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Michael Gove advises Britons to return to their workplaces if they can

‘We must fire up the engines of the economy’: Michael Gove urges Britons to go back to their offices if they can amid fears of jobs bloodbath on high street – as ministers prepare to lift advice against using public transportMichael Gove insisted people should now go back into their offices if they can The Cabinet…

Federer-backed sports shoe maker On preparing for IPO, Swiss paper says By

VIENNA () – Swiss sports shoe maker On, partly owned by tennis champion Roger Federer, is in the early stages of preparing for a stock exchange listing in summer or autumn of next year, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported.The Zurich-based company, founded 10 years ago, says it has special sole technology that is soft on…

New England Patriots free up nearly $8m in cap space after settling two compensation grievances | NFL News

Last Updated: 12/07/20 9:40am Antonio Brown played just one game for the PatriotsThe New England Patriots have nearly $8m in salary cap space after settling two compensation grievances, ESPN reported on Saturday.It gives the Patriots some flexibility for in-season roster moves after they started the week with less than $500,000 in cap space.The club now…

NSW shark attack victim named as Mani Hart-Deville

Tributes have flowed for a 15-year-old boy killed by a shark on the NSW North Coast.Several friends and a group of older surfers came to the teen’s assistance to help him back to shore, but paramedic crews were unable to save him and he died at the scene.Mani Hart-Deville is being remembered as a “warm-hearted”…

Safety first for Spaniards voting in the middle of brand-new coronavirus break outs By

5/5 © . A worker wearing a protective face mask arranges ballot papers at a polling station ahead of Basque regional elections on Sunday, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Bilbao 2/5BILBAO () – Voters in northern Spain wore face masks and used hand sanitizer gel before entering polling stations on Sunday as Galicia…

What happens if a pandemic hits?

What happens if a COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hits? What will the repercussions be if the virus spreads worldwide? How will it change how we live, work, socialize and travel?

Don’t get all disaster-movie here. Some people seem to have the notion that a pandemic will mean shutting down borders, building walls, canceling all air travel and quarantining entire nations indefinitely. That is entirely incorrect. Containment attempts can slow down an outbreak and buy time to prepare, but if a pandemic hits, by definition, containment has failed and further attempts will be pointless, if not counterproductive. Rather:

The focus will switch from containment to mitigation: slowing down how fast the virus spreads through a population in which it has taken root. Mitigation can occur via individual measures, such as frequent hand washing, and collective measures, such as “social distancing” — cancellations of mass events, closures, adopting remote work and remote education wherever possible, and so forth.

The slower the pandemic moves, the smoother the demands on health-care systems will be; the less risk those systems will have of becoming overloaded; the more they can learn about how best to treat the virus; and the greater the number of people who may ultimately benefit from a vaccine, if one is developed. I recommend the whole thread above this instructive graph:

The ultimate goal of such measures is to reduce the intensity of an outbreak, flattening out the epidemic curve and therefore reducing strain on the health system, and on social economic well-being (see this graphic representation). pic.twitter.com/fWOCq453Bx

— Josh Michaud (@joshmich) February 22, 2020

An important question for those of us in the media is: how do we report on COVID-19 in this time of great flux and uncertainty? I hereby direct you to this excellent Scientific American piece by Harvard’s Bill Hanage and Marc Lipsitch: “How to Report on the COVID-19 Outbreak Responsibly.” (Disclosure: Bill is a personal friend.)

We think reporting should distinguish between at least three levels of information: (A) what we know is true; (B) what we think is true—fact-based assessments that also depend on inference, extrapolation or educated interpretation of facts that reflect an individual’s view of what is most likely to be going on; and (C) opinions and speculation […] facts about this epidemic that have lasted a few days are far more reliable than the latest “facts” that have just come out, which may be erroneous or unrepresentative and thus misleading. […] Distinguish between whether something ever happens and whether it is happening at a frequency that matters.

Read the whole thing. As an opinion columnist, I’m on pretty safe ground, in that everything I write is definitionally (C) in the above taxonomy… but basically everything I’m citing counts as (B).

Which includes the following statement: when I say “if a” in the first paragraph above, I really mean “when the.” A pandemic is coming. I recognize that may sound like irresponsible scaremongering. I strongly encourage you to be skeptical, to read widely, and to draw your own conclusions. But the clamor of expert voices is growing too loud to ignore. Here’s an entire Twitter thread linking to epidemiologists at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and the Universities of Basel and Bern, saying so with very little ambiguity:

Round up of (assistant) profs of infectious disease spread saying we’re likely past being able to contain coronavirus, i.e. headed for a pandemic and mitigation (NOT saying containment efforts are now pointless): @mlipsitch https://t.co/mP76jHPmGT

1/2…

— Chris Wymant (@ChrisWymant) February 23, 2020

Don’t panic. There is a great deal we can and will do to limit and mitigate this pandemic. It’s all too easy to imagine fear becoming far more dangerous than the virus itself. Don’t let that happen. It’s also worth noting that its mortality rate is likely significantly lower than the headline 2%, not least because that doesn’t include mild undiagnosed cases:

15. Think of an iceberg. With #COVID19, it’s easy to see the deaths/serious cases. But people with mild illness don’t go to hospital/don’t get tested. Studies have to be done to find them. We need a clearer picture. If the data exist, share. If they don’t, generate them. pic.twitter.com/26yau3wpCF

— Helen Branswell (@HelenBranswell) February 22, 2020

Furthermore, the rate seems much lower yet for anyone under 60 years old, and enormously lower for anyone under 50. Some more context regarding mitigation:

Let me pick up, where I left off yesterday: As #covid19 efforts shift from containment to mitigation, we have a window of opportunity to prepare the world. What does that mean?

— Kai Kupferschmidt (@kakape) February 23, 2020

Unless all of those people cited above are wrong, which seems highly unlikely, we will all spend the next weeks and months sharing the very strange collective experience of watching — through our laptops and phones, through Twitter and mass media — the spread of this pandemic through much of the world in what will seem like slow motion. Our day-to-day lives are ultimately likely to change somewhat. (If your office job isn’t remote-work-friendly today, I assure you, it will be this time next year.) But it will be very far from the end of the world. I suspect we’ll all be surprised by how soon it begins to feel almost normal.

Latest Posts

Michael Gove advises Britons to return to their workplaces if they can

‘We must fire up the engines of the economy’: Michael Gove urges Britons to go back to their offices if they can amid fears of jobs bloodbath on high street – as ministers prepare to lift advice against using public transportMichael Gove insisted people should now go back into their offices if they can The Cabinet…

Federer-backed sports shoe maker On preparing for IPO, Swiss paper says By

VIENNA () – Swiss sports shoe maker On, partly owned by tennis champion Roger Federer, is in the early stages of preparing for a stock exchange listing in summer or autumn of next year, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported.The Zurich-based company, founded 10 years ago, says it has special sole technology that is soft on…

New England Patriots free up nearly $8m in cap space after settling two compensation grievances | NFL News

Last Updated: 12/07/20 9:40am Antonio Brown played just one game for the PatriotsThe New England Patriots have nearly $8m in salary cap space after settling two compensation grievances, ESPN reported on Saturday.It gives the Patriots some flexibility for in-season roster moves after they started the week with less than $500,000 in cap space.The club now…

NSW shark attack victim named as Mani Hart-Deville

Tributes have flowed for a 15-year-old boy killed by a shark on the NSW North Coast.Several friends and a group of older surfers came to the teen’s assistance to help him back to shore, but paramedic crews were unable to save him and he died at the scene.Mani Hart-Deville is being remembered as a “warm-hearted”…

Latest Posts

Michael Gove advises Britons to return to their workplaces if they can

‘We must fire up the engines of the economy’: Michael Gove urges Britons to go back to their offices if they can amid fears of jobs bloodbath on high street – as ministers prepare to lift advice against using public transportMichael Gove insisted people should now go back into their offices if they can The Cabinet…

Federer-backed sports shoe maker On preparing for IPO, Swiss paper says By

VIENNA () – Swiss sports shoe maker On, partly owned by tennis champion Roger Federer, is in the early stages of preparing for a stock exchange listing in summer or autumn of next year, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported.The Zurich-based company, founded 10 years ago, says it has special sole technology that is soft on…

New England Patriots free up nearly $8m in cap space after settling two compensation grievances | NFL News

Last Updated: 12/07/20 9:40am Antonio Brown played just one game for the PatriotsThe New England Patriots have nearly $8m in salary cap space after settling two compensation grievances, ESPN reported on Saturday.It gives the Patriots some flexibility for in-season roster moves after they started the week with less than $500,000 in cap space.The club now…

NSW shark attack victim named as Mani Hart-Deville

Tributes have flowed for a 15-year-old boy killed by a shark on the NSW North Coast.Several friends and a group of older surfers came to the teen’s assistance to help him back to shore, but paramedic crews were unable to save him and he died at the scene.Mani Hart-Deville is being remembered as a “warm-hearted”…