We Are In A Liminal Space In The COVID-19 Outbreak

Jim here.

This will be a short post, mostly to give us a new conversation thread.

But there are a few things that show us that reality is setting in in our society, if not necessarily in the White House. Virtually all professional and college sports are now shut down. Most universities are online only now. Many public schools have closed. More and more businesses are allowing employees to work from home.

We are now in a liminal space. Our church introduced me to that term while we are searching to replace a minister who recently retired. A liminal space is that time between what was and what will be. Thanks to COVID-19, normal is what was. It is gone and will be gone for quite some time.

Sadly, the beneficial effects of the social distancing that is finally coming into being will be delayed. Before we get to the benefits, we will experience the whirlwind that has been unleashed by months of denying the virus. This is just my estimate, but from all the published comparisons between the US outbreak and Italy’s, we are just a few days, probably less than a week, away from hospitals in the hot zones being over capacity and having to resort to excruciating levels of triage, literally choosing who lives and who dies.

Also, Republicans are being dragged kicking and screaming into the realization that our healthcare system and our gig economy mean that huge swathes of our population, without government intervention, face bankruptcy and death with no chance of treatment.

Each of us will have to choose how we live in this liminal space. For those who are able to go along with social distancing, we will need to learn to eat all our meals at home. We will need to find ways to occupy our time if we aren’t working and the usual sports entertainment is unavailable. But it is vital that we realize that despite being physically separated, we must embrace our shared humanity and the shared experience of facing the unknown together.

Maybe there’s someone who lives close to you who is even higher risk than you are. Perhaps you can give them a call and ask if they’d like you to leave a meal at their door. Maybe you have acquaintances whose employment has disappeared today. Maybe you can slip them a few bucks if you can afford it. Maybe they’d also like a meal at their door.

Even more frightening, is the “what will be” for folks who must continue working. Somehow, grocery stores will have to stay open. Police and fire services have to continue, along with EMS, of course. Healthcare workers are soon to be completely overwhelmed and most likely sequestered for the duration of the outbreak in areas where hospitals near capacity. If you know families of those workers, maybe they could use a hand with errands or meals. They will be terrified about their loved ones staying healthy while on the front lines of this battle. Support those families any way you can.

In the meantime, many thanks to all in this wonderful emptywheel community who have been chiming in with timely updates and analysis. Please keep it coming. So many people are getting so much help from you. But also, let’s have some fun too, to ease the tension. Share a joke. Share ideas for entertainment streaming for those sequestered. Above all, know that we are all in this together and our best bet for getting through it is to work together (just don’t cough on me or touch me).

216 replies
    • e.a.f. says:

      No but I just finished watching Stephen Corbett without an audience. Some of the staff were the “audience”, spaced around the theatre. Still was funny. Still watched it and will again tomorrow.

  1. CapeCodFisher says:

    DARPA working on a Coronavirus Shield. DARPA!

    Wonder if that’s where public health legend Admiral Tim Zeimer was reassigned?

  2. Kelly Canfield says:

    A quick aside on etymology

    A “limen” is a “threshold” in latin.

    The dative case (usually meaning/standing in for indirect object in English) for limen is “limine” found in the legal term of art, “motion in limine” which truly at it’s root means a motion before the trier at the moments before the trial begins

    Related to thresholds is the god of doorways for Romans of course is Janus = January. He has two faces – one looking into the future, one the past

    That is the ancient meaning of a liminal moment, in my opnion; we cross a threshold, from past to future – what shall it be?

    • Jim White says:

      Oooh. Good stuff, Kelly. Thanks for crossing our threshold tonight. Looking forward to that time some day when we can raise a glass together. Might even let bmaz join us if he stops calling me a geezer.

    • orionATL says:

      nobody, but nobody use the term “dative”. delighted to see it here. the dative case has application in living languages as well as latin so i am told, but i know it from latin which i remember fondly.

      etymology and grammar in one comment, that’s pretty unique. thanks.

      • norman folsom says:

        We actually use the dative case all the time. It’s the direct object case. (Maybe you meant “nobody uses the TERM” anymore, and you would be right.)

        It’s just that English is not an inflected language to the extent that German, Latin, and Greek are (for example). We do spell plurals differently, and we do conjugate verbs, and our pronouns get inflected (depending on their case). I seem to recall that some languages “inflect” even less than we do.

        But don’t fret the dative. (I just gave YOU and example!)

    • Max404 says:

      I love the dative case. If I remember my lessons, the term dative comes from the verb “dare”, to give, to offer, to dedicate, or to devote ( do, dare, dedi, datum ). The dative case describes the act of giving. Mostly you need a person or other living being as the object of the giving.
      What this post describes, the world on the other side of the threshold, is a world of giving.
      I recently moved to Germany. The German language has a dative case that is fundamental and you must learn it and learn how to use it. It is a struggle. But friendly people give lots of help as I build my sentences. My teacher dedicated herself to me learning. I offer my knowledge to other recent arrivals. If we are devoted to each other …

      • Beth from Santa Monica says:

        Der Dativ ist dem Genetiv sein Tod is a cri de coeur to the bastardization of German grammar by killing off the genitive case with overuse of dative. I highly recommend you pick up a copy at one of the many bookstores you’ll find in most German towns. Bastian Sick’s approach is a fun way to understand German grammar, sort’a like our personal fave the comma queen here.
        More seriously, thank you for the gentle reminder to us all to look out for one another. I packed up my office this afternoon after returning from court as we’ve all been asked to work from home for the duration. I’m not sure how this is going to play out but being home during the day will allow me to more easily check on our elderly neighbors.
        Stay safe out there one and all and remember to speak truth, always.

    • norman folsom says:

      Good point. And art critics love the word “liminal”; it’s both colorful and useful, like “subliminal.”

      For the record however, it’s actually the ablative case being used with “in limine”; the two cases are easily confused. Although datives (which serve as the indirect object case) and ablatives are not spelled the same in the singular —depends on the declension— they are always spelled the same in the plural.

      Prepositional objects as in your instance most generally take the ablative and in fact do so with the Latin preposition “in” which translates as “on” (I suppose, in this instance, it’s as if the motion is being made while you’re literally “on the threshold” of the courtroom?), although when paired with the accusative case, the preposition “in” translates as “into.”

      Amo, amas, amat !

  3. Pete T says:

    Hopefully Trump is in a liminal space too. That’s as “funny” as I can get now, but I’ll work on it.

    Unfortunately as important as it is to remove him methinks he is now number 2 on the national priority list. And COVID-19 is a very large issue to deal with – not just a national health emergency, but just pause to think how many working people no longer have a job due to the postponements, cancelations, what have you. No job, no money, no ability to pay deducts on probably crappy health care if any at all. Food? Housing? The list goes on. It is a true domino effect.

  4. Bobster33 says:

    Two fish are swimming in a lake. One of them bumps into a concrete wall and yells, “Dam.”

      • I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

        Teddy Roosevelt was once fishing in a South American lake when his wallet accidentally fell into the lake. Being a person who took the initiative, TR dove into the lake to retrieve his wallet. He was just about to grab his wallet when a large carp came along and snatched the wallet out of TR’s fingers.

        TR was not one to give up. He swam after the carp. He was just about to grab his wallet out of the carp’s mouth when the carp handed off the wallet to a second carp.

        TR still did not give up. He swam after the second carp to retrieve his wallet. He was just about to grab the wallet from the second carp’s mouth when the second carp handed off the wallet to a third carp.

        By this time TR was exhausted. He swam back to shore, sans his wallet. When he came back to the the US, the story of his lost wallet was written up in all the newspapers. Everyone marveled at the first known example of carp-to-carp walletting.

  5. Eureka says:

    The governor today shut down everything in our county for two weeks as an outbreak containment measure, addl. TBA, excepting emergency services and grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. (“Non-essential retail” still being figured out — that was a “recommendation” so far.) Schools, daycares for children and adults, jury trials, entertainment, gyms, long list. We still have freedom of travel but non-essential is discouraged.

    By happenstance, we are in an epicenter and I am carrying a chronic cortisol load that I only notice when it’s hours past dinnertime and I haven’t eaten. I am worried for what’s coming for my health care honey (they already have heavy, evolving, multi-source policy and procedure loads besides actual patients). I hope we can still get stuff delivered here, that it doesn’t come to that soon (whether by policy, or ‘eff it, we are not going there’).

    So your post greeted me amidst some “shit got real” X “fears for the future”, and brought some moistened eyes.

    Chiaroscuro or shades of liminality, where the only models for the future are “not good.” I really hope all of our unforced errors can be ameliorated in enough time.

    • Eureka says:

      It was this part especially:

      They will be terrified about their loved ones staying healthy while on the front lines of this battle.

    • Jim White says:

      So daycares are closed there? I’m worried about that happening here. My daughter is a pharmacy tech, so she will undoubtedly be needed to work as long as she’s healthy. If they close the daycares here (presumably when public schools close, hasn’t happened here yet), I fear I’ll have to have Rayne’s uncomfortable discussion saying that, as much as I love the grandbabies, it’s too risky for me to keep them while she works. Her husband has been getting fewer and fewer hours as a mechanic lately, so I will suggest he just quit working and take care of the babies until the all clear hits.

      • Eureka says:

        Well, “child care centers licensed by the Commonwealth”, yes. I know all these vary by state — forget if it’s often ~ three or more kids and it has to be licensed — so options are either informal sitters or I guess out-of-county (but again, I’d bet that neighboring counties might start saying ‘too bad’ to folks from mitigation counties).

        And people have a day to figure this out– all goes into effect tomorrow.

        Good thing your grands have their dad available as an option.

        So much stuff to think about, which is mostly why I shared this sudden news we got today. Even though we’ve been told to plan and plan and plan, there’s only so much that gets figured out at once.

        • Eureka says:

          [Adult day care flat-out closed, phrased slightly differently I presume because all are licensed:

          “Adult day care centers will be closed.” ]

            • Eureka says:

              Yeah it’s a big shock — readers beware. [I am not ready. Will feel better when I get meals frozen away, etc.]

              And apropos of what’s possibly going to explode around here shortly (from general numbers under quarantine, including batches of cops and EMS workers) — *and* the fact that I’d said I trusted my state — I have to retract the state part because they have been caught shirking the broader testing guidelines, while saying they are not over capacity to have done/ do more tests. WTF. So while I am glad the governor appears to be being proactive, and hope all of this will have great results, I am pissed that it’s becoming ever more clear that dept. of health has been dilly dallying — to what extent, we’ll soon find out.

      • Eureka says:

        Thank you harpie and Jim, and I have hugs for all of you and everyone else silently (or otherwise) dealing with this. Which is the whole lot of humanity at this point.

        [I’m just having a moment of stress, and went with the sociality relief valve, to not feel isolated in it.]

        • bmaz says:

          You are more than good. Add me to Harpie and Jim. Sure it is via electrons, but this is a community, and one that cares. Never hesitate to talk to all of us.

          • Eureka says:

            Thanks, bmaz, your words mean a lot. Locally it is just us, long story short we take care of family in another state, have to keep strong, (or at least not panic others) etc. I am glad you’re all here.

    • Eureka says:

      Filed under ‘general warnings’ to others to look out for/presage in their areas, there are rapidly cascading effects tonight from my county’s mass closures. For example, they just announced 63 more neighboring county schools will have to close because of staffing shortages due to our closures (integrated metropolitan area, sounds like the daycare closures are the big deal here).

      • Eureka says:

        Turns out the 70+++… neighboring schools closing is because residents of our county are mandated to work from home, and that is causing the staffing issues — not the daycare closures. But between this and daycare closures, I imagine lots of other neighboring business disruption.

        They should have done what Michigan did tonight and just close all the schools already, bet they will tomorrow, at _least_ for metro area. I’m troubled, though, because I don’t recall where the plans left off to feed the kids. Will have to follow up tomorrow.

        If the Wawas close, we’re fucked. Not really joking. (It’s not just a grocer for many, but community spirit.)

        • Eureka says:

          Cascading, cont.: EDPA no new jury trials for a month:

          Jeremy Roebuck: “Chief Judge Juan R. Sanchez in EDPA announces month-long suspension of new civil and criminal trials citing difficulties finding a full complement of jurors amid coronavirus biz and school closures [document]”

          Throughout the day, one neighboring county after another closed schools, then the gov just decided to close them all statewide.

        • Eureka says:

          Oh, and of course the first thing I did was make sure the kids were still going to be fed. They are. If others are concerned about this, you can verify (ahead of time, if you have it) that your state dept. of ed. has already gotten a waiver like this one (per replies in tweet, GA already applied — surely other states have done so as well), and then check what your local school’s plan is to implement.

          PA Department of Education: “If schools in Pennsylvania close due to #COVID19, meals can continue to be served ⤵️ [screenshot]”

  6. Christopher Thomas Flynn says:

    Trump announces Europe travel ban – hand waving head thumping deflection.
    Prime question – What is Trump’s financial interest. That goes to the motivation of the CDC actions that directly led to the lack of responsive nationwide testing.
    Trump has a financial interest in the CDC created test (there was no need for this CDC created exaggerated test beyond the proven WHO test.)

    Given: The federal agency shunned the World Health Organization test guidelines used by other countries and set out to create a more complicated test of its own that could identify a range of similar viruses. But when it was sent to labs across the country in the first week of February, it didn’t work as expected. The CDC test correctly identified COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. But in all but a handful of state labs, it falsely flagged the presence of the other viruses in harmless samples.

    Given: Aside: per senior Trump admin official to Axios: CDC “engaged with” a third party contractor to do the kits.

    Given: But soon after the tests were shipped in early February, states had trouble validating one of three components in the CDC’s test kits.

    The CDC reviewed the glitch and concluded using two components could accurately detect coronavirus. The CDC began making kits with two components and sharing those kits with states and local public health laboratories.

    Given: In principle, many hospital and academic labs around the country have the capability to carry out tests themselves.

    Given: But at the moment, they were not allowed to do without FDA approval.

    1. Who was the specific individual that championed the go it alone approach?
    2. The name of the company contracted for the faulty reagent and/or the initial faulty test kits?
    3. The FDA person(s) that reinforced the requirement to only use the CDC mash-up kit?
    4. Was the contract to make the initial faulty kits a bid or no-bid contract?
    4. Trump(s) or Trump related financial interest in that company?

    • Peterr says:

      To the extent that Trump has a financial interest in what’s happening around COVID-19, it’s not in the medical side of things.

      He has golf courses in Scotland and England that need visitors.
      He has resorts all over the US that need visitors.
      He has a campaign that needs the financial markets to be happy.

      He also has a strong distaste of anything non-American, like WHO.

      Bottom line: Trump is a real estate guy, not a Wall Street wheeler-dealer. He may be sitting in the Oval Office, but he’s operating like a bad real estate broker. It’s how he rolls.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      The conservative plan & response to any crisis is “How can I exploit this to my financial benefit?” That appears to be what was and is behind the delayed response. Or maybe they’re just stupid. Its the age-old question when you’re asking about republicans/conservatives: “Are they evil or are they just stupid?” Echo answereth not.

    • Frank Probst says:

      When the dust has all settled from this and the documents are available, I want to be able to see the full protocols (including necessary reagents and equipment) that were developed for both the WHO and the CDC tests. My suspicion is that the CDC tried to develop something fancier than the WHO test in order to collect data on coronavirus infections in general, not just the one we’re worried about now, and it led to a “glitchy” test.

      What I don’t understand is why we’re not seeing a MASSIVE ramp-up in the testing that we’re doing now. I’m going to assume that the WHO test only requires fairly simple equipment, so our “new” test could/should be fairly easy to do. I don’t think the issue is that there aren’t enough private clinical labs that have the equipment needed to do the testing. That leaves reagents. I understand that 3rd party vendors may have run out of their “on the shelf” stock fairly quickly and need time to make more reagents. But a lot of these things are used by numerous research laboratories all over the country, and the NIH has a lot of research laboratories. Why not start “borrowing” reagents from them? If the bottle hasn’t been opened yet, it should be fairly easy to do quality testing on it.

      Other parts of the test need to be synthesized by special machinery, but the NIH almost certainly has some of that equipment, and if you need to swoop in and “commandeer” equipment from a 3rd party vendor, I don’t see why you couldn’t/wouldn’t just do that. This really isn’t that hard to do. What exactly is the holdup?

  7. harpie says:

    Community Support from SUDAN to ITALY:
    3:03 PM · Mar 12, 2020

    Holy crap, doubling oxygen access lines with your stethoscope tubing. #innovation #COVID19

    Links to:
    4:24 AM · Mar 12, 2020

    In the news an italian doctor mentioned that there was a lack of oxygen sockets.

    Here’s a little trick our EM residents devised for that issue in Sudan..
    We hope it helps! /
    Praying for you! [VIDEO]

    • greengiant says:

      Outside of Hubei, the China death toll is less than about 120 out of 21,000 cases. There are at least 8 deaths from the Diamond Princess the WHO report is missing at least one. No visible tracking of the rest of the over 600 cases. All the cases found hospital beds and ventilators no? That was not the case in Hubei or Italy.

    • Katherine M Williams says:

      I heard that too, a couple of places, that it is closer to 1% in countries which can properly treat the ill. Which is still pretty high.

    • A.Non says:

      Correction: the article reports that the fatality rate was 1.9% for those with symptoms and 0.91% for those who tested positive.

  8. FLwolverine says:

    Data points:
    – Episcopal church I attend in Michigan announced by email earlier this week that future services would not include communion. Today they announced that the church is basically closed, starting tomorrow for an unspecified period, except for clergy and office and maintenance staff (maybe ten people altogether). Some sort of service will be broadcast on Sunday online.

    – Episcopal church I attend in Florida also notified us today that it is closed at least through Sunday (no online services) but by Sunday evening they hope to announce a plan for going forward.

    – At my volunteer shift this afternoon at the botanical gardens, I heard exactly nothing about coronavirus response. Which I suspect means there will be a sudden announcement of closure within the next ten days.

    Sorry, no jokes, just this brilliant tweet I read a few days ago: “The coronavirus announced today it is going into self-quarantine after being exposed to Ted Cruz.”

    • vvv says:

      I feel so bad about all the picking on Ted Cruz.
      I mean, I just can’t come up with a good one.
      OK: Ted Cruz’s beard is to appear human. (double meaning, see)

  9. P J Evans says:

    I got a robocall from the City of L.A. telling me that I can find information on their site – specifically the mayor’s page.

  10. Ollie says:

    So I got hired by the US Census Bureau yesterday. Not one word on the virus. My position will be going to rural areas. Training starts end of this month. Oregon here.

    • P J Evans says:

      On the bus yesterday, coming home from a medical thing, there was a woman with a packet of training stuff for the Census.

    • BobCon says:

      The Census is another example of Trump paralyzing the agencies. Refusing to acknowledge the effects of the virus and plan for it — extending the data collection period, changing hiring plans, etc. — is grotesque.

      Considering rural communities are areas where the GOP needs numbers, it’s not even something that fits reality on the ground. Maybe somebody is doing some rough guesses that losses in the rural count will be offset by losses in the urban count, but you know even the evil motives aren’t being thought out.

      The federal government has yet to launch any serious teleworking options, meaning many, many thousands still going to the Pentagon and other crowded office buildings. All because none of the agency heads want to cross Trump, even for the sake of their employees.

      • P J Evans says:

        Most people will do the census by mail, or possibly their online site (which I hope has been thoroughly tested: the Census Bureau is generally competent). It’s the people who need to have a live body show up who are problems.

  11. DrFunguy says:

    Only seven cases confirmed here in BC
    CBC reports:
    “Provincial health authorities in B.C. are recommending against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including across the border to the United States, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Anyone who does choose to travel or who is currently abroad and returning in the days ahead should self-isolate for 14 days, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday. She is also calling for the cancellation of gatherings of more than 250 people.”

    • e.a.f. says:

      They announced the Vaisakhi Festival in Surrey, B. C. will not be held this year. Oh, the food, the food, the parade, yikes. this is serious. Its the largest festival outside of India and its wonderful. They can’t hold it because there are about 500K people and all we do is eat, walk and dance.

      The new order from Dr. Bonnie Henry regarding no gathers over 250 people will mean they’ll most likely cancel the Mavericks shows coming to Vancouver and Victoria. At least if I go wash my hands it will take my mind off all this for 30 seconds.

        • Doug Fir says:

          11 new cases identified in BC in past 24 hrs, count is now 64. That’s approx 20% increase in 24 hrs, which is breathtaking.

          Wishing all emptywheelers and their loved ones the best possible health and also good luck!

          • Doug Fir says:

            Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada has self-isolated as his wife has tested positive. He has not gotten tested because he has no symptoms, and our current policy is to test only if there’s been exposure and symptoms. Personally I find him kinda smarmy, but he’s sure walkin’ the walk and his government’s overall response seems pretty darned good. Yesterday they announced $1.1b Cdn package to fight Covid 19 medical, social and economic effects. (Sorry, can’t help bragging a bit…)

  12. Worried says:

    Maybe said elsewhere…….
    Whatever focus we have should be to have a policy to limit the number of patients to the amount of beds that are available in ICU and the number of available ventilators.
    If we allow people to make a decision, they may or may not make the right decision, but they have no clue to the capacities of our health care system.
    Our elected officials are the authority to determine what we should do to keep us from overwhelming the USA health care capabilities.
    As an aside, we, the most prosperous nation on Earth, should be ashamed of our lack of capability to test people and provide guidance on how to keep from breaching our medical resources.

    • P J Evans says:

      Most elected officials have no clue what the capacity of the healthcare system is. But they CAN tell people what to do to minimize the chance of exposure.

      • Worried says:

        Completely agree about competence of elected officials.
        But now we are in crisis (my friend in Rome says we are AT WAR). It is our representatives’ duty to take care of their constituents.
        I’ll say it again, it is our representatives DUTY to put in place policies to limit, to the best of our knowledge, the possibility that this disease overwhelms our medical system.

        • e.a.f. says:

          what medical system? The American “medical system” works for those with money and really good insurance. For the rest there is no medical system and very little health care.

          As to a prosperous nation, that is for the 1% of the 1%. There are millions living below the poverty line. the U.S.A has a very high rate of mortality for infants and women who have given birth. If people had followed those stats, they would not be surprised this mess is out of control.

          • Bri2k says:

            You hit the nail on the head. I used to work in health insurance and I always say that yes, most people like their health insurance, until they actually have to use it.

            Because we all take time to read something the size of a phone book to see what’s approved and what’s not before seeking urgent care, right?

            • bmaz says:

              Exactly. And even if people did read it, there is almost no chance it could be understood vis a vis how the carrier will interpret it.

  13. Peterr says:

    I know of several Lutheran churches in the SF Bay area who have basically ended any face-to-face gatherings through March 30. At the church I’m serving right now here in the greater KC area, we’ve been making changes over the last two weeks, as well as planning for additional changes to put in place when the situation becomes more dire in our immediate area. One of these was to basically urge anyone who is at high risk (preexisting respiratory issues, cardiac problems, diabetes, etc.) to STAY HOME from worship, at least for the near future. It seems to be working among our active and faithful elderly folks, who have been calling, emailing, and texting to tell me about their decision.

    One of them asked me “What’s it going to be like to be a pastor during a pandemic?” I paused, then replied “Well, we’re going to find out.”

    For example: There’s a university nearby, with a sizable international student population. The school just announced that they were going to go online-only for the balance of the semester after Spring break, including closing the dorms and sending folks home. That works if home is down the street, or in the next state, or even on the coast. But we’ve been asking at church “what happens to the students from China and Italy, who can’t go home?” One way or another, I think the folks at church want to be part of the answer to that question.

    • Jim White says:

      Our church just went to online worship and online meetings for boards and committees. I had ducked out of yesterday’s Board of Business meeting as part of my social distancing. And then I missed the email that came out just about an hour before the meeting with the announcement it was switched to online. Oh well. They must have had a quorom or someone would have called me.

      And one of our pastors is now in self-isolation, having just returned from Spain. Of note is that a different person is now our county’s second confirmed positive. I know from a reliable chain that is very short that this person also just returned from Spain.

  14. BobPDX says:

    My sister works at a large hospital in the Bay Area, she’s informed me that they just got Dept. of Public Health approval to set up an ED triage surge tent in the parking lot to accommodate the possibility of hundreds of COVID19 positive cruise ship passengers that they’re housing in a hotel nearby.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      She must work for Kaiser. They announced on the news last night that several sites around the Bay Area were open for drive by testing.

    • Phaedruses says:

      All Kentucky schools are closing Monday thru April 6th. The state is seeking ways to help children who get free meals from attending schools. Nobody knew back in November how important evicting Bevin would be, however after his brain dead outburst yesterday we realized how much different things would be if he was in charge. He is as self centered and ignorant as trump, and just as mean spirited.

  15. cat herder says:

    ‘Liminal’ made me think of William Gibson, which of course reminded me of the prayer hankys, which reminded me that I still have a SARS prayer hanky left over from 2003. Does anybody know if it’s effective for this new and improved version, or do I need to buy a new one? And do I buy it from the CDC, or directly from Mike Pence?

  16. Yogarhythms says:

    We are a community. Swimming amongst us is a novel Coronavirus. Touching some of us harder than others: superficially, intracellularly, neighborly, liminaly. Hopefully your immunological competence rides the wave. Please continue sharing your experiences. We are supporting EW and the shared experience. Thankfully this virus has no blogging vector.

  17. Hug h says:

    Checking in here after a brief episode of wanting to throw a brick at the TV while listening to Charles Barkley pontificate during an appearance on Steven Colbert from two nights ago. Charles was sharing how stupid he thought it was to have NBA games or March Madness without fans. “Not go out to restaurants?! People got to live their lives…” etc. etc. Couldn’t help but notice that he appeared a bit sweaty and peaked. So I do a News search for Charles Barkley. Just hours ago, Barkley announced he wasn’t feeling well, had been tested for Coronavirus, was self quarantining and is now supporting suspension of NBA and March Madness. Nothing like illness to focus the mind. I guess he deserves a bit of credit for reversing course.
    Won’t be long now before some NEWS talking head live streams their Coronavirus illness on National TV while quarantined.
    Counting the days here in the PNW before our Hospitals are overwhelmed. Fingers crossed that this slow motion train wreck is the final undoing of our pathological liar conman President. Poetic justice for a germaphobe?

    • bmaz says:

      What is the conclusion? I’ll guess that while there are some similarities, corona appears different as to contagious characteristics. That seems to be the emerging consensus among experts.

      • dude says:

        My take-away was that Covid 19 is unique and, as Dr. Denison says, appears to have combined the worst features of SARS and MERS. One spreads very fast and kills moderately; the other spreads slow but is more deadly. His research predicts Covid 19 spreads very fast and is somewhere in between on the ‘deadly’ scale. He says this feature is also suggestive that it will not be a ‘seasonal’ flu that slacks off in warm weather. In watching US policymakers, I have the impression they think it will slack off when summer comes and think the thing to do is fight a holding action until then. Denison says you cannot count on that. Covid 19 is unique.

        • bmaz says:

          Ah, thank you for the response. And, oof, have never bought the “It will die off in the spring and summer!” thing. Corona seems to exist happily in vessels that are 98.6º. And when outside temperatures start climbing, the more people cluster in air conditioned spaces that are closer quartered. So that seems a big nope.

      • dude says:

        Another couple things: he said current evidence suggests it is a stable virus and not prone to mutate. This is good news if you are developing a targeted vaccine. Another guest on the podcast pointed out that Covid 19 is very ‘sticky’ and readily attaches itself to the lining of the throat–much more than other viruses–and this leads to the signature cough.

    • orionATL says:

      thanks, dude.

      could you specify which of the podcasts you are referring to? that would be helpful.

  18. pdaly says:

    Dealing with the unknown: WRT nutrition, I put together this shopping list for my family members to help keep them manage at home as long as possible.

    Whey protein powder might be a really good option for when meats are not easy to come by. Whey protein will have all essential amino acids. Great shelf life, too.

    Doesn’t taste great but you often have choices of flavor: natural, chocolate, vanilla)

    I avoid whey protein powders with added carbs and caffeine.

    I also avoid the protein powder that is soy based, but I don’t have milk or dairy allergy.

    Rice (carbohydrate) and Beans (carbohydrate and some protein) are a good idea.
    However, you may need to eat a large portion of beans to obtain a full protein requirement, and the beans may be missing essential amino acids. Not a problem in the short run–but prepare for long term just in case.

    Essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the body so they need to be in the diet, too.

    Linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3) are essential.

    The other fatty acids can be produced from these parent compounds or manufactured by the body.

    For Linoleic acid: vegetable oils or safflower oil
    For alpha-linolenic acid: flax and chia seeds, canola oil, walnuts or walnut oil, soybean oil, green leafy vegetables (short shelf life of the greens will make them hard to stockpile)

    Electrolytes: I bought tablets for electrolytes in case diarrhea is an issue. You can find them at sporting goods stores or some supermarkets. Sometimes they come as powder packets. Reconstitute in a 1/2 liter bottle of water.
    Different flavors and are again have a long shelf life.

Vacuum sealed cartons of chicken or beef stock to make soup if tiring of protein powder. Great shelf life again if it goes unused for now

    • Rayne says:

      With regard to beans: combine complementary protein sources for a complete protein, ex: a grain and legumes — refried bean tostada using a corn tortilla; red beans and rice; hummus and pita bread. The corn, rice, and wheat in these examples will provide the amino acid beans don’t supply in adequate quantity.

      Shelf-stable tofu is another good source of protein.

  19. American Abroad says:

    In a terrible turn of events over here in SE Asia, CNN Nasional (Indonesian language) just reported on a prayer event that took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (February 28 -March 1) with 10,000 participants. 12 people have tested positive. People from 27 countries attended this event (Talig Akbar); from every continent except South America and Antartica. Reporting came out today – 12 days later.

  20. BobCon says:

    NY Times Politics desk has another failure today.

    Today’s article by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman starts the spin right from the top with the headline “The President as Bystander.”

    Trump, of course, is not a bystander — he has been actively involved in creating policy, and his role has been heavily reported. He has a clear policy — interfering with public health officials and covering up information. He has been talking to people all over the government and in the private sector to push that agenda. There is no honest way to call him a bystander.

    The article is almost entirely insider spin trying to soften up Trump’s involvement. Witness the following line, vaguely attributed to off the record sources who never should have been granted that status: “After feeling besieged by enemies for three years, Mr. Trump and some of his advisers view so many issues through the lens of political warfare — assuming that criticism is all about point scoring — that it has become hard to see what is real and what is not, according to people around the president. ”

    The vague parenthetical statement “assuming all criticism…” does not account for the central fact that Trump has been a paranoid and out of touch with reality since before he even took office. He has always been this way. There is simply no reason for putting this kind of spin in the article.

    Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman had the opportunity to do real reporting and dig, but instead they simply reprinted the White House damage control script. Amazing.

    • bmaz says:

      BobCon – This from Adam Serwer is about perfect on exactly that point:

      *Trump sacrifices a 90 virgins to Pazuzu the dragon god*

      Media outlets: Trump’s unusual approach to the presidency was highlighted today, after he took several unorthodox steps to calm roiling markets and reassure the public that the administration has matters well in hand.

      • BobCon says:

        I am realistic enough to accept that reporters will trade a favorable quote for some genuinely newsworthy information. But Baker and Haberman have lost all perspective on what counts as newsworthy.

        Getting an anonymous source to blame Kushner is not news — it’s not even clear it’s not part of the script.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump as Bystander. What a hoot.

      If Trump is a bystander, it is because he is not doing his job, he does not understand his job, he refuses to do his job, he could not do his job if given a hundred color-coded cartoon instructions, and he interferes with others trying to do it for him.

      But that’s not Baker and Haberman’s point. Theirs seems to be that whatever Trump does, it is appropriate and rational, and that he can’t be blamed for anything, let alone the failings of others. Of course he can. That’s the job. It’s called accountability. It’s another word the NYT refuses to use, whether in regard to this President or any other CEO.

    • harpie says:

      Example # ???:
      2:36 PM · Mar 13, 2020

      In midst of pandemic, a critical news outlet has to modify headline to clarify that what the President says is false.

      Links to:
      1:46 PM · Mar 13, 2020

      We’ve deleted an earlier tweet to this story to reflect that President Trump’s statement was a false claim. The headline of the article has also been updated to note the claim was false.

      Trump Falsely Tries to Tie Obama to C.D.C.’s ‘Inadequate’ Testing System
      President Trump, who took office in 2017, criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and his predecessor. [link]
      Maggie Haberman and Noah Weiland
      March 13, 2020 Updated 11:34 a.m. ET

  21. harpie says:


    3:51 AM · Mar 13, 2020

    Australia’s Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton has tested positive. This picture was taken seven days ago in Washington. Meeting Ivanka Trump and US Attorney General William Barr [PHOTO]

    Others in photo: Joe Grogan and Kellyanne Conway.

    7:42 AM · Mar 13, 2020

    On top of observing what walking vectors the Trump family have become can we observe that
    1) Ivanka was totally unqualified and inappropriate to be in this meeting
    2) she’s wearing clothing more appropriate for lunch with a friend and
    3) her sweater is not tucked properly.

    3) was my first thought about the photo, lol, and I don’t feel bad about that, either, because damn APPEARANCES are literally THE ONLY THING that family EVER focus on.

    And, we are ALL paying the price for that, now.

  22. orionATL says:

    o. k. it’s time for your friday the 13th update on the most basic single number about covid-19 – how many got it.

    watch it’s size. watch it rise.

    so far the number is way too small for a large population in which the virus has been resident for nearly 8 weeks. on monday or tuesday it was 950 cases; now it is up to 1650. at some point it is going to blow up. that point should have been weeks ago, but test kits have been withheld for some reason. time gor the ststes to take over completely.

    our northeast coast from boston to philly, centered in ny, is closing in on sattle and l.a. for hotspot of the moment.

    the u.s. centers for disease control (cdc) will report its numbers at noon today:


    the nytimes has the best map and today’s new numbers:


    • orionATL says:

      one set of numbers that has been missing is an estimate of the number of people who will be infected by the virus. these estimates set an upper bound (temporary and only an estimate) on the problem.

      a recent estimate given to the congress was 70-150 million. this was not widely reported for some reason. the nytimes has a new set of numbers resulting from a cdc exercise in scenarios – 160 – 214 million infected, out of a population of 330 million, with 200,000 to 1.7 million deaths.


      any of these numbers could, and very likely will, change as more info becomes available on just exactly how the virus is acting in this society. it is extremely frustrating 8 weeks into an epidemic that this nation is still flying blind (kobi bryant) rather than seeing an emerging disease pattern clearly.

      and so we await our fates as our emotionally unfit president gazes in his many mirrors, preens, and dawddles.

    • orionATL says:


      the cdc report for friday the 13th is 1629 cases.

      the nytimes is now reporting 1875 cases, up ~200 from noon today.

      what is going on? are there different sources for cdc and nytimes? is cdc publishing a once a day static number, while nytimes is doing updates over the course of the day?

      and both these numbers are still tiny compared to what is almost certainly out there.

      • P J Evans says:

        My understanding is that CDC updates about once a day. It may be easy for them, but it means they’re always behind reality.

      • Eureka says:

        I’ve found that CDC lags the JHU map that lots of people rely on as most accurate (with JHU you’ll get the info at night in realtime); I’ve seen trustworthy folks like Laurie Garrett use another site (listed 2nd below):



        BUT I don’t know who runs that 2nd site, and apparently there are scammer dashboards out there that hit you with malware, as harpie warned us yesterday.

        ETA: Hi, PJ, didn’t see your reply before mine. Overlap *high-five*

  23. harpie says:

    Trump administration blocks states from using Medicaid to respond to coronavirus crisis
    MARCH 13, 2020 6:30 AM

    […] One reason federal health officials have not acted appears to be President Trump’s reluctance to declare a national emergency. That’s a key step that would clear the way for states to get Medicaid waivers to more nimbly tackle coronavirus, but it would conflict with Trump’s repeated efforts to downplay the seriousness of the epidemic.

    Another element may be ideological: The administration official who oversees Medicaid, Seema Verma, head of the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has been a champion of efforts by conservative states to trim the number of people enrolled in Medicaid. […]

    • harpie says:

      […] During major disasters, CMS has traditionally loosened these rules. […] Similarly, in 2009, after President Obama declared a national emergency in response to H1N1, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius invited states to seek waivers from Medicaid rules to make it easier for medical providers to quickly treat patients without worrying about their eligibility for government assistance. […]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Seema Verma is the Madame Defarge of America’s social safety net. She knits while heads roll off public assistance. She claims that’s good for them, in the way that Mme. Defarge would have argued that aristocrats who arrived at M. le Guillotine via tumbril needed to lose about ten pounds.

      Verma is a zealot, a multi-millionaire consultant, who helped Mike Pence shape Indiana’s malign Medicare/Medicaid policies. Her mantra is work first, aid never. She imposed work and other requirements as hurdles to prevent access to public assistance. Now she works for the USG, knitting holes in the social safety net.

      When she says work is good, she means taxes for the wealthy are bad. If she wanted to help, she would impose work requirements on coupon clippers. Notgonnahappen. The USG needs her about as much as it needs Donald Trump.

      • orionATL says:

        seema verma, like donald trump and mike pence, is from an immigrant family. the insensitivity of the three colleagues to the immigrant experience is impressive – and baffling.

        in any event, the verma, pence, trump incompetence and tendency toward graft gives immigrants a bad name.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Bigotry is correct. There’s more than a little racism and misogyny in Verma’s AEI-approved anti-public assistance, pro-wealthy tax payer program.

        Plus, she can now direct millions of taxpayer dollars to GOP-backed outsourced providers. Grifters gonna grift.

    • harpie says:

      More about SEEMA VERMA:

      1] from March 2019
      4:30 AM – 29 Mar 2019

      The Trump appointee who oversees Medicare-Medicaid [Seema Verma] quietly directed millions of taxpayer dollars in contracts to Republican communications consultants during her tenure — including hiring a GOP media adviser to bolster her profile, Politico reports.

      2] from March 2020
      Exclusive: Email crash impeded HHS response to coronavirus
      Day-long IT snafu last month infuriated health officials, adding fuel to tensions among department leaders.
      DAN DIAMOND 03/10/2020 09:51 PM

      […] The previously unreported episode was the latest in a series of information technology snafus caused by the department’s Medicare branch dating back more than a year. This time, HHS decided to remove the agency’s control over its own email operations and launch an audit of its entire information technology infrastructure.

      The episode has exacerbated tensions inside a department that’s already been split by intense fights between HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS chief Seema Verma while it strains to coordinate the government’s response to the viral outbreak. […]

      • Eureka says:

        HAHA yes, that was *horrible* — so clearly so that even the faithful viewers could tell that they were being Fox’d.

  24. harpie says:

    wrt: LEGISLATION [via Laura Rozen]

    10:10 AM · Mar 13, 2020

    AN UPDATE on where things stand with the House coronavirus bill. A dem leadership meeting just broke up in pelosis office. Richie Neal, the ways and means chairman, just told us to expect legislative language in “in the next few minutes if not in the next hour or so” [more]

  25. P J Evans says:

    I’m starting to see suggestions that there are cases in the WH, and that it’s a spreading center, based on the number of people known to have been socializing with residents and a few days later testing positive for the virus.

  26. Molly Pitcher says:

    Tennessee’s Department of Health has released some very helpful handwashing guidelines that speak directly to Southerners: “Wash your hands like you just ate a plate of hot chicken and need to take out your contacts.”

  27. harpie says:

    Yamiche Alcindor [PBS] is now reporting that Trump will declare emergency:

    12:15 PM · Mar 13, 2020

    A senior White House source said “stand by” when asked if President Trump would be declaring a national emergency today. Now, the president will speak at 3 p.m. and is expected to make that move which would free up up to $42.6 billion for efforts.

    Pres Trump is expected to use the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act as part of his national emergency declaration today. Up to $42.6B could be used for things like shelter, medical responses, overtime for workers.
    More on the act: [link]

    • mass interest says:

      I did not read the Act, but am wondering whether it leaves the door open for the imposition of “martial law” or other things that would play right into Trump’s authoritarian instincts.

      I’m more afraid of Trump using this situation to further his shredding of norms, traditions, and the Constitution than I am of the health consequences. Including using this opportunity to fuck with the upcoming election.

      • Vicks says:

        I agree that we need to be prepared for the Trump organization to use this crises as cover for self dealing and using nefarious methods to further the agendas of his “deplorables.”
        I will add that I’m not sure that Trump (under current circumstances) is interested in a second term, and if the people that have invested their time, money and what was left of their souls into Trump’s presidency are given any reason to believe this may be the “end of days” for their golden goose, the stakes will be raised substantially.

        • mass interest says:

          I firmly believe Trump will do whatever he believes will ensure a second term, because if he doesn’t , he’ll be vulnerable to criminal complaints.


  28. greengiant says:

    The John Hopkins University web site many have been tracking is now lagging about 48 hours.
    US reported cases were 1663 as of an update yesterday and now show up as 1268. A number lower than previously reported on Wednesday. Appears the WHO data lags even more with 971 US cases on the March 12 report.

    • greengiant says:

      Looks like just a data entry error now. California, Texas, and other states are showing no cases. Who was at 987.

      • greengiant says:

        CDC site with a stated 20 hour lag time to Thursday 4 PM, reported 1629 cases in the US.
        Friday NY state up to 421 from 325 at CDC, Texas 39 Friday, California 198 cases as of Thursday 10 AM PDT CDC reports 224 now. Washington state 457 Thursday 5 PM PDT. seems to be included in 1629 count.
        UK 798 cases up 208, missing from John Hopkins site today.

        • orionATL says:

          checking is essential.

          check out the tools provided by posaune at 5:55 for a possible cross-check.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        I have been following a Johns Hopkins map provided by the SF Chronicle. Suddenly yesterday it froze and now is gone. The map on Johns Hopkins site is really out of date.

    • Eureka says:

      Oh, that might explain why Laurie Garrett was using that different dashboard for her update last night– I thought it was a last-night glitch, sad to see a longer-standing problem.

    • Eureka says:

      Notice now atop the map: “The COVID-19 map is currently undergoing maintenance. Thank you for your patience.”

      So sounds like we’ll get it back.

      • greengiant says:

        It is alive but broken. No UK figures, US figures missing states, Sum of cases total confirmed at top 140,875, But just copy down to Lithuania and put in spreadsheet, sum is 141692. Germany not updated. Very useful tool for tracking I have used since February 4th or before. Worst news of the day, Denmark at 1573, Italy 17660.

    • Eureka says:

      Trump, FOS, yet again:

      Thread (also links article):

      Matthew Panzarino: “So. – Verily building the site, not Google (they are both Alphabet companies) – The site is not ready and will not be ready ‘on Sunday’ or soon. – The scope of the site is currently planned to be ‘the Bay Area’ at launch, not ‘America'”

      “This was the little box at the top of the chart that everything else in the testing flow depends on. So what happens to the rest of that process to direct people to testing facilities now?”

      • Eureka says:

        (I mean, the whole — and wholly horrible — outsourcing of gov public health functions to the “corporate branch” notwithstanding)

      • Eureka says:

        Also, from the TechCrunch article linked in thread:

        In a different statement to The Verge, Verily said the tool was originally meant for healthcare workers and that the presidential announcement changed its course to becoming a public site. Whatever the original intent of the project, it seems quite clear that Verily was taken somewhat aback by the announcement.
        (internal link removed)

        And But Of Course/fyi:

        David Gura: “FWIW, Verily has invested in Oscar Health, which was co-founded by Josh Kushner, who is Jared Kushner’s brother: [cnbc link]”

  29. Peacerme says:

    It’s hitting home here in omaha, home of The National Training, Simulation and Quarantine Center (TSQC). All schools, universities are closed for next two weeks. I am a therapist who does 8 groups a week, so we are going online. Grocery stores are sold out of toilet paper, hand sanitizers, and thermometers. I keep having flash backs to the first season of Walking Dead”. I have to keep reminding myself, no zombies except for the ones who have always been with us!! Surreal here in the middle of the country.

  30. Molly Pitcher says:

    Isn’t it WONDERFUL that all the captains of the retail and medical industries were able to make it to the White House to kiss the ring of the Dear Leader. I hope they gargle with chlorhexidine.

    I can’t decide who makes my skin crawl more when I hear their voice, Trump or Pence?

  31. orionATL says:

    posaune –

    excellent! this provides very nice graphics and summary charts.

    there is a cases-by-state map for the u.s. which seems to be being continuously updated, plus a columnar accounting by state just below that.

    a bit further down there is a fine graphic by region and country running from jan 1 to mar 13 which is very informative from the beginning of the epidemic in china, then continuing as the various nations outside china are brought on-line with their own epidemic. i iust need to stare at it over and over as it moves from jan 1 to mar13 and then begins the circle once again, or else figure out how to pause it.


    • harpie says:

      Thank you for posting this, PJ. I’m not hopeful that anything will stop the rightward surge at this point, but I ‘m happy some important voices are making themselves heard.

    • harpie says:

      Here it is, introduced by Dahlia Lithwick [via Charles Pierce]:
      9:22 PM · Mar 13, 2020

      “I can’t vote you out of office because you have life tenure, but I can withdraw whatever insignificant support my Bar membership might seem to provide.’ [link]

      Former Judge Resigns From the Supreme Court Bar
      In a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts, he detailed why he’s lost faith in the court.
      DAHLIA LITHWICK MARCH 13, 20203:22 PM

      […] In his letter, reprinted in full below, Dannenberg compares the current Supreme Court, with its boundless solicitude for the rights of the wealthy, the privileged, and the comfortable, to the court that ushered in the Lochner era in the early 20th century, a period of profound judicial activism that put a heavy thumb on the scale for big business, banking, and insurance interests, and ruled consistently against child labor [laws], fair wages, and labor regulations.

    • harpie says:

      Dear Chief Justice Roberts:

      I hereby resign my membership in the Supreme Court Bar.

      This was not an easy decision.

      I have been a member of the Supreme Court Bar since 1972, far longer than you have, and appeared before the Court, both in person and on briefs, on several occasions as Deputy and First Deputy Attorney General of Hawaii before being appointed as a Hawaii District Court judge in 1986. […]

      It keeps getting better from there…

      • bmaz says:

        Meh. I love Dahlia, and we have been friends for a long time, but she is far more sanguine about this “letter” than I am. It is clickbait and blog fodder, but is likely worth less than a “stern letter” by Leahy or Schumer.

  32. Granville Kennedy says:

    Your request to share a joke just begged for a response. I’m a grill cook in the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital cafeteria, so a sense of humor is a job requirement. While eating my lunch in the cafeteria dining room this morning, a coworker passed in front of my table. I remarked that I really didn’t understand the run on toilet paper. As he got a step past me I offered a reasonable cause, “I guess people are losing their shit…” File under laughter is the best medicine.

  33. orionATL says:

    greengiant, et. al.

    check out the tools provided by posaune at 5:55pm.

    they appear continously updated and with some patience give a nice picture both broad and detailed.

    don’t know the provenance but don’t be scared off by the chinese characters. at this point in time, given the u.s. big picture defcit, we just need some reasonably good estimates made in good faith. one can be checked against another, e.g., against


    if the states put their heads together for a clearinghouse, or the feds get their act together for testing and reporting, then we can worry about precision.

    • greengiant says:

      Krebsonsecurity already posted that the JHU web page has been copied and laced with malware and bad links planted on the web.Thanks for all tips! JHU site has their act together again and has been ahead of WHO and the CDC continuously, and usually trails media reports of European results by minutes.Tracking multiple sources gives some protection, data errors happen JHU Denmark is back to 804 cases.
      Lot of denial. Oh the Germans have a much better hospital system than Italy, blah blah blah. Their case growth has a slightly lower exponent than Italy. Merkel seems to have taken the wrong approach or something, finally asked for school closures today. There was a nonsense “herd immunity” theory that ignored running out of hospital beds and ventilators. “Use social distancing that’s all we need to do.” Right that lasted a few days in some places in the US. But Scandinavia! Norway is almost at 200 cases per million. Germany is at 38 cases per million.

      • orionATL says:


        thanks for the info, greengiant. good to hear jhu is back in business.

        general question for all:

        i’m no epidemiologists, virologist, etc. but can herd immunity be conveyed merely by recovering from a disease. if that is true, how did smallpox kill of much of the native indian population ofvthe americas in the 100 yrs after 1500?

        i had the impression that herd immunity was a concept associated with vacination.

        • bmaz says:

          Who knows? There is some evidence of repeat infections in China, but it is hard to tell because they are (as the Trump Admin has been) opaque with what is really going on. Short answer….nobody knows yet.

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