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Will it take Italy’s disaster before Americans stop blaming the media for coronavirus?

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

I’m seeing a lot of people whining about media overreaction, evidently believing that this is an overblown overreaction to a bad strain of flu. Well, I’ve read a lot of stuff and can do math and these takes, which the president himself has been floating, are dangerously ignorant. Dr. Drew Pinsky is not a legitimate health official.

The most important pieces to this involve simple math: As compared to the baseline of the common flu, COVID-19 is an estimated 10 times more lethal and far more transmittable.

Whereas a typical person who contracts the flu will pass it on to 1.3 people until the strain dies out, the R0 (“R Naught”) value for coronavirus is estimated to be around 2.2, which means that every person who contracts it will, on average, pass it on to more than two people. Now consider how long the virus can last in a carrier (weeks) and on surfaces (possibly days), and then consider how quickly the number two, if repeatedly doubled, can turn into millions.


If completely ignored and no mitigation or containment efforts were taken, the virus would kill tens, possibly hundreds of millions of people, because more than half the planet would get it, and anywhere from 1-2 percent would die.

But none of this is theoretical because it’s already played out in China and Italy. China ignored until it was forced to quarantine millions and Italy ignored until it quickly ran out of hospital beds for the sick, forcing doctors to make life and death choices among those needing medical attention. Both those countries have now suffered the consequences of responding slowly and were forced to make sacrifices that we as a country are not mentally prepared to make.

So far the US early numbers resemble Italy’s from a week ago. More scary is the fact that our numbers are artificially low because we’re simply not testing people to the extent other countries are, which not only means our numbers are deceptively low, but many of us are walking around unknowingly as carriers, transmitting it to 2.2 other people (and so on and so on). The nature of this particular virus is stealth–carriers can be asymptomatic for days.

In better coronavirus news, here’s tenor Maurizio Marchini serenading Italy with Nessun Dorma from his balcony.


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