Update V: March 5th 2020
Australia: Things are looking good in Australia right now. Of the 53 cases, only 4 have unknown origins. This is really good news, because it means that the EPIs tracking contacts can focus their attention on the few rouge cases. There will be others pop up, but for now keep calm, carry on.
USA: Things are still progressing as expected. Some really bad mistakes within the Government have allowed this bug to spread undetected and unrestrained for at least 6 weeks. The epi curve (see picture below) is text book perfect, expect the numbers of infected to get large in the coming week. The modest current number (~230) is an artifact of testing.... we are not testing anywhere near the pace we need for containment. As an example, South Korea is testing ~18,000 people a day, we are testing a few hundred. I expect by the end of weekend we will have crossed the 1000 infected mark, mostly in Washington State and California. If we don't get the testing going soon, think 5,000-10,000 tests per day, containment will not be possible.
More locally (South MA), things are fine (it's ok to go outside, Sue) but again, we are really not testing with any depth. We do have one of the best molecular diagnostic labs in the world at our doorstep, and the PI of that Lab said his lab will be up to speed to test for coronavirus in the coming days. (The handcuffs were removed by the CDC). So that is great news.
Some new science that came out today: Everyone at every age can be infected, kids are not immune to this virus. BUT, compared to adults, children typically just get a mild illness. This bug has a really strong age-dependency in regard to severity. If you are under 50, very few people progress to serious illness. It is however, hitting the 70+ the hardest, especially those with comorbidities. Our parents and grandparents.
I am not saying cut the parents/grand parents off, just be a little more cautious when visiting them. Wash hands as you arrive, don't visit them after spending lots of time in the public places, don't visit if you are sick. Keep the bug out of their house!
Some things to think about from my first preparedness post:
1. Who will look after your kids if their school closes. Having them at home brings children into closer and longer contact with adults. Please think about who those adults will be, especially if you are still working. Putting your kids into extended contact with grandparents because of school closures may not be the wisest thing right now.
2. An article today suggested that 55 common prescription medicines were in short supply due to production issues from China. Get your prescriptions filled, things are not going to improve (supply chain wise) for a while.
3. Wash your hands. An article today showed that just improving hand hygiene would slow the spread of a respiratory virus by about 5 fold. AND another study showed that women were twice as likely as men to wash their hands after going to the toilet. Again, you don't need a pandemic to wash your hands!
4. You all know the stress of finding household goods right now. Supply chains are broken. Don't empty the store, but do add a few extra bits and pieces to your shopping list. Things that will disappear; fever reducers, hand cleaners, disinfectants, vitamins, tissues, and apparently toilet paper. Get a weeks worth of extra food in the pantry.
What you are trying to do is put some slack in the supply chain, so if some big news breaks, and everyone (else) panics, you are not adding to supply chain woes by having to go shopping. If you adopt this suggestion, you are also helping those in our community who do not have the financial resources to buy groceries a week in advance.
Be nice to each other!