Our stake has thankfully decided that given Utah’s current COVID-19 numbers, it’s too early to start church meetings up again. Which seems wise to me. Prudence and patience are what we need here.
Over the past week or so, by the way, I’ve come to realize that we as a family are probably going to need to self-isolate for another year or so while we wait for a vaccine. It’s a long time, but also not that long. Someday this will all be safely tucked in the past. (I should add that I don’t for one second think that COVID-19 isn’t going to leave a permanent mark on the world. The pre-COVID world is surely dead; the world in its wake can’t possibly look the same. But I feel confident that the need to self-isolate will eventually end, at least until the next pandemic.)
This may not comfort others the way it comforts me, but I occasionally think about World War II (I was reading Anne Frank’s diary before the pandemic), more particularly how people wanted the war to end but had no idea in the moment how long it was going to last. It took six years and so many lives, but it did end. As did the 1918 pandemic. This too shall pass.
Erin Bromage’s The Risks - Know Them - Avoid Them piece on COVID-19 is a good explanation of what it takes to get infected. (I found it useful, for example, to know that walking past someone in the grocery store is fairly safe.)
It seems many people are breathing some relief, and I’m not sure why. An epidemic curve has a relatively predictable upslope and once the peak is reached, the back slope can also be predicted. We have robust data from the outbreaks in China and Italy, that shows the backside of the mortality curve declines slowly, with deaths persisting for months. Assuming we have just crested in deaths at 70k, it is possible that we lose another 70,000 people over the next 6 weeks as we come off that peak. That’s what’s going to happen with a lockdown.
As states reopen, and we give the virus more fuel, all bets are off. I understand the reasons for reopening the economy, but I’ve said before, if you don’t solve the biology, the economy won’t recover.
I agree — reopening seems completely premature to me based on the curve.
Great news: Apple and Google are integrating COVID-19 contact tracing into iOS and Android. Earlier today, Kottke posted a visual explanation of how something like this works. (I’m not sure how close it is to what Apple and Google are actually doing, but from a cursory skim, it looks fairly similar.)
A small ray of hope: I came across some COVID-19 projections for Utah by IHME (the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation), and at least for Utah, the numbers aren’t nearly as dire as I’d been expecting. They do assume “full social distancing through May 2020” (I have my doubts about whether “full” is actually attainable in America, the land of the stubbornly independent), and who knows whether IHME’s model will end up being accurate, but hopefully they’re in the ballpark.
Brief update: still alive, doing fine, just staying home with my wife and kids in the hope of helping stop the spread (and ideally not getting COVID-19 either — one of our kids has a heart condition which makes this scarier for us than it would otherwise be).
I haven’t really worked on any art lately (not in the right headspace for it lately), but I have gotten back into writing, and that’s going well. Hoping to have some new fiction to post before too long. And new art, too.
Stay home and stay healthy, y’all.