The Plague is Coming

Coronavirus is coming. It’s in my neighborhood now.

And so is the hysteria.

I’m fascinated by how this virus spreads in a global world. I’m looking forward to some awesome graphics. Everyone on our planet is connected.

Just talked with Steve. He’s been prepping all day for the possibility that Wall Street workers will all work from home soon. My brother in law’s big architecture conference next month was just cancelled.

I spent three days in a hospital last week with a sick kid. The nurses weren’t stressed about it, but said that plans were being put in place by hospital administrators.

Will people get the virus in a voting booth?

If you looking for a good novel about a pandemic virus, I recommend Nora Robert’s Year One. I never read The Stand, but maybe I will.

40 thoughts on “The Plague is Coming

  1. Tulip said, “If you graph the cumulative mortality, you get perfect rayleigh curves. What? I work at a think tank.”

    My senior’s AP Calculus teacher keeps wanting to do some coronavirus math problems, but the kids have been vetoing it.

    Their senior trip to Italy just got bumped from March to May because Delta cancelled their flights. They were supposed to leave this weekend.

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      1. Cranberry said, “Are the flight and other arrangements refundable? I don’t think this will be solved in 8 weeks.”

        We have trip insurance, but I’m a bit hazy on the details.

        We had a bad couple of days last week where things kept getting worse in Italy, but it didn’t look like the situation was covered by our insurance. But then Delta stopped flying, which took the matter out of our hands. (It looks like they are flying now, though? But last week they were going to stop flying to Italy until at least mid-March.)

        Our senior has been saving for this trip since 8th grade.

        We aren’t rescheduled yet, but if all goes well, the kids will take their AP exams in May, go to Italy, and then come back and graduate, which sounds very nice, actually. So, fingers crossed.

        We normally do an early summer trip to WA to see my family and that’s also looking dicey, given that seeing older relatives is largely the point of the trip.

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      2. Our senior has been saving for this trip since 8th grade.

        Oh, my heart hurts to hear that.

        We have relatives planning a trip of their lifetimes later this year. Although they have insurance, “fear of infection” is not a cause to claim compensation. This whole thing is devastating for the tourism industry, and of course for countries like Italy.

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  2. “Just talked with Steve. He’s been prepping all day for the possibility that Wall Street workers will all work from home soon. My brother in law’s big architecture conference next month was just cancelled.”

    That’s good.

    School sent out a coronavirus email (you know, the usual stay-home-when-sick stuff) and my husband wrote back to suggest that a) they need to ease absence policies if they want kids to actually stay home when sick and b) if there’s some sort of make-up process, that needs to be publicized. At the moment, we’re dealing with dueling school policies:

    a) keep kids home when sick or sickish!
    b) if your kid misses more than X number of days of school, they will have to repeat the grade.

    I know from listening to my senior that (at least pre-coronavirus) a lot of high schoolers were coming to school sick on purpose, either so as not to get too far behind academically or in order to avoid going beyond the maximum number of excused absences. My senior has already hit 5 days excused absences and at 10, she’s in danger of having to repeat her grade (!). And we have a lot more school to get through before the end of the year…

    That might be a good quickie article, by the way–the contradictions between what schools say they want you to do when a kid is sick, and the incentive structure.

    Here’s one on NYC public schools and how their coronavirus policies contradict their competitive admission protocols:

    https://newyorkschooltalk.org/2020/03/nyc-school-admissions-and-coronavirus/

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    1. It is a personal pet peeve when the incentives are set to contradict the stated goals. High school, sleep, sickness are a pretty clear example. Schools tell kids to manage their physical and emotional stress and then assign homework, tests, practices, games on which they will be judged.

      Presumably, your school would not enforce b in the current situation, but rule followers like you and me hate these “super secret” methods for making things up, getting special exceptions, finessing the rules.

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      1. bj wrote, “It is a personal pet peeve when the incentives are set to contradict the stated goals. High school, sleep, sickness are a pretty clear example. Schools tell kids to manage their physical and emotional stress and then assign homework, tests, practices, games on which they will be judged.”

        Yeah.

        “Presumably, your school would not enforce b in the current situation, but rule followers like you and me hate these “super secret” methods for making things up, getting special exceptions, finessing the rules.”

        Right.

        Still waiting to hear back from the head of school!

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  3. “if your kid misses more than X number of days of school, they will have to repeat the grade.’
    Without regard to grades? Idioacy

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    1. Tulip said, ““if your kid misses more than X number of days of school, they will have to repeat the grade.’ Without regard to grades? Idioacy”

      My suspicion is that there’s actually some sort of super-duper secret policy on this allowing for make-up work, but I don’t have concrete information at this point.

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  4. I worry about outbreaks of ignorant fear, such as the reports of communities objecting (sometimes violently) to plans to quarantine COVID-19 victims, as has already happened in Ukraine and Reunion Island.

    Preparing to get through the illness:

    Renew prescriptions, particularly for respiratory conditions or heart conditions

    Things to buy:

    toilet paper
    toilet bowl cleaner (fecal matter can spread it)
    paper towels
    trash bags

    Medicines for the normal cold or flu (if you can avoid going to the hospital, that’s a good thing, because that’s where the Sick People will be)

    temporal thermometer
    pulse oximeter (a relative’s doctor recommended all patients acquire these devices. Use them to monitor vital signs if you’re ill. Have the info available when you call to find out if you have The Plague. If you have signs of COVID-19, call first. Do not set out to infect everyone else in the waiting room.)

    Canned foods.
    A working can opener.

    Novels? I recommend Mira Grant’s (aka Seanan McGuire) work. Start with the _Newsflesh_ series. She has written other short fiction in that fictional world, notably Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box , _Countdown San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats_. Most gruesome might be http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/spores/.

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    1. Cranberry said,

      “I worry about outbreaks of ignorant fear, such as the reports of communities objecting (sometimes violently) to plans to quarantine COVID-19 victims, as has already happened in Ukraine and Reunion Island.”

      On the other hand, the Chinese are right to worry that their quarantine conditions may be terrible and even potentially unnecessarily dangerous.

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    2. LOL Newsflesh? Really? I mean it’s good but…hardly comforting reading during a pandemic! I’d recommend her Toby Daye series or the Incryptid books.

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      1. I find comfort in contemplating how things could be worse? I have a very dark sense of humor.

        I’d recommend _The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History_, by John M. Barry. Really interesting that it’s just over a century from the Spanish Flu. I found the details fascinating, coupled with the very primitive state of medical research in the United States.

        I also recommend _Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries_, by Molly Caldwell Crosby, about the epidemic of encephalitis lethargica of 1918. Truly heartrending, as many of the victims survived, but were gravely injured.

        Then again, some things today should be satire, but unfortunately are not: https://nypost.com/2020/03/04/coronavirus-patient-ignored-self-isolation-order-to-go-to-business-event/

        A hospital worker who became New Hampshire’s first coronavirus patient had been ordered to self-isolate — but went to a college’s business event instead, health officials have revealed.

        If a hospital worker highly enough placed to be invited to an invitation-only event doesn’t have the sense God gave a goose, who will do the responsible thing when infected?

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  5. Novels? I would think “La Peste” is of rather higher quality than anything that has been mentioned. For historical (nonfiction) works, everyone should read “Plagues and Peoples.” Actually, everyone should have read both of those books already, if they wanted to be considered educated.

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    1. I confess to not having read the last of these. Russian literature–even in translation, since I don’t know Russian–is one of my weak areas.

      Our church has book table on Sundays, where I work. Someone asked me once me to summarize “The Brothers Karamazov,” which is one of the items we carry. I was very embarrassed; fortunately one of my co-workers–the book table crew tends to be fairly intellectual, as you might expect–was able to bail me out.

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      1. y81,

        I confess that it’s a bit obscure.

        “Someone asked me once me to summarize “The Brothers Karamazov,” which is one of the items we carry. I was very embarrassed; fortunately one of my co-workers–the book table crew tends to be fairly intellectual, as you might expect–was able to bail me out.”

        Oh, man! I feel for you!

        My elevator summary: It’s about a family of brothers (one sensual, one spiritual, one intellectual and one ?), one of whom has killed their horrible father. It’s a philosophical novel and a murder mystery at the same time. It also contains an embedded story called The Grand Inquisitor, which is excellent in its own right.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grand_Inquisitor

        You should get around to the Russians when you have more free time.

        I think that you would like Nabokov’s Pnin and possibly his Gift.

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  6. Station Eleven is a great plague/post-plague novel.

    y81, you need to find out if you are a Dostoevsky person or a Tolstoy person. You surely must be one or the other. Try parts I and II of Crime and Punishment, and the first 100 pages of Anna Karenina. Then you can take it from there. (BTW, AmyP, I object to the whole practice of reading Grand Inquisitor outside of the Brothers K, even though everyone does it now. So much better in context.)

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    1. af said, “y81, you need to find out if you are a Dostoevsky person or a Tolstoy person.”

      Good point!

      “BTW, AmyP, I object to the whole practice of reading Grand Inquisitor outside of the Brothers K, even though everyone does it now. So much better in context.”

      But better to read the Grand Inquisitor than nothing at all! The Brothers K is an enormous commitment.

      I believe I first encountered the Brothers Karamazov in high school in the form of a printed (!) booklet of Grand Inquisitor, probably very late 80s/very early 90s, so the practice of treating it as a separate work is almost traditional. But you’re correct, in that the Grand Inquisitor is part of the dialog between the Brothers K, so the context of the larger dialog is very important.

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    2. I love Station Eleven so much. Been dying to reread it ever since I heard they’re making an HBO limited series of it.

      Fun fact: I have a Word doc that is part of the first chapter of Newsflesh that I read/feedbacked for Seanan back when we were both in the same fandom. (Note: I don’t think I’m special; I think she sent it to a bunch of people in the fandom as she was getting ready to submit it to a publisher.)

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  7. Highly recommend The Things That Keep Us Here, by Carla Buckley. Fiction about an avian flu epidemic, for a family stuck in a suburban house, that loses phone and power, with all the fears about contacting others and staying alive through an Ohio winter.

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  8. I still can’t stop myself from absent-mindedly picking my nose when I’m alone at my desk. Or chewing my nails.

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    1. Probably not a risk if no one else uses your desk and you wash your hands before and after you go to your desk.

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  9. The article on the Westchester lawyer’s case is interesting, and very different from what we are seeing covering the known COVID cases here in the epicenter of the plague. They’ve traced all his movements, tested his family, The pattern we’re seeing seems to be to test severely ill patients (now, a week ago, they didn’t make the cut either) and people who have traveled to particular zones (Italy, but not Portugal, as an example). Our school said that if you are a contact of someone who has tested +, you should self isolate and inform the school, who will then institute heightened cleaning. If someone in the school tests +, they will lose the school. But, they only test people if they are severely ill, so there’s no real expectation that because no one has tested +, that the virus isn’t present in the community.

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  10. I’m actually very surprised to see people talking of preparing for two weeks quarantine etc. Even the CDC travel warnings are not that dire: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

    We’re tracking it at work because we’re interested and that’s what we do, not because we think anyone should panic. Buying out hand sanitizer is just dumb – it’s a virus. Buying masks is dumb – it’s a virus.

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    1. Well, 1,000 people in New York have been asked to self-quarantine, after coming into contact with the Manhattan attorney & his family: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8072159/Amazon-employee-companys-Seattle-headquarters-tests-positive-coronavirus.html. As we can see from the Dartmouth case, if you don’t self-quarantine, the next step is an official quarantine order. I’m pretty sure none of the 1,000 people expected to be under quarantine this week.

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  11. We got back last night from Barcelona. It’s a huge relief to be home if only because I don’t feel like I have to wash my hands every time I touch something. It was exhausting.

    There were some people with masks in the tourist areas and in the airport, but not a huge number.

    My daughter is pretty worried about being sent home from her study abroad program. She’s loving it there. She applied to 2 programs (when she applied) and 1 was in Milan and the other in Spain, and the Milan kids have been sent home. So glad she didn’t end up going there.

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    1. Wendy wrote, “My daughter is pretty worried about being sent home from her study abroad program.”

      Ooooh!

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    1. MH said, “I’m trying to convince myself not to abuse the order we just got to work from home if we have a cough.”

      If you’re putting in a full day’s work at home, you’ll make everybody (including yourself) a lot happier if you do.

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  12. Covid-19 is a mild cold for most people. One of the first signs can be a dry cough. A slight cough for one person could become a deadly illness for the people she infects.
    Also, whole groups of people have been quarantined because one coworker came to work with this bug. Do you want to be That Guy?

    This is sensible advice: https://nypost.com/2020/03/04/heres-how-to-tell-if-you-have-the-coronavirus-and-when-to-see-a-doctor/

    Video is getting out of Iran now. It is very similar to the videos from Wuhan, before the censors cracked down: https://nypost.com/2020/03/05/coronavirus-in-iran-video-shows-body-bags-inside-qom-hospital/.

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