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 Thursday, May 14, 2020

The world has over 4.5 million cases.  Cases have been growing linearly by about 600,000 for at least a month. The US has over 1.45 million cases and has had over 86,000 deaths. Daily deaths in the US are downtrending for now. Here’s a useful visual and explanation of the situation in the US:

Our food distribution system is broken—there’s lots of food being produced, but no way to get it to hungry Americans. Monopolization and centralization of these systems is a big part of the problem. Centralization creates a supply chain riddled with massive points of failure. So many family-run farms have been put out of business that there are too few to fill the gaps as flexibly as they once could.

The White House tests are reported to be wildly inaccurate:

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s entirely possible that SARS-CoV-2 escaped a lab. That doesn’t mean it was engineered or deliberately released. Many labs hold samples of viruses of zoonotic origin. It also could have jumped to humans from animals—no lab needed. Is it wise to make accusations against the much-maligned Wuhan lab? Wouldn’t that implicate the US as well, considering the US was purportedly supporting research into similar viruses in that lab? There are more questions than answers at this point.

Dogs and cats can get this virus, and cats in particular shed a lot of this virus as well. We don’t know if people can contract this disease from their pets, but we know the cats shed live virus. We’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth saying again: be cautious around animals if you are sick. You may want to consider quarantining yourself from your pets while you are sick, especially if you have tested positive. Preventing your animals from mingling with other neighborhood pets is also a good idea.

Delta is retiring its 777 fleet:

Normalcy bias extends beyond the current pandemic. What else will take us by surprise?

Large scale sewage testing? It’s a thing, and a lot of countries are doing it. Sewage monitoring can reveal new regional virus outbreaks. The concentration of virus particles can also be informative, revealing a large outbreak than testing levels are showing at the time.

Rates of kidney injury in hospitalized COVID-19 patients are extremely high. The pandemic virus can attack the parenchyma of the kidney directly. Kidney injury can also be a sequela of shock, muscle breakdown from immobility (while ventilated, perhaps), and from drug metabolism by already struggling kidneys. Although acute kidney injury can sometimes heal, it can also leave a person with decreased function from baseline. If too much damage occurs, it can result in needing dialysis or even kidney transplantation.

Lots of people at beaches means cases pick up a few weeks later. Surprise, surprise:

If you look at excess deaths by comparing all current deaths to deaths this time last year, you find we’re likely underestimating our COVID-19 death count: