Cometh The Hour

The Hill

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) declared a state of emergency for the city on Tuesday amid concerns over the international coronavirus outbreak.

While no coronavirus cases have been confirmed in San Francisco, “the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness,” Breed said in a statement.

“We see the virus spreading in new parts of the world every day, and we are taking the necessary steps to protect San Franciscans from harm,” she added.

The new state of emergency will allow city officials to assemble resources and personnel to expedite emergency planning measures and boost the ability to deploy a rapid response to a potential coronavirus case in the city.

Is the Mayor of  San Francisco really called London Breed? Might that be a typo, and he’s really Lyndon Breed?

Anyway he’s declared a state of emergency in the city despite it having no coronavirus cases. Isn’t that just typical of these times? Over-reacting to something that hasn’t happened. I presume he’s long since declared a state of emergency over global warming, because there isn’t any of that either.

The only effect  will be to “expedite emergency planning measures.” Was it necessary to declare a state of emergency in order to do that? Couldn’t they have just re-assigned somebody to stop planning for climate change and start planning for a coronavirus epidemic instead?

And how do you plan for a coronavirus epidemic anyway? In what way will it be different from a flu epidemic? Aren’t these sorts of events unpredictable? Isn’t the appropriate response to respond quickly and flexibly to events as they unfold?

Was there a plan in place for the Great Fire of San Francisco in 1851? Perhaps there was, since there’d already been several fires. But the plan probably went out the window within hours of the fire starting. From then on it was a matter of people responding flexibly and quickly to events as they unfolded. From memory, they ended up demolishing entire buildings to create a firewall to stop the fire. Nevertheless  three-quarters of the city burned down.

Do plans ever work? It is said that, in war, the plan is always the first casualty. The best generals are not those who make the most careful and detailed plans, but those who respond flexibly and quickly to a rapidly evolving situation. They’re generals like Manstein or Rommel or Patton. They act very quickly and decisively. And they usually lead from the front.

I have no idea what a coronavirus epidemic will be like. I’m currently assuming it’ll be like a regular flu epidemic. I expect that it will spread far more rapidly in cities than in the countryside, simply because of the higher density of population. And I expect that there’ll be city-wide lockdowns just like in China. But I’ve yet to hear what the government plans to do about it. Does the government have a plan? If so, how long before the plan goes out the window?

If China or Italy had a plan, it looks like it went out the window, and now they’re responding to events as they unfold. They don’t know what they’re going to do next, and they can’t know. And much of what they do will be ham-fisted. The only hope is for quick-thinking and decisive people to come to the fore, and assume positions of responsibility. In fact this is probably what always happens: Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

In a real emergency (and I’m by no means sure there’ll be one), ordinary everyday concerns will get shelved. There’ll be no more talk about climate change or white privilege or transgender rights. There’ll be no more talk about the EU or Donald Trump or the upcoming US election. The news will be all about shortages of face masks, and the police hunt for roaming superspreaders. People will stop worrying about things that don’t matter, and start worrying about things that do matter. People will stop being fantasists and start being realists.

And that will be a really good thing, if it lasts beyond any state of emergency. A serious global pandemic could bring a step change in public consciousness, about what does and doesn’t matter.

And of course environmental tobacco smoke is something else that really doesn’t matter, just like climate change doesn’t matter, and white privilege doesn’t matter. Who knows, at the height of the pandemic, people might start smoking in pubs again, because they know that its simply doesn’t matter, and even has a protective effect.

Or, as soon as it’s all over, will all the Greta Thunbergs and Deborah Arnotts simply re-appear and continue lecturing everybody where they left off?

We’ll soon see.

About Frank Davis

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15 Responses to Cometh The Hour

  1. Timothy Goodacre says:

    Of course San Francisco is the ghastly place where is more acceptable to smoke cannabis than tobacco. Bonkers eh !

  2. RdM says:

    Yeah the socialist greens and labour are pushing legislation for legalizing cannabis here too but continuing possibly the highest priced tobacco in the world retail and tax increases…

    But of:

    Do plans ever work? It is said that, in war, the plan is always the first casualty. The best generals are not those who make the most careful and detailed plans, but those who respond flexibly and quickly to a rapidly evolving situation. They’re generals like Manstein or Rommel or Patton. They act very quickly and decisively. And they usually lead from the front.

    This film was on local TV a few nights ago. Plenty of smoking. I stayed up ’til 2am to watch it ;-


  3. smokingscot says:

    Knew it would come in handy! Title says it all.

    And that’s the place where Stanton lives and “works”.

  4. Jc Collins says:

    “Is the Mayor of San Francisco really called London Breed? Might that be a typo, and he’s really Lyndon Breed?”
    She. Really.

  5. beobrigitte says:

    Schumer is asking for $4.5bn for the Department of Health and Human Services to work to contain the outbreak in the US, $1bn to develop and manufacture a vaccine, $1bn to help other countries battle the coronavirus, and $2bn to reimburse states for costs incurred in tackling the outbreak.
    Public health experts raised concerns that the US had tested fewer than 500 people for the virus, excluding people who had returned on evacuation flights. (By comparison, South Korea has tested more than 35,000 people.) That lack of testing, they warned, may be misrepresenting the spread of the virus across the country.

    seems to be a good course of action with 1 exception: DO NOT give 1 bn Dollar to the WHO.
    When this is over the WHO needs to be dissolved and it’s books need to be examined closely.

    There is one thing the WHO is particularly good at: palming off the blame onto others.
    Coronavirus: inquiry opens into hospitals at centre of Italy outbreak
    Investigation begins amid reports doctors delayed testing ‘super-spreader’

    Sooooooo, “Triage” all of a sudden is wrong? A&E departments all over the world are chronically understaffed and triaging allows the most urgent patients to be seen first. You have 3 heart attacks, one disruptive drunk, a couple of strokes and a road traffic accident all at the same time. That’s nothing unusual. People who present with a cold/flu just will have to wait! (Also, here in England the 24/7 NHS does not mean you have 24/7 staffing levels – and that is the case everywhere.)

    I wish all countries would bypass the WHO, go the old fashioned way about this: Pick up the red telephone (or call an online meeting), exchange and coordinate planned action. This will be more effective and much cheaper than see billions of Dollar/Pounds/Euro etc. etc. disappear into a black hole.

  6. beobrigitte says:

    This might explain one or two odd things:
    Number of tests and positivity rate for Covid-19 as of Feb. 26

    UK: 7,132 concluded tests, of which 13 positive (0.2% positivity rate). [source]
    Italy: 9,462 tests, of which 470 positive (5.0% positivity rate), awaiting results: unknown. [source]
    France: 762 tests, of which 17 positive (2.2% positivity rate), 179 awaiting results. [source]
    Austria: 321 tests, of which 2 positive (0.6% positivity rate), awaiting results: unknown. [source]
    United States: 445 concluded tests, of which 14 positive (3.1% positivity rate). [source]

  7. beobrigitte says:

    Who gave Italy this advice???
    Italy has announced on Feb. 26 that it would begin testing only people with symptoms, claiming that the higher number of cases (compared to other European countries) is due to more tests being conducted.
    Oh, there are false positives????
    That’s one solution to the problem.

  8. beobrigitte says:

    Italy has resumed reporting. We can only hope it will chase up contacts and test them as it did until yesterday.

    This, however, needs to be sorted asap!!! (I refrain from speculating as per usual.)
    United States
    The US CDC initially declined to test the patient who on Feb. 26 become the latest confirmed case in the US, and the first with an unknown origin of infection (raising the concern that there are more cases circulating among the general public that have not been identified).

    The patient, who was on a ventilator with a suspected viral infection, was transferred from another hospital to UC Davis Medical Center on Feb. 19. The hospital’s request to test for COVID-19 was initially denied by CDC, as the patient did not meet the COVID-19 testing criteria (had not recently traveled to countries with outbreaks or been in contact with someone with the virus). The CDC is now working with state and local health departments to revise the rules that determine who is tested,

    Just 12 of more than 100 public health labs in the U.S. are currently able to test for COVID-19 because of a problem with the test developed by CDC. The agency can now screen only 350-500 samples per day. As of Feb. 26, CDC had performed a total of 445 tests. For comparison, the UK, with a population five times smaller than the US, had conducted over 7,000 tests.
    REAL FIGURES, please.

  9. beobrigitte says:
    ‘They have no idea’: government failing on coronavirus, say GPs
    Molly Blackall Molly Blackall
    NHS doctors have told the Guardian of their experiences of the government’s handling of coronavirus, warning that they have concerns about how patients who may have been infected are being managed.

    James (not his real name), a GP in Derbyshire, where one of the latest British coronavirus cases is thought to have been located, described the Department of Health’s response to the virus as “ridiculous” and “negligent”.
    We all know that there is a limited amount of beds and more than 30 additional patients rolling into any A&E will be a problem.
    As for testing Britain has done a bloody good job!

    Going to chase up how Germany made it to 40 cases.

  10. beobrigitte says:

    After his speech yesterday that was bound to happen:
    Five questions Donald Trump must answer on coronavirus

    How is the US monitoring the outbreak?
    The government distributed faulty test kits and public health experts are increasingly concerned the lack of testing is misrepresenting the spread of coronavirus in the US.

    Test kits have not been widely distributed to hospitals or medical labs and the kits that have been sent out must be sent back to the CDC in Atlanta to confirm results. …

  11. beobrigitte says:

    Dow Jones biggest ever one-day points fall
    The Dow Jones index of leading US shares has suffered its biggest points fall in history amid the coronavirus crisis, closing down 1,190.95 in New York. Asian and Australian markets are also expected to fall.

    That had to follow. Anyone surprised?

    Oh, it gets better:
    same link as above:
    3m ago
    The New York Times is reporting that a US government whistleblower has claimed health workers interacted with Americans quarantined for possible exposure to coronavirus without proper medical training or protective gear, then mingled with the general population.

    Absolutely wonderful.

    I have followed this from the beginning. Collecting data, plotting log scales etc.etc. The countries (note the plural) that seemed to throw out odd, never changing numbers received a little more attention and search.
    By the 18th of February (Florida did not release the number of people tested – that is odd following up other states including California!) I had to deepen my search. (Actually, I got my first pointer on 1.2.2020 via a personal text!!!)

    I started this monitoring off as a bit of “am I still sharp enough to work with public data bla-bla” to follow a novel virus.
    Oh boy. I didn’t have a clue of what all I’d encounter. I never expected a beta version that does not need much to become an alpha version. And by now I have even less of an idea of what I’ll end up with (which by now I should have).

    The Asians have not reported all day, the middle east as well. For the obvious. Pick up the mess.

    How about bypassing the WHO, picking up the old fashioned red telephone or use internet conference platforms, set political ideology and economic competitiveness aside and agree on testing criteria and get on with it?

  12. beobrigitte says:

    Some of you actually might like this:
    Germany 45 +18
    btw, Germany acted alarmist at 16 cases.

    Britain has been great with it’s diligent testing and this needs to be recognised! Your (well our, I still live in Britain) government understands perfectly well what could hit it despite having water as physical borders.

  13. beobrigitte says:

    Sorry, I stand corrected:
    Germany 48 +21

  14. beobrigitte says:

    I am not going to be in the smokydrinkybar tomorrow as I am going to see a play.. (More bitching freely running?) Available there on Saturday for more of being told to fuck off to my German smoking pubs if I don’t like England. The friend (younger than me), I asked to send me pictures didn’t understand my request. She has dementia.
    I love England. It has been my home for the last 37 years, so fuck off. You NEVER moved out of Texas, did yer?

    On Saturday I have some scathing things to say. I guess, I’ll be on my own in the smokydrinkybar then.

  15. beobrigitte says:

    The British are planning wonderfully ahead (as do other european countries):
    I’ve been told to self isolate. Will I get paid if I’m not at work?
    Health Secretary Matt Hancock has sent guidance to UK employers telling them staff who have been asked to self-isolate are entitled to take the time as sick leave.

    Acas, the independent arbitration service agrees and has also published advice for staff and employers

    Here there might be a different problem and people may well drag themselves to work:
    But in the US healthcare system, things are never as simple as they seem.

    From the cost of healthcare to the lack of guaranteed paid sick days in the US, experts say containing the coronavirus requires systemic change beyond more people washing their hands.

    “For many Americans who have insurance and have a good job with an understanding employer, and I’m not an expert on the labor market, those recommendations are plausible,” David Blumenthal, president of the global health think tank the Commonwealth Fund, told the Guardian.

    “They are not necessarily workable for people who have no health insurance or poor health insurance – so that’s about a fifth of the American population.”

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