wow! gosh!

usually when I say “wow!” I am speaking in doge. today I’m not! I’m gonna write “covid-19” and “coronavirus” so that if I’m ever searching for this blog post I can find it, but obviously it’s what we’re all thinking about all the time.

should I have seen this coming, and how?
Scott Aaronson says yes, but I don’t get it. Similarly, SF (and Breed) is getting a lot of credit for handling it right. Clearly, I’m glad we did, and it’s better to be SF than NY here. But like… SARS (2002) could have been this bad too. What’s the thing that was different here, that led to it being obviously the right thing to do to shut down hard, while in 2002 it would have been a big overreaction? I’m not saying “there isn’t one”, I’m just curious what it is. (maybe some rule like, “we saw a case in the US that we didn’t know where it came from”?)

life right now is really pretty fine; we’re just working from home and seeing friends on the internet instead of in person. got some ergonomic chairs and monitors and so working from home isn’t actually terrible. cooking a lot. riding bikes daily - I don’t have my guaranteed hour of commute/exercise so I’m being physically active somehow.

more worried that, somehow, the world gets even worse because of this. like, what are some good things we still had? a bunch of local restaurants and coffee shops that we liked? how about an economic problem that just wipes them all out :-/ Tyler Cowen was saying, there’s not as much value being destroyed here - if you’re a landlord and you can’t pay the mortgage and have to sell the building, well, I mean, someone’s buying; the building’s not destroyed and so the value isn’t all lost. But I just assume it’s all consolidated. Who will be buying? Some big nameless property-management company that happens to have deep pockets. The rich get richer, etc. And you’d hope that federal bungling this so badly -> voting out every republican everywhere, but Trump approval ratings “crisis bump”; hard sigh.

I do feel like I can’t concentrate great these days, and haven’t been sleeping amazingly; ah well. Something something collective psychic blahs, ok. It could be worse, thankfully, basically everyone I know is fine, and not much immediate monetary worries.


Adam Jaffe -

Re: SARS, the 2002-2004 outbreaks were way smaller than I remembered (8,000-ish people infected and 774 dead). My understanding is that, while it was significantly deadlier than Covid, it was wayyyy less transmissible. I assume smart public health people were on top of this and didn’t think it would become a shutdown-worthy thing.
Kind of the opposite of Swine Flu in 2009, which spread really easily but also wasn’t that terrible of a disease.

Source: Things I think my retired-from-CDC Dad said at some point

Dan -

Yeah, same here. But… so was Covid, until it wasn’t. Like I feel like 8000 infected, 774 dead was… late January? And I had no idea it’d be different than SARS.

I also assume public health people are on it, and that they were saying different things in Jan 2020 than they were in 2002. I’m wondering, is it like, “observed r0 is 2.2 and death rate is 1.5%; neither SARS nor Swine Flu had both those numbers that bad, and those things combined make it really scary”? Basically, where does Aaronson get off saying that all the rando tech people with graphs had it Right while the CDC etc had it Wrong? And that he “should have known” to be more worried in Jan/Feb than he was?

Eh, shrug, I disagree with Someone on the Internet, ok :P

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