Are you part of The Walking Dead? (Coronavirus update and new predictions!)

As I write this, a gigantic construction expo called Construction Con is happening at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Bay 101 casino in San Jose is playing down to a final table in their Shooting Star tournament. Kids in Nevada are finishing up homework for school tomorrow, and the Wynn Casino is advertising their poker tournament coming up this weekend.

There are still a lot of people who don’t quite understand what is going on right now.

Covid-19 is the most dangerous virus this world has seen since the Spanish Flu of 1918, and possibly even more dangerous than that. If you don’t get that, despite being first-hand witnesses to the most unprecedented and abrupt halt of the well-oiled machine that is the entire freaking planet, then I just no longer know how to talk to you. You’re already dead to me because you will soon be exactly that.

Just last night, I had an argument with a couple people on the internet who insisted that everybody was just overreacting, and this would all go away with simple handwashing and taking your vitamin C. If anybody had told me that last week, I would have done my best to patiently and persistently convince them of the danger of their way of thinking, to try to get them to see why this virus was dangerous. I would have done my darndest to minimize the spread of dangerous ignorance and misinformation. But to tell me that nonsense last night, after the NBA and NCAA canceled their seasons, Trump closed all travel from Europe, and nations around the world were going dark like curtain call time at a Nickelback concert, I just don’t have the patience to make you see that you are very, very stupid and dangerously incompetent.

I’ve fielded a bunch of calls and texts in the last couple days from people congratulating me on being right about my predictions in the previous two blogs. The fact is, I wasn’t right. Here are just a few things I got wrong:

  1. I projected the Dow Jones would lose 1,000 points on Monday. (It lost 2000)
  2. I projected the Dow Jones would lose 3,500 points by Friday. (Its Thursday right now, and the Dow is down almost 4800 points for the week already.)
  3. I predicted the WHO would declare this a Global Pandemic by the end of the week, middle of next week at the latest. (This happened on Wednesday, three days after my prediction.)
  4. I predicted NBA and NCAA games would be played without fans in the stands. (They flat out cancelled them all.)
  5. I predicted the U.S. would begin to prohibit all public gatherings greater than 500 or 1000 people within two weeks. (This began happening just two days later.)

I’m being credited with being right about all these things (and others) but the truth is, this is all happening even faster than I predicted it all would. Many people thought I was crazy with these predictions, calling them “bombastic,” (I had to look that one up), “doomsaying,” “ridiculous,” and “completely nuts.” Or, my personal favorite, “I don’t have time to read that long shit, stop blowing this out of proportion.” Yet, the fact all my predictions have come true at a speed that leaves even me flabbergasted doesn’t seem to have convinced some people that things are much worse than they have ever considered.

Now, some of the dire things that have happened are really good for controlling the spread of this virus. The travel industry is pretty much grinding to a halt. Planes are being parked. Cruise ships are being docked. Most public gatherings are being cancelled. Governors around the country are declaring emergencies. Schools are closing. Businesses are shutting down and letting employees work from home. Legislation is being rammed through Congress to deal with the financial impacts. People are waking up and taking extraordinary steps. Even President Trump is admitting we have a big problem (after downplaying and minimizing it all last week) and is taking historic steps to try to fix it.

However, although extraordinary and unprecedented steps have been taken in the last two days, its quite possible that these steps are too little, too late.

The virus is here and it has been spreading for weeks, and it is much, much worse than most people want to believe. The governor of Ohio, Mike Dewine seems to get it at least:

This virus is currently spreading like wildfire throughout the country, and the population in general hasn’t yet woken up to that fact. Life as we’ve always known it is going to change drastically in the next few weeks. Somebody told me today that it feels like we’re living in a dystopian movie. We are.

Right now, there are tens of thousands of people walking around this country who will be dead in eight weeks, and they don’t know it yet. The Walking Dead are among us. They are our friends, co-workers, and our loved ones. As terrifying as this sounds, I am comfortable predicting that this is the truth. They either have Covid-19 already, and it is multiplying in their bodies, or they are about to contract it either by being stupid, from bad luck, or from bad decisions by somebody close to them.

I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist or a doomsayer even though I use words like “dystopian.” We are going to be fine. We will recover. This is NOT The Stand, or Mad Max, or The Road. Society is not doomed from this virus. However, things are about to get very uncomfortable, distressing, and painful for many, many people.

So, what do I think is going to happen?

I’ve already said this, but I’ll say it again. The economy is going to collapse and we will be in a recession by April 15th. The Dow will lose 10,000 points (40%) from its value by April 15th. People are going to be in devastating shape financially. There’s a very good chance this will result in a global depression, or at least a very difficult global recession. If you’re one of the ones who is already, or will soon be in dangerous financial shape, curb spending right now. One of the things you can do, if it comes down to the possibility that you won’t be able to buy food, is stop making your house payment. Nobody’s house is going to get repossessed during this crisis. You won’t get kicked out by the bank. The Federal Government will enact legislation to protect people in this time, ordering financial institutions to work with people to save their homes. Stop paying your power bill. Nobody is coming around to shut off your power, not when people are dying. The government will not let them. As incompetent as you think they are, they will take those very minimal steps.

People are going to die. We are all going to know somebody who will die from this virus. Be as ready as you can be for that eventuality. Last week I thought it was possible we would see 250,000 deaths from this virus. Because of the extreme steps that have been taken this week, I think it will be less now, but I still project over 100,000 deaths. Not worldwide deaths. U.S. deaths.  This is going to be a big problem. Healthcare systems are still going to be overwhelmed, and that will happen by mid-April. This is going to cause civil unrest in large cities around the country. Are you prepared for that?

Police officers and emergency responders are going to start getting sick. What happens when this virus makes its way into our emergency services agencies? Just today Las Vegas Metro tweeted an invitation to the public to meet up tomorrow for “Coffee with a Cop.” Great idea in normal times. Terrible idea now. (I tweeted to them telling them it was an awful idea to not cancel that for the next couple months, and ten minutes later they tweeted that it was cancelled. I’m not taking credit, but…)

When police officers get this virus, they will have to quarantine. If it moves through the ranks, patrol shifts will begin to suffer. Calls will begin to go unanswered. People will die because officers are stacking calls and can’t arrive on time. This will result in more civil unrest. There is a very good chance that you will see martial law either actually declared, or prima facie instituted in at least a few jurisdictions by the end of March. Governors will begin calling in the National Guard to maintain order against desperate looters and panicked sick people who can’t get urgently needed medical care.

Are you prepared for this to happen?

I already wrote about the dangerously unprepared state of our hospitals to take on patients. You can read about that in my first blog here: https://wp.me/p7aEcB-q3

It is far more desperate than most people realize.

I see stats that 80% of people will only experience mild symptoms. This is true. This number makes us feel comfortable. It stops us from panicking. It gives us a warm feeling that we’re going to be okay. Well, the other 20% will require hospitalization. One-quarter of those will need a ventilator. Three quarters will need supplemental oxygen to breathe. To avoid a feeling that will be the same feeling as drowning to death. How many ventilators do you think we have? What happens when you need one and they’re all occupied? What will you do to get one? How far will you or your loved ones go to get one when you’re dying?

I’m not saying this terrifying scenario will happen for sure. Obviously, nobody can make that prediction. I’m saying that the odds of this happening has drastically increased from this time last month. Mid-February, I would have said there was about a .1% chance of the above happening. Now, I think it’s about 100 times more likely. I’m putting it at 10% right now. I don’t know about you, but I make serious preparations for 10% likelihoods when its my life, and the lives of my loved ones on the line.

Take a look at these charts from Worldometers.info:

This is a linear graph of the growth of the number of cases in the United States. This is not unexpected, as we did a criminally poor job of implementing testing in the beginning of this pandemic (and really still are doing terrible) and everybody expected confirmed cases to grow exponentially as testing became more and more prevalent. But take a look at this one:

This chart shows the exponential growth of deaths in the United States. This is much more accurate because the number of confirmed cases of the virus is almost certainly much higher than the first chart will ever show, at least until this pandemic is over. We just won’t be able to keep up.

This mortality chart and this line in particular is scary. This is not going to slow down. This exponential growth is our future for at least the next 4-6 weeks, and possibly longer. On March 1st, there was one death in the U.S. On March 7th, there were 19. On March 12th, there are already 41. This last week showed exponential growth, exactly what we saw in China and Italy. This doubling is happening faster than the report I made on Sunday that predicted it to double every six days. Even at that rate, which is now very conservative, on March 18th we will have 80 deaths. 160 on March 24th. 320 on March 30th. 640 on April 5th. 1280 on April 11th. 2500+ on April 17th. 5000 on April 23rd. 10,000 on April 29th. This is when it gets really scary. This is when the conspiracy theorists will finally stop saying “it’s just the flu, guys.” Because…

By late-middle May we will hit 100,000 deaths.

These are conservative numbers. Let that sink in. And, if warmer weather doesn’t slow the virus down, it will be much worse.

Are you prepared for somebody close to you to die and nobody to show up to collect the body? Are you prepared to handle medical emergencies when the aid cars don’t arrive? Are you prepared for stores to be out of food or to limit food purchases? Do you have at least thirty days of food and supplies on hand? Because if this virus doesn’t start to go away as summer approaches and the northern hemisphere warms up, doubling from this point on gets truly scary. Exponential growth is great when you bought 10,000 Bitcoin in 2002 for 12 cents. It sucks when we’re talking about people dying.

I don’t want to be right about these numbers. I’ve already fed my overblown ego plenty from all of my earlier predictions, thank you very much. But, if I am right, are you prepared for the worst? Do you have neighbors, family, friends, coworkers who can’t take care of themselves, who shouldn’t be out of their house right now, who are elderly, who don’t have enough food to get through the next month? If so, can you help them out? Because, if you can’t, there’s a good chance they will be dead next month.

Life as we knew it is on hold for the next few months at least. Everything is different right now. Get comfortable with this new reality so that you aren’t left shaking your head in denial, at risk of more than just the coronavirus; a victim waiting for somebody to wake you up from your nightmare.

Be prepared for the worst-case scenario. If it doesn’t come, you have a little extra food and supplies laying around. If it does come, you just might survive it.

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