Old People, Fraud and the 2020 Census
INTERESTING STUFF – 29 February 2020

Old People Most at Risk for COVID-19 (Corona Virus)

After a serious nuts-and-bolts post on Wednesday about surviving possible Census fraud, I had intended a lighter, more fun post today but world events have intervened.

As happens with many infectious diseases, the hardest hit, those who suffer the largest number of fatalities, are old people. In the research attending the Corona virus, that is abundantly clear again.

Ian M Mackay is an Australian virologist who keeps a website called Virology Down Under which has the best information I've seen about the Corona virus including general interest and advice.

(Thank you to Jan Adams who blogs at Where is the Way Forward?)

On Tuesday, Mackay published an extensive (and easily understandable) story on this not-yet-pandemic.

Here is the chart – numbers as of 11 February 2020:


People with underlying serious conditions such as heart disease or diabetes (often old people) are more susceptible to the virus than younger people.

According to one health expert, a vaccine is not possible for a year to a year-and-a-half and, some say, it is currently questionable if it would be affordable.

On Thursday, the White House announced that all U.S. government health officials and scientists are required to clear all public appearances and statements with Vice President Mike Pence's office, according to The New York Times which also reported,

”Officials insist the goal is not to control the content of what subject-matter experts and other officials are saying, but to make sure their efforts are being coordinated, after days of confusion with various administration officials showing up on television.”


Given the questionable data from China along with the contradictory statements about the spread of the virus from the president, as contrasted with the health experts at Wednesday's press conference, it's obvious we the people are on our own for needed information.

In a situation as fluid and unknown as the future of COVID-19, we each need to take precautions to help keep ourselves healthy along with those we come into contact with.

So I'm going to summarize the crucial behavior we need to practice to stay as safe as possible.

But first, this from the Australian virologist, Ian Mackay:

”REMEMBER: As long as the virus circulates, and as long as you have never been infected, you are susceptible to infection resulting in COVID-19. This will be the case for the rest of your life until you have been infected which should protect you from severe disease.

“COVID-19 is mostly a mild illness but can cause severe pneumonia in approximately 20% of cases, leading to hospitalization for weeks and in a portion of these cases, to death.”


  • Stay at least three feet (one meter) from obviously sick people
  • Avoid shaking hands
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds
  • Or, wash hands with an alcohol-based hand rub and air dry
  • Avoid touching your face

At the grocery store yesterday, I realized that it is a good idea to use the disinfectant wipes some stores supply to clean the shopping cart handle, or bring your own. You might also consider nitrile gloves – you can't know where someone has recently sneezed.

There are mixed messages on the usefulness of face masks. Here is what Mackay says:

”While a mask seems like a good idea, and when used by professionals it does protect from infection, it can actually give inexperienced users a false sense of security.

“There isn’t a lot of good evidence (still!) that shows a mask to reliably prevent infection when worn by the public at large. They are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus.”

A large percentage of U.S. pharmaceuticals are produced in China as are some critical ingredients needed for drugs produced in the U.S. If COVID-19 continues to accelerate, it's not impossible that shortages may appear. However, on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported:

”The FDA [Federal Drug Administration] said that no companies are reporting drug shortages linked to the coronavirus. But in a sign of its efforts to get ahead of any problems, an FDA spokeswoman said the agency has contacted 180 China-based prescription-drug manufacturers asking them to evaluate their supply chains and remind them they’re required to notify FDA of any coming disruptions.”

In anticipation of possible widespread, ongoing transmission of the virus, you might want to contact your physician about an additional supply of critical drugs.

There is more advice which I'll link to for you below, but it is important to know that no one knows what is going to happen. Will COVID-19 become a pandemic? Or will it hit a lower peak and subside? Stock markets worldwide are dropping dramatically day-by-day. For how long? And so on.

We also do not know how other countries' governments are controlling (or not) information as the U.S. government is now doing so it is hard to know what reports about the virus to trust. Read carefully. Use your bullshit detector.

Here are three good links and a Google search will bring up thousands more. Again, choose carefully.

Virology Down Under

How to Prepare for Corona Virus - New York Times

A Guide to Prepare Your Home for the Corona Virus - NPR


Thanks for the tips, which are also useful in avoiding colds and the regular flu as well. I'll certainly be washing my hands more often, maybe avoiding crowds when possible, though I can't imagine wearing a mask.

Thank you for this comprehensive gathering of information, Ronni.  
When I read earlier this week that VP Mike Pence would be in charge of deciding what information scientists would be allowed to report I laughed out loud.  What a good joke!! 

This is the man who publicly stated that he could not have a private meeting with any woman unless his wife was present.  Like asking a kid playing stick-ball on the street if he thinks we should take aspirin.  

I personally believe that those of us in the high risk, over 80 group, can still rely on the common sense that got us this far.  As a nurse I think face masks give a false sense of safety and only a high end sealed respirator like the one my husband used when spraying paint, etc. is efficient. 

When one takes the face mask off?...now what. If anything is trapped on the outer layer it is now on your hands and disseminating into the surrounding air.  What to do? Common sense says wash your hands, keep your cooking area clean, stay at home for a while, etc.etc.

I remember the acronym I used when answering letters from teenagers.  FEAR--Fantasized Expectations Appearing  Real. Is a pandemic "real"? I do not know, but today I'm going to press on, enjoy your blog, feed the birds and squirrels, then have breakfast with a second cup of coffee to greet a rare sunny day in Portland!

3 feet = 0.9 meter
We knew what you meant!

Thanks, Ronni, for your ever helpful advice. I had not even been aware of the possibility of drug shortages but of course that makes sense. The simple kind of cloth face masks you occasionally see on people in the subway have been sold out in NYC drugstores for weeks. More heavy-duty masks can still be found at home improvement/hardware stores.

Currently my husband mostly works from home, which, I hope, lessens the chances of him bringing germs home from the office. We constantly remind one another to “Wash your hands!” whenever entering the apartment, and have positioned a large bottle of alcohol-based hand rub by the entrance.

The control on information is appalling. Of course, everything that doesn’t drop from the mind of the self-proclaimed “stable genius” is fake news, after all, so we should all just trust our own Dear Leader. Gag me with a spoon.

IMHO, this will all blow over by May, maybe earlier because it should fade with warmer weather, like its viral cousins have. Death rates will be far less in the U.S.A. Probably higher than the typical flu but not nearly as high as in China and third world. Old people will be hit harder, but they always are. We survived the Hong Kong Flu and most of us will survive this. Beware of media hype and, especially, progressive democrats eagerness to blame Trump--Mueller Report failed, Impeachment failed, and they think this might be their winning horse to discredit him! But, do take the virus seriously and take all precautions. Panic is not in order and is wasted energy. Otherwise, Ronni's detailed assessment is very well done and beneficial--Take Heed!!

Pence in charge? Might as well appoint Robby the Robot. The man denies science and reality. A doctor should be in charge, or someone from CDC or WHO. The media are creating panic and someone should stop them. Get your info from reliable sources, those in the medical field (or Ronni), and ignore the fear-mongering mainstream media.

Of course the fatality rate is higher among seniors. It is with any disease. We're all compromised, if only by our age.

A very large thank you to Ronnie, this is life saving information here. I hadn't thought about the shopping cart handles. I am puzzling about how to wash hands in a public bathroom and get out without using handles. Hmmmmmmm. Today I'm off to lay in some extra food supplies that are either canned or can be frozen. And some hand wipes.
Don't I remember Trump firing his whole pandemic medical staff? I do believe I do.

Some how I seem to have missed Democrats blaming DT, I did hear him blaming Democrats.

I just spent an hour in a too small waiting room with adults and children yesterday, I am going to watch with a cautious eye. There is a woman in CA with no known exposure with it and it took them some time to realize it. So WH screening all info does not leave me with a bunch of comfort.

Thanks Ronni. Salinda is right, trump did fire his pandemic staff and cut $$ to the CDC. I plan on just keeping up my flu avoidance regime because I'm old and have heart and lung problems. And Pence in charge, a sick joke, pun intended.

While I have quite a pile of masks already because we get so much wildfire smoke in the summer where I live, my COPD and asthma afflicted lungs can't take it. They are pricey washable masks with replaceable filters, from, of course China. Mostly I stay inside with my air cleaners. Other than that the only time I used a hospital type mask was when I was diagnosed with H1N1 a couple of years back and that was so other people didn't get sick.

I did stock up on hand cleaner and order extra meds just in case but I admit the door to my anxiety closet blew open when I heard this.

Thank you so much Ronni for today's post. And to everyone who commented. All good advice, important to be reminded of, for prevention of the COVID-19 virus. And other viruses such as this year's flu which is, so far, killing more people here.

I'll be washing my hands and not worrying about the coronavirus.

Washing hands and not being in crowds strikes me as about all we can realistically do. You can safely bet large sums of money that whatever happens here, it will be grossly mishandled, so get some extra water in. Hardly a day passes now that I don't want to just scream!

I have been trying to get an answer for two weeks about the availability of testing on a local level. Finally I found that no one is being tested for coronavirus unless they state that they have been to China in the last two weeks. So that means people who may be mildly symptomatic with coronavirus could easily be walking around. They are sent home from the doctor because they don’t test positive for flu B.

This isn’t the fault of local doctors- this is based on CDC guidelines that are supposedly being changed as we speak. But it is problematic that testing is not yet available locally for quick diagnosis. As someone in the medical community stated yesterday on TV “you can’t find something if you don’t look for it”. Why are we so far behind at this point??

And today I see Trump saying that a “miracle will just happen” and it will spontaneously go away...

Thank you for your calm and well researched info on this scary mess. The age-connected mortality chart was terrifying and brought to mind a phrase I heard "OK boomer" I think from a song or sentiment from some faction of today's youth. An on-line slang dictionary said this: "OK boomer is a viral internet slang phrase used, often in a humorous or ironic manner, to call out or dismiss out-of-touch or close-minded opinions associated with the baby boomer generation and older people more generally." Not to promote a conspiracy idea, but if the COVID-19 virus really became epidemic and proved that mortality chart to be true, bye bye boomer. I refuse to think that we boomers don't have perspective and wisdom to impart to the Youngers. It would be like Agist cleansing. Sorry, I just went off. I'm washing my hands and staying home, being an asthmatic 70-something who just survived influenza A. That was hard enough. I guess the antidote is to pay attention, be careful and help each other. And keep the bullshit detector charged up.

Well we are going to "test the system" - we are off to Japan in 2.5 weeks.

Japan is taking this seriously! They are closing all public schools from now until late March. Private schools will probably do the same. The normal school break there is from March 20 to April 8 so this is really disrupting testing and graduations - not to mention all the parents who will have to take time off to care for their kids longer than expected. Less of a big deal there as the Japanese are much more open to doing what is the best for the society without a lot of complaints. Closing schools is a good idea IMHO.

We are going because we had already planned to go to care of our 4 year old granddaughter during the break. We have masks and hand sanitizer to bring along. Masks are more to fit in rather than probably doing anything of much help. The natives will be less concerned about us if we wear masks. Masks are very common there most of the time anyway - a lot of people wear them most of the time when out in public anyway. Fortunately we will not be in crowded areas and do not need to use public transportation while there so exposure might be limited - we'll see.

Maybe we will get a mild case and get inoculated. We are both in early 70's (72 and 70) so it would be nice to see the death rate by year after 70 :-) We are both in good health so not expecting any major issues even if we do catch it.

Also found out (in case you ever wanted to know) travel insurance "trip protection" does not cover us for any travel issues due to a virus outbreak - even if the country were to ban all travel. The "medical protection" will cover us if we get sick or quarantined. Got $$$$ invested so we are going!

I like Dr. John Campbell's daily YouTube updates (UK). Clear and concise information.

One huge key to staying safe and minimizing the spread: accurate, evidence-based. timely information. With the mandate for everything to be funneled through Mike Pence, aka the sycophant-in-chief, that went out the window. Every bit of information we get from this source will be passed through the filter of "does this make the boss look good or bad"? Resulting in complacency when we should be vigilant, and irrational fear when we need to stay sensible - whichever message helps the WH at the moment is what we will hear. I'm praying that those in the scientific community who have access to data and are not controlled by the government will rise up in opposition and communicate the facts.

California only has 200 test kits. For all of California. And these tests take days to send off for analysis.

I also wonder where the test kits are being manufactured. Hopefully here within the US because production needs to be ramped up exponentially starting right now.

This lack of proactive preparedness is amazing to me on one level, then again it isn’t…

I heard on the news last evening that a female scientist from the CDC will be advising Pence so that gave me hope that we will have someone with correct knowledge involved.

Thanks for the reminders of how to keep the threat down, Ronni. I always use the antibacterial wipes on the grocery carts whenever I shop and I am rarely sick with a cold, maybe once a year, if that. I do have sinus allergies (dust and pollen)...so have to take precautions when working in the yard. Plus we have wind here near the coast. I keep the windows open as have heard that's best to circulate the air even with allergies.

Husband and I are healthy at 79 and 80 y.o. so we will keep on doing what works, hand washing (husband not so much) and avoiding crowds.

To give another perspective here are figures from Italy (Friday). Note the FREE tests - most countries I know of have free tests as well. WHY is the US Government blocking and making testing as difficult as possible?

60 millions Italians
8000 FREE of charge tests performed in 10 days
At 6pm today, 821 people are infected
half of them - exactly 412 - are in "home isolation", (no need of FREE hospital treatments)
345 are hospitalized in public facilities
64 are in intensive care,
46 are the healed
21 the deceased

Italy is a safe country, it is safe to live in Italy and it is safe to travel to Italy.

All services and activities for citizens and tourists are normally provided and the quality of life, for which Italy is famous world-wide, remains high.

MiBACT - Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale - Ministero della Salute

Thank you, Ronni, for the astute and useful advice about the Coronavirus. I am now going to venture an opinion about something else that has been bothering me lately. A certain commenter feels this section is a good place to crow about how Trump has successfully escaped all the traps (like the Mueller Report, Impeachment, e.g.) that the vile "progressive democrats" have set to entrap DT. Such comments obviously meaning to "enlighten/educate" us make my blood boil. These comments always end with praise about how well you, Ronni, are addressing stuff you should be "limited" to addressing, such as old age and illness, but never politics. Presumably, these skillfully wielded compliments mitigate and allow him to continue with his pro-Trump agenda. There are so, so many venues for pro-Trump advocates to sell their wares. TGB has always been the one oasis for me from such opinions. It is true that this individual states his views in a calm, well-mannered style while I'm the one feeling my blood pressure rising. Nevertheless, I do not understand why such individuals cannot be blocked from the comments section. They can still read all the useful information they like, but not add comments that impact other readers negatively.


I appreciate your point of view, but anyone may comment here as long as they do not personally attack other commenters or me and state their position reasonably and keep a civil tone.

Over time, most Trump supporters leave this blog or, if they have been nasty or unreasonable, have been permanently blocked. (In which case, no one gets a second chance.) My point is to maintain a safe place for readers to state their case.

Right on the button, Pamela &Vala.
Thank you Ronnie for another valuable informative post.
Another source of accurate information is the World Health Organization (WHO) for those skeptical about Dr. Pence's info.
BTW Dr.Anthony Fauci is a reputable source in the CDC who has been censored.

I appreciate Ronni’s response to Vala’s comment, as I’d hate to see any discussion of politics banned here… I belong to 2 forums (science & early retirement) where anything smacking of politics is verboten. I know it’s a flammable topic, but I still hate the censorship.

At the same time, I loved what Vala wrote here. She voiced my own feelings (and I’m sure many others) 100%.

The reason Trump put hapless Pence in charge is so that when it all goes to hell in a hand basket, he can deflect all blame to Pence.

If you listened to the CDC folks at the "news" conference, they contradicted Trump's numbers and potential for spread.

Trump has cut funds to CDC and there is no way there are enough tests for the U.S. How much you wanna bet the tests are made in China (as are masks) and since all manufacturing plants are closed in China due to the virus, nothing will be produced in time should we need it.

Scary. We are in Calif and have decided to self quarantine in our home, not go out unless absolutely necessary, and follow all the tips listed by Ronni.

Thanks for the informative blog today. You are wonderful!

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