The New Normal – Part one of a series discussing of how the world will be after COVID-19

The New Normal

Within the last few weeks, people have started talking about ‘The New Normal’; basically, how the world will have permanently changed due to effects from the recent virus outbreak of COVID-19.

Some of these changes are due to the nature of COVID-19 itself, and others are the secondary effects caused by these changes.

1: Social Distancing – New measures, and recommendations, have been put into place for people to maintain a distance of at least 6 ft from other people, or at least people that they do not live with. The thinking and idea is that being more than 6 ft from other people makes it hard for COVID-19 to spread. Some places are experimenting with various kinds of Plexiglas dividers to keep people semi isolated from each other. I have seen examples for use in restaurants, beaches and parks. All of them seem interesting but I do not think any of them really will work well enough for people to want to put these into enough use to keep business at the pre outbreak levels.

2: Wearing of masks and goggles and other personal protective equipment (PPE) – New recommendations for everyone to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) of masks, goggles and even gloves when out in public. While wearing PPE out can’t hurt, unless worn incorrectly, there are problems with this approach. I have seen people wearing PPE when they were out by themselves and even driving alone in a car. These are two examples of PPE doing nothing since there was no one around the person for COVID-19 to spread to or from and the person was simply wasting a mask. Currently there is a shortage of masks so bad that many medical facilities are reusing masks, which is something that would have never been done pre COVID-19 outbreak. My best estimate of world wide mask production is about 110 million masks per day; but since there are about 8 billion people on the planet, that would mean that on average each person could have a new mask every two or three months or so.

I am particularly alarmed at medical facilities have to reuse masks instead of the standard practice of using a new mask every time a new patient was seen. It seems that a more defined standard of use of masks should be published to the public with:

A: Supply enough masks to medical facilities so that a new mask can used each time a new person is in contact.

B: Masks for people that are in contact with elderly or people with health conditions; like nursing homes or senior centers

C: Anyone else that is in close contact with people and can’t maintain a distance of 6ft.

I have also noticed that many people are wearing masks as though they think the mask will protect them from COVID-19. This is not how mask wearing really works. When you wear a mask, you are mainly making it so you do not spread germs from yourself. The mask acts as a barrier to stop particles that the virus can ‘ride’ on from spreading to other people. In the same manner, when you come across other people that are wearing a mask, protection from the spread of COVID-19 is provided by the mask the OTHER person is wearing. I have noted that some people are wearing the masks when they are outside even though they are not near anyone and will not be near anyone. Wearing a mask in that situation is simply a waste of a mask.

The best studies that I have come across indicate that mask wearing is, at best, 90% effective, so it is not 100% and a better choice would be to maintain distance.

3: There will probably be a second and even a third wave of COVID-19. If the Spanish Flu of 1918 is any guide, there will probably be a second wave and even a third wave of COVID-19 outbreaks. I expect COVID-19 progression to follow the same course as that outbreak. Assuming this is correct, we can expect the first wave to end in June or July and almost seem like the whole thing with COVID-19 is over. Then in late fall or early winter 2020 the second wave will start and it will be worse than the first wave. After several weeks that wave will be over and then a third wave will be in late spring 2021. The third wave will be worse than the first wave but not as bad as the second wave.

From looking at a charge of deaths per 1,000 for the Spanish Flu of 1918, it looks like the first wave peaked at 5 deaths per 1,000, the second wave peaked at 20 deaths per 1,000 and the third wave peaked at 10 deaths per 1,000. My impression of what I have seen of COVID-19 so far seems to be a peak number of deaths in the first wave of 1 per 1,000. Based on that it looks like COVID-19 is about 20% of what the Spanish Flu of 1918 was which would mean a second wave of COVID-19 we can expect 4 deaths per 1,000 and the third wave of COVID-19 2 deaths per 1,000.

4: There is a question if a vaccine will be developed in time to matter. – From looking back at the Spanish Flu of 1918, it looks like there was never a vaccine developed. The most recent discussions about a vaccine for COVID-19 is 12 to 18 months, and some estimates put that it will not be until the end of 2021 that a vaccine will be developed. While useful, if it works, by that time COVID-19 will probably have already spread through the entire population making a vaccine not needed anymore. There are also discussions that COVID-19 may undergo various mutations over time and make it something like a seasonal illness, like colds or flus are today, and something that can’t really be vaccinated against because it keeps changing too much. hopefully this is wrong but if it turns out that is what happens then it will be a difficult time for the elderly or anyone with any kind of medical problems.

5: Multiple secondary effects on the economy. With the massive disruptions to many lines of business there are many industries that will need to completely redo how they conduct business and restructure how they are financed. Many loans are probably going to go bad in these businesses. Foreclosures and repossessions may not work as well in the past to cure default debts since what good is to foreclose on a building if there is no market to resell the building and no one to rent it out to. Many lenders are probably going to be forced to renegotiate the amounts of the loans they extended in an effort to keep businesses going so they can recover at least some part of the debt. While not ideal, I can not see any other way for things to move forward. At the moment there are a number of lenders that seem to be acting and pretending that things are going to go back to ‘normal’ within a few months, but I think they will be shocked when it is clear that in ‘The New Normal’ things have changed and are not going back to the way things were.

One example are comic book stores. Comic book stores, at best, get by in good times in recent years but with COVID-19 they had had no new shipments since mid March. Some stores are doing curb side pick up and at least are getting some sales, but I fear that many stores will not be able to recover from being closed for a number of weeks plus having large numbers of their customers on unemployment. I have been surprised to hear of the efforts that a number of customers have made to do what they can to keep their local comic book store going and hopefully these efforts will help them to make it through all of this. So far it seems that the only stores to close during these COVID-19 lockdowns were ones that were already scheduled to close in March, April or May 2020 and the lockdowns just caused them to move the final date up by several weeks. Diamond Comic Distributing is supposed to ship a weekly order this week so starting on Wed, May 20 there will be new comics in the stores for the first time since mid March and hopefully that will keep the stores going.

I will write move about the economic and social changes in my next part talking about ‘The New Normal’.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr. – LouisDesyjr@gmail.com

Sunday, May 17, 2020

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UPDATE ON Projections On the Number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases Within the United States – Part 5 of a Series

First, some good news. The total number of deaths is LOWER than my projections from March 2020 of a doubling of cases every three days. So it looks like those projections were too high. Now, the bad news, is that with about 40K deaths in the USA, at the moment, the actual amounts are still running higher than my earlier projections with a doubling a cases every four days. (That set of projections had number of deaths at 33K for 04/20/2020 so with about 40K in deaths as of 04/19 we are way above my earlier projection.) Hopefully the trend will continue to, at least, slow down, and eventually start to drop below those projections, and then things will look like it is improving.

In any case, I am expecting that any wide scale reopening of business and work to not happen until June 2020/July 2020; and even then will still have some parts that will take a long time to recover.

Any one that can work remote may find themselves in that role for a number of months, since anyone that can be kept off site lessens the number of people in contact or risk of COVID-19 spreading to; and it also helps people that have to be on site to do work since there will be fewer people in a facility to risk being infected or spreading an infection from.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr.

Sunday, April 19, 2020 6pm

LouisDesyjr@gmail.com

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UPDATE ON Projections On the Number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases Within the United States – Part 4 of a Series

Looking at the official numbers being reported, it looks like today or yesterday, for the first time, the official numbers are finally starting to come in at below what I had projected around March 15, 2020. From my last set of projections I had 04/08/ 2020 at 830K cases with 16,609 deaths. For 04/11/2020 I projected 1.6 million cases and 33K deaths. According to the official reported numbers at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/ for April 10, 2020 GMT, the United States is at 486K cases and 16,697 deaths, so it looks like things are starting to ‘slow down’ as far as the rate of increase for the outbreak, which is good, or at least better then my March 15 projection. Hopefully over the next few weeks the rate of increase will slow and then the number of cases will start to ‘drop off’. In some countries there are signs that maybe the end of the outbreak is starting; like South Korea.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr.

April 09, 2020

LouisDesyjr@gmail.com

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UPDATE ON Projections On the Number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases Within the United States – Part 3 of a Series

I made an update from my initial projects since we have ‘blown way past’ the original projection. Specifically I updated the March 15, 2020 cases with the number of reported in the US, and changed to doubling of cases from every 7 days to every three days. I also added a column to show the number of open hospital beds in the US, which is estimated at 25% of the total number hospital beds in the USA. At the moment it looks like around April 20, 2020 all available hospital beds will be full.

Here are the results:

DAY CASES HOSPITAL (15%) PASS AWAY (2%) USA HOSPITAL Beds
3/15/2020 3,244 487 65 924,000
3/19/2020 6,488 973 130 924,000
3/23/2020 12,976 1,946 260 924,000
3/27/2020 25,952 3,893 519 924,000
3/31/2020 51,904 7,786 1,038 924,000
4/4/2020 103,808 15,571 2,076 924,000
4/8/2020 207,616 31,142 4,152 924,000
4/12/2020 415,232 62,285 8,305 924,000
4/16/2020 830,464 124,570 16,609 924,000
4/20/2020 1,660,928 249,139 33,219 924,000
4/24/2020 3,321,856 498,278 66,437 924,000
4/28/2020 6,643,712 996,557 132,874 924,000
5/2/2020 13,287,424 1,993,114 265,748 924,000
5/6/2020 26,574,848 3,986,227 531,497 924,000
5/10/2020 53,149,696 7,972,454 1,062,994 924,000
5/14/2020 106,299,392 15,944,909 2,125,988 924,000

 Eventually, this virus thing will pass and everyone will be ok.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr. – Monday, March 16, 2020 07:45am EDT

LouisDesyjr@gmail.com

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Projections On the Number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases Within the United States – Part 2 of a Series

As everyone knows, the coronavirus outbreak started in the Wuhan, China area late 2019 and resulted in a regional lockdown on January 23, 2020; just before the Chinese New Year. Since then the virus has spread to a number of other countries and other areas have been put on lock down. There are questions as to how serious people can expect this to be, how many cases there are presently, and how many cases can be expected in the future. Many of these variables are unknown since there are limited test kits for the virus, plus the test kits that are available require multiple tests because there are ‘false positives’; meaning someone can have the virus but test negative. It is only after multiple tests coming out negative or a 14 day quarantine that one can be sure they do not have the virus. (Note: there are some reports that people may need a quarantine of as long as 27 days because not all people with the virus show any symptoms.)

Some of my best estimates (or least worse) show COVID-19 doubles the number of cases every 7 days, 15% of the cases need hospital care and 2% of the cases pass away.

Assuming that there were only 35 cases in the United States on March 1, 2020, then a doubling of cases would result in:

WK # WEEK CASES HOSPITAL (15%) PASS AWAY (2%)
1 3/1/2020 35 5 1
2 3/8/2020 70 11 1
3 3/15/2020 140 21 3
4 3/22/2020 280 42 6
5 3/29/2020 560 84 11
6 4/5/2020 1,120 168 22
7 4/12/2020 2,240 336 45
8 4/19/2020 4,480 672 90
9 4/26/2020 8,960 1,344 179
10 5/3/2020 17,920 2,688 358
11 5/10/2020 35,840 5,376 717
12 5/17/2020 71,680 10,752 1,434
13 5/24/2020 143,360 21,504 2,867
14 5/31/2020 286,720 43,008 5,734
15 6/7/2020 573,440 86,016 11,469
16 6/14/2020 1,146,880 172,032 22,938
17 6/21/2020 2,293,760 344,064 45,875
18 6/28/2020 4,587,520 688,128 91,750
19 7/5/2020 9,175,040 1,376,256 183,501
20 7/12/2020 18,350,080 2,752,512 367,002
21 7/19/2020 36,700,160 5,505,024 734,003
22 7/26/2020 73,400,320 11,010,048 1,468,006
23 8/2/2020 146,800,640 22,020,096 2,936,013
24 8/9/2020 293,601,280 44,040,192 5,872,026
25 8/16/2020 587,202,560 88,080,384 11,744,051

 Hopefully, something happens to stop this from happening or my estimates are ‘way off’ due to lack of proper estimates BUT if this is correct, then the ‘big problem’ will happen around July 4, 2020. At that point the number of cases will exceed the number of hospital beds in the United States (estimated 924,000) so anyone needing any medical care would have problems getting it. For other countries that do not have a medical system as good as the United States the effect will be worse and reach a crisis point before then.

Originally I had hope for a ‘world wide’ lockdown weeks ago, in order to make sure the virus did not spread and anyone with it could be isolated and treated. Now it looks like there may be many unknown cases in the United States and everyone is going to end up with the virus at some point. One small hope I still have is that my numbers are completely wrong or the virus undergoes a mutation that renders it harmless, but so far there is not indication of either.

One problem with projecting the number of cases or rate of fatalities is that almost all of the numbers or samples have many unknowns. No one can tell how many cases there are because of limited test kits, the test kits give false negatives so multiple tests need to be done, testing only seems to be being done in South Korea at the moment mostly due to there being a limited number of test kits.

One thing that would help is if everyone and companies all stockpile at least a two week supply of what would be needed for a lock down. For people it would be good if such a supply could be built up to two months of being able to live at home without having to go shopping. I expect no matter what happens utilities could continue to work since even the worst effected places, like Wuhan, have had no interruption of utilities. companies should build up a stock of three to six months of parts and supplies in cases there are disruption to their supply chain or vendors. In any case, the worst that happens is that people have extra food they can eat over time and companies have extra parts they can use over the course of the next year; at best these extra supplies would allow people and companies to be ok if there are lockdowns. Having people and companies ‘stock up’ now would also allow the supply chains to ramp up and fill this demand before there are any lock downs, if any are ever needed. Having a pile of supplies on hand ensures that if there are lock downs, people and companies would view such an event as ‘no big deal’ since they already have a stockpile for their needs. NOT having any kind of stockpile ensures that people and companies would start to panic as they wonder what are they going to do. For anyone that is making a stockpile or considering one, I would suggest and recommend, if you can afford it, to add a little extra to it for things that other people may need. My thinking is that way if there are problems, you would have ‘a little extra’ that you could hand out to people around you and help them out a little and also make sure there is no panic with anyone. as an example, I myself have put some baby food in my stockpile, even though I have no need of it myself. I only got about a weeks worth for a baby, but my thinking is that if there was a problem, and I ran into someone that was all out, I could give them a few jars to get them through a few days until we could find something else for said baby.

I did notice that many things people recommend for stockpiles are things that I almost never use or can’t even think why do I need this. As some examples:

White Vinegar – Except for Easter Egg coloring, I never use this but this seems to be on all of the lists for recommended supplies. It is only $1.50 for a small bottle so I got one but expect sometime next year it will go to a food bank.

Matches and Lighter – unless the electricity goes out I can’t see these being used.

Canned Fruit – I almost never eat this so I will have to watch this and rotate it starting next year with new stuff.

In general, I found my diet to be somewhat ‘bland’ and the same things all the time with most requiring cooking or refrigeration; which make them not good foods for a stockpile since ideally we want things that do not need cooking and will last without refrigeration.

Eventually, this virus thing will pass and everyone will be ok.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr. – Monday, March 09, 2020 10:45pm EDT

LouisDesyjr@gmail.com

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Thoughts and Reflections on – Estimating the Number of Cases – Part 1 of a series

Admittedly, there are multiple problems with all of the numbers being reported.

1: The China cases appear in the early stages to have been underreported, partly at first because no one knew what they were seeing, pre Dec 31, 2019. Then the eight doctors in Wuhan (I call them the Wuhan 8) put out a post on social media there was a problem. One of those 8 died a few weeks after the lock downs started in Wuhan (Jan 23, 2020 or so). Since then there have been all kinds of indication that things are really bad in China. In recent weeks, there have been multiple indications that things are still a problem such as:

CHINA AREA:

A: Economic indicators still show output like the Chinese New Year’s Holiday is still going on but the party is telling everyone that production has returned to normal.

B: Various videos showing body bags every few doors on main streets.

C: Villages blocking roads so no one can enter them. (The family I live with had the grandparents talking about traveling to Fuzhou to attend a funeral but can’t go because the area closed itself off a few days later.

D: Tencent, a Chinese media company, accidently posted on the internet the number of cases being around 157K with a little over 25,000 deaths. The post was only up for a few minutes before it was changed. The thinking is that someone accidently posted the real numbers, thinking those numbers were the party approved numbers.

E: Someone noted that for several days the number of reported deaths was almost exactly 2.1%, like plus or minus one from what 2.1% of the total number of cases would be. The thinking is that someone was being ordered as to what to report for number of cases and told to make the reported deaths as 2.1%.

F: Satellite photos seems to show large amounts of organic material in Wuhan center, even though all factories have been closed for weeks. It is believed this is from crematoriums running around the clock to dispose of the dead.

G: A report that out of the 15 crematoriums in Wuhan that three broke down from ‘overuse’. It is the first time I ever heard of any crematorium breaking from too much use.

OUTSIDE CHINA AREA:

1: Until recently the United States only had a limited number of test kits. The CDC released a set of testing procedures, which I downloaded and read, but basically unless a person traveled to the infected area or had known contact with someone in the infected area, they did not test. COVID-19 is contagious even though a person may not show any symptoms for a few days. The R0 ( R naught, how many people will an infected person pass the illness to) appears to be somewhere between 2.4 and 4. As a comparison, the typical flu has a R0 of 1.2; every five people with the flu will pass it is 6 people.

2: A few of the people that have tested positive for COVID-19 had no known contact with someone who traveled to an infected area or themselves had traveled to an infected area. This also has happened in Germany. Basically, we are now getting to the point where some people who get COVID-19 we do not have any idea who they got it from, so we can’t test people to find out.

3: There are problems with the test kits. There was an earlier batch that didn’t work but that was fixed this week, but the current tests for COVID-19 still have a problem that a lot of the time they will return a ‘false negative’; meaning a person who is infected may test negative for the virus. To get around this problem a person that has or may have the virus has to be tested multiple times to make sure they are not infected.

4: Even if the reported numbers and deaths out of the China area are accurate, which indications are they are not,  there is still a disaster in a number of weeks. even starting from a low number, the results increase dramatically. Originally, most of the reports seemed to think the number of cases would double every 6 or 7 days. more recent reports seem to indicate that the number of cases may be doubling in 2.4 days.

For the estimate I did last week for the United States I used the reported number of 35 cases and a doubling every seven days, with 15% expected needing hospitalization. Using those assumptions I came up with that around week 25 all of the hospital beds in the US would be filled with COVID-19 patients.

The measure if I am right or not is to see if the number of cases double every seven days; so today we have 84 cases.

If my estimates are right, then next week at this time the number of cases should be over 160, then 320, 640, etc.

If the rate of increase in the number of cases starts to ‘flatten out’; i.e. no more doubling, then I am wrong and would need to redo my estimates.

At the moment, with no reliable test kit, no treatment, no vaccine and not even being able to tell who has been exposed to the virus, I expect the doubling of cases to go on.

It is also troubling that places like Africa have reported just about no cases, even though Wuhan had direct flights every day carrying about 1,500 people to Ethiopia. The fear is that with all of the cases elsewhere, there must be a number of cases in Africa and are spreading to other areas, but no one knows because they have no test kits.

Hopefully, something will change and things will not turn out as bad as the projections show they might.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr. – March 01, 2020

Louisdesyjr@gmail.com

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