Let the grey come through

It’s Tuesday. Cool and cloudy. March is going out like a damp surly lamb.

Government budgets, which need to be submitted by July, are being worked out now. It may be a tough year for the state of Massachusetts, which could see a $3 billion dollar shortfall.

Barber shops and salons are closed. We’re all going to look a bit shaggy when this is over. Maybe I’ll go for the Moe Howard home special.

Boston Police are counting nearly 20 officers now testing positive.

The question of whether to mask or not to mask is still unresolved but the needle is moving in the direction of making and wearing masks. The stats on fatalities in New York are showing some unexpected (and unwelcome) trends. But social distancing seems to be working, at least according to those smart thermometers. And not only for coronavirus but for the regular flu too.

Vint Cerf has tested positive.

And some good news: A guy provided free grocery delivery to help homebound older folks. Wuhan is preparing to reopen. Kids in Brooklyn and around the world are painting rainbows and placing them in windows to cheer us up. And John Krasinski has a whole channel devoted to good news.

Wear em if you got em

Monday Monday. March 30th. Happy birthday to Gomez Addams.

How things were in the olden days.

Bruce Mohl notes that Massachusetts is upping its game on coronavirus testing. He also references a South Korean doctor that advises wearing masks to help slow the spread. South Korea had its first case the same day the US did but infections there are generally under control now. Masks, unfortunately, are not readily available in the US today and in any case should be going to healthcare workers first. Then first responders and grocery store workers.

The Financial Times has a comprehensive recap of the global spread and impact of the virus so far. Lots of interesting charts and graphs.

A 44 year-old state rep from Michigan is one of the latest coronavirus fatalities. The Detroit police chief has tested positive and about a quarter of the force is in quarantine.

For people renting, Tom Acitelli has a list of resources for dealing with the impact of the virus. And David Rabinovitz writes about how small businesses are dealing.

Even if you’re stuck at home you should be walking, walking, walking.

And Thomas O’Grady writes about photography as literature, particularly the work of Dublin photographer Fionán O’Connell.

End of the week roundup

Good Sunday morning. A rainy day. It’s Eric Idle’s birthday.

The turkeys are taking over the city we left behind.

Coronavirus in Italy becomes a case study for the Harvard Business School.

If you’re looking for something constructive to do this week, The Red Cross needs blood. Find a nearby location, fill out the RapidPass information, and donate.

This is as good a time as any to learn about The Science of Well Being. It’s one of Yale’s most popular courses and it’s available now online, for free. Enrollment starts today.

Shift4 Payments handles financial transactions for the hospitality industry. What they’re seeing play out is not pretty.

An NYPD detective has died from coronavirus. He is the third employee of the department to die from the virus. 700 New Jersey officers are also positive.

Former City Councillor Tito Jackson has tested positive for covid-19.

And if you can’t find hand sanitizer or Clorox wipes, here are some alternative cleaning solutions that are just as effective against the coronavirus.

Force majeure

It’s March 28th. Saturday. Be nice to your cat.

Can we draft Bill Gates for president?

The current president is invoking the Defense Production Act to order GM to produce the ventilators that governors are screaming for. So now maybe they’ll actually get them …if they’re nice. Then again, people who run companies that already make ventilators don’t think auto manufacturers will be able to produce them. As for the drive-through parking lot testing sites that were touted by the president, not much has actually happened and those plans have been quietly scaled back because of a lack of available tests.

In Massachusetts, the Health Commissioner, Dr. Monica Bharel, has tested positive. The Governor is not, at this point, showing symptoms. – The Harvard Street Health Center in Dorchester is adapting to the crisis by embracing telehealth technology. – That halt to construction in the city is impacting some large projects but others are planning to move ahead on schedule. – And Boston Magazine has some tips for redecorating your home during a pandemic. Of course they do.

A 101 year old man, born into the Spanish Flu, has recovered from Covid-19 and is being released from an Italian hospital.

In Denmark, the government is underwriting most peoples’ salaries for the next three months. The Irish government is nationalizing the country’s hospitals until further notice.

And for many people, if you’re not commuting you’re not listening to podcasts. But if you are still listening to podcasts, here are two conservative libertarian economists discussing the impact of coronavirus. It’s an interesting take.

One in every crowd

Friday. It was a long week.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive. He’s working from home. His Health Minister, Matt Hancock, is also infected.

You’ve got to give members of Congress credit. Many are flying or driving back to Washington for the coronavirus relief bill vote just to make sure Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky) doesn’t throw a wrench into the works. I’m sure they aren’t particularly happy about traveling to, or lingering long in, the District at this point in time.

Charlie Baker is danged mad.

The National Police Foundation and the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS have collaborated on an ESRI dashboard for law enforcement infections. It seems to rely on self reporting and for Massachusetts the numbers don’t seem right. It’s a good idea but I don’t see jurisdictions being in any hurry to advertise staffing problems.

Ian Mackay and Katherine Arden go into a little more detail on how long the coronavirus can live on surfaces.

Wondering how much of a stimulus check you’ll get? This might give you an idea.

And this snippet video must have taken some work to put together but it gave me a lift. We could all use three minutes of fun these days.

In the trenches

It’s a bright sunshiny Thursday morning. Happy birthday to both Freebie and the Bean.

Three more Boston Police officers have tested positive, bringing the total to four. Ayanna Pressley and Seth Moulton are showing symptoms. James Taylor, who is “inspired by the courage and sacrifice of the health care heroes in the trenches” is donating a million bucks to Mass General. Good for him.

Studies show that the virus can live for a time on surfaces, including cardboard, and people are worried about the packages delivered to their homes. Experts are divided about the real risk although they say that if you’re careful it shouldn’t be a problem. But if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you may want to avoid overnight delivery.

The economy and much of our way of life has been shut down for about a week now and some folks are thinking that’s enough, that we’re over the hump. But here’s a reality check from Dr. Fauci, as of yesterday.

We are in the escalating phase of a very serious pandemic. That is a fact. We have got to realize that and to prepare and respond. It is not, as it were, under control. Because it’s still going up. Are we trying to control it? Yes. Are we having an impact? We are doing some rather dramatic things. California shutting down. New York doing the same thing. And for the country in general, the physical separation. So even though the infection is going up, there’s no doubt that what we are doing is having an impact.

That being said, there does need to be a plan to restart the economy and get things back to ‘normal’. But it won’t be simple and it won’t be soon, definitely not by Easter. And we have to consider the potential of a resurgence of infections in the fall.

Local media around the country are covering the coronavirus crisis under stress, both from the virus itself and from the impact of budget cuts. But it’s the “story of a lifetime” and outlets are going above and beyond in their efforts. Harvey Leonard is still forecasting the weather but these days it’s from his living room.

And in an alternate universe somewhere, we listened to Bill Gates back in 2015 and none of this ever happened.

Escape from New York

Wednesday, March 25th. It’s International Waffle Day. (Talk about bad timing.)

New York is now the coronavirus epicenter and things are getting worse. People who have been in the city recently are being encouraged to self quarantine for 14 days. (I’m in that boat, unfortunately. My sentence will be up on Saturday.) There are more than 15,000 cases in the city. The NYPD has 200 cases. For a sense of what’s going on in the hospitals check out this Twitter thread by an ER doctor at Columbia.

New Orleans is also blowing up with cases. How could that have happened? Seems pretty obvious in hindsight.

Covid-19 fatality rates are beginning to come into focus. New Zealand researchers estimate the real-world range to be between 0.25%–3.0%. The actual disease fatality rate may be closer to the low end, but that assumes testing and treatment are readily available and are of high quality. With shortages of equipment and an overburdened health care system, the number will tend to be at the higher end of the range.

We might want to keep an eye on Brazil. It sounds like Bolsonaro is playing Russian roulette with the virus. Sweden also seems to be going it’s own way.

And at least one person who went to a coronavirus party received a surprise parting gift.

News fatigue

Tuesday. The 24th of March. Market futures are green and the sun’s coming out.

Seventeen days is a long time.

The daily onslaught of depressing news is taking its toll. People are tired of hearing that things are going to get worse before they get better. But it’s still important to hear bad news even if it’s old news, as long as it’s accurate. It’s disappointing that certain officials are winging it when it comes to informing the public, particularly when it comes to miracle cures. There are real consequences. It’s usually a better idea to let the science work itself out before speculating or making promises, especially when you’re speaking from on high.

Massachusetts is locking down at noon. There are 777 cases in the state as of this morning. The largest proportion appear to be 40 to 49 years old.

Sites for tracking coronavirus cases by town are beginning to pop up. Two that appear to be catching on are Covid Near You and Lets Beat COVID. There isn’t a lot of data available yet but if enough people use these sites they could be a good tool for tracking what’s happening around you.

And while in the midst of trying to manage a global pandemic, the World Health Organization is under attack from hackers.

Inside, looking out and about

Another Monday morning. Here we go again.

Can Bill Belichick have a winning season without a big name quarterback? I guess we’re going to find out.

Cellphone location tracking data, the same information Google uses to calculate driving time, has been analyzed to show, on a map, how and where in the country people are social distancing. Some areas of the south and midwest are lagging behind. Maybe it’s because the number of cases is still low there. Time will tell if whether those areas end up being harder hit by the virus than the areas that hunkered down early. But it’s becoming clear that states that got ahead of the crisis are getting better results.

Police chiefs from around the country, including Bill Brooks of Norwood, had a chance to talk to the president late last week. Chief Carli of Vacaville, California, suggested we “Stop testing NBA players, and start testing our first responders.” Good point. A Boston Police officer has tested positive. And don’t forget the folks working long stressful hours in the 911 call centers. This is a tough time for them.

New York City, which has become an epicenter for the coronavirus, shut down last night at 8 PM. Or at least it PAUSE‘ed. Gothamist breaks down what it means for New Yorkers.

And a loss of smell or taste could be a sign of infection. I hadn’t heard that before but it could be important.

Car 54 Where Are You

Good morning. It’s Sunday. There’s not a lot of cheerful news.

Another astronaut offers tips on living in isolation.

The NYPD is reporting that 50 officers have tested positive for coronavirus. And others are banging in sick at increasing rates, so much so that it’s “forcing the NYPD to call the Movie and Television Unit to fill in.” I’m picturing the actors from Brooklyn Nine-Nine patrolling the streets.

There are lessons for the US in how other countries have handled the outbreak. South Korea acted early and its response was generally successful. Japan is still a bit of a mystery. Although their cases began before Italy’s, and their social distancing efforts have been pretty halfhearted, they haven’t seen much of a spike. It may still be coming. So what caused Italy’s situation to be so bad? They closed off travel to China before the US, then closed down the entire country, and still they ended up with a disaster. Maybe it was the hemming and hawing and denials by political leaders in the crucial early stages of the crisis.

Clayton Dalton reports from the emergency department at Mass General. It’s quiet before a storm that they hope doesn’t come. And don’t read this doctor’s account of treading Covid-19 patients unless you want to be up all night worrying.

Readers complained to Mike Allen that coverage of the pandemic has been “overly dramatic.” The reality, he says, is that they have been dialing it back to mostly best case scenarios, which are still pretty bad. I don’t think we want to talk about the worst case possibilities. Or the even worse ones.

And a photographer walked ten blocks in New York to capture the signs posted by closed businesses. An interesting snapshot of the time.