way to limit the virus, social distancing theory. Really glad to hear you found some art supplies! Use them like you mean it!
    Chigau, Not touching the face is very difficult! I have had sneezing fits for years, as my nose is sensitive to temperature, pollen, clay dust, etc. Just a reduction of face touching is a plus. Your awareness of touching your face is a good sign that you are gaining control over your “automatic” movements! Keep up being that vigilant!
    Lofty, Take charge of yourself, fight for yourself, resist the urge to “what will be, will be”. You are your first line of defense. Use your mind (a wonderful one at that!) to figure out how NOT to get sick. I want to see you posting here for many years yet! C would be screaming at you right now! Keep yourself healthy!
    OK, everybody, I just released a bit of panic myself, so this is just a way to survive this. I can’t cry with you, though I want to. Releasing panic through talking, writing, crying, all work to make you a survivor.
    Do IT!

  7. lumipuna says

    I’m thankful that my parents are recently retired, and seem quite willing to hide out.

    I’m thankful that my own living situation allows me to mostly avoid people and public transport, and that being mostly alone is my preferred lifestyle.

    I’m thankful that my country has generally good healthcare and sanitation, competent authorities and enough space to enjoy the outdoors without crowds.

    I’m still worried that this pandemic will greatly damage world economy, and hurt billions of vulnerable people both directly and indirectly.

    Despite being so sheltered, I can’t but worry about my own health and economic future, and the societal disruption and inconvenience that results from everyone having to dodge the disease until at least next year. Or, however long it takes to develop a vaccine.

  8. says

    @dakotagreasemonkey, I hope you stay safe too.

    In foreseeable future, I will do all the shopping for us whilst my parents stay at home. We canceled a trip to my brother’s birthday and we consider whether my mother should go with me to Pilsen the week after next -- I am going to the city for some medical tests and we thought my mom could tag along to visit her sister. She would not get exposed to any big crowds, but she still might contract it with a higher probability than if she stayed home.

    I am getting a bit paranoid. It is not uncommon for me to have a cough and/or a bit heightened temperature at this time of the year, at the very beginning of allergy season. The coronavirus puts a whole new spin on each cough and sore muscle.

  9. Jazzlet says

    My neighbour was coughing a lot last night, I’ve no reason to think she has COVID-19, but it was where my thoughts jumped everytime I heard her.

    I’m also worried about whether we will get our holiday, it starts on 30th March, another self-catering job with four friends on the Isle of Bute in Scotland; then I feel guilty for worrying about something trivial, but then Mr J really needs a holiday, I worry about him getting overtired and so more vulnerble to infection and that he might count as a vulnerable patient what with him having only the one kidney and being nearly 62 and THEN I tell my self to “STOP BEING DAFT”, but it doesn’t really work.

    I hope you all stay well.

  10. Nightjar says

    Jazzlet, worrying about that is perfectly normal. But please, try to stay calm and re-plan your holidays now, try to find something you both enjoy doing and stay home. This will take a while and there are already a lot more people infected in the UK (and everywhere) than what official numbers say. Boris Johnson is an idiot, as you know, and his “let’s all get infected and build herd immunity” strategy is irresponsible, based on absolutely no scientific knowledge (we don’t know how this virus behaves, this is uncharted territory), against all WHO recommendations and warnings, and I bet he’s going to change his discourse quickly under pressure and follow the restrictive measures other countries are taking. UK could go on lockdown before March 30 for all we know. But even if it doesn’t, traveling with friends by then is a bad idea.

    Stay well. And at home, away from people, as much as you can. ♥

  11. says

    I swear if my mother dies in this I’ll make the medic put down “being a stubborn mule and terminally stupid” as cause of death.
    Last night I called her with an update.
    Her: ” So you’ll have to go to school on Monday?”
    Me: “Yes, see what happens then”
    Her: “And the kids?”
    Me: “Stay at home.”
    Her: “Alone?”
    Me: “Yes”
    Her: “I could…”
    Me: “No!”
    Her: “But…”
    Me: “NO!!!”
    My sister supports me in this, because she told her “I don’t understand why the kids can’t come here!”

    Also: UK, what is happening? Is Johnson trying to outdumbfuck Trump?

  12. Jazzlet says

    Boris seems to be modelling his behaviour on Trump, so who the fuck knows? What gets me about the idea that as a nation we can develop herd immuminty is that we really don’t know much about COVID-19, so what happens if it’s like flu and readily develops strains that we won’t have immunity to even having had the original strain? It’s already clear it does mutate readily from the ‘family’ trees that have been worked out of where infections in different places came from, we don’t yet know it it will mutte far enough that our immune systems on’t recognise it. I don’t know how long it will take or what the cost in lives will be before it’s at the level of danger as say flu, but I’d rather the UK wasn’t the place providing a live experiment to work it out, there are better ways of doing it than whole population experiments.

    Honestly, it may be irresponsible, but if there is going to be a UK travel lockdown I hope we are already on holiday, Still before then I have a therapy appointment (yes it’s finally started!) and a consultant apointment about a painful lump on my left ring finger (it’s been scanned is definitely not cancer), both at the local hospital. Neither would involve staff likely to be involved in the care of patients with severe COVID-19, but they may not want lots of peole coming and going from the campus where they will be treating any severe COVID-19 cases locally, although there are none as yet there are some within the greater metropolis.

  13. says

    I have only glanced at what Johnson is doing and then I stopped in order to keep my sanity.

    Being knowledgeable about biology and statistics helps to keep my monkey-brain from panicking, but it also means I know that the worst is yet to come and that many people will die before it gets better. We cannot know who exactly will die, but it will be thousands, if not tens of thousands, throughout Europe alone. All we can do is to hope that the spread will be slowed down sufficiently to minimize the lethality.

    With 1-5% mortality and about 15% of severe cases on top of that, this seems to be about as dangerous as the Spanish flu was at the beginning of last century and the reasons why fewer people are dying so far is modern medicine and measures mitigating the spread of the disease.

    Note that the death rate in Italy is higher than it was in China. One reason for this might be what I wrote a month ago about how the Chinese may be having some small herd immunity due to being exposed to other variants of the virus. Similarly, the 2009 swine flu pandemic had outside of china lesser impact on older people than predicted because older people retained some immunity from being exposed to its relative in 1976, but a higher impact on non-Chinese people, especially native people in Polynesia and South America (AFAIR).

    If the higher mortality in Italy is in part caused by this and not purely by the overburdening of the health-care system, that would be a piece of good news among the sea of bad ones. Because it would mean that herd immunity can be developed and thus even maybe a vaccine.

    Infecting a lot of people fast is still daft because that means people will die who could be otherwise saved. Which is what is happening in Italy right now, and will probably happen in some more places around the world too.

    Please be safe. Do not panic, but take this seriously. I know none of you need reminding, but still.

  14. Ice Swimmer says

    I’m more like depressed than panicking.

    As for the herd immunity, I think that some herd immunity will come anyway, even with reasonable to high effort in slowing down the epidemic. Laissez-faire is an abysmal idea.

    I’m hoping the better air quality (traffic and industry not running) in China and Italy will mitigate the epidemic there.

  15. Nightjar says

    the better air quality (traffic and industry not running)

    That to me has been the most depressing part of it all. Looking at how the pollution levels dropped in China and northern Italy, realizing that those levels are exactly what we need if we even want to have a chance at surviving climate change, and then thinking that we are never going to achieve them in time. The world is not ready to give up this unsustainable economic model of continuous growth. Most of us are not ready to give up our lifestyle of frenetically moving around all the time and mass producing/buying non-essential products. Our lifestyle and economy, the ones we are so desperate to get back to once we get out of this pandemic, will never be sustainable. We’re fucked.

    And now I want to curl up and cry.

  16. Nightjar says

    Oh, healthcare professionals here are begging the government to put the whole country on complete lockdown now. Like Italy, and Spain as of minutes ago. But we’re still at 169 confirmed cases, with 10 people in the ICU and 0 deaths. But I guess they know how many ventilators and ICU beds we have in this country, and I’m afraid I don’t want to know. Since the cuts we made during the financial crisis, we already struggle every year at the peak of the flu season. Yeah, I think they are right.

  17. says

    Yeah, Italy is literally begging people to learn from their mistakes. Here public life is being shot down. Though I think they need to add “shopping centres” to the list because you can bet your firstborn that there will be people who think that this is a good time to go shopping and who will send their kids out so they won’t annoy them.

    In other news, there’s a German company who is making some promising progress on a vaccine and of course Trump is trying to get his hands on the scientists and their data, to be used exclusively for the USA. I swear if our government doesn’t stop that and just bows to the “rules of the market”, Berlin will burn and they’ll only have themselves to blame.

    In personal news, #1, whom you might remember is on the autistic side is processing her worries and fears in the usual way by regularly freaking out completely over nothing so she won’t have to freak out over something. I’m also not looking forward to having to do schoolwork with her for the next weeks because she’s lost without the strict structure of school. Oh well…

  18. says

    Well, I’ve definitely got a cold. I woke up this morning croaking like a frog. Yes, I’m over 60, but I know my colds and this is one of them.

    I’m sending Paul out for some grocery essentials, and I’m going back to bed. Wash your hands, and cover your coughs and sneezes, folks!

  19. says

    I got a (thankfully already retreating) cold as well. As long as you’re dripping and sneezing, you’re fine.

    Mr just said bye and is on his way to his flat in the town where he works and we don’t know if he’ll be back tomorrow, because the company is sending folks home, or in three weeks because I get put into quarantine. A very strange feeling.

  20. Nightjar says

    Ok, number of people in the ICU due to the virus doubled in one day. This is going to get, uh, “interesting”. Fast.

    In personal news, after not sleeping much on Friday and having a breakdown yesterday, I think my defense mechanisms just kicked in since I’m now going around mumbling to myself that we deserve this and maybe a meteor strike should be next because this planet could use a reset. I know me, that’s good news. Cynicism is what usually saves me from depression and I’m feeling much better today. I’ve also been checking the news less often out of my current “the world could end for all I care” mood, and that actually improves my productivity and sanity.

    I hope you all stay well.

  21. Jazzlet says

    I can not express how absolutely crazy the UK Government’s plan is, it makes so many assumptions that it might as well be toilet paper. Like the idea that if 60% of us get COVID-19* the nation will develop enough herd immunity to protect the vulnerable, how did that work out back in the days when pretty much every child got measles, so nearly all adults were immune? That’s right those of you who are old enough know that it didn’t fucking work at all. And that assumption contains another assumption which is that COVID-10 will not mutate sufficiently to evade any immunity gained by having had an infection, we have no idea if this is true. Besides that how are we to protect the vulnerable from getting infected while the rest of us are ill? Including their carers and /or family members sharing the same house.
    * How easily my fingers now type COVID-19 …

    I wish you a short, but drippy cold.

    Uff, that’s rough

    Our holiday provider has offered to defer holidays, so that is what we are doing.
    I am trying not to worry about all of the family and friends in tthe vulnerable group, three of my brothers, my SIL, several friends all with lung problems of varying severity and over 60; my BFF and Paul’s boss with MS; and assorted others with varying vulnerabilities. *sigh*

  22. Nightjar says

    One thing I’ve been wondering about that 60% number… if we count the elderly, smokers, people with diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases (as common as asthma), if we add that all up… are they sure it’s significantly less than 40% of UK’s population? I know that many of those diseases are more common in the elderly but still, that’s already almost 20% of the population according to a quick glance at wikipedia.

    This really baffles me. What’s worse is that I’ve heard people commend Johnson’s “courage” saying he’s the only one “admitting the difficult truth”. This is like if firefighters looked at a house burning with people inside it and decided the best plan is to let it burn because ashes aren’t flammable, problem will soon be solved! Except in this case we aren’t even sure ashes aren’t flammable…

  23. chigau (違う) says

    I started a list of everything I touched today (outside of my domicile).
    It got really long before I switched back to drinking rum and knitting.

  24. says

    Well, before going to work this morning did the grocery shopping and apparently people expect to be locked down with diarrhea for half a year because they’re all hoarding toilet paper. I can work mostly from home now, just very occasional in person meetings.

  25. lumipuna says

    IIRC, some rumors about potential toilet paper shortage began circulating in late January, because Wuhan area was a major TP production hub. Then, apparently, in some places there was small scale hoarding of toilet paper. Then, one video of people fighting over the last TP package in a store went viral, just for the humor value. Then, as many people across the world were increasingly hit a sudden feeling that they must hoard *something*, toilet paper hoarding became a self-fueling global fashion trend.

  26. Jazzlet says

    I know! They are making so many assumptions that don’t have any connection to what we know, except that we don’t know much. But it seems that at least some of what we thought we knew is wrong, I can’t find it now, but I saw a link to the testing the South Koreans have done and the group with the highest infection rates was 20-29 year olds. The implication of that put together with the hospitalisation and death rates is that we all have a lot of young peole wandering around feeling fine, but quite possibly shedding virus from an infection they don’t know they have. Which makes Johnson’s policy even more dangerous.

  27. Ice Swimmer says

    Hoarding toilet paper in Finland is especially ridiculous, for two reasons. First, they make it here (and loggers will not catch any virii easily, their work is rather lonely and the paper mills are run with relatively few people in the actual production lines, in fairly small towns) and secondly, bidet showers (a.k.a. p*ssy phones, so named because they have a “talk button”, much like army phones and two-way radios) are ubiquituous.

  28. says

    Idris Elba tested positive, now I’m freaking out!
    No, actually the one thing I’m truly afraid of is people’s stubborn stupidity. This is a virus. It does not care for your “middle finger” and your bravery.

  29. says

    Well, all non essential shops except hair dressers (somebody explain the hair dressers to me) will close down in Germany. Those idiots hoarded toilet paper and pasta when grocery stores are still open, but my genius stocked up on crafting supplies!

  30. Ice Swimmer says

    Giliell @ 30

    I can’t explain hairdressers. It’s been a long time since barbers were also health care professionals. If there were telephone sanitizers, allowing them to keep their shops open would make infinitely more sense in today’s world of touch screen phones.

  31. chigau (違う) says

    They have locked the doors of my AgedParent’s care facility. No visitors until …

  32. says

    Fortunately things are relatively quiet around here, 20 people out of a state population of 1.7 million are known to have the virus, 6 have recovered and none have died. With the restrictions in place it’s hopeful the situation won’t get too bad. The weather’s nice and warm and there are plenty of things to do outside. I’m about to head off for a haircut while I still can. Just hope that my partner’s continuing music group doesn’t lead to anything, it’s full of vulnerable old people.

  33. Nightjar says

    Bidet showers are ubiquitous here too, but even if they weren’t, there’s always regular showers, right? I don’t get the obsession with toilet paper either. And keeping hairdressers open is just weird.


    Writing this grant is proving less fun than I thought. I can’t shake the feeling that when this is all over there will be even less money for research and very few projects will be funded through this call. Feels even more like I’m wasting my time. On the other hand, the topic is antimicrobial resistance and that could well be our next big health disaster if the field keeps being underfunded. Maybe this pandemic will serve as a lesson that infectious diseases aren’t a thing of the past anywhere in the world and that sending all the funding to chronic diseases research is a bad idea? Sure, it’s more profitable and that’s all pharmaceutical companies care about. But there are so many ways it can and will backfire. So. many. ways.
    /end bitter microbiologist rant

  34. says

    Virus-free virtual hugs to all. Fullerton, our big neighbor city, has officially declared a state of emergency. I’m not sure exactly what that will entail, but I’m sure it won’t be fun.

    I’m sore from coughing, but it’s just a normal cold. Kitty’s already over hers, and she would’ve been the carrier for the plague from Cal State, so I think we’re good. Sniffly and coughing, but good.

    I am virtuous and considerate of others. Instead of taking my cold to the local art supply store to buy burnt orange Lumiere paint, I ordered more paints from their website. Of course I had to order enough to make the free shipping threshold. Hopefully I’ll be feeling better by the time the order arrives.

    The cat is ecstatic. All the humans are home all day to snuggle and pet her.

  35. says

    Sniffling is good! Also hacking up phlegm in all the shades of an oil puddle. In late autumn, much of winter first #1 than me had such a dry, persistent cough and I’m just glad it didn’t happen now or we’d be suspected of Covid 19…
    Also, yay for craft supplies!

  36. says

    Also, why are some men like this?
    A colleague split from her husband last year. It was not an amicable separation. They have three kids together, all younger than 12. She’s sick at home (probably “just” a normal flu) so yesterday I asked her on the phone if they were ok with food and stuff, offering to bring them some. She thanked me, told me the kids were being really responsible and independent and could do the shopping on foot, and remarked that her ex hadn’t bothered to ask any of this.
    We’re in the middle of a pandemic and he doesn’t bother to ask if his children have food…
    But he’ll probably cry “parental alienation syndrome” when the kids tell him to fuck off.

  37. Jazzlet says

    I hope for all our sakes that there are enough people with power brought to their senses by all of this that your grant and others like it get funded. We need the science doing more than ever.

    Sorry you are sore, but yay for haing to buy enough paint or what ever to get free shipping. Quite coincidentally my favourite wool shop has some machine washable merino worsted and double knitting at less than half price in some smashing colours. I see new jumpers for Paul and for me in the near future.

    So far so good here, SiL and BiL have self-isolated, rest of family ok , Paul’s work made the decision to have everyone that can work from home do so from today, bringing it forward from next week. He’s had to go in for a work laptop with the approprite permissions to access their private web, but is doing that out of peak. One of the people we would have gone on holiday with who is also a work colleaue of Paul’s self isolated with a cough yesterday, but no fever.

    It’s noticeably quiter than normal here, we live on an A road, ie a signed through route for throuh traffic, not a particulary busy one, but there is a lot less than normal. Also the rail company is running it’s four car trains all day instead of dropping to two cars during off-peak which is surprisingly sensible, but they’ve just been taken under Government control as they were so completely failing to live up to the terms of their franchise even the Tories couldn’t let it go, so that may have something to do with it. Although given the way the Government is not handling the situation I wouldn’t bet on it.

    There are increasing numbers of doctors speaking out about both the lack of resources including PPE for staff as wel as the idiocy of the whole Government policy, and some are choosing to do so unser their real names. They are more concerned about getting the message out than of the possibility of losing their jobs.

  38. springa73 says

    I’ve had a mildly upset stomach and a slightly scratchy throat for the last day and a half, which normally I wouldn’t think much of, but in the present circumstances makes me worried about going anywhere beyond a short walk. If I need to go out to buy anything, I’ll be awfully nervous. Got a few unused facemasks -- not the medical kind, but the kind for sanding and painting. Maybe I’ll put on one of those if I need to go to a store.

    Glad I got several new library books last week!

  39. lumipuna says

    I also hoarded some books from the library, on the last day it was open, and lugged them home.

    Now I’m in the process of evacuating my work stuff and accumulated personal property from work office to home. Shit has hit the fan, after a predictable trajectory.

  40. lumipuna says

    A state-owned vodka factory in Finland was converted to producing ethanol for hand sanitizers. Hard times, indeed!


    It’s eerily reminiscent of the 1939-40 Winter War against USSR, when a stockpile of empty (unused) vodka bottles was used to mass manufacture Molotov’s cocktails. The name Molotov’s cocktail (though not the weapon itself) was invented by Finns at the time.

  41. says

    Springa 73
    Oh dear, get well soon. I think we’re all going to be hypochondriacs by the time this is over.

    Finns foregoing vodka. Hard times indeed. I do have some gin stocked…

  42. says

    Giliell, I knew there was something I forgot, we’re almost out of gin!

    The Orange County library system will be closed through the end of the month, as is the Yorba Linda library. Also the Tricky Dick Burial Place and “Library”, but I don’t think any knowledge or culture will be lost there. Fullerton Public Library is still open, but with the city under lockdown I expect it’ll close shortly. Truly we are in a dystopia now.

  43. chigau (違う) says

    I’m also eating alot of garlic.
    Because I really like garlic and I usually limit my intake if I’m going out in public.

  44. Nightjar says

    Well, now this is getting scary on a whole different level. We are currently discussing whether to activate a state of emergency now. That would allow the government to close down non-essential businesses and factories in the private sector, gain control over the private health sector, and of course restrict people’s ability to leave their houses for unnecessary activities. The (right-wing, but universally loved) president is in favor of it, healthcare professionals are begging for it, all right-wing parties have publicly supported it. The (left-wing) prime-minister and all left-wing parties are saying they don’t think it is yet necessary and being all wishy-washy about it, acting as if they have never met an exponential curve before and the concept of “long incubation period” is foreign to them. It’s like they don’t understand that if it looks like restrictive measures are needed now, then that means they should have been taken at least 10 days ago.

    But anyway, I’m scared that if/when it becomes clear that the measures were taken too late (it will always look like that if the healthcare system collapses), the political right will come up on top. And they will be extra racist and say “see? what keeping our borders open did to us?” And they will say that when it truly mattered the left proved to be more capitalistic than them, and that they were the ones who put people’s lives first. And I know that they are already planning this and seeing the opportunity, and it’s frankly disgusting to see.

  45. says

    Well, seems like it’s an equal opportunity disaster for governments to fuck up.
    Looks like the biggest fuck up so far was Austria’s decision to play down the risk and keep the skying resorts open. So far almost all cases here caught Covid 19 while skying.
    I’m glad the little one’s skying trip was before the outbreak reached Europe.
    It’s also “fascinating” (I’m currently looking for a word that would express amazement at an interesting fact that does not sound positive but neither panicky) how much we’re all connected. My state has 1.00.000 inhabitants. There are a bit over 100 cases. But I can connect to one of them in two steps defined as “somebody you or a family member you live with had contact with in the last two weeks had contact with them in the last two weeks” in several directions.

  46. Nightjar says

    And right after my comment I saw in the news that our prime-minister had a meeting this morning with “epidemiologists and mathematicians”. Yay, for once he’s meeting with the right people! I hope they talked some sense into him.

    A week ago when universities and other stuff started to close, hundreds of people in Lisbon gathered at the beach. Students all over the country thought this was a good time to party and filled nightclubs. Because getting drunk in small crowded rooms during a pandemic is such a great idea, don’t you know. I hope that the people who will write future history books are taking notes and put down “extreme stupidity of its host” as the main reason why this virus was so successful.
    And yeah, I can connect to a case already as well. Co-worker of my father’s best friend, with whom he played football 2 weeks ago. I’m sure there are more that I don’t know.

  47. Jazzlet says

    I hope your prime minister wises up fast. Here we at least have a right wing government so it won’t be the left that is blamed, and it’s been the Tories starving the NHS for the last ten years too.

    “Extraordinary” would do, it can be positive or negative, but I think is used more often in negative contexts. “Astonishing” would also work. “Shocking” might be better, I wouldn’t say it necessarily implied panic. Paul adds “weird”, “interesting” or “bizzare” which is nearly always negative. And “disturbing”. I think in the context “disturbing” is probably the best choice, with most of the others the positive or negative connotation would be given with tone of voice so their use in the written word can be ambiguous. “Interesting” would also work as it is so often loaded with connotations eg “It’s interesting that Trump hasn’t ordered any sanctions against [country he where he happens to have a Trump Tower]”; there is an assumption that the listener or reader will understand the implications.

    I am wondering how effective working from home is going to be, shortly after my last comment the net went down for several hours, just locally, and it was up again in a few hours, but still. On the other hand Jake provided light relief to all Paul’s workmates who were on a video conference call earlier today- he barked, then went and sat by Paul for a treat, then licked Paul’s face which made them all go “awwww”. It would’ve made me go “yeugh” Jake’s kisses are too slobbery for me.

  48. says

    My elderly neighbor said she does not need any shopping done, but she accepted two face masks in case she needs to go to town -- I had a little stash from the times before I bought an expensive respirator for my workshop. As of today, leaving your house without a face mask is forbidden and all shops except food and drugstores are closed,

    Our government reacted too late and too wishy-washy too. The problem was that people are incurably stupid and once gatherings of 100 people were banned, everybody started to organize 99 people gatherings, people who later turned out to be sick ignored mandatory quarantine after returning from Italy, etc. etc. So the government had to introduce stricter and stricter measures because people simply ignored the less cumbersome ones.

    We also had one case of a nearly terminal stupidity -- a (healthy) 33-year-old man wrote on Facebook that he has Covid-19 and likes to spread it around by licking baked goods at supermarkets. He can be sentenced to up to 8 years for spreading false alarm during a national emergency and I think he deserves it. That kind of stupid joke could be perhaps forgiven to a twelve-year-old, but a man of this age really should know better.

  49. says

    Yeah, the complete loss of freedom will be aided by those who think it’s all good fun.
    I didn’t watch Merkel, but apparently she told people to wisen up or face the consequences. And then I read some bullshit article by somebody who berates those who are worried as being elitists who just hate poor people. He brings up vulnerable groups who rightly deserve our help (single parents, folks who lost their jobs in the hospitality industry) and then acts as if “stay the fuck at home” was levelled at them instead of the Corona party organisers and private club guests and going to crowded bar people. And also complains that all that berating will just make them more stubborn and then we have a problem. Yes, you get it: the person who warned of elitist sneering at the poor masses claimed that those people are not rational beings responsible for their own actions. I’m sorry, but if Karlheinz starts licking the cans in the supermarket because somebody said “fuck” on Twitter, that’s still his fault.

    Where are people supposed to get masks?
    I guess I need to add “face masks” to the crafting list. Apparently home made masks are surprisingly efficient. Not comparable to surgical ones, but up to 70%.

  50. lumipuna says

    A mask mandate for everyone? Now that sounds like a real exercise in stupidity.

    (Though personally, since I have chronic cough symptoms and a seasonal pollen allergy, if I had to move around people now, I might wear a mask just for the appearance. I have a few dust masks from the time before hoarding became a thing.)

    Apparently home made masks are surprisingly efficient. Not comparable to surgical ones, but up to 70%.

    Efficient for what exactly? Catching your own cough droplets?

  51. lumipuna says

    Ischgl is also mentioned on Finnish news now,

    According to the news, many ski resorts in northern Finland are still open, and quite popular with domestic travelers. Apparently, there were cheap reservations available after the Chinese disappeared. Now, other foreign travelers in Finland are being urged to go leave before their due, as borders and flight connections are closing everywhere.

  52. says


    Efficient for what exactly? Catching your own cough droplets

    They protect others more than yourself.

  53. says

    @lumipuna, the face masks are not supposed to protect people from getting the virus, even though they help with that a little too. They are mainly supposed to stop people who have it but do not know it yet from spreading it around. Exactly as you say -- catch your own cough droplets.
    I do not think it is an exercise in stupidity, I think it is a sensible measure to slow the spread of the virus. Unfortunately getting face masks now is difficult, not every household has a few “just in case” like I did.

  54. Nightjar says

    Those opinion articles are popping up here too, I don’t know what to make of them. Because, sure, I can see their point. A lot of suffering and misery will come out of this, and it may seem unfair to give up so much and throw the world into a recession to mostly save the lives of people who will die in a few years anyway, because they are very old or very sick. I can see that. But just what do they suggest we do, exactly? Let people die at home unattended? Euthanize people in the ICU when we run out of capacity? Kill vulnerable people preemptively or as soon as they test positive? Because all of these things are unthinkable and the people writing these articles would never say them out loud, but what is the non-completely-abhorrent alternative that they have in their heads?


    Masks. I don’t want to get into a debate about masks because I don’t have time right now to look up references, but as far as I remember there are a few studies that indicate cloth masks provide some degree of respiratory protection against airborne diseases to those wearing them. Not much, but depending on the cloth fabric they can even have some filtration performance. Basically, better than nothing. Although obviously they mainly reduce spreading by infected people, but with a disease that seems to be transmitted so easily by asymptomatic people I’d say masks could be very helpful in a community setting. I think WHO’s position on mask wearing by the general population was a serious mistake. They should have been honest and explain that there are not enough masks for everyone without compromising hospital’s stocks, but going so far as claiming there is no evidence for their efficacy in this context and even basically claiming they can do more harm than good? A mistake in my opinion. Evidence for their efficacy may be limited, but evidence that they do more harm than good is as far as I know nonexistent. A little protection is better than no protection. And the idea that people shouldn’t wear them because they don’t know how to do it correctly is bullshit. Some people also don’t know how to wash their hands correctly, that’s not an argument against telling them to do so. People can be taught. And they can be taught that wearing a mask is only effective when in combination with good hand hygiene. Western countries fucked up, they allowed themselves to run out of masks during a pandemic. Hoarding behavior was to be expected and should have been accounted for. Covering it up with excuses now is only going to make people distrust health authorities, and that’s a terrible thing right now.

  55. lumipuna says

    If there was a huge stockpile of masks, I suppose calculations would be different.

    And in current situation, yes, communication should be honest about the mask shortage. I don’t know if you could reason the public into not hoarding masks, on the basis that someone else needs those masks more, or if people could be de facto educated to use masks properly.

    I think there’s a limit on what the public can be taught. That’s why abstinence sex education fails.

  56. says

    You should have seen them buying recycling toilet paper today, with stares that defy death. Me, I may look like I’m hoarding, but it’s just that the kids eat a lot.

  57. Nightjar says

    State of emergency has been declared, for now there is no curfew but the measures have yet to be announced.
    I agree with you that the public can’t be reasoned into not hoarding masks (or anything). I just think a country’s stock of masks for healthcare professionals in a catastrophic scenario shouldn’t be so easily depleted by people buying masks that are in the market to be bought freely. I had to laugh when our health minister said we had a “strategic stock” of 1 million masks for a case of emergency. Then it was clarified that the military also had an emergency stock, of 2 million. Hahahaha. Yeah. 3 million masks. No capacity to quickly activate a mass production plan and dependent on the countries that everyone knew a pandemic like this was likely to start. Of course they wouldn’t send us masks right away when they needed them. I’m not going crazy, am I? This is being criminally unprepared. For something that was foreseeable. It’s unacceptable.

    For the record, I agree with you, right now, given the circumstances, a mask mandate for everyone is not reasonable, because there are no masks. I’m just angry at our governments for fucking things up so badly and their subsequent attempt at tricking us into thinking masks don’t work in a community setting, which I do not think is true and it sure as hell isn’t honest.

  58. Nightjar says

    BTW, has anyone else noticed vinegar hoarding and can anyone explain that one to me?

  59. says

    Re: face masks.
    What I find especially abhorrent is those vultures who hoarded them when they were still cheaply available and now try to pawn them off for a price several times higher. I gave some of mine to my neighbor for free of course.

    I also just found out that filters for my shop face masks are completely sold out too and won’t be available for a few weeks. Bummer. When current filters get clogged up, I will have to try and clean them as best as I can to prolong their lifespan. Luckily metal dust does not fly that far and as for wood dust, I am mostly using the shop vac to suck most of it away.

    In CZ, you can go outside with an impromptu face mask, or maybe even just a scarf. The order is not to wear surgical face masks specifically, but to cover nose and mouth.

  60. says

    Charly, even worse. we had some serious break ins in hospitals stealing tens of thousands.
    I just talked to my sister and the situation in healthcare is dire. Since everybody is preparing for Corona, normal service is so reduced it causes huge problems. She works for a mobile nursing service and they have taken over some serious cases like cancer patients needing tube feeding because nobody else will do it. My uncle is stuck in hospital because walk in dialysis has shut down and of the 6 GPs in the nearby small town, 4 have simply shut down, and not because they’re under quarantine. So while some health care workers are working their asses off, others wilfully clog the system.

  61. Nightjar says

    Yeah, there was a lot of stealing from hospitals here too. We donated most of our lab stock of masks and gloves to the local hospital and our center lent them the PCR machines as well, for testing. Here at home we already had a few masks around because of my mother, we didn’t buy any recently and now of course we can’t.

  62. lumipuna says

    Re Nightjar at 61: It certainly makes sense that there should be a huge stockpile of masks just for healthcare and other special needs purposes. Presumably, you’d need an even huge-er stockpile (of cheap disposable paper masks) if you wanted to prepare for encouraging/enforcing widespread community use of masks.

    BTW, do you think durable cloth masks (or scarves, neck warmers, niqabs etc.) are a good idea hygienically, if they can be machine-washed at home? I mean for catching your own cough droplets?

    As for vinegar hoarding, maybe that’s a local Portuguese quirk? In Finland people have hoarded fresh bread in addition to toilet and tissue paper, some medications, and “survival” foods. In US, people are reportedly hoarding guns and ammo, as always.

  63. Nightjar says


    BTW, do you think durable cloth masks (or scarves, neck warmers, niqabs etc.) are a good idea hygienically, if they can be machine-washed at home? I mean for catching your own cough droplets?

    I think all those things you listed are a great idea for a short trip to the supermarket or the pharmacy. Coughing and sneezing into your upper sleeve is good, but sometimes people only remember it afterwards. I’ve seen people cough unprotected once or twice and then use their upper sleeve if the cough continues, because suddenly they remembered. This seems to happen a lot. If you already have something in front of your mouth and nose there will be some protection even if you momentarily forget or you don’t have time because, say, you have your arms occupied and that sneeze came suddenly. Of course, you should still use your arm because some droplets will pass through the fabric anyway. Just less than if you have nothing.

    On the other hand, I don’t think they are a good idea hygienically for the work place, for example. If you have an infection it may not be a good idea to be breathing your own cough droplets for hours.


    A friend of mine noticed the vinegar thing too and has a theory, a rather disturbing one. She said that a while ago there was a video being shared of a Brazilian guy saying that alcohol was only effective to kill fungi and didn’t work with bacteria or viruses, that it was all a lie by big pharma to sell hand sanitizer when vinegar was such a cheap option and much more effective. She thinks some people may have believed that video. If true, that is rather worrying.

  64. springa73 says

    The vinegar hoarding sounds like some people think that it’s an effective disinfectant (I’m assuming that it’s not).

    Went out yesterday to get some more groceries, and wore a mask that I found I had bought a while back and never used. This was because I had been feeling a little sick earlier this week- I feel fine now, but I wore the mask “out of an abundance of caution”, as the saying goes. Felt a little out of place since I only saw 1 other person wearing a mask, and they were a store employee rather than a customer.

    Don’t want to be crass, but I do also worry some about the economic consequences of this pandemic. Read an article that said my state in the US is now getting more claims for unemployment payments per day than it was per month before Coronavirus hit. Lots of people have already been laid off, and I assume it will only get worse for a while.

  65. says

    @springa73, vinegar does help against some bacteria, like salmonella, by slowing their growth. It is useless against most other germs and all viruses though, so it won’t do a diddly against this.

  66. says

    Charly, that’s just because you haven’t seen the latest en vogue cookbook: 20 recipes for pasta with toilet paper in vinegar.

  67. kestrel says

    I’m slow, I just noticed this thread.

    The Partner says, If vinegar worked they’d be using it in the hospital! (The Partner works in the ER in a hospital.) And let us hope that things don’t get so bad we have to resort to Giliell’s recipe book! Yuck!

    Here, we have an amazing governor who really has her head on straight and is really taking this very seriously. She’s closed down most meeting places: casinos, bars, restaurants, festivals etc. and is working with the sovereign nations (hmmm… Indian reservations, might make sense to people) to also shut down their casinos -- many have complied already, the rest should soon. The restaurants and bars can do take out or home delivery only. Hotels are limited to 50% capacity. All schools are closed. All government offices are working remotely. People are limited to 3 health items per person: 3 hand sanitizers, 3 packages of TP etc. She is telling everyone not to hoard, that there is plenty. Stores are opening an hour early each day to allow seniors to do their shopping. There are testing facilities (drive through) set up at 6 locations with another 6 to be set up in the next day or so. Big question is, will people comply? In my small area the answer is pretty much yes. But there’s always someone…

  68. StevoR says

    Coronacast -- a good source of info when it comes to the COVID 19 pandemic here :


    Link is for whole series -- various short (10 minutes ish) but informative radio segments by experts mainly Dr Norman Swan and Tegan Taylor answering people’s questions -- plus gives folks a chance to ask their questions online here too.

    Hopefully it still works for those outside Oz? Please let me know whether it does or not.

  69. says

    Luckily in our state new cases seem to be increasing only linearly, mainly with people returning home from more infected areas. No significant community transmission as yet. No-one wears masks but supermarkets have bare shelves, especially toilet paper, cat litter, pasta, long life milk, tinned fish and meat. Sales of home freezers has apparently spiked. Fortunately fresh fruit and vegetables remain in abundance so we’ll not die of malnutrition. I just like the fact that public places aren’t crowded any more. Selfish, I know. Coffee shops are still open. Farmers produce markets have just been given official approval to stay open with the usual provisos.

    Schools remain open to avoid children having to be looked after by elderly relatives instead. Two large schools shut for a few days after some returning staff tested positive. My cycling group is currently deciding on policy for the pandemic, some want to shut down completely, others just want to get out and ride with sensible separation rules in place. The cats have adequate food and cat litter for the next few weeks, hopefully once the hoarders run out of space there will be enough to go around.

  70. lumipuna says

    Nightjar wrote:

    If you already have something in front of your mouth and nose there will be some protection even if you momentarily forget or you don’t have time because, say, you have your arms occupied and that sneeze came suddenly. Of course, you should still use your arm because some droplets will pass through the fabric anyway. Just less than if you have nothing.

    Thanks. Makes sense, except I’d imagine the smaller droplets (presumably the ones that might go through or beside facial cloth cover) won’t get stuck on your coat sleeve anyway, because they’ll sail along air currents?

    On the other hand, I don’t think they are a good idea hygienically for the work place, for example. If you have an infection it may not be a good idea to be breathing your own cough droplets for hours.

    I figure that various environmental bacteria could breed in damp cloth, but viruses could not, and it’d hardly matter if you have a pre-existing virus infection anyway?

  71. says

    People are limited to 3 health items per person: 3 hand sanitizers, 3 packages of TP etc.

    Sar´w a sign from a Danish shop that had a drastic price increase for the second item. One packet of TP: normal price, second packet, ten times.


    On the other hand, I don’t think they are a good idea hygienically for the work place, for example. If you have an infection it may not be a good idea to be breathing your own cough droplets for hours.

    What I’ve read is wearing is limited to three hours. After that, use a new one and wash.
    I cut pieces for about ten of them that I’ll give to my sister. You may recall she’s a nurse in home care and without even the first Corona patient hitting the hospital, the situation is dire. Also to give away for the relatives who care for their elderly patients to use when they have to come in close contact as one does when washing or feeding sbdy or changing a diaper.

  72. StevoR says

    Stay safe and best wishes to all here. Oh & Happy March Equinox to all too!

    Hope you get well soon if you haven’t already Anne, Cranky Cat Lady & anyone else here who has been crook. FWIW. I had a mild cold-y, flu-y thing last week -- pretty sure it wasn’t COVID 19 but haven’t been tested because, well, testing in short supply, diffcult to do and also again pretty certain (95%~ish) that it wasn’t.


    @ 62. Nightjar : “BTW, has anyone else noticed vinegar hoarding and can anyone explain that one to me?”

    Might have to do with its disinfectant properties as mentioned or / & maybe a misleading meme that’s been going around about gargling with among other things vinegar supposedly having curative properties -- which NO. See # 6 here :


    Of course, if people want vinegar and have wine at home then all they need to do is let it age long enough.. ;-)


    @ 38.chigau (違う) : “All of the public libraries are closed until further notice.”

    Just heard today that our local libraries have been closed too FWIW.


    @ 14. Charly :

    Note that the death rate in Italy is higher than it was in China. One reason for this might be what I wrote a month ago about how the Chinese may be having some small herd immunity due to being exposed to other variants of the virus. Similarly, the 2009 swine flu pandemic had outside of china lesser impact on older people than predicted because older people retained some immunity from being exposed to its relative in 1976, but a higher impact on non-Chinese people, especially native people in Polynesia and South America (AFAIR).

    What does AFAIR mean here, sorry?

    A couple of other differences between China & Italy from what I gather (possibly mistaken but?) is that the Italian population has a much higher percentage of older people than China’s and also a culture of a lot more personal contact e.g. hugging and kissing others.


    BTW Did people hear about the canals of Venice going clear with less traffic? :


    Oh and that India may be handling the COVID 19 pandemic better than here in Oz, the USA & UK? :


  73. Nightjar says

    State of emergency according to our prime-minister: “Sorry, president made me do it. If you’re in a risk group stay home unless you really need to go out. If you’re not in a risk group please stay home unless you really need to go out or go to work. All shops close down unless they sell essential goods or can move to a “take-away” kind of system. If you can’t work from home, make sure your employer follows our guidelines for social distancing and personal protection in the workplace. Less people inside buses and trains. No sanctions for those who disobey for now because y’all have been behaving so well already (pfft) it would be unfair. Remember that we didn’t suddenly become rich so, please, don’t kill the economy, hang in there, kthxbye.”

    Hmm. Things staying the same in 3…2…1…



    I figure that various environmental bacteria could breed in damp cloth, but viruses could not, and it’d hardly matter if you have a pre-existing virus infection anyway?

    Opportunistic bacteria in the context of a viral infection can be particularly dangerous, but I was also thinking about viral particles. They can’t replicate, but they’ll remain viable for a while. Now, I’m not a virologist and I don’t know if this is the case with this new virus, but for some viral infections the amount of viral particles you come in contact with (viral inoculum) may make the difference between having a mild infection or a severe one. In general what matters is the initial dose, but I’m thinking that in the initial stages of infection increasing your exposure may still influence the outcome of the race between viral replication and your immune response to control it. But I should check with a virologist, I’m not sure if once viral replication and shedding have started it would still make a difference.


    I’m getting increasingly nervous about Africa. I really hope the virus can’t spread as well in warmer climates because I shudder to think what it could do in poor countries with a high HIV incidence. By pretty much giving up on trying to contain its spread and going with the “slow, manageable, hoping for herd immunity” strategy we are risking an awful lot. There’s a reason China froze Wuhan completely and sacrificed their economic growth to contain this thing, they are not stupid and they didn’t want to try to infect “60%” of the Chinese population for a very good reason. WTF have we been doing here. Why aren’t we listening to people like Sun Shuopeng: “I don’t know what you’re thinking. Right now we have to stop the time. We need to stop all economic activities.”

  74. says

    I’m getting increasingly nervous about Africa.

    I prefer not to think about Africa. Not because i don’t care, but because I can’t do shit and I’m stressed out already.

    First state wide lock down in Bavaria (guess where the fucking skying resorts are. If anything, Corona has increased my prejudices against skying and carnival). Thank you, all the people who thought it was the time to party.

    Mr is home today. They now work half time, only going in every other day, so far with no loss in pay. But he’s driving me nuts. He’s worse than the kids. He keeps checking in on me, telling me what he’s doing next, asking if I need a glass of water. I get that he’s meaning well but it’s the exact case of well meant being the opposite of well done.

    Struck me for the first time last night that if schools aren’t reopened after the summer break I will probably not have a job anymore because they won’t renew contracts for teachers who aren’t in class. Well, we’ll see.

  75. Nightjar says

    I hope they renew your contract, Giliell. For once it seems that I’m lucky, my fellowship has been extended for a month with a note that if the crisis takes longer it will be extended further. Even the deadline for grant submissions was extended for a month. So I’m still getting paid and I will have some extra months to catch up with the lab work I had to interrupt, and meanwhile I can work from home (someone yesterday joked that we would see a surge in review papers published in the coming months, with so many researchers at home, I’m sure that’s true). But as a country? Yeah, I don’t want to think too much about that. Just now that things were getting a little bit better…


    I think I need to lock up my cat. She thinks “somewhere between the human and the laptop” is the only good sleeping spot in the whole house right now.

  76. Jazzlet says

    On how long the virus can last see https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/more-covid-19-news/ it has a summary and a link to the actual paper, but it’s 24 hours on cardboard, more on other surfaces. I’m not sure where cloth would come on that scale.

    As Far As I Recall :-)

    Popping out to deliver carrots (!) and comppost bin to SiL, they’re in their seventies and rather disgusted to discover they are old, but being sensible.

  77. Kreator says

    So, starting at midnight a mandatory country-wide lockdown was declared in Argentina, where so far we have 128 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3 deaths. Unfortunately, many people aren’t taking this seriously enough yet, especially in the suburbs. I still see plenty of cars passing by in my neck of the woods, enough to doubt that the drivers are all engaged in allowed activities, like going to a farmacy. Other people are complaining about this on Twitter as well. According to the news there’s denial going on, including of the religious “god will save us!” kind. It makes me angry, especially since I’ve been taking precautions and isolating myself willingly from way before the legal enforcement. “This is not a vacation,” a popular slogan says, but for too many it still is. I hope the necessity of this measure sinks in without the need for the pandemic to severely expand its reach in my country first.

  78. Nightjar says

    Stay safe, Kreator! I hope that Argentina can learn from the fuck ups of the countries that are in a more advanced stage of the epidemic.


    Since my deadline was postponed I took some time to look up the reference I remembered about home made masks and their effectiveness:


    Governments are preparing for a potential influenza pandemic. Therefore they need data to assess the possible impact of interventions. Face-masks worn by the general population could be an accessible and affordable intervention, if effective when worn under routine circumstances. […] Any type of general mask use is likely to decrease viral exposure and infection risk on a population level, in spite of imperfect fit and imperfect adherence, personal respirators providing most protection. Masks worn by patients may not offer as great a degree of protection against aerosol transmission.

    That first sentence didn’t age well, heh.

    And here is a super, respirator-like home-made cotton mask: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3373043/

    Again, better than nothing. And again, I’ve yet to find evidence that community-wide mask use can “do more harm than good” in the spread of respiratory infections, as I keep being told, even though solid evidence the other way around is limited. But health authorities really need to stop spreading disinformation. People are going to look at Asian countries, see their policies and habits on face mask use, see that they controlled the pandemic better, and even if the two things can’t be linked directly, they are going to be suspicious. And rightfully so.

  79. says

    Well, my BFF is becoming somewhat unhinged, demanding that “they” have a comprehensive plan to get this under control Now, because we can’t keep going on like this.
    I get that she’s very worried and also she’s alone and has nothing to do besides worrying. I offered her to move in here once her workplace locks down.
    On the bright side my mum seems to finally get it and will send me her shopping list.
    My MIL not so much. When I offered again she said she’d do the shopping the next day, but she hadn’t left the house all week and apparently wanted praise.
    Because Corona famously hides in the woods but gives you one free shipping trip a week.

  80. says

    Today was our first full day under Gov. Newsom’s statewide stay at home order. Paul and I did a grocery run; Trader Joe’s was limiting how many people could shop at one time (TJ’ses tend to be small and crowded) and Albertson’s had red Xs on the floor for proper social distancing in line.

    Everyone was calm and trying to be cheerful, but it’s all very surreal and kind of scary. I keep thinking about my Aged Mum, who would not have dealt well with any of this.

    Thanks, all, I’m not coughing as much so I think my cold is leaving.

  81. StevoR says

    @ ^ Anne, Cranky Cat Lady : Glad to read that and wishing you as smooth and speedy a recovery as possible.

    @ 81. Jazzlet : Aha! That makes sense now, thanks.

    @ 78 & 80 Nightjar : Regarding Africa’s COVID 19 situation, Greg Laden’s blog had an post on that a week or three ago I think .. hang on, ah, here :


    There’s some good links and info in the comments there too I think. Seems not much is known at all. On the brighter side there’s the generally younger demographics of Africa, on the downside factors like the poverty and lack of healthcare options there and, yeah, a worry.

    Also wonder how some Pacific island nations are going and, of course, Indonesia to my nation’s North. I know there’s been some cases but not how many and unclear how many cases there really are and how widespread it really is. I suspect in a few weeks time we’ll know much more.

    I think I need to lock up my cat. She thinks “somewhere between the human and the laptop” is the only good sleeping spot in the whole house right now.

    Algieba (my cat) is an inside one originally by intention then by the fact that when she was getting out she poached fish from the neighbours pond and they understandably weren’t at all happy about it! I can so relate here -- except for the sleeping part -she loves to jump up and get in the way when I’m on the computer but she’s also the most affectionate cat I’ve ever had so, yeah, the pro’s and cons of being owned by pets huh? ;-)

  82. says

    Well, the petty authoritarians are really having the time of their lives. With more and more curfews, there are firetrucks circling some towns telling people nonstop that they must stay inside or they will be punished. The quick slide into authoritarianism is one of the more frightening side effects of the whole thing and the ones whose behaviour “justifies” draconian measures will be the first to bawl their eyes.

    One thing that really, really really shook my world: my mum turned out more sensible than my mum in law. my mum will text me her shopping list for Monday. “But only buy what you get there, don’t go to a second store just because of it”.
    My mum in law sent her husband around town to buy toilet paper. Because they only have two and a half packs (!!!) left. She denies all allegations of hoarding…

    Talking about hoarding, with all the justified critique, I think one aspect that few people are considering is that since last week many meals are eaten at home that weren’t eaten at home the week before. The kids had lunch in school, that’s 10 meals more just for us, not counting Mr being home early and leaving late. The amount of food is the same, but the delivery chains are different. Somewhere there’s 300kg of pasta that wasn’t eaten at #1’s school, but that’s 600 packs of pasta people needed to buy. And that’s just one school.

  83. says

    The deputy of our healthcare minister, an actual career epidemiologist, just said that the borders might need to be semi-closed for two years, depending on how fast the situation gets under control in the rest of Europe. Currently, in CZ and Germany, the number of cases doubles every third day, the rate in CZ is 100 cases per million, in DE over 200 and in Italy over 800.

    I am no longer working in Germany, but many people around here do. They will be hit hard, the government is talking about stopping the pendlers for fear that they bring new cases of Covid-19 to CZ from Germany, where it is more prevalent.

    There is still a personal twist to this. Most of my money is in a German bank. I can access it via the internet, but when I exchange it this way, I lose about 5% of it to fees, and that is no small amount (I do not know why exchanging cash is better, but it is).

  84. Nightjar says

    I think closing shopping malls and other places where people like to spend their free time had an unfortunate consequence for me that I didn’t see coming at all. Since people can only go for short walks near their residence, they are doing just that. I almost never see anyone along my favorite birdwatching trail, today I encountered a total of 5 people and 1 dog. There were less birds, I presume all this activity scared them off. Humph. I guess I will have to find an alternative trail, or choose the time of the day more carefully. Maybe it’s just a Sunday thing. We’ll see.

    Our daily effective reproductive number has been going down for 5 consecutive days, I don’t know it it means much or if it is related to the social distancing and self-isolation we’ve been doing (I’ve been at home for 11 days now, that’s more or less when people started to care about this). But for now I’m choosing to see it as a good sign. It went down from 3.6 to 2.5, maybe with the additional measures adopted this weekend it will go down further. Maybe not enough to prevent healthcare system collapse, but it can always be less bad. Spain seems to be headed for Italian levels of catastrophe and it’s scary.

  85. Nightjar says

    Oh, and our first day of effective state of emergency had a funny incident: the police was called to a small village to stop a stubborn priest that was decided to celebrate the Sunday Mass as usual, with everyone crammed into the village’s church. Because why not, right? He was peacefully talked out of it by the police officers and everyone went home to pray on their own, I guess.

  86. says

    Well, and guess who’s getting a plain old cold now. No, I don’t think I have Covid 19, for one thing I know what a dry cough is and that’s not what is happening. I also don’t have a temperature.
    Shopping this morning was absolutely no problem. Everything was well stocked, except for toilet paper and we still haven’t opened the one extra packet I bought two weeks ago. I bought the groceries for the whole week and restocked what we took from the larder last week. I asked my BIL for a “Metro Card”. For those of you who don’t know, Metro is a wholesale store that you can only use if you have a business. Since he is a counsellor with his own office he has one and can hand out 2 or three to “representatives”. I guess there shouldn’t be big problems there.
    Besides, I could put up a business selling face masks right now. Which I’m not doing. Those I make are donations, if people want to give money they’re asked to donate to charities that support poor folks.

    That’s too bad. Can you find a work around like sending the money to your parents via Paypal? They have fees as well, but they’re quite moderate…
    Let me know if I can do something from Germany.

    One thing about shopping: too many elderly people. Several of them with their adult children. I offered to do the shopping for several elderly couples in the street, but, noooooooo, they want to be independent. If a baby boomer takes their octogenarian mum to Aldi right now, can you consider that attempted murder suicide?

  87. Jazzlet says

    Your money situation is extremely frustrating, I hope there is some way you can get it sorted that doesn’t cost you 5%, it is far too much for just changing the currency in an account, its not like they would have to do much.

    I hope it’s the mildest of colds.

    My family are being remarkably sensible, and they are also phoning me, almost unheard of, usually we see each other maybe once a year and catch up on news then. Big Bro is self-isolating which I am amazed at as while he is a rational man he’s also a very social person, but he’s just turned seventy, has ulcerative colitis and asthma, so definitely vulnerable. Big bro #3 is also self-isolating, I am less surprised at this, but far more worried about him, he lives in London and also has several health problems, but in particular severe asthma, it’s really hard to avoid people in London. :-(

    My therapy appointment was done over the phone, I haven’t heard anything about the lump on finger appointment, but it’s on Friday so they have plenty of time to cancel.

    Paul is taking what would have been some of our holiday days as half days so he is sending half the dy in the garden and half working, again remrkably sensibl of him, it should mean he builds up his stamina slowly enough he doesn’t hurt himself or get exhausted.

    So much common sense!

  88. lumipuna says

    My neighborhood has been relatively quiet for the last few days. There’s more people than usually walking in the park, but not as many as I expected. Either people are being super careful, or not everyone actually enjoys hiking on dirt paths.

    Car traffic is way down, which is nice, because I hate dodging cars on our winding residential streets.

    The local grocery store isn’t too crowded, even though people seem to have mostly stopped having food at restaurants and schools and more remote markets. Hoarding here is more or less over -- perhaps many are now living on hoarded food?

  89. Nightjar says


    I hope it’s a mild cold and it goes away soon.


    My mother has been coughing more than usual for the last two days. And it’s all she has, no temperature or other common cold/flu symptoms. I don’t think it’s covid-19, but I’m panicking because I think it may be her lung cancer flaring up again. Hopefully it’s just because she’s been crying frequently, because she can’t visit her brother who is in the hospital doing chemo and not doing so well. I think this whole situation together with being at home for two weeks now is taking a toll on my mental health. Maybe it’s nothing, but it’s difficult to concentrate on anything else right now.

  90. says

    @Giliell, thank you for the offer, but I do not think there is anything you can do. The problem is how to get cash across the border. The bank fees are not that high themselves, but the bank exchange rate is a lot worse than at the cash exchange office that I was using. But it is no biggie, at the moment I am set-up money-wise for a few months and we shall see how that goes after that. If the borders are still closed when I really, really have to exchange money, I shall use internet banking and write the losses off as the way of life.

    I am actually more worried about the fact that I am not paying into my social security at the moment. Last year, I did not register on the work bureau as unemployed because I was expecting to start my own business in January and to go through the paperwork for just one-two months was not worth the hassle, especially since I was not eligible for unemployment support anyways. But it has hit a bureaucratic snag that was not resolved yet and now, with the pandemic, it is unclear when, or whether, it will be resolved -- the original estimate was two months, and it is the second month now with two months still to go at the last time I got new info.

    And when the borders are closed, I cannot register on the work bureau in CZ anymore, because I need some paperwork from Germany -- and the borders are closed. I can -- and do -- pay my healthcare tax, so I have health insurance, but I cannot pay my social security and not paying social security means that my retirement age goes up currently.

    Our head epidemiologist issued information to the public about the use of face masks and respirators. Respirators with exhaust vent are not recommended for public use and people who use them are supposed to cover them with at least a scarf. He emphasized that the purpose of covering your face in public is to slow the spread of the virus from the infected people and respirators with exhaust vent do not fulfill that role.

  91. says

    In my rambling I forgot to add, that in order to pay my social security tax in CZ, I must either have income as employed or have a business, in which case I would pay a fixed rate and in case the business went well, pay the rest at the end of the year when tax returns are done. Without income, there is no way I can pay social security tax as an individual. However, for health care tax, there is an option for people without an income.

    If I were registered on the work bureau, both these taxes would be covered by the state. But it would also mean I would have to accept any job offer the work bureau would give me, and I did not want to risk that. The workers at the bureau themselves actually recommended to me to not register when I was there, since it would be more bother for me than worth. And then came problems…

  92. says

    And today one of my friends turned out to be a complete conspirational nutjob, insisting that Covid-19 is man-made with the purpose of making someone somewhere rich. With heavy heart, I had to tell him to leave me alone and not to bother me with his bullshit. Ten years ago I might do more to try and explain things to him, but I do not have the strength to argue with such people anymore.

  93. says

    Oh damn, Charly, that’s bad. Of course, the folks at the bureau didn’t foresee the current crisis. At least you got health insurance…

    I’m sorry to hear about your uncle. I hope your mum really is only coughing because of the stress and the crying.

  94. Jazzlet says

    Uff that’s rough *hugs* I hope your uncle does better, that your mother’s cough is ‘just’ caused by worry, and that you can look away from all of the COVID-9 stuff. I’m being careful about how much I read and not watching the news at all as I find tat more difficult.

    Sorry about your friend, that’s rough too. The social security busnisness is concerning, but maybe they’ll have some different guidelines soon because of all the COVID-19 problems.

    I had to go to the supermarket yeserday and was pleasantly surprised, they are rationing some things and it is making a difference so I was able to get everything we needed.

  95. says

    General good thoughts for all of you because I know I’d miss someone.

    Today is Shadow’s birthday, give or take a day, and she’s 19. Not that you’d know it, the way she rockets through the house and bosses us around.

    We are hanging in here, with some coughing and sneezing which I suspect is from pollen. I keep thinking I should check on my baby brother in Toronto, but then, he should be checking on me. I’ll get to it, but being the one responsible sibling sure is tiring. Maybe I’ll send out a couple emails now before dinner.

    Love to all of you.

  96. says

    I heard back from my cousin in Albuquerque -- she and her husband are fine, they’re sheltering in place (New Mexico has a shutdown order like California). She’s ten years my senior, an artist, and very much my favorite relative, so that’s a relief.

    I expect I’ll be hearing from my brother at some point. Baby sister is okay as far as I know -- her husband is out of the hospital (a bowel thing, not the ‘rona) and trying to catch up on his tax prep business. Oh, I should probably remind Paul to contact his brother.

  97. Nightjar says

    Follow-up to #94: Well, it seems like a cold after all, she has a runny nose now, that’s not a cancer symptom. And the cough is getting better rather than worse, she’s also crying less after being on the phone with my uncle yesterday morning. Also, whatever it is, it seems I got it too, woke up yesterday with a sore throat, today the sore throat is still here and I have a runny nose and feel all around miserable. Guess I have to wait and see where this goes.

    I hope you are all doing well.

  98. says

    It’s somewhat funny how we can usually all got for months without hearing from each other but right now we really need to?

    Glad to hear it’s probably just a cold. Mine is getting better as well. Am I a bad person for thinking “I wished it had been one of those very mild cases of Corona, then I’d be over with it and wouldn’t need to worry so much?”

  99. says

    @Nightjar, glad to hear it. A runny nose is not among the typical Covid-19 symptoms either.
    What intersting times we have when we are glad of getting cold. I wish you and your mom a speedy recovery.

  100. Nightjar says

    No, I think we all wish for a very mild case of Corona. I know governments have other priorities now, but I think when the worst is over and if there is evidence of lasting immunity, it would make sense to give the general population serological tests to see who is immune to it without knowing. Those people could go back to their normal lives first, and we could have a more controlled and rational lifting of restrictions. It will be very interesting to test children too. As far as I know no one knows yet if young children simply don’t get infected or if they clear the infection nearly without notice. Looking for antibodies in their blood would answer that. Humanity has so many tools now and the knowledge to make evidence-based decisions that could help manage this crisis better than any pandemic crisis was ever managed. Sadly, humanity right now also has people like Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro in positions of power, so I guess knowledge is good for nothing.

    Interesting times indeed. Not only are we glad of getting a cold, we become paranoid and nervously reach for a thermometer because of a mild sore throat in the morning…

  101. says

    I am measuring my temp daily now. At this time of year, some cough and muscle aches are the rule and not the exception for me. After all, it is the time when allergies start to act up causing the coughing and sneezing and there is a lot of work in the garden to do on short notice, causing the aches and constant tiredness. So I am experiencing two symptoms of Covid-19 practically nonstop now. At the moment I am at low risk -- as a single loser I have minimal social contact already, I live in the country and having two weeks of supplies in the pantry and making big shoppings once a week/fortnight is the norm, not the exception.
    Even so, I am getting a bit overcautious.

  102. says

    You and me both. But my thermometre was probably bored anyway since usually I rely on the instrument called hand.

    I just packed two envelopes with masks. One’s for my colleague’s brother and his caregiver, who cannot get any PPE despite him having multiple disabilities.
    Well, I noticed the stupidity of doing so before licking the envelopes and got tape.

    Speaking of masks, my sister got harassed because of one while shopping (for multiple patients). A woman first hugged a cashier and then proceeded to say that things weren’t that bad and if not for stupid b’tches like the one standing in line who are needlessly wearing masks, hospitals would have more than enough.
    It was rather considerate of her to act as a pressure release for a very stressed nurse. Apparently my usually mild mannered sister gave her such an earful that she shut up completely.

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