On the front lines

Saturday, March 21st. April is in sight. Happy birthday to Eddie Money, Rosie O’Donnell and Twitter.

Google has finally posted a page with coronavirus resources. Nothing about testing and, strangely for Google, no site search.

Today’s local coronavirus wrap-up: – The T is allowing passengers to board from the rear door. Payment optional. – Increasingly, Boston area health care workers are getting infected. There have been 10 at Tufts and 9 at Brigham so far. Local surgeon and author Atul Gawande is taking lessons from Singapore and Hong Kong on how to prevent these infections. – Marty Walsh is exercising a measured approach to restricting activities. No complete shutdown yet, but he’ll reassess as conditions change. – Parking enforcement in Boston is relaxed but it’s not the wild west. Here is a list of things you still can’t do. – Local breweries are offering curbside pick up and home delivery. More here (via Universal Hub). – Some states are following the feds and extending tax deadlines to July. Massachusetts hasn’t done that yet. You can still delay but you’ll need to file an extension. – And FaceTime for Nana! What a great idea!

Apparently Putin likes the numbers where they are.

Epidemiologist Larry Brilliant explains the pandemic ‘gold ring‘ and how we get to it: “A, a large enough quantity of us have caught the disease and become immune. And B, we have a vaccine. The combination of A plus B is enough to create herd immunity, which is around 70 or 80 percent.”

Throwing in this graphic from Ian McKay showing the probable timeline of pre-symptomatic infectiousness.

For obvious reasons, movies and theaters are having a bad season. This crisis may hasten the decline of the old model of people paying to watch movies together in theaters as studios embrace direct-to-digital and streaming out of necessity.

And don’t forget the people who are holding things together for all of us these days, truckers and grocery store workers.

Ghost town

I took a walk around Boston with my camera today. These photos were taken between 1 PM and 4 PM on an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon. Usually the streets would be teeming with people on lunch break, shopping or just beginning their commute. But not today.

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Fortunately people are are heeding instructions to practice social distancing. I made sure to keep my distance from the few people out and about. The experience reminded me of New Orleans after Katrina. It’s very eerie to see the city like this but I also thought it important to document what’s happening.

Killer T-cells

Friday, March 20th. It’s going to be a nice day for a walk outside.

Boston being Boston.

This 8 minute video is a full education on coronavirus, what it is, how it spreads and infects the body, and what we can do to minimize the impact. There’s also a one-page guide for sheltering in place for when that time comes. Massachusetts wants to process at least 3500 samples a day as coronavirus testing ramps up. More men are dying from serious infections than women, at least in Italy. Hospitals are overwhelmed and doctors are dying in Lombardy. And young people everywhere are more susceptible than previously thought.

That tweet from the French health minister warning about the danger of taking ibuprofen with Covid-19? Never-mind. There’s no evidence to support it.

Stonehenge had to cancel its spring equinox rituals this year. The Massachusetts Appeals Court is taking arguments by phone. The NYSE is going virtual.

Google knows whether you are staying at home, like you should, or out partying. And your smart thermometer knows how you’re feeling. I suppose if we had smart faucets we could track hand washing too. And you’re probably spending more quality time with Alexa these days. If she’s getting on your nerves there are a few tweaks you might want to consider.

It wasn’t the best time to expand the dining room, but the owner of Bánh Mì Ba Le restaurant in Dorchester is taking things day by day. There’s always take-out. Maybe I’ll stop by this afternoon to show my support.

And Maria Cramer advises us, on this International Day of Happiness, that if you really want to be happy move to Finland.

Writing the playbook from scratch

A rainy Thursday. Spring has sprung. Or at least it will at 11:49 tonight.

Buzz Aldrin knows a thing or two about being in quarantine.

Government and private sector leaders are being tested these days. Governors and mayors are trying to get ahead of the curve while CEOs are working to balance concern for employees with keeping the lights on. Marty Walsh’s prime time speech on the Coronavirus the other night was one of his best. Mike Pence continues to offer guidance and reassurance to the country. I previously mentioned Ohio Governor Mike DeWine who has been proactive. As Arnold Glasow said, “One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”

Check out this amazing drone video of an empty midweek afternoon in Boston. Eerie.

Unemployment rolls are growing quickly. In some places you can’t get through to file a claim. (Note: Star Market is hiring.)

Police in Kerala, India, released a hand-washing instruction video… Bollywood style. In the US, departments are being very careful. NYPD and LAPD officers have already tested positive. In Baltimore, hospital beds needed for coronavirus patients are being used for shooting victims.

And all of the stock market gains made since Trump took office have disappeared. Just miraculously gone away.

The waiting is the hardest part

It’s Wednesday. But we’re not over the hump. Not by a long shot.

Imagine going on a 25 day rafting trip cut off from civilization and coming back to all this.

Worldwide infections topped 200,000. It took more than three months to get from 10 to 100,000 cases and less than two weeks to get from there to 200,000. China now has become an importer of coronavirus cases, rather than an exporter.

Much of the discussion about the strain on the internet is around people social-distancing and working from home or doing video conferences. But Hiawatha Bray reminds us that there are also a lot of online video-gamers stuck in the house. And gamers will do what gamers do. If you’re not a gamer you can visit an online museum. If you’re an artist you can submit works for a virtual gallery.

The airlines are asking for huge bailouts. They’ll probably need them to survive. Henry Blodget suggests reasonable terms.

Sanjay Gupta is pissed off at people holding hands. Rand Paul, being Rand Paul, is throwing up roadblocks to the relief bill, adding an amendment on Afghanistan that has nothing to do with coronavirus. The meme of the week is “Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being called to sit on your couch. You can do this.” OK Boomer. In Italy, some bright kids used ingenuity and 3D printing to overcome a shortage of ventilator valves. They were threatened with a patent lawsuit.

And there will be no kissing of the Blarney Stone until further notice. It’s something you probably didn’t want to do anyway.

The luck of the Irish

Tuesday, March 17th. Erin go Bragh. And all the pubs are closed.

Canada is closed and Mexico is considering closing its border with the US.

Don’t drop your iPhone. Apple stores are also closed until further notice.

What will the worldwide shutdown do to the global economy? It’s still an open question. In a Times article, Neil Irwin highlights the basic underpinning of any economy, “One person’s spending is another person’s income,” and takes it from there.

Bye bye Tom Brady. Not such a big deal really, in context.

An interesting and important fact about Covid-19: some infections are mild and the people that have them are less infectious to others. Many of these mild cases are under the radar. But when they do spread to another person, that new infection is not necessarily mild.

Old people are complaining about young people. Young people are complaining about old people. Sounds about right. Some people seem to think they’re going to need a gun to defend their toilet paper. I doubt that will be necessary. This is not an apocalyptic every-man-for-himself scenario. This is more of a we’re-all-in-this-together-let’s-all-pitch-in situation. Taylor Swift is helping. And supermarket workers. Also Gov. Mike DeWine. Not helping? …Ron Paul, Softbank and people who spread stupid rumors.

And, if you watch anything today, watch this.

Hunkering down

Monday morning. It was quite a week and there’s more to come.

Yes, the debate last night was a little boring. Adult policy stuff is boring. These days I think the country needs its government to be more boring …and a little less entertaining.

Time is of the essence as we try to prepare for what’s coming. The Fed is cutting interest rates to zero and going heavy with QE efforts. But markets don’t seem to be completely reassured. And some GOP senators are quibbling over details in the relief bill passed by the House and supported by the White House.

It was a very short season for Plimoth Plantation. Opened Saturday and closed Monday. All bars and restaurants are now closed in Massachusetts. Take out or drop off delivery is still an option. This is going to be hard on restaurant workers. Screening at Logan for international arrivals is apparently going better than at other airports. Better but not perfect. And Microsoft has a real-time coronavirus tracker with breakdowns by state. We’re at 164 this morning.

Emergency room doctors and nurses are on the frontlines and are at particular risk. Two ER doctors, one in New Jersey and another in Washington State, are in critical condition with the virus.

I was never a great fan of Mike Pence but I’m happy that he is stepping up now at a time when we need calm, concise and articulate messaging from the White House. The entire team he leads is doing a good job. The contrast between his boss’s rambling introduction yesterday, which actually included complaints about how he’s being treated unfairly by the media, with Pence’s self-assured direct and to-the-point crisis communication, was striking.

And why are teams lining up for Brady while Phil Rivers, with more yards, is being ignored? It’s all about the interceptions.

The Ides of March

Sunday, March 15th. Birthday wishes to Ry Cooder, Sly Stone and Lightnin’ Hopkins.

Nancy Pelosi gave Taoiseach Leo Varadkar the elbow at the annual St. Patricks lunch.

Concerns about the economy have not gone away, even with Friday’s big rally. The service sector will be particularly hard hit in the coming weeks and how that plays out in the larger economy will be the big question.

I just got back from New York and apart from some people wearing masks and slightly thinner crowds of tourists, life seems to be going on as usual. Churches and Broadway theaters are closed but data scientist Michael Donnelly doesn’t think that will be enough. Without more drastic measures applied very quickly, he warns, New York City will become the next Italy.

In Boston, young people are still going out into crowded bars.

The French Health Minister tweeted that taking ibuprofen while infected with coronavirus may cause serious complications and could worsen the infection. If you have a fever, he recommends paracetamol instead.

Researchers at Northeastern University are modeling the trajectory of the coronavirus by mapping its host networks. (We’re the hosts.)

And for those who are stuck at home, food delivery can be a help, although the people doing the deliveries need to be very careful. Stop and Shop is suspending online ordering temporarily but is still working to speed up its delivery service. If you’re working at home and getting slow internet speeds, here are some things you can do that might help. The internet itself should hold up fine. And that’s good because you’ll want to stream the Dropkick Murphys St. Patrick’s day concert on Tuesday.

Supply and demand

Saturday, March 14th… Pi day.

Bill Gates is stepping down from the Microsoft board. It’s the end of an era.

Just a few quick updates today. We’re all exhausted and anxious enough as it is. This chart comparing Italy’s rate of coronavirus spread to what’s happening in the US is pretty ominous if it holds up. The hope is that the extensive cancellations and social distancing will blunt the impact for us. Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma is donating a million masks and half a million test kits to the US. At the other end of the spectrum, this couple is profiteering from the virus.

If you’re homebound and looking for something to watch, the new season of Westworld starts tomorrow. Here’s what you need to know in case you forget where they left off, which wouldn’t be hard.

Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, has not been cancelled. It’s just going virtual.

And in Pembroke Pines, there’s an APB out for a cow. Faster than it looks, they say.

Closed until further notice

Friday morning. A little rain in the forecast.

Can retirement help prevent aging? Maybe, but only if you go back to work.

Yesterday was a big day for cancellations. We went to a still-running small production of Midsummer Night’s Dream last night in New York and most seats were empty, which was a good thing. Broadway is shutting down. The NYSE is talking about doing the same. Sports events are kaput. This morning we’ll know more about the Boston Marathon. Smart money is on a postponement. In any case it’s notable that it’s the private sector, as well as local and state government officials, that are leading the way.

That was some speech the other night. There’s a lot of ‘I told you so‘ opinion pieces about Trump today, many of which are resonating. But at least this morning stocks are heading up on news that somebody at the federal level (Congress) is putting together a plan.

Adding insult to injury, Princess Cruises has been hit with a data breach.

The new James Bond film has been moved back to the fall because of coronavirus. In the meantime, you might be able to buy a version of his bulletproof phone.

And if you happen to stop by Latte Larry’s do not use the men’s room. Go next door to Mocha Joe’s.