The CCP Coronavirus

This is a discussion topic for posting info and questions about the CCP Coronavirus. Check back regularly for updates and share important info. This is a serious pandemic and we all need to educate ourselves and stay home. Don't go out for non-essential reasons. A lot of people are going to die, and our behavior today (March 15, 2020) will still dramatically affect how many die.

March 23 update: Although diseases are commonly named after locations, I edited the post title from The Wuhan Coronavirus to The CCP Coronavirus to reflect the fact that the fault lies with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), not the city of Wuhan.

Below is the original post.

I'm not a medical expert and I haven't given my full attention to the Wuhan Coronavirus. But I've looked into it some and I have a few guesses, below. Summary: It's a real danger, which might kill millions, and China is lying about containment.

  • Coronavirus is spreading in mainland China outside of Hubei province.
  • The Chinese government is lying heavily.
  • China reports fake coronavirus data.
  • Experts could and should have known the above points a month ago.
  • There's a significant chance, let's say >= 20%, that coronavirus kills a lot of people, let's say over a million.
  • If the virus infects 25% of the world and has a 1% mortality rate, that's 19 million dead. The 25% and 1% figures are both plausible. Worse is not unreasonable.
  • Things might not turn out all that bad, but people ought to be concerned and take it seriously.
  • The virus is a bigger threat than the government measures to contain the virus.
  • Many measures to stop or slow the virus' spread are being done too late to have a large benefit.
  • Many people with coronavirus show no symptoms, but can still be contagious.
  • Individual quarantine measures are frequently inadequate. Self-quarantined persons are told e.g. to keep their distance from their spouse ... who can still live with them and go to the grocery store.
  • A 14 day quarantine is inadequate for a person who is around healthy family members or roommates. E.g. they could infect a family member on day 6. Then the quarantine ends too soon (8 days, not 14) after that person got sick.
  • Although we may still slow the spread down, we can't realistically expect to stop the virus from spreading to most of the world. It may not spread that much, but if it doesn't, that will be luck more than skill. We don't know all the details of the virus and how good it is at spreading. Also, the potential exception would be if someone comes up with a major medical breakthrough to protect us.
  • Politicians and others still going around shaking the hands of dozens of people are fools or bastards.
  • The people mocking those who do "social distancing" like not touching other people (e.g. no handshakes) are second-handers disconnected from reality, and they will be responsible for many deaths.
  • Literal life and death threats are inadequate for most social-reality-oriented persons to start focusing on facts, science, details and logic. They can't snap out of it and will continue to be dangerously careless, and to make decisions based on e.g. not wanting to show weakness. People deal with situations by social dynamics like acting tough instead of fearful, and not wanting to be reactive or high effort, and it doesn't matter if coronavirus has no social behavior and cannot act on social interpretations. People will e.g. stock up on supplies if and when other people stock up, and do whatever they think others are doing; they don't want to be different and that matters more to them than their lives.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (376)

Slow the coronavirus spread so we can test way more

Johns Hopkins March 17 Coronavirus update:

The researchers concluded that efforts to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic in each country—defined here as slowing transmission to reduce the peak of the epidemic—would be expected to still result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and overwhelmed health systems. Subsequently, they argue that efforts to suppress the epidemics—defined here as lowering transmission to bring R0 less than 1—are necessary to ensure the continued functioning of health systems. These measures, however, would likely need to be implemented for 18 months or longer. The study considered multiple interventions, both alone and combination with others: case isolation at home, voluntary quarantine of those living with cases, social distancing for individuals over the age of 70, social distancing of the entire populations, and school closures. The model indicates that a combination of these measures would be sufficient to suppress the epidemic and preserve the health system, but the disease would be expected to “quickly rebound” after the interventions are lifted. In order to maintain their impact, the measures would essentially need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available, which could be 18 months or longer.

Study link. And FYI R0 means the average number of people that an infected person infects.

This info is dangerously wrong. Specifically, the 18 month claim is very discouraging (the rest is fine). People, including policymakers, will give up and think stopping the disease is hopeless. We're not all going to stay home for 18+ months (and there's actually no guarantee we'll have a working vaccine in 5 years – unpredictable scientific progress is involved). That won't work. But we shouldn't be planning to wait for a vaccine. That's the wrong plan.

We need to buy time to do way more testing to see who's infected. When we test enough, we can control the disease. Proof is logical and explanatory thinking about how diseases work (if we know who's infected, we can isolate them), as well how well heavy testing is working in e.g. South Korea and Vo, a small Italian town which got the disease completely under control with lots of testing.

See also my coronavirus info thread with multiple updates per day. You can share info there, too.

And see What To Do About Coronavirus

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

What To Do About Coronavirus

We can stop the pandemic if we slow it down plus heavily ramp up testing. We don’t need to give up and accept that everyone will get it. And we don’t need to stay home for over a year until there’s a vaccine. We just need to do enough testing to figure out who to quarantine. Once we mostly know who has it, the rest is pretty easy, and we’ll be able to manage it when a few cases initially sneak by us. Until testing gets things under control, we must do a lot of social distancing. We can probably get this under control in one month if we take it seriously, which will save hundreds of thousands of lives in USA alone.

To prevent exponential growth of the pandemic, the average person needs to avoid around 70% of their regular contact with other people. That’s a reasonable, achievable number even if most people keep their jobs and go to the grocery store. (70% is a rough estimate based on several sources. Maybe the correct number is actually 80%, but it’s not 99%, it’s something achievable.) People who can isolate extra are a big help who will bring the average down. They’ll make up for some people, such as medical workers, who stay in contact with a lot of people. I’m staying home now.

Don’t go outside for non-essential reasons. Don’t congregate in groups. Stay home as much as you reasonably can. Do your best to leave public spaces for people who need them, e.g. utility workers who keep the water, sewers, power, internet, and phones working. Some people have really good reasons to go outside like healthcare workers, police, firefighters, delivery people, grocery workers, and pharmacy workers. Everyone needs to stop going out for entertainment, luxuries or socializing.

If you can cut down your going out just to work (if you can’t work from home and are in a bad situation to take a break from work), getting medicine and getting groceries when you actually run out (stay home and get stuff delivered if you can), it’ll be a big help to everyone. Get more food at once and eat non-perishables so that you have to shop less often. If you go out, shower when you get home and put all your clothes in the laundry. And don’t place unimportant orders for deliveries right now.

Once the pandemic is under control – we stop it from spreading exponentially, most currently infected people stop being contagious, and we do a lot more testing to find out who has it and who doesn’t – then we can go out more.

Remember: You can spread the disease before you have symptoms or even if you never get symptoms! This appears to be common and is part of why the disease is spreading rapidly.

The best time to get things under control is now, not after the bodies start piling up like they are in Italy.

More Info

Slow the coronavirus spread so we can test way more.

Coronavirus info thread (multiple updates per day; anyone can share info or ask questions)

My Coronavirus video

I tweet coronavirus info. Follow me or read my tweets directly at @curi42.

There is a coronavirus channel on the Fallible Ideas Discord

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (28)

Coronavirus Solution

Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance explains what everyone should know about governmental and societal policies for dealing with Coronavirus. Millions will die needlessly unless we change policies. (Some Asian countries have good policies. North American and European countries don't.)

Summary: Absolutely don't give up and intentionally let everyone get the disease. And we don't need total lockdown for 18+ months to wait for a vaccine, either. Instead, we must immediately do roughly 4-6 weeks of lockdown to get the disease under control (every day counts against an exponential pandemic). Once it stops spreading exponentially, we can manage it using testing and contact tracing, and ongoing mild and cost-effective lockdown measures while awaiting a vaccine. Any time spent on half-measures right now is condemning people to die and hurting the economy without solving the main problem. If we don't get this right, the hospital system will be overwhelmed and millions will die as hospitals turn them away. We're already on course for disaster, in a matter of days, if we don't make this policy change.

Do we really need to take drastic measures? Yes. Read about how harmful the disease is: A Medical Worker Describes Terrifying Lung Failure From COVID-19 — Even in His Young Patients (the article is about a hospital in New Orleans, in Louisiana, in USA).

In Wuhan, the disease peaked a month after they did a full lockdown. In Italy today, despite the ongoing disaster (they've passed China in deaths), their lockdown is still inadequate.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (33)

Don't Cut Corners On Coronavirus

This post shares and comments on quotes from Hold the line, a coronavirus article by an infectious disease epidemiologist.

First, we are in the very infancy of this epidemic’s trajectory. That means even with these [social distancing] measures we will see cases and deaths continue to rise globally, nationally, and in our own communities in the coming weeks. This may lead some people to think that the social distancing measures are not working. They are. They may feel futile. They aren’t. [...] We need everyone to hold the line as the epidemic inevitably gets worse. This is not my opinion; this is the unforgiving math of epidemics for which I and my colleagues have dedicated our lives to understanding with great nuance, and this disease is no exception. I want to help the community brace for this impact. Stay strong and with solidarity knowing with absolute certainty that what you are doing is saving lives, even as people begin getting sick and dying. You may feel like giving in. Don’t.

I agree.

While social distancing decreases contact with members of society, it of course increases your contacts with group (i.e. family) members. This small and obvious fact has surprisingly profound implications on disease transmission dynamics. Study after study demonstrates that even if there is only a little bit of connection between groups (i.e. social dinners, playdates/playgrounds, etc.), the epidemic trajectory isn’t much different than if there was no measure in place. The same underlying fundamentals of disease transmission apply, and the result is that the community is left with all of the social and economic disruption but very little public health benefit. You should perceive your entire family to function as a single individual unit; if one person puts themselves at risk, everyone in the unit is at risk. Seemingly small social chains get large and complex with alarming speed. If your son visits his girlfriend, and you later sneak over for coffee with a neighbor, your neighbor is now connected to the infected office worker that your son’s girlfriend’s mother shook hands with.

This is a key point. If a family is staying home together, then if anyone in the family takes a risk, it's similar to your whole family taking the risk. That’s because one infected family member is likely to infect the rest of the family.

Also, if everyone in your family individually thinks they can get away with small risks, the risks will add up. Suppose you have 5 people each taking 3 tiny risks in a month. That's less than one risk per week. And suppose they’re 2% risks (1 in 50 odds of getting infected). Then the total risk for the family is a 26% chance of getting infected. That means over 1 in 4 families get infected from taking those tiny risks – every month. It doesn’t take many families doing this to keep the disease spreading. People acting anything like this scenario are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

In contrast to hand-washing and other personal measures, social distancing measures are not about individuals, they are about societies working in unison. These measures also take a long time to see the results. It is hard (even for me) to conceptualize how on a population level ‘one quick little get together’ can undermine the entire framework of a public health intervention, but it does. I promise you it does. I promise. I promise. I promise. You can’t cheat it. People are already itching to cheat on the social distancing precautions just a “little”- a playdate, a haircut, or picking up a needless item at the store, etc. From a transmission dynamics standpoint, this very quickly recreates a highly connected social network that undermines all of the work the community has done so far.

He's right. Don't cut corners.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Are Government Coronavirus Policies Awful Attacks on Freedom?

George Reisman tweeted:

[Trevor Dillinger wrote:] You have no right to drunk-driving. Same with COVID-19 spreading.

Your comment would apply to the Chinese Communist Party, who knew they were spreading Covid 19.

No one should be virtually imprisoned in a “lockdown” without benefit even of probable cause to suspect that he might have the disease, let alone without a trial or even the existence of a law that he is alleged to have broken.

The proper response would be to avoid contact with people especially susceptible to the disease and for them to avoid contact with whoever might give it to them. That’s it. For the rest, the purpose of life is not to avoid giving Covid 19 to others or getting it from them.

I disagree with Reisman despite agreeing with lots of his principles and views. This post is me thinking out loud about coronavirus lockdowns vs. individual freedom to stay home or risk going out.

Guessing a Reisman view: If you live with someone and they go out, too bad. Don’t live with people you can’t coordinate risk taking with.

Guessing a Reisman view: If your commute and job aren’t safe enough, quit. If you didn’t save money, oops, too bad. Or maybe you can get your work to make changes (plastic screens, masks, sanitizer, fewer customers inside at once, etc.) and get a car instead of public transit.

This stuff, like I think Reisman wants, is awkward in a world where the government requires people to do various tasks in person. Like go to the DMV IRL. If the government keeps requiring that, while also being hands off about the pandemic, they’re risking people’s lives. Solution: instead of lockdowns the government cancels a lot of their red tape so fewer people need anything, and moves the rest online.

It’s awkward in a world where too many employers do the minimum required by the government. They’re used to being bossed around instead of taking initiative to make good policies. So if the government stops bossing people around we get chaos.

It’s awkward in a world where people pay taxes for public education and expect their kids to go to govt schools and then there’s a pandemic and if they want to be safe they may have to give up major resources they planned around having.

It’s awkward to tell people to quit their jobs to avoid pandemic risk in a world where you’re punished for quitting in some ways. Like you lose unemployment and severance benefits which you’d get if you were laid off (fired without doing anything wrong). But if you’re quitting cuz pandemic, that is an external problem outside your control, and you might actually deserve unemployment benefits.

We live in a world where hospitals can’t say “guys if you don’t wear masks we’re cancelling your health insurance and firing your as customers” or similar. The government has tons of laws requiring them to give care regardless instead of demanding their customers take appropriate steps to not get infected. They can’t just refuse ventilators to people who acted irresponsibly. In a better world, they could, so there’d be way more lockdown type pressures from non-government sources. Similarly, health insurance can’t offer discounts for low covid risk behaviors or raise prices for risk takers.

What if I want to stop going to the gym because of the lockdown, but I had signed up for a year long membership plan (as is typical at US gyms). I claim the gym is no longer providing the service I signed up for: safe workouts. The gym says: what!? we are still open like normal! The government is going to have to play a role in deciding stuff. Am I being overly risk averse and I’m still on the hook for gym dues, or am I being reasonable and the gym operating like normal is a bad idea? The government needs some kinda general policy about this, not “no comment”. That way, such things can be resolved by the courts in a consistent predictable way (not the chaotic choices of each individual judge or jury). And we want almost none of it to go to court in the first place, which would be very expensive and overload the system – but if the results are clear and predictable enough due to consistent, standard policies then people can follow that without needing their own individual court case.

You can’t disentangle the government from life overnight just because you like freedom and government pandemic policy is inconvenient and, in various ways, stupid.

Government does a ton to prevent new businesses and products. They regulate where you can create buildings, what buildings you can create, whether you’re allowed to run a business of a particular type, whether a product or service may be sold, the price at which it may be sold (e.g. anti-gouging laws), the many safety checks you must submit to, the vetoes you must give your neighbors in many cases, and much more. The government has stopped a large amount of hand sanitizer and mask production. One of the bottlenecks has been the stuff you add to alcohol to make it undrinkable (undrinkable alcohol is the main ingredient in hand sanitizer), which is needed because the government wants to have a bunch of extra rules and taxes related to drinkable alcohol. The FDA, CDC and others restrict new medicines, drugs, vaccines, virus tests, volunteering for treatments, experiments, uses of lab animals, uses of volunteer human patients, and so on. In that world, where free market response to covid is so limited by govt, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to also ask the govt to be hands off regarding covid. You could try to ask the govt to manage the medical response to covid but be hands off on freedom of travel and other activities by citizens, but i think that doesn’t make sense when those activities are medically relevant.

We live in the world where the govt doesn’t just watch as other actors handle everything. We don’t have other non-govt actors set up to properly evaluate a pandemic, communicate to the whole country about what to do, etc. The govt is bad at it too but they do have agencies and budgets that are meant to address this stuff. And it’s also a world where if the govt says “X is a bad idea” but leaves X legal, people assume the warnings are unserious. And that’s a generally reasonable assumption: the govt actually does ban all kinds of things they really think are bad, and gives all kinds of way way overly cautious warnings that are not backed up with actual rules. Plenty of way overly cautious stuff is backed by rules, so having no rules really signals no real danger. So leaving bars and restaurants and gyms free to operate as normal would communicate to the public that there’s no real danger.

This is similar to parents (govt) who punish their kids (citizens) over major and minor things, and sometimes over nothing or the parent’s error, and they have rules for all that stuff – if that is your general policy, then telling your kid “I think eating cyanide is a bad idea” while not making any rule or threatening any punishment would be irresponsible and communicate that eating it isn’t much of a big deal (because everything else that’s a big deal, and a lot more besides, gets rules and threats).

There are lots of things wrong with the govt but trying to change some specific policies in response to a pandemic is bad timing and planning. Public health policy to defend against ~3 million Americans dying of a disease is the wrong govt changes to start with and we should generally do more changing/reforming during calmer more normal times when it’s easier and there are fewer unusual factors making it hard to tell how successful the changes are.

The government coordinating mass action to protect millions from death is one of the last types of government functions we should be looking to get rid of, not one of the first.

It’s fine to give advice about govt pandemic policy and suggest e.g. that beaches should be left open since a lot of the spread happens indoors. The govt can be questioned and argued with and that’s no problem. That’s part of the existing system. It’s a different matter to suggest drastic changes to the powers and style of government and say any government control over the pandemic is illegitimate. Debating the right plan is fine; saying “I don’t really want to have a government except a few special cases, therefore we should get rid of our pandemic response” is unreasonable (terrible transition plan and not trying to engage with actual live political issues) and focusing just on saying that govt pandemic response violates freedom, without even connecting that to a broader abolishing of most govt functions – just special casing pandemic response as something to get rid of – is unreasonable.

The order of reforms matters in general. E.g. we’ll need welfare reforms before having fully open immigration. And we’ll need to stop subsidizing drug use before legalizing all the drugs. Although “legalize drugs; victimless crimes shouldn’t be crimes” sounds nice in various ways, it interacts badly with current policies about tax-funded rehab, needles, medical care for drug users, etc. (Or requiring everyone to buy health plans that cover preexisting conditions and don’t charge extra to drug users – that is a forcible subsidy from regular citizens to drug users.) Although “let anyone come here and work if they can afford a home” sounds nice, it’s a problem with rent control, tons of restrictions on building homes, minimum wage laws and other price controls on labor, tons of rules restricting starting businesses that could hire the new immigrants, as well as all the tax-funded welfare available to people who live here.

If the govt’s pandemic response was like “good luck guys and enjoy the freedom of not being oppressed by your govt” – but everything else about the govt stayed the same – it’d be awful. It’d be kinda like a parent who micromanages most of his kid’s life and then is hands off about one thing.

I’m in favor of tons of govt reform. I want a govt that does way less. But that needs to be done with general principles and broad plans. That ongoing project shouldn’t be especially connected to the pandemic besides using some pandemic response as examples of how badly the govt manages stuff. Minarchists and anarchists shouldn’t just demand total freedom about every individual issue that comes along, out of context, as a local optima. They should look at the bigger picture and figure out some good places to reform and focus on advocating that instead of wanting immediate pro-freedom changes to whatever political issue they’re looking at with no broader plan.

i wonder if reisman opposes the govt controlling its borders to protect citizens from coronavirus

should we have total internal freedom but travel ban china? or just let everyone in from anywhere – too bad for our citizens who are concerned about getting sick?


The proper response would be to avoid contact with people especially susceptible to the disease and for them to avoid contact with whoever might give it to them.

so, avoid contact with old ppl but do have contact with their grand kids, and also the old ppl should avoid contact with their own grand kids? or they should ask their grand kids to heavily social distance and stuff?

what about old people who live in a care home and don't want to die? how should they protect themselves? too bad for not having the foresight to choose a home with great pandemic policies? too bad for not remaining independent in their own home? is it ok for the government to ban elder care workers from working at multiple different homes? should the old people, some of whom have significant mental deterioration at this point, negotiate with their care homes to adopt good policies like firing any workers who won't avoid all other care homes? should they have arranged for family members or hired proxies to be prepared to negotiate such things on their behalf? we don't live in that world where such things are reasonably expected of people. we live in a world where the govt is expected to make some policies. today i think "you can't work IRL at multiple retirement homes during the pandemic" is a good rule that more jurisdictions should have, even though i can imagine a different society where a similar result would be achieved in a more freedom-friendly way.

and re people just quitting and staying home if they want to avoid risk. which most people aren't in a position to do. but anyway, what happens if all the ppl who do food work quit and stay home?

i rely on other ppl working. i want policies that let “essential” workers keep doing their jobs with a lot of added safety. if people working in food, medicine, infrastructure (like water, power cables, and internet cables) etc. were mass quitting, that'd be awful for everyone. but if they are told "you can quit or not quit; freedom! yay!" then a lot will quit and everyone will be fucked. what keeps more of them working is that other parts of society are actually trying to take action in regards to the pandemic, like wearing masks when entering grocery stores, and trying to social distance so they don't get and spread it. and that's partly people being reasonable and partly govt policy.

if you just have all the unreasonable people going around being risky and all the reasonable people staying home, even if they could somehow afford that, then you'd lose a lot of important workers without replacement. partly cuz they have training and skills and stuff (including reasonableness). partly because replacing lots of workers is hard. partly because there are lots of govt restrictions requiring credentials and safety training and stuff to do jobs or start new businesses to pick up slack when some existing businesses are understaffed.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (11)