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Thu 2020-03-26 01:31

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Seasonal influenza ("the flu") in the United States

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Season U.S. Population Cases (% pop.)* Deaths (% cases)*
2010 - 2011 309,320,000 21,000,000 (6.8%) 37,000 (0.18%)
2011 - 2012 311,560,000 9,300,000 (3.0%) 12,000 (0.13%)
2012 - 2013 313,830,000 34,000,000 (10.8%) 43,000 (0.13%)
2013 - 2014 315,990,000 30,000,000 (9.5%) 38,000 (0.13%)
2014 - 2015 318,300,000 30,000,000 (9.4%) 51,000 (0.17%)
2015 - 2016 320,640,000 24,000,000 (7.5%) 23,000 (0.1%)
2016 - 2017 322,940,000 29,000,000 (9.0%) 38,000 (0.13%)
2017 - 2018 324,990,000 45,000,000 (13.8%) 61,000 (0.14%)
2018 - 2019 326,690,000 35,521,883 (10.9%) 34,157 (0.1%)

* Estimated, because apparently we aren't bothered enough by these numbers to track them with certainty.

COVID-19 in the United States

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Season U.S. Population Cases (% pop.)* Deaths (% cases)*
2019 - 2020 329,340,000 54,453 (0.02%) 737 (1.4%)**

* Confirmed and presumptive cases reported as of 2020-03-25.

** Only about 95,000 individuals in the U.S. have been tested for SARS CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). In addition, there has been no widespread testing for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in healthy individuals (which would indicate that the person previously had the virus, may or may not have been symptomatic, and later recovered). We don't even have a widely available antibody test, yet. So note that while this mortality rate looks much higher than seasonal flu, it may also be disproportionately high because we don't have accurate case numbers yet. Basically, we probably won't really know just how deadly COVID-19 is/was until after the pandemic runs its course.

I don't put these numbers up to downplay or diminish the seriousness of COVID-19, but rather to try to apply some reasoned perspective to what has become a highly sensationalized disease. One to which (in my opinion) people are assigning a disproportionate level of concern, and a vastly disproportionate response in measures to control it.

During the 2017-2018 flu season almost 14% of Americans caught the disease and 61,000 people in the U.S. died from it. I'm getting older and my memory may not be the best, but I don't recall a nationwide economic shutdown in 2017 or 2018. I don't remember everyone being told to stay home for two weeks, or the federal government spending $2 trillion dollars in stimulus to stave off a recession or depression. I don't recall runs on the grocery store or widespread shortages of toilet paper.

And importantly, I don't remember a 24-hour-a-day media blitz about what was (clearly, objectively) a deadly influenza epidemic. We didn't have a "national conversation" about the disease. In fact, it seems like most peoples' attitudes remain unchanged about influenza - that it's just a common, routine disease. You get sick for a week, feel like crap, and get better. No big deal. If your office is giving them out for free, you get a flu shot (maybe).

Why didn't I have 100 articles a day in my RSS feeds talking about an epidemic that infected 45 million Americans and killed 61,000, and yet today my feeds are flooded with stories about a virus that has (thus far) infected 54,000 Americans and killed 737? It just seems to me like something is really off base here.

Wed 2020-03-25 17:23

My wife got up at 5am this morning to get to the grocery store when they first opened. She came home with a six-pack of toilet paper, and I felt like Grandpa Joe. Ridiculous.

Fri 2020-03-20 06:02

Today was the first day my wife started working from home. I've been doing that for the majority of the last decade, including while we were living on the road in 2017-2018. So I kind of figured it wouldn't be that big of a deal. However, this is the first time we've both been actively working from home at the same time and in such a small living space (700 square feet). And this whole thing came about on a much abbreviated timeline that didn't give us a lot of time to prepare.

Laptop orders from all the major vendors are backlogged as companies everywhere are sending their employees home in droves to work remote. So I had to reach into my personal stock for a spare ThinkPad, image it with Windows 10 (yes, I died a little inside), and I offered it up to my wife's company to install their stuff to allow her to work remote.

Both of our "offices" are in our bedroom, and we knew that wasn't going to work for conf calls, etc. So after a quick run to IKEA for a cheap table (and some shuffling around of existing furniture), we moved my wife's desktop computer setup into the living room of the apartment. It makes living space a little tighter but it's not terrible.

Amazon is running behind on shipping orders, and we're still waiting for a small KVM to arrive so she can switch her peripherals between her personal desktop and her new work laptop. This morning I was scrambling around moving cables so she could get logged on. I ordered her a SIP phone but it won't be here until late next week. In the meantime, she's forwarding calls to her cell and blowing up my normally modest mobile bill for next month (no, we don't pay for an "unlimited" plan. Hint: for most people, it's a waste of money).

Since I don't allow foreign-controlled computers or devices onto my private network, I had to extend our DMZ from my office into the other room today, as well. Which required an impromptu WiFi buildout in between (my own) conference calls. Good thing I had that spare access point in the closet. Super fun day today, let me tell you.

Hopefully, tomorrow will go smoother and by next week we should have all the wrinkles ironed out of this new working dynamic.

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