Even just having your digital ear open for the chatter, you hear that Shanghai has been almost entirely “shut down,” with its residents driven to social-media boredom and rumormongering. You hear that Wuhan has been half-evacuated. I can’t even begin to comprehend what it would look like to evacuate half of a city that is larger than New York or London. Or wonder what that might mean for the rest of China, absorbing a population of that size, when the coronavirus is contagious well before it shows symptoms.
As in all tragedies, the alt-right-ish comedian Sam Hyde has been falsely and hilariously blamed for the spread of coronavirus. Earlier in the week there was a long Twitter thread by Matt Parlmer, urging people to look at the signs coming from China — the massive shutdowns and travel restrictions — that signaled a number of very likely events to anticipate, namely the disruption of global supply chains and international travel. This has now happened, and we are on the way to its being a global emergency. Firsthand accounts about how under-resourced Wuhan is for this outbreak are sprawling across YouTube. Here’s a particularly vivid one, with rumors that the virus has been known about by cab drivers in Wuhan since mid-December.