The headline makes it sound like martial law, especially with the National Guard participating, but “containment area” is a misnomer. They aren’t restricting the residents’ movements. “Somebody who lives in that containment area could be in this room today. There’s nothing you can do about that,” said Cuomo at today’s briefing. What they’re trying to contain is the virus itself by providing on-site testing for residents in hopes of identifying everyone who’s sick and discouraging them from leaving the area. Large gathering places like schools and churches will also be shut for a couple of weeks. The Guard is there to help deliver food to those who are already ill and to sanitize infected public spaces. Watch, then read on.
BREAKING: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces containment zone around New Rochelle, lasting until 3/25; National Guard to be deployed to assist in food delivery, cleaning.
— ABC News (@ABC) March 10, 2020
New Rochelle is just north of New York City. Lots of residents commute to Manhattan for work. If New Rochelle burns, NYC will eventually burn too.
In an alternate universe where the CDC had been effective from the start in identifying and containing the sick, a move like this might be attacked as heavy-handed. Because the feds have been bumbling and reactive throughout, most New Yorkers will appreciate Cuomo for being aggressive. Others might be shaken from their current complacency about the disease. It’s also good retail politics for him to be out in front of the cameras doing “here’s how seriously we’re taking this” briefings. When even Trump-friendly righties are begging the president to rise to the occasion and recognize the threat, Cuomo’s obviously going to benefit from the implicit contrast. I mean…
The president has been calling up friends after hours, to ask them what they think about coronavirus. They told him:
1. *they* don't know anybody with it.
2. Trump is super-duper healthy.
His conclusion: Keep shaking hands. "You have to live your life."https://t.co/VrkdUuE54g
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) March 10, 2020
Other governors will also be increasingly proactive about the crisis, and not just Democratic governors either:
ATHLETICS: For indoor events, we are asking for no events with spectators other than the athletes, parents, and others essential to the game.
Right now, outdoor events can continue. #COVID19
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 10, 2020
March Madness games will be played in DeWine’s home state of Ohio 10 days from now. Presumably that means empty stands, a prudent measure.
Meanwhile in Italy, the news is not good:
The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has jumped by 168 to 631, an increase of 36%, the Civil Protection Agency said on Tuesday, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on 21 February, Reuters reports.
The total number of cases in Italy, the European country hardest hit by the virus in Europe, rose to 10,149 from a previous 9,172, an increase of 10.7%.
The situation is worse in Italy right now than it is in China. Xi Jinping visited Wuhan today to signal that the government believes the worst is behind them; there were, allegedly, only 19 new cases there today — far fewer than in Italy — and Chinese state media claims temporary hospitals to treat coronavirus patients are closing down. Maybe that’s propaganda to highlight China’s “victory” over the disease at a moment when it’s bedeviling the west, or maybe it’s legit evidence of what a totalitarian government can achieve when it orders several hundred million people to shelter in place. As for Italy, the death toll has crept up to five percent, higher than it was even in China. Why? A combination of demographics and capacity:
In Lombardy, the worst-affected region, the death rate is 6%. Globally, about 3.5% out of 109,578 people with confirmed cases have died, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization. Many experts say the real mortality rate may well be lower, because many infection cases aren’t known…
“From a biological point of view, it’s inexplicable,” said Giorgio Palù, a virologist at the University of Padua. “The only thing we know for sure is that Italy’s population is one of the oldest in the world.”…
In Italy, which has the oldest population in the world after Japan, 58% of Covid-19 patients who died so far were over 80 years old, and a further 31% were in their 70s, according to the National Institute of Health, Italy’s disease-control agency.
Italy is a bureaucratic western nation, not a communist autocracy that can easily commandeer labor, so temporary hospitals to house the glut of sick older people can’t spring up overnight. We’re on track for the same nightmare soon — maybe. Proactive measures like DeWine’s decree and widespread reports of businesses and colleges following the CDC’s device and encouraging “social distancing” by asking people to work/learn remotely will obviously succeed to some degree in slowing down the spread, which will save lives. Airport density is also waaaay down. We may be flattening the proverbial curve:
— Rutger Bregman (@rcbregman) March 10, 2020
Aggressive testing, like South Korea has done, sure helps a lot too:
Amazing! What South Korea is doing is really bending their #Covid19 epidemic curve. Only 131 new cases today, versus 909 on Feb. 29.
It's not just China. This clearly can be done. https://t.co/sueAO9XLF7 pic.twitter.com/Bw7WX1s9nM
— Helen Branswell (@HelenBranswell) March 10, 2020
Unfortunately, we’re still in terrible shape on testing. The single hottest hot spot in America for coronavirus is the Life Care Center nursing home in Seattle, where dozens of patients and staff have contracted COVID-19. As of this morning, they still couldn’t get enough tests there to screen everyone with symptoms. And just as I’m writing this, suddenly we have a new hot spot on the other side of the country:
BREAKING: Massachusetts has just announced 51 *new* cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of presumptive cases to 92 — a 124 percent increase from yesterday. Seventy of the cases are related to the Biogen conference in Boston. Six people are hospitalized. #WBZ
— Liam Martin (@LiamWBZ) March 10, 2020
Exit question via the Daily Beast: How the hell are there still people booking cruises? “Do I want to be stuck with my two kids and my husband as we are up each others throats because of the quarantine? Would it be better to be in the middle of the Atlantic with free room service? At least I wouldn’t have to cook.”