The Critical COVID-19 Infections Are About To Occur: It's Time To Stay Home [crosspost]

by Impassionata2 min read12th Mar 20208 comments


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Well I don't know how many of you reading this have been following the spread of Coronavirus. In the line of providing another person who is noticing the smoke in the room, I wrote this last night and started a blog to do it.

Tl;dr: It is reasonable to expect that sometime between March 16th and March 18th, our hospitals will be slammed with cases of COVID-19 needing urgent attention and war-time triage will be applied, if not immediately, then at some soon point beyond that. Your value will be your youth. If you have family members who are at risk (like parents) they should consider the fact that if they leave the house and they get sick they will be going into a healthcare system that cannot give them adequate care and they will have an increased chance of dying. You should feel free to insist that they stay home for the next 5 days, preferably a week if you have the sort of relationship where you can express that sentiment. Once it begins there will not be a need to motivate them to stay.

It could happen sooner. It could happen later. It will happen. Hospitals in your community will be infected and the entire hospital will, essentially, have it.

Everyone for some value of everyone is going to get this. 30% of the population is what they told legislators today.

I feel a little silly writing this out because I'm typical minding: I've been paying attention to this virus for a long time, and I assume everyone is where I'm at.

This is where I'm at. At home. Where I will stay. For as long as possible.

Do your part, motherfuckers, it's a pandemic on and the math to track the impact point says there is still time to make a difference: the infections that comprise the big surge are about to happen. Well. Started happening today. Tomorrow there's just gonna be more.

Original post to follow:

It's Time To Stay Home

If you have the disease and don't know it yet, now is a very very bad time to spread it inadvertently. The people you infect will, if they must go to the hospital, be a part of the epidemic curve that overwhelms the hospital.

If you don't have the disease, now is a very very bad time to catch it, because you will be part of the big wave.

TL;DR: The transmissions that will swamp our hospital systems are about to begin. STAY HOME. For as long as you can.

Many have seen this time-adjusted graph of the numbers, with the time shifted so it's clear just how similar the curves look.

I'm posting this on March 11th. The incubation period is around 5 days.

The reports from Italy about their overwhelmed hospitals began March 8th; some of their hospitals were already swamped at that point.

If we were 11.5 days behind Italy on March 9th, but Italian hospitals hit saturation, oh, call it March 6th, then our hospitals will start suffering on March 17th/18th. 5 days to develop symptoms, 24 hours for them to get bad enough to go to the hospital.

The Critical Window Is Here

Starting today, March 11th, if you leave the house, you are taking a significantly higher risk of being in a hospital during the surge.

If you have left the house (and let's be realistic about how often you touched your face and you probably touched doorknobs), if you leave your house now and develop symptoms tomorrow, anyone you infect today who needs medical care will be in the hospital during the surge.

I'm not leaving my house.


8 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 12:34 AM
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It sounds like you've found that by March 17, the US will have the same number of cases that Italy had when things turned disastrous.

But the US has five times the population of Italy, and the epidemic in the US seems more spread out compared to Italy (where it was focused in Lombardy). This makes me think we might have another ~3 doubling times (a little over a week) after the time we reach the number of cases that marked the worst phase of Italy, before we get the worst phase here.

I agree that it's going to get worse than most people expect sooner than most people expect, and that now is a good time to start staying inside. But (and I might be misunderstanding) I'm not sure if I would frame this as "tell people to stay inside for the next five days", because I do think it's possible that five days from now nothing has gotten obviously worse and then people will grow complacent.

Fair argument. I'm close enough to Seattle that I'm metering that risk as well. The reality is the rate at which hospitals get overwhelmed will vary by a few days, maybe even a week, across the US.

Independently of your post, I initially planned to start strict isolation on March 18th. After catching up with various news today (esp. the UK government's estimate that the undetected rate of cases is 2x higher than I estimated it myself), I decided that this feels like pushing it, so I made the resolution to start on March 15th already. And if I was in the US I'd start it even earlier (because of higher uncertainty about the true numbers due to poor testing). My reasoning is driven more by incubation period taking up to 14 days rather than by expecting hospitals to start filling up in the next days already. My sense is that it'll take a bit longer than you suggest for hospitals to fill up substantially. But either way, I think the incubation period lasting potentially longer than 5 days is an important consideration too, and better safe than sorry.

Many have seen this time-adjusted graph of the numbers, with the time shifted so it's clear just how similar the curves look.

Your image is broken for me.

It's hosted on Twitter, apparently. So my guess is it might be a content blocker of yours.

Well, it spontaneously fixed itself.