Just another flu in Bergamo

Here’s an interesting article from Bergamo – Google translates it well enough.  It gives many examples of how the death rate is  much higher than the official estimates of the Italian government, largely because people are dying without ever getting to the hospital.  Many of them are from mayors of various towns.

” Since the beginning of the month in Nembro we have had between 110 and 120 deaths. In the same period last year 14. This is enough to understand . ” 

” In nearby Caravaggio 50 against an average of 6 in previous years. Only 2 “officials” for Covid-19.”

“70 people have died in Dalmine, including 2 officially for coronavirus. A year ago they had been 18.”

Mayor Roberto Scarpellini – ” We have had 16 deceased people since February 27, of which 3 officially for Covid-19, but also others with very clear symptoms. Throughout 2019 there were 28 deaths ”

All this means that official death count in Italy ( 743 today) is a serious underestimate: the actual numbers must be something like 4-9 times bigger – say 4000 a day.   Does influenza do this?  One did, back in 1918.

I  hear a lot of people saying ” it’s just a flu”.  I wonder why.  Any ideas?


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

156 Responses to Just another flu in Bergamo

  1. I hear a lot of people saying ” it’s just a flu”. I wonder why. Any ideas?

    Motivated cognition? Perhaps they are frustrated with the interruption to their lives caused by something which is not (currently) directly affecting them personally. This is understandable to some extent, since a lot of people are experiencing or anticipating economic pain.

    Less excusably, I think a lot of people have become addicted to a lifestyle of footloose consumerism and self-centered hedonism. Community life and social life are a lot weaker now but careerism and consumerism were used to fill the void. When you stand between an addict and his fix, he will lash out.

    • Thersites says:

      When we picture the vice of avarice, we usually think of a miserly, gold-hoarding Ebenezer Scrooge. The far more common form of avarice, though, involves spending well beyond one’s means for a lifestyle one cannot afford, then trying to elaborately foist the bill on someone else.

    • James says:

      What you call careeism more intelligent people call working hars and doing one’s duty. And simply saying “drop dead” to the people (disproportionately poor people) who will be heavily affected by the misguided shutting down of the economy is sociopathic behaviour. Evidently, there are challenges ahead, but a sanitary Munich won’t help anyone. We cannot be slaves of our fears. Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro have the right idea: it is time to avoid panic and plan to resume normal living.

      • reinertor says:

        A temporary UBI or temporarily paying wages to people whose industries are shut down by government decree, forced debt holiday and rent holiday, or even generous unemployment benefits would go a long way in preventing the negative consequences you mention, without the side effect of killing lots of people, predominantly older or otherwise not perfectly healthy people.

        • James says:

          Sure. Will we get that in America for the duration? Somehow I doubt. It is probably not even an option in countries like Brazil.

          Realistically speaking, the only way out seems to be through. The sooner we resume normal life, the sooner we will have dealt with this crisis. As President Reagan said, “we can have peace this second, if we surrender”. We did not do that then and I do not think we will do it now.

          • reinertor says:

            You have to choose between surrendering to the virus, or an economic crash. You want to choose surrender to the virus, but you will get your economic crash anyway. An uncontrolled epidemic is probably going to last longer than a 2-month lockdown (even much shorter if you instituted it earlier), resulting in maybe a shallower but more protracted economic collapse.

            Regarding the economy, a lot of the damage is done spontaneously. Airlines start losing flying empty planes, and so canceling flights was actually good for them. People will stop patronizing restaurants. Doctors getting ill and infecting all patients means that either they are breaking the Hippocratic Oath, or else all elective interventions would need to be postponed indefinitely. Even non-elective things like chemotherapy could only worsen the situation of the patients, if they get infected. Tourism being some 10% of world GDP, with air traffic etc. adding considerable chunks, companies spontaneously allowing home office to their office workers (resulting in depressed oil prices and the crash of the oil sector, though it’s largely affected by factors outside the control of Western governments like the Saudi-Russian price war), borders being closed by foreign governments, etc. – as you can see, the economic crash is inevitable, and it’s even debatable how much government action is contributing to it.

            But the government could certainly shorten its duration, but getting back to normal at least within the borders, provided we’re doing it quickly and as fully as possible.

  2. Torn and Frayed says:

    It’s the same story in France. Only hospital deaths are counted for the official statistics but there are reports of unusual clusters of people dying in France’s old folk’s homes (EHPAD is the acronym used for old folk’s homes in the article below):


  3. woolnose says:

    Distrust of science and the media presentation of science, largely based on distrust of climate change.

    • jbbigf says:

      It’s more than that. We have been coming to the realization that the government is not our friend, but the media are the government’s friends. They aren’t merely unreliable, they are lying scum, pushing an agenda that is against our interests.

  4. Who likes short shorts? says:

    Lots of the great and the good and people whose entire self-conception hinges on them being smart with their finger on the pulse are extremely angry that they didn’t see this coming. One of the ways their psyche copes with that inescapable fact is with an aggressively stupid under-reaction.

  5. Steve D says:

    Because most of us aren’t afraid?

    I mean, 2.8 million Americans die from all causes each year. So this is one small piece of all the risks we manage in life. Car wrecks are a bigger danger for anybody under 65.

    Reasonable measures like social distancing and hand-washing are great. But if you’re going to spend trillions why not focus on the big killers?

    • Uncontrolled, this will kill millions of Americans directly, and more due to the shortage of medical care for non-virus related problems. Plus all the people who will have crippling disease but eventually recover. So yeah, it’s only a fucking doubling or tripling of the death rate. What’s the fucking problem?

      You moron. Idiot. Collaborator.

      • Steve D says:

        Don’t call me a collaborator. You’re stupid model has been used to crash the US economy. People are bringing up reasonable question. Where do your loyalties lie?

        It’s not unreasonable to note that 2.8 million deaths is bigger then a few thousands or tens of thousands of deaths. And therefore these measures are not warranted. Is that too difficult for your goddamn head to handle?

        • gcochran9 says:

          Likely deaths caused by coronavirus, without very strong attempts at quarantine isolation, something like six million+. You’re worse than bad – you’re a fool.

          • Steve D says:

            Oh grow up you don’t even believe that. We aren’t going to see millions of dead bodies all over Latin America and India and you know it. Or Africa. They hardly had great measures in place.

            • gcochran9 says:

              Of course I do. Why would I not believe it? I meant six million in the US, by the way.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Unfettered, a brand-new virus like this one, with an R0 > 2, will infect over 50% of the population. Got that?

                A closely observed population on the Diamond Princess, lost 1.4% of all those infected – dead as Judas Iscariot. That was with good hospital care.

                That fraction goes way up if there is no such care, and that is inevitable if huge numbers of people all get sick over a short time. So, in that situation, more like a 4% death rate.

                (3.3e8)(0.5)(0.04) = 6.6 million. Bob’s your dead uncle.

                Which part of this argument do you disagree with? The laws of multiplication?

    • Anonymous says:

      Quite a lot has been spent over the last 50 years in improving roadway safety through redesign to safer standards. Also, a lot has been invested in developing better safety standards for vehicles. And cars cost considerably more for the safer designs.

      Generally these expenditures have been to good effect, with very significant reductions in accidents per million miles traveled.

      My wife just read me the corvid-19 death statistics for our county from our by-weekly local newspaper. We now have a total of 19 deaths, only one of whom was over 50 years old. And we have a rather large Sun City. Seems some of the old folks are taking the situation seriously.

  6. Mycroft Jones says:

    More charitably, “it’s just a flu” people are fed up with fake news that makes it so you can’t trust any public information.

    • Jason says:

      Yeah. When the media screams fascist about any politician to the right of gender studies professors, and frets that every change in the weather portends the coming climate disaster, people get burnt out.

  7. Gaba says:

    I was going to raise the possibility that this might be the price you pay when all kinds of other conditions don’t get treated, but the piece suggests they are at least in some cases dying after similar symptoms. But if the Covid-19 deaths are being markedly underestated there, then Germany is running a North Korea style deception campaign

  8. dlr says:

    Worldometer posted something very similar a few days ago from the mayor of Bergamo:

    “March 20 (GMT)

    Italy: in the city of Bergamo, there were 108 more deaths in the first 15 days of March this year compared to 2019 (164 deaths in 2020 vs. 56 deaths in 2019) according to the mayor of the city Giorgio Gori. During this period, 31 deaths were attributed to the coronavirus (less than 30% of the additional deaths this year)

    “There are significant numbers of people who have died but whose death hasn’t been attributed to the coronavirus because they died at home or in a nursing home and so they weren’t swabbed,” said the mayor [source]”


    • LemmusLemmus says:

      In fairness to the statistics, these probably include many deaths that were caused by Covid in the sense of systems overload, but not in the sense that Covid was the direct cause of death

  9. j says:

    On the same page of the L’Eco di Bergamo, there are statistics. “The most affected age group in Bergamasca – according to data updated on Tuesday 24 March – is between 70 and 79 years old with 39.3% of the total dead, against 37.8% of the 80-89 age group. The percentages drop to 13% for the 60-69 age group, 5.2% between the 90 and 99 years, up to 3.3% for the fifties, 1% for the forties and only one case from 30 to 39 years. In the province of Bergamo there are no cases of death in the range from 0 to 29 years.” The epidemic is emptying old age homes and reducing the over 70 age group. As predicted by logistic curve, as the thinning out of the over 70 population procedes, so falls the angle of the curve i.e. the death rate. In fact, the article mentions that the number of deaths is stabilizing.
    I tried to estimate the end of the epidemic in the lovely village of Caravaggio. Population =16,000 Population over 70 = 3200; Number if deaths before the epidemy 6/3 weeks = 8 per month; We seem to have reached the number of deaths at saturation point = 67 per month. The number potential victims is being reduced at 2% per month. According to this, the epidemic has several months to go till it “burns out” naturally. My conclusion: They should lift the quarantine and impose martial law or state of siege.

    • reinertor says:

      The curve is flattening because there’s a curfew, not because it has burned through all the elderly population. Besides, a “merely” 1% mortality among those between 40 and 50, sounds pretty high to me. And those between 50 and 65 are economically productive, too. You cannot really treat humans like cogs in a machine.

      • j says:

        reinertor ifjú barátom: Csak koncentrálj! 1% of the dead is between 40 and 50, not as you (mis)understood.

        • reinertor says:

          Okay, most statistics talk about 0.4 or 0.5% mortality for those in the 40-50 bracket. It’s high enough.

          But with limited availability of hospital and ICU beds, it’s perhaps going to be higher. 50-65, it’s 1% already, even with good availability of those.

        • bispora says:

          Google translate, vagy még egy magyar? What is the real mortality of the 40-50 cohort?

          • reinertor says:

            j is magyar meg én is, bár j tulajdonképpen izraeli.

            Back to English for the rest of the commenters. Mortality depends on the availability of hospital treatment, but in general in a first world country with a not too widespread epidemic (i.e. freely available hospital beds, including in ICUs), it’s probably not too far from 0.5% in the 40-50 age bracket, maybe slightly lower.

      • gcochran9 says:

        The Italians estimate that they’ve detected about 1 out of 15 infections: that would mean that 1 million people, around 2% of the Italian population, have been infected.

        • Bergamo says:

          Say Italy’s at 15x infection official rate and that’s 2%. Bergamo might of course be 10x that again or something. 20% is not so impossible given exponential growth.

    • j says:

      cont. On the other hand, they could let nature proceed thinning out the non-productive age groups. After only three months, the financial situation of the Province of Bergamo will be much impoved, having halved its actuarial (retirement) obligations and more than halved its public health expenses. The monies so saved could be spent on paying the giovanetta to focus on singing, dancing, cooking, breeding.

      • reinertor says:

        In other words, “herd immunity” should be called “culling the herd.” You don’t seem to care for permanent lung damage, or for morale. As I wrote in my previous comment, humans in general don’t like being treated like cogs in a machine, and it can significantly worsen outcomes if they feel like that’s what’s going on. Your proposal to sacrifice the “economically unproductive” (and those with some chronic condition like the obese or diabetics or with some chronic heart condition) would be a nice proposal if these were farm animals rather than humans.

        • j says:

          Pieres-Francois Verhulst did it. He invented logistic regression to project human populations, “as if these were farm animals rather than humans” (reinertor words). I am innocent !

      • If my mother or wife die thanks to morons, fools, and general collaborators like you, I promise to do what I can to bring the magnitude of the problem home to you as best I can.

        • Jacob says:

          It’s amazing to me how quickly we’ve gotten to this point. What do these sociopaths imagine will happen after they’ve thrown my dad and both of my grandfathers to the wolves? Do they expect I’ll be singing kumbaya with them afterwards?

          Expect a different response.

          • paleoandrew says:

            Why are your dad and grandfathers out licking door handles? If the spring break crowd were allowed their freedoms, I’d expect that anyone over 50 would shelter in place regardless of what the politicians say. How do you catch AIDS when it’s two guys in Ft Lauderdale having sex?

            • Jacob says:

              Thank you for informing me that my dad and all of the people who take care of my grandparents don’t have to go to their jobs, buy groceries, or for that matter leave their house for any other reason you haven’t thought of. I also love your assumption that all of these caretakers would, without fail, stringently follow the same self isolation procedures appropriate for their charges, despite the fact that no one will monitor them 24/7.

              I’m also glad to know, thanks to your infinite wisdom, that the novel coronavirus could not have possibly existed in the hospital someone I know went to about a week ago after he had a heart attack. Ditto anyone I know who gets regular checkups for a neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer, or anyone who just went under the knife because he had esophageal cancer. Or were they just supposed to stay home?

              Thanks also for accounting for the fact that some survivors of the virus have permanent lung damage (ergo fatality statistics don’t account for all long-term consequences of the virus), and thanks also for accounting for the fact that not all people with immunological or metabolic risk factors know that they have them.

              People are dying. Thousands of them, every single day, despite the fact that the virus hasn’t infected nearly as many people as it will. This isn’t a game.

              • paleoandrew says:

                That’s neat that you know the names of some diseases and surgeries. Also great of you to assume I’m asking everyone to go catch the disease, which I should let you know was an incorrect assumption.

                You say this isn’t a game but, man, you sure are losing a lot of points by playing the “strawman” card over and over.

                So, all of us are “just supposed to stay home” now, because the government says so, but it would be unthinkable for your dad to do so if no-one else did? If everyone on the planet had the disease, would he go out licking doorknobs?

              • Jacob says:

                These are diseases that people I know have and yes, if a lot of people go out and mingle, most of them will get novel coronavirus, and most of them will graciously share their bounty with someone else. That’s how infectious diseases work.

                Just reduce your contact with others and practice good hygiene, that’s it. That reduces the odds of any given person catching it at any given time until we have a vaccine and/or better treatments. The government is helping with this, but they’re not the only people doing the right thing: I set up all of my image analysis software on my desktop at home, just so that I only have to go in for work when there’s actual bench work to do. In a lot of places, universities went to online classes before the government mandated it. Lots of workplaces are doing telework or, if the risks are bad enough, laying people off.

                Dad can reduce his contact with others, and he is, but I’ve pointed out that he can’t cut it entirely. Most can’t. He’s safer if the rest of us also reduce our contact with others. It’s just the empathetic thing to do — it’s just what you’d consider doing if you cared about other human beings.

        • David Chamberlin says:

          I can only hope these ignorant fools are treated like collaborators were after World War Two. I hope the word is used more, it fits perfectly. These worthless human beings are going to defend themselves later claiming they had no idea so many people would die, they knew, they chose not to care. They chose to look away and think only about themselves in the moment.

          • gothamette says:

            David (or anyone else who cares to venture a guess):

            How did Washington State manage to stamp out the virus so quickly? The brushfire started there and seemed to have flickered out. Or am I wrong?

            Right now NYC is Lombardy.

            March 25,
            30,811 (state)
            17,856 (NYC)

            March 16
            950 (state)
            463 (NYC)

            • Curle says:

              I’m in Washington sitting at home in lockdown. Been here since last week.

              Californians in the ‘80s and southerners in the early 70s used to talk about the Seattle Freeze referring to a form of chilly Nordic social behavior. It’s still here.

          • Steve D says:

            Hey buddy, you want treason trials? That’s a great idea. I would love to put leftist sons of bitches up on trial and see just where their loyalties have been for decades.

        • Steve D says:

          You need to take a breath. Or a Xanax. People who assess risk differently than you are not “collaborators”. Jesus. And making veiled threats to those who disagree with you is stupid. Maybe even legally stupid.

          • gcochran9 says:

            I said it before – here it is again.

            Unfettered, a brand-new virus like this one, with an R0 > 2, will infect over 50% of the population. Got that?

            A closely observed population on the Diamond Princess, lost 1.4% of all those infected – dead as Judas Iscariot. That was with good hospital care.

            That fraction goes way up if there is no such care, and that is inevitable if huge numbers of people all get sick over a short time. So, in that situation, more like a 4% death rate.

            (3.3e8)(0.5)(0.04) = 6.6 million. Bob’s your dead uncle.

            Which part of this argument do you disagree with? The laws of multiplication?

            • gothamette says:

              I just got off twitter arguing with an asshole who couldn’t compute this. He kept referring to a POS article in the Financial Times which claims, with zero evidence, that 50% of the population of UK is infected now, and so CFR rates are wildly skewed. Also cited the Health Commissioner of Ohio who claimed, with no evidence, that 100K ppl in Ohio are infected – thus driving down hospitalization rates. Completely dismissed or misunderstood Diamond Princess numbers. Cited Ioannidis as The Prophet, PBUH.

              Some people just can’t learn.

              • Anonymous says:

                Your twitter interlocutor probably is referencing a preliminary study from a team at the University of Oxford . It was certainly leapt on by the British media at any rate. The study suggested there were multiple scenarios that could explain the deaths reported in the UK, including those in which there have been a huge number of infections that haven’t been detected. But the conlcusion of the study was that we need more research , particularly more blood samples are needed from the wider population and test for previous exposure to Covid-19.

              • gothamette says:

                Yes, it was exactly that one. Also the Health Commissioner of Ohio recklessly claimed that there were likely “100,000” undetected cases in that state. She was dialing for dollars and pulled the figure out from her… armpit.

            • Steve D says:

              It reminds me of ‘mark to model’ accounting. Where a trader tells you a deal is worth a trillion dollars. Just look at the numbers. But it’s a simplified version of reality coming from a highly motivated modeler. With simple measures, like travel bans, hand-washing, social distancing, and keeping the elderly separated, it looks like those numbers come way down. There are too many places where the death rate is nowhere near that high. So yeah, if it’s 6 million dead Americans versus shutting down the economy until 2021, then fine. But I don’t think that’s what we’re dealing with.

      • Jacob says:

        People who blabber about the economy all the time are sociopaths.

  10. Esso says:

    I think it’s wishful thinking when doctors and other experts say that. Flu and the resultant pneumonia is the way they want to die when the time comes. Even better if at home, surrounded by loved ones, no business left unfinished.

    • thatchop says:

      Agreed. Among trusted company, medical people whisper that a bunch of (mostly) already sick old people dying a few years early isn’t a tragedy. Regrettable, and misguided in the covid19 case – but it’s not as if there isn’t precedent for this line of thought https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senicide

      It’s also fair to view the way the medical system throws billions at keeping very sick elderly people alive as a tragic waste of resources. Robin Hanson talks about the motivations for healthcare spending and there’s a generous pinch of truth to his view

  11. Robert McLindsay says:

    Mortality rate so far = 100 * 19,647 / (19,647 + 112,044) = 14.9%

    Am I doing this right?

    • mapman says:

      No. It = 100*19,647/436,389=4.5%

      • Robert McLindsay says:

        But most of those 436,389 infections are ongoing. If you get infected you’ll either die or recover. At the time 19,647 had died and 112,044 recovered so the chances of a randomly chosen infected person ending up in the dead group was about 15%.

        What’s wrong with this reasoning? Is it because it takes longer for people to recover than die so that as time goes on the recovered group will grow proportionately larger than the dead group?

        This also doesn’t take into account undetected infections. If only 10% of infections are known then the calculated probability will go down to 1.7%.

  12. Bert says:

    This is off topic, but I don’t know where else to ask the question.
    Re the lack and cost of face masks: are there no washable masks? The Wuhan virus is supposed to be killed by detergent. A few masks per person should be enough if you could just run them in the washing machine every day.

    • Taeyoung says:

      Some disposable surgical masks filter through electrostatic attraction. My understanding is washable masks don’t, so their filtration effectiveness is significantly lower. That said, still better than nothing.

  13. Bartolo says:

    Why? Denial + Alpha signalling + Ignorance, in varying proportions. Maybe some feel special and smart, too, like those who believe they are the pinnacle of intelligence because they point out that we “cannot kill the economy”. If nothing is done to curb the pandemic, the damage in both human lives and economic loss is almost certain to be even bigger.

  14. Bert says:

    I just called the local urological practice to cancel my annual PSA test and prostate exam that was scheduled for the end of the month. Prior to the phone menu choices, the recorded voice admonished patients not to come to the practice if they have flu symptoms. There was no mention of coronavirus, Covid-19, SARS-Co2. The practice must be afraid that old guys with prostate problems will be scared away forever. The practice has always been ineffectively administered, but this is a new low.

    • dearieme says:

      Are you playing the odds when you choose to have an annual PSA test and prostate exam? What do you plan to do about it if you are told you’ve got prostate cancer?

      • Bert says:

        I’m playing the odds with everything. Always have been. What other rational course is there. On January 23rd I bought supplies for a year. There are fast and slow forms of prostate cancer. For the slow, sometimes don’t need to treat, sometimes radiation or surgery. For the fast, settle one’s affairs with whomever deserves such attention.

        • dearieme says:

          Lots of research says that the rational course is to dispense with annual health checks. I assume they are discussing asymptomatic cases.

    • mcdemarco says:

      I think it’s just a standard, simplified way to describe the symptoms, not a sign of some sort of gross incompetence.

  15. peter connor says:

    Governments have a long history of minimizing death reports from disasters..After the San Francisco quake and fire, the city fathers reported about 250 deaths…modern investigations revealed that the number was roughly 3,000….

  16. et.cetera says:

    This will prove relevant in the coming weeks: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00134-012-2627-8

  17. gothamette says:

    “I hear a lot of people saying ” it’s just a flu”. I wonder why. Any ideas?”

    “A lot of people” is too abstract — be specific, name names.

    If we see some names, we might be able to deduce their motives.

    • gcochran9 says:

      I think a lot of them are hacks that write what they’re told. Compounded with ignorance, stupidity, and fear.

      • gothamette says:

        Names. We need names. Here’s a few:

        Sean Davis, Bill Mitchell (clinically insane, actually, not a hack), I’ll think of others.

        They are all loyally pro-Trump. It’s natural for folks to follow the leader, and in this case, the leader was a pathological liar and stupid.

      • Steve D says:

        Everyone on the blog who agrees with you is a rabid anti-trump zealot. You might want to reflect on that. They’re not showing good reasoning skills. They’re not showing emotional maturity.

        Just because they’re anti Trump doesn’t mean they’re wrong. But clearly in this case, they can’t shut up about how much they hate him and it’s created this weird echo chamber where you people call everybody who disagrees with you evil.

        • Lance says:

          I agree with Greg and arguably wrong and I’m a rabid pro-Trump zealot.

          My perspective is that Trump was a little late in his response, should have closed the borders earlier, but most of the damage was done by supposedly non-partisan institutions we’re expected to trust, like the WHO, CDC and now FDA.

          And that we should judge Trump by his actions, not his words. He wants to project optimism, but he hasn’t actually ordered anything open again. That’s kind of what every president needs to do in a crisis: do what needs to be done, but try to keep morale up.

          I don’t think Trump is fundamentally that far off from Greg, in fact.

          • Difference Maker says:

            As we know, almost nobody would have closed the borders besides Trump. Indeed, if he had caught it very early, they would have screeched that he was acting dictatorially on the most baseless and wild speculation, crashing the economy with no survivors on a whim, etc

            The attack ads write themselves

            • Difference Maker says:

              Unfortunately, it took the Italian example to awaken people

            • Lance says:

              Exactly. You don’t need to be anti-Trump to consider this a serious problem that demands prudence. And a careful examination of Trump’s actions is that he is being prudent about COVID-19, albeit a little late.

              What he’s inclined to be less prudent about is idiocy like FDA approval. When cases are multiplying by 10x per week, we should be trying every possible solution, as soon as possible. We can’t afford to wait years for a bureaucrat’s stamp of approval.

              There’s a perfectly reasonable narrative in which the villain is infectious disease, not Trump.

  18. Eponymous says:

    To put those numbers in perspective, typical national death rate in Italy is around 1.8k/day.

  19. Mark K says:

    Why? Because, in the estimation of such medical professionals as are saying so, it IS just a flu. A particularly nasty flu, but a flu.
    And like the mentioned Spanish Influenza it WILL NOT wipe out humanity, And the economic impact of shutting down our economy VASTLY exceeds the economic impact of more than a month of such harshly restrictive lockdowns. Already there are people who will be homeless in a month or two. This number will climb radically unemployment claims in have skyrocketed as even business allowed to remain open are sharply restricted in the number and type of customers they can server.

    The cure will rapidly be worse than the disease, as those impacted by the supposed cure will be younger, or financially vulnerable (retirees on stock market dependent incomes).
    It is a rational position, weighing one set of horrors with unkown impacts against a know risk, death by pneumonia, For which we apparently have (at least anecdotally) potential treatment regimens for.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Nasty in the sense of eh 1918 flu, that killed tens of millions of people. I have thought that not understanding exponential growth was part of the problem, and it is, but not understanding the difference between a thousand and million is to, along with being unable to multiply by 0.01 .

      If you think that more than doubling the national death rate, as in the case of Italy today, is “just another flu’, you are mistaken. It’s more comparable to an going major war.

  20. Maciano says:

    Because they don’t want their lives interrupted

  21. Baron says:

    Why say, “It’s just a flu”? Well, how about because it is. Who said that the flu wasn’t deadly? There is plenty of precedent for Covid-19. From the CDC web site we see the 1957 H2N2 pandemic (110k dead in US, 1.1 million worldwide) and the 1968 H3N2 pandemic (100K US dead, 1M worldwide). It doesn’t currently look like Covid-19 will be as deadly as these two. The numbers from Germany and Australia are telling in this regard.

  22. sprfls says:

    Media has been the boy who cried wolf about everything — years of insignificant trifles getting blown out of proportion.
    Denial caused by fear of death (explains some of the generational divide imo).
    Existential angst caused by a disruption of daily routine forcing an examination of one’s life.
    Reflexive contrarianism.

    • sprfls says:

      I’ll add one more that I don’t see mentioned much: some sort of cognitive bias which makes people believe that bad things are much more likely to happen to others, but not to them.

  23. David Chamberlin says:

    Weird fact. Trump is at his all time high in popularity right now, since 3 months into his presidency, as per 538. I can’t wrap my head around that. I know this is basically a war and president’s ratings always go up in a war, but what are people thinking? Will they love him still after granny dies? Will Trump be successful in pointing the finger at those bat eating Chinese? I have no idea.

    • Eponymous says:

      Doesn’t matter what people think of him right now. This is one of those rare cases where people care about results, and we’ll actually be able to see the results before the election! If things work out reasonably well, he’ll probably be reelected. If not, he won’t.

    • gothamette says:

      I don’t buy these numbers.

      • engleberg says:

        Even if you buy those numbers, there’s plenty of time for people to change their minds before the election. But even if masks are a waste of time, if Trump shows up April 12 wearing a mask in front of a Republican posse, he will win a second term. If Biden is the first, he will win. Masks are visible and an act of leadership and can-do spirit and stuff. And everyone who’s run a grinder knows they do SOME good.

      • rgressis says:

        I buy the numbers. A lot of people don’t pay close enough attention to Trump to realize he’s been giving mixed messages, they like his reassurances, they see he’s doing big things.

        I’m guessing a lot of people have no idea that we could have been building up masks and tests all through February. Also, all throughout February and early March, health officials were saying not to wear masks.

        • Lance says:

          Health officials are still saying not to wear masks. The CDC still has the same FAQ up that says not to wear a mask unless a man in a white coat tells you to and you’re actually showing symptoms. Ignoring that half of infected are asymptomatic and half of the remainder don’t show symptoms for weeks.

          Even if masks do not protect the uninfected at all (false, it’s just not 100%), it’s worth having most people wear them in public in case they’re infected and don’t know it yet.

          • dearieme says:

            Since Trump is the boss of the Executive it’s axiomatically his fault if a bunch of science bureaucrats cock things up. Of course, if he overruled them that would prove that Republicans are anti-science.

        • Difference Maker says:

          If we had been openly building up masks and tests in early February, they would accuse him of panicking the country on reckless speculation.

          Note that Obama depleted federal stockpiles of N-95 masks and never replenished them.

          I can repeat myself from elsewhere and tell you that NYC area first responders were prepping in early February, with talk of FEMA activation already.

          Tests are non trivial to develop, and we did indeed get saddled with an outdated system, where in the name of high standards approval was delayed. However, consider if we had used garbage tests, it would merely be garbage in, garbage out, and people who had the virus and received false negatives, and there were a lot of those in other countries, would have had the false confidence to further the spread.

          They tell you not to wear masks, because it is critical that healthcare workers have access to equipment.

          “The rulers of the state are the only persons who ought to have the privilege of lying, either at home or abroad; they may be allowed to lie for the good of the state.”

          • Lance says:

            I think the reality is not that Trump was afraid of political consequences (does that sound very Trumplike to you?) but that America literally didn’t (doesn’t?) have either the industrial capacity or the technology to mass-produce either N-95 masks or tests. We’ve outsourced everything to China, and we obviously can’t depend on them when they’re dealing with the same problem and have banned exports.

            I realize it’s terrifying to contemplate, but it’s just possible that we’ve actually fallen behind – that at least in some areas, China is able to produce technology that’s better than ours and in higher quantities. China used tests that were about a decade old, whereas US only had tests more than two decades old.

            That’s why we couldn’t ramp up testing faster. And the CDC lied when they said they had everything under control. Not just lied to the public about masks, but lied to Trump about their testing and tracing capabilities. It looks like several doctors have already adopted heuristics that the CDC still hasn’t figured out, like anosmia and some things I won’t pretend to understand, like procalcitonin. If doctors were actually following the latest official medical guidance, we’d be in even worse shape.

            As options become available that CAN be produced in the USA (chloroquine etc.), Trump is loudly beating the drum. So it stands to reason that he didn’t beat the drum about a month ago because we didn’t have any good options a month ago.

            But we have better options now. The best being a combination of social distancing AND aggressive treatment of the sick.

            • gcochran9 says:

              ” N-95 masks or tests” – sure we do.

              • Lance says:

                Sure we have them, or sure we have the capacity to mass produce them in the quantities needed?

                Why has the U.S. been testing so few individuals, when other countries (Japan, South Korea, even China) have had extensive and reliable testing – including asymptomatic cases – for weeks? And why do our officials still tell us not to wear masks unless we’re symptomatic, while those countries have been literally requiring people to wear masks?

                If we’re really just as good as those guys, technologically, then something in here doesn’t quite add up.

        • Difference Maker says:

          Reformatted for clarity:
          1) If we had been openly building up masks and tests in early February, they would accuse him of panicking the country on reckless speculation. There would be a run on masks and other PPE

          I can repeat myself from elsewhere and tell you that NYC area first responders were prepping in early February, with talk of FEMA activation already.

          2) Relatedly, they tell you not to wear masks, because it is critical that healthcare workers have access to equipment.

          “The rulers of the state are the only persons who ought to have the privilege of lying, either at home or abroad; they may be allowed to lie for the good of the state.”

          Note that Obama depleted federal stockpiles of N-95 masks and never replenished them.

          • Difference Maker says:

            Furthermore, tests are non trivial to develop, and we did indeed get saddled with an outdated system, where in the name of high standards approval was delayed.

            Consider if we had used garbage tests; it would merely be garbage in, garbage out, and people who had the virus and received false negatives (and there were a lot of those in other countries), would have had the false confidence to further the spread.

            • gothamette says:

              “they would accuse him of panicking the country on reckless speculation.”

              who is “they”?

              And who gives a fuck? A leader does the right thing no matter what “they” say.

              “I welcome their hate.” — FDR

              • Difference Maker says:

                I read about this. Women in the liberal enclaves yearn even more to be dominated

        • gothamette says:

          We’ll see.

          I see a lot of denialism, still. They’ll get theirs.

  24. Swed says:

    “Does influenza do this? One did, back in 1918.
    I hear a lot of people saying ” it’s just a flu”. I wonder why. Any ideas?”

    You answered your own question.

    ‘Flu’ is short for ‘influenza’.
    The Spanish flu was more proportionately more deadly than corona in purely numerical terms and killed young healthy people.
    Hence there is a good precedent for comparing it to influenza.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Since the Spanish flu was a century ago, people are actually suggesting that Wuflu is similar to the much milder ( ~100 times milder) influenza epidemics that adults today have lived through. Which is a lie, jus as you are lying.

    • Proportionately...? says:

      Some folks rabidly want it to almost be the next ebola in terms of proportion of deaths, seems like a hype train to me.

      But it doesn’t matter what the proportion is relative to flu if this is a new infection and easily infects up to 50% where a flu can only hit 2-5% or something. Still gonna be an order of magnitude worse.

      Proportions of death only set a ceiling for how bad it can get, but even something that kills proportionately only as many as flu can be way worse than flu in a population with no immunity,

      If the CFR’s 0.4% (and this is about a median where the sensible people think it is, not the sensationalist 4%), still gets 640,000 Americans. Bad enough, even if it’s well below Greg’s 6 million. 0.1% and that’s 160,000. Bad enough.

  25. James says:

    Rio de Janeiro City has beaten the virus and is gradually phasing out the lockdown. Brazil’s President Captain Bolsonaro’s views have been widely and wildly vindicated.

    • gothamette says:

      If that’s true – and I wouldn’t be so quick to claim it – it’s because of the mafiosi who control the favelas. They apparently have a better grasp of epidemiology than Sean Hannity and Trump.

      • James says:

        Not at all. Yes, in a few cases, gangs imposed curfews and lockdowns in Rio de Janeiro City. But the local government cooperated, too, ordering the closing of all non-essential business and sending in sound trucks to tell people to wash their hands and not leave home except for essential errands. This strategy paid off handsomely. With the situation under control, the mayor has decided the lockdown can be phased off gradually starting next Friday. President Captain Bolsonaro has asked governors and mayors to order an immediate end of the lockdown policy and to isolate old people and immunodeficient folks. The rest should be back at work as soon as possible. That was this generation’s Blitz and Brazil has prevailed with flying colors. It must be great being Brazilian today.

  26. rgressis says:

    In early March, I had a friend tell me it’s just the flu. She’s smart and well-informed but she wasn’t reading about this. She’s super duper leftwing, very woke, but also a small business owner. Even in mid-March she was baffled and angered that people were closing things down. It really seemed to me that her thinking was due to her business interests.

    • gcochran9 says:

      “smart and well-informed ”

      “very woke”

      So which is it?

      • rgressis says:

        I think of wokeness as a luxury good for most people. In the areas of, say, game-design, she’s very smart and well-informed.

        I brought up her wokeness because most of the people downplaying this seem (based on public discourse) to be on the Trump-right, so she was an interesting exception.

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          libs were “just the flu bro” too at the beginning cos that’s the line the lib media were pushing

          • rgressis says:

            Yeah but this was way past the beginning. This was about March 9.

            Also, I realize that “smart” is a relative term. Compared to Greg, Ed Witten is “smart”. Compared to me, Witten may as well be a higher lifeform. I’m saying she’s smart from my perspective.

        • Difference Maker says:

          Well informed just means well indoctrinated. Think it over and you will see all. You really want to credit her judgment after this?

          As Greying Wanderer said about the libs, they were screeching about the China quarantine.

  27. NeSoglasna says:

    Italy is an outlier, a perfect storm for the Coronavirus. Large Chinese immigrant population in Northern Italy, the virus epicenter, brought in as cheap labor to make luxury fashion goods with Made in Italy label. Factories largely Chinese owned and operated. Travel back and forth to China for business and Chinese New Year. Large elderly Italian population with preexisting health conditions, conditioned to believe the mantra of the Italian health care system that “health care is a right,” and to take advantage of it, since it is free after all and they probably have lots of time on their hands. Virus spreads undetected in crucial weeks in January, and uptick in pneumonia cases initially not connected to virus. Virus gets into medical system, and spreads from there to elderly. Boom.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Apparently Spain is a very similar perfect storm,.

      • gothamette says:

        So… in the 20s and 30s, Italy had Mussolini, and Spain had Franco.

        Care to make any guesses as to what will happen to these countries in the 2030s?

      • gothamette says:

        Do you think Africa is (a) protected due to its young median age or (b) screwed because of it’s near complete lack of modern health care?

        • gcochran9 says:

          I think youth protects you against severe consequences of infection, not against infection itself. But it’s not taking off there, not yet anyhow: I don’t know why.

          • gothamette says:


            The epicenter of the epicenter is a neighborhood in the borough of Queens called Elmhurst. Population density: 75K per square mile. Chinese enclave.

          • j says:

            You said it: Youth protects against death. In Nigeria, less that 1% is over 70 vs 20% in Italy. The pandemic will pass over Nigeria. Regarding infection rates, if the number is uncertain in Lombardy, among wealthiest areas of the world, imagine how much more uncertain is it in Nigeria.

          • gothamette says:

            The most important article you will ever read. Ignore the patented NY Times smarm, focus on the facts, which it tells quite well.

            • gda53 says:

              Whoops! Back to the drawing board. The “expert” from Imperial College London, upon whose stats the Western world has been depending and who essentially started the MSM in their freakout, has had second thoughts based on more FACTS.

              500,000 deaths in the UK? Nope, maybe 20,000 now.
              Overrunning of medical facilities? Nope, unlikely now – most will cope
              18+ months of quarantine? Nope, this should run it’s course in about 3 weeks.
              2,000,000 deaths in US? Don’t be ridiculous

              Or how about this prediction from a Nobel Chemistry professor.

              Now, AFAIK, neither of these people are Trump supporters. So leave your TDS at the door when you evaluate their opinion.

              And since the “expert” from Imperial College is the “go-to” guy, as acknowledged widely, please explain why we believed him then, but not now?

              Oh, and BTW. That hydroxychloquine? Seems to be working it’s thing quite nicely so far. Have you seen the video of the guy who claims Trump saved his life with promoting that? Stay tuned for many more. Sorry to disappoint all the TDS sufferers who were rooting for this NOT to work.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Ferguson is lying. You’re just an idiot, of course.

              • gda53 says:

                Sure, sure I am. Lets go with that, shall we.

              • gothamette says:


                UK has scaled back its social distancing rules.

              • Lance says:

                I think you’re missing the central tenet of the revisions, which is that the new projections are with isolation and social distancing. The actual revised paper says so pretty explicitly in the first few paragraphs.

                In other words, the revised numbers can’t be used as a justification to scale back the response. We now have two models from the same authors, one with no/weak controls and one with strong controls, and the one with strong controls is showing a much better health outcome. Quelle surprise.

          • Lance says:

            It is probably not taking off in Africa because people are not very mobile in Africa. Same reason Ebola hasn’t spread to far more people, despite them literally attacking the treatment centers and claiming that the disease is a hoax.

            Look at the US map, it’s not uniformly spread, there are major hotspots. It’s like that in Africa, too, with the difference being Africans aren’t driving cars and riding planes to the other side of the continent every week. Local outbreaks occur but don’t spread to other areas.

            Which means we probably should shut down even domestic air travel in the USA. Should, but won’t. People have been telling me that even international air travel isn’t really shut down, there are just some confusing restrictions based on citizenship which aren’t even being strictly enforced at ports of entry – not that that matters much anymore with the number of domestic cases we have.

            Corollary: US outbreaks are mostly in the dense urban areas. Where people are more spread out, the virus hasn’t spread as quickly (though without any controls, it eventually will).

  28. Greying Wanderer says:

    “Any ideas?”

    quarantining China would have cost Wall St billions a day.

    e.g. Apple makes 120 million dollars a day from their factories in China

  29. Le Ed says:

    Greg recommended wearing masks, here is a video were the scientist explains the importance of masks. starts at 9.36. Interesting video imo.

  30. Pingback: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics (Coronavirus Edition) | Mike Street Station

  31. gothamette says:

    Sorry for needless duplication; same town.

  32. Vromme says:

    Twenty times? Most of the deaths of persons with COVID are due to secondary pneumonia, and even the CDC has pointed out the conflation of pneumonia deaths with COVID deaths. Last year, 35 million Americans contracted the flu, nearly half a million were hospitalized for it, and nearly 35,000 died from it. Also lat year, 1 million were hospitalized for pneumonia and 55,000 died from it. Both diseases have seasonal peaks. My point is not that COVID is not virulent and deadly or that proper precautions shouldn’t be taken, but that media have, as with this article, removed all perspective from the daily drumbeat of doom in a truly unprecedented manner. One is forced to ask what is the motive for such.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s