March 10, 2020

American Sports World Dragging Its Feet on Coronavirus: In New York magazine, Will Leitch runs down how American sports leagues are addressing the spread of coronavirus and concludes, "it’s undeniable how little fear, or even preparation, there has really been."

posted by rcade to general at 11:26 AM - 16 comments

By then, it may be too late.

Too late for what?! Too late to prevent extremely healthy twenty- and thirty-somethings from getting sick with something resembling the flu or RSV? I mean, the reason that there has not been a lot of fear, and should not be, is that the overwhelming majority of the population is not at risk from this virus. I'm not dismissing the issue entirely--I think we should recognize the danger this virus presents to our senior citizens and those with underlying issues. But we can't just shut down the entire country for a virus with a three percent mortality rate. Obviously, do like the CDC says and wash the hell out of your hands. If you're in one of the at-risk groups, be judicious about your exposure to large groups. But, c'mon Lietch, what are you proposing here?!

posted by tahoemoj at 11:44 AM on March 10

But, c'mon Lietch, what are you proposing here?!

He's doing what any muckraker would do. That is, he's throwing a pile of words into the media in order to justify his paycheck. How well informed his opinion might be is anyone's guess. He probably could have cut his word count in half by eliminating all of the padding (read the first paragraph to see how much unnecessary writing is there). He takes a gratuitous swipe at the Executive Branch of the Government. What he doesn't say is that as soon as it became apparent that there was a serious problem, the President put a travel ban in place and ordered the appropriate departments to begin action. Meanwhile, the Legislative Branch of the Government was busy with their sham impeachment exercise. Anyone who complains about the way the government has performed needs to think carefully about putting the government in charge of health care.

Sorry about the above, but those who start yelling about things that they don't fully understand drive me a bit nuts. Now for my main point: In a comment a few days ago, I said that I am in the demographic for which Covid-19 is most lethal. I am a Boston Celtics season ticket member, and I intend to go to all remaining games that I have not donated for fund raising or cannot attend for other reasons. Will I be conscious of my surroundings? Of course I will. Will I take all of the precautions recommended, like washing hands, not touching my face, and the like? Most definitely. Otherwise I intend to live life as I normally do. I absolutely refuse to become a prisoner in my own home unless and until there is reason to do so. By that I mean known contact with a person who has a confirmed case or my exhibiting symptoms.

At least one school district in NH has canceled classes because of the presence of a person who had recently returned from an overseas area that had many cases of the virus. The schools will reopen if the person tests negative. I really hope that cancellations do not spread. I am on the schedule to work a dozen middle school baseball games so far, and I don't want them canceled. So my advice to all (worth every cent you're paying for it) is to keep your heads up, take the precautions that are recommended, and don't become hermits.

posted by Howard_T at 01:30 PM on March 10

Recovered 2009 H1N1 patient here. Was 48 at the time, contracted it in a rural Home Hardware store after spending the day shoveling 4 yards of gravel at the inlaws farm. Healthy otherwise and I did not seek any medical care until I could hardly breathe. Nasty. About a day and a half in the hospital being oxygenated and monitored followed by a weeks worth of heavy doses of Tamiflu did the trick .. home isolation, without Netflix or ESPN. No lingering effects except that I believe my tolerance for the endless Leafs updates on Canadian sports media is much lower than it once was.

If healthy these viruses pose minimal risk. The scariest part of my experience was that I was in contact with young children and the elderly during the early stages of the illness and could have spread the virus to them.

Really important not to stop living because of Covid-19, but be diligent regarding any symptoms.

posted by cixelsyd at 03:09 PM on March 10

My advice is to become hermits.

Too late to prevent extremely healthy twenty- and thirty-somethings from getting sick with something resembling the flu or RSV?

I don't think "mild" coronavirus cases are as mild as people think. But even if it's mild for the majority of healthy people in their 20s and 30s, it's not mild for their relatives over 70. It's causing a lot of deaths to people in their 70s and 80s.

But we can't just shut down the entire country for a virus with a three percent mortality rate.

Three percent of the U.S. population is nine million people. The flu's mortality is generally 0.05% to 0.10% -- 30 times lower.

The 3% mortality rate is based on being able to go to a hospital and get on a ventilator if you need it. When that's not true anymore because the hospitals are full and all the ventilators are taken, the mortality gets a lot worse.

For those who don't want to close public events, consider the example of Biogen. That company had a conference attended by 175 managers in Boston on Feb. 26-27. Two weeks later there are 70 cases of coronavirus that originated from that event.

The only way the U.S. avoids the kinds of problems Italy is experiencing is through extreme social distancing. We're beyond the approach of finding new isolated cases and checking all the people they came into contact with. Sporting events will be cancelled all over the place in the coming 2-4 weeks.

Italy isn't under lockdown because of hysteria. It's because they're seeing a "tsunami of patients" and the healthcare system is "one step from collapse," according to an ICU coordinator there.

posted by rcade at 05:06 PM on March 10

Three percent of the U.S. population is nine million people.

I don't think we anticipate that 100% of the population will be infected, do we?

The flu's mortality is generally 0.05% to 0.10%.

The 3% mortality number cited in the article I linked was extrapolated from one specific region of China. It also says that he fatality rate in areas away from the epicenter of the outbreak was 0.16%. If that lower number is eventually the actual mortality rate over a greater sample size, we're dealing with a severe version of the flue--albeit an admittedly much more contagious varietal. But nothing compared to the H5N1 rate of 10%.

I'm not saying this is a non-issue; it's a big deal. But I don't think it's a "cancel everything and buy up all the toilet paper" big deal. Be smart, wash your hands, minimize direct physical contact, and know the symptoms so you can get checked out if you're sick. Shutting down the country isn't a rational response [at this stage of the virus' development]. And if I'm flat-ass wrong and this is indeed a pandemic that kills millions, then I hope I live long enough to admit how wrong I was.

posted by tahoemoj at 07:52 PM on March 10

There could be a lot of regional fluctuation in the ability to address need and the mortality rate. Underserved states like Kentucky (which is already a national leader in emphysema) and Mississippi could suffer far worse than places like Connecticut. Rural areas with medical skill shortages would be hard hit. The spate of closings of struggling small regional hospitals will loom large. Also, hospitals in general have become leaner, being advised not to carry more admitting capacity than they absolutely think they need. There's less of a safety margin of additional beds to handle widespread outbreaks.

The US sample is still too small to be comparative to other countries, but thus far, based on reported cases only, the US mortality rate is running slightly higher than the worldwide rate. And that's despite our having better overall sanitation standards and practices.

If the basketball tournaments are going to be held, the selection process will be interesting. The Ivy League has already canceled their tournaments and will send the regular season men's and women's champions to the NCAA's. That will happen in other leagues. This will eliminate some Cinderella teams who overachieve in their league tournaments. The assignment of at large berths will be challenging. No doubt many more deserving teams than usual will be left out when all is said and done.

But if the tournaments are cancelled, none of that will matter.

posted by beaverboard at 09:51 PM on March 10

The only way the U.S. avoids the kinds of problems Italy is experiencing is through extreme social distancing

Certainly it's imperative that medical experts are allowed to implement whatever strategy necessary to combat the situation. Politicians need to realize this is critical and defer their politicking until appropriate. Science and not speeches.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:54 PM on March 10

But I don't think it's a "cancel everything and buy up all the toilet paper" big deal.

If the U.S. had been testing aggressively so that we had a better idea of where COVID-19 is, I might agree with you. But we've been lagging far behind a lot of the world and Trump is more worried about the stock market than the health of the people. As of today we've only tested 5,000 people.

We have to flatten the curve so that our hospitals can handle the number of cases. If we experience a caseload like Wuhan at its peak, it will fill every ICU in America with a COVID-19 patient in critical condition, per Harvard epidemologist Marc Lipsitch.

posted by rcade at 09:00 AM on March 11

With my history of asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia, I have decided that I am staying far away from arenas, even if offered free tickets.

posted by NoMich at 09:31 AM on March 11

The Ivy League has already canceled their tournaments and will send the regular season men's and women's champions to the NCAA's.

I didn't actually know (or perhaps remember) that the Ivy League had ended their holdout status and joined the rest of NCAABB in having a tournament. Looking it up, I see that they started in 2017. For the record, I am perfectly satisfied--virus outbreak or not--for conferences to award the regular season leader the conference title/automatic berth.

posted by bender at 09:53 AM on March 11

If we experience a caseload like Wuhan at its peak, it will fill every ICU in America with a COVID-19 patient in critical condition, per Harvard epidemologist Marc Lipsitch.

But at least only about 30% of them will be bankrupted by the experience.

I've seen a lot of Lipsitch's predictions lately, and get the impression that he tends to estimate the effects of COVID-19 on the catastrophic side when compared to other experts. I concede, of course, that he might just be the best at what he does. I think it is equally likely that he is the most alarmist among his peers. We'll see, I suppose.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:43 AM on March 11

The first case of the avian H1N1 pandemic, commonly called the "Spanish Flu" was identified on this day in 1918.

posted by beaverboard at 01:28 PM on March 11

What does the coronavirus mean for the U.S. health care system? Some simple math offers alarming answers

As of March 8, about 500 cases of Covid-19 had been diagnosed in the U.S. Given the substantial underdiagnosis at present due to limitations in testing for the coronavirus, let's say there are 2,000 current cases, a conservative starting bet.

We can expect a doubling of cases every six days, according to several epidemiological studies. Confirmed cases may appear to rise faster (or slower) in the short term as diagnostic capabilities are ramped up (or not), but this is how fast we can expect actual new cases to rise in the absence of substantial mitigation measures.

That means we are looking at about 1 million U.S. cases by the end of April; 2 million by May 7; 4 million by May 13; and so on.

Since March 8, the reported cases has more than doubled

posted by NoMich at 01:30 PM on March 11

Aaaaand now the NCAA tournament will be audience-free.

posted by LionIndex at 06:03 PM on March 11

Aaaaand now the NBA season is suspended. I'm very close to acknowledging that I am wrong about this thing.

posted by tahoemoj at 10:02 PM on March 11

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