Dr. Fauci says this new administration’s belief in actual science and evidence is ‘liberating’

On Thursday, the Biden administration started its second day of work, signing a series of executive actions and holding press conferences. Dr. Anthony Fauci, arguably the only person who technically served during the Trump administration, has aptitude for his job, and wasn’t a morally bankrupt monster, held a press conference in the White house briefing room, all by himself, to discuss what new mutations of COVID-19 mean and to answer (mostly Trump-related questions) from the press corps. After acknowledging the 400,000-plus dead Americans, and explaining the need to get COVID-19 under control because the less infection spread means the less chance of mutations, Fauci was asked about differences between the Trump administration and the Biden administration.

These questions were asked in various oblique ways, like the first one—a seeming attempt to promote a right-wing apologetics BS story that tries to blame vaccine distribution problems not on the Trump administration but on Amazon. The question came from Fox News’ newest White House correspondent, Peter Doocy, Fox News logic contortionist Steve Doocy’s son. The argument is that the new announcement that the online retailer has offered help to the Biden administration in order to distribute vaccines more robustly is something that was purposefully held back from Trump and therefore, Trump’s bungling of everything he’s ever done is once again someone else’s fault. The question ended with whether or not Fauci knew of any talks about this kind of thing during the Trump administration. Fauci explained that he didn’t know what the difference might have been but that “One of the new things in this administration is that if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Just say you don’t know the answer.” 

Dr. Fauci said that so far, based on the information our government has right at this moment (remember, the Biden administration began about 24 hours ago), some of the mutations of the viruses seen around the world have not touched down in the U.S., Ffngers crossed. Fauci also explained that the new president is looking to really “amplify” the breadth of the distribution efforts—arguably the single most important thing our country needs right now to get back to some kind of baseline healthy stasis.

He also said he was optimistic we can get to a 70- or 80% vaccination level of the American population by the end of the summer, saying that in so doing we will be able to see a “degree of normalcy” reappear in our lives. Not a perfect normalcy, but not the current shitty 1990s action film we have all been extras in during the past 10 months. Dr. Fauci said his main concern was making sure Americans understand how important it is to get the vaccine—that fighting “hesitancy” will be the biggest hurdle as the year progresses. 

Again, Facui was asked what he thought of the new team the Biden administration has put together and whether or not things would have been different had they been in charge back in January when this first began. Fauci very diplomatically explained that he could tell you what he felt about the team but would not “extrapolate” beyond that. “One of the things that was very clear, as recently as about 15 minutes ago, when I was with the president, is that one of the things that we’re going to do is that we’re going to be completely transparent, open, and honest. If things go wrong, not point fingers, but to correct them, and to make everything we do based on science and evidence.”


Finally, asked about the difference Fauci felt being in front of the press under a Biden administration after “joking” today about the previous administration, Fauci did make a joke—a dead serious one. “You said I was joking but I was very serious about it. I wasn’t joking.” He went on to finish by explaining that everybody there saw that there were times under the Trump administration when non-scientific things like hydroxychloroquine and other things were pushed by the orange guy, and that it was a bad place to be. “The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know what the evidence is, what the science is, and know that’s it. Let the science speak. It is somewhat liberating.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Dr. Fauci would be back again. Sounds good to me. I like this version of Fauci the best.

Earth hears a possible signal: We are here, we are here, we are here

In a year that has brought an impeachment, a raging pandemic, far too many tragic deaths, a hopeful election, and months of increasingly aggressive sedition aimed at overturning the government of the United States, could there still be a story to top them all. Well … maybe. 

The biggest story of 2020 might be one that didn’t hit the press until mid-December. Or it could be nothing. Because back in April and May, for a combined period of 30 hours, scientists at the Parkes Observatory in Australia listened in on a signal. A radio signal. One that they believed to be coming from the sun's nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri. The nature of that signal could rock humanity’s beliefs about the universe and introduce perhaps the most groundbreaking discovery in history. Or it might have been someone warming a burrito. Despite what the wild-haired guy says on cable, it’s not aliens, because it’s never aliens. But the longer people have looked, the more of the “easy explanations” have been eliminated.

The story first leaked to The Guardian on Dec. 18. That the researchers involved, and those carrying out the analysis, sat on the data for eight months without spilling the beans makes it clear they understood exactly the reaction that comes any time someone pops up claiming to have discovered a possible sign of intelligent life in space. There will be jokes. The words “little” and “green” will be used. And skepticism tends to run right past the bounds of appropriate into dismissive.

There are very, very (and … very) good reasons to be skeptical. Not least of all because several past natural phenomena have first been thought to be potential signals of intelligence before astronomers and physicists figured out just how “clever” nonliving matter could be. In the most cited example, pulsars—regular points producing rapidly repeating patterns of “signals” at both radio and other wavelengths—turned out not to be either massive transmitters or some spectacular variety of space pharos. Instead they are the rapidly spinning neutron star cores left behind by exploded giant (but not supergiant) stars. Which kind of makes it not all that surprising that it took a bit for someone to find the explanation.

In another famous (or infamous) case, what had appeared to be a set of signals recurred so frequently that they were given a name: perytons. These signals kept returning over and over for 17 years, baffling scientists until the installation of a new instrument revealed that the mystery signals actually came from a microwave oven at the facility. And what facility would that be? Why, Parkes Observatory in Australia. That was just five years ago.

Oh yeah. You better believe they are checking everyone’s lunch schedule.

Another good reason to be skeptical of this report is that the researchers involved seem to have found exactly what they were looking for. This data was collected by the Breakthrough Listen project, a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project founded in part by Stephen Hawking and funded primarily by Israeli-Russian tech billionaire Yuri Milner. The signal itself was first detected by a student, Shane Smith, who tagged it as BLC1, for “Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1.” That’s right. This is the first candidate they’ve found.

Anyone who stumbles across the very thing they hoped to locate, and does so practically in their own backyard, has to be held to quite a high standard of proof.

However, as Scientific American reports, after months of wading through the data, searching for possible sources of interference, and reviewing the contents of the signal, the scientists involved remain hopeful. The signal appears to come from a point source at distance rather than something close at hand. It also appears to be quite narrow in bandwidth, which would be somewhat unusual for a natural source. Finally, not only does the signal appear to originate from the area of Proxima Centauri, the researchers believe it shows signs of a regular shift that might be expected if the source was actually a planet orbiting that star.

As it happens, Proxima Centauri is quite a complex little system. It’s a red dwarf star, the most common kind of star in the universe, quite a bit smaller and cooler than our sun. In fact, it’s so small and cool that, despite being the nearest star to our own, it can’t be seen by the naked eye. (It also can’t be seen at all from the Northern Hemisphere, so plan a trip and bring at least a good pair of binoculars.)

This small star is believed to  orbit around the binary star Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. (Proxima is also known as Alpha Centauri C.) Those stars are larger yellow stars, more similar in size and temperature to the sun. Exactly what that orbit looks like, or how long it’s been going on, is the cause for a lot of computation and a lot of frustration. (Read Three Body Problem from Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin if you want to understand more about why this is so difficult to suss out.)

Little red Proxima is known to have at least two planets which, for perfectly sound planet-hunter reasons, are known as Proxima B and Proxima C. Proxima C is about 7 times the mass of Earth, making it roughly the same size as Neptune. However, it’s not clear if the planet is actually a gas giant or just the kind of oversized rocky world known as a “super Earth.”

Proxima B is where it really gets interesting. The planet is located very close to the star, much closer than Mercury is to the Sun. So close, in fact, that Proxima B’s “year” is just 11 days long. However, because Proxima Centauri is so much smaller and cooler than our sun, this close orbit places Proxima B squarely in the “habitable zone.” Which means nothing except that the level of radiation received by the planet is such that it could potentially have liquid water on the surface. Water is something that scientists believe is critical to everything we understand as life. Proxima B is also not a lot larger than Earth—about 1.17 times the mass of Earth. As far as Earth-like exoplanets go, Proxima B is a pretty decent candidate.

And, in interstellar terms, it’s right next door. Like right next door. This is absolutely the closest star out there. Why, it’s so close that if the Voyager 1 probe happened to be aimed in the right direction (it’s not), it would pass by Proxima in just … 71,000 years. 

Space: It’s big.

There are reasons to be dismissive of the idea that there could be life on Proxima B. For one thing, red dwarf stars may be smaller than yellow stars like our sun, but they also tend to be rather grumpy. Red dwarf stars have frequent storms and eruptions that would hit a close-orbiting planet like Proxima B with so many energetic particles it might quickly strip away any atmosphere. Not all scientists think this is the case, but if there’s going to be life around red dwarf stars, it would take some mechanisms we don’t yet understand. In Proxima’s case, there is also the complication of that maybe-orbit around the Alpha Centauri binary star, which could cause serious instability over time both for the red star and its planets.

Breakthrough Listen has been going to sites around the globe, buying up time on radio telescopes, and listening in for signals like what seems to have been detected at Proxima. It is definitely the hottest show in the whole of the many decades of SETI. So, as might be expected, SETI.org is … completely skeptical. Their latest news release contains what amounts to a sneering dismissal of the possible signal from Proxima Centauri. 

Besides emphasizing that this is only a candidate, the biggest thrust of the article is just how unlikely it would be to encounter intelligent life at the next system over. Not just intelligent life, but life at a technological stage so similar to our own that it’s using radio signals that we can detect and possibly identify. All of which is a pretty good point. In fact, the director of Breakthrough Listen has announced that the signals are “likely interference” that will soon be explained. 

Still, as SETI researcher Franck Marchis says in his conclusion … 

2020 has been a crazy year on so many levels, even in the field of SETI. After the mysterious appearance of monoliths and the announcement of the galactic federation, we now have BLC1, a curious and mysterious signal that might—or might not—have come from Proxima Centauri. It’s probably not alien and we will confirm this soon. Of course, as a SETI Institute scientist, nothing would please me more than to be proven wrong.

Pelosi Claims Dems Have Way To Handle COVID, They Just Need Biden Elected

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi basically promised a presidential election win for former Vice President Joe Biden when she said that Democrats are ready to work with him on a transition agenda to tackle the COVID pandemic.

“I feel very confident that Joe Biden will be elected president on Tuesday,” Pelosi said.

“On Jan. 20, he will be inaugurated president of the United States.”

“So while we don’t want to be overconfident or assume anything, we have to be ready for how we’re going to go down a different path,” she said.

READ: Smug Nancy Pelosi Says She’s ‘Very Confident That Joe Biden Will Be Elected President On Tuesday’

Pelosi also added that Democrats have a way to crush the coronavirus — a science-based approach.

She’s Forcing Herself To Believe Her Lies

If you ask me – even when she tries to act confident, she sounds defeated.

For four years, Pelosi threw everything she could think of at the President, and in the end, everything failed.

When the President wins reelection on Tuesday, Pelosi and her actions will be just one of many reasons why.

Four years ago, Pelosi was positive that Hillary Clinton was going to win by a landslide.

The ordeal so weakened her that she still could not stand up or applaud at President Trump’s inauguration.

She’s Been Wrong About Almost Everything

By my count, Pelosi’s judgment has been wrong on every issue since she became Speaker.

From where I’m sitting, she seems to believe her best play is to obstruct everything.

Pelosi believes negotiation is a weakness, but she fails to appreciate that her “all or nothing” strategy does not work.

The House Speaker would be far more effective by getting the most important things she can bargain for.

Any fool can see that something is better than nothing.

Remember Nancy Pelosi’s recent meltdown with Wolf Blitzer, talking about COVID stimulus negotiations?

The Speaker of the House should have exceptional negotiation skills.

Clearly her list of accomplishments during her tenure has not met even a minimum standard.

READ: Chelsea Handler Brags About Verbally Assaulting Conservatives In Airports On ‘The View’

Until she puts aside her personal hatred of Trump and Republicans, she will never rise to serve her constituents in a manner that meets a minimum standard.

Her party and her supporters deserve and expect more from the Speaker of the House.

If Nancy cannot be successful in her position, she should step aside and let the party select somebody who can meet party goals and voters’ expectations.

Nancy Pelosi’s Science-Based Approach To Crush COVID?

Pelosi dropped a nugget during her briefing, declaring that Democrats have a science-based approach to crush the virus.

“The president has taken us on a deadly path. The Heroes Act takes us on a scientific path to help save the lives and livelihoods of the American people,” Pelosi proclaimed.

That’s amazing! 

China birthed an interesting virus this time. It comes with an improved spike making “COVID Classic” look obsolete.

If you were building a new model car virus in the ’60s, this is a Mustang.

And it came with no seatbelts or brakes.

READ: Newt Gingrich Issues Major Warning To Trump Supporters Before The Election

What does that mean? This is a novel virus that no one knew how to control.

No mask, lockdown, guideline, quarantine, or otherwise was going to stop this virus from taking a toll.

Doctors, scientists, and officials should have known from Day One that the toll would be high – on American lives, the economy, and our way of life.

Take a look at what’s happening in Europe. Media figures beat us over the head with how great Europe was in following the experts. 

Now countries like Germany and France are seeing a huge “second wave,” despite all their measures.

I think the best course of action is better therapeutics, vaccines, and protections for the elderly and infirm.

Open it all up… there’s your science-based approach from Wayne Dupree.

Beware Of Nancy Pelosi, Her Promises, And Her COVID “Science”

Democrats will not and would not work with the current administration to help save Americans’ lives, but they will if Joe Biden is elected?

Is that what Nancy is saying?

Getting rid of the coronavirus, “based on science?” The science of whom?

Behind the word “science,” there is always a group of people, their knowledge, limitations, contradictions, biology and passions, biases, and interests.

Today, the word is used with the same dogmatic authority as the word “God” up until a while ago.

Beware of people who speak in the name of “science.”


The post Pelosi Claims Dems Have Way To Handle COVID, They Just Need Biden Elected appeared first on The Political Insider.

Science candidates are standing by to defeat COVID-19, improve health care, and fight climate change

After four years of a government run by people who hate climate science, environmental science, medical science, and just … science, it might be nice to have someone in office who doesn’t just respect science but understands science. That’s why 3.14 Action actively recruits candidates with a science and medical background and helps them get the training they need to run for office. That includes seven members of the House who took office in 2018.

In the 2020 election, there may be more candidates that you realize aren’t just respectful of science, but can genuinely lay claim to the title “scientist.” On the Senate side, there’s the obvious science candidate in Arizona’s engineer, aviator, and astronaut Mark Kelly. However, Kansas Senate candidate Barbara Bollier is actually Dr. Barbara Bollier—potentially the first woman physician to take a seat in the Senate. Up in Alaska, Al Gross may be known as a commercial fisherman, but he’s also Dr. Allan Gross, orthopedic surgeon. And while most people may know John Hickenlooper from his previous role as the governor of Colorado, before that he swung a rock hammer as a geologist (go, #TeamGeologists!).

3.14’s House slate is an even impressive group, but here are a couple of stand-out candidates in important races that are right on the edge of victory: Dr. Nancy Goroff (NY-01) and Dr. Cameron Webb (VA-05).

Like Bollier, Nancy Goroff has another chance to check off a “first” that should have been achieved years—make that decades—ago. Believe it or not, if Goroff beats out Lee Zeldin, who was the key Republican congressman in running Donald Trump’s impeachment defense, she would be the first female PhD scientist in Congress. That’s exciting. And sad. And enraging. And should be pretty damn energizing for people who want to support women, or science, or both. Voters might also find motivation in defeating a Republican congressman who has been nicknamed “Trump’s defender,” and who really was the head of Trump’s impeachment defense. There’s also the little fact that Zeldin has praised Trump’s handling of COVID-19, which might be a thing in New York state.

Goroff is the chair of the Chemistry Department at Stony Brook University, where she pioneered research on improving renewable energy. She also worked within the university system to expand health care to more of the university’s staff. So there’s a chance to replace a guy who is actively feeding into Trump’s lies about COVID-19 with someone who has improved health care for others even before taking office.

The latest polls have Goroff and Zeldin literally nose to nose. And that’s huge. When Goroff first entered the race, she was down by double digits. Then seven, then five, then … deadlocked.

As a scientist and a teacher, Goroff would be a huge upgrade. And that “no women PhDs in Congress” line? That really needs to be crossed. Immediately, if not sooner.

When it comes to dealing with COVID-19, Cameron Webb has been right on the front lines. He’s a practicing physician who has been treating coronavirus patients while conducting his campaign. His wife also happens to be a ER doctor and an author who has written a children’s book about living with COVID-19. 

There have been a thousand articles about the experts on public health policy who were involved in President Obama’s administration, and who Trump let go. Webb is one of those people. If Trump didn’t think that he was better and smarter than all the experts, Webb might have been tapped to be at the White House right now helping to plan effective policy. Instead, that job went to noted health expert Jared Kushner and some of his investment banker buddies. It’s just possible that actual doctors and experts like Webb might have … not killed over 200,000 Americans.

Webb is currently the director of health policy and equity at the University of Virginia. His experience in public health makes him exactly the kind of candidate the nation needs at the moment, and he would be a fantastic asset in Congress.

Webb’s opponent is Bob Good. Good is a former fundraiser for Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University who displaced a sitting Republican Congressman because that soon-to-be former congressman, Denver Riggleman, failed to be against same-sex marriage. Conservative Republican voters couldn’t stand the idea of people being treated equally, so they replaced Riggleman with hardline conservative Good. Cameron is a well-known inspirational speaker, and it would have been great to see him debate this issue with Good … only there was no debate, because Good backed out

Just a month ago, Good’s support among conservatives had him running ahead of Webb. But in the last few weeks, Webb has taken the lead. Still, it’s a narrow lead. 

Both Webb and Goroff are heading toward the final days of the campaign in tight races, but with momentum on their side. If polls keep moving in the right direction, this could be not just a blue wave, but a blue science wave.

Dr. Fauci, finally fed up with Sen. Rand Paul’s bullsh#t, schools him during hearing

Whether you believe that top U.S. immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci is doing a solid job or whether you believe he is a grand mastermind in the global deep state conspiracy to destroy the world and get rid of Donald Trump so that Hillary Clinton can start human trafficking your children, you have to admit, he always seems rather unflappable. Dr. Fauci’s general calm and methodical way of explaining our public health crisis is not always perfect, but it is reassuring to many because, in a world where the president of the United States says horrendous things every single day, having a public official who seems competent is something of a revelation.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is what happens when you take Donald Trump and dress him more conservatively, but somehow make him more annoying. He has spent the current pandemic playing the part of science skeptic. Rand would have followed his father Ron into calling COVID-19 a hoax, but then he ended up testing positive for the virus. Like everything between Ron and Rand, Rand is just the shittier version of his racist, useless dad. So when Sen. Paul attempted to once again promote misleading scientific information in an attempt to “gotcha” Dr. Fauci during Wednesday’s hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, watching Dr. Fauci get angry and school little Rand was something to see.

Sen. Rand Paul first attempted to blame the United States’ failure to simply do nothing at all, like Sweden, as the reason for death rates. It’s idiotic for sure, but Paul is trying to argue that Dr. Fauci and others who pushed for mask-wearing and social distancing and other safety measures early on were wrong and alarmist. Paul is wrong. He is not a little wrong. He is 100% wrong, and Dr. Fauci was tired of such sophistry on Paul’s part. 

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, senator, I would be happy at a different time to sit down and go over detail. You have said a lot of different things. You have compared us to Sweden, and there are a lot of differences. You said, well, you know, there are a lot of differences between Sweden, but compare Sweden's death rate to other comparable Scandinavian countries. It's worse. So I don't think it's appropriate to compare Sweden with us. I think in the beginning, we have done things based on the knowledge we had at the time. And hopefully, and I am—and my colleagues are—humble enough and modest enough to realize that as new data comes, you make different recommendations. But I don't regret saying that the only way we could have really stopped the explosion of infection was by essentially—I want to say shutting down—I mean essentially having the physical separation, and the kinds of recommendations that we have made.

Sen. Paul then attempted to promote the Republican narrative that the high concentrations of COVID-19 deaths in places like New York, under a Democratic governor, is proof of some Democratic Party problem in public health, while the Republican Party’s complete negligence is somehow better.

DR. FAUCI: No, you have misconstrued that. They got hit very badly. They made some mistakes. Right now, if you look at what's going on right now, the things that are going on in New York to get their test positivity 1% or less is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together from the task force of the four or five things: of masks, social distancing, outdoors more than indoors, avoiding crowds, and washing hands.

As time has just about run out, Sen. Paul attempts to throw in one last fake scientific fact.

SEN. RAND PAUL: Or they have developed enough community immunity that they are no longer having the pandemic because they have enough immunity in New York City to actually stop it.

That’s bullshit, and Dr. Fauci very quickly and stridently says: “I challenge that, senator.”

Time is up, but Dr. Fauci is not going to use his easygoing demeanor to allow this crap bag of a senator to get away with pushing fake science.

DR. FAUCI: Please, sir. I would like to be able do this because this happens with Senator Rand all the time. You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said, that in New York, it's about 22%. if you believe 22% is herd immunity, I believe you're alone in that.

Rand Paul is alone most of the time since his own neighbors hate him and most Americans dislike him as well.

Delusional Trump supporter denies coronavirus exists

Donald Trump’s handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, aka the coronavirus, has been terrible. Meanwhile, the Republican Party has lined up behind him to turn the whole affair into a partisan one. The Trump administration’s basic incompetence and the damage caused by GOP policies of cutting the CDC’s funding aside, the partisanship and rhetoric coming from the Republican Party have dire consequences. They include slowing down the process of getting emergency funding and dragging down the speed and efficacy of testing and diagnosing the true nature of the problem. But the biggest problem is the disinformation that results from turning medical experts’ fears into political footballs.

At a South Carolina rally last week, President Trump claimed that COVID-19 was a “hoax” being perpetrated by the Democratic Party. He analogized it with the impeachment probes and the Mueller investigations into his administration. Forget about the fact that, like COVID-19, the facts of Trump’s corruption are scientifically proven. Even if you believe Trump did nothing wrong and the Democratic Party is just trying to relitigate the 2016 election, COVID-19 is a virus that even world leaders have caught and are suffering from. But how dumb is the racist death cult following Donald Trump? 

CNN did a report on Trump’s misinformation and its consequences on the MAGA elite. The report included an interview from NBC where Trump supporters, possibly tailgating at some sporting event or waiting outside of a rally, told the reporter that COVID-19 isn’t worrying them because it isn’t real.

REPORTER: You don't believe coronavirus exists?

WOMAN: I don't.

REPORTER: So the two people who have been reported to have died from it in Washington state you don't trust that that's true?

WOMAN: I don't trust anything the democrats do or say.

The Centers for Disease Control already said in no uncertain terms that the coronavirus is not just real, it is in the United States. That means that this woman not only sticks to the most right-wing media outlets, she only pays attention to her television in the moments that Trump is talking.

The clip below made me wash my hands, and I haven’t even gone anywhere today.

YouTube Video

CDC reports potentially significant outbreak of COVID-19 as cases reported coast to coast

On Friday, the first person died in the United States from the effects of an infection by the 2019 novel coronavirus. On Saturday, another case of apparent community spread was identified, this time in Chicago, half a continent away from previous signs that the virus may be circulating in Washington, Oregon, and California. Then came another case in Rhode Island (a traveler to Italy, not community spread).

But the worst news of the day came in a phone call from the CDC on Saturday afternoon. Though it has received little attention in a usually sensationalist media that seems suddenly concerned about saying anything at all that might raise a sensation, what the CDC said during that call indicated that the official number of cases of COVID-19 is likely to double almost overnight — and it’s happening in the worst place imaginable for a disease of this type.

The subject of that CDC press call on Saturday was the Life Care Center, a long term nursing facility near Kirkland, Washington. The cases there have not yet been confirmed by testing, but there are two “presumptive positives”—which, from the call, appear to be quick tests that returned positive values, but are waiting for lab confirmation. One of these positives is a health care worker at Life Care Center. The other is one of the residents there, a woman in her 70s. 

But those two aren’t alone. CDC officials and officials from Washington state indicated that another 27 out of the facility’s 108 residents are showing symptoms that may indicate COVID-19. So are 25 members of the staff. 

Considering the profile of COVID-19, with deaths and severe illness heavily slanted toward patients over 60 or those with other health issues, this sort of facility would seem to be the very worst case scenario. These are the people at highest risk for a poor outcome … and yes, that’s a euphemism. 

And the worst thing out of this worst thing may be that one of the Washington state officials made it clear that, had they been able to test earlier, they might have identified and isolated infections before the situation reached this point. Now there seems little to do but protect those not yet showing any symptoms, wait for test results, and hope that everyone there is just sharing a persistent cold.

So, let’s look at a number that’s actually kind of nice to see.

COVID-19: Global Case Status

For the first time, the blue wedge here is actually larger than the orange—that is, the number of cases considered to be “recovered” have exceeded the number of active cases. The reason for this is also right there on the same chart. With a recovery period between 10-17 days, the “fat” part of the graph in terms of the original epicenter in China are now reaching the point where they reach an outcome. In a sense, cases before Valentines Day have now, with few exceptions, either ended in death or recovery. And as far as China goes, the number of cases logged after that date is less than what came before. 

However, there’s also a bad sign on this chart. At the very top of the graph, you can see that the overall slope for total cases has stopped flattening out and started to grow more steeply. This is because China is no longer driving the outcome. South Korea alone reported more new cases on Saturday than did all of China. Iran was not far behind. Here’s another look at the top 10 locations outside of China (and cruise ships).

COVID-19: Time sequence outside China

The growth of cases outside of China shows the appearance of those three new epicenters—South Korea, Italy, and Iran, though the order of these new sources is almost certainly not as they appear from the public information. Every indicator is that Iran is not only continuing to vastly under-report the true situation, but was harboring a significant number of infections for days or even weeks before the first case was reported. Iran has reported 54 deaths as of Satuday—more than Italy and South Korea combined.

What may be more interesting on the chart is actually those other countries up near the top:  Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. In each of these nations, despite proximity and frequent travel to affected regions in China that made them all early locations for cases identified outside of the original epicenter, additional cases have not undergone exponential growth. That’s true in Japan despite dozens of cases of community spread (including a scary number of cab drivers in major cities). After an initial outbreak, Singapore now shows only 32 active cases.  Both of these countries show admirable management of the infection that has avoided the mistakes seen elsewhere. Worth studying.

Finally, here’s a warning of a different sort—these daily reports need to change.

The first of these articles on 2019 novel coronavirus appeared on January 23, when the number of cases in China was still in the hundreds, but 17 deaths had made it clear that what was happening near the city of Wuhan demanded attention. Chinese authorities had already instituted travel restrictions within the country, restricting travel in Hubei Province. However, there was something going on at the time—an impeachment—that definitely put the story on the back burner, and back pages, within the U.S. It wasn’t until a week later that the virus, and the disease it caused, got a regular daily post. That first one warned against the rumors and misinformation that was already spreading faster than the infection.

Since then, the series had gone through a lot of topics: Right wing efforts to paint the virus as the another reason for xenophobia, the difference between an epidemic and pandemic, the death of whistle-blowing doctor Li Wenliang, who became an overnight symbol for free speech and government transparency, and the first news that passengers aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess had been confirmed to be carrying the virus.

Even though most of those events were less than a month ago, they’re already receding into the early history of an event that is turning into something that’s exceedingly rare—a genuinely worldwide event. For the last three weeks, these articles have often been a grim exercise in watching the rising tide of numbers. That may be an interesting exercise in some ways, but hitting everyone with charts and graphs is likely of diminishing value as this becomes more about how 2019 novel coronavirus affects your town, family, and life. Look for some changes to the reporting to match that new focus.

Resources on novel coronavirus

World Health Organization 2019 Coronavirus information site. World Health Organization 2019 Coronavirus Dashboard. 2019-nCoV Global Cases from Johns Hopkins. BNO News 2019 Novel Coronavirus tracking site. Worldometer / Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak. CDC Coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) information site. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Information on preparing yourself and your family

Some tips on preparing from Daily Kos. NPR’s guide to preparing your home. Ready.gov