Today in “Lo Is Domestic AF”: Will It Chocolate Chip Cookie? Part 1

That’s Thai Basil Lemonade – I can do some things

I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret:

I’m not a domestic goddess

But I really like cookies and my sister has gotten me craving cookies. I blame you dear sweet sister, Becky.

Except, unlike her, I am not an angel of the kitchen. No. I create abominations behind closed doors. I present to you:

The Pillsbury Gluten-free [Cayenne Surprise] Chocolate Chip Cookie*

*not sponsored – this is what we had in the pantry

“But Lo,” You ask, “What’s the surprise if you tell us the cayenne is in it?”

Well, most people aren’t prepared for a cayenne chocolate chip cookie made with coconut oil instead of butter.

Don’t forget to preheat your oven to 375F because Pillsbury says,“🦆 the metric system!”

That’s 1/2 cup of softened coconut oil, couple dashes cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon tap cold water, and an egg.

Blend until decently homogeneous such that unsuspecting husband cannot see the cayenne pepper flakes.

Advise him that he can taste how spicy they are if he would like. Watch as he makes his “ew that has raw egg in it” face.

Laugh on the inside as you taste it and suggest adding more. He says, “No.”

Elevation seems to impact cooking time a lot for this baking mix. At 3205 feet elevation (at MSO) the cook time is approximately 10 minutes. I have made this recipe at 6000+ feet elevation and 10 minutes was not the correct time. Both were gas ovens, but there are other variables to be aware of.

Listen, gluten-free baking is weird and I’m constantly whispering incantations like “you better work you 🦆ing box of baking soda tasting 💩 “ over it. I’m not a wizard, contrary to what my last name may lead some to believe.

Once the cookies are out you have to let them cool a little, then detach them.

Next comes the fun part – the cayenne.

Dust the cookies with cayenne then transfer to a rack to finish cooling because I obviously trust you to do the right thing. Right?

Psych! Get that second batch in the oven and get your favorite homogenized nut juice some weirdo is insisting you call nut milk. Pour a glass and get a plate with at least 2 cookies.

If you are using horchata instead, you’re the true goddess, my friend.

Like that glass? Sales of it support the survival of a community gathering place important to me. You can buy that glass here.

Are you ready?

Yay! 2/2 approve! Cayenne Surprise is the good kind.

So What’s The Surprise?

The spice sneaks up on you. The tingling starts around your lips and crawls around in your throat balanced with the flavors of chocolate and cookie. It’s subtle, but you can’t eat too many. The cayenne isn’t super noticeable visually. It adds a brightness close up. Overall, I’d say this was a success. Have you tried similar with a different chocolate chip cookie mix or recipe? How did it turn out?

What should I try to add to cookies next? Do you have another domestic potential disaster for me to attempt? Comment below!

We’re On An Adventure

Rainbows everywhere

Today we did something crazy. We drove from Missoula, Montana to Eureka, Montana and back to give a friend a ride back to civilization from their family’s compound after they tested negative for COVID-19. What a great chance to show everyone this amazing place I live!

I did say rainbows

Beautiful Montana

These are all from today

I am blessed to live in a place of wide open spaces and the optical illusion that creates a bigger sky

Where glaciers collide with clouds

Flathead Lake is always a welcome sight

Flathead Lake is a gem

We hit a bit of rain on our way, but it eventually subsided.

As with any good Montana road trip you have to stop for the wildlife.

Don’t worry – they move eventually

You’d never believe this is one of the major shipping routes across the US border into British Columbia, now would you?

Nearing Eureka as it begins to get darker

Blue sky still visible at 9 PM? Not for long!

Near Trego, Montana the last bits of day find their way into this beautiful night

We managed to catch the sunset on our way in to town

As I’m pleased to share with you some of the magnificent clouds we witnessed about 15 miles south of the Canadian border at the port of Roosville

As we return from Eureka we see signs reminding us to social distance and stay close to home. Missoula County and Lincoln County both have 0 active cases. Our friend safely in tow, they are also high risk, have been isolating, and need to get to Missoula for a doctor appointment that cannot be done over a video chat.

Whitefish looks desolate. There’s no one on the roads here. It makes sense – Flathead County is among the hardest hit in the state – every case that’s been traceable has been connected to travel. Flathead County is where the airport for West Glacier and Whitefish is. We head south toward Kalispell.

So helpful

We stop in Kalispell to charge the car and use a disposable barrier for handling the charging cable. Charging will require a couple of hours.

It’s dark, so the pictures aren’t going to be very interesting for the rest of tonight. We will be safely back in Missoula soon.

And there’s your Montana road trip during this crazy time. The world is a mess. Stay safe – hold your family close.

Aversion to Masks? How Masks Make A Difference

Why Wear a Mask?

Source: https://www.maskssavelives.org/

An organization called Masks Save Lives is currently calling out a link between “low mask acceptance cultures” and how badly COVID-19 outbreaks are affecting these areas and their failures to flatten the curve once outbreaks began. Research potentially supports this division, a 2009 study in Australia found that the data could not be assessed for if cloth mask usage reduced seasonal infections in the public due to low compliance by participants.

The CDC now recommends wearing masks and numerous websites have come out with instructions on how to make a cloth one (here’s one!). However, is there something to the cultural divide? We’re going to look at the United States specifically (though the next Tweet is from the UK).

An example of the reaction someone gets going to the store wearing a mask in England – one of the countries accused of having an anti-mask culture by the organization.

Why Do People Not Wear Masks?

Social Acceptance

Mask acceptance is not as easy as mandates and public health advisories. Beyond the scientific and home care acceptance, it must not be seen as a threat. Previously the lack of compliance in the Australian study may have been related to an element of social acceptance, however this was not studied at that time. If someone is uncomfortable wearing a mask they won’t. One community that may feel this impact are ethnic and racial minorities in the United States. One 2010 study investigated the barriers to mask wearing among urban Hispanic households in cases of upper respiratory infection. The findings concluded that these communities required higher risk perception scores before adopting face mask usage. This lead the researchers to conclude that face masks are unlikely to be effective for this community in the case of seasonal or pandemic influenza like conditions. The participants voiced concerns about social acceptability of masks within their communities – if they would be viewed as the source of illness – while others mentioned potential embarrassment.

Many have long dealt with violence related to the use of masks. Assumptions related to suspicion of crime, gang activity, and other racial profiling can making wearing a mask uncomfortable.

Legality

In the state of Virginia it is illegal to wear masks in public, though after the CDC’s announcement the law no longer applies.

§ 18.2-422. Prohibition of wearing of masks in certain places; exceptions.

It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing. However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to persons (i) wearing traditional holiday costumes; (ii) engaged in professions, trades, employment or other activities and wearing protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons; (iii) engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or (iv) wearing a mask, hood or other device for bona fide medical reasons upon (a) the advice of a licensed physician or osteopath and carrying on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity for wearing the device and the date on which the wearing of the device will no longer be necessary and providing a brief description of the device, or (b) the declaration of a disaster or state of emergency by the Governor in response to a public health emergency where the emergency declaration expressly waives this section, defines the mask appropriate for the emergency, and provides for the duration of the waiver. The violation of any provisions of this section is a Class 6 felony.

Code 1950, §§ 18.1-364, 18.1-367; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1986, c. 19; 2010, cc. 262420; 2014, c. 167.

Modifications Needed

I was unable to find documentation online of how those with disabilities that inhibit the use of masks are handling the situation or even recommendations for these individuals on how to stay safe. If you find anything, please tell me.

In other cases we need to consider family caregivers, and children, both needing modifications and not. Many children struggle to wear masks, particularly infants and toddlers. The primary reason most experts encourage children to wear masks is to prevent them from giving it to others, rather than to prevent them from contracting the virus themselves. But the CDC still insists that all children over the age of 2 should be wearing a mask when they leave the house. I am looking for further resources – at this time I have heard about this problem from friends that are parents.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released the following guidelines for masks and children with special health considerations:

-If you must go outside or to a place where you are not able to practice social distancing with an infant, cover the infant carrier with a blanket, which helps protect the baby, but still gives them the ability to breathe comfortably. Do not leave the blanket on the carrier in the car or at any time when the baby and carrier are not in direct view.  

-Children who are considered high-risk or severely immunocompromised are encouraged to wear an N95 mask to best protect themselves.  

-Families of children at higher risk are encouraged to use a standard surgical mask if they are sick to prevent the spread of illness to others.  

source: https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/masks-and-children-during-covid-19/

In terms of the minimum effectiveness and materials? An Experimental Study of Efficacy of Gauze Face Masks published in 1920 the researchers concluded that cloth masks had basic minimum requirements that had to be met in order for a mask to have a “restraining influence on the number of bacteria-laden droplets possible of inhalation”. Part of this involved a balance between the number of layers, thread count, and breathability. If the mask is too dense as a result of the layers and thread count then “breathing is difficult and leakage takes place around the edge of the mask”. That leakage of air is what they proposed caused the reductions in efficacy observed. Research such as this resulted in recommendations of a minimum of 300 thread count fabric still used today.

Cost Prohibitive / Unable to Obtain

We’ve talked about poverty before. This can impact obtaining supplies, time to make a mask, and many other life factors that are none of my business and we need to be understanding. Others are unable to sew or are unable to put a mask on for themselves (see “modifications” above).

Do Cloth Masks Really Help?

We began asking this question a long time ago. In a 1920 study on gauze masks looking retrospectively at the data from the 1918 influenza pandemic regarding the infections contracted by healthcare workers, authorities’ primary criticism was that the weave of the fabric was too loose. Though the study still concluded that masks did not demonstrate to have a degree of efficacy that would warrant their compulsory application during an epidemic, they argued that masks should not be abandoned entirely. I’ll leave it in their words:

Studies made in the Department of Morbidity Statistics of the California State Board of Health did not show any influence of the mask on the spread of influenza in those cities where it was compulsorily applied, and the Board was, therefore, compelled to adopt a policy of mask encouragement, but not of mask compulsion. Masks were made compulsory only under certain circumstances of known contact with the disease and it was left to individual communities to decide whether or not the masks should be universally worn.


The reason for this apparent failure of the mask was a subject for speculation among epidemiologists, for it had long been the belief of many of us that droplet borne infections should be easily controlled in this manner. The failure of the mask was a source of disappointment, for the first experiment in San Francisco was watched with interest with the expectation that if it proved feasible to enforce the regulation the desired result would be achieved. The reverse proved true. The masks, contrary to expectation, were worn cheerfully and universally, and also, contrary to expectation of what should follow under such circumstances, no effect on the epidemic curve was to be seen. Something was plainly wrong with our hypotheses. We felt inclined to explain the failure of the mask by faults in its application rather than by any basic error in the theory of its use. Consequently, Bulletin No. 31* of the Board of Health brought out the fact that where it was sought to control influenza by compulsory wearing of masks certain obstacles developed. These were:


First, the large number of improperly made masks that were used.

Second, faulty wearing of masks, which included the use of masks that. were too small, the covering of only the nose or only the mouth, smoking while wearing, etc.


Third, wearing masks at improper times. When applied compulsorily masks were universally worn in public, on the streets, in automobiles, etc., where they were not needed, but where arrest would follow if not worn, and they were very generally laid aside when the wearer was no longer subject to observation by the police, such as in private offices and small gatherings of all kinds. This type of gathering with the attendant social intercourse between friends, and office associates seems to afford particular facility for the transfer of the virus. If, as seems probable, the virus is droplet-borne, this form of contact, where people are conversing with one another, would, of course, be much more dangerous than crowd association of strangers, even under the circumstances of gathering in churches and theatres. We were not satisfied, however, with this seemingly perfectly satisfactory explanation. We felt it to be imperative, if the mask were not to be permanently discredited, that more definite information be obtained concerning its uses and limitations. If, as we believed, the gauze mask is useful as a protection against certain infections, it would be unfortunate if its uncontrolled application in influenza should result in prejudicing critical and scientific minds against it.

The American Journal Of Public Health.

A 2008 Study that came out in PLoS One found that wearing homemade cloth masks reduced hypothetical infections after spraying people with a simulated contagion.

A 2011 review of “Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses” found that …

Respiratory virus spread can be reduced by hygienic measures (such as handwashing), especially around younger children. Frequent
handwashing can also reduce transmission from children to other household members. Implementing barriers to transmission, such
as isolation, and hygienic measures (wearing masks, gloves and gowns) can be effective in containing respiratory virus epidemics or in
hospital wards. The more expensive, irritating and uncomfortable N95 respirators might be superior to simple masks. It is unclear if
adding virucidals or antiseptics to normal handwashing with soap is more effective. There is insufficient evidence to support screening
at entry ports and social distancing as a method to reduce spread during epidemics.

…meaning that isolation, hygiene, and barriers like masks were effective.

On a lukewarm note, a 2013 study found that they were “better than nothing” against droplet transmission during an influenza pandemic.

Health Belief Models are one of the most mad scientist or the most Psy Ops things about public health. How do you get an entire population to do participate in something that will help be better for everyone else in the long run – like washing hands? In 2014, a literature review of cloth mask usage was published in the Singapore Medical Journal taking a different approach to the use of cloth masks in the context of a Health Belief Model.

A later 2015 study in BMJ Open found

Cloth masks resulted in significantly higher rates of infection than medical masks, and also performed worse than the control arm. The controls were HCWs who observed standard practice, which involved mask use in the majority, albeit with lower compliance than in the intervention arms. The control HCWs also used medical masks more often than cloth masks. When we analysed all mask-wearers including controls, the higher risk of cloth masks was seen for laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infection.”

With such mixed reviews being published, why wouldn’t we be hesitant to recommend masks when they’re being advised as only a last resort?

When is a mask not a good idea?

Masks can lead to inhaling your own infectious droplets from a sinus infection and spread it to the rest of your airways.

Here’s an anecdote. I am having trouble finding papers to support this, but this is the current hypothesis my immunologist and I have as to how I got that month long pneumonia in March 2020.

I had a sinus infection and I was wearing a mask. Then, I aspirated droplets from my sinus infection leading to a lung infection. This lung infection eventually developed into a pneumonia. This is an instance of when a mask is not a good idea. Circumstances when you can aspirate your own droplets from a sinus infection or from an oral infection would be while exercising, crying, or dealing with temperature or humidity swings that would result in a runny nose.

Other people who should not wear masks? The CDC recommends against masks for anyone with breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, children under the age of 2, and “Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”

TL;DR

  • Wear a cloth mask if you can and assume good intent for everyone wearing a mask. They aren’t doing anything suspicious. Don’t call the police.
  • Masks work more than nothing. Please wear them, but wear them smartly. They do not make up for poor hygiene practices.
  • Some people can’t afford the supplies to make cloth masks, or they need modifications for their unique needs, or they cannot make the mask themselves. There are resources for that.
  • Children’s masks need consideration based on your child’s needs.
  • Masks are not always a good idea. Inhaling your own droplets can lead to pneumonia not related to COVID-19.

Thank you for reading this. Without you I am shouting into an ether. If you enjoy and want me to write more of these please share this or comment below with what you would like to see me write next.

I started writing this article on 8 April, 2020 and stopped because I needed a break from writing about coronavirus related topics. I will be continuing to update this post-publication.

New Jersey: Are We Flattening The Curve?

New Jersey Surge Approximately 1 Week Behind New York

As of 4 April 2020 more citizens of New Jersey have died of SARS-CoV-2 than died in the 9/11/2001 attacks.

The eastern part of the state of New Jersey abuts New York City, whereas the western part abuts Philadelphia. If we assume that New York City is the reservoir – or major source of infections that spread out into surrounding areas – New Jersey sits between New York City and Philadelphia. They’re shielding in some regards. New Jersey is predicted to be 1 week behind New York’s recent infection surge. Philadelphia may follow, with Pittsburgh 2 weeks after that based on the 1918 model.

Source: https://coronavirus.1point3acres.com/en

The New Jersey Health Department is carefully tracking cases (image below). The majority of deaths and cases have been in the New York City metropolitan area. Cases have shown need for medical intervention – see below.

What Is Preventing The Curve From Flattening?

Factors Unique to New Jersey

Source: https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/04/these-charts-and-map-show-how-coronavirus-pandemic-is-spreading-across-nj-saturday-april-4-2020.html Play with this one – it’s interactive!

New Jersey is a special state. From the Jersey Shore through Hoboken to the rural borders with Pennsylvania and the beautiful southern parks and rural areas along the Atlantic Ocean and bay – New Jersey is a unique state that saw no action during the Civil War, and is filled with a unique mix of immigrant heritage through history. This mix shares deep rooted values in family, multigenerational gatherings, faith, and the importance of extended family as caregivers, making New Jersey vulnerable to coronavirus.

Places of Worship

I get that we need to think about Easter. Stay home if you can. All places of worship are closed in the state of New Jersey.

Social Distancing

Source: https://www.unacast.com/covid19/social-distancing-scoreboard

Parts of the state of New Jersey are taking social distancing very seriously. Parts, surprisingly close to Philadelphia, are not. The tourist areas of New Jersey are taking social distancing more seriously, and have issued advisories urging those with vacation homes not to come.

Source: https://www.unacast.com/covid19/social-distancing-scoreboard

The C in decrease in average distance traveled is not surprising with a rural population in the state. As I do analyses on state like Arizona and Montana I will argue against that measure because in Montana we’ve been doing social distancing since before it was cool, but we have to drive 5 hours to get anywhere.

Overall, New Jersey, keep up with the social distancing and work on the Philadelphia side of things hopefully.

New Jersey and 1918

In 1918 the Influenza Pandemic spread out from Philadelphia to New York City, not from New York City to Philadelphia. Due to this lack of congruency and the increase in connectedness of both cities via mass transit, it is more likely that New Jersey will see 1-2 peaks entirely dependent on those of New York City and Philadelphia. The visibility of that separation is entirely dependent on the state of New Jersey flattening the curve between those two outbreaks.

Is New Jersey Really Showing No Signs of Slowing?

I decided to break this down into 2 milestones: 100 cases and 1000 cases. I then compared the growth in cumulative cases to present from each.

Source: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1c-wa_OpRaa0a3uzpZv_e7aA08ibALjDvB-asLZmFJv4/edit?usp=sharing – We can see that there are changes going on. Do you like the new style of graph? Tell me in the comments. I can go back and update other posts.

Based on the growth of cumulative cases since the 100th case, New Jersey has had 2 changes in their cumulative growth since their 100th case (I round up due to reporting error). On 20th March 2020 and 26th March 2020 something happened. Given that SARS-CoV-2 has an incubation period of up to 2 weeks, what events could have caused these surges?

20th March 2020 was when New Jersey ordered limitations on business operations. And look at how that curve flattened. It’s almost as if there was a huge testing backlog. If we look 2 weeks prior to that, New Jersey only had 4 reported cases of coronavirus on 6 March 2020. More likely social distancing behaviors began when the first cases were being diagnosed on 6 March and it requires a full two weeks to see the impact of this change in behavior. On 26th March 2020 NJ.com reported that as of that day the number of SARS-CoV-2 cases of unknown origin outnumbered those of known origin in every county of New Jersey. It is more likely that the change in the graph is associated with the state ordered limitations.

Based on the model above, New Jersey is predicted to reach 100,000 cases as of the 12th of April, 2020. This does not take into account the backlog of tests nor daily processing capabilities of labs for these tests.

Source: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1c-wa_OpRaa0a3uzpZv_e7aA08ibALjDvB-asLZmFJv4/edit#gid=245520383

If we look at just the cumulative cases since the 1000th case, the 100,000th case is predicted closer to 15th of April, 2020. This does indicate curve flattening because this milestone is being pushed out.

Healthcare Systems Overwhelmed

Patients from New Jersey are heading to Philadelphia and New York hospitals for treatment in addition to those in New Jersey. New Jersey’s healthcare resources:

This means that the citizens of New Jersey are acting as vectors of disease to the Philadelphia and New York City areas (or anywhere else they are traveling). But there’s a reason patients are seeking help elsewhere.

According to NJ.com, “State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said 12% of all hospitalizations in the state are now due to COVID-19. Of those, 41% require ventilators to stay alive.”

That said, centers specializing in pediatric covid-19 patients are becoming available. There are at least 144 pediatric patients in the state at this time.

To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, rules are being implemented in maternity wards that ban expectant partners from being present during the birth. This is in line with the rules adopted across the country banning visitors.

Milestone Forecasting

In 100 years we gained the ability to monitor the disease, albeit imperfectly, and make predictions. Disease forecasting based on mathematical predictions was used primarily in agriculture when I was in school. With agriculture, we use satellite imagery to look for indications of disease by looking at light reflection/absorption patterns. Crazy right?

I discussed forecasting in the post about New York. Ask questions and I can go into the mathematics of these models more.

Are we at the peak yet?

No. New Jersey will likely have 1 – 2 peaks – one shared across New York City and Philadelphia. The separation between these two peaks will depend on social distancing, hygiene practices, and the adoption of publicly wearing masks. We can examine milestones and projections for changes overtime to try and guess when these will be – if we reach a peak before Philadelphia has reached its peak, then yes, there will be a second peak for New Jersey. Milestones can be used in the process of forecasting for making quick decisions.

The slope is changing. If we look at only the last few days, we have moved farther out how long it takes to reach that 100,000th cumulative case milestone to the 14-15th of April 2020. The acts of individuals allows us to flatten this curve more.

With the actions of every day people, such as social distancing, staying at home, adopting public mask wearing, and hygiene awareness, we can flatten the curve.

If you currently live in New Jersey, I love you, please stay safe, and isolate if you can.

TL;DR

  • New Jersey’s Peak is Following New York. If the curve does not flatten more, we could hit 100,000 cases by around 14-15th of April 2020 unless things improve.
  • At this time it does not look like New Jersey is hitting a peak. New Jersey is kind of flattening the curve. There will be 1-2 peaks dependent on New Jersey’s ability to flatten the curve in between New York and Philadelphia’s peaks.
  • To help flatten the curve: practice social distancing, stay at home, adopt public mask wearing, and remember hygiene awareness. We can flatten the curve. Flattening the curve now will hopefully protect New Jersey when Philadelphia peaks later.
  • People are still sick with heart disease, cancer, bacterial infections, influenza, autoimmune disorders, tumors, and everything else under the sun and because the medical system is overwhelmed, those people aren’t getting sufficient care.

Thank you to anyone that reads this. Without you I’m just shouting into a void.

Pennsylvania: Are We Flattening The Curve?

Pennsylvania Department of Health Declares There is “No Sign of Slowing”

As of 12:01 AM 4 April 2020 Pennsylvania exceeded the 10,000 case milestone.

The majority of cases in Pennsylvania are in the Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania region along the Boston-Washington commuter corridor. As this is a major thoroughfare connected to New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, and transit systems only recently began reducing service along this route, this is not a surprise.

source: https://theburgnews.com/news/positive-covid-19-cases-exceed-10000-in-pennsylvania-almost-1600-new-cases-today

The Pennsylvania Health Department released the following statistics on positive SARS-CoV-2 cases within the state:

  • Nearly 1 percent are aged 0-4
  • Nearly 1 percent are aged 5-12
  • 1 percent are aged 13-18
  • Nearly 8 percent are aged 19-24
  • 41 percent are aged 25-49
  • Nearly 29 percent are aged 50-64
  • Nearly 20 percent are aged 65 or older.

There have been no pediatric deaths, unlike Illinois.

What Is Preventing The Curve From Flattening?

Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh

A few factors are unique to Pennsylvania, one such being the presence of a large religious population known for participating in religious exemption. In the broader southeastern corner of the state, outside of Philadelphia (the eastern bottom edge of the state) these populations live beautiful lives.

In the western part of the state, an additional area is being hit – Allegheny County, home of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has its own unique culture. It is a very social city where strangers talk to each other and it is not hard to make friends if you want to go out. Social distancing presents a challenge here. We also run into the poverty and rural hospital problem in western and central Pennsylvania.

Places of Worship

At this time places of worship in Pennsylvania are continuing to operate. Recently, places of worship are coming under scrutiny as major sources of coronavirus infection. I will be addressing this more in another post.

Adoption of Social Distancing

Source: https://www.unacast.com/covid19/social-distancing-scoreboard

Unacast has rated Pennsylvania as a C- based on two factors.

Source: https://www.unacast.com/covid19/social-distancing-scoreboard 25-40% Decrease in Average Distance Traveled Per Person; 60-65% Decrease in Non-Essential Travel To Non-Home Location

The majority of trouble is in small towns in rural areas. This is not surprising, but it is important to those that we need to behave as though coronavirus is spreading through an asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic reservoir host. This means that all it takes is one person in town and the whole town could get COVID-19 very quickly.

Pittsburgh and Delayed Outbreak

In 1918, Pittsburgh’s influenza outbreak was a full 3 weeks behind that of Philadelphia’s. Pennsylvania was one of the hardest hit states during 1918, and Allegheny County was no exception. Let’s remember how even within the past 10 years, new, previously unknown mass graves from 1918 are still being found throughout the state, and particularly in western Pennsylvania [1, 2, 3].

Is Pennsylvania Really Showing No Signs of Slowing?

I decided to break this down into 2 milestones: 100 cases and 1000 cases. I then compared the growth in cumulative cases to present from each.

source: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1c-wa_OpRaa0a3uzpZv_e7aA08ibALjDvB-asLZmFJv4/edit?usp=sharing

Based on the growth of cumulative cases since the 100th case, Pennsylvania is predicted to reach 100,000 cases as of 14th of April, 2020.

Source: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1c-wa_OpRaa0a3uzpZv_e7aA08ibALjDvB-asLZmFJv4/edit?usp=sharing

If we look at just the cumulative cases since the 1000th case, the 100,000th case is predicted closer to 12th of April, 2020.

So, yes, the health department is 100% correct. Pennsylvania is showing no signs of slowing.

Healthcare Systems Overwhelmed

The healthcare system in Philadelphia is overwhelmed, but not for the initial reasons one might think. Out of state patients from New Jersey and New York are heading to Philadelphia hospitals for treatment. This does reduce the resources available for those living in the local area. This also introduces additional vectors of disease to the Philadelphia area.

To better address the growing need to hospitals, cities are attempting to reopen those that have closed, particularly in poorer areas. There is an empty hospital in Philadelphia that the city is attempting to reopen. One massive barrier is that the building is privately owned by a California investment banker. This is only one hurdle.

Large hospital networks across the country are shifting spending while furloughing employees in preparation for outbreaks, including patient care workers. This is also occurring in Philadelphia. The argument for reducing staff is one of finances and the increased costs of each coronavirus patient amid bidding wars for supplies. These privately owned large hospital networks operate in multiple states, resulting in the shifting of resources affecting those where the outbreaks will eventually hit next.

Milestone Forecasting

In 100 years we gained the ability to monitor the disease, albeit imperfectly, and make predictions. Disease forecasting based on mathematical predictions was used primarily in agriculture when I was in school. With agriculture, we use satellite imagery to look for indications of disease by looking at light reflection/absorption patterns. Crazy right?

I discussed forecasting in the post about New York. Please ask questions and I can go into the mathematics of these models more.

Are we at the peak yet?

No. Pennsylvania will likely have 2 peaks – one for each major city. We can examine milestones and projections for changes overtime to try and guess when these will be. Milestones can be used in the process of forecasting for making quick decisions.

At this time Pennsylvania is projected to hit its 100,000th case on 14th of April 2020. That said – this is a graph based on many data points that can be broken up.

There’s a lot of hope in that graph shape if you think about how much impact the actions of individuals can have. The slope can change and extend out that milestone if everyone starts taking this seriously. If we look at only the last few days, we have moved closer how long it takes to reach that 100,000 cumulative case milestone to the 12th of April 2020.

With the actions of every day people, such as social distancing, staying at home, adopting public mask wearing, and hygiene awareness, we can flatten the curve.

This post is dedicated to my friends currently in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I love you. Please stay safe. I owe all of you hugs the next time I see you.

TL;DR

  • Pennsylvania is not flattening the curve. If the curve does not flatten more, we could hit 100,000 cases by around 12th of April 2020 unless things improve.
  • At this time it does not look like Pennsylvania is hitting a peak. There will likely be 2 peaks
  • To help flatten the curve: practice social distancing, stay at home, adopt public mask wearing, and remember hygiene awareness. We can flatten the curve. Flattening the curve now will hopefully protect Pittsburgh later.
  • People are still sick with heart disease, cancer, bacterial infections, influenza, autoimmune disorders, tumors, and everything else under the sun and because the medical system is overwhelmed, those people aren’t getting sufficient care.

Thank you to anyone that reads this. Without you I’m just shouting into a void.

New York: Are We Flattening The Curve?

When Hospitals Are Overwhelmed Emergency Services Cut Low Likelihood Resuscitation

As of 1 April, 2020 EMTs in NYC have been instructed to not resuscitate cardiac arrest patients if they cannot get a pulse at the scene.

ABC 7 New York explained the reasoning behind this call best: “

“When you’re doing the CPR, you’re pushing really hard on the patient’s chest and they’re expelling some air in the process as well, so if they are COVID patients, they’ll be spreading it all around,” said Dr. Vinayak Kumar with the Mayo Clinic. “This is the risk-benefit math you have to take into account.”

The orders to stop CPR in the field is shocking to veteran doctors who are used to doing whatever it takes to save a life.”

Fire

Why is New York City doing this?

source: https://coronavirus.1point3acres.com/en (New York City is located in the center of the most red area)

Healthcare Systems Overwhelmed

The healthcare system in New York City is overwhelmed. Cultural barriers have impacted the use of masks publicly, the adoption of social distancing, and the nature of SARS-CoV-2 allows it to spread silently in a densely populated city.

Source: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1c-wa_OpRaa0a3uzpZv_e7aA08ibALjDvB-asLZmFJv4/edit?usp=sharing

New York City is flattening the curve too late to have not overwhelmed their medical system. This is the city in the United States that has been argued to have the best medical care. With the actions of every day people, such as social distancing, stay at home orders, adopting mask wearing, and hygiene awareness campaigns, they are finally flattening the curve.

Social Distancing

Source: https://www.unacast.com/covid19/social-distancing-scoreboard

Unacast rates the state of New York at a B- in Social Distancing. Their grade is based on the following:

40-55% Decrease in Average Distance Traveled Per Person in the state; 65-70% Decrease in Non-Essential Travel To A Non-Home Location

At this time the majority of social distancing is focused in the City of New York. But COVID-19 is spreading up Long Island. As this virus spreads up into the rural areas away from the city, we need to assume that it is being carried by asymptomatic reservoir hosts or minimally symptomatic. The rest of the state of New York is mostly rural. In this case, we run into the rural hospital problem or we run into poverty in smaller dying former industrial cities, such as Buffalo.

Milestone Forecasting

But are we at the peak yet? No. But we can examine milestones and projections for changes overtime. Milestones can be used in the process of forecasting for making quick decisions.

New York’s current projection based on past 14 days.

At this time New York is projected to hit its 500,000th case on 12 or 13 of April 2020. That said – this is a graph based on many data points that can be broken up.

There’s a lot of hope in that graph shape. The slope is changing. If we look at only the last few days, we have extended how long it takes to reach that 200,000 cumulative case milestone to the 13th or 14th of April 2020 – the same timing as what the previous graph projected would be the timing for the 500,000th case.

New York’s projection based on past 6 days.

This post is dedicated to my friends currently in New York City. I love you Elly, Liz, Greg and Naomi. Please stay safe. I owe all of you hugs the next time I see you.

TL;DR

  • New York is flattening the curve. If the curve does not flatten more, we could hit 500,000 cases by around 13 April 2020 unless things improve (remember that testing backlog?). At this time it does not look like New York is hitting a peak.
  • Keep up the social distancing if you can. Adopt mask wearing if you can and have to go out (this will link to another piece I’m writing later). Thank anyone working because they can’t social distance.
  • People in New York City will be dying because resuscitation is no longer safe for emergency medical workers. This is tragic.
  • People are still sick with heart disease, cancer, bacterial infections, influenza, and everything else under the sun and because the medical system is overwhelmed, those people aren’t getting sufficient care.

Thank you to anyone that reads this. Without you I’m just shouting into a void.