The plague year

234-cross
This is not how it is.

THINGS ARE moving along relatively peacefully in my end of the world, plague-wise. Four cases of Kung Flu have been reported in our state just recently, the first ones. All four people had returned recently from Europe.

There are many advantages to living in Mexico. One is that stores still have merchandise. This morning I drove down the mountainside early to the nearby capital city to visit Costco and Chedraui, which is a Walmart-like Mexican chain. I arrived at both just after they opened because they open at different hours.

Few people were waiting at either door. I rapidly passed through both well-stocked stores, paid, hopped into the Honda and headed home. There was plenty of T-P in both places. I bought a few more rolls just in case.

Meanwhile, I see photos of supermarkets above the border stripped bare.

The reaction down here between Gringos and Mexicans is quite a contrast too. The Gringos are hunkering down in their houses, quivering in their Crocs. The Mexican reaction is far calmer. The Gringo- and Canuck-infested pueblo of Ajijic is almost a ghost town, I hear. Probably San Miguel de Allende is too.

Yesterday we ate in one of our favorite restaurants downtown, Casa del Naranjo. We were the first customers to arrive at the traditional 2 p.m. Mexican lunch hour, but by the time we left about 45 minutes later, there were about 12 other diners, all Mexicans.

No one was quivering in their boots. Jollity prevailed.

The waiters wore face masks and gloves, and the restaurant gave customers a 20 percent discount on paying with cash, which I did. I’m a cash man, as are most Mexicans. There was a big bottle of disinfectant gel at the register.

Later we walked across the plaza to my sister-in-law’s coffee shop. No one there was wearing face masks or gloves, and there was no hand gel. It was business as usual.

I had a nice café Americano negro.

Looking at this year’s plague I see engaging elements.

  1. Political. The U.S. news media, mostly an arm of the Democrat Party, are going wild. That affects the media in other nations and even the conservative U.S. media. Sad. I do not know to what extent, but to some degree their aim is to torpedo Trump. This is causing grievous economic damage.
  2. Hysteria. Do you remember the 2009-10 swine flu epidemic in the United States? Likely not. There were 60 million cases and over 12,000 fatalities. In contrast, the Kung Flu has killed to date about 500 Americans out of about 41,000 cases. Sure, it will get worse, but that much worse? Ninety-five percent of cases are mild.

And how will it end? Here is an interesting look by a prominent physician familiar with the situation. He outlines various possibilities.

We’re eating at home today, chicken and rice. Later we’ll head downtown for the customary sit on the plaza. Then we’ll come home and wash our hands.

41 thoughts on “The plague year

  1. Best of luck to you and all Mexicans, if you’re fortunate warmer temperatures will tamp down the virus. But we’ve seen what happened in Italy, and don’t want that here. Yes, our economy will shrink, and that’s okay as long as we take the right steps to protect people who are losing income while they do the appropriate social distancing thing. As I said before, the economy exists to benefit people, not the other way around.

    Like

    1. Creigh: Yes, it seems that warmer weather tamps down the enthusiasm of virus. Most people think Mexico is a hot place. Some sections are. Some are not. The majority of Mexicans live on the central plateau, little of which is tropical, so I don’t know how much that will help. And yes, the economy exists to benefit people, of course.

      Like

  2. Reactions at the San Miguel-Querétaro end of the woods are mixed. We went to Costco in Querétaro on Wednesday and the place was mobbed, people — Mexican people — were carrying out carts of stuff. There were disinfectant hand wipes at several places in the store, and there wasn’t a can of Lysol spray to be found. Plenty of toilet paper. People waiting in line for the cashiers were told to stand two meters apart.

    San Miguel seemed to be quieter. Several people shot pictures of deserted streets downtown, but we went to a street market on the outskirts on Saturday and it was busy. The mayor, though, has issued a draconian list of activities that will be closed or curtailed, from bars and restaurants, to retail stores. Public schools are closed; churches closed yesterday at 6:30, at the sound of bells pealing all over town. Pretty dramatic, and very little, if any, having to do with expats. So I don’t know. Maybe Michoacán, after all the fighting with drug cartels, has developed a more what-the-hell attitude toward crises, or the people there are more fatalistic.

    There is no point comparing this epidemic with others and arguing there’s nothing that much to be alarmed about. The coronavirus is supposed to be far more contagious and lethal than previous viral epidemics. Widespread testing is still not available, so we don’t know how many infected people are out there, asymptomatic and walking around — and contagious — or what the final toll will be. An abundance of caution is not unwarranted in view of all those intangibles and unknowns. Besides, even if gunshot wounds and car accidents end up killing more people than the coronavirus, that’s no argument for taking this health crisis less seriously.

    As for the Trump-hating media fanning public panic: C’mon. That’s lame beyond lame. This is a worldwide crisis, that the U.S. was pretty late in joining. China, Italy and Spain, among other countries, have mounted all-out alarms about this virus, and they can hardly be accused of being anti-Trump, or puppets of the American anti-Trump media.

    Like

    1. Señor Lanier: My wife and I went to Costco last Tuesday, and it was so crowded we just turned around and left, which is why I decided to go just after it opened this morning. I wonder if it got chaotic later in the day? But the shelves were well-stocked at both places, which is quite different from what I’m seeing in stores (via the magic of the internet) above the Rio Bravo.

      As for the Kung Flu, more contagious than usual? Seems so, but 95 percent of the cases are mild, which is important to keep in mind.

      In a decade, most people won’t even remember this pandemic, as most do not remember the one in the Obama years when the media was far quieter due to being his pals.

      Like

      1. Even by your own numbers, the case fatality rate for swine flu is 0.02% In the case of coronavirus, estimates range from 2.1% to the WHO’s 3.4%, which is almost certainly too high for total CFR. But again, the reason swine flu didn’t cause as much problem as coronavirus is that it didn’t swamp the hospital system and wasn’t asymptomatically transmitted. In fact a quick look at Wikipedia shows that a 2010 study demonstrated that the 2009 swine flu pandemic was no more fatal than seasonal flu.

        And yes, if you go back 3 weeks in the USA, things were calm and placid here too, with no runs on toilet paper, people going out to clubs, bars, restaurants, movies, and the like.

        But at a 33% daily growth rate, no place is going to remain unaffected for long. So don’t be complacent.

        Best of luck,

        Kim G
        Boston, MA
        Where the city is increasingly shut down.

        Like

  3. Just what would have been the result if China, Italy or Spain hadn’t taken the extreme measures they put in place? How many more people throughout the world would have become infected? The numbers would be mind-boggling. There aren’t enough medical resources as it is to keep people alive. If drastic measures aren’t taken, the world economy would completely collapse and take decades to repair.

    But instead we have a so-called president that ignores experts and instead takes advice from an extreme right-wing media source. So sad.

    Like

    1. China is suspiciously reporting nearly no new cases or deaths. Italy and Spain are going bonkers. Last night Trump seemed to come to his senses, saying this “shutdown” should end in weeks, not months. As it stands now, so much damage has been done to the economy that the economic recovery will take years. When healthy people start looting, you will see a real sickness.

      So far, the USA is looking much better than most 1st world nations.

      Like

      1. Dave: I don’t think any information from China can be taken too seriously. They says it’s winding down there. I hope so.

        But even there, only — according to China — a little over 3,000 people have died. It’s a tiny fraction of their population. I hope that is correct.

        Like

  4. This afternoon, I went to Walmart Altozano, more out of curiosity than any real need for merchandise. The parking lot and shopping cart attendants were wiping down shopping cart handles, and shelves were bare of only a few items. The dried bean aisle held only two packages of pinto beans and a full, untouched supply of black beans, which I can only surmise everyone around these parts must hate. There was not a single grain of brown rice available, which started me worrying, since I am down to my last 5 kilos or so, and Morgen the World’s Best Doberman must have her daily rations. Oddly, or not, salt and regular vinegar supplies were nearly wiped out. But toilet paper and hand sanitizer were in ample supply. At 1 p.m., there were more cars in the parking lot than there were shoppers in the store.

    Like

    1. Ms. Shoes: I suspected more shoppers were going to Walmart than to Chedraui, which I consider one of the city’s best-kept secrets. That dog eats brown rice? What is she, a hippie mutt?

      Like

  5. Right now we have 520 deaths in the USA from this virus out of a population of 320,000,000. Here in Texas 7 deaths out of 29,000,000. Most of the dead had one foot in the grave already. Let’s be done with this and let people get back to work.

    Like

    1. Thirsty: Good to see another rational individual. The U.S. death toll to date from the Kung Flu is about 1/12 the current population of Sylvester, Georgia, the little town near which I lived years ago near my maternal grandparents’ farm. That’s not 1/2 but 1/12.

      Like

        1. The closest to my rural area was one county away. It was a 90-something-year-old man who had failing health. RIP, Mr. B.

          Like

      1. You guys talk as if we’re just about at the final death toll. Folks, this is growing 33% a friggin’ day! Do the math. In two weeks, at that rate, infection rates and death tolls will have grown by fifty four times. Looking at the current death toll as a percentage of the total population is about as wrong-headed a way to look at it as possible.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Kim, maybe you should explain the meaning of exponentiality to some of the doubters reading these posts. It might open their eyes. Probably not. But it may be worth taking a shot. Wouldn’t hurt.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Today the U.S. is at 2 deaths per 1 million people for this virus. Italy is 101 deaths per million. Most of the dead had underlying health issues. Let’s quarantine the vulnerable and get back to work with safe practices. The Italian way is not working.

          Like

              1. At this point, it is epidemiologically impossible for us to have already seen the worst. There are loads of infected but undetected out there. It is WAY too soon for this thing to be dying off. I’m sorry, but that’s as close to a fact about the future as we can possible have in the present.

                Liked by 1 person

          1. Thirsty: There are many aspects to the problem in Italy. The world’s second-oldest population. Widespread smoking. The Latino culture of endless kissing and hugging. To top that all off, they have a government healthcare system. It was a ticking time bomb, all of it.

            Like

            1. Curious to know how many of the deceased in Italy are Chinese workers or Chinese Italians. Maybe they lived in close quarters, arrived from China in large numbers recently, etc. It may explain the higher numbers.

              Like

            2. And on what do you blame the large number of deaths in China? People wearing funny hats?

              And don’t go blaming the government healthcare system in Italy (or France, Germany or Britain) until we see how the U.S. system, which doesn’t cover some 40 million people, performs as it tries to cope with large numbers of sick people, not enough hospital beds, ventilators and other supplies. You may have to eat your own words, Felipe, a rare event, I know. Your logic and arguments on this issue are getting thinner by the minute.

              Like

              1. Señor Lanier: I am far less worried about the Kung Flu than I am about drastic economic repercussions as a result of the incredible, overblown hysteria.

                As far as how the U.S. is dealing with the problem, I have an interesting video on my latest post, the one following this, that points fingers.

                So, let’s terminate comments here, shall we? There are newer grounds to plow.

                Like

  6. Reporting from a rural Texas town we seem to be very similar to your mountaintop. Farmers are happy as we have gotten fields planted followed by a nice rain.

    Like

    1. Bev: It’s rained, quite unseasonably, a few times here lately. I wish it would not. I might have to get Abel the Deadpan Yardman to mow the grass. Before that, I’d have to get the mower serviced because it won’t start. It’s just one thing after another.

      Like

  7. Everyone has their own opinion on this issue. If we can believe the internet, Italy has stopped treating Wuhan virus patients 60 years old and over. I don’t know if that is true or not. I hope that would not be the case in the U.S. My oldest son made a grocery run for us. Still no paper available. My youngest son has a butt washer on his expensive Japanese toilet. He could care less. My wife found a box of masks left over from my cancer time. We are in tall cotton. I haven’t left the house since my last appointment at the VA the first week of January. If that virus is going to get me, it will have to find me first.

    Like

  8. Thanks, we adapt to the situation that we find ourselves in. I read a lot of magazines and internet. Hopefully, we will all come out of this alive and happy. Our sons do our shopping for us. Friends and family are the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I know you don’t drink anymore, but I just heard yesterday that they’ve banned alcohol sales on Isla Mujeres. Things are shutting down quickly up here in Canada. More and more shops are not accepting cash anymore for fear it might spread the infection. Tapping credit cards only. The numbers we are getting from WHO (3.4%) are way higher than the reality. Most cases are asymptomatic and because of a lack of tests they are only testing people with symptoms. As they ramp up testing, it will appear that the virus is spreading exponentially, but that is not true. After this is all over, the death rate number will probably be far less than 1% and in line with the seasonal flu. In our province there have been about 10 deaths all in long-term-care homes and all in their 80s or 90s with other health issues. There’s a lot of hoarding and panic buying going on, and I blame our government’s half @$$ed response. Stay safe!

    Like

Comments are closed.