Locals Loud, Feds Silent

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March 5, 2020 11:39 a.m.
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From TPM Reader PL from the epicenter …

Since you mention reading emails from your readers reflecting local events in response to the virus, I figured I’d chime in. I live pretty much at ground zero – the hospital where most of the Washington state COVID-19 deaths have occurred is our local hospital, 4 miles down the road. The LifeCare nursing home is another 2 miles further out from there.

You do get the feeling we’re on our own at the federal level, but I’ve been impressed on how much Inslee, the governor, and Dow Constantine, the King County Executive, have tried to get ahead of events. Constantine today called for telecommuting, and to avoid creating large gatherings (more than about 10 people). And that’s actually seeming to happen, very quickly. Apparently Microsoft (my pre-retirement employer) said everyone should count on working from home for the next 3 weeks. Good!

I’ve got kids in Northshore School District (NSD), which encompasses a large area in north King County and south Snohomish County – the two counties with reported COVID deaths here so far. The superintendent, Dr. Michelle Reid, has been emailing frequently, letting us know just what’s happening, and what’s being planned. Sunday night, we received notice that the kids would be out of school on Tuesday, so school staff could plan how to implement remote learning if necessary. We were back in school today, but after today’s conference by Constantine, new email appeared that schools were all closed, immediately. We’re going to start remote classroom learning on Monday – stay at home, use Google Classrooms to get assignments, some sort of video arrangement. It’s feels like a giant experiment, and it feels like the right idea.

You can check out the NSD Superintendent’s blog here. It’s an interesting view into an evolving situation, from someone in charge of preserving the health of 10s of thousands of students and a large staff, many in that hi-risk 60 and above category.

It’s also been fascinating watching (and participating!) in the general reaction to all of this. Panic buying is well under-way at the grocery stores. Good luck finding hand sanitizer or toilet paper. Chicken is even hard to get – I talked to someone at the local store’s meat counter, and she said they have to put orders in a week ahead. So when everyone heard the bell over the weekend saying “time to hoard everything”, they weren’t able to respond quickly. The chicken case is almost empty, though there are several hard-frozen turkeys in there left over, presumably, from Thanksgiving – mostly to provide thermal mass and keep things cold in the case. Though some people are buying those up as well. Interesting that beef is far easier to pick up.

Anyway, enough meandering. Just thought I’d send some thoughts from the virus’s beachhead in the States. I feel like I’m living in the future, about one month ahead of what’s probably going to be everywhere far too soon. Now back to putting away a ton of groceries, as I “socially isolate” myself for the next two weeks. I foresee a lot of family board game sessions in my future (and way too much XBox gaming for my son).

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.

COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).

IHME Projections Site (COVID-19 epidemic model which has become the canonical model for many states and hospitals.)

Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).

Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).

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