Your COVID19 Turning Points #2

May 4, 2020 8:26 a.m.

From TPM Reader BW

My turning point moment was in the first few days of March, when I happened upon this Feb. 29 Twitter thread from Trevor Bedford in which he concluded that the novel coronavirus had been spreading undetected in Washington state for six weeks.

I’m in Louisiana, where Mardi Gras is a state holiday and is the culmination of weeks of parades and balls. Fat Tuesday this year was on Feb. 25, the same day as Dr. Messonnier’s pivotal conference call. I’m kind of a homebody and don’t really like crowds and parades, so I had actually paid a lot more attention to that briefing (which I remember hearing live) than to the festivities going on all around me. What she said startled me, but it still seemed remote. The most troubling thing about Mardi Gras this year seemed to me to be that several people had been killed when they got trapped under or between parade floats. I pay pretty close attention to the local news and never got an inkling there might be a deadly disease spreading in those crowds. Coronavirus still seemed like it was far away, on the west coast.

But after learning from Dr. Bedford that it had been spreading undetected for six weeks, I concluded that it must be everywhere. I decided to assume the virus is already spreading in Baton Rouge, that everyone around me is potentially infected, that any public surface I touch is potentially contaminated, and started acting accordingly by self-isolating and using disinfectant wipes on anything I touched if I did need to go out. I also concluded that my survival is up to me; that it was on me to seek out credible news sources (some of which I learned about from you, e.g. STAT news), and to rely on my science education and work experience in clinical trials to guide my decision-making in the face of an administration likely to misinform, suppress unpleasant but important facts, and actively make things worse. Conclusions which sadly, though unsurprisingly, have proved to be well-founded.

Bedford’s Twitter thread, which played a similar role for me (I noted it here), also fixed the attention of TPM Reader CR

This is a great question. For me, March 1. I had been following developments from the beginning, but being in the Midwest, I think I believed we had more time to prepare. That belief came crashing apart on March 1, when I suddenly realized it was already here, likely percolating but not being detected. The realization was partly triggered by Trevor Bedford’s twitter feed and his post about community transmission, specifically the WA teen who was confirmed positive. If a random WA teen had caught it, with all the travel in our society, I concluded it was already just about everywhere, under the radar.

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