Everything you need to know about what to do about Coronavirus

2020 March 9
by Daniel Lakeland

You need to stop interacting with people. And I’m not joking about this.

Here’s the facts out of Italy: about 10% of tested positive cases require ICU ventilation. The death rate for people under age 65 is probably only ~ 1% **if you get the ventilators to the 10% needing ventilation**… If you overwhelm the hospitals, the death rate will go to ~10% which is on the order of magnitude of about 10x as bad as pandemic influenza in 1918.

The current trending idea is #flattenthecurve to describe to people HOW IMPORTANT it is to start *NOW* avoiding the spread of the disease. This avoidance of overloading the infrastructure is a core idea in Civil Engineering (my PhD is in CE).

Reducing the spread of the disease is not important just because fewer people will eventually get it (though that is probably true) but because the peak number of people who need ventilators and other intensive type care will be lower, so that fatality rates can stay low. If all the ICU beds are full, and 300 patients show up needing ICU today… all 300 patients will die. Since 10% of cases may need ventilators, it’s a serious situation.

Does social distancing, closing schools, etc work? Evidence out of 1918 says HELL YES: Unfortunately servers are getting swamped, so the best way for me to link you to this info is via twitter, who will probably stand up to the pounding.


So, what do you need to do? TODAY make plans to not be at work by the end of the week. Why? Because the virus is doubling the number of symptomatic verified cases outside china about every 2-4 days, let’s call it 3 days. And, btw it takes 5 days to onset of symptoms and for many people ~ 10 or 15 days before they say “hey I need to go to the hospital” (though for the elderly… it can be like 1hr after onset of fever). So, whatever’s going on in a hospital near you… it’s maybe what was the case 3 or 4 doubling periods ago, so today it’s on the order of ~ 10x worse than that. 10 days from now, it will be 100x worse already, but that will show up at the hospital about 20 days from now.

Early, proactive and significant reduction in interaction with other people WORKS and is one of the only things we can do. So we WILL be doing it. If we wait, we’ll be doing it AND have a massive tragedy. If we start now, we’ll be doing it but have less of a massive tragedy. The boulder is rolling down the hill, we can start walking off the path now, or get hit.

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