CDC COVID-19 Briefing Delayed, Monday 2 March 2020

First, the CDC briefing teleconference “on hold” music is terrible.

Normally I try to post something after the CDC briefing, but it has been postponed, and I may not have time to follow up with a post this afternoon.  They are also in the process of updating their guidance, no doubt in response to new information such as the fact the virus has almost certainly been in the US, and spreading, for at least 6-8 weeks, as well as other developments such as new cases and other data.

We’re in the scary phase of this, where there are now local outbreaks, and speculation is far outrunning information. The key problem now, as throughout this event, is that the lack of accurate testing has prevented us from getting a handle on several key variables:  how many total people have been exposed, how many got sick and to what degree, and how many became seriously ill and needed hospital level medical intervention. There is some reason to be very cautiously not pessimistic (I wouldn’t say “optimistic” yet) that the first two numbers are such that the third number, those who “crash” with this, is statistically small enough to make the pandemic manageable. So while there is still no reason to panic, the truth is we just don’t know for sure yet, and the medical community is wise to continue to prepare for various scenarios even while “go about your life, being aware this may or may not require action” is still the word of the day. In economics, as usual avoiding the extremes of “irrational exuberance” or “suicidal depression” is always the challenge …

As always, if you want the latest facts and recommendations, go to the the CDC COVID-19 web site. Click “CDC Recommends” for access to specific guidance for health care providers, etc.  Most of what you need to do is just common sense (hand washing, don’t buy all the TP and beef jerky, etc.)  For general “how to prepare” guidance on both this and other potential disasters, the DHS/FEMA “Ready.Gov” site has checklists and suggestions.  Maybe pick up a couple of extra items each trip to the store until you have a small stash.  Then swap out items over time so they don’t expire.  It’s good habit to be in since … HURRICANE SEASON IS COMING!  Or earthquakes.  Or something.

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