Most Americans Still Not Staying at Home

Social distancing is helping but too many aren't taking it seriously enough.

At least 300,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 8000 have died. More people in New York City alone have died from the disease than from the 9/11 attacks. And yet too many aren’t taking it seriously.

WaPo:

Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, reiterated during Saturday’s White House briefing that while social distancing efforts are working across the country, the risk of a coronavirus resurgence is real. “That is our most important tool,” Fauci said of mitigation. “As sobering and as difficult as this is, what we are doing is making a difference.”

Meanwhile, confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States surpassed 300,000, with more than 8,000 deaths. New York’s death toll topped 3,500 as confirmed cases rose to 113,704.

Another WaPo report shows that, despite state-at-home orders in virtually every state, traffic is down only 40 percent.

Traffic around the country has plummeted since governments began enacting stay-at-home ­orders amid the coronavirus outbreak, but data from vehicle navigation systems and other monitors shows many of us are still out of our homes and on the road.

Nationwide, traffic analytics firms say, daily traffic remains at about 60 percent of normal levels, even as the vast majority of Americans tell pollsters they’re staying home more.

On Wednesday — two days after the District, Virginia and Maryland enacted stay-at-home orders — daily car trips in the region remained at 51 percent of normal in Washington, 53 percent in Maryland and 59 percent in Virginia, according to Wejo, a British company that collects data from sensors in some passenger vehicles.

The figures are similar in parts of the country at the forefront of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak and where people have been under shelter-in-place orders longer.

My last day at the office was March 18. Since then, I’ve driven my car twice, both for trips to the grocery store. My wife has made one additional grocery run and various members of the family have driven out for three takeout orders.

We lived in a very-sparsely-populated suburb where all of the lots are five acres or more by law. We’re off a one-lane road that dead ends. Maybe twelve families live off said road. Yet, on our daily walks, we invariably encounter multiple cars going to and fro, many of them people seemingly out joy riding, as they turn around on the dead end and pass us again.

Granting that we have the luxury of working from home during the crisis and that others have to go out to perform essential jobs in healthcare, law enforcement, food service, delivery, and the like, there simply shouldn’t be anything like sixty percent of normal traffic.

So what’s going on?

After more statistical analysis, the report continues:

Some of the remaining traffic, experts say, stems from motorists heading to and from the many worksites that have been deemed “essential”: health-care facilities, supermarkets and liquor stores, construction sites, banks, dry cleaners, hardware stores, pet stores, government facilities, and auto and bicycle repair shops, among others. The Washington region’s orders also exempt plumbers, electricians and others needed for home repairs.

Again, that can’t possibly account for this much continued activity.

Some workers who previously might have taken mass transit or carpooled might now be driving alone in an attempt to distance themselves from others, experts say. Public transportation service hours also have been curtailed dramatically.

So, ironically, some people who otherwise wouldn’t be driving are because of the crisis.

And though many of us have greatly reduced our travel, we usually can’t eliminate it. Activities deemed essential to carrying on daily life include fetching food, going to a doctor’s appointment or picking up a prescription. In The Post-ABC News poll, 6 in 10 people said they had stocked up on food and household supplies.

But people were presumably buying groceries and picking up prescriptions beforehand. That accounts for 60 percent of the traffic on the road? Even granting that my typical practice was to run those sort of errands on the way home from work and they now require separate trips, I’m also running them far less often. I typically stopped off for groceries almost every weekday, as a household of six with widely differing dietary habits requires a lot of restocking. Even with seven with a 20-year-old home from a college that’s gone virtual, we’re making far fewer trips to the store.

Apparently, though, most people are going the opposite route:

Motorists typically feel the most pain during their teeth-gnashing morning and evening commutes. But experts say the vast majority of our driving trips — even before many of us began working from home — are for personal errands.

And when we’re on the hunt for often scarce toilet paper, hand sanitizer or the emergency pint of Ben and Jerry’s, we’re making more of those trips than we otherwise might.

[…]

Another data point hinting at the idea that many motorists are running personal errands: Local roads, used more often for shorter trips rather than long-distance commuting, aren’t seeing as big a drop as highways. Traffic on eastbound Interstate 66 heading into the District, for example, has plummeted by 62 percent, according to a Washington Post analysis of state data. That compares with a 45 percent drop on nearby Lee Highway (U.S. Route 29) and a 36 percent reduction on Glebe Road, according to data from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

One wonders if some of it isn’t an unintended consequence of anti-hoarding rules. Even before the stay-at-home order, Costco and some of the grocery stores were limiting the number of certain staples one could buy to absurdly low numbers. Trader Joe’s was limiting purchases to two of any particular item when my wife went a week or so ago. That’s fine for singles and couples but essentially forces those with larger families to make more trips or go to more stores.

Clearly, a lot of this is people simply trying to get out of the house. We’re not used to having everyone together all the time without the interruption of school and work.

But it’s also obvious that people still aren’t taking this pandemic seriously. Despite all the warnings from government officials, I’m still seeing far too much “We’re over-reacting! This is no worse than the flu” nonsense. People have stopped going to bars, restaurants, and movies because they’ve been ordered closed. But too many people are still carrying on their lives as normal, getting together with friends, having playdates for their kids, and the like. And it’ll get a lot of people killed unnecessarily.

The good news is that people seem to be traveling less in places with stay-at-home orders and that compliance seems to increase over time (although that may well be curvilinear; there could well be a time when people become less willing to put up with the restrictions). A study published by NYT earlier in the week shows widely differing patterns of compliance.

The DC Metro area only went into full stay-at-home mode in the past week. Compliance is horrendously low right now. But it’s much better in the West and Northeast.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, COVID-19, Health
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies 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. Joe says:

    In Illinois and, I assume, in other stay-at-home states, the categories of essential business are very wide. It is my experience that people in those businesses are not asking whether there are essential functions of essential businesses – rather, it is a license for business as usual.

    4
  2. MarkedMan says:

    FWIW, I probably fall into a 40 or 50% reduction. I’m in a pretty critical industry (we make equipment that tests N95 masks, among other things), so we need to keep going. In fact we are struggling to keep up with new orders specifically related to mask production. My group, engineering is there about half the time when we actually need hands on, and since we have a couple of people who can’t come in at all (one with an immunocompromised relative and one stranded in India), I’m in there for their stuff as well as mine. But the place is fairly empty and we are striving to keep social distancing and wipe down surfaces. Finance, sales and marketing are 100% work from home. But the people that actually assemble, repair and test the equipment have to be there, so they drive in every day as does shipping and receiving. So, despite the fact that my driving isn’t dramatically reduced, my precautions are seriously increased. And it’s not like I have anyone else in my car.

    6
  3. Jay L Gischer says:

    I drive to my office every day, but I operate a very small business, and the rest of my employees work from home, and talk to me via the internet. So they are continuing to work, and I am continuing to have no social contact that might spread disease with anyone other than my wife and daughter.

    But, I do still drive on the freeway. I don’t think there’s any risk of transmission from driving alone. Mind you, the freeways here in Santa Clara County are very, very empty in comparison with what they normally are.

    6
  4. DrDaveT says:

    I would think that going for a scenic drive as a family, the way we used to do when I was a kid, would be one of the few remaining safe recreational activities. I doubt that this is what is happening.

    8
  5. steve says:

    Drive to hospital and back. Every third day get take out from restaurant I want to support. Booted wife out of the house to go live with son.

    Steve

    5
  6. Kingdaddy says:

    In our part of Colorado, between Denver and Boulder, I’m pretty shocked by the number of people out during the middle of the day. In our neighborhood, people seem to be very mindful of social distancing. On rare occasions, I’ll get worried when I see kids playing together — are they from the same family, or just dumb kids sneaking out to see friends? But that’s the only blip I see from the standpoint of suburban residents.

    So what’s with all the cars? They can’t possibly all be people going to an infrequent trip to the grocery store or pharmacy. Not everyone commutes to essential businesses at 8 or 9 AM, to be sure, but that still raises questions about how many essential businesses there are. I know that there are other reasons for going out: I had to go to the vet once for refills of our dog’s many prescriptions, but that was a once-a-month task. Allowing for trips like that, how do you still have as many people as we see on the road?

    I don’t get it. Maybe my fuzzy math about essential trips is wrong.

    2
  7. Stormy Dragon says:

    A large part of my job involves computers that aren’t allowed to be connected to public networks, which necessitates me still being onsite for work most weekdays. The biggest change is the company broke everyone up into two shifts, 6am-2pm and 2:30pm-10:30pm, to limit who is in contact with who and allowing people to be spread out at work.

    1
  8. Kathy says:

    But it’s also obvious that people still aren’t taking this pandemic seriously.

    Many do take it seriously, but not seriously enough.

    remember in the 80s with AIDS raging we were told “You don’t just sleep with one person, you sleep with every person they’ve slept with”? Now you don’t interact with one person, you interact with all the other people they’ve interacted with.

    So you get the guy at work who washes his hands and keeps his distance, and has people over to his place for lunch on Saturday. Or the one who takes precautions, but goes to the store every day.

    And don’t get me started with the people at work who laugh when I ask them not to get too close, or who keep gathering in large groups for lunch.

    You start to feel taking all due precautions won’t be enough, because of these other people who keep getting exposed are going to pass it to you.

    6
  9. I have been a little frustrated when making supply runs that a lot of people still aren’t taking the distancing rules seriously, even when the stores are doing a pretty good job of helping demark distances and controlling access.

    My wife and I had to go to the middle school where she teaches on Friday to get some material she needed (when she left for Spring Break without knowing school would not be resuming as per normal) and I will say that the number of people out an about was far, far lower than normal.

    We have still been taking walks in our suburban neighborhood (easily keeping distance from others) and have been more than amazed that some folks are clearly still having social gathering at their homes (not a ton, but several) and that some of the kids are clearly co-mingling.

    4
  10. EddieInCA says:

    Here in my little part of the North San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, people are being pretty damn good. Pretty much everything is closed, and those that are open are doing mostly drive up service. This includes places like my pool store, where I had to go for algaecide (1st world problems). I had to phone them, pre pay it, then go pick it up outside the store. They drop it off outside, then leave, then you come pick it up. That’s what’s happening at restaurants, car parts stores, bagel shop, etc. Pretty much every business that you have to enter has signs everywhere, and big stripes of tape on the floor all over the store, showing six feet in all directions.

    BUT…. speaking with my sister in Idaho, she tells me that other than her very liberal friends, alot fo people in Boise are like most of red America; not taking it seriously.

    It’s amazing that two words don’t seem to get through to them: Exponential Growth.

    5
  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    Since 3/15 I’ve been out in the car 3 x and on the motorcycle, twice (required for my mental health).

    Living at the beach, one thing I’ve noticed is large increase in mid day traffic on ocean front boulevard. It’s couples and families out for a ride. Before the beach itself was closed, I’d lots of families, maintaining distance, but coming down to get out of the house. Far more than you would see on the typical late March 40 degree day.

    I’ve also noticed on the back roads, far more pedestrians.

    1
  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    31 days in total lockdown aside from my wife walking the dog for ten minutes while keeping distancing.

    The vectors for virus entry are Amazon, UPS, USPS and Door Dash. These are not human contact, but cardboard and styrofoam contact, and we wash carefully after handling anything incoming. The one thing we cannot control is the actual food, whether delivered meals or groceries. We wash fruit and veg but we’re not ready to start lysoling every box of oatmeal or nuking every delivered meal. We do spray down med bottles delivered from CVS and jars of weed.

    Fortunately we get along. We could sustain this more or less indefinitely.

    6
  13. Mu Yixiao says:

    Humans are social animals. There’s a reason that solitary confinement is considered a punishment. And what we’re being asked to do is, in essence, voluntary solitary confinement.

    It’s difficult (even for me, and I’m a hermit), it goes against our nature, and it can’t be 100%.

    There’s also some demographics to consider: In urban areas were public transport is common, the amount of driving probably won’t drop very much–because most people weren’t driving in the first place. According to Wikipedia, 67.2% of people in NYC use mass transit to commute to work. If every single one of them is staying home, it won’t show up on driving stats. If the remaining 32.8% of people who drive are down by 40%, that puts it at 19.6% of the population. How many of those are essential jobs?

    The articles say “60% of normal levels”–is that miles driven or individual vehicles? Or miles driven by individual vehicles?

    The data has been collected from “sensors in some passenger vehicles”. Which ones? How representative are those vehicles of the general driving public? Do they exclude police vehicles (what’s the definition of “passenger vehicle”)?

    There’s just too much context missing to say what “40% less” actually represents.

    That being said: I saw a couple dozen pick-ups drive by my house* around 12:30 last night. I was very curious where they were coming from or going to, since the bars are all closed.

    * My house is on the corner of a state highway (which at that point is also a city street), so it gets a lot of long-distance and local traffic passing by.

    7
  14. Gustopher says:

    My neighborhood has more pedestrians than usual, and a lot less cars.

    Most people taking it seriously are not fully isolating, but have smaller circles — my neighbor hangs out at his “best friend’s” house a lot (dude, it’s 2020, just come out of the closet…*). Friends in NY are considering merging circles, leading to questions like “your sister’s children… how much do we trust them?” and decisions like “ok, so-and-so is a people person who stands too close and talks with her hands, way too much of a risk, I’d sooner trust the kids.”

    *: It’s entirely possible that they have decided that I am very conservative or something, and they are just avoiding dealing with the neighbor (me).

    2
  15. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Humans are social animals.

    Who are you calling social? 😛

    Some of us are introverts and prefer to be alone most of the time.

    7
  16. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    I’m a hermit–have been for most of my life. But even I need a little social interaction now and again.

    3
  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    And don’t get me started with the people at work who laugh when I ask them not to get too close, or who keep gathering in large groups for lunch.

    Invite them to google “patient 31 south korea”.

    2
  18. inhumans99 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Hey…a fellow Gringo from the San Fernando Valley! I grew up in Arleta/Pacoima (near Laurel Canyon Blvd, Devonshire). My parents still have their home in Arleta (in fact, their backyard view used to be a clear view of the Pacoima Spreading Grounds but is now a nursery) and I obviously visited them a lot during my non-working days.

    They only go out for food and to say drive to the shopping center in Porter Ranch that recently installed a large Whole Foods Supermarket but is also a great area for just walking to get some exercise.

    Given that everyone in the Valley jokes that the film 2 Days in the Valley (the one with Charlize Theron) is about folks being stuck in rush hour traffic it is amazing how few cars are on the road (or so I am told when I call).

    In Fremont, I am near a major shopping center called The Hub (with a Trader Joes, Target, Safeway, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and tons of other food/shopping places) so traffic is lighter than usual but wow…when I went to Carl’s on Friday for lunch at 11:30 The Hub’s parking lot was shockingly packed…Safeway was certainly doing a brisk amount of business. Me, I have not been in a grocery store for several weeks so it will be jarring to set foot in one when I need to re-stock probably around next weekend.

    A lot of states (all?) that voted for President Trump are some of the same states that occasionally make noises about seceding from the Union right? I say that we let them loose to form their own mini U.S.A. and we can let them break apart from the Motherland with no bloodshed (no need for a Civil War part II, and anyway mother nature will take care of bleeding some of these states dry anyway, what with the Covid Virus and many of these states being food deserts). It is amazing how partisan these states are even with a freaking Global Pandemic in full swing across most of the land masses on this planet.

    1
  19. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    A lot of this dislike/fear of being alone can be attributed to the fact that most people don’t like to read.

    Remember the Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Meredith, “World Enough and Time”? It’s the favorite episode of every reader I know.

    5
  20. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The vectors for virus entry are Amazon, UPS, USPS and Door Dash. These are not human contact, but cardboard and styrofoam contact, and we wash carefully after handling anything incoming.

    Apart from perishable foodstuffs, everything that comes into our house goes into the unused back bedroom to sit for 3 days before we touch it again. We wash our hands carefully after bringing it in, then let time do the disinfecting. It works just as well for bananas as it does for Amazon packages. (Not that we don’t then also wash bananas and oranges before eating them, out of paranoia.)

    I’m looking forward to being able to open my new USB headset tomorrow, to use on conference calls…

    2
  21. DrDaveT says:

    @CSK:

    A lot of this dislike/fear of being alone can be attributed to the fact that most people don’t like to read.

    I’m an avid reader, but when I’m stressed I don’t care to read challenging or dark books. My wife is the same way. She retreats into romance novels; I tend to retreat into re-reading the same old “comfort books” over and over, but I’m running out of them now. I think it’s time to shift to brain-consuming pastimes like cryptic and diagramless crosswords, or jigsaw puzzles.

    1
  22. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Gustopher:

    It’s entirely possible that they have decided that I am very conservative or something, and they are just avoiding dealing with the neighbor (me).

    Back when my sister owned a local restaurant, I would wait tables on Friday nights to help out (I worked for tips only). For those of you not familiar with Wisconsin, Friday is “fish fry”. It’s a big thing.

    There were two gentlemen who would come in together every Friday–one was late 40s, the other 30-ish. I got to know their tastes and would often recommend things that weren’t on the menu. Finally, one night as I was taking their order, I asked “Are you a couple?”

    The older man slumped down in his chair, and the younger man… “bristled”. “Yes. We are.” he said defiantly.

    “I thought so. You guys make a good couple.”

    The old guy perked up, and the young one slid back, almost half relieved, and half ashamed for assuming I had a problem with it.

    From then on, they requested my section, left a great tip, and enjoyed their Fridays a lot more.

    Moral of the story: Find some way to let them know you know and don’t care (or are happy for them).

    8
  23. CSK says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Basically I live to read, but I too avoid any fiction or non-fiction that’s unduly dark when I’m anxious or scared.

    1
  24. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Remember the Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Meredith, “World Enough and Time”? It’s the favorite episode of every reader I know.

    I’m sure I haven’t, but I’m guessing, prior to Googling, that it’s the one where the guy breaks his glasses? let me see what Google has to say…

    Well, how about that? google says it’s an Episode of Dr. Who. the TZ ep is “Time Enough at Last.”

    There are three kinds of TZ eps:

    1) The vast majority: You’ve never seen them, but have been told of them or have seen them satirized or referenced in other media.

    2) The vast minority: You’ve seen them, and can recall at least the gist of each one.

    3) The rest: You’ve seen them, but can’t recall the gist until you see them again in a rerun.

    Common to all three types: you do not know the title (at least I don’t).

    3
  25. Andy says:

    I’m not sure that traffic statistics, derived from tracking aggregate GPS-enabled cellular devices, is a good proxy for compliance. And driving doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t practicing social distancing measures.

    In my own case, I’ve been working remotely for years, so I’m used to being home and we don’t drive much to begin with. We are probably doing more driving now than normal for a few reasons:
    – I’m using this time to give my two teens with learners permits more time behind the wheel.
    – We are also using take-out services a lot more to support local businesses – typically we only “eat out” a couple of times a month, but now it’s a couple of times a week. So those are additional trips.
    – Our local school district is still supplying lunches for students – most weekdays we will drive to pick those up (we have three kids), and the pickup location is not our local school.
    – With everyone home all the time, our eating habits have changed and due to purchase limits and shortages at stores we’ve needed to make more trips to the grocery store than usual. That seems to be waning now, and our local grocer now consistently has a good stock of fresh products.

    In my area of Colorado, most people are taking appropriate precautions in public. But of course, not everyone is, all the time. Perfect compliance is an ideal, one that can’t be achieved, but overall I think people are doing pretty well.

    9
  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kathy:

    +1 on being an introvert. I can pretty much get my social needs met hanging around here.

    Yes, I know I’m a loser with capital L.

    Though I do miss going for coffee or a beer and people watching and interacting with the servers.

    4
  27. Grewgills says:

    I’ve only gone out for groceries about once a week for the three weeks since our school started spring break a week early, about a week before the mayor officially issued a shelter in place order for Oahu.
    When I’ve gone out the streets have been MUCH quieter. The grocery stores have been at least as busy as usual, as was Costco. Costco was limiting milk and other staples to 1 per customer and I haven’t been back. That is normally my go to, but their social distancing restrictions actually made it more difficult to keep a safe distance. They only allowed 200 people into the store at a time, which is good in principal, but it meant that there was an amusement park ride style line to get into the warehouse snaking through the parking lot with people pushed closer together than 6′ for the long wait to get in. I was wearing a mask and made space with my buggy, but it is much easier to maintain a safer distance at the normal grocery.

    1
  28. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I just wanted to say that I love this story. I love everything about it. I love that someone who gives a name that seems pretty clearly Chinese in origin is telling me about how Friday is “fish fry” in Wisconsin. I’m not being ironic. I do jujistu with a guy who is Chinese in origin, looks Chinese, has a Chinese surname, and has a Long Island accent, because that’s where he’s from.

    I love the response of the gay couple, too. There’s a moment in “In and Out” where Debbie Reynolds, playing Kevin Kline’s mom, is have a conversation with her circle of older lady friends, where they imagine “what if everyone just kind of told their secret?” It’s beautiful.

    This what America is, contrary to what some would try and tell you.

    3
  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Oooh, I like that. Extra layers of crazy! I’m in.

  30. Tyrell says:

    @Sleeping Dog: We are about three weeks into the “stay at home”. I have averaged two trips out a week. Those are to the grocery stores and to grab a meal from one of the fast food restaurants. We are being encouraged by the officials to help out the local restaurants. Because of continued shortages in grocery stores, many people are having to ride around to different stores looking for basic food items.
    If your diet is powdered donuts, Doritos Flame chips, popcorn, and Easter candy then you won’t have a problem. I could not even find any peanut butter. But the farmers are going broke.
    Last Tuesday Taco Bell was giving away their Dorito Taco Lacos. They were crowded.
    I have not bought gas in I don’t know when.

    2
  31. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Guarneri: I think that what we are doing, even if it is flawed, is helping. We are slowing this thing down, and keeping medical personnel from getting overwhelmed.
    We are doing this not just for ourselves, but for the million or so people that won’t die because we did it. You can quibble with my estimate. It might be half a million, it might be 2 million. But that doesn’t change things. It’s worth it.
    That’s my bottom line. I don’t care of some people aren’t with the program. I’m going to do what I can do. I support the measures local and state governments are taking to slow this thing down. If we get enough testing resources in place, and catch up, we can do test and trace instead, and that will be a lot easier on everyone. But we aren’t there yet. We should be asking how to get there.

    I love America and Americans. I think they can do wonderful, generous things, once they decide that it’s really needed and there aren’t any other options. I think a lot of people are there now, and some still need to pee on that electric fence for themselves. That’s the human nature I know.

    7
  32. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I am not Chinese–in any way. I’m a “euro-mutt” (half Balkan). The name comes from spending 6 years in China. If you want to order stuff online, you need a Chinese name.

    But… I understand what you mean. A colleague of mine is Hmong. His family name is Xiong (it’s like “Jones” in their culture). He and his wife had a baby recently, and they named him “Walter”.

    “Walter Xiong”. That is the most American name I’ve ever heard. I want to meet more people like that:

    Javier Jones
    Hongmei Sienkewiscz
    Antione Runningbear
    Indira Meuller

    Let’s reopen Ellis Island and start welcoming people in again.

    11
  33. DrDaveT says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I think that what we are doing, even if it is flawed, is helping.

    The curve is visibly bending down from its previous constant exponential growth, despite the fact that both confirmed cases and deaths are lagging indicators that reflect what we were doing 2-4 weeks ago. Social distancing is clearly having an effect; we just don’t (yet) know how much, or how that varies from location to location.

    Keep in mind that no country on earth, with the possible/dubious exception of China, has yet managed to actually get the number of active cases to peak and start to decline.

    2
  34. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Moral of the story: Find some way to let them know you know and don’t care (or are happy for them).

    Alas, that goes entirely against my nature and my beliefs of urban privacy — you see all sorts of things, but you mind your own business and pretend not to. Give people the distance they want and the illusion of privacy.

    Perhaps they just think I’m creepy for other reasons and don’t want to let me into their lives. That’s fine. I’ll respect that. I am creepy for other reasons…

    1
  35. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Keep in mind that no country on earth, with the possible/dubious exception of China, has yet managed to actually get the number of active cases to peak and start to decline.

    I thought Korea had. Checking… yup.

    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/south-korea/

    Singapore is keeping new cases flat and low.

    1
  36. Gustopher says:

    @Guarneri:

    Non-compliance, willful or unavoidable, is why the total lockdown strategy has been doomed from the start. Its a fatal flaw strategy: American nature renders it moot.

    So far, Seattle is not trending like Italy or New York City. Our hospitals are not overwhelmed (just, you know, whelmed), and we don’t have people dying because of lack of access to care. This could change, but so far, we are keeping unnecessary deaths down to a minimum (there’s probably someone having chest pains deciding to avoid the hospitals) and hopefully buying time for effective treatments to be developed, which would cut deaths further.

    We have a vaccine trial going on in Seattle right now, and at least one treatment trial (although that is not turning out well).

    But, I suppose Seattle isn’t “Real America”.

    14
  37. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Tyrell:

    My wife is picking the food and the only thing she says is low is pasta. Comfort food for uncomfortable times. I haven’t put gas in the car in 3 weeks and won’t for another 2, though in the MC once.

    I’m gaining enough weight without succumbing to junk food.

    1
  38. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Let’s reopen Ellis Island and start welcoming people in again.

    During a global pandemic might not be the very best time… but, next year.

    2
  39. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: I have a quarantine corner, rather than a back bedroom. Although, with the cats, I should probably use the back bedroom to avoid box to cat to Gus transmission.

    Of course, the first thing that happens if the back bedroom door is opened is that the cats instantly appear there and touch everything and will not leave… I could lock cats in the bathroom, then bring things into the back bedroom — that’s the right pattern.

    I do wish UPS would cut Saturday and Monday delivery, so Monday night all the week’s mail should be completely safe.

  40. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    Yep, it’s the one where Burgess Meredith breaks his glasses at the end. And I always knew it as “World Enough and Time.” Serling was the kind of guy who would quote Marvell. And assume enough people would recognize the reference.

    1
  41. EddieInCA says:

    @inhumans99:

    Woot! I don’t go to that Whole Foods (or any Whole Foods for that matter). I prefer Sprouts and Follow Your Heart. But that new shopping area in Porter Ranch is great. One stop shopping. You can park, and go to Whole Foods, The movies, Best Buy, Walmart, Ralphs (Groceries),CVS, Five Below, Petco, In N Out, Chase, Wells Fargo, Bankof America, Starbucks, Chopstix, Pieology, Souplantation, Sushi, TGIFridays, Islands, Jasmine Thai, Gus’ BBQ, Peet’s Coffee, etc. It’s amazing.

    Most of the businesses are closed, but Best Buy is open, just for curbside pickup. You can’t go in the store. Walmart allows the store to fill to 20% of capacity, then they start a line. One in when one leaves. Same with CVS and the Grocery stores.

    People here are ALL wearing masks now, and most are wearing gloves as well.

    Oh… and I’m not a gringo. Latino here. 🙂

    1
  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Reporting from Redville, Misery: We go into lockdown toworrow. I needed a few things so I ventured out for the 3rd time in 3 weeks to get what I could, while I could. This Sunday in town appeared to be not much different from any other Sunday except for the restaurants all having empty lots. The number of people were about the same as usual but I got the feeling a lot of folks were preparing for the lockdown. I would say only about 1 in 4 people were wearing masks and whatnot. At the Orscheln’s (O’s was also limiting the # of customers) and Lowes Social distancing was not a problem though I suspect it was mostly out of respect for others being careful than it was any fears of personal danger.

    Walmart was another story. As a high risk individual my wife insisted I stay in the truck while she shopped and I was only all too happy to acquiesce. When she came out she said it was a zoo. The store had taken no measures whatsoever and the shoppers really didn’t care about social distancing, especially if there were only one or 2 of a desired item on a shelf. I sense a connection.

    If I work this right I should be able to avoid entering a Walmart for at least a year.

  43. Jen says:

    I’m on a 2-week cycle to purchase groceries rather than going every week. Other than that, our only trips out have been to pick up prescriptions, and, oddly enough, going on a hunt for eggs. We usually get ours from a local farm, but with grocery stores out, those eggs have gone quickly. There are a lot of people out this way with chickens, so there are options, it just required a bit more traveling than normal to find them.

    We’ve also driven to a local trail to walk the dog–several cars in the lot (which is normally empty) but we didn’t see any other people.

    Ultimately, due to this, herd immunity will prevail.

    I’m not sure I even understand this quote. Herd immunity only applies if there’s a vaccine or if large swaths of the population get an illness and recover. Is this suggesting we should have just let the virus run rampant, step over the bodies, and then move on?

    2
  44. CSK says:

    Is it true that we are being cautioned by Birx and Fauci not to leave our homes this coming week even for grocery/pharmacy runs?

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen:

    Is this suggesting we should have just let the virus run rampant, step over the bodies, and then move on?

    Do you have to ask?

    4
  46. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jen:

    Herd immunity will occur when sufficient number of people contract the virus and either recover or die. I’ve seen estimates as high as 80% for herd immunity to work. That would mean lots of folks will die getting there.

    2
  47. Tyrell says:

    @Jen:
    We are fortunate to have a lot of woods nearby. I head down to one of the creeks and watch the crawlfish. Then I look for spear points, arrowheads, and follow paths. I haven’t seen any snakes yet. Only sounds are birds, especially woodpeckers, and the breeze.

    2
  48. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    I thought Korea had. Checking… yup.

    Oops! You are exactly right. I had mistakenly looked at the total cases plot, rather than active. (I tend to skip the active case reporting because data on recoveries in the US is spotty.)

    Of course, Korea deployed massive testing and case-tracking. That option isn’t available to us yet.

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: SK is having possibly having a resurgence, so you may want to recheck your assumptions. link

  50. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    SK is having possibly having a resurgence

    Yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that they had, in fact, at one point reduced the number of active cases from its peak value. No other country* has been able to stop growth, even temporarily.

    *Again, with the caveat that we don’t really know what happened in China. They might have managed it too, just at higher levels than reported.

    2
  51. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Yes, exactly. A vaccine would work too, as it does with measles and even the flu. I just didn’t understand what he was getting at making that statement in the context of the rest of the post.

  52. Liberal Capitalist says:

    In the American South, a Perfect Storm Is Gathering

    In states with many uninsured citizens, few hospitals and leaders who have not required citizens to stay home, a disaster is looming.

    Viruses are not partisan. Science itself is not partisan. Nevertheless, Covid-19 has become a partisan issue here in the South because our governors have followed the lead of both the president, who spent crucial early weeks denying the severity of the crisis, and Fox News, which downplayed concerns about the pandemic as Democratic hysteria. That’s why every governor who has issued a deeply belated shelter-in-place order is a Republican.

    5
  53. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Gustopher:

    During a global pandemic might not be the very best time… but, next year.

    It’ll take at least twice that long to get through the paperwork. Start the process now.

  54. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Gustopher:

    Alas, that goes entirely against my nature and my beliefs of urban privacy

    They’re neighbors. Treat them like a couple without actually saying it.

    2
  55. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    SK is having possibly having a resurgence, so you may want to recheck your assumptions. link

    And, with their testing and tracking protocols, they stand an excellent chance of containing this latest outbreak. Maybe just a very good chance.

  56. Michael Reynolds says:

    Do we have proof that people do develop immunity? I haven’t seen it. In which case herd immunity isn’t happening. What I’ve read is that with coronaviruses generally immunity is short-lived at best. Then there’s the annoying tendency of flu-like bugs to mutate, hence the need for a new flu vaccine every year.

    Off-label hydroxychloroquine may work, and there’s some rumor of an anti-lice pill being effective. As far as I can see (IANAD) the side effects from hydroxychloroquine are of the annoying but non-fatal variety. As long as we don’t create panic-buying and short-change the on-label uses (lupus, etc..) it should be between a doctor and patient.

    1
  57. Nightcrawler says:

    @CSK:

    You’re thinking of “Time Enough At Last.”

    “World Enough & Time” is a Doctor Who episode!

  58. Jax says:

    @Michael Reynolds: The Ivermectin I have isn’t a pill, it’s a liquid, we pour it on the backs of cattle every year when we work them to protect them from lice, mange, scabies, and various varieties of parasitical worms. I am very curious as to which version they are using in the testing, I mean, do I have several gallons of the treatment right there in the vet box? Just dab a little behind my neck, or what?! Put some in a spray bottle and spray packages down? 😉

  59. Liberal Capitalist says:

    So… the federal government is not your friend.

    Here in Colorado, the Governor in a press conference stated that the Feds stepped in an intercepted orders of PPE and Ventilators.

    And now, Federal Government Outbids Kentucky For Medical Equipment Amid Shortage

    So, if Jarred is in charge of the Fed response, and he believes that the equipment in the federal stockpile is for the Feds , not states, then where is that equipment going?

    This is some seriously questionable shit.

    9
  60. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It remains to be seen:

    Do You Get Immunity After Recovering From A Case Of Coronavirus?

    Coronaviruses, unlike influenza, tend to remain relatively stable over time. So we could potentially develop a long term resistance to it. In practice, the results are mixed. The seasonal coronaviruses seem to offer little or no long term immunity. On the other handle, people who recovered from SARS and MERS (both caused by coronaviruses) still have immune reactions to them years later. Whether COVID19 is more like seasonal coronavirus or more like SARS/MERS remains to be seen.

    3
  61. inhumans99 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    It is a small world isn’t it? It has been many years since I lived at my parents house and did the at least once a week trek to Tacos Charly (one on Laurel Canyon in Pacoima) where I would order my burrito “gringo” style and the folks behind the counter would laugh with me but not at me as I was quick to ask that they do not put any sauce in the burrito.

    I will never forgot the time a customer came in and ordered nachos and even though the nachos come with jalapeños this guy asked for even more jalapeños and when he got the plate of nachos all I could think to myself was would you like nachos with your jalapeños…lol.

    My last visit earlier this year had me eating there and it was as good as it ever was (hard to believe this little hole in the wall place has become an institution going on 30-40+ years in the same location).

    They already do a lot of business with folks who would call in their order ahead of time so assuming they are still open during the SIP orders I can only hope they stayed open for pick-up orders only.
    Anyway, I will stop bending your ear and derailing the thread.

  62. EddieInCA says:

    @inhumans99:

    It is a small world isn’t it? It has been many years since I lived at my parents house and did the at least once a week trek to Tacos Charly (one on Laurel Canyon in Pacoima) where I would order my burrito “gringo” style and the folks behind the counter would laugh with me but not at me as I was quick to ask that they do not put any sauce in the burrito.

    My place is “Tacos Corona” at Balboa and Sherman Way in Van Nuys. Been going there for 24 years. They laugh at me because I like cheese on my carnitas, and no chili; just onions and cilantro.

    They’re so successful they opened an additional, full sit down restaurant about 4 blocks away from the original location: Corona Cantina. Damn good. On Sherman Way. You should check it out next time you visit you folks. Let me know and I’ll meet you there.

  63. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jax:
    As that excellent XKCD cartoon pointed out, you can kill things lots of ways in a petri dish.

    In a study published Friday, researchers at Monash University in Melbourne said the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin was found to halt the SARS-CoV-2 virus from growing in cell culture within 48 hours.

    “We found that even a single dose could essentially remove all viral RNA by 48 hours and that even at 24 hours there was a really significant reduction in it,” lead researcher Dr. Kylie Wagstaff said in a report by Monash University.

  64. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Thanks. Yeah that’s what I’ve been hearing. Let’s hope it’s substantial and of at least a significant duration. Otherwise we’re slightly fucked.

  65. Kari Q says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    As far as I can see (IANAD) the side effects from hydroxychloroquine are of the annoying but non-fatal variety.

    Hydroxychloroquine can cause heart disease, including heart failure. Other rare side effects include permanent vision change. It’s not a drug to take without medical supervision.

    4
  66. Kari Q says:

    @Jax:

    We have ivermectin in meat flavored chewables for my dog as heartworm prevention.

    There was significant controversy when it came out because some herding dogs had a gene mutation that made ivermectin potentially fatal for them. Now, everyone whose dog is one of the effected breeds is urged to get a genetic test to determine if they have the mdr1 mutation that makes ivermectin dangerous. So when I hear about it, I can’t keep myself from wondering if humans have the mdr1 gene mutation. Probably not, but it’s still my first thought.

  67. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Here in Aiken, SC, we are very fortunate. We have Hitchcock Woods, a 2000-acre urban forest open to the public free of charge. It has miles of trails and, even on a crowded day, we see no more than one or two couples in an hour-long walk. It keeps us from going stir-crazy.

    1
  68. mattbernius says:

    @Kari Q:

    Hydroxychloroquine can cause heart disease, including heart failure. Other rare side effects include permanent vision change. It’s not a drug to take without medical supervision.

    This. My wife has to get regular eye check-ups because she’s on it to treat her lupus. Thankfully her’s is a relatively low dose.

    However she and her doctors are always having discussions about how to balance the potential side-effects with maintaining her health.

    4
  69. Tyrell says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: I will try to get there sometime.
    I went to Huntington State Park. A real paradise, with trails through woods, walkways out into the marsh, an uncrowded clean beach, a castle, and everything you need for a day trip.

    2
  70. Michael Reynolds says: