All posts by Rob Darnell


My cousin, who works for hospitals as an infection control and prevention specialist, sent this to me today.

Forwarding takeaways from the UCSF COVID-19 town hall this weekend – infectious diseases conference

1. If you’re exposed to COVID, you’re likely to see symptoms in about 2-9 days, with median of 5 days.

2. The common symptoms are acute respiratory distress and fever, often high, which may be intermittent but can be persistent and last over 10 days.

3. Breakdown of cases: About 80% of those who contract COVID only get mildly ill; 14% get hospital-ill, 6-8% critically ill. The mortality rate seems to be between 1-3%, but that needs to be adjusted for age. Mortality is 10-15% over 80, and drops lower for younger cohorts.

4. The bulk of those who fall ill are aged 40-55, with 50 being the median. But being young and healthy (zero medical problems) does NOT rule out serious illness or death; it may just delay the time course to developing significant respiratory illness by about a week or longer.

5. Findings confirm that COVID-19 is spread simply through breathing, even without coughing. It seems unlikely that contact with contaminated surfaces is a primary means of spread: “Don’t forget about hand washing, but if you don’t want to get infected, you can’t be in crowds.”

6. The virus spreads by air and in droplets (sneezing and coughing), but also via fecal-oral transmission. This is where hand washing with soap is key. And try to eat only cooked foods if you didn’t prepare them yourself.

7. COVID likely originated in bats. But for those sharing rumors that COVID came from Chinese people eating them, researchers now believe it went from bats to another animal species before jumping to humans, and that fecal-oral transmission was the likely vector. WASH YOUR HANDS.

8. There are no real treatments for COVID yet. Remdesvir has shown signs of reducing mortality but it is in still in tests, is in short supply and only available under restriction. Steroids, a common treatment for respiratory illness, may make things worse.

9. The terminal phase of COVID is acute respiratory distress, treated by putting patients on a ventilator. We have 160K ventilators in the US. About 1M will need ventilators. Half will die in the first week; survivors stay on for 4 weeks. “We don’t have enough ventilators.”

10. This graphic is scary. Italy is already overwhelmed. Many countries are just days behind Italy on the case curve. The US is actually breaking the curve—because of the Trump admin’s mismanagement of the situation.

11. 40-70% of the US is likely to get the virus. Around 150 million is the UCSF estimate, with a 1% rate of mortality, which means 1.5 million Americans will likely die of this disease in the next 12-18 months. To put this in context: In 2019, 606,880 Americans died of cancer.

12. We are “past containment” at this point, experts say. The massive errors by this administration early on make it impossible to stop the spread—we can only slow it so healthcare can catch up. And no matter what anyone says: We won’t have a vaccine for at least 6 months. All we can do is maintain compassionate care to all!

CV-19: Survival

Out of 190,664 cases worldwide, 7,519 people died and 80,648 people recovered.

I think a lot of people are afraid that they themselves will die from CV-19, though most of them are healthy and should get through it just fine. But for other people, their biggest fear is they might pass it on to someone who won’t be able to survive it.

There are people I know who, if they caught CV-19 there’s a high chance that they won’t survive.

But I agree that the media and officials are putting undue emphasis on the number of deaths and causing a lot of unnecessary panic. Why aren’t they saying more about the number of people who recovered? It might settle people down a bit. But I’ve seen very little about people recovering from CV-19.

At the same time, though, I think something has be done to protect the people who are high risk. But the measures they’re putting in place, closing everything down and so on, is that going to make a difference?

Right now everything in Michigan is closed down for a couple weeks and they want us to stay home during this time. But in a couple weeks, is the situation going to be any better? What if it’s worse? Are they going to keep extending the length of time that they expect people to avoid in person contact with each other?