Covid-19 in New York #3 (July 26)

Upstate New York was doing great for a while. From mid-June until July 9, there were only 1 or 2 active cases of Covid-19 in our county. Most surrounding counties were equally low.

I think people started to think the problem was all over. They visited out of state, and had Independence Day parties without masks or social distancing. As a result, Covid-19 surged back. This past week, the number of active cases in the county has ranged from 32 to 39. It’s almost as many as during the peak in late March. Surrounding counties also have spikes. Oops.

At the peak in March, there were 18 people hospitalized with Covid-19. That dropped to zero, most days in May and June. This week saw a maximum of 4, but it quickly went back to zero. There is much more testing now, so March and April probably had hundreds of hidden cases.

Fortunately, still no deaths in Ithaca and environs. Some nearby counties have experienced 10 to 60 fatalities, especially where the disease hit nursing homes.

On a national scale, the State Rt tracker is starting to show interesting wiggly curves for most states. Growth rates go up, until there are enough cases to make people panic and become more careful. Then growth rates decline, until people breathe a sigh of relief and go back to their old ways. Rinse, repeat.

Globally, cases are exponential again. The number of new daily cases is increasing with the same curve as cumulative cases. That’s how exponentials work.

This disease is not fading away just because the weather is hot. It probably will get worse in the Fall. Many vaccines are under development, but getting a well-tested one that’s both safe and effective is still many months off. So the big question is, how to have some semblance of a normal life as long as Covid-19 is still around?

The IHME Covid Projections site makes predictions for most countries and all US states. It now estimates deaths and infections up until November 1, calculated with and without universal mask adoption. The difference is huge, especially in places that are currently hit hard. Overall I think masks are probably the cheapest and easiest way to reduce transmission, and still carry on economic activity that is as close to normal as possible. There are other options too, but none better than blocking those pesky snot droplets right at the source.

Personally, I wear an N95 mask a lot. Definitely indoors in places with other people. Also outdoors when within 6 feet of anyone who is well-masked. I give 20 feet to anyone bare-faced, or wearing a chin-warmer. I saved seven N95s from a box left over from lead paint removal, and labeled one for each day of the week. They all have an exhaust port, but I put tape over it as a courtesy to other people. After 4 months of use the straps are starting to get ragged, but they still work. Hopefully they’ll last until replacements are back in stock.

Many people around here wear masks, and/or give other people plenty of distance. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of Covidiots who don’t give a crap. I asked one non-masked jogger to give me 6 feet as he charged at me on the sidewalk, and he just ran up close and laughed ha ha right in my face. So now I listen for footsteps and scramble out of the way. It’s safer to walk in traffic, rather than close to idiots/narcissists/sociopaths/whatever.

It’s really too bad that the US recommended against face masks for so long. Too bad that leaders didn’t set an example, for so long. The Feds and most states still haven’t figured out effective messaging, to get people to wear them (and wear them properly). I would suggest pushing a conspiracy theory that Bill Gates has cameras everywhere, and masks are the only way to escape surveillance. Its software uses nose and mouth, so make sure both are covered well.

The only good news is that the US approach is going to be great for epidemiologists. There are 50 different states doing different things, and getting different results. Thousands of cities and counties with assorted rules, and varying compliance rates. It’s going to be incredibly useful data.

Meanwhile, I am still stripping old asphalt and adding new metal roofing on my house. The project just hit 25% completion. I’ve never assembled scaffolding before, nor worked with such long sheets. It’s quite a challenge to remove 3.5 tons of decades-old shingle without creating a mess.

So far I have made almost every possible mistake. I guess that is pretty much how I’ve always learned construction. Or programming. Or anything else in life.

Maybe that’s what the USA also needs to do: make every possible mistake. Then the next pandemic will be easier.

Dennis Kolva
Programming Director
TurtleSoft.com

Author: Dennis Kolva

Programming Director for Turtle Creek Software. Design & planning of accounting and estimating software.