I arrived at a rather unenviable and hopefully “once in a lifetime” position recently—having accurately predicted the novel coronavirus now sweeping the globe. It’s an inexplicably eerie feeling. A pandemic is not something you ever hope to be “right about.” You hope it never happens. Unfortunately, one of my greatest fears has come true. A fear with its roots firmly planted in my first novel, The Jakarta Pandemic (TJP for short), published ten years ago. The idea for TJP sprang from an already unhealthy obsession with viral outbreaks. Captain Trips from Stephen King’s epic, The Stand, was burned into my psyche from an early age. I burned through The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton in a single sitting. The book Hot Zone by Richard Preston and movie Outbreak was like a one-two punch, released a year apart in 1994-95. The movie 28 Days Later in 2002. Max Brooks brilliant novel, World War Z a few years after that. I couldn’t get enough of these stories. And then the Swine Flu pandemic hit in 2008! Looking back, it should have come as no surprise to anyone, especially me, that my first stab at writing a novel would center around a pandemic. However, despite my initial enthusiasm—the project barely got off the ground. The usual first time, part time writer challenges applied.
A HISTORY OF MY POSTS REGARDING COVID19. Note: ALL OF THESE POSTS ORIGINATED ON FACEBOOK. I REBROADCASTED MOST OF THEM ON TWITTER AND ON THIS BLOG. Another note: I posted a few times between the end of January and the start of my regular posting on Feb 27th, but deleted those posts due to harassment via email and PM on Facebook…and directly on the posts. Most of the harassment centered around the theme “liberal hoax hyped by Fake News Media.” THIS IS NOT A PARTISAN OR POLITICAL ISSUE FOR ME. I was critical of the Ebola response in 2014 in two widely circulated posts. POST ONE. POST TWO. JANUARY 27th Looking at this representation of the Wuhan Coronavirus brings me back to 2008, when I started to write my first novel, THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC. Publicly available, interactive digital maps like this didn’t exist at that point (outside of a few barely navigable sites), so I created what I would want to see if I were tracking a pandemic virus. Looks like I wasn’t alone. LINK to Wuhan Coronavirus tracking site–> https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/…/opsdashboa…/index.html… From THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC (2010) “Next, Alex navigated to the International Scientific Pandemic Awareness Collaborative (ISPAC) site and checked their
As I shift more and more from a WARN to WATCH posture (I’ve always been watching), I’d like to share some resources you can use to keep an eye on big picture and local developments: University of Washington STATE BY STATE PROJECTIONS: When will each state peak. What will happen. EXCELLENT SITE WITH GRAPHS SHOWING VIRUS GROWTH BY COUNTRY. WORLDOMETER U.S. AND STATE DATA with graphs. DETAILED U.S. STATE DATA AND POLICY UPDATES: What is your state doing about COVID19 (hint: probably not a lot). Important…use this to urge state lawmakers to act now*** CORONAVIRUS ACT NOW: How much time does your state have to act? Johns Hopkins Global Tracker: THE BIG PICTURE. Straight forward. No frills. NEW YORK TIMES UPDATE: Superb graphics. Gives you a great sense of how this is progressing in the U.S. BREAKING NEWS crowd sourced tracker. A little chaotic until you zoom in, but it links you to articles used to source information. CDC COVID19 PAGE: At a glance information and nice U.S. map with state statistic. WORLDOMETER COVID19 PAGE: Goes from big to little picture with charts of trajectories plus country by country data THE COVID TRACKING PROJECT: U.S. State data Confirmed cases, testing
(unless something game changing arises): STAY HOME, unless you are running essential household missions (food, pharmacy, critical repairs, etc) OR you are working in an environment that doesn’t put you at risk of infection (you decide). IF YOU GET INFECTED TODAY, and you get critically or severely sick (estimated 20%)—YOU MOST LIKELY WILL NOT GET THE CARE YOU NEED TO RECOVER. The last golden ticket for a ventilator was handed out some time a week or more ago. The virus has been spreading quietly for weeks at this point. DON’T RISK IT. THERE’S NO DOWNSIDE TO PLAYING IT SAFE. IF I’M WRONG—ALONG WITH EVERY OTHER CREDIBLE VIROLOGY EXPERT, DISEASE EPIDEMIOLOGIST AND PUBLIC HEALTHCARE EXPERT—I’ll gladly eat crow so to speak. I’ll be relieved, frankly. Like Dr. Fauci said…THIS IS THE TIME TO OVERREACT. 20% (1 in 5) are likely to require hospitalization to survive or avoid lifelong lung complications. BAD ODDS. DON’T COUNT ON A BREAKTHROUGH. The medicines they are experimenting with may help…LATER. They won’t be available in the quantities needed soon. JUST ASSUME THAT. STAY HOME. STAY SAFE. SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS. Previous COVID19 POSTS: February 27March 1March 9March 12
I was going to lead this post with something even snarkier like–> SCREW IT. JUST TELL ALL THE BOOMERS THIS IS NO WORSE THAN THE FLU AND THAT THEY SHOULD ALL GO ON CRUISES OR VISIT VENICE OR THAT LICKING EVERY CAR DOOR HANDLE IN THE AMC THEATER PARKING LOT BUILDS UP YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM—but why should I replicate the valiant efforts I’ve already witnessed to exterminate what’s left of the Greatest Generation and Boomers? I mean, the nerve of these old people! Why can’t they just die from COVID19 like they do from the seasonal flu—in the thousands! Do they think they’re special? I DO: Want to know why? Hint, hint…they’re our parents, grandparents and if you’re lucky…great-grandparents. YOU OWE IT THEM (and yourself, and your partner, and your kids) TO READ THE ACCOUNT BELOW FROM A DOCTOR ON THE FRONT LINES IN ITALY. I’ve heard similar reports from other doctors interviewed on NPR or other news agencies. CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE. IF THE ARTICLE IS TOO LONG FOR YOU, HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE: 1.) What’s happening in Italy is unlike anything these doctors have ever seen. THIS IS NOT JUST THE FLU. The flu doesn’t crush
WARNING: THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE A POPULAR POST WITH SOME. THE SIMPLE ANSWER IN TWO PARTS: 1.) You and your loved ones will have a far better chance of remaining uninfected by COVID19.2.) As it starts to become even more obvious that COVID19 is here to stay for a while, this may be your last chance to acquire these supplies (I don’t have data to support this one, but just take a look at the news). Is this panic or fear based? No. It’s data based. The first thing we need to do is DROP the mantra “BUT THIS ISN’T AS BAD AS THE SEASONAL FLU!” It isn’t, YET…but scientific data and disease epidemiologists says it WILL BE…or at the very least IT SHOULD BE. Let’s hope math and the experts are wrong. Or as a good Marine buddy of mine once said, “you can wish in one hand and shit in the other…and see which one fills up first.” You get the not so pretty picture. THE SLIGHTLY MORE COMPLICATED ANSWER IN MANY PARTS: 1.) COVID19 IS NOT GOING AWAY ANY TIME SOON. It’s Reproductive Number (R0 or “R-naught”) is somewhere between 1.4 and 4, which is
As you can imagine, I’ve digested hundreds of articles over the past few weeks related to the coronavirus threat. Several have stood out as well-balanced and informative. Giving these articles a few minutes of your time will put you on the right track to “Prepare without fear. Prepare with intelligence. Prepare with benevolence.” — Dr. Hal Cohen. Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Tracker Preparing for Coronavirus to Strike the U.S. USA Today’s Coronavirus, explained: Everything you need to know about COVID-19. CORONAVIRUS AND U.S.: ADVICE AND ACTION STEPS TO PREPARE YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY Responding to Covid-19 — A Once-in-a-Century Pandemic? Just how contagious is COVID-19? And, if you missed my blog post on COVID-19, you can read it here: COVID-19 PRIMER.
As of yesterday, I can no longer individually reply to requests for information or opinions regarding the COVID-19 virus. The number of emails and messages has become overwhelming. That said, I don’t want to leave readers and friends hanging, so I’ve put together the key information, predictions and recommendations that I’ve gathered or formed over the past few weeks. BEFORE I GET STARTED—THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO PANIC, but it is definitely time to take a few key steps to avoid panic later. Disclaimer: I’m not a scientific expert in pandemic epidemiology…or anything for that matter. I exhaustively researched pandemics and healthcare plans to address pandemics for my first novel, THE JAKARTA PANDEMIC (TJP), which was published in 2010. TJP was one of the first modern novels to address the average citizen’s experience during a lethal pandemic, from the arrival of the virus to a sensationalized breakdown of society. The virus I “brought to life” was far worse than anything we’ve seen in recorded history. That’s how you sell fiction. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything even remotely as deadly and destructive as the virus I created for that novel. Why tell you this? Because we’re not dealing