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Update II: March 1st 2020

US-Based Friends: Over the next few days you are going to see a substantial increase in the number of cases of coronavirus, primirily on the West Coast, but you will see sporadic cases crop up on the East Coast as well.


Genetic analysis, released on Sunday morning, of viral isolates from Washington State cases show that they originated from a single source (97% probability). But the samples were isolated ~6 weeks apart. This would suggest that the these isolates originated from the same index case but also shows that there has been sustained human-to-human transmission in Washington for the last ~6 weeks. The best estimate of infections right now, based on the reproduction rate of this virus, is ~100 people infected from this index case. This is not unexpected for those of us monitoring the outbreak.


Genetic analysis, released on Sunday morning, of viral isolates from Washington State cases show that they originated from a single source (97% probability). But the samples were isolated ~6 weeks apart. This would suggest that the these isolates originated from the same index case but also shows that there has been sustained human-to-human transmission in Washington for the last ~6 weeks. The best estimate of infections right now, based on the reproduction rate of this virus, is ~100 people infected from this index case.

This is not unexpected for those of us monitoring the outbreak.


Yesterday, the CDC also gave guidance to testing labs throughout the country to develop their own molecular tests for COVID19. This move will significantly enhance the capacity of the US to detect the virus in the community (we have tested fewer than 1000 people at this stage). The sustained human-to-human spread plus enhanced surveillance will lead to enhanced reporting of the virus in the community.

None of this is cause for panic. Just awareness.


Just be aware that when you start seeing case numbers increasing, it is not because the virus has just gone through a superspreading event, it will be because we are actually testing for it now. In light of the news that will surely break, and will surely be dramaticized, please maintain perspective: This flu season has been the worst flu season for hospitalizations of children since the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. The flu is a bigger threat right now. You do not need to change your routines, just keep reinforcing good hygiene practices.


What have I done to prepare?

1) Spoken to my kids about the virus. This is important. My son was told from friends at school that he could catch the virus playing in the forest. I want them to get facts from me, not the playground.


2)Made a prep kit, food and household supplies for a week. I have wanted to do this for many years, as hurricanes and snow storms we experience in my area tend to disrupt power for a long time. The virus was just the final kick I needed to get it done. If I don't use the supplies for an emergency they will be great for camping. Important to note: the prep kit is not because it think we will be quarantined, I just have this uneasy feeling that at some stage soon, mass panic buying will set in and I don't want to put unnecessary strain on supply chains if my regular shopping day is the day some big news breaks.


3) Finally, I am modifying my hand behavior. Washing hands more often, trying very hard to stop touching may face, coughing into my elbow. Finding creative ways to open doors, press elevator buttons, scratch my nose.





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