A speculation (Kim Jong-un) and a kvetch (pandemic announcements)

As I noted the other day, I think the chances are better than even that Kim Jong-un is seriously ill. And although South Korean intelligence denies that there’s anything wrong with the Dear Leader, how do they explain his absence from not one but two South Korean holidays in a row? And he’s not been seen in public since April 11. True, he was absent for 6 weeks in 2014 but then reappeared, claiming ankle surgery.

Now he could also be quarantining himself in view of the pandemic, and although North Korea claims no cases of Covid-19, that’s doubtful given the traffic from China. A quarantine would explain the presence of his personal train remaining at his compound outside of Pyongyang.

I have no more information than anyone else—and much less than intelligence services, of course—but I have a feeling that the Dictator of Size is indeed seriously ill, and may well be dead. If that’s the case, we’ll have either his sister as leader or a military coup, which could be dire.

At any rate, here’s a fascinating eight-minute video about how foreign countries track the whereabout of the DPRK’s leaders:

***************

And here’s my kvetch, which is also based on a speculation. And that is that those governors and other officials in charge of the pandemic have already decided how long at a minimum the still-quarantined states will be locked down, and they’ve now decided that it will be well into the fall—perhaps the end of the year.  Yesterday Deborah Birx, coordinator of the government’s pandemic task force, announced that social distancing will continue through the end of this summer.

My theory, which is not only mine but also a bit of a conspiracy theory, is that those in charge have realized that Americans cannot deal psychologically with the notion of more than six months of further shutdown as well as the concomitant closure of schools and businesses, and so they give us the bad news in dribs and drabs. I’ve analogized this to the situation when a plane has mechanical failure, and they sequentially inform the waiting passengers that it will be fixed “shortly”. Then the delays pile up, one after another. I often suspect the desk people know that they’re misleading us, and for the same reason I suspect the pandemic people are misleading us. (In the case of airlines, I know this is sometimes true because I’ve gotten responses by tweeting to the airlines that are far more accurate—and show far more delays—than the desk personnel let on.)

Now of course there’s considerable uncertainty about when the conditions for lifting restrictions will obtain, but, realistically, nobody thinks the virus’s depredations will stop by June 1 (our latest lockdown extension from the Illinois governor). Experts I know think that the summer is pretty much of a writeoff. But many Americans—I among them—would get really depressed to think that we must live this way until Christmas. Ergo the parade of sequential bad-news announcements.

And I hope I’m wrong about my dissimulation theory, though I don’t care much about the fate of Kim Jong-un.

95 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Kim Jong-undead?

  2. Richard Sanderson🤴
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Thoughts and condolences to Pharyngula if Kim Jong-un passes away.

    /s

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Welcome Kim Yo. The South Koreans seem to think Kim Ju is perfectly fine but who knows. I don’t think America really knows what kind of a recession/depression they are in. Trump is not going to give a straight story anyway. GM is no longer making cars. There are still many manufacturing places that will shut down. The retail industry was already in trouble before the pandemic. Congress still must put out billions more to repay the states for their losses. Boeing was already in trouble as well and the airlines are expecting bailout money. Education is in a spin and those who graduate from anything are going to do what?

    • Mark R.
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      “Education is in spin and those who graduate from anything are going to do what?”

      Those who graduate with degrees related to healthcare shouldn’t have a problem. Don’t know about the rest of the graduates though, at least not in the near future.

      • max blancke
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Out here in the sticks, nurses, medical assistants,lab techs, and even doctors are being laid off. There are not very many covid cases, but even if there were, there are few appropriate isolation and treatment facilities.
        Normal medicine has mostly been canceled. People not actively and obviously dying are told to stay home.
        My wife’s practice has gone from seeing around 100 patients per day (divided among 5 doctors and NPs) to seeing 6-12.
        Some percentage of those not being seen have dangerous conditions which might normally have been detected and successfully treated.

        • Mark R.
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          Well, there goes my “theory”. Glad I’m not a University student. How depressing that would be…

  4. Tom Czarny
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Jerry, may I ask what you have been hearing through the UC grapevine about whether or not your campus will open for business for Fall Semester? My college sophomore daughter has resigned herself to spending the autumn here at home taking her courses online, so we’ve been remodeling a spare bedroom into her “Zoom Room” while awaiting an official announcement.

    • Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      All I know, and this is, I believe, public information, is that the administration is pondering what will happen in the fall. There has been no word one way or the other, and I haven’t heard any rumors.

    • Robert Ryder
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      I haven’t heard yet of any university or college that has announced its plans for Fall semester, although some may have. I work at a university in North Carolina, and the system here is trying to figure out what to do but it’s an enormous challenge since no one knows what the situation will hold in August or September. Any decision holds a strong possibility of appearing to be the wrong one come Fall.

  5. GBJames
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I’m skeptical of the conspiratorial nature of uncertainty pertaining to the pandemic. It seems more parsimonious to reference simple ignorance on the part of everyone as to the nature of the disease. There’s too much variation among our state leadership (governors) to allow an actual conspiracy to work.

  6. Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    how do they explain his absence from not one but two South Korean holidays in a row?

    North Korean holidays?

  7. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    When the question of projection comes up, I go to ihme – last I checked, the U.S. death rate is projected to be 10 per day on the 10th of June.

    https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america

    The proposed theory sounds plausible to me – the airline delay model.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    … those in charge have realized that Americans cannot deal psychologically with the notion of more than six months of further shutdown as well as the concomitant closure of schools and businesses, and so they give us the bad news in dribs and drabs.

    It’s like Tony Soprano explaining to his sister Janice what they did with Richie Aprile’s body:

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      …When his wig came off in Chrissy’s hands…

      I need to go back and rewatch it all.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        That was Ralphie Cifaretto (played by Joe Pantoliano), the heavy from seasons 3 and 4.

        Richie Aprile was the heavy in season 2 who got shot by Janice, then dismembered at Satriale’s pork store.

        Bone up a bit, SST; there will be a quiz to follow. 🙂

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          You’re right of course…but you’ve made a deadly mistake by correcting me in public. I have a long toxic memory for perceived slights, much like Trump.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

            Ugh. Sociopaths. I think I’ve gotten burned but never known it from doing these public corrections or disagreements.

  9. nay
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Professor, I think it more likely that the airline counter staff is just as ignorant as the general public – why would they be told more? Why would management be more forthcoming? Honesty would lead to passengers running off to their competitors to get on another flight and corporate bosses take days-weeks-months to inform their employees of situations that directly affect them.
    As for the governors, they are trying to handle a national emergency with only the powers they have in their separate states, without the assistance they are entitled to expect from the Feds and without claiming more power than they are granted by their constitutions. Cut them some slack here.

    • Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      As I mentioned above, I have tweeted to airlines about delays, and they have given me more honest and more accurate information than the people at the gate (i.e., there was a mechanical breakdown, plane scheduled to leave at time X). The people at the gate should certainly have KNOWN that information. So you’re wrong about that.

      As for telling me that I need to “cut people some slack,” I said I was only speculating, and I don’t take well to people telling me how to react. Knock that stuff off, please. Have you read the commenting Roolz?

  10. Hempenstein
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Suspect they’re getting the Town Car buffed-out and tuned up in Pyongyang.

    Possibly partly related to why O6 didn’t make any weekend appearances too?

  11. DrBrydon
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    There was an interesting piece in the New York Post discussing the announcement that New York would remained locked down until May 15. The author asked why? What are the criteria being used to make this determination? I think that is a fair question, and predict that, if re-opening dates continue to slide without explanation, then there will come a point where people say screw it. Rather than risk being blamed, I suspect politicians will try to keep things shut.

    • Rita Prangle
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure I saw Governor Cuomo talking about the number of deaths leveling off, but I don’t remember his exact words.

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        ihme.org is the place to go for this question:

        18 days since peak death rate – *rate* :

        https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/new-york

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        … and the death rate is projected to be 1 death per day on May 21, with what appears to be good precision.

        I doubt this model is using a “second wave” model though.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      A friend sent me something that talked about things being opened when new cases dropped to single digits per day. There are some Canadian provinces that are there now. I’m not in one by a long shot. I really hope that if this is a benchmark epidemiologists prefer, then the politicians announce that so we know what we are looking for. It makes it seem less arbitrary to some. Of course, I can’t find the article now.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        New Zealand seems to have gotten rid of all cases entirely.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, that isn’t going to happen where I am anytime soon.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

            Stay safe and good luck

    • Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Hopefully by that time there is a definite downward side of the bell curve of this pandemic.
      But breaking quarantine from the low downside of a bell curve only puts you on the opposite upward side of the curve. It may not follow the same upward path, but upward it will be.

  12. JezGrove
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    There were reports yesterday the Kim Jong-un’s special train had been spotted at a North Korean resort: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/26/kim-jong-uns-train-possibly-spotted-at-north-korean-resort

  13. JTM
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I ‘m a south korean and people here are also confused about his conditions. Interesting that korean democratic and conservative media have different tone about Kim’s health. The latter relatively
    emphasizes the possibility of his death or dire conditions( as if they want him dead) whereas it is the former that is largely rejecting it (korean democrats are relatively more favorable to NK). Personally i think, at least for now , it is rather good to have him alive for the sake of peace, if not permanent, in korean penninsula. Of course he is a dictator and a threat to SK and US but the next one after Kim would no less be autocratic plus if there is internal chaos like coup, it could end up real ugly. But who knows? History always surprises people and NK will not be the exception. So let’s see what happens.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Kind of odd that politics would determine the speculation on the guy. Sounds more like it over here than there. If indeed something has happened to him, North Korea could become a chaos fairly fast.

      • Peter
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        In my opinion, not really odd that “politics would determine the speculation on the guy.” This is called wishful thinking and it is quite widespread.

  14. Historian
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Some epidemiologists fear a second wave of infections that may hit in the fall, potentially being worse than what we are experiencing now. In other words, infections may decrease over the summer, resulting in more of the economy being opened and the relaxing of social distance rules, but then shoot up again. This would be psychologically devastating if people once more have to hunker down with little social interaction and the economy again shut down. If this happens, the country may never recover. Even if a vaccine becomes available at the end of next year, which is by no means guaranteed, it may be too late.

    https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/cdc-warns-second-wave-coronavirus

    • GBJames
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Never?

      Think of the Black Death of the 14th Century. Think of Europe/Japan after WWII.

      • Historian
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        The operative word is “may.” Also, we need to consider what recovery means. I suppose you can say that if the country does recover, it may take decades, but perhaps only a shell of its former self. Some formerly great civilizations were destroyed by catastrophic events. My point is that at this time we can’t assume that in the relatively near term (say five years) society and the economy will return to its pre-pandemic state. Another possibility is that it MAY never. Then, maybe it will. It is foolish to state certainty when everything is uncertain.

        • GBJames
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

          A pandemic is not a civilization ending event. For that you need something much bigger that can’t be adapted to.

          Life for the survivors of the Back Death in the decades after was better than it was before. There’s no reason to imagine that COVID-19 will be more catastrophic. Treatments will be developed and very likely we’ll get a vaccine at some point.

          Global warming may be civilization ending. This isn’t.

          • Nicolaas Stempels
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

            As yet, no effective vaccine against any corona virus has ever been produced. It might take years, if ever.

            • GBJames
              Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

              There are lots of people smarter than me working on the problem. There were no vaccines for polio until there were and no treatments for HIV until there were. To my knowledge, no civilization is known to have been destroyed by a coronavirus.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

              There are some animal vaccines currently in use. This article the Economist produced is very interesting on vaccine approaches & what we already have out there. You’ll need to create an account to read it but it’s worth it as the Economist is making their COVID-19 reporting free: https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/04/16/can-the-world-find-a-good-covid-19-vaccine-quickly-enough

            • EdwardM
              Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

              It could fail, it’s true. Nothing is assured. But mostly it hasn’t succeeded because our efforts have been small. When SARs first appeared in the early 2000s vaccine development was initiated and some animal vaccines to this kind of virus have appeared. However, there really hasn’t been the kind of concerted effort we have today to raise a vaccine in humans.

              Do not be be misled by our experience with HIV – retroviruses (and host responses to them) are a horse of completely different color.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:16 am | Permalink

      I accepted this from the beginning that a second wave will occur. It will also occur at the same time as the influenza bread outs. I don’t even know what they are going to do about flu vaccines etc. I’m sure many are thinking about this.

    • EdwardM
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      In an probably futile effort to reduce anxiety, let me say that though the article highlights a scary and possible future, when faced with such a frightening prospect, it can be helpful to put things into perspective. One must always consider what we know about viral epidemics, what we have at our disposal to fight them and what we are likely to encounter. Comparisons between the current pandemic and the 1918 pandemic are apt but leave out (or it at least it seems to be missed) some significant differences that make such comparisons, while terrifyingly possible, much less likely than one might think.

      For example, the legitimate concern discussed in that article is that if this virus strikes at the peak of the next flu season (in the US that is typically November – January) the effect could be far worse what we’re seeing today. Several things mitigate this scenario, including the fact that we don’t yet know much about the natural history of the corona virus itself (it may have a different cycle altogether from the flu) but one of the most important is that on a typical year the number of people who get vaccinated for the flu can be a low as 10%, though it is more usually in the 30s% range.

      It is very difficult to predict what percentage of a population need to be immunized to achieve population (herd) immunity, but most think that ranges from 60 – 70% would do it for the flu. This year I expect that number of people vaccinated for the flu to exceed 80%, effectively giving us population immunity. That’s not including any potential therapies or vaccines to treat corona that may arrive in the next seven months.

      There’s no Chicken Little here, this is a real concern. The future is scary, but we’re not helpless. We have learned a great deal about science and medicine since 1918.

      • Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        Also, thru the flu season there will still be plenty of isolation because of Covid-19. I don’t think schools will be open, and many formerly crowded venues will be definitely sparse, even if quarantine was relaxed. So that will help on the spread of the flu.

      • Vaal
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        “For example, the legitimate concern discussed in that article is that if this virus strikes at the peak of the next flu season (in the US that is typically November – January) the effect could be far worse what we’re seeing today.”

        That’s scary, but possible mitigating factors might be:

        1. Social distancing and other measures will still likely have been in place (no one is really imaging we are back to normal by then), hence incidence of the seasonal flu and other contagious diseases ought to be well down from normal too.

        2. While we were “caught off guard” by the first wave, we have now put huge resources around the world in to action to produce more PPE, from masks, to respirators etc, and have had some experiencing producing plans for expanded ICU and hospital care. Not to mention hopefully testing will have expanded and improved.

        So on those counts we *should* be in a better position with respect to a second wave.

        Though there’s also the problem that the pandemic as it is has in some ways reduced capacities and supply chains. The question is whether the amount of manpower put towards increasing all the necessary equipment and readiness acts as a net gain or not, all things considered, by the fall/winter.

  15. Stan
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    He’s perfectly fine. This is done to piss off the West who hopes he is dead. He’s done this before.

    • Posted April 27, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      How do you know for sure?

    • Richard Sanderson🤴
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Not just “The West”.

      Japan, South Korea, and Progressives, too.

  16. Matthew
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I wonder how much power Kim Jong-Un actually has/had. Obviously his Grandfather, even though selected by the Soviets, was in charge. There seems to be plenty of evidence that his father held the reins as well, but this grandson, one of many possible heirs, plucked from relative obscurity?

    Does anyone here know of a reasonable discussion assessing who’s actually in charge in NK currently?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      I don’t think there is much doubt this Kim, third generation was in charge. He tended to eliminate anyone he thought was apposing him. The problem is, a fourth generation Kim is not available and that makes the future of the North look pretty dim.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        When you can have your half-brother whacked with poison at a Malaysian airport and have your uncle executed by an anti-aircraft-gun firing squad, it suggests at the least a ruthlessness efficiency in being able to fend off challenges to one’s power.

        • EdwardM
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

          “your uncle executed by an anti-aircraft-gun firing squad”

          Wait. What? Executed with an anti-aircraft gun! Holy smokes, there must not have been anything left of him. President Jiffy-puff must have really hated his uncle.

          • Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

            It was probably better for the uncle. No chance of having to withstand a second round.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

            We have the phrase ‘cracking a walnut with a hammer’ for what Kim Jong Un did to his uncle. It was fucking demented, and presumably meant to be a signal of the kind of thing he’d do to you if he felt like it.

            It’s the kind of thing prince Joffrey would do in a modern Game Of Thrones.

          • JP415
            Posted April 27, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

            Well, he’s definitely not a guy to do things by half-measures. I’ll give him that much.

        • JP415
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

          I thought it was a flame-thrower, but maybe I have him mixed up with someone else. (There’s probably all kinds of other gruesome stuff going on over there that we don’t know about.)

      • Matthew
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        I would ask for references. I don’t doubt that whoever selected Kim was highly defensive of the new order, however, the various prosecutions/executions could easily be attributed to failed factions being eliminated.

        My understanding was that Kim was selected primarily because he could be made up to look like his grandfather, who is much more popular than his father. Others were considered but rejected because they wouldn’t make as appealing of a public figure. One uncle was rejected rumor has it, because he was too obviously gay.

        None of this means Kim wasn’t actually in charge, but I want to know what serious NK watchers think.

      • eric
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        He’s got a sister. I have no idea how much respect she commands or whether she has the requisite ruthlessness to fend off other people (military generals?) who might decide they want the job.

  17. Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I am curious about the legal basis for the government confining healthy people, preventing them from peaceable assembly and freedom of association, not to mention earning a living. I suspect State policing power permits it short-term, but longer term there may be legal challenges. Perhaps Ken Kukec can enlighten.

    • eric
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      AFAIK people aren’t legally confined* – the state rules tend to restrict only indoor gatherings greater than a certain number. You can still go outside, go to stores, and even technically go see your friends. The police aren’t pulling cars over to stop people from going to work or anything.

      As for business closures, while the extent of the current closures are unprecedented, I think it’s pretty well established that state and local governments can close businesses for health reasons.

      *Except possibly those who have been diagnosed with the virus and ordered into isolation for 14 days?? I don’t know about them…but I”d guess a 14-day quarantine those folks is going to be easily upheld as legal.

      • JP415
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        “even technically go see your friends.” As I understand it, visiting friends and family is not considered “essential travel” in California and Michigan. If you’re single, the shelter-in-place order is a kind of semi-solitary confinement. Luckily, it’s not being vigorously enforced, but the precedent is a bit unnerving.

  18. eric
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    …realistically, nobody thinks the virus’s depredations will stop by June 1 (our latest lockdown extension from the Illinois governor).

    Tell that to Governor Kemp of Georgia.

    And response to Nay’s comment about states not getting the support they deserve, here is a summary of the relief the Federal Government has provided to states, businesses, and individuals. The three separate bills provide more than $2 trillion in federal aid.

    If your opinion is that this is not enough, I’d say okay, you may be right. I’m not really sure. But if your opinion is that the Fed is not really helping the states at all, you are simply wrong. This is an immense amount of disaster relief aid. Without googling it, I’m going to say that this is probably the most amount of aid Congress has authorized for a single disaster ever, in the entire history of our country.

  19. Matt
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I agree with your “dribs and drabs” theory. Cult 45 resents having their “freedom” limited and would never cooperate if told it will last a long time.

  20. Andy
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    While I try not to wish ill for anyone, I’ve got to admit that I hope KJU is an ex-dictator!
    Continuing my cynical tone, I have a very different feeling about the airlines. Firstly, I suspect that the person at the gate is (deliberately) not told much more than you. Secondly, I think the airline has a fairly good idea that there is, say, a 99% chance your flight is cancelled. If they tell you this, then everyone rebooks, or goes some other way. If by some unlikely chance they then do fix it or find an unexpected plane, then, oh no, it’s empty and they’ve lost money!
    So, I think they are deliberately misleading you in order to keep you there for the 1% chance they manage to make it. The airline wants to avoid having empty seats or losing money; they don’t care about your time or convenience.

  21. Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    It will be interesting to see if South Korea’s claim that Kim is ok is true. On one hand, South Korea might say this simply to not piss off North Korea for all the obvious reasons. On the other hand, it is not hard to imagine South Korean intelligence service knows much more about what’s going on in North Korea than our intelligence service does.

    • EdwardM
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      The problem with all of this is everyone lies. Everyone. I’m ignoring this story until his person, dead or alive, actually shows up.

      • GBJames
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        ”everyone lies”

        You expect us to believe that?

        • EdwardM
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:18 am | Permalink

          🙂

    • max blancke
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      No matter what his condition, he will certainly not be “dead” until succession is worked out.

  22. Roo
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    My feeling on the reopening timeline is that people genuinely don’t know. There are so many crucial holes in knowledge right now – the fatality rate of the virus, what immunity looks like after infection (how long does it last, how strong is it, etc.), and what longterm medical outcomes are.

    Then there are a number of other factors that could change things depending on how they go – if effective treatments are found (with a lot of potential variables there – how effective, for what populations), if a vaccine appears to be on the foreseeable horizon or a pipe dream once it’s been worked on for awhile, if there are other factors (air quality, temperature, etc.) impacting which places are the most hard hit, if the virus potentially mutates to more benign forms.

    Any one of those variables alone could make a big difference but in combination I think they make useful prediction very difficult. I think there’s a huge “wait and see what happens” element here. It’s a bit like hoping for good weather a month from now – realistically, there’s not a way to predict that in anything but the broadest strokes. Yes, we know something about how weather changes from April to May, but we can say very little about specific weather 30 days out.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Not to mention the availability of PPE & testing (also which takes various forms) which seems like it requires a domestic solution given the high completion globally for such products – you just can’t produce/secure enough without a domestic supply. These are constraints to reopening. I would like to see elective surgeries & such open up with some good testing & use of PPE as people must really be suffering that had these things delayed. I imagine waiting with a painful condition like a hip or knee surgery or not being able to see because of waiting for cataract surgery must be just awful.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        completion = competition. Ugh.

      • Roo
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        Yes, that definitely seems like another factor. Especially if some new technology in testing or cheaper, more readily available type of test was created. And yet another factor is not just availability of PPE but how effective it is, if widely adopted by the population after reopening. Results from other countries on something as simple as face masks look quite promising but it’s probably too soon to talk about that with confidence yet.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:34 am | Permalink

          I was thinking just PPE for entering hospitals and going to appointments again. My friend’s 88 year old father with most likely dementia, was unwell and had to walk into the hospital emergency alone. No one could even come in or wait with him.

    • Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      The states and cities that are “opening up” are running some important experiments for our benefit. Each has decided to open up a different set of businesses. Some have set rules for those businesses that dictate distancing, masks, procedures, etc. Others leave it up to the individual businesses which each come up with their own rules. Some of these experiments will undoubtedly result in virus hotspots. Careful observation and analysis should yield valuable information for the rest of us.

      • Roo
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        I agree. So much we still have to learn and find out.

    • denise
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Have we seen any estimates of how long it will take to manufacture and distribute a vaccine after it’s been approved?

      When I hear 12-18 months best case to develop I’m adding on 6 months before I might actually be able to get it, but maybe that’s too optimistic.

      • Roo
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

        I’ve read that 12-18 months is wildly optimistic but also that this is a novel situation, as there have never been so many resources focused on getting a vaccine out as fast as possible, which could make the wildly optimistic more feasible. I’ve also read that availability could depend on the type of vaccine. If I understand correctly, for example, RNA vaccines are a promising new technology but cannot be easily transported away from where they are made because they cannot be refrigerated.

        What I find worrisome is that the efficacy of a vaccine is not yet understood. Again, from what I understand, there’s a chance that it could be somewhat analogous to a flu shot, where it needs to be updated frequently and only offers partial protection. I would breathe a huge sigh of relief if I knew that a polio-esque vaccine was on the way, even if it’s 18 months away, but I don’t think there’s any guarantee on that.

        On a more optimistic note, however, I suppose that even partial protection could do a tremendous amount of good in the big picture. If you combine some level of immunity from people who have recovered with some level of immunity from vaccinations, I assume transmissions would be significantly lowered.

  23. max blancke
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    “Americans cannot deal psychologically with the notion of more than six months of further shutdown”

    There are a lot of people whose jobs are probably gone forever, especially small business people. They are “deferring” mortgage payments (and of course there are some restrictions on evicting people from rental properties), but even those things deferred will eventually arrive and need to be confronted.
    That means that a lot of people who were doing fine are now facing disaster. It has to be especially hard on the folks who live in lightly impacted areas, and might not know anyone who has the disease.
    I am not in such a situation. There are some things I would really like to do, but we are fine financially and have huge amounts of provisions. Our being a little stir crazy is a whole different situation from that being experienced by those facing complete ruin.

    I also think that some State and federal authorities are not conveying the message that “we are all in this together” very well. The arbitrary restrictions being put on people can be maddening. When we ask people to make serious sacrifices, we had better not act in ways that make them suspect we have any but the purest motivations, and that the sacrifices are absolutely essential for the community.

    • EdwardM
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      You’re talking about leadership. Alas that what we have at the highest levels is so abysmal.

    • JP415
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      When we ask people to make serious sacrifices, we had better not act in ways that make them suspect we have any but the purest motivations

      Part of the problem is that “essential” businesses are allowed to remain open, so the shutdown is very unfair in its economic impact. State governments have a lot of leeway in labeling businesses as essential. Even worse, large companies like Amazon have more resources to weather the storm, leading to even greater power concentrated in the hands of fewer companies.

      • max blancke
        Posted April 27, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

        And some people are in the position to define “essential”. I have no doubt that businesses in the position to lobby policy makers are always going to be more essential than smaller businesses.

  24. Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    As I see it, we have it narrowed down as to what happened to Kim Jong-un. He is either dead, brain dead, in a coma, sequestering from covid, or non-stop partying in Wonsan.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      He might just be busy writing another lovely letter to Donald Trump.

    • JP415
      Posted April 27, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Maybe Kim had an “accident”—he fell down the stairs or something.

  25. Curtis
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    We are now at the point of difficult choices.
    The financial and mental costs of the status quo are immense. Changes are likely to result in more deaths. Even if we knew the exact cost of every action, there would be no obvious choice. Since we are guessing at the outcomes, it is even more difficult.

    I cannot believe we are going back to the old normal for at least a year. Also, no matter what the governments say, people are going to take precautions and most at-risk people are going to remain largely isolated.

    I favor letting having the healthier states and healthier people edge toward to normalcy. I know I am biased from living in a state with fewer cases and having high school children have losing once-in- lifetime opportunities.

    Unfortunately, many people are continuing make their agenda based on the election. I am not saying people are consciously hoping for deaths but, on both sides, people are reacting with political emotions.

  26. Matt
    Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    So Jerry WANTS students to fail!

    (Now THAT”S sarcasm.)

  27. Posted April 27, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Did you mean that he missed two NORTH Korean holidays, Jerry?

  28. Avis James
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    I think your “dribble out the bad news” theory is accurate. We were asked for a fall plan of online teaching today.

  29. Jimbo
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t the 2020-21 flu season be paltry assuming the world (especially China where most influenzas originate) is still social distancing, washing hands religiously, and not traveling internationally? What stops the coronavirus surely takes the same toll on influenza.

  30. uhoh
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    1. What if Kim is afraid of the virus and is holed up somewhere waiting for it to pass?

    2. I don’t see how the virus situation in the US can end in anything but herd immunity at this point. And even at its worst, in New York, it did not overwhelm the healthcare capacity. The death toll will be big, probably half a million, but the only thing shutting down achieves now is postponing the (inevitable) deaths by a few weeks or maybe months. The other costs are huge. Shutting down was a good try, but now it’s time to open up.

  31. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Kim Jong-un seems to be in hiding. Usual leisure place, no power strife and no reason to let slip that North Korea has the pandemic.

    I often suspect the desk people know that they’re misleading us, and for the same reason I suspect the pandemic people are misleading us. (In the case of airlines, I know this is sometimes true because I’ve gotten responses by tweeting to the airlines that are far more accurate—and show far more delays—than the desk personnel let on.)

    Conspiracy theories are the worst (in the sense of predicting what happens)!

    The null hypothesis here is of course that organizations have trouble disseminate information, and that the desk is the end point for a transmission of messages. When they often publicly complain of not knowing what to do, I think that they – unfortunately – are often relying their opinion.

    But when it comes to US politics, they are monetary rigged, so that Trump would be the worst “swamp” monster we’ve seen – on top of being the worst president ever – is not a long stretch …

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Oy! “Relying” – relaying.


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