Coronavirus Special Coverage

A collection of news posted throughout the week for those that want signal, not noise.

  • Previous coverage - all of our posts in this ongoing series.
  • Coronavirus status page - learn how to prepare for possible spread to your area. Scenarios, shopping lists, background info and everything else you need, all in one place.

COVID-19: key developments for Friday, February 28, 2020

A collection of key developments in the fight against COVID-19 (the actual virus is SARS-COV-2), posted throughout the week for those who just want the signal and not the noise. If there’s something you think we should include, sound off in the comments thread attached to the post.

Visit our Wuhan coronavirus status page and learn how to prepare for possible spread to your area. Scenarios, shopping lists, background info, and everything else you need, all in one place.

Previously: The previous day’s key developments post is here.


The biggest news of the day is the very real prospect of second and third cases of community transmitted coronavirus in Northern California, and a presumptive case in Oregon (also community transmission). We don’t know where these new cases got this, because they have no travel history or any connection to any known cluster.

One theory about the NorCal cases is it’s spreading from the quarantine there (probably an healthcare infected worker spreading it in the community.) I’m told that if we wanted to know if these cases indeed from the Diamond Princess quarantine cohort, we could do some genetic analysis that would confirm or deny. I doubt we’ll do it, though, because if it’s positive then it confirms the whistleblower allegations about lack of care in handling these cases.

The second biggest news of the day is the news that by the end of next week we’ll be able to test 10,000 people a day for the virus. In the long run, this is actually a bigger deal than the second NorCal case. The virus has a R0 number somewhere north of 3, most likely, which means serious exponential growth. If there are a few hundred cases right now, there will be a few thousand cases by the end of next week when we start testing in earnest. So in a little over a week, the confirmed case count in the US is going to take off like a rocket, and everyone who isn’t yet freaking out will finally panic.

US schools start planning for possible spread of coronavirus. “Schools across the United States are canceling trips abroad, preparing online lessons and even rethinking “perfect attendance” awards as they brace for the possibility that the new coronavirus could begin spreading in their communities.”

The WHO is still not calling this a “pandemic,” but they have raised their risk level from “high” to “very high.”

We’ve been warning about the drug shortages, and now the first ones are here: The US has its first novel coronavirus-related drug shortage. No word yet on what the drug is. The original FDA announcement is here.

More companies are doing this and haven’t yet announced it, but the damn will break soon: Amazon tells all 798,000 employees to halt travel, in US and internationally, over coronavirus fears.

There’s already panic buying in Hawaii. I’ve seen videos of panic buying in New York that I’m not putting on here because I don’t necessarily trust the account. But if true it would not surprise me. This weekend will be nuts.

CDC adds Iran and Italy to the list of travel alerts, urging Americans to skip any non-essential travel to those countries.

Despite all the hand-wringing and crying foul about the travel restrictions, some experts writing in the NEJM say they worked to slow the spread. These restrictions bought us precious time, which we used telling people not to panic, propping up the stock market, reminding everyone to wash their hands, talking about the dangers of seasonal flu, and generally acting like this is not going to be the societal earthquake that it’s about to turn into. High fives all around.

Chinese laboratory that first shared coronavirus genome with world ordered to close for ‘rectification’, hindering its Covid-19 research. “No reason was given for the closure of Shanghai facility, which released information about the virus ahead of authorities. One source at the laboratory said the closure has hampered scientists’ research when they should be ‘racing against the clock’”

This is actually pretty good: Yes, it is worse than the flu: busting the coronavirus myths

I’m thinking a lot about waves, and how the Spanish Flu came in two of them: a first one that was hardest on the elderly, and a second one that was far more deadly and killed the healthy and young. This tweet has some info about how diseases for which we have no immunity come in waves like this, and don’t seem to be as affected by warm weather as seasonal flu:

Triage is grim, but it’s what you do in extreme moments of mass injury (i.e. wars, pandemics): Coronavirus panic sweeps UK as NHS admits ‘weakest’ would be left to die. “Three more Brits have tested positive for deadly coronavirus as schools shut and the FTSE 100 falls £152billion. Shoppers are in a rush to buy hand gel, medicine, groceries and nappies while the NHS admits it would not be able to treat ‘weakest’ if the disease takes hold.”

The number of evacuees infected with the novel coronavirus climbed to 11 on Friday, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These are all from either Wuhan or the Diamond Princess. I’d bet any amount of money that San Antonio is going to be thought to have community transmission in two weeks or less.

Key Missteps at the CDC Have Set Back Its Ability to Detect the Potential Spread of Coronavirus. “The CDC designed a flawed test for COVID-19, then took weeks to figure out a fix so state and local labs could use it. New York still doesn’t trust the test’s accuracy.”

Singapore’s coronavirus response has contained the outbreak—but its strategy is hard to replicate.

This thing is spreading in prisons in China, Iran, and South Korea. It will probably spread in prisons, here, and then what will we do? What is the plan? Is there a plan? We have 2.3 million in prison here in the US.

Coronavirus: China’s factories activity plunges to all-time low, worse than global financial crisis, February data show


  • 6 Comments

    • Jeremiah Johnson

      Thanks of all the updates and work on the COVID-19 outbreak.

      I’m tired of hearing the government telling people masks won’t keep you safe so don’t buy them because medical staff need them – to protect themselves – while they treat people with COVID-19.

      So masks only keep medical staff safe then? It’s a stupid way to put out the message. We get it, medical staff need protective equipment to deal with COVID-19, and other medical issues, flu, etc. but don’t say masks won’t help the public and in the same sentence tell us medical staff need all the masks! Thoughts?

      Seriously people’: Surgeon general urges public to ‘stop buying masks’ for coronavirus:
      https://tinyurl.com/tj5jg2k

      10 |
      • John AdamaStaff Jeremiah Johnson

        Yeah the gov-backed media push of “you don’t need masks!” has been bugging me. They’re intentionally lying in order to save supplies for those most at risk. Which is an admirable goal, so just tell people the truth.

        And further, the government and healthcare institutions have the burden of being prepared for mass-level needs. Asking people to not take steps to protect themselves because the gov/etc couldn’t be bothered beforehand is just aggravating.

        9 |
      • Jeremiah Johnson John Adama

        Shame on them, some of us John Q. Public’s saw the writing on the wall weeks ago. We, without panic, got busy doing what we can to prepare, to the best of our means and abilities.

        Meanwhile our government, who sat on their laurels, has now become a perfect example of trying to prepare after the genie is out of the bottle.

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    • Don
      9 |
    • Hayden Harriet
      [comment deleted]
      5 |