1,002 thoughts on “Covid-19 Updates”

  1. Please disagree with this if you can.
    I think not taking the simple steps of hand washing, wearing masks, and some measure of less social interaction kills people needlessly. Doing these things quickly and near universally totally changes the outcomes.

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  2. MJBubba:
    [haakondahl: Contact tracing and testing did not help you.]

    Not so fast. If we had done a competent job of contact tracing and testing we probably could have done a better job of dampening the spread. Japan and South Korea had a very different experience in this regard than we experienced in the U.S.A.

    Ummm, so we agree — it did not help us.

    Standing out upon a conjecture here, I’d say that Japan and South Korea gained a nose on immunity from unseen, long-standing exposure to more closely-related variants, and perhaps to early, unbeknownst exposure to the bad stuff.  How many deaths of the elderly due to pneumonia were in fact COVID cases, lost now forever in the noise of the virus season.  Those tests will not be done.  Anyway — that’s conjecture.

    What’s not conjecture (although I may be mistaken) is that South Korea’s worst cluster was from that dingdong church/temple/shrine/outfit.  But for that cluster metastasizing, KS may well have gone the way of Singapore.  That church cluster is why contact tracing was valuable in KS, and in order to exploit that value, they imposed (relatively) drastic measures which would not have flown here.

    The treatment must not be tailored only to the disease, but to the patient as well.

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  3. The above comment notwithstanding, MJB, I agree with all of the points you’ve made here.  Especially where you agree with me.

    We’re an agreeable bunch.

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  4. 10 Cents:
    Please disagree with this if you can.
    I think not taking the simple steps of hand washing, wearing masks, and some measure of less social interaction kills people needlessly. Doing these things quickly and near universally totally changes the outcomes.

    Geez. You guys are still at it. I would have thought you’d have moved on by now.

    OK. I disagree. Risk exists everywhere. Certainly my riding my motorcycle is risky – probably more risky than contracting WuFlu. For the younger bunch, which is everyone under the age of 60, the risks are minimal if certain basic conditions are met. No crowding in confined space. Good hand washing. Good cleanliness overall. Some will contract the illness, have a bad flu, and get on with life – now with immunity. Kids appear to have no significant risk, so should be immediately sent back to school.  Old people, those >75, need to take their own precautions. Life goes on.

    All the rest of this is statistics, not real people. And generally not even good statistics.

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  5. Devereaux:

    10 Cents:
    Please disagree with this if you can.
    I think not taking the simple steps of hand washing, wearing masks, and some measure of less social interaction kills people needlessly. Doing these things quickly and near universally totally changes the outcomes.

    Geez. You guys are still at it. I would have thought you’d have moved on by now.

    OK. I disagree. Risk exists everywhere. Certainly my riding my motorcycle is risky – probably more risky than contracting WuFlu. For the younger bunch, which is everyone under the age of 60, the risks are minimal if certain basic conditions are met. No crowding in confined space. Good hand washing. Good cleanliness overall. Some will contract the illness, have a bad flu, and get on with life – now with immunity. Kids appear to have no significant risk, so should be immediately sent back to school.  Old people, those >75, need to take their own precautions. Life goes on.

    All the rest of this is statistics, not real people. And generally not even good statistics.

    We agree, Dev.

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  6. MJBubba:

    Haakon Dahl:
    If you think that masks don’t help the person who wears the mask, you’ve been successfully propagandized by a government which quelled a panic over unavailable masks by denigrating the masks and hazarding your very life in the process.

    Agreed.  They lied.  They started lying in January and kept it up until March, by which time the internet was full of pushback against this transparent falsehood.

    In the process they lost a lot of credibility, ginned up a lot of distress and distrust, increased political polarization and fed several conspiracy theories.

    Actually, in 2025 there was a randomized study of 1600 healthcare workers that looked at the effectiveness of cloth masks.

    Main outcome measure Clinical respiratory illness (CRI), influenza-like illness (ILI) and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infection.

    Results The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of ILI statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm (relative risk (RR)=13.00, 95% CI 1.69 to 100.07) compared with the medical mask arm. Cloth masks also had significantly higher rates of ILI compared with the control arm. An analysis by mask use showed ILI (RR=6.64, 95% CI 1.45 to 28.65) and laboratory-confirmed virus (RR=1.72, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.94) were significantly higher in the cloth masks group compared with the medical masks group. Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.”

    I suppose we most consider whether, back in 2015, the authors have already been successfully propagandized.

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  7. Ed K:

    MJBubba:

    Haakon Dahl:
    If you think that masks don’t help the person who wears the mask, you’ve been successfully propagandized by a government which quelled a panic over unavailable masks by denigrating the masks and hazarding your very life in the process.

    Agreed.  They lied.  They started lying in January and kept it up until March, by which time the internet was full of pushback against this transparent falsehood.

    In the process they lost a lot of credibility, ginned up a lot of distress and distrust, increased political polarization and fed several conspiracy theories.

    Actually, in 2025 there was a randomized study of 1600 healthcare workers that looked at the effectiveness of cloth masks.

    Main outcome measure Clinical respiratory illness (CRI), influenza-like illness (ILI) and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infection.

    Results The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of ILI statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm (relative risk (RR)=13.00, 95% CI 1.69 to 100.07) compared with the medical mask arm. Cloth masks also had significantly higher rates of ILI compared with the control arm. An analysis by mask use showed ILI (RR=6.64, 95% CI 1.45 to 28.65) and laboratory-confirmed virus (RR=1.72, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.94) were significantly higher in the cloth masks group compared with the medical masks group. Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.”

    I suppose we most consider whether, back in 2015, the authors have already been successfully propagandized.

    Good thing I’ve been talking about “medical” masks and not old socks and knitting projects.  There’s another study that says medical masks are as effective as N95 “respirator” style masks at protecting medical personnel.  https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/what-is-the-efficacy-of-standard-face-masks-compared-to-respirator-masks-in-preventing-covid-type-respiratory-illnesses-in-primary-care-staff/  Sounds like nonsense to me, but hey, it’s a study, right?  This is a 2020 update of a 2017 study.

    And here’s one from 2018 which says that mere exhalation (as opposed to coughing and sneezing or intubation, the usual “aerosol generating processes”) can produce droplets sufficient to convey the flu, and a droplet is a droplet is a droplet.  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320690

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  8. This is today’s update for Switzerland [PDF], published at 06:00 UTC on 2020-05-26.  This report is updated every day, but always has the same URL: you need to look at the document to see whether today’s update has been posted.  Summary:

    • Cases tested positive: 30,761 with 15 new since yesterday
    • Deaths so far: 1648 up 6 since yesterday, 58% male, 42% female, median age 84
    • Tests administered: 375,115, of which 10% were positive, 46% male, 54% female
    • Median age of those tested positive: 52
    • Total cases hospitalised: 3930, 60% male, 40% female, median age 72
    • Cases per 100,000 population: 358, unchanged from yesterday

    The Confederation Customs Administration issued its April 2020 report [PDF] today.  Seasonally adjusted figures for exports fell 11.7% and imports fell 21.9%.  These are the steepest declines in decades.  Exports to France and Italy were at their lowest level in 20 years.  Imports fell to their level in July 2005.  Here is another chart to add to the “Year of the Jackpot” collection.

    Swiss imports and exports: April 2020

    Exports of jewelry fell by 77% and watches by 72.6%.  The least affected sector was chemicals and pharmaceuticals, which fell 4.8%.

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  9. John Walker:
    This is today’s update for Switzerland [PDF], published at 06:00 UTC on 2020-05-26.  This report is updated every day, but always has the same URL: you need to look at the document to see whether today’s update has been posted.  Summary:

    • Cases tested positive: 30,761 with 15 new since yesterday
    • Deaths so far: 1648 up 6 since yesterday, 58% male, 42% female, median age 84
    • Tests administered: 375,115, of which 10% were positive, 46% male, 54% female
    • Median age of those tested positive: 52
    • Total cases hospitalised: 3930, 60% male, 40% female, median age 72
    • Cases per 100,000 population: 358, unchanged from yesterday

    The Confederation Customs Administration issued its April 2020 report [PDF] today.  Seasonally adjusted figures for exports fell 11.7% and imports fell 21.9%.  These are the steepest declines in decades.  Exports to France and Italy were at their lowest level in 20 years.  Imports fell to their level in July 2005.  Here is another chart to add to the “Year of the Jackpot” collection.

    Swiss imports and exports: April 2020

    Exports of jewelry fell by 77% and watches by 72.6%.  The least affected sector was chemicals and pharmaceuticals, which fell 4.8%.

    Yikes! I became inured to scare headlines many weeks ago, so am discounting most of them. I am surprised, however, by the relative paucity of scare prognostications about the economy. I have a sense that the shutdown will be consequential, indeed – many bankruptcies and businesses never reopening – with a significant shrinkage in the ranks of the middle class.

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  10. Ed K:

    MJBubba:

    Haakon Dahl:
    If you think that masks don’t help the person who wears the mask, you’ve been successfully propagandized by a government which quelled a panic over unavailable masks by denigrating the masks and hazarding your very life in the process.

    Agreed.  They lied.  They started lying in January and kept it up until March, by which time the internet was full of pushback against this transparent falsehood.

    In the process they lost a lot of credibility, ginned up a lot of distress and distrust, increased political polarization and fed several conspiracy theories.

    Actually, in 2025 there was a randomized study of 1600 healthcare workers that looked at the effectiveness of cloth masks.

    Main outcome measure Clinical respiratory illness (CRI), influenza-like illness (ILI) and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infection.

    Results The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of ILI statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm (relative risk (RR)=13.00, 95% CI 1.69 to 100.07) compared with the medical mask arm. Cloth masks also had significantly higher rates of ILI compared with the control arm. An analysis by mask use showed ILI (RR=6.64, 95% CI 1.45 to 28.65) and laboratory-confirmed virus (RR=1.72, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.94) were significantly higher in the cloth masks group compared with the medical masks group. Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.”

    I suppose we most consider whether, back in 2015, the authors have already been successfully propagandized.

    A cynical view is this study was financed by people with stock in medical masks.

    Cloth is such a wide term what did it mean in the study? I feel there must be some fabrics that would be quite effective and others that would not be.

    I have also seen where a mask won’t help if you use it improperly. It you touch your face enough with unclean hands you are not protecting yourself.

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  11. Ed K:
    a randomized study of 1600 healthcare workers that looked at the effectiveness of cloth masks.

    Yeah, we briefly looked at that 2015 study about 25 pages ago.  The control group was also wearing masks, but they did not specify, so I presume they were “medical masks.”  The abstract did not describe the “cloth masks” except in one line where they were described as “cloth/cotton masks” as typically found in healthcare facilities in third world countries.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4420971/

    So cloth masks were about half as effective as medical masks.  That particular study did not compare either to not wearing a mask.

    Other studies did establish that cloth masks are much better than no mask.   We briefly looked at that also, and criticized it for small sample size and selection bias.

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  12. MJBubba:

    Ed K:
    a randomized study of 1600 healthcare workers that looked at the effectiveness of cloth masks.

    Yeah, we briefly looked at that 2015 study about 25 pages ago.  The control group was also wearing masks, but they did not specify, so I presume they were “medical masks.”  The abstract did not describe the “cloth masks” except in one line where they were described as “cloth/cotton masks” as typically found in healthcare facilities in third world countries.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4420971/

    So cloth masks were about half as effective as medical masks.  That particular study did not compare either to not wearing a mask.

    Other studies did establish that cloth masks are much better than no mask.   We briefly looked at that also, and criticized it for small sample size and selection bias.

    Mask vs Respirators  provides generic definition and info on design intent.

    If a study does not specify the specific model used and information on face fit, I would ignore it.  I would file it under studies by less than competent people likely funded by a government.

    The site also has instructions on how to use the respirator and self check fit.

    I may have said this before:  valved respirators improve comfort while providing protection from the environment.   In COVID world the application is similar to a medical respirator (protect you and the patient), it is probably good to tape off the valve and run the fit check.

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  13. Here is another “Year of the Jackpot” chart for you.  The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has been publishing a monthly National Activity Index (CFNAI) since March, 1967.  The index is a weighted average of 85 monthly indicators [PDF].  The index is constructed so that zero means economic growth continuing on trend with positive and negative denoting growth or shrinkage with respect to the trend.  The index has a standard deviation of one.  Extreme negative values are registered within deep recessions, with the previous record being −3.67 in December 1974.  In January 2009, after the 2008 financial crash, the index stood at −3.35.  Well, the number just came out for April 2020.

    Chicago Fed National Activity Index, April 2020

    That blue line at the right is April 2020, which came in at −16.74, sixteen and three quarters standard deviations!  Since this is in standard deviations, it’s tempting to compute the chance probability for it with a z score calculator.  And the probability is…zero!  That’s right, it’s less than the smallest number which can be represented by a 64-bit IEEE 754 floating point number, 10−308.

    Year of the jackpot…indeed.

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  14. John Walker:
    That blue line at the right is April 2020, which came in at −16.74, sixteen and three quarters standard deviations!  Since this is in standard deviations, it’s tempting to compute the chance probability for it with a z score calculator.  And the probability is…zero!  That’s right, it’s less than the smallest number which can be represented by a 64-bit IEEE 754 floating point number, 10−308.

    Year of the jackpot…indeed.

    Without looking, I’ll hazard a guess that this estimate of the probability is built on a normal distribution which makes for easy math — it is the gold standard for comparing different sets of calculations — but it is frequently not appropriate for models to which it is nonetheless applied.  Because the math is simpler, it is in fact a handy, truly useful tool for measuring things near the middle of the distribution.

    NOTE: I do not claim to be handy with the math no matter how handy it may be.  I just walk around saying Cauchy a lot.

    The normal distribution is the right tool for forecasting the spherical returns earned by massless brokers on frictionless trading floors.

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  15. Haakon Dahl:
    The normal distribution is the right tool for forecasting the spherical returns earned by massless brokers on frictionless trading floors.

    Walker’s Law number (unassigned): “Statisticians speak Gaussian.  The universe speaks Pareto.”

    It is, of course, kind of silly to compute the chance probability of something for which you know the cause is not chance.  But it makes a kind of sense when you’re discussing hedging strategies or the equivalent in supply chain management or prepping.  “We’re ready for a three sigma event” is generally spoken with smug confidence.  So, Bunky, what happens when it’s sixteen and change?

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  16. John Walker:

    Haakon Dahl:
    The normal distribution is the right tool for forecasting the spherical returns earned by massless brokers on frictionless trading floors.

    Walker’s Law number (unassigned): “Statisticians speak Gaussian.  The universe speaks Pareto.”

    Agreed!

    It is, of course, kind of silly to compute the chance probability of something for which you know the cause is not chance.

    But the cause is chance* if your model is abstract.  If it’s not this, then it’s that, and we don’t care what it is in a purely numeric model.

    But it makes a kind of sense when you’re discussing hedging strategies or the equivalent in supply chain management or prepping.  “We’re ready for a three sigma event” is generally spoken with smug confidence.  So, Bunky, what happens when it’s sixteen and change?

    I agree with the larger point you’re making, but this is equivalent to asking how many degrees Fahrenheit the market is.

    *Amusingly, if annoyingly, I would submit that the probability of this n-FahrenSigma event is not zero — it’s one, and I don’t mean just because it already happened.  It was inevitable.  If it hadn’t been this, it would have been something else.

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  17. MJBubba:

    Haakon Dahl:
    If it hadn’t been this, it would have been something else.

    Yes.

    But if not this, the something else might not happen until 2025, or 2035, or who knows when.

    True, but inevitability is not concerned with years or decades.

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  18. Here is today’s update for Switzerland [PDF], published at 06:00 UTC on 2020-05-27.  This report is updated every day, but always has the same URL: you need to look at the document to see whether today’s update has been posted.  Summary:

    • Cases tested positive: 30,776 with 15 new since yesterday
    • Deaths so far: 1649 up 1 since yesterday, 58% male, 42% female, median age 84
    • Tests administered: 380,671, of which 10% were positive, 46% male, 54% female
    • Median age of those tested positive: 52
    • Total cases hospitalised: 3933, 60% male, 40% female, median age 72
    • Cases per 100,000 population: 359, up from 358 from yesterday

    Today, 2020-05-27, the Federal Council announced “Further easing of entry restrictions from 8 June”.

    From 8 June, the cantons will begin processing applications from workers from the EU/EFTA member states. In addition, Swiss companies will be allowed to employ highly skilled workers from third countries if this is in the public interest, or if they are urgently required. To benefit the domestic workforce, companies will again be required to give notification of job vacancies, a measure that was temporarily suspended during the lockdown. Lastly, the Federal Council plans to lift all travel restrictions and re-establish the free movement of persons across the Schengen area no later than 6 July. Border controls with Germany, Austria and France will be lifted as early as 15 June, as previously announced.

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