Civility Strained by Coronavirus

We're a long, long way from normal.

The Atlantic’s McCay Coppins took his first flight since the COVID-19 lockdowns began. He was prepared for it to be bad. It was much worse than he feared.

The cabin was restless. It was a weekday afternoon in late April, and I was among dozens of people boarding an airplane that most of us had assumed would be empty. Flight attendants were scrambling to accommodate seat-change requests. Travelers—stuffed shoulder to shoulder into two-seat rows—grumbled at one another from behind masks. An ominous announcement came over the in-flight PA system: “We apologize for the alarming amount of passengers on this flight.” Each of us was a potential vector of deadly disease.

I arrived at my assigned row, and found a stocky, gray-haired man in the seat next to mine. When I moved to sit down, he stopped me. “Sit there,” he said gruffly, pointing to the aisle behind us. “Social distance.”

Not eager for a confrontation, I decided to comply. Within seconds, though, a flight attendant materialized and ordered me back to my assigned seat. My recalcitrant would-be seatmate, vigorously objecting to this development, responded by blocking my entrance to the row with his leg.

A standoff ensued, with the irate passenger protesting that there were plenty of empty rows where I could sit (there weren’t) and the long-suffering flight attendant all but threatening to kick him off the plane (she didn’t). Finally, he relented and I squeezed awkwardly into my seat as the man muttered profanities under his breath.

[…]

But flying during a pandemic turned out to be more stressful—and surreal—than I’d planned for. The scenes played out like a postapocalyptic movie: Paranoid travelers roamed the empty terminals in masks, eyeing one another warily as they misted themselves with disinfectant. Dystopian public-service announcements echoed through the airport—“This is a message from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” Even the smallest, most routine tasks—such as dealing with the touch-screen ticketing kiosk—felt infused with danger.

My trip took place in two legs, and the first was weird mostly in the ways that I’d expected. All but a few of the shops and restaurants at Washington National Airport were closed. Beverage service in the main cabin was suspended (though apparently serving ginger ale to first-class passengers was ruled epidemiologically acceptable). My first flight was so empty that the pilot warned we would experience “a very rapid acceleration for takeoff.” The plane leapt into the sky and my stomach dropped. I spent much of the flight using my baggie of Lysol wipes to scrub and re-scrub every surface within reach.

The layover at O’Hare was where my fellow travelers’ fraying nerves came more fully into view.In the restroom, men hovered over sinks like warriors returning from battle, fervently washing their hands and shooting menacing looks at anyone who got too close. At the food court, a shouting match broke out among several stressed-out strangers, and police had to intervene.

I’m frankly shocked that airlines aren’t being required to spread non-household-member passengers out, leaving vast numbers of seats open. That would, of course, require insanely high ticket prices but nobody should be flying right now without urgent need, anyway.

It’s unlikely I’ll need to fly anytime soon but things are definitely different out there. Virginia is under stay-at-home orders for another month, although there are reports that some restrictions may ease soon.

I’ve mostly been at home since March 18, my last day at the office for the foreseeable future. In the early weeks, I was going to the grocery store or Walmart maybe once weekly but have largely stopped going since the CDC recommended masks. While I’m feeling cooped up, our 20- and 19-year-olds are feeling it worse than me and going on most of the small errands for us. And my wife has endured the last two Costco runs, which I would normally have made on the way home from work.

Yesterday morning was my first extended set of errands wearing a mask and I found it surreal. I got to the hardware store very early and it wasn’t particularly crowded. But I felt claustrophobic in the mask, with my breathing noticeably harder. And my glasses fogging up didn’t help, either.

Unlike neighboring Maryland, masks are merely suggested here, not required. Most people I observed at the hardware and grocery stores were compliant but I felt angry at those few who weren’t. Who did they think they were?

Costco is insisting that customers and employees alike wear masks. The last two times my wife has gone have involved very long waits to get in and then finding shelves poorly stocked and limits on purchases of some items. Mostly notably, customers are limited to three fresh meat packages. In a household of seven, that’s three dinners and, frankly, not worth waiting in line for an hour—let alone in a mask.

The hardware store I went to yesterday morning happens to be next to the Costco and I stopped to fill up my tank since there was no line. I noticed that, despite it not yet being 8 am, there was already a line at the store itself, which usually opens at 10. I went over to check it out, figuring that maybe they were opening early for senior citizens. But, no, people were getting in line early so they could be the first in the store when it opened over an hour later.

I left. Considering that the whole point of Costco is buying in bulk, I’ll likely cancel our membership if this continues.

Thankfully, there’s not yet shortages at the local grocery stores, minus the paper products that have been in notoriously short supply for months. Most people were in masks and social distancing but some were not.

Aside from the mask issue, I didn’t see any indication of people being more rude than normal. Those waiting in line at the Costco were more patient than I would have been. But my wife has gone during the middle of the day and found people crankier than normal. Which, really, isn’t surprising. They’re frightened and frustrated.

Coppins observes,

The things we miss most about our pre-pandemic lives—dine-in restaurants and recreational travel, karaoke nights and baseball games—require more than government permission to be enjoyed. These activities are predicated not only on close human contact but mutual affection and good-natured patience, on our ability to put up with one another.
Governors can lift restrictions and companies can implement public-health protocols. But until we stop reflexively seeing people as viral threats, those old small pleasures we crave are likely to remain elusive.

I can’t imagine going to a restaurant or ballgame right now. Doing so in a mask would be decidedly unenjoyable and do so without one would be simply irresponsible.

But Coppins is right. We’re not going to get our old life back until we find a cure, or at least a treatment, for this disease. And it’ll take a while to regain the trust that’s required for a normal economy to function.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, COVID-19, Society
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. JKB says:

    Most people I observed at the hardware and grocery stores were compliant but I felt angry at those few who weren’t. Who did they think they were?

    Probably people who can comprehend information that transmission is highly correlated with prolonged, close-range, face-to-face contact…indoors, as well as embraces and indoor spittling activities such as singing or yelling. That transmission from surfaces or the random passer-by (even if symptomatic) is not well established and unlikely. People who think, instead of let their imaginations run wild.

    It would have been nice if the experts had offered real nuanced information, but even now they don’t. It would have been better if they hadn’t condemned those who brought up mask wearing in the first weeks and dissembled about the utility. They could have easily spoke of intensity of exposure which is what masks mitigate, but instead they went with the non-expert is to stupid to wear a mask properly. As it is, the face coverings, i.e., not actual masks that provide documented filtering, do nothing other than catch the largest droplets, which are emitted when you are symptomatic and coughing or sneezing in an impolite way. The face coverings are a talisman.

    That said, I am not opposed to wearing masks. Many find them psychically reassuring, but that doesn’t change that they are farce. In close-range, face-to-face conversations, they may have utility to stop people spitting in each others mouths, so I would recommend that we permanently recommend wearing masks in those situations.

    ReplyReply
    2
    23
  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    There is an expectation that flights are empty, that came from the early days of the shutdown and reports of planes flying effectively empty. But the airlines have parked large numbers of planes and cancelled many flights, those in operation are nearing normal capacity. Knowledge of the current flight conditions is causing people who were considering flying to put their plans off.

    @James, my experience going into retail stores is similar to yours. Most people I see are wearing masks and the stores have not been particularly crowded, though on a trip to Home Depot earlier this week, every aisle I wanted to be in seemed to have several customers there already. Soap, sanitizer and most paper products with the exception of paper towels seem to be in short supply. Meat products have a smaller selection, but no shortages.

    Monday, the state will begin a tentative reopening, most retail and personal services. The following week restaurants will be able to open outdoor seating only and given that the weather forecast for that period is dominated by rain and cool temps, business will be slow to non existent.

    ReplyReply
  3. Mikey says:

    @JKB:

    It would have been nice if the experts had offered real nuanced information, but even now they don’t.

    And that goes straight to the top. The President is responsible for the lack of any coherent messaging, indeed for the lack of any coherent strategy to deal with this outbreak. He contradicts the experts, even the ones ostensibly on his own team. He’s pushed ineffective treatments like hydroxychloroquine. He’s so stupid and inarticulate that he mangles what information he gets beyond all comprehension. He still doesn’t want to take the necessary testing and tracing measures because he thinks the more tests the more cases and that would make him look bad.

    Damn near every other country on Earth has done far better than America at dealing with COVID-19, because damn near every other country on Earth has competent leadership, not a carnival-barking narcissist who lacks the basic competence to run a fucking lemonade stand, let alone the United States of America.

    ReplyReply
    27
    3
  4. Kathy says:

    I’m frankly shocked that airlines aren’t being required to spread non-household-member passengers out, leaving vast numbers of seats open.

    It’s a matter of capacity. Airlines have reduced the number of flights and destinations, and thus have grounded most of their fleets. How many people board any particular flight depends, as it always does, on how many people want to travel. Earlier on, fewer people traveled, and thus most flights went out nearly empty, with plenty of room for distancing. More people are traveling now, either du to pent up demand, or because the curve has flattened in places, or familiarity with the disease breeds contempt of it, or those who’ve recovered may not be afraid of reinfection.

    The government could issue orders on a maximum number of passengers per aircraft type, most likely by saying only a percentage of seats can be sold. Absent such orders, we depend on their good will to do so. Pit good will vs money, and I can tell you what to bet on.

    With large parts of fleets grounded, BTW, adding capacity is not quick or easy. Planes in storage require some time to be brought back into service. I don’t know all the details, but I imagine fluids and batteries may be removed for storage, for instance, adn certainly there need to be checks for damage due to wind, grit, sand, corrosion, etc. So even anorder, say, to leave all middle seats unsold, would require a couple of weeks at east to be implemented.

    ReplyReply
  5. @JKB:

    It would have been nice if the experts had offered real nuanced information, but even now they don’t.

    I 100% agree that we lack clear information. Who is it that you would like to seize the microphone from the President to deliver that message? What officeholder has the ability to send a unified message in the United States?

    In all seriousness: what mechanism, apart from the presidency, do you expect to generate the needed clarity?

    ReplyReply
    27
    1
  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    If folks actually read some of the first-hand accounts of people who’ve had Covid-19 they’d be far crankier and far more afraid. People sill think this is the flu, it is definitely not. This coronavirus is a real son of a bitch. Trump’s lies have lingered in the minds of the not-terribly-bright and they imagine that if they catch it they’ll have a few days of misery and then all done. Culties don’t read about blood clots and strokes, permanent lung damage, permanent heart damage, permanent brain damage. The flu is miserable, but it does not leave you stroked out and unable to talk as well as breathe.

    The Right is enamored of phony toughness – idiots cosplaying with guns, refusing to social distance, licking doorknobs to show they ain’t ‘fraid of no virus, then gasping their last breaths into a ventilator and dying alone. Macho display is very important in the trailer parks of the old Confederacy. Toxic masculinity, religious hysteria, belligerence and willful ignorance form the petri dish growth culture of the Trump virus.

    In my neighborhood (Silver Lake) everyone we pass while walking the dog is compliant. On the couple trips I’ve taken to CVS compliance was universal – masks, distancing – and frankly I found it surprising how quickly Californians adapted. On a trip to the bank to open an account and have some documents notarized it was my wife and me, masked and gloved, with a masked and gloved bank officer. The delivery people have adapted, every Door Dash, Amazon or FedEx delivery driver is compliant. Yes, it’s weird, but not really a big deal at all.

    The people who insist on behaving like twats remind me of my wife’s Chihuahua: phony tough, loudly obnoxious, never right about when to bark and when not to. They’re small, weak people who feel that displays of belligerence make them big and strong. But the funny thing is the big dogs have no issue with taking reasonable precautions.

    ReplyReply
    17
    3
  7. charon says:

    @JKB:

    As it is, the face coverings, i.e., not actual masks that provide documented filtering, do nothing other than catch the largest droplets, which are emitted when you are symptomatic and coughing or sneezing in an impolite way. The face coverings are a talisman.

    This is not true, as mere speaking produces droplets. Masks prevent people from emitting droplets at the people they speak to.

    Two adjacent neighborhoods in Queens, Corona and Flushing, which are very similar economically, the residents hold similar jobs. Corona is largely Latino and a virus hot spot. Flushing is largely Chinese, hardly any disease. Mask wearing started in Flushing very early and is ubiquitous, the people got an early heads up from their relatives in China.

    (These are working class neighborhoods, the residents tend towards high risk jobs).

    ReplyReply
    23
    1
  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    Eric Feigl-Ding
    @DrEricDing

    ·
    8h
    WELP. South Korea orders bars and nightclubs to shut down again, for a further 30 days, after health officials tracked 13 new #Covid19 cases to a single person who attended five bars/nightclubs in Seoul.

    South Korea, Hailed for Pandemic Response, Backtracks on Reopening After COVID-19 Cases Jump

    Despite recently reopening businesses amid an impressive decline in new coronavirus case, the South Korean government has issued a nationwide health advisory for bars and nightclubs to close down for 30 more days after health officials tracked 13 new cases to a single person who attended five nightclubs and bars in the country’s capital city of Seoul.

    “We believe we will have another community infection,” said Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip at a Friday press briefing. “The spread took place in enclosed and crowded spaces. Transmission with no known source of infection can lead to a widespread cluster infection and that is why the government is not letting its guard down.”

    The man in question had no symptoms when he visited the nightspots. He eventually tested positive on Wednesday and gained admittance to a hospital in Suwon, a city south of Seoul, according to the UPI wire service.

    Officials think he may have come in contact with over 1,500 people during his night out. City officials are now using CCTV and credit card records to help identify visitors and are encouraging them to self-isolate and immediately report any coronavirus symptoms to local hospitals.

    ReplyReply
  9. Masks also cut down the odds that you will touch your nose with dirty hands while you are out and about, which is a known way of getting the virus into your body.

    ReplyReply
    12
    1
  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: In my case, I find gloves to be the more useful reminder.

    ReplyReply
  11. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Mikey: I understand Brazil has serious problems. But Bolsonaro seems like just another Trump.

    ReplyReply
  12. EddieInCA says:

    Fortunately, I don’t need to travel in the near future. However, if I did, I’d drive. Full stop. Even if to Atlanta, where I’ve had to work quite a bit the last 10 years. I’d have the studio give me the travel money instead, and I’d drive. I’ve done the drive enough times to know that I can do it in two very long days, while sleeping in my SUV comfortably without staying in a motel or hotel.

    Getting to Hawaii would be a problem. First world problems.

    ReplyReply
  13. Gustopher says:

    @Mikey:

    Damn near every other country on Earth has done far better than America at dealing with COVID-19, because damn near every other country on Earth has competent leadership, not a carnival-barking narcissist who lacks the basic competence to run a fucking lemonade stand, let alone the United States of America.

    A few days ago, I read that there were 60,000 cases reported in all of Africa. I would suspect that this is not because they are really on top of things, and more because they are so fvcked they don’t have any handle on the situation. South America, parts of Central America, the Middle East…

    But among the wealthy nations, we are doing roughly the worst. For the white supremacists out there, we could say that among the white nations we are doing roughly the worst.

    It turns out that at the federal level we’re a shithole country — it’s mitigated by some of the governors.

    ReplyReply
    15
    1
  14. Mikey says:

    @Gustopher:

    But among the wealthy nations, we are doing roughly the worst.

    Oh, no doubt. Sweden is doing worse, maybe, but they decided to just let it run roughshod over the population. But at least they have active leadership making coherent decisions and consistent messaging.

    Look at Germany–they implemented extensive testing and tracing and are paying 90% of salaries for idled workers. They have a third of our deaths per million and their unemployment rate is 5% and the hit to their GDP will probably be half of what ours will be. Again, because they have a consistent strategy and consistent messaging and they’re not quitting halfway through like Trump wants us to do.

    Honestly, I’m crushed by this. I have never harbored the illusion America is close to perfect, even though every job I’ve held in my adult life has been part of her defense. I know we still have much to do to meet our stated ideals, especially for the most vulnerable among us. But I never imagined we would fall so low. I never thought in my lifetime I’d see America fail so spectacularly at something so important. I never thought I’d see so many of my fellow Americans actively cheering the architects and mechanisms of that failure. It’s devastating.

    ReplyReply
    14
    2
  15. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The Right is enamored of phony toughness – idiots cosplaying with guns, refusing to social distance, licking doorknobs to show they ain’t ‘fraid of no virus, then gasping their last breaths into a ventilator and dying alone.

    The result of bravado:

    72 got COVID-19 after being at large event

    MADISON, Wis. — More than 70 people who tested positive for the coronavirus since an April 24 rally at the Wisconsin state Capitol indicated they had attended a large gathering, but the state Department of Health Services cant’ say if they were at the rally because it is not tracking specific events.

    Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt said Friday that when someone tests positive for COVID-19 they are asked if they attended any large gatherings. But the department did not add the April 24 rally, which attracted about 1,500 people, to the list of specific questions.

    PHOTOS: 1,500 gather at Madison Capitol in planned, permitless protest to Safer at Home extension

    The department did add a question after the April 7 election to determine if people had been at the polls. As of Thursday, 67 people who were tested positive for COVID-19 had also reported being at the polls. But because many of them had other exposures, health officials have not been able to conclusively determine where they caught the virus.

    The rally was organized and attended by people who oppose the state’s Safer at Home order and want to allow more businesses to reopen sooner than would be currently allowed. The order expires on May 26.

    Capitol police did not grant a permit for the rally because it went against the stay-at-home order, which prohibits public gatherings of any size.

    Many of those in attendance did not maintain a 6-foot distance from others, or wear masks or other protective gear.

    The state health department said there have been 1,986 confirmed cases where onset or diagnosis happened on or after April 26. Of those, 72 people reported attending a large gathering.

    ReplyReply
  16. Lounsbury says:

    @JKB: A vertible font of misinformation from assumptions you are.

    That transmission from surfaces or the random passer-by (even if symptomatic) is not well established and unlikely

    The first is an assertion that is without basis. Surface based transmission is of unknown likelihood but based on other viruses of the family with a broad basis of transmission documented, it is completely reckless to assert “unlikely.” In fact, the data indicate the virus is stable and live on surfaces for hours to days. (US NIH summary)

    You’re an idiot spreading misinformation, the best to be said for you is that’s probably just due to stupidity.

    ReplyReply
    15
    2
  17. 95 South says:

    The US is not doing the worst among developed nations:
    1. Belgium 746.01 deaths per million
    2. Spain 562.86 deaths per million
    3. Italy 499.76 deaths per million
    4. UK 469.87 deaths per million
    5. France 391.19 deaths per million
    6. Sweden 311.79 deaths per million
    7. Netherlands 311.01 deaths per million
    8. Ireland 294.43 deaths per million
    9. US 235.54 deaths per million

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104709/coronavirus-deaths-worldwide-per-million-inhabitants/

    ReplyReply
    6
    3
  18. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher: As Africa is a continent, not a country, a broadly stupid statement.

    As it happens North African countries with reasonable information available (as in not faked) – Morocco and Tunisia – are doing reasonably well in keeping things under control due to early and organized responses. (contra Egypt and Algeria both of whose numbers are dubious) As it happens being rich and sophisticated does not per se make you organized nor disciplined.

    Of course the message has been quite clear, serious, and constant on national TV so that helps a create a less spoiled adolescent response atmosphere contra the USA. The basics of epidemic control and impeding transmission (contre traitment) turn out to need less wealth and more discipline and organization…

    One has to admit though that having the army come out right at the start in the major cities and put a few armoured vehicles at intersections while not directly of any relevance has a salutory effect of telling people that health confinement is not a joke.

    ReplyReply
    4
    1
  19. Lounsbury says:

    @Lounsbury: And for the NEJM data on persistance on surfaces – corresponding to Chinese reports: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973

    In short,the idea that surface derived transmission is unlikely is not at all supported by science, the contrary.

    ReplyReply
  20. Sleeping Dog says:

    And in our next episode of Where are they Grifting Now?

    Jim Bakker’s Prepper Village Is Having the Worst Apocalypse Ever

    Hey OzarkHillbilly, are these your neighbors?

    On another subject. My spring allergies are acting up, which results in a lot of hacking coughs. I’ll be popular when I go out.

    ReplyReply
  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @95 South:
    Yes, among developed nations with likely reliable numbers, we’re only doing worse than:

    Switzerland
    Luxembourg
    Canada
    Portugal
    Denmark
    Germany
    Austria
    Norway
    Iceland
    Israel
    Czechia
    Mexico
    Poland
    Chile
    Greece
    Cyprus
    Japan
    South Korea

    Point: We are reduced to bragging that we’re better at managing crises than Italy. Ever been to Italy? I lived there for a bit over half a year. It’s not an organized country and Italians would be the first to tell you that. Sure our death rate is 48 times worse than South Korea, but Italy is twice as bad off as we are. Yay!

    Second point: The countries doing worse than we are? They all got hit earlier, so let’s see how our numbers look a month from now.

    ReplyReply
    12
    1
  22. Mikey says:

    @95 South:

    The US is not doing the worst among developed nations

    You’re right, we’re not at the top of that list, but the fact our response has been worse than most developed nations means we stand a very good chance of ending up there.

    The only saving grace in a lot of places is state and local governments that have acted far more proactively than the federal government. Unfortunately, this is a lot like a nation declaring war on the U. S. as a whole, but the federal government basically telling the states to raise their own armies and compete against each other for logistical support.

    ReplyReply
  23. @95 South: A fair point, insofar as we aren’t doing the worst by that metric (we are in absolute death, but that is not a fair comparison, but it is still striking).

    But hyperbole about “the worst” aside, we really aren’t doing very well, are we? Certainly not as well as we could have done or should have done, yes?

    ReplyReply
  24. Scott says:

    No matter what our leadership says, the economy is not going to get better unless there is confidence that this virus is under control. And our leadership, by emphasizing freedom and liberty instead of responsibility, will not get the confidence needed.

    Costco is being criticized in many right wing circles for its strict emphasis on masks and cleanliness. I went to Costco yesterday and got right in. It was well organized. It had platoons of people cleaning. Checkout was pretty hands free. It oozed confidence.

    I think Costco is on the right track. People want them to be strict. And they will do more business that way. They are willing to piss off the nut jobs because they are likely not to be their customers anyway.

    And, James, they are limiting to three packages of meat but , come on, the packages are like 8 lbs of hamburger or 15 lbs of pork shoulder, both of which I bought. And it doesn’t include the 10 lbs packages of Tyson frozen chicken breasts.

    BTW, even though I am a senior citizen, I went just once at that special hour. There were just too many senior citizens. Went later and walked right in.

    ReplyReply
  25. 95 South says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Like I said a few days ago, I try to correct misinformation. To read Mikey and Gustopher, you’d never know the US has less than 1/3 of the cases of the hardest hit country. It didn’t sound like hyperbole, either. I think they really didn’t know.

    ReplyReply
  26. charon says:

    @95 South:

    The US is not doing the worst among developed nations:

    We have had a late start. Perhaps you will be able to make that same claim by Independence Day, no chance of that holding up through Labor Day..

    ReplyReply
  27. Monala says:

    @Mikey: an article I read also pointed out that we have a few advantages over Europe: most places in the US are less densely populated, and our population is on average younger.

    ReplyReply
  28. DrDaveT says:

    @95 South:

    The US is not yet doing the worst among developed nations:

    Fixed that for you. It’s a big country; in some parts of it we’re just getting started. (Which, to be fair, is also true of India and Brazil…)

    ReplyReply
  29. Mikey says:

    @95 South:

    To read Mikey and Gustopher, you’d never know the US has less than 1/3 of the cases of the hardest hit country. It didn’t sound like hyperbole, either. I think they really didn’t know.

    Did you really just throw out an entirely misleading statistic and then accuse *me* of ignorance? I mean, really, if you’re going to waltz in here and claim to counter disinformation, at least try not to spread your own.

    ETA: Also you’re strawmanning. You misrepresented my position and then used the misrepresentation to accuse Gus and me of ignorance. I never said we were at the top in deaths per million. We are at the top in total cases, in fact we are 1.1 million total cases ahead of #2 (Spain). And again, the incompetence of the Trump administration is probably going to put us near or at the top in deaths per million at some point.

    ReplyReply
  30. Mikey says:
  31. Kathy says:

    Stop trying to put down America. She’s doing better than most other third-world countries.

    ReplyReply
    18
  32. @95 South:

    I try to correct misinformation

    And I have noted, just assuming that evidence speaks for itself is not as helpful as you think it is.

    Why not engage in actual conversation?

    ReplyReply
    7
    1
  33. Michael Reynolds says:

    @95 South:

    you’d never know the US has less than 1/3 of the cases of the hardest hit country.

    We have 4% of the world’s population, 30% of all cases and 25% of all deaths. I’m surprised you failed to mention that, because you are all about honest statistics.

    ReplyReply
    16
    1
  34. Tyrell says:

    Opening around here this week: retail stores, thrift stores, bakery, coffee shop. In two weeks, movie theater, bowling alley, gym, pool hall, beauty shops, barbershops, nail salons, video game room, fast food restaurants, Finally some real popcorn. The governor was not very consistent on which businesses made the cut and which didn’t. Money talks.
    Most people mainly seem to be wanting the beauty shops and nail salons to open. But some stylists started working out of their home or going to the customer’s home. I have not heard about any big domestic problems, but other places are reporting drug overdoses, more domestic police calls, and health problems.
    Traffic has returned to normal, excluding the school buses and high school students.
    “Normal” is as normal does. Our area is normal to us, but not to everyone. The town does not allow alcohol sales and still has some Sunday “blue laws”. The convenience store is the big social place here. Most people have been carrying on as normal anyway.
    Word has it that Dolly Parton is planning to open up Dollywood in June. If not, It’s over to Six Flags. Disney Springs is opening. Governors are concerned about their tourist industry. People will go to where things are open. Summer is just around the corner.

    ReplyReply
  35. mattbernius says:

    First, thank you @95 South for posting that, you beat me to it.

    It also gets to:
    @DrDaveT:

    It’s a big country; in some parts of it we’re just getting started. (Which, to be fair, is also true of India and Brazil…)

    Yeah, it’s worth noting that due to our size and diversity of local governments, comparings the US to a single European nation has some issues. It probably would be better to compare our numbers to the EU as a whole.

    Still, I for one, while I’m not particularly satisfied with the Federal Response, am rooting for us not beating either Italy or Spain. Thankfully, provided we don’t backslide, I think the curve flattening will prevent that from happening (i.e. we never hit the venilator shortages that they did due to the spikes there).

    ReplyReply
  36. charon says:

    @charon:

    I have reconsidered. Considering how much BoJo and the Tories resemble Trump and the GOP, it is possible the U.S. could still be only the second worst developed country by Labor Day.

    ReplyReply
  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: When I go for a walk, I don’t mask up (although I do carry a mask in my coat pocket); I walk on the opposite side of the street from anyone else walking (usually a number between zero and two over the course of an hour long walk).

    When I go to the store or the pharmacy, I do wear a mask out of courtesy to the other people I will encounter during the trip. The COPD (asthma for the most recent two or three weeks because it’s alder and birch season up here) makes for measurably more labored breathing, but the difference is not too restrictive or in any way debilitating. I just don’t like wearing mask–acquired the distaste over several years of needing to 8+ hours/day working in a warehouse–so I avoid needing to if I can.

    Ironically, I was at the doctor’s office for a COPD update yesterday and only patients were wearing masks. Hmmm…

    ETA:@charon: Also for Chinese, wearing a mask may not be as foreign, stigmatizing or whatever. And easier to come by in an Asian community. When I lived in Korea, you could buy masks literally almost anywhere–including the stores where children go to buy school supplies (which have the best and cutest masks, btw 😉 –I sent some to a friend to wear at chemo, everybody was jealous, so he tells me).

    ReplyReply
  38. Pete S says:

    @Tyrell:

    I wouldn’t count on tourists flocking anywhere that is open. You mention Disney – much of Florida tourism comes from Canada and we are not headed south anytime soon even if the border does reopen. The mandatory 14 day quarantine for people returning to Canada from the US will discourage even people willing to gamble on the safety of your random reopening process. Again, even if the border reopens. I live in a border city and we are not in any hurry for that to happen. I cannot imagine that there are a huge number of Americans who are in a hurry to return to crowded tourist areas either.

    I also am pretty sympathetic for people who are unhappy about lockdown keeping them from visiting hospitals and long term care homes. I understand, my father lives a block away and I haven’t seen him in 2 months. But about 80 percent of the deaths in Canada have been residents and staff of long term care homes, in his home 18 of the 95 residents have died. He is fine and whatever it takes to protect the rest of the survivors is okay. We need to get that under control.

    I am less sympathetic about the people whining about needing to get their hair done. It is dead cells growing out the top of your head, people. Let’s get some perspective.

    ReplyReply
  39. Mikey says:

    @mattbernius:

    Still, I for one, while I’m not particularly satisfied with the Federal Response, am rooting for us not beating either Italy or Spain. Thankfully, provided we don’t backslide, I think the curve flattening will prevent that from happening (i.e. we never hit the venilator shortages that they did due to the spikes there).

    The problem is: while the lockdown and social distancing measures we have taken so far have flattened the curve (and thank goodness for that), we have not used the time gained to do nearly enough to prepare to relax those things. Testing has improved, but still isn’t half of where it should be. Tracing is…are we, even? The lack of a coordinated federal effort means these things are not improving fast enough to “reopen,” and without the confidence such a response would instill in the American public, businesses will still be suffering when we do so far too early. And we now know there was a detailed roadmap for reopening created by the CDC, but the Trump administration shitcanned it. That’s beyond inexcusable. It’s murderous.

    This is the kind of stuff I mean when I say our response is among the worst. It’s not entirely about the number of dead people, although that toll is terrible. It’s also about all the issues that have led to a million people getting sick and 75,000 dying in the last five weeks that we still haven’t fixed.

    ReplyReply
  40. Mikey says:

    @Pete S:

    I am less sympathetic about the people whining about needing to get their hair done. It is dead cells growing out the top of your head, people. Let’s get some perspective.

    I’m kind of getting to like the shaggy look. I haven’t had hair like this since before I joined the Air Force in 1986. People have actually complimented me on it.

    ReplyReply
  41. Scott says:

    @Tyrell: Well, stay safe, Tyrell. Take care of yourself and only patronized those places who, by their actions, are taking care of you.

    ReplyReply
  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Because the whole data pool doesn’t actually support the point he or she is trying to imply?

    Again, just a random speculation…

    ReplyReply
  43. Gustopher says:

    @charon:

    Two adjacent neighborhoods in Queens, Corona and Flushing, which are very similar economically, the residents hold similar jobs. Corona is largely Latino and a virus hot spot. Flushing is largely Chinese, hardly any disease. Mask wearing started in Flushing very early and is ubiquitous, the people got an early heads up from their relatives in China.

    Obviously Coronavirus is going to cluster in a neighborhood called Corona. That’s just tempting fate to live there.

    ReplyReply
  44. Gustopher says:

    @95 South:

    To read Mikey and Gustopher, you’d never know the US has less than 1/3 of the cases of the hardest hit country. It didn’t sound like hyperbole, either. I think they really didn’t know.

    We are a big country, and a lot of it is behind the curve. We also don’t have great testing or contact tracing.

    How are we doing at containing outbreaks in meat packing plants and nursing homes? Or even gathering the data to be able to respond effectively.

    Washington and California slowed their outbreaks by taking a lot of actions that have been pointlessly politicized and are now unavailable to red states. I don’t see how they are going to contain infections when they do occur.

    New York did a poor job initially, and lost a lot of lives because of it.

    South Dakota reports 239 new cases yesterday. How will they handle it?

    ReplyReply
  45. 95 South says:

    @Mikey: You’re right. I googled “coronavirus cases per million by country” and the first stat that came up was coronavirus deaths per million. I copied and pasted it and forgot. The US is 9th in deaths per million, 4th in cases per million, and highest in cases.

    ReplyReply
  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    @95 South:
    My more detailed response has been caught in the spam filter. So, the TLDR: you need to check your browser, because that’s not at all what Google showed me for the identical search.

    ReplyReply
  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    @95 South:
    You know what your utterly wrong stat sounds like?

    “Our mortality rate remains roughly half of that of many other countries and [is] one of the lowest of any country in the world.” – Donald Trump.

    And I’ll be damned if I can find any source that says, “the US has less than 1/3 of the cases of the hardest hit country.” But because I know how devoted you are to accuracy, I’m sure you’ll provide a link to the stat you quoted.

    ReplyReply
  48. 95 South says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I cited the Stastista site, which as I said is the first thing that came up when I googled “coronavirus cases per million by country”. I just did it again and that’s the first site that came up both from my Chrome address line and the Google search page.

    According to that site, Belgium reports 746.01 deaths per million, and the US reports 235.54 deaths per million as of today. 235.54 / 746.01 = 0.315733033, or less than 1/3. As I noted, I got crossed on my deaths versus cases. I wouldn’t read what any source says about numbers when I can do the calculation myself, and in this case I was in error.

    ReplyReply
  49. charon says:

    @95 South:

    Here is an interesting site: http://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/

    Belgium, at peak, 23 days earlier, had 126 new cases per 1M people, 7 day average. Belgium currently is down to 39 new cases per 1M people, 7 day average.

    On the same chart, United States currently at 78 new cases per 1M people, down from peak of 96 new cases per 1M 28 days earlier.

    So new cases (per capita) in Belgium declining much more rapidly than U.S., now down to 50% of the U.S. rate.

    ReplyReply
  50. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Iowa and Nebraska governors had an opinion piece in the Washington Post a couple of days ago bragging about what a great job they are doing.

    On this chart, Nebraska and Iowa are among the very worst at new cases per capita per day:

    http://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/

    ReplyReply
  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    Lies, damn lies and statistics.

    If your population is 10, then a single case ending in fatality gives you the highest death rate, by far. Which would explain why – if you include small countries – San Marino, population 33,000 is the nation worst-hit. Then, too, population density is an obvious factor, as is reliance on public transportation.

    Belgium, hardest-hit of ‘real’ countries, is both densely-populated and mass transit dependent. Belgium: 376 persons per sq. kilometer. The USA: 34 persons per sq. kilometer. The US has the population density of Kyrgyzstan and the Faroe Islands and is notoriously not mass-transit dependent.

    IOW it would be a hell of a shock if our numbers were as bad as Belgium’s, and the fact that despite our general emptiness and car culture, Belgium’s death rate is only twice ours – so far – points to incompetence at the top. Especially when compared to South Korea, where our death rate is 48 times as bad.

    By any objective standard the performance of the US has been awful. It is still awful. We are now the world’s biggest coronavirus hotspot, despite low density and high population, despite the two oceans, despite our wealth and our scientific genius, despite the car culture and the houses on large lots. Awful. Catastrophically bad.

    ReplyReply
    4
    1
  52. charon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Belgium’s death rate is only twice ours – so far – points to incompetence at the top.

    Partially leadership, partially cultural. Wearing masks etc. makes a big difference. People who think this is only poor people in cities and meat packing plants, think they are safe socializing or shopping without taking precautions will pay for their foolishness.

    ReplyReply
  53. mattbernius says:

    @Mikey:
    I agree about the fragmented infrastructure issue. I guess my point is, I expect we are going to go through the next few months with flare ups in different areas and a hotel death and disease too than we should have, but not what happened in Italy or Spain where there are decisions being made about who does and doesn’t get a ventilator.

    We are no where near best case, and that is a failure of leadership. But I think we have (hopefully) avoided some of the worse cases we have seen elsewhere.

    I, to be clear, do not see that as a win.

    ReplyReply
  54. Kit says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Belgium, hardest-hit of ‘real’ countries, is both densely-populated and mass transit dependent.

    I don’t think Belgium is any harder hit than other countries, but they do count deaths differently. All the people dropping in nursing homes are generally counted as dying from corona. If I recall correctly, 90% of excess deaths are ultimately counted that way. In the short term that inflates numbers relative to other countries.

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*