2020 (coronavirus) crisis

2020 (coronavirus) crisis

This is a modified letter I just sent to close ones but the more people who read it, the better.

The Italian town with the first fatality stopped COVID-19 transmission by locking everything down and testing everyone early. Over half the positives were asymptomatic. Bavaria and California are already following suit. Details at the bottom.

I am not an expert in this field, I have just been reading everything I could find on it for the past two weeks. I studied physiology, psychology, and business, and I have been working in muscle rehab for the past 10+ years… so a good base, but definitely not an authoritative one. This is why I stand by Jürgen Klopp when he says:

That said, this is what I’ve been able to put together so far: please social distance as soon as possible, and self-isolate, work from home, or just stop going to work for the next few days if your job isn’t vital to society. We closed our clinic in Vancouver this past weekend, and I immediately returned home to be with family in Hamilton, to inform them of everything I write here and to make sure they take it to heart. I haven’t had face-to-face contact with my mom nor my dad since coming back just as a precaution, despite living in the same house. It’s been four days.

First, some memes, because it’s going to get dark right after.

How serious is this, really?

Oh this is a serious issue we’re facing, despite a lot of uncertainty and even disbelief all around us. If you have any older or sick close ones, please pay special care to see they remain isolated for the next few days or even weeks as we watch this crisis unfold. For all the religious relatives we have who think it’s still safe to go to services, tell them that all Catholic churches in Rome are closed as of last week, and Masses canceled as of the week before.1 Masses can be attended daily online during the crisis, led by none other than the bishop of LA, and I’m sure other religious services are but a web search away. Misinformed people being nonchalant about it—like the UK prime minister’s 79-year-old father saying he’ll “go to the pub if he needs to”2—is exactly what’s caused Italy to surpass China in deaths today (3,405 v. 3,245), despite having only half the confirmed caseload (41,035 v. 80,928).3 Bergamo, the rich city in Italy’s north most hit by this pandemic, has brought their military in to help move corpses outside the city limits. Their crematorium, “working at full capacity, 24 hours a day, can cremate [only] 25 dead.”4


The UK has just dropped its “herd immunity approach” following an analysis of Italy showing that up to 30% of hospitalized patients will require intensive care treatment, and France is “in a state of war” with the virus, with citizens facing fines of €38 for leaving their houses for unnecessary reasons, “enforced by 100,000 police officers.”5 Meanwhile Toronto has just fired its emergency manager6, the first big outbreak in Canada is tied to a nursing home in North Vancouver,7 and we’ve just had our first reported case of something similar here in Hamilton.8 Most recent modeling predicts an end of June “flattening of the curve” for Canada, with ICU bed overcapacity of almost 25,000, fifty thousand dead, and 7 million infected.9,10 I will leave the worrisome stats at that. I trust you can see how serious this threat really is. We are now where Italy was three weeks ago,11 and need to act fast or be overwhelmed even faster.

Cheer up. More memes.

What do we do now?

Self-isolate. Stay clear of everyone until we’re all tested. Don’t go anywhere you don’t absolutely need to be. Wait until our government comes out with solid measures that don’t still include the disastrously arcane testing of people first based on where they’ve been, and secondly based on symptoms.


We’ll be running on our own for a week or two until our government figures out how to handle all this, so we need to help each other as much as possible. Please be in touch with those around you, especially any elderly or sick you may know. They will likely have been in self-isolation for a some time already and may need help, or even just a smile or a call. Don’t inundate them, a simple phone call every few days will do.

I can hear you frowning. It’s meme time.

But I can’t afford to not work!

This is why “coronavirus” is in brackets. The real crisis we’re diving into is an economic one. But don’t worry, if anything’s positive about this, it’s that everyone is experiencing it. In a few short weeks we’ll have to start dealing with the -8% Black Monday plus the -9% Black Thursday stock market drops of last week—numbers not seen since the 80s,12 despite the Fed’s pumping in of between $1-1.5 trillion13,14. And then we have the Russian-OPEC pricing war which is dropping oil anywhere between 20-30% thus far…15,16 not to mention traditional hedge investments like gold being down 3% this year, including a downward trend for practically the last week straight.17 Even Bitcoin dropped to a $5,000 low from a cruising altitude almost thrice that just a month prior (though bouncing back quickly, now at over $9,000 CAD again),18 as well as several of the better known altcoins dropping from a third all the way to a half their value.19 Cryptocurrencies haven’t traditionally been coupled with the stock market or the economy at large, so this trend is something new to observe. I’m still not quite sure what it means.

For now though, take care of yourself and those around you first by not catching the virus for as long as you can. That keeps one ICU bed free for someone who desperately needs it, and pushes your case just that little bit closer to the vaccine we’re hoping for in 12-18 months. If you can’t afford some time off then you can’t afford to get sick, and definitely can’t afford to die. If there’s anything you’ve learned from this, it’s to please not high-five Carol.

It’s all a hoax!

Those lucky home office folks!

No, you are their clients. If you don’t have money they won’t have money, it’ll just take a little bit to play out. I cannot underline enough that we’re all in this together. Again, “coronavirus” crisis.

We’re in deep trouble then…

Yes. But, I don’t know if I’ve said this, together! Our government’s already on it, working on an Economic Response Plan that includes an Emergency Support Benefit for those who “who lose their jobs or face reduced hours”, an “Emergency Care Benefit [of] up to $900 every two weeks, for up to 15 weeks, to help Canadian workers who cannot go to work, do not have paid sick leave and do not qualify for EI sickness benefits,”20 and whole lot of extra support for businesses. Our tax filing has been pushed to June 1st, with payments due August 31st,21 and our student loads are on a six-month interest-free moratorium, along with a whole bunch of other financial stimuli.22 Supply chains remain active and may even run more smoothly because of the decrease in traffic.23 Our neighbours to the south are quickly mobilizing, with GM and Elon Musk already offering to make ventilators at WWII capacity,24,25 and New York converting hotels into hospitals26 as well as recruiting a navy hospital ship to help with the growing caseload.27

Are we all going to die?

No. There has been a small town in northern Italy, , which has confined the virus and has no new cases of it by locking everything down after their first death (coincidentally also the first in the country) and testing all 3,300 residents. Tests revealed 3% of the population to have been infected, half of whom showed no symptoms:

“On February 22, 3% of the inhabitants of Vò were infected. After two weeks in which the town was locked down, only 0.25% were infected. Once these few infected people were isolated, the town reopened and has experienced no new cases.

Compare this strategy with the one adopted in the Diamond Princess. Initially, passengers and crew members were tested as they were showing symptoms and only after that they were taken off the boat. Only toward the end did the authorities test all the passengers. As a result, what started with the infection of one passenger eventually contaminated 20% of the people on board. Thus, in one case we go from 3% to none, in the other case from one [case] to 20%.28

A small German town twice Vò’s size that was the heart of its own local epidemic did the same just last night,29 and now this quarantine has been imposed on its whole state of Bavaria.30 This is the heart of German auto making. California did the same,31,32 after realizing they’re looking at 25.5 million cases within the next 8 weeks.33 If these hardworking, global centres of industry can do it, so can you, you resilient career professional you.


On the bright side, the open source movement is already kicking into gear. 3D printers in Milan have printed much-needed valves,34,35 a Stanford student created bootleg testing kits for friends,36,37 and a Vancouver hacker is openly building emergency air filters.38,39 The same decentralized culture that created this passive, free-for-all approach at the outset that put us so far behind is the very same one that’s pushing us forward, freely but increasingly together:

Countries with the strongest laws and strictest punishments are those with histories of famine, warfare, natural disasters, and, yes, pathogen outbreaks. These disaster-prone nations have learned the hard way over centuries: Tight rules and order save lives. Meanwhile, cultures that have faced few threats—such as the United States—have the luxury of remaining loose. They understandably prioritize freedom over constraint, and they are highly creative and open, but also more disorganized than their tight counterparts.40

My friend in Berkeley is suddenly seeing more kiwibots delivering food, her high school cousin back in Ontario reports that a 6h school day is suddenly just 4h online, and my cousin in Ottawa reports that she loves this whole new online grocery and supply ordering that she can just pick up or even have delivered from all the major retailers (Walmart, Metro, Independent, and I know Safeway had this option in BC as well). A lot of these changes are going to drastically change our future lifestyles for the better. We just need to get through this crunch now. And above all, we need to start taking it very seriously. From a great video online:

“If people are sufficiently worried, there is a lot less to worry about. But if no one is worried, that’s when you should worry.”41 (That whole video is worth watching)

Like the famous Russian saying goes, we’ve been slow to horse but may yet be quick to ride. Please share all this information far and wide. To pull in another tired proverb, this one African, going alone we go fast but going together we go far. And I assure you no one can get very far keeping toilet paper yet sharing disease.

What I’ve been reading to get here:

1 lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-italian-bishops-conference-shuts-down-all-rome-churches
2 mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/coronavirus-boris-johnsons-dad-stanley-21707130
3 ncov2019.live
4 news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-italian-army-called-in-to-carry-away-corpses-as-citys-crematorium-is-overwhelmed-11959994
5 foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/17/britain-uk-coronavirus-response-johnson-drops-go-it-alone
6 nationalpost.com/news/city-of-toronto-fires-director-of-office-of-emergency-management-in-middle-of-covid-19-crisis
7 nsnews.com/news/three-more-covid-19-deaths-at-lynn-valley-care-centre-1.24099014
8 hamilton.ca/government-information/news-centre/news-releases/hamilton-public-health-confirms-covid-19-case-long
9 neherlab.org/covid19
10 news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22616456
11 globalnews.ca/news/6688716/coronavirus-canada-italy
12 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_stock_market_crash
13 cnbc.com/2020/03/12/fed-to-pump-more-than-500-billion-into-short-term-bank-funding-expand-types-of-security-purchases.html
14 news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22559175
15 foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/06/russias-defiance-sets-the-stage-for-oil-price-bloodbath
16 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Russia%E2%80%93Saudi_Arabia_oil_price_war
17 livemint.com/news/india/gold-prices-today-fall-sharply-again-down-for-seventh-day-in-eight-11584590834467.html
18 coinbase.com/price/bitcoin
19 tradingview.com/markets/cryptocurrencies
20 ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/how-to-apply-for-ei-sickness-benefits-and-the-new-emergency-worker-fund-1.4858089
21 ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/the-tax-deadline-has-been-extended-due-to-the-covid-19-crisis-1.4858098
22 macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/trudeau-announces-non-essential-canada-u-s-travel-ban-and-massive-stimulus-full-transcript
23 london.ctvnews.ca/truckers-pledge-to-help-canada-fight-covid-19-1.4858264
24 bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-18/kudlow-says-gm-ceo-offered-to-make-ventilators-for-outbreak
25 news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22623663
26 ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2020/03/19/city-pursuing-plans-to-convert-entire-hotels-into-makeshift-hospitals

Thank you to Gerd Altmann, PublicDomainPictures, Mohamed94Walid, and Mohamed Hassan for the free use of their images via Pixabay.com. The memes I got from goodness knows where; thank Andrew Glover and the rest of you Internet people. Off I go now, to do what I do best.

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