The Great Panic of 2020


Author Robert Zimmerman at his blog Behind the Black, hattip to Science Fiction author Sarah Hoyt, gives us facts about the Coronavirus that indicate that the measures taken in the US may be unwarranted:


Four more stories today indicate once again that the worldwide panic over the corona/COVID-19/Wuhan virus is strongly unwarranted:

The first report, from the science journal Science, provides an update on the situation in South Korea, where testing for the virus has been the most thorough of any nation in the world and where, because of that extensive testing, has shown the death rate has turned out to be far lower than the preliminary statistics have suggested. Out of a population of 50 million, slightly more than 8,000 have been infected, with only 81 dying. This is a death rate of 0.9%, higher than the flu’s 0.1% but not horribly so. And like the flu, most of those deaths have been among the elderly.

Go here to read the rest.  In the 2017-2018 flu season over 900,000 Americans were hospitalized and over 61,000 died.  In 1957, the year of my birth, the Asian flu killed some 69,000 Americans. 

Somehow the US got through these, and other bad flu years during my lifetime, without the country being brought to a screeching halt, without churches being closed, schools being closed, the courts being closed, restaurants and bars being closed, meetings of more than 250 people, in some areas 5 people, being banned, and without wrecking a very good economy.  This all has likely been a huge overreaction, and the idiots who stoked this panic, especially among elected officials, should pay a heavy price for this.  Lent is a time for confronting evil, and in this vale of tears few things are more evil, and ever harmful to Man, than panic driven stupidity on a massive scale.  Blind, unreasoning fear, especially when it drives public policy, is far more deadly than any flu ever hatched.

More to explorer


  1. Trump should show leadership expose all of the above to the pubic and then call off all the draconian measures now in effect. If he doesn’t he is failing us.

  2. It’s the media who have been absolutely awful through this, especially all of the cable news channels which of course are followed by their satellite stations. MSNBC and CNN being the absolute worst; they’ll now certainly try to blame Republican elected officials for it.
    Until last month I didn’t think I could hold the media in more contempt, I was wrong.

  3. The media is more misleading than many even realize. The reported mortality rate from the flu of .1% is based off the number of “actual”
    flu deaths and the “estimated” number of Americans believed to have had the flu. It’s not based on the number of confirmed cases of the flu. If it was calculated in that fashion, the mortality rate for the flu would be much higher. In contrast, the mortality rate for the Corona virus has been calculated based on the number of confirmed cases of Corona virus, not any estimate of those believed to be infected. So the mortality rate for it is much higher than what it should be. In Ohio, as of Monday, the government estimates there are 100,000 infected individuals, but only 50 confirmed cases. Calculating mortality rates off these two different statistics really changes things.

  4. Thanks Don for the links. I read them. The first one stated the S. Koreans are about done with the contact tracing of infected folks from the mega church in Daegu. However, officials also noted community spread clusters are starting to show up in other parts of the country and in a call center in Seoul. I expect them to promptly adjust and keep the infections down; they’ve got a good process in place (testing, tracing, reporting, aggressive quarantine). Wish the US had the same. The lower death rate article captures the hope that as we better understand the numbers of asymptomatic carriers circulating at large, the overall percentage rates will be refined lower. The article ends, however, by urging the readers not to minimize the threat as the virus, due to zero herd immunity, is on track to infect millions. With a suspected 15-20% complication rate, and currently quite long ICU stays for about 5%, that translates into a severe crisis for our hospital systems, and, in turn, higher than needed fatality rates. The 86% undetected infection rate article, highlighting many people moving around with low or no symptoms but still spreading the disease, reinforces the need to “flatten the curve” (as so many people, articles, shows, keep stressing) but which is hard to do if you don’t know who is infected. Massive testing is needed (as in S. Korea as the first article shows), in order to avoid an unnecessarily high fatality rate. The study on the Princess cruise ship was, indeed, hopeful. But there seems to be other counter examples. Figuring out what is “ground truth” is hard. I’ve got to go back, slow down, and study that one more; I’m reading as much and as fast as I can. For example, doctors from Belgium today reported an upturn in young people presenting with severe pneumonia. Other European countries report about half of their ICU beds have people under 65 years old. I don’t want to turn this into dueling videos. Instead, I offer up two sites on YouTube which I find helpful: “MedCram Coronavirus” hosted by an ER doc; kinda heavy in the medical lingo but I get useful info from it. I also suggest looking at “Peak Prosperity Coronavirus” where news from around the world is deciphered into layperson’s language. Finally, “War Room Pandemic” hosted by Steve Bannon is ok. I find his style annoying most of the time but his guests from around the world make up for Bannon’s quirks. I hope I’m not coming across as trying to win an argument. I’m just trying to find out the truth.

  5. “I’m just trying to find out the truth.”

    Prayers for discernment of the truth would be in order at this time.

  6. Don: a couple of things which surprised me – 1) European countries urge others not / not to use NASIDs pills (such as Ibuprofen or aspirin) to lower fever as they foster an aggravated, stronger infection. Link here: I am all about learning lessons from others…
    2) Vitamin D3, based on a metadata analysis, lowers the chance of getting a viral infection by 70%. Western societies are historically lacking in Vit D3 which is critical to your immune system. You can produce it by sun exposure (where the weather permits) on as much as your body as the “law allows” (my comment – I sunbathe in my gym shorts), or, better, via supplementation. Dr Campbell (Brit nurse with a PhD) also put out this good video:

    Hope this helps someone…

  7. For example, doctors from Belgium today reported an upturn in young people presenting with severe pneumonia. Other European countries report about half of their ICU beds have people under 65 years old.

    An e-friend had several known-legit Italian and UK residents show up to point and make duck noises at the idea that their ICUs were over-full because of the kung flu, saying that they get overwhelmed every flu season. I haven’t had time to dig through the news archives, but they pointed to the yearly “horror story of people left in the hallway on a cot to die” thing.
    Same as with the heat wave, their carrying capacity is based around average use, with a very small buffer.
    (everyone who knows how averages work just cringed)

  8. Oooh, I have a vitamin D exposure calculation site in here somewhere….


    When my mom was suffering really bad from SADD/winter blues I found this page from the Norwegians, it uses basically a minimum requirement for the calculation. For the transparent and polkadot among us(raises hand), even in Seattle it was easy to get enough sun.

    That said, when folks get older it’s really common to develop trouble absorbing different vitamins. For women, B complex are especially hard, and I’ve got an e-friend who has to use very large doses of C and D to get enough, but playing with the website can get you some sort of an idea.

    (plus it’s an excuse to sit in the sunlight for ten or twenty minutes during lunch, which is good for MY emotional health….)

  9. If Donald Trump prevents an epidemic, his enemies will say that there is/was no threat.
    In 1949 polio was epidemic with no vaccination. People avoided groups, swimming, and everything now being prescribed for the prevention and spread of Covid 19. I know because I was there.
    Sister Kenny started the March of Dimes to buy mechanical lungs (iron lungs) for victims who spent their lives in a machine that breathed for them.
    The greatest threat is that a victim will be physically impaired for life and live disabled.

  10. At this point, it seems to me that we were either too docile in dealing with contagious diseases like this in the past or too hysterical today. We may have ushered in a new normal. About 12,000 people died in U.S. during the swine flu pandemic around 2010. I don’t recall so many closings of schools, restaurants, etc.

    Say 5000 people die of Covid19 in the U.S., then 12,000 dead will seem like a big number.

    What are “acceptable losses” for this or any flu season? Tough question…

  11. There’s a fine article on the American Spectator, “Apocalypse No” (see here
    that makes the following important points:
    1) We don’t know the denominator (how many people have been infected with Covid-19) so we can’t calculate accurate death rates.
    There are many untested who are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, as testing results from S. Korea indicate. Accordingly death rates (even for more susceptible classes) may be only double or triple that of “ordinary flu” or H1N1.
    2) The MSM and political left are trying to use this epidemic as a tool to remove Trump and institute their own socialist schemes.
    3) We can learn some lessons generally about a) keeping unlawful immigrants out of the country, b) not being dependent on foreign suppliers for essential goods (e.g. medical supplies and drugs).

  12. Ben, the acceptable number of dead is a dependent variable. The independent variable is whether the media is trying to help Democrats or hurt Republicans.

    The only good to come from this panic is going to be no more than 10 carefully screened and vetted journalists in the White House press room at a time. Forever.

  13. Since this is the active thread, I’m going to say this here, instead of in yesterday’s open thread.

    It seems to me there are three kinds of people –at least in combos– reacting to the Great Panic of 2020:

    1) Those who are convinced they’re going to get sick and might die

    2) Those who are convinced they’re not going to get sick and this whole thing colossal mistake of monumental proportions

    3) Those who think they might or might not get sick, but if they do get sick the odds are excellent that they won’t die or even need hospitalization –unless they’re in a vulnerable population like the elderly, or smokers, or immune-compromised or all the above.

    All three groups are throwing around numbers and drawing different conclusions. The first group looks at the data and concludes that ANY mitigation/prevention efforts are worth it, no matter the cost. The second group looks at the data and concludes, relative to the longer term damage we’re doing to the economy and our traditional understanding of civil liberties (so glad I left the bay area more than a decade ago), our efforts are overreaction in the extreme.

    The third group is the group that I think best understands the data. I’d like to think I’m in that group, but I don’t know that I am. Maybe I overlap somewhat with the second group. The problem with this group, is that, while I know what I think, it’s hard to know what others like me think, because the voices in the first two groups are drowning out the voices of the third. I think this group is thinking that we need a response that results in an acceptable level of risk at an acceptable cost to our economy and civil liberties, ordinary life.

    If I was a social scientist, or knew any, I would love to see how religious belief corresponds to attitudes towards the Wuhan virus and the socioeconomic costs of combatting the spread of that virus. I think that would be very interesting.

    Here endeth the ramble. If you’re lost, the exit is that way.

  14. “It’s the media who have been absolutely awful through this,”
    Well, they’ve certainly been awful, but the various governors and elected officials have acted egregiously.

  15. During the yellow fever epidemic in 1878 the Southern States were quarantined. Deputies with rifles were ordered to shoot any one who crossed the quarantine line.
    Drug resistant tuberculosis is flooding into our country with the illegal invaders. Victims of tuberculosis were not allowed to enter into California. Now, who will stop the sanctuary states from flooding the country will plague?
    The hysteria maybe an expression of all of the loose ends that need to be addressed.

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