April 2020: Coronavirus Timeline Update

December 23, 2020

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

“Curiouser and curioser,” cried Alice.

And further down the rabbit hole we go.

I’ve eaten a piece of cake every single day for the past week, and I’m spending way too much fucking time on social media. So, let’s update the coronavirus timeline.

November 17, 2019: a review of government data being used to map the early transmission of the virus suggests the first case of coronavirus disease is traced back to a 55 year old Hubei resident who contracted the virus on November 17th. This resident had no contact with the Wuhan market where the original pandemic-causing outbreak is attributed.

Late November 2019: American intelligence supposedly becomes aware of a health issue in China, begins paying attention to shit like they’re supposed to do. Whether they really had an inkling of the true nature of this emerging pathogen at this early point is unproven speculation. Given the CDC medical team in China that is supposed to help identify and stop the outbreak and spread of contagious disease was cut by 2/3 by President Trump, and the US Dept of Agriculture transferred the manager of a program that monitored animal diseases out of the country in 2018, it is likely intelligence agencies did not have access to reliable and timely information to which they would otherwise have been able to utilize.

December 16, 2019: Wei Guixan, one of the earliest noted Covid-19 patients, a 57 year old Wuhan resident (who fell ill on December 10 and likely contracted the virus in early December) is admitted to the hospital with infections in both lungs. Wei Guixan worked at a seafood market in Wuhan, at a “wet market,” in what is believed to be the original Covid-19 epicenter: the place where the infection was transmitted to its perfect breeding grounds, wherein human beings congregate in large, bustling numbers. Wei Guixan recovered from the Covid-19 disease in February of 2020 and left the hospital: two months of required hospitalization for recovery from the illness.

For clarification, a wet market sells fresh fish and slaughtered animals wherein they pour water over the meat produce to keep it fresh. Kind of like how the grocery store mists the fruit and vegetable produce to keep it from wilting; only at the grocery store, we have refrigeration and FDA rules and regulations for reducing the risks of spreading diseases. This is the point where we should probably recognize the need to have an honest discussion about zoonotic diseases and the normative benefits of regulation for health and safety reasons

In December of 2019, while American intelligence agencies begin to raise normative alarms about a potential health crisis in China, Dr. Li, a Chinese ophthalmologist, is encountering infections that appear similar to a coronavirus that led to the SARS epidemic in 2003. He shares information about it with other doctors on Weibo and WeChat. On December 30th, Dr. Li notified authorities of his findings.

Chinese authorities basically tell Dr. Li to shut the fuck up. For whatever failings, they did not listen and respond to the real-time medical dialogue occurring during the month of December about a new respiratory infection. Keep in mind there will be a lot of failings along this timeline from various organizations, world leaders, and collective individuals. China is not excused from the role they played in these failings, just as none of the other actors are excused in their failings during this pandemic either.

On December 31, 2019, China confirmed cases of a new virus infecting its citizens in the city of Wuhan.

On January 1, 2020, the WHO set up an Incident Management Support Team (IMST), an emergency preparedness measure for handling a potential health crisis based on the infection information that came out of China the day prior.

By January 2, 2020, early transmission data reports compiled and peer reviewed in the scientific medical journal The Lancet revealed that 41 patients had been admitted to the hospital in Wuhan and identified as having laboratory-confirmed 2019 novel coronavirus infection. 27 of the 41 patients had been exposed to the Wuhan seafood market. One family cluster was found. All 41 patients had pneumonia with abnormal findings on chest CT; complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome, acute cardiac injury and secondary infection. 13 patients were admitted to an ICU and six died.

The infection likely started outside of the market and made its way there, where it was then able to spread much more readily among a greater population in close proximity. I have arrived at all sort of potential theories (both conspiratorial and mundane) to explain how the infection realistically arrived at the crowded social space in this market and made its epic debut onto the world stage from there. It’s worthy to note that none of the theories include the manufacture of this virus in a lab, but do include the very real possibilities conceived by repetitive human response errors.

The early timeline continues to be imprecise and possibly inaccurate in some respects. The review of early transmission data analyzed by scientists in China reportedly indicated infectious contact in mid-November 2019 in Hubei province, but publishing research has currently been curtailed by various means. Dr. Li died of the very disease for which he raised alarm, and there were a number of other medical professionals involved in the dialogue about this new virus, some of whom were reportedly censored or arrested. It is still reasonable to consider the early timeline relatively accurate for the purpose of this exercise until more data becomes readily available. While there is other international research taking place spanning the possibility of finding a patient zero anytime between mid-September and early December, none of the other research I’ve found to this date has been peer-reviewed to substantiate additional timeline claims.

On January 8, 2020, the CDC issues its first warning to clinicians to watch for patients showing respiratory symptoms who had a travel history to Wuhan.

On January 9, 2020, China announces it has mapped the cononavirus genome, and on January 10th, the first patient with the infection dies. Also on January 10th, the WHO has assembled their first technical package of information on how to detect, test for, and manage potential cases of the novel coronavirus based primarily on their experience with SARS and MERS respiratory infections.

From January 11 – 17th, the Wuhan health commission insists there are no new cases of the disease, which we know must have been a cartload of horseshit. Based on this information – as it’s the only information the organization can rely on at this juncture – the WHO remains unsure about human-to-human transmission rates as Chinese authorities report that there is no clear evidence of sustainable human to human transmission of the virus. At the same time, U.S. intelligence agencies are ringing much louder and bigger alarms concerning the serious nature of this impending health crisis.

By January 20th, the day the WHO makes its first brief visit to Wuhan, the virus has spread to Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

On January 23, 2020, the WHO determines there is evidence for human to human transmission, but states they are unable to determine the full extent of transmission without further investigation. On the same day, China quarantines Wuhan and three other cities in Hubei province with a total population of 36 million. Five million people leave the cities anyway without being screened for the infection. By this point, 17 people have died from the virus.

On January 24, China begins building a new hospital in Wuhan at lightening speed: in just ten days, using prefabricated units, they put up a 645,000 square foot, 2 floor make-shift hospital with 1000 beds, several isolation wards, and 30 intensive care units. The act of building this hospital reliably indicates China knew that what was happening was serious, they knew they were going to need another hospital because of it, so the rest of us should have known it was serious as well.

On January 24th, the president of the United States tweets praise for the Chinese government’s efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, even though it’s already too fucking late to contain the spread from the Wuhan epicenter; five million people literally left the quarantined area without being screened, several hundred thousand of whom traveled outside of Hubei province, and three days earlier, the virus had already made its way to four other countries, including the United States. China deserves recognition for being able to lock down a province of 36 million people to contain infection and then build a new hospital at lightening speed. It does not deserve positive recognition for wasting nearly a month to implement these containment methods when it would have actually made a difference had they done so sooner.

Nobody has initiated travel restrictions around the globe at this point yet, nobody is recommending it, and nobody is doing it.

From January 24-30, China celebrates the lunar new year, and hundreds of millions of people travel around the country, despite the fact that Chinese authorities are beginning to implement restrictions in an attempt to contain the virus. Also, over a month too late on that containment thing.

On January 28th, Chinese government officials agree with the WHO to bring in a team of international scientists to see if they can get a handle on the virus.

On January 29th, Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s HEP, said “The whole world needs to be on alert now. The whole world needs to take action and be ready for any cases that come from the epicenter or other epicenter that becomes established.” Read it again.

On January 30th, the World Health Organization declares a global health emergency. The same day, the president of the United States, while attending a campaign rally in Iowa instead of managing what would become a national health emergency, prevaricates, “We only have five people. Hopefully, everything’s going to be great. They have somewhat of a problem, but hopefully, it’s all going to be great. But we’re working with China, just so you know, and other countries very, very closely. So it doesn’t get out of hand.”

On January 31st, Donald Trump restricts travel from China, which is too fucking late, since the first case from China had already arrived fifteen days earlier (and another 40,000 people have actually traveled from China to the United States since then, almost 3 months ago). By this point, over 200 people have died and almost 10,000 people are infected with the novel coronavirus.

On February 10th, the WHO is finally able to send an international team of scientists into China to begin assessing the situation of the new virus on the ground in Wuhan.

On February 11th, the WHO named the new infection Covid-19, an acronym for coronavirus disease 2019.

On February 13th, there are almost 15,000 new infections in Hubei Province.

February 14th thru February 28th: during this 2 week period, the virus spreads all around the fucking world.

And the stock markets begin their fall.

On February 28th, Donald Trump holds a rally in South Carolina (he’s held 9 political rallies since January 9th, the day China announced it had mapped the novel coronavirus genome), and downplays the virus once again, stating the Democrats are politicizing the virus and making it the new Democratic hoax.

On the following day, February 29th, the United States records its first coronavirus death (since then, it has been revealed that at least two people died undiagnosed with Covid-19 several weeks earlier after autopsies have been performed). The president responds by telling people not to travel to areas hardest hit by the virus in Italy and South Korea, and forbids travel to and from Iran. The Twat-Waffle-in-Chief continues to behave as if the virus isn’t already here in the States and that the shit isn’t going to hit the proverbial fan.

On March 3, the CDC lifts federal restrictions on coronavirus testing after their own attempt to create a diagnostic test kit failed.

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic, the stock markets continue to drop like a lead balloon, and the president restricts all travel from Europe. Again, too fucking late, as the U.S. is its own hotbed of viral infection and the president is in abject and negligent denial of reality.

On Friday, the 13th of March, 2020, a full two months after the first infected patient arrived in the United States, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, finally declares a national emergency.

Two weeks later, on Friday, March 27th, South Korea has effectively flattened its curve (in two month’s time) by utilizing fast intervention techniques, testing early & often, contact tracing & isolation, practical and timely dissemination of information, and effectively enlisting the public’s help with a high level of social trust.

China announced it has no new local infections at end of March and will be easing quarantine restrictions in Hubei province, and possibly easing the quarantine in Wuhan as well in a couple of weeks, a full 76 days after the heavily populated areas were quarantined, three months after one of the earliest patients was hospitalized with complications from the disease, and four months after the first infection.

No one really believes that China has no new local infections. China reported a revised total number of infections in Wuhan as 50,333 and a total deaths as 3869, with a total infection rate for the whole country at 83,850 people and 4636 deaths. I don’t believe those numbers, and neither should you.

On April 1, 2020, the United States has surpassed everyone else to have the highest number of reported infections and deaths in the world (if we continue to ignore that China’s numbers are a fabrication, of course).

On April 7, 2020, after two months of bungling the country’s response to managing the containment and treatment of Covid-19, the president of the United States criticizes the WHO for mishandling the pandemic.

On April 14, 2020, in the middle of a global health crisis, the president of the United States threatens to halt funding to the World Health Organization.

On April 19, 2020, the United States has 765,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and has suffered almost 41,000 deaths. The death toll has doubled in the past week, yet we have idiots protesting outside their state house buildings to be allowed to do shit they likely don’t need to be doing right now.

For the month of April, we have watched as the country continues to engage the battle of coronavirus state-by-state instead of as a nation coming together to fight the pandemic. Some state governments refuse to enact appropriate social and physical distancing policies because they have not collectively been directed to do so by a competent leader. Some are beginning to loosen restrictions in public spaces before we have adequate testing and tracing of infections, and many of them haven’t even come close to seeing their peak rate of infections.

We’ve also watched as certain actors in the federal government interfere with the appropriation of necessary medical supplies by the states that they’ve told will have to take care of those needs themselves.

The president continues to make ignorant, uninformed, and plainly stupid comments while refusing to face the problems of an infectious epidemic like the competent leader we truly need because he doesn’t know how to lead. He encourages protestors in states with Democratic governors to engage in civil unrest as if they are somehow liberating their states instead of being an actual minority of the population supported and manipulated by right-wing activist groups funded by wealthy donors such as the DeVos, Koch, and Coors (yes, the beer) families to defy public health initiatives that have shut down non-essential portions of the country’s economy.

On April 20, 2020, the price of American Oil turned negative for the first time in history as demand dries up, and the stock market followed suit by dropping once again. Two days later, prices rallied a bit after the president of the United States tweeted that he has instructed the Navy to shoot down and destroy Iranian gunboats in the Persian Gulf.

Because war would be just fucking great for the economy and the people during a global pandemic.

Meanwhile, China is noting a surge of new cases of the virus in the country’s northeast province, but at the same time is planning to reopen thousands of tourist sites in preparation for travel and tourism celebrating its five day Labour Day holiday, expecting record numbers of tourists visiting areas of cultural sites around the country, where Beijing (population 22 million), Shanghai (population 25 million), and Guangzhou (population 13 million) are considered the top three destinations for the holiday.

As some states begin to reopen businesses before they’ve reached their peak infection rates and death tolls, the CDC warns that reopening states too soon could lead to a second wave of the coronavirus that would be much worse as it would coincide with the flu season in America, which will be more difficult than the experience we’ve had in the past two months.

Meanwhile, information about the state of Georgia reopening some businesses before their current stay at home order is actually supposed to end on April 30 and before they meet the middling recommendations recently put out by the White House, the state has come under scrutiny for economic considerations: it appears that Georgia has cut their social welfare safety net to the point where they cannot afford to pay unemployment benefits to even the low-wage workers in their state, and would prefer to put people back to work in unsafe conditions rather than pay the benefits they need to get through this health crisis.

And while Florida and South Carolina open beaches and people swarm to them in order to become human petri dishes for infectious disease, Tennessee joins the melee on May 1st to also reopen some of the most problematic businesses such as restaurants, tattoo parlors, gyms, and hair salons, so that their residents can become statistics for how not to operate your state during a global pandemic, all while the Lt Govenor of Texas thinks that it’s ok for people to die for the economy, that somehow living isn’t really as important as lining someone’s pockets with the greenbacks they make off your labor power.

None of these states have implemented the sort of public health policies that might actually allow them to reopen businesses. They aren’t engaged in significant testing, contact tracing, building more hospitals for the sick, isolating the infected, and requiring the protective measures we need to eventually get back to a somewhat normal life like they’ve done in South Korea and New Zealand, such as requiring everyone to cover their damned faces. Nope. Let’s just open this shit-show back up and let the rubes enjoy it while it lasts.

Public health recommendations that would allow us to actually return to some sort of normalcy have not been implemented (we would need to test literally millions of people every week, for starters), nor has a single additional federal pandemic agency been set up to assist with this health crisis on the various levels for which it needs to be effectively monitored and managed (Jared Kushner and Mike Pence are NOT a replacement for an actual pandemic response team).

Many of us will be anxiously watching in the next two weeks after these premature openings of non-essential businesses for another spike in rates of both infection and deaths to our collective dismay.

“We’re all mad here…” – the Hatter.

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