If we all have to stay home, don't we have to have a recession?
When I read the commentary here on Thursday, whether it be about the two unfortunate deaths on the Carnival (CCL) ship that docked at Yokohama or the South Korean death that's linked to a religious group, I come back and say that there's an unrelenting belief that this illness can and will be beat and that these incidents are isolated and one-off.
What makes people feel that way even if there is no real sign that the disease is running its course?
One is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out in June of last year with a paper called "Study Shows Hospitalization Rates and Risk of Death from Seasonal Flu Increase with Age Among People 65 Years or Older." That study explains that people who are older are far more likely to die when they get the flu than those who are much younger.
"People 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease," the CDC wrote. "Hospitalization rates among adults aged 85 years and older were 2 to 6 times greater than rates for adults aged 65-74." Finally "patients aged 85 and older had an increased risk of developing pneumonia and in-hospital death or transfer to hospice compared to hospitalized patients aged 65-74."
In other words, the non-novel flu kills like the novel flu, but the novel flu is easier to catch and can spread quickly and finds you pretty much wherever you are if someone else has it around you. There's no vaccine, so you are at an increased risk of getting it, but it is not anymore of a death sentence than the regular flu; it's just that there are more death sentences per population clusters.
The dirty secret of the non-novel flu? If you are older and you get it there's nothing for you. You have a greater chance of dying than if you are young. If you have the novel flu you, there's nothing for you, either.
Again, I am stressing the parallels of the two kinds of flu.
Now, the Chinese have done us no favors by putting out numbers that are incredibly difficult to trust. Plus, there historically are vehicles where sickness incubates, of which cruise ships are pretty much the best-known of the places to get a transmissible disease. The CDC even has a site that shows how easy it is to catch something on a cruise.
You read the site and you would think the president of the United States should just ban all cruises for the duration. Heck, why not. The president banned all trips to Cuba back in June 2019 and that was just an ideological jihad. It sure wasn't a health issue. Arguably, this is a more important prerogative.
Now, let's go back to the notion that you don't want to go where people congregate. If we did, we would forgo voluntary attempts to go somewhere and do something, the cruises being the most obvious of cancellations.
When you take out all of these you take out a lot of GDP from wherever it comes, China, Korea, whatever.
The only things that would make you want to go out voluntarily for now would be anti-virals that would treat your illness -- these don't exist -- or vaccines that would prevent the novel flu, and these don't exist, either.
So, what does this all mean? Governments should ultimately try to slow the virus by banning the obvious places that have incubated the virus, especially when it comes to older people.
All governments should be warning older people that they could contract the disease and die in much greater numbers than they realize.
But they should also say that younger people are probably going to get the flu and live.
Beyond that, it is, sadly, caveat emptor until there's a vaccine and/or anti-virals.
Now, let's put it as draconian as possible. If you are willing to go out you increase the risk of getting sick, and if you are older you increase the risk of dying.
Can that cause a recession? Not clear. But, unlike the Chinese, I at least have told you the risks of what could happen. Honesty is a better policy than whatever the heck they are providing.