Fever Spring

Fever Spring

March 20, 2006

Happy Friday the 13th! Boy, things can change fast, can’t they? Just three days ago, I was tut-tutting about the unfortunate situation in Italy. As of today, I don’t think the Italians have turned the corner on their coronavirus crisis, but they certainly have been bumped from the front page here in the United States. For weeks, since the word “coronavirus” began popping up almost daily, I scrolled through the popular media online trying to find out exactly what this disease is and why many in the loop seem so concerned. Much of the coverage has been, to put it nicely, shallow. Nevertheless, I have since managed to learn two things that made an impression on me and helped me understand what this is all about. 1) This is a new disease for us. There are hundreds of coronaviruses that can infect birds and mammals, but only seven are known to infect humans, including this new one. It is true a coronavirus causes the common cold and types of flu, but COVID-19, the name given the disease caused by the “novel coronavirus,” is neither. No one has any immunity to this new strain of the virus. We already know some brush it off, but others do die. The ultimate threat really is not known. 2) Health officials are recommending dispersal of people as much as possible to slow the spread of the infection, which practically is impossible to prevent altogether. By slowing the infection, medical facilities will not be overwhelmed, and hopefully the crisis can be better managed. Put another way, they deliberately are extending the initial wave of infections, so the optimum treatment will be there for those who will need it. I may have completely misinterpreted what I think I have learned, but these two points helped me understand why this is a big deal, and up until very recently I did wonder. Will it work, all the cancelling of concerts and political rallies and sporting events? I don’t know, but at least I do know their reasoning. I’m glad I’m a cartoonist who works at home, who doesn’t have to make those decisions. Keep calm and carry on.

64 responses to “Fever Spring”

  1. The real issue is many viruses depend on person-to-person transmission. Outside of human/animal hosts they cannot survive forever; most are killed by direct exposure to sunlight, certain chemicals, and other environmental factors. So, once all the susceptible individuals in its path are infected and either die or become immune to it (survive it, are successfully vaccinated, etc.), it disappears. That’s why we don’t have 100 or more strains of influenza running rampant.
    So the key to this one is to contain it until it quits spreading to those it can until it dies off. That’s why quarantines work.
    So, to quote JJ:
    “Keep calm and carry on.”

  2. There are some similarities, at least in our response, to 9-11. Basically what we took for granted,, we have to rethink in a new universe. I am beginning to understand the reason why we are doing this. I truly hope that we succeed. However that doesn’t me that I have to like it.

    We have a debate on social media as to whether it is ok to joke around. We are all different and a month from now things that we find funny now may not be so funny. But as I have traversed through the difficult times of my life, I have always laughed. Sometimes the laughter has helped me to heal. Things like toilet paper hoarding though deserves to be ridiculed. Tom Hanks holding up a volleyball like his co-star in Cast Away was funny and gave me comfort.

    They have taken away my sports, my entertainment, even my local fish fry. I totally understand that. But please don’t take away my sense of humor. Just not yet.

  3. I saw a graph comparing the fast/slow spread scenarios of the virus but just realized after reading JJ’s take on it that the purpose of all the closures etc. was to essentially distribute the same number of infected persons over time so that the medical facilities can keep pace. Thanks for the enlightenment! Also thanks to Delta for giving me a voucher for my canceled flight to West Palm Beach. (Sigh)

  4. That’s what I understand about it, too. As long time citizens here may remember, I fall into that “high risk” category with a kidney transplant, diabetes, and heart disease. I’m as healthy at the average octogenarian! (but I’m still in my 50s)

    Thanks to all that are cooperating with local, state, and national authority to try to control/slow the spread. It may be just the thing to keep from overwhelming medical resources and helping to keep me and other high risk people alive. My granddaughter and I thank you.

    Of course, one could argue that Gaia is just working to trim the drain on resources… not my preferred belief system, though.

  5. Sometimes I wonder why each year’s “flu-du-jour” arises in the far reaches of China. Why is there never a “Mozambique flu” or an “Icelandic flu” spreading among us?
    Meantime, we oldsters still need to go out and see our doctors as well as buy food. Did the former yesterday and am about to do the latter….

    • I had read recently that birds are the natural carriers for flu. And in China, poultry farmers are in much closer contact with their flocks than those in first world countries. Thus they are more readily exposed to each year’s new strain first, and once it jumps to humans it begins to move rapidly through the population. And with the more crowded living conditions there it’s like sticking a match in a well-laid fireplace.

      • Carriers, for sure – but where/how do these strains start? Maybe all flus are just variations of some one basic disease….

    • CEP: From what I’ve read the reason each year’s “flu-du-jour” arises in places like China has to do with the local levels of medical support and what the locals are eating… and which animals they’re working/living with. Here in the states some families which are treating chickens as pets are getting bacterial and viral-related diseases and infections due to the various pathogenic organisms they carry. Children, who typically pet and sometimes kiss or cuddle up with them, are getting things like Salmonellosis, Avian Flu, Staph, E. Coli, etc.

  6. Fun fact:
    The Spanish Flu of 1918 did not originate in Spain. The world was at war and news, especially bad news was suppressed by many participating countries (including the USA.) Spain was neutral in WWI, had no restrictions on news therefore the Spanish media publicized the flu widely.

  7. Did anyone else see the cool news about a bird skull in amber? It was smaller than a bee hummingbird with teeth like a crocodile. And geese are flying over, day and night. That is cool, too.

  8. I managed to score a bottle of hand-sanitizer at the store today. I have it hidden on the top shelf of the hall closet…behind a stack of krugerrands.

    In actual news, the TP shelf of the local Dollar General had like three packs of tissue on it at 2:00 pm today.

    • Remember in 1973 when Johnny Carson supposedly caused a TP shortage…by mentioning in a monologue that there was going to be a TP shortage?

  9. Good day, everyone. Although I have not posted in a very long time, I have been reading everyone’s comments. I just wanted to throw a little information about what’s happening on this side of the Pacific. It is impossible to get masks and hand sanitizers at any store here. But I can live with that as long as masks and other supplies are provided to hospitals, first responders, and others who really need them. There is a problem with people going into panic mode and trying to hoard masks, etc., which is not a good thing. Hospitals and local health care clinics are shutting their doors because they cannot get masks, sterilized gowns, goggles, or hand sanitizers. There was a run on toilet paper, diapers, and other paper products because the general populace thought there would be a shortage (the general public erroneously believed that Japan bought its pulp from China, but this is not true – the bulk of pulp and paper is produced domestically). The toilet paper hoarding lasted about ten days. Toilet paper and Kleenex have been appearing on store shelves since last week. Anyway, stay safe, everyone.

  10. Serious question, driven by a sincere desire for information: Does anyone personally know someone who has been authoritatively diagnosed with COVID-19? If so, do they dwell in an urban, suburban, or rural locality? (Don’t even ID yourselves if you are not comfortable doing so. I believe that posting without your “name” will still let your comment appear as “Anonymous”.

  11. Got a census item in today’s mail. On the envelope, in bold print, is “YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW”. Inside, the paper reads “This is your invitation to respond to the 2020 census.” . Something required by law is suddenly merely an invitation?!

    I have no knowledge of anyone with the virus so far.

    At the grocery today, customers were buying carts filled to overflowing with TP and/or bottled water. That stopped, as far as the TP went, after the TP went (was gone).

  12. Very large packages of paper towels are available and will work in a pinch .(: )) . Have not seen anyone wearing gloves or a mask other than our neighbor who has always worn one.

  13. CexP, if you kept reading (and you probably did 😉 you saw that they will send someone to talk to you personally if you don’t accept the invitation. They can’t force you to respond electronically, so it’s just an “invitation.”

  14. We got our form in mail on a Thus. – Sat. we got a dunning letter saying they would send a enumerator to or residence.
    Took 40/45 min to fill out with all the looking up of info. (I guess we could have faked a lot of it). Was in the mail Mon.
    Just got another request to fill out Census. If you call their number all you get is a run-a-round. And you can NOT request a paper
    form nor get hold of a person. I think we have had 5 or 6 mailings so far each signifying nothing. Typical government bungling.

    • Hi Old Bear. Your description causes me concern, in a snail mail style phishing scam kind of way. Government bungling is widespread and any bureaucracy can push redundancies to the absurd. But the legal disputes over what is permitted to be asked in this census is pretty well documented. I believe there are only seven questions allowed. I have not yet received mine, but I see a picture of the form and return envelope are included in the article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_United_States_Census

      I guess it did not occur to me to look at an actual .gov website. That would be a good place to at least compare and verify the address you intend to send this Large packet of personal information to. Found this, https://census.gov/2020census

      After reading you, I will be looking at mine twice before mailing. Thanks for the heads up. I’m going to read more now.

  15. “Pickles” is getting political. Naughty!
    OB: I fear it’s not confined to govt., but rather is typical institutional bungling. I switched from a nationwide, generally trustworthy pharm chain to Bemidji’s only remaining locally owned drug store, when I tried to phone the chain & found myself going in a circle from recording a to b, c, d, e, & back to a. Called the local outfit: a real woman asked, “Can I help you?”, and I said, “You just did.” Nice that it shares a parking lot with the local bank which I switched to from one of the mega-banks that helped get us into the last recession.

  16. I’ve learned to ask people if they like working where they do, what’s good about the company. The vast majority are happy to share their experiences and why they like it there. It beats talking about the weather!

  17. BTW, Utah seems to be shutting down everything for the next 2 weeks, all in the name of “containing” COVID-19. So schools, churches, libraries, college campuses are closing their doors and just doing some stuff online or by phone. Even movie theaters are limiting audience sizes to under 100 people. NONE of those things were done in 2009 with the H1N1 influenza, but it killed many thousands of people here in the US. This one seems to be sputtering out already. I hope so!

  18. By this time, there must be thousands of US victims who have recovered; I’m still waiting for the media to start giving the recovery totals with the same verve they use for new case totals. It’s bound to have a better effect on the general public.

    Did the on-line census form last evening; very short and simple.

    My church has cancelled everything but worship and daycare for a while, while the MBH’s church has totally closed down for at least a week.

  19. If this Flu is like the 18/20 Flu it will take about 2 years to run its course.
    We cannot have 2 years of supplies on hand – though 3 months (6 months better) is doable and should be the norm.
    Then there would not be panic buying every time there is an incident. That way people could weather disaster be it
    loss of income, weather, pandemic or anything else that interrupts the supply chain. Rotate stock – first in first out –
    It does not have to be all at once – an extra can or box when stuff is on sale.
    I think people that live where it takes 2-3 hours to get to the store are just shaking their head.

  20. People are ignoring the differences in the countries where this coronavirus has been found. In Wuhan China, 11 million people live in a relatively small area. Wiki says the population density is 3,200/sq mile. Even in Utah’s most densely populated area we have just 1,722 per sq mile. We Utahns don’t have immense apartment buildings. We don’t ride cheek-by-jowl on trains and buses. And so the latest data for COVID-19 cases in Utah is just 20 confirmed and 0 fatalities.
    With the steps we’re taking to contain COVID-19 I don’t expect to see anything like the H1N1 virus of 2009 in which 60 million Americans got the disease, over 265,000 were hospitalized, and at least 12,000 died.

  21. Interesting to read others’ thoughts on the current situation. I live in a relatively rural area, but that doesn’t mean that we do not have contact with urban areas. I am hoping – praying – that all the doomsayers are not right. But… am taking sensible precautions, and have faith that the effects will be minimal. But also thinking – and caring – about those who live in areas where folk are dealing with the illness and all the ramifications.

    Stay strong!

  22. I’ve been laid off. No change in pay, but Sanford Health Bemidji is asking volunteers 75 and older to stay home. How will I know what day of the week it is if I don’t have to be there around 0700 Fridays?

  23. On my way home from choir practice (hurrah!) a local station was playing the audio from Face the Nation. they mentioned that a governor back east said that while there had been no deaths in his state that his experts said there could be over a hundred thousand people who had the virus but wouldn’t know it because the symptoms were so mild… So, expanding that to our country as a whole that means millions of us could have it and never know it… so what is the mortality rate if, say 6,300* of us eventually die from it and 60 million of us have had it? A mere 0.0105%!
    *At this time only 63 Americans have died, so, I chose that number. The 60 million is the estimated H1N1 virus cases from 2009.

  24. Re 3-15-20 real-time cartoon: Dickens and I are the canine and not-a-cartoon-guy version of today’s comic. Every time I walk into the bedroom when he’s on the bed, he barks excitedly, expressing his desire for me to come to bed with him…even if it’s mid-morning or mid-afternoon. He obviously feels I should maintain the same 4:awake/20:sleep schedule he does. Perhaps he has a point; one of the suggestions I read for helping fight off the novel coronavirus is to get plenty of rest.

  25. Seen on the InterWebNet. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s worth considering when thinking of the value of “social distancing”.
    “You know how everyone rushed to the stores at the same time and bought everything out at once instead of staggering their visits? Now imagine the same thing in the hospital, but instead of TP it’s ICU beds and ventilators that are out. This is why everything is cancelled.”

  26. emb
    Re: Shoe
    It is the doorway – It is a memory portal – if you return through the portal most times the
    memory returns.

    Even this site must have passed that portal – It forgot my name.

  27. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thank you!

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