Patterico's Pontifications


Italy Extends Quarantine To Entire Country

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:29 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Italy extends its quarantine:

Italy is extending its strict coronavirus quarantine measures, which include a ban on public gatherings, to the entire country.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that people would only be permitted to travel for work or family emergencies.

He said the measures, which come into effect on Tuesday, were to defend the most fragile members of society.

Italy’s coronavirus death toll jumped on Monday by 97 to 463. It is the worst-hit country after China

In a televised address on Monday, Mr Conte said that the best thing for the citizens of Italy was to stay at home.

He added that all sporting events – including football matches – were being suspended nationwide.

The restrictions are similar to those earlier applied to the worst affected Lombardy region, and 14 other provinces.

Rioting ensued after prison inmates were informed that visitors were banned from facilities in quarantined northern Italy:

Inmates rioted and overran a number of prisons in Italy on Monday, escaping their facilities and kidnapping officers, as the ripple effects of a drastic coronavirus lockdown in the country’s north started to take hold.

Riots took place in 22 prisons after visitors were banned in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Justice Ministry said in a statement. Multiple inmates have died in the riots, and some continue to occupy their facilities, even reaching the roof in some cases.

The chaotic scenes come after Italy’s interior ministry announced severe penalties for any Italians who attempt to flee the lockdown in the north.

Anyone leaving the “containment regions” risks three months in prison, or a fine of up to 206 euros ($234), Luciana Lamorgese said.


President Trump Tries Tweeting Away Fear To Bring the Market Back To Life

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:28 am

[guest post by Dana]

After the market opened this morning:

Comparing the coronavirus to the flu seems questionable, at the least. Here is Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and director of the National Intitute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, addressing the validity of such a comparison:

“Yes and no,” Fauci said, cautioning that the comparison is suitable in some respects, but not in others.

“It clearly is much more lethal, if you want to call it that, than the typical seasonal flu,” he said.

The seasonal flu mortality rate is about 0.1 percent, while information thus far, particularly from China, indicates the coronavirus mortality rate is around 2 to 2.3 percent, Fauci said, adding that the number might be a little lower if all cases around the world were counted.

He said that like the flu, coronavirus will most commonly afflict older people with underlying health problems, while infections in young, healthy individuals can still occur, although be more unusual.

In a projection of the outbreak in the coming weeks, Fauci said “the American people really need to realize” that more cases will pop up in communities in which there is no identified source.

“It’s unrealistic to think it’s not going to happen,” Fauci said. “It is how we handle it that’s important.”

While there are similarities between the coronavirus and the flu, there are key differences between the two:

The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. Since this disease is caused by a new virus, people do not have immunity to it, and a vaccine may be many months away. Doctors and scientists are working on estimating the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be higher than that of most strains of the flu.

I like this take on Trump’s efforts to “tweet away” the fear, both of the market fall and the virus itself:

The comparison to flu is a dangerous one because flu doesn’t spread exponentially, because we have decades of experience treating it, and because the worst cases of flu are not as severe as this virus. If we’re really going to judge public policy on the number of American deaths alone, then all our anti-terrorism efforts are even more wasteful and should be dedicated to getting Americans to stop driving automobiles.

My guess is that when it comes to coronavirus there is a psychological response mechanism at work in most people: Most of us have an instinctive opinion that the world is either too easily panicked or too difficult to rouse from sleepwalking. In this case, I fall in the latter category. Some people pass from one to the other…

I don’t think Trump’s sweet talk is going to work, and it may be having the opposite effect of what he intends. In part, the market is giving a judgment — maybe a hasty one — on Trump’s ability to address a public-health crisis. If he takes the market seriously, he should respond with more than a few tweets.

Which begs the question, just how seriously is Trump taking this crisis? Being more concerned with how it reflects on him personally, rather than being more concerned with the safety of Americans is not a stretch, by any means.


Trading Halted as Stock Market Plunges

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:28 am

This is very bad:

The Saudi actions sent an extra shock wave through the market, but I think the market is also adjusting to the new reality. The coronavirus is going to change a lot of things about daily life, relatively soon. Travel will continue to slow rapidly. Businesses will fail. Major businesses will be badly hurt and may fail. There will be ginormous government bailouts.

It could take years to recover.

Donald Trump is not responsible for the coronavirus, but he has given the country an absurd vision of “containment,” telling our citizens eleven days ago that the number of cases would soon be “close to zero:”

Donald Trump can’t bullshit his way out of what the coronavirus is going to do. His absurdly rosy predictions of how he “contained” the virus in the U.S. will haunt him through November.

UPDATE: The trading halt was brief, and there may even be sharks willing to take advantage of those who are panic-selling, which could minimize the damage of the day’s open. Me, I sold a chunk at the beginning of the year and am planning to continue dollar cost averaging every month, but I’m still expecting stormy times ahead.

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