March 2020 ~ Corona Virus Pandemic and What To Do TODAY
March 2020 ~ Corona Virus Pandemic and What To Do TODAY
From Jason Warner https://www.facebook.com/jason.scott.warner written March 12, 2020, shared with permission
This is a long post addressing two underlying issues with the current response to the pandemic that leave me concerned. Itís the longest post Iíve ever written.
For those of you not taking action or believing the pandemic to be "over hyped," you can make fun of me as much as you want now or when this is over. You can make me the subject of memes and post it everywhere. I will pose for the picture. I am not trying to convince you, but I do feel compelled to share information that I deem critical to all of us, which is why I am posting this at all.
WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE 5 MINUTES TO READ AND CONSIDER THE INFORMATION I AM SHARING:
For those of you who donít know me well, I am analytical and metered. I donít freak out nor do I respond emotionally. I also donít post a bunch of bullshit or political or controversial stuff on Facebook. I founded and am CEO of a successful software company that provides SaaS based data, analytics and dashboards to recruiting departments at companies we all know. As you would expect, I am data driven and fact based. Before founding my company, I held executive roles leading very large recruiting teams at some of the worldís fastest growing companies such as Starbucks and Google. At Google, I was fortunate enough to report to Sheryl Sandberg before she took the Facebook COO role. I was a Chemical Engineering major in college and have a business degree from a top undergraduate business school. I am not one for hyperbole or histrionics. My bullshit factor is close to zero.
I share all this personal information only to help solidify that this post may be worth reading and sharing with others. I would encourage you to forward or share this post at your discretion. Many people do not understand what is happening with the pandemic to the degree required, which is why I took the time to write this and share this on Facebook.
Now that Iíve gotten the introduction out of the way, here are two issues I want to bring to everyoneís attention.
ISSUE ONE:SOCIAL NORMS ARE POWERFUL MOTIVATORS AND GETTING IN THE WAY OF PEOPLE TAKING THE RIGHT STEPS IN RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC:
One of the current problems with addressing the pandemic is the social pressures of taking action today. Itís awkward and feels like an over-reaction. The reason it feels like an overreaction is that most people OVERWEIGHT the currently reported cases and inherently UNDERWEIGHT the mathematics of how the virus is spreading and what will happen in about 30 days time. This is because our brains tend to think linearly as opposed to logarithmically. Itís the same reason many people donít save for retirement or understand compound interest.
To create a new social norm, human beings like to see behavior modeled. This serves as a signal that says, "Oh, someone else is doing it so I should do it also."
SO HERE IS A SOCIAL BENCHMARK FOR REFERENCE - THIS IS WHAT IíVE DONE FOR MY FAMILY TO DATE:
I have already isolated my family. We have canceled EVERYTHING. We have canceled previously scheduled doctor visits. Social get-togethers. Normal routine meetings. Everything has been canceled. Itís difficult and socially awkward. Some of you think Iím crazy, but Iím doing it not because I am afraid, but because I am good at math (more on that in part 2). I had to have my 16 year old daughter quit her job coaching junior gymnasts at the local gym, with one dayís notice and also tell my kids they canít attend youth group at church. Both of those were tough discussions. I told a very close friend he shouldnít stay at my house this weekend even though he was planning to and had booked his flight from the Bay Area. I canceled another dear friendís visit for later this month to go snowboarding on Mt Bachelor.
We are not eating out. Our kids are already doing online school so we donít have to make changes there. I would not send my kids to school even if they were in public or private school. We have eliminated all non-essential contact with other people. We will only venture out to grocery shop when required. We will still go outside to parks, go mountain biking, hiking and recreate to keep ourselves sane and do other things as a family, just not with other people. We have stocked up on food and have a supply for ~2 months. We have stocked up on other goods that if depleted would create hardship, like medicines and feminine hygiene products. We have planned for shortages of essential items.
THE REASON I HAVE CHOSEN THIS ROUTE FOR MY FAMILY IS MULTI FACETED:
The reasons above are why I have begun to practice social distancing. Itís not easy. But you should do it too.
The hospitals will be at capacity and there are not enough ventilators. You will hear a lot about this issue in the coming few weeks... the shortage of ventilators.
ISSUE TWO:MANY PEOPLE ARE FOCUSED ON THE WRONG NUMBERS:
Yes, the virus only kills a small percentage of those afflicted. Yes, the flu kills 10s of thousands of people annually. Yes, 80% of people will experience lightweight symptoms with COVID19. Yes the mortality rate of COVID19 is relatively low (1-2%). All of this true, but is immaterial. They are the wrong numbers to focus on...
The nature of exponential math is that the infection rates start slowly and then goes off like a bomb and overwhelms the hospitals. You will understand this math clearly in the next section if you do the short math exercise. Evergreen hospital in Seattle is already in triage. I have heard credible reports from people on the ground that they are already becoming overwhelmed. And the bomb wonít really go off for a few more days. Probably by Wednesday, March 18th (next week). In just a few days from now, we will hear grave reports from Seattle hospitals.
You should assume the virus is everywhere at this point, even if you have no confirmed cases in your area.
YOU SHOULD DO THIS SIMPLE 2 MINUTE MATH EXERCISE (NO REALLY TAKE TWO MINUTES AND DO IT):
To further understand exponential growth, take the number of confirmed cases in your area and multiply by 10 (or 50 if you believe Harvard and Massachusetts General estimations) to account for the cases that are not yet confirmed. If you have no confirmed cases, choose a small number. Iíd suggest 10 cases in your city, if no cases are yet reported. But you can use whatever number you like. This number of infected people doubles every ~3 days as the infection spreads. So literally take your number and multiply by 2. Then do it again. Then do it again. T hen do it again. Do this multiplication exercise 10 times in total.
2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x (the number of estimated infections in your city today (not just the reported cases)).
This result is the estimate for the actual cases in your area 30 days from now. The math will take 30 seconds to complete with a calculator and itís worth doing the math to see how it grows. This end number is the number of cases in your city 30 days from today if a large percentage of the population do not practice social distancing.
2 to the 10th power is 1024. When something doubles 10 times, itís the same as multiplying by 1024. The infection rate of the virus doubles every 3 days. In thirty days, there will be 1,024 times the number of infected people in your area as there is today if your community does not immediately put social distancing into practice. One thousand and twenty four times as many infected people as there is today, in just 30 days.
Next, divide the final number (the scary big one) you just calculated by the current population of your city and you will be able to get the percentage of people THAT YOU KNOW PERSONALLY who will be infected 30 days from now.
Next take 15% (multiply by 0.15) of that final 30 day number of total infected people. This will provide an estimate of the serious cases that will require acute medical care and compare it to the number of beds and ventilators available at your local hospital. Google the "number of beds" and the name of your local hospital now. It takes 2 seconds and the number of beds is easy to find. 65% of beds are already occupied by patients unrelated to the corona virus. St. Charles in Bend, Oregon where I live, has 226 beds and the town is roughly 100,000 people. Most hospitals have on average, 40 or fewer ventilators.
These numbers you just calculated are the problem: Too many patients, not enough beds and a serious shortage of ventilators (the biggest problem) if we donít immediately begin social distancing. More on this biggest problem related to the insufficient quantity of ventilators is below.
COUNTRIES THAT GET OVERWHELMED WILL HAVE A MUCH GREATER MORTALITY RATE BECAUSE THEY WONíT BE ABLE TO ADEQUATELY CARE FOR THE SICK.
And by sick, I mean not just corona virus patients. Your son or daughter that needs acute care surgery this May for his badly broken leg will be attended to by an orthopedic doctor that has been working at maximum capacity and working 18 hour shifts for 7 days every week for 6 weeks because it was required to care for all the corona virus patients at her hospital. Or the orthopedic surgeon will be sick with the virus and your son or daughter will be operated on by a non-expert or a member of the National Guard. Your elderly Mom that has diabetes and goes into acute distress next month may not receive ANY care because the doctors are consumed and have to prioritize patients based on triage handbooks filled with success rate probabilities.
Your siblingís family that are all injured in a terrible car crash in June will have diminished care. If one of them needs a ventilator, there will be none available because all of them will be in use by critical corona virus patients. Your young friend with cancer and a compromised immune system from treatment will succumb even though the cancer was curable and the treatment was working, because their body was too fragile to combat the corona virus due to the chemotherapy and they couldnít receive the customized, acute care required due to the hospital being overwhelmed. All of the above is currently happening in Italy, who had the same number of infections we have today just 2 weeks ago. You must start today.
The count of actual virus infections doubles every ~3 days. The news and government agencies are lagging in their response. So we hear that the US only has 1,573 cases today (3/12/2020), (see https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/) and it doesnít seem like a lot. It would be better to report the estimated actual cases, since reported cases donít tell us much. However, we know from China that the actual number of cases are at least an order of magnitude greater than the reported cases, because people get infected and do not display symptoms. In math, an "order of magnitude" means ten times difference or put another way, a factor of 10. 100 is 10 times greater than 10, so itís an order of magnitude greater.
Harvard Medical School / Massachusetts General Hospital just released their estimate (recording is here: https://externalmediasite.partners.org/Ö/53a4003de5ab4b4da5Ö) that the actual cases are 50x greater than the reported cases. So we likely have 75,000 cases in the United States already. The number of reported cases is not that important.
But letís assume the current number of cases is only 10,000 ACTUAL cases in the United States just to be conservative and model out what will happen:
If we donít stop the virus from spreading, in 30 days we will have 2 to the 10th power more cases of infected people because the infection count doubles every 3 days (the virus doubles every 3 days and there are 10, 3 day periods in 30 days).
The math: 2 to the 10th power means 1,024 times as many cases as we have today (2 times 2 repeated 10 times).
15% of cases require significant medical attention, which means that 1.5 million people will require significant medical attention if 10 million people get infected (15% of 10 Million total infections = 1.5 million people requiring hospitalization).
1.5 million hospitalizations is about 50% more than we have beds for at hospitals in the United States. And 65% of all beds are already occupied in our hospitals. But patients with the virus need ICU beds, not just any old hospital bed. Only about 10% of hospital beds are considered intensive care. So we will have a huge bed shortage, and that is not the biggest problem, as we can erect temporary ICU shelters and bring in more temporary beds, as Italy has already done and California and Washington hospitals have already done. Evergreen Hospital in Seattle has already erected temporary triage tents in the parking lot as of 3/13/2020. All regular beds are full at Evergreen Hospital as of yesterday.
Once the government of China, Norway and Italy came to understand this math, they reacted accordingly and shut EVERYTHING down. Extreme social distancing is the only response available to stop the virus today. The United States is not responding well nor are other countries like France or the UK. Countries that do not respond well will pay a much larger, catastrophic price.
And, hospital beds are not the big problem. The lack of ventilators is the big problem. Most estimates peg the ventilators in the United States at roughly 100,000 to 150,000 units. See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21149215 (admittedly dated) and https://theweek.com/speedreads/900850/doesnt-have-enough-icu-beds-ventilators-deal-even-moderate-coronavirus-outbreak.
The primary and most serious comorbid (comorbid is a medical term that means co-existing or happening at the same time) condition brought on by the Corona virus is something called bilateral interstitial pneumonia, which requires ventilators for treatment of seriously ill patients. So if 1.5M people of the 10 million infected 30 days from now require acute care (15% of the 10M estimated total infections), 1.3M may not get the care that they need because we donít have enough ventilators in the United States. And remember, this is only if ALL OF US EFFECTIVELY start social distancing by April 11th (30 days from today).
If everyone takes extreme measures to social distance and the United States can dramatically reduce the spread of the virus 12 days from now, the math is very different, as the exponential growth will only be 2 to the 4th power (12 days divided by the doubling rate of every 3 days equals the exponent of 4):
2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16
So instead of 10 Million cases in the United States if we wait 30 days, if we act 18 days sooner, we will have only 160,000 cases (16 times the estimated 10,000 actual cases as of today), of which 15% are likely to require critical care. This is 24,000 critical patients (a huge difference compared to 1.5 million acute patients). The difference between taking extreme measures now, versus waiting even a few days, is very large due to how exponents work in math.
THE OUTCOME IS EVEN BETTER IF WE TAKE ACTION IN THE NEXT 6 DAYS:
If the vast majority of the population self isolates and implements social distancing in only 6 days from now, the exponential math is 2 to the 2nd power (6 days divided by the 3 days it takes the virus to double means the exponent is only 2). In math, this is "two squared."
2 x 2 = 4
Multiplied by the estimated 10,000 ACTUAL cases as of today (3/12/20) that means only 40,000 total cases will develop, 15% of which may be critical, which is 6,000 critical patients.
This is why you should share this post broadly. If people begin social distancing in the next 6 days, it will greatly reduce the impact on all of us. Itís why they say a "post goes viral."
SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL REDUCE THE FINANCIAL IMPACT TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY:
Finally, the longer everyone waits to practice significant social distancing, the greater the economic hardship will be on all of us. Lost jobs. Mortgage defaults. Closed businesses. Bankruptcies. All will be minimized if you start social distancing today.
Some of the reasons the economic impacts will be reduced are worth mentioning: If we stop the virus now, the overall duration of the outbreak will be far shorter. The stock market will normalize more quickly and recover more quickly. Businesses and people will be able to survive a shorter duration outbreak vs a longer duration outbreak. More companies will avoid bankruptcy if we begin to practice social distancing now.
This is a big financial reason to begin social distancing if you are employed by any company: if companies see that the virus is being slowed, they will be less likely to conduct layoffs. You will be more likely to be laid off or experience a job-related event if we donít practice social distancing immediately. As an HR executive, Iíve been involved in many, many layoffs. I ís the last thing companies want to do. But if they see that the pandemic will be shorter lived vs. long and drawn out, they are less likely to make the permanent decision of laying off staff.
The overall economic impact that hits your bank account will be greater if you wait or you donít practice social distancing. T his is why Norway acted now, because itís less economic impact to take drastic measures early than to do them later and it saves a lot of lives and suffering by doing so. And Norway has only one confirmed death as of this writing.
Finally, the article that I posted yesterday written by Tomas Pueyo has been read 7M times in the last 24 hours and has been updated with new information. Itís worth reading again.
Hereís that link.
Other up to date data I frequently consult regarding the pandemic is here:
I hope this is helpful and useful. My brain focuses on the math and I try and be fact based in my analysis and interpretation of how I should respond.
THERE IS MORE INFORMATION IN THE COMMENTS BELOW WORTH READING AND I WILL BE UPDATING THIS POST and THE COMMENTS, WITH MORE INFORMATION, (AS OPPOSED TO CREATING NEW POSTS).
MY FINAL PARTING THOUGHT: Please share or forward this post at your discretion. If everyone shares this post and two of your friends share this post and so on, we use the power of exponential math to work in our favor, which seems appropriate given the virus is using that same exponential math against us.
HOW YOU CAN REALLY HELP: If you know people who have large numbers of followers or people in the media, please leverage your personal relationship with them and ask them to amplify this post by sharing it.
For people not on Facebook, you can email or text the link. If you know people in government, this fact-based post may help inform them to make the best decisions.
Itís time for us humans to go on the offensive against the virus. We must fight back.
There is only one way to do so: Social Distancing.
NOTE: Anyone, including the media, is free to use this post, any related content, in all or in part, for any purpose, in any format, with no attribution required. Please direct message me if you have other ideas for how to raise awareness.
Graphic from the Boston doctor conference - shows the difference in taking action between the city of Philadelphia and St. Louis during the 1918 flu epidemic - originally from a 2007 study, printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 10, 2020:
About our resource links: We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs in these links. We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.
Lessons from Nature - from https://www.facebook.com/rlmartstudio:
April Fool's Day is cancelled for this year 'cause no made up prank could match the unbelievable stuff that is going on in the world right now.
Recorded Meditation for Healing and Health https://fccdl.in/MwTDQlzxOv 3/24/2020 lead by Barbara Taylor. May be freely shared.
Page updated: March 25, 2020
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