The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

May 12th Covid Numbers

Our benefactor writes:

We have crossed 80,000 deaths. Tuesdays are always the lowest numbers, but these are showing a significant decline, very much driven by NY, the numbers for which are way down.

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How Covid Will Play Out in America


May 13th US Covid Data


  1. Chiron

    Hey Ian, you gonna write something about Russiagate? If only the Dems could have this energy to confront Israel lobby instead of creating a farce to bring the Neocons to Democrat plantation.

  2. Zachary Smith

    The national curve may be turning downwards, but that hasn’t happened yet in my part of Indiana. Since I last checked a week ago, the Covid cases in my county have doubled. Despite that, on a recent grocery run I noticed every store in sight had opened. Perhaps half the people are wearing some kind of mask, but the rest don’t appear to care.

    On another note, people who enjoy a touch of horror in their reading might consider Eric Frank Russell’s “Three To Conquer” Though it dates back to 1956, it has a twist which could unnerve some folks. His villains are viruses brought to Earth by three US astronauts returning from Venus. Intelligent and purely evil viruses! Defeating them required a near miracle in Russell’s story.

    I notice the link site also has the one of his most popular novels – WASP. And it allows you to “borrow” a book which includes the delightful short story Dear Devil.

  3. Zachary Smith

    I’m going to quote the first part of this mini-rant.

    I’ve heard of Muslim women in America being taunted for wearing hijabs, I’ve heard of Jewish men being mocked for wearing yarmulkes and now I’ve heard it all: A friend of mine was cursed by a passing stranger the other day for wearing a protective mask.

    There is, of course, a rather nasty virus going around, and one way to lessen the chance of its spread, especially from you to someone else, is to cover your nose and mouth. Call it civic responsibility. Call it science.

    But science is no match for tribalism in this dysfunctional country. Truth is whatever validates your prejudices, feeds your sense of grievance and fuels your antipathy toward the people you’ve decided are on some other side.

    And protective masks, God help us, are tribal totems. With soul-crushing inevitably, these common-sense precautions morphed into controversial declarations of identity. What’s next? Band-Aids?

    “Wearing a mask is for smug liberals. Refusing to is for reckless Republicans.” That was the headline on a recent article in Politico by Ryan Lizza and Daniel Lippman that noted that “in a deeply polarised America, almost anything can be politicised.”

    I quibble only with “almost.” And I submit that the entire story of our scattered, schizoid response to the coronavirus pandemic can be distilled into the glares, tussles, tweets, deference and defiance surrounding this simple accessory.

    On Monday the White House belatedly introduced a policy of mask-wearing in the West Wing — but it exempted President Donald Trump. See what I mean about mask as metaphor? Trump demands protection from everybody around him, but nobody is protected from Trump. Story of America.

  4. bruce wilder

    Isn’t it “tribalism” to post that mini-rant, Zach?

  5. Joan

    I live in a place with a face veil ban, which I am in favor of. That does not include medical masks. Previously, you had to have a doctor’s note on you to justify wearing a medical mask in public, but with Covid that’s been done away with and the government encourages disposable and cloth medical masks whenever going outside and especially in grocery stores and on public transit. I use a mask to get to the park and at the choke points around the park entrance, but then I take it off to get some fresh air once I’m in the open space. I’ve already seen several niqabs which are still illegal and I believe should remain so. I haven’t seen anyone chance a full burqa yet.

  6. Ché Pasa

    Every crisis is another opportunity, right? As the dead pile up and the sick experience varied levels of discomfort/agony, our rulers are quietly offering a view of the future that is nothing like the recent past. But it has plenty of echoes of the present.

    Practically every element of the real economy faces extinction or at least transformation into something unrecognizable. What survives will be very limited for most people, fewer and fewer of whom will survive themselves. The economy as we knew it is not coming back. No matter the ravings from the White House. There’s no need for most of it, and no way to “restart” what’s gone extinct in any case.

    Two-three months of semi-lockdown has been difficult for many, but not impossible for most, and that has had the effect of changing perspectives on what’s important which in turn is changing the paradigms by which we live. We’re under occupation by a virus that we can’t control, but we can take precautions — if we know what they are — to defend ourselves. Masks are one of the defenses that seem to work, yet our rulers wouldn’t have them for the little people until the virus was well established and doing its work among us. Now that they are required in many places for anyone out in public, the rebels are clinging on to the notion that they’re neither necessary nor advised, and they refuse to be suppressed by the tyranny of the mask. OK then, say our rulers. Do as thou wilt.

    If we had the kind of society and social support system that has enabled virus control in much of Asia — particularly respect for government/authority, willing compliance with public health orders, provision of essentials — food, shelter, water, personal supplies — regularly to everyone in lockdown without exception, widespread understanding of virus transmission of effective intervention, health care systems not based on profit, and so on, then many of the conflicts and rebellions we see in the US wouldn’t be happening. But we don’t have that.

    Most who can have already done what’s possible for semi-self sufficiency. Our gardens are in, we’ve scouted sources of supplies, we’re integrated within our communities, we have at least sketched plans for what to do — whatever happens. But there are things we know we can’t do on our own.

    In chaos, it’s often those who muddle through rather than bull their way through who have a better outcome. At this point, muddling is about all most of us can do.

  7. someofparts

    Chiron – Yes! When a friend flipped out because I don’t buy into Russia-gate, I asked him how he felt about Israeli influence on our politics. If you can’t have an honest conversation about that, then stay out of my face about Russia. (Personally, I wish we could just give the Russians Larry Summers, to prosecute and abuse as they please.)

    Anyway, here is the link I came here to post:

    This is THE template for how to run your town, including fighting this virus, when the government is useless.

    I was especially interested in how they kept their online channels reliable despite the unavoidable intrusions of people peddling fake news.

  8. I have been doing some outside the box thinking, and come up with a relatively easily testable theory of herd immunity. (Actually, an aspect of herd immunity.) It’s probably wrong, an easy consequence of my meager knowledge of the immune system; but the upside of being right, and the tiny downside of it being wrong (very low $$) compels me to spread it farther. I’ll start by quoting my letter to Dr. Chris Martenson, Ph.D.

    “Dr. Martenson:

    I’m not a biology guy, so bear with me.

    It’s known that a) the microbiome educates the immune system b) people who live together tend to develop similar microbiomes (IIRC, there is more to this than similar diets). Perhaps it’s worth mentioning c) women who live in the same dorms tend to sync up their menstrual cycles.

    I’d like to posit a theory, which is testable, regarding the development of herd immunity. The general theory is that, just like viruses like covid-19 can and are shared through close contact, so can as-yet-unidentified immune substance which counteract some of these same types of pathogens.

    A test for breath/air vectoring would be as follows.

    Expose a group of guinea pigs to a respiratory virus. After the wave of infection passes through this group, and presumably there are no spreaders, circulate the air from their enclosed cages, through the enclosed cages of uninfected guinea pigs. A control group would get air circulation from a group that was never infected. After a few weeks of breathing circulated air, both groups of target guinea pigs are exposed to the virus, at high enough levels to produce symptoms.

    A test for skin contact vectoring would be similar, which would specifically test the idea of immunity through skin microbiome synchronization.

    A test for intestinal microbiome vectoring would be similar. I’ll omit the details, since it probably involves fecal contamination, so human testing would be problematic, to say the least. However, I’ll note that a sort of field test of humans could be conducted, wherein people living in primitive conditions would de facto do fecal contamination. E.g., I saw a video involving a villager somewhere in Africa (sorry, I don’t remember the country) literally climbing INTO a well, and then passing up buckets of water to fellow villagers at ground level. ”

    Since writing the above, I’ve discovered another suggestive line of evidence that may support this theory. From the wikipedia page on “herd immunity”, we can see that, for many infectious diseases, the herd immunity threshold is rather low. In fact, for influenza, it is only 33-44%. So, the influenza pathogens are still in a target rich environment, when they now find it difficult to spread.

    There are a few other factoids which seems supportive of the hypothesis, which I already knew of, but didn’t mention. E.g.:

    * What I think are catastrophic rates of transmission in nursing homes. (I say I think, because what I’ve read about is high rates of mortality, but that’s a given, due to the age-related profile of mortality of covid-19. I don’t want to take the time to check about actual infection rates, but I’m assuming they’re also much higher than ‘normal’.)

    So, this is would be supportive because of the low inputs of anti-pathogenic factor(s) from younger people, whose immune systems are in their prime.

    (NOTE: I can’t recall seeing any statistical analysis, or even mention of gross figures, of covid-19 mortality of seniors living with their children, vs seniors in nursing homes, matched by age. Of course, there will be confounding factors like loneliness, crappy care in some nursing homes, etc. In spite of confounding factors, I believe there is probably enough raw data to find out whether my hypothesis is supported, or not.)

    * viruses are said to potentially “burn out”. That is hardly what I would call a scientific notion. It’s not at all clear to me that the viruses are evolving such that they infect less people. What would be the selection pressure for this? The virus isn’t killing most people. So, alternatively, it seems to me that the herd immune systems have undergone more of an ‘evolution’ than the viruses. The standard framework of thought, AFAICT, is that this human immune system ‘evolution’ is simply the sum total of people who survived the virus, with their now educated immune systems. I am proposing another aspect of collective immune function beyond this standard view – but even the standard view is more satisfying than assuming the virus sort of “gives up”.

    * mothers transfer some of their microbiome to their children, during childbirth (non-ceasarian ), breast feeding, even kissing (IIRC).


    There are probably some other relevant pearls that can be extracted from data, especially in the coming months. E.g., a lot of the world’s population has been in lockdown. In X percent of these cases, it will turn out that some family member was already infected, became symptomatic, was treated, recovered, and returned to their families. As the lockdowns lift, what happens to the subsequent infection rates of the remaining family members who were locked down with the symptomatic, infected person?

    There’s also data to be had from countries that have more per-capita testing, including, I suppose, monitoring of front-line workers. E.g., find a country that gives regular tests to policemen, or EMT workers. When one of them tests positive, whether they are symptomatic, or not, we can come back in 3 months and check on the status of their spouse, in cases where they’ve resumed close contact. If this spouse population shows a statistical robustness with respect to covid-19, then that would be favorable evidence for my theory.


    A final thought: I’ve read about cats (and I think dogs, also) dying from covid-19. Perhaps there is also spread of immune factors against specific viruses across species. Pet owners are certainly sharing lots of bacteria with their pets.

  9. Tom

    Joan, Frances irrational hatred of veiling, which harms no one, contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in its country. Also I find it ironic that France routinely sexual assaults veiled women under the guise of female liberation and that you are OK with that. Look in the mirror.

    Also niqabis have far lower infection rates than non-niqabis and when they do get sick it is a less severe illness. This is a trend coming out of muslim countries with high face veiling rates vs those that don’t have high rates or outright ban it.

  10. The Something Feels Wrong youtube channel has a show “Nurses are Beginning to Come Forward”, which is a nurse relating what her front line, nurse friend tells her, who came to NYC to help. Her friend uses the word “murder”. Patients getting intubated who don’t need it, and denied the medications that are known to help with the disease. PPE not changed correctly, so non-covid patients get contaminated. Also, lots of “manpower” (medical workers) available, who AREN’T WORKING, but getting paid to do so. It’s almost like they’re not only trying to drive up the mortality figures – they’re also trying to create an impression of being understaffed.

    I can relate to her talking about “crappy nurses”, at around 7:30 into the program. I was a volunteer at a hospital in NJ back in the 70’s, and I was shocked to see basically all the nurses on the wing I volunteered at, sitting around a table chatting. (The exception was a very nice Filipina nurse, who I think was the manager; she had an excellent work ethic, and was kind and caring.) A patient would hit their pain light. I would go check on them; usually their pain medication had worn off, but it was too soon to get another dose. I’d tell the nurses.

    I actually don’t remember what they typically did after I told them. I think sometimes they’d stroll over to the patient, and sometimes not. But I do remember thinking – why don’t these nurses get off their butts, and circulate around, and give a cheery “How are you doing?” to these patients? They didn’t seems to care, at all.

  11. S Brennan


    I am sick right now. Hopefully, it’s not Covid-19, as I would be an unlikely survivor, due to getting a case of sepsis/pneumonia in the late summer of 2018, [the streets where I worked were surrounded by an encampment of druggies]. Sepsis, is a big part of the mortality numbers and once you have had sepsis, you are much more likely to have it again.

    I own a dog, the dog became ill before me. Tourists from the I-5 corridor[2.5 hours distant], drive over here during nice weather with their kids. The narrow jetty where I walk, those parents let/encourage their kids to play with my dog. Friday, an couple with an obviously sick kid told the kid to play with my dog as we were passing, the little girl grabbed my dog by the face before I could pull him away. The couple said “oh, it’s okay, she loves dogs”.

    Griffie started looking sullen Sunday and I started having problems Monday, I let dog sleep on the bed. Still no fever, so I am hoping it’s just a cold.

    The shutdown was the correct thing to do, but, it will not be effective when bored young people are using the time to drive to distant places socialize. A lot of people under 50 are not taking this seriously because, they don’t have to. We see that here in comments. The problem isn’t left and right, D and R, it’s a sense privilege and entitlement that mimics the lifestyle of characters in the media.

  12. Joan


    You said “Also I find it ironic that France routinely sexual assaults veiled women under the guise of female liberation and that you are OK with that. Look in the mirror.”

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not in France and I don’t condone sexual assault.

    You said “Also niqabis have far lower infection rates than non-niqabis and when they do get sick it is a less severe illness. This is a trend coming out of muslim countries with high face veiling rates vs those that don’t have high rates or outright ban it.”

    Is this niqabi versus non-niqabi that isn’t wearing a medical mask? Then that certainly makes sense.

    You said “Frances irrational hatred of veiling, which harms no one, contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in its country.”

    Again, I am arguing for people to wear masks, so I’m not sure what the problem is.

    I personally am for a niqabi and burqa ban where I live, and I acknowledge that as a personal opinion. I’m not asking you to agree with me. There also isn’t a mask shortage here. If there were, I think it would be wise for people to cover their mouths and noses with scarves and tshirts or anything else they had on hand, but that is not currently necessary.

  13. metamars


    I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties. Aside from various other, often alternative, treatments I’ve mentioned, I think you should also look at hydrogen water. A quick google shows it helpful against sepsis in at least one study: “Preadministration of hydrogen-rich water protects against sepsis”. I bought hydrogen water from when it was something like $3 per 8oz can. He no longer sells that, but instead sells pills that you dissolve in water, and drink down immediately, before the molecular hydrogen dissipates. This is a much cheaper solution. It looks like 1/9 the former price of 2x$3/day, for about a whopping 67 cents per day. Some people hate Mercola, but I think he’s been true to his often avowed purpose of promoting AFFORDABLE health-promoting practices and substances.

    Of course, I was in no way suggesting the children and animals cannot transmit the virus. I was, rather, suggesting that it may be possible that animals, and humans, can transmit beneficial immune system related factors. There will obviously be a “tug of war” situation between these two factors, and so, if my theory has any merit, desirable behavior is to enhance transmission of immune stimulating factors from people and animals who have been infected, and recovered. And to avoid humans and animals who have not reached this stage – especially those who have active infections, and are shedding large amounts of the virus.

    The plasma infusions from recovered patients have received a lot of press. They are a good thing; but plasma infusions from people who nave not developed any significant immune response to the virus, but have the virus present, would be a bad thing.

    Like earthing, which allows electrons from the earth to flow through biofilms in one’s body, the hydrogen atoms are also said to easily pass through biofilms. (If you have pockets of infection you can’t seem to get rid of, they may well be shielded from your immune system by biofilms. Such is my layman’s understanding, anyway.)

  14. Tom


    If a veil triggers you, the problem is not the veil but yourself.

    Many illnesses would virtually be eliminated if everyone covered their faces in public. In fact the high mask wearing in countries has virtually eliminated the flu in those areas.

    Now a Niqab depending on material and thickness can be 50% to 80% effective. Women wearing them are not spreading respiratory droplets and respiratory droplets spread by others have a much more difficult time getting to them, especially if they are wearing glasses or a second/third layer. As a full Niqab is worn over clothes and hair and usually with gloves, it substantially decreases chances of infection via secondary modes. It also prevents sunburn and skin cancer by blocking UV and Infrared rays.

    From a public health standpoint, a Niqab is a powerful disease prevention tool and should not be banned.

    From a human rights perspective, a woman has a right to dress as they please barring an occupation that requires certain clothing to be worn to perform a job task.

  15. Hugh

    For Tom the good old days are 600 AD. The trappings of the second class status of women are recast. He would have us believe that any limitation on them is the real oppression of women, –not treating them as baby making cattle.

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