I now don’t really feel like going to that conference in Boston. I’m scared of coronavirus. Should I wear those weird face masks? I have a small child, I can’t take any risks.

26 thoughts on “Worried”

  1. “Should I wear those weird face masks?”

    If you do, you’ll scare the hell out of everybody at the conference — they’ll think you’ve got the VIRUS!!

    Seriously, no! Just go to the conference and follow your usual routine. Despite some of the overwrought “worst possible case” predictions coming from certain doctors on television (“SEVENTY-PERCENT of the human race will be infected! Schools will have to teach via home internet classes! Businesses will close their offices and deal with clients through tele-marketing! A global pandemic is inevitable, etc.”), life as we know it isn’t coming to an end.

    I remember the worldwide pandemic of Asian flu back in 1958, when I was one of the few people in my hometown who didn’t catch it, and the town junior high school stayed open. Some of my classes during that time had only three or four students present in the classroom with a substitute teacher, but the world came through it okay.

    As the virus spreads around the U.S., you may want to be prudent and limit your travel to various conferences, but we’re not at that point yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dreidel, do you think it is possible I have had it? I boarded a plane 31 Dec. at SFO and by the next day was sick. Flu but just odd, unlike any other I’ve had. An eccentric flu. It took weeks to meander through me and finally go away. I went to MD, wouldn’t have normally but I thought: I should be tested. MD thought: just medicate symptoms. OK. So, I am not asking for a diagnosis, just wondering: is it possible one could have caught it at SFO on 31 Dec 2019?


      1. “Dreidel, do you think it is possible I have had it? I boarded a plane 31 Dec at SFO and by the next day was sick.”

        Obviously, I can’t do long-distance diagnosis, but here’s my educated opinion:

        EXTREMELY UNLIKELY. The very first cases reported by the Chinese government were diagnosed inside Wuhan China “at the end of December 2019.” So unless you crossed breaths with an infected Chinese person at SFO who was flying internationally that early in the disease’s discovery, you probably just had a bad case of the standard flu. The fact that it “took weeks to meander through [your system] — longer than the usual course for COVID-19 — and nobody around you has been diagnosed with that virus, renders the possibility of that diagnosis exceedingly small.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. ” very first cases reported by the Chinese government ”

          I would not put a lot of faith in any reports from the Chinese government… it’s a top down system (where initiative from below is actively punished) that’s big into shooting the messenger. There is a history of the government refusing to face reality until absolutely forced to (it’s a communist thing, natural that you don’t get it).
          I would push back any date given by the Chinese government by at least a month, maybe more…


          1. This is exactly what my Chinese acquaintance says. The Chinese government tried to keep this under wraps for at least a month. The first cases were probably in late November.


          2. // I would not put a lot of faith in any reports from the Chinese government…

            And not only Chinese:

            “A minimum of 6 countries have registered patients infected in Iran. This is completely inconsistent with the data provided by the Iranian authorities: 34 infected. In addition, it is in Iran that the phenomenally high ratio of officially deceased to the number of infected is completely out of line with similar indicators in other countries. Apparently, Iran is actively using the “competitive advantage” of any totalitarian despotism: closedness and lying. It is more likely that the scale of the epidemic in Iran is multiple, if not an order of magnitude higher than stated.”

            From this text from a Russian blogger who expects similar falsifications in his own country :


  2. Sorry, but this is silly. For most people, Covid-19 is a cold. It’s less deadly than the influenza already rampant in the US, as measured in the death rate per infected population. And you can catch it from anyone. We have transmission from people who have never been to China, but where exposed to someone who was. Around your university, can you guess how many people that would be? By the way, according to research on MERS and SARS, the virus may remain active on surfaces such as tables, door knobs and stair rails for up to two weeks. So are you carrying disinfecting wipes with you everywhere?

    1. We barely have any international students, and very few people travel. The university is adamantly opposed to faculty traveling internationally.

      But thank you for the reassurance! I’m completely normal in everything except for what concerns my kid’s health. She scratched her thumb once, and I had suicidal thoughts.


    2. I agree with Vic for the most part, except that I thought it was a little more deadly than ‘flu? I heard that ‘flu has a mortality rate of 0.1% and Covid-19 has a likely mortality rate of about 2%? (Possibly a bit lower than that, since we don’t yet know exactly how many people are infected but asymptomatic/weak symptoms, but still about an order of magnitude greater than the ‘flu.)


  3. “I’m scared of coronavirus”

    A perfectly rational feeling, I thought this was going to be very serious back around the middle of January and nothing I’ve learned since has changed my mind.

    Personally I’d err on the side of caution and would delay any discretionary traveling (and make sure I have a couple weeks worth of food on hand in case the Italy supermarket situation is repeated where you live).

    They’re not really sure how it spreads which together with a long incubation time means the authorities have no real idea how many people are infected. Data from the governments of China and Iran are completely unreliable.
    There’s no need to panic but exposing yourself to unnecessary risk seems… it’s not something I’d want to do…

    I had considered going somewhere between semesters (probably Canary Islands) but decided I didn’t like being confined with a bunch of other people’s air for 10 hours (5 hours there and 5 back). Between the sandstorms and the Coronavirus lockdown on Tenerife…. yay Cliff!


  4. I am not that worried about catching it but I am worried about officials getting paranoid and shutting travel down, such that I get stuck. I’ve got 3 trips this semester and 5 in the summer and … I can’t really afford to get stuck or stranded, with that schedule.


  5. How many cases do you have in the USA? We have maybe a couple of dozen so far here in the UK and we are a much smaller place, yet the nation is carrying on as normal apart from in a few medical facilities. You have a young, healthy child, heathy people are not at risk of anything more serious than a cold.
    I personally will not allow press scaremongering to get to me – and I have a pre-existing lung condition so can get very ill when I catch a cold. Stay safe sure, but also stay sane! x


  6. A giant physics meeting (the American Physical Society March Meeting) that draws thousands every year and is supposed to start on Monday has just been canceled. Some of my students are already there in Denver (went early for some workshop on Sunday). What a mess.


    1. If it gets cancelled at such a late date, I suppose the university won’t reimburse what one paid for the flight, the hotel, the registration. So one would just lose that money? It’s $1,600 in my case. I’m counting on getting it back!


      1. The thing is I try to pre-pay as much as I can directly for grants for my students so they don’t have to carry it all on their credit cards. For this one, registration, flights, and even hotel were prepaid by univ card (drawing from my grants). It’s gonna be a bear to get all but one night back from the hotel. The registration better be refunded. The flights were used so that’s a bust. But yeah, whatever the end charges end up being it will be on my grants, so ouch.


          1. “I’m not even sure it’s really needed to be cancelled”

            It’s in everybody’s interest to try to keep the infection rates as low as possible, even if that means enduring some personal and/or financial inconvenience.
            The fatalities are caused by the patients’ lungs being filled with liquid. Many can still survive with the help of specialist equipment which is not that plentiful. The fewer infected the fewer who will need the specialist equipment which cannot be willed into existence when it starts running short. Slowing the infection rate (however inconvenient and unpleasant) will help keep more people alive.

            The US has completely dropped the ball on this until now (along with China and Iran) and so the adjustment is going to be more painful.

            The countries that have taken it seriously (S Korea, Italy) have found that the initial Chinese fatality rates are flawed and this is not to be messed around with.

            The basic choices people face now:
            1. Err on the side of caution for the good of the overall system
            2. Try to maintain the daily grind and hope for the best

            I’m going for 1.


            1. Yep, slowing the spread is the best hope we’ve got at this point. I stumbled across an interesting discussion thread on a German website the other day with lots of people participating with backgrounds in medicine and epidemiology who’ve been closely monitoring various situations and reports and they were all really concerned about the ability of this virus to overwhelm hospitals because the serious cases require two to three weeks of hospital care and hospitals run out of beds and supplies very quickly when you have a lot of people needing to stay that long. It sounded like a lot of people in Wuhan died unnecessarily in the early phases because the hospitals were not able to offer adequate care to so many patients and the authorities were initially too slow in sending more medical staff and supplies.

              The discussion also had lots of concern about the ability of Germany and other European countries to enforce quarantines and to devote enough people to tracking down patient contacts to test/quarantine them. Lots of sentiment to the effect that all of last week’s carnival celebrations should have been cancelled and that Switzerland’s decision to cancel all events of over 1,000 people until March 15 was very sensible.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.