The howl of the wolf

WHEN THE KUNG FLU hysteria began in Mexico around February, our president said it was no big deal. Other elements of the government, however, followed the lead of the United States and declared the sky was falling.

Stay home! Stay home! Sickness and death await you outside! That was the advice of many governors and mayors. Businesses were told to close. Face masks were declared obligatory. Many people did stay home. Many businesses did shut.

March and April found lots of folks hunkering down, ourselves included. A government website keeps track of Kung Flu cases in about every nook and cranny of Mexico. It looked scary in some spots, especially around the border and in Mexico City.

Time passed. People wearied of staying home. We were in that number. On May 10, a relatively arbitrary date I chose, we stopped self-quarantine and resumed life as usual with some easy, common sense precautions.

At least here on the mountaintop, life has mostly returned to normal, but here’s the funny thing. The Kung Flu count is worsening by the day. In the whole nation, the cases increase about 4,000-5,000 per day, but the daily recovery count is almost the same, so it’s a roller-coaster. People sicken, people recover.

wolfHere’s the wolf thing. They cried it when the situation was relatively calm, and people hunkered down. But the citizens wearied of home life, and we’ve mostly returned to the streets.

The government should have waited longer to cry wolf. Or maybe not have cried it at all.

If you drive our mountaintop streets now, it’s back to normal. Even the multiplex movie theater reopened a few days ago. Almost all businesses are open. However, City Hall still has our two downtown plazas roped off, for all the good that does.

And the governor says it’s still obligatory to wear masks in public, but most do not, and those who do often have it hanging below their chin, a form of virtue-signalling.

But is this whole thing overblown, as some suspect? On my mountaintop, our death toll of three (!) is 0.003 percent of our population. Our confirmed case count of 23 is 0.025 percent of the population. In the entire nation, the death toll of 16,000 is 0.012 percent of the population. And the confirmed case count of 134,000 is under 0.11 percent of the population.

Those are darn good odds.

However, some spots in Mexico are taking the Kung Flu threat very seriously. A small burg in the State of Oaxaca will toss you in the slammer for 24 hours if you’re seen in public without a face mask.

26 thoughts on “The howl of the wolf

  1. We, in the U.S., are on the precipice of another overreaction. This time it is about a spike in viral illnesses following eased restrictions for Memorial Day long weekend crowding. That, coupled with mass demonstrations protesting about George Floyd’s death by cop overreaction, just might bring activity outside home quarantine to another standstill. Stay safe means stay controlled.

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  2. I would never say the virus wasn’t for real. I believe it’s for real. The reaction to it … meh. But we all have to figure out the next move we make for ourselves. We flew from HOU to TPA recently, and I wore a mask on the flight. Those I come in contact with and myself will just have to deal with it. We do that every day. Enjoy your beautiful hacienda, your plants, and walks in the plaza. My only advice is get sun, fresh air, and exercise … and yes, wash those hands!

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    1. Bev: One of the few things I won’t do yet is put myself into a steel cylinder with scores or hundreds of strangers. That means no flights or bus rides. Masks just help people around you. They don’t protect you much. And I do wash my hands a lot. That’s easy and apparently quite effective.

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  3. I agree with Bev. The virus is real (and a problem), but the reaction has been way overblown. In Mexico, I am not the least bit surprised that the segment of the population that has overreacted most comes from the north — and, by that, I mean across the two international borders, not Zacatecas.

    Our local streets are now as busy as they were before the government-imposed shutdown and I see very few masks. Our beaches are supposed to be fully open within days. Of course, that announcement was met with hysterics by northerners who fear the virus will be brought to them. Chicken Little could not have been as shrill.

    It has taken me some time to understand why northerners seem to be so dismissive of single Mexican mothers returning to work to feed their families. Northerners are essentially independently wealthy with their pensions compared to their Mexican neighbors. The shutdown has not affected their income stream. And northerners are afraid because they sit square in the demographic with the highest death rate — though that is small, as well.

    I call myself a Bingo target. Based on risk factors, I meet almost all of them. I take precautions, but I am not scared. I noticed today that I may be experiencing a flare-up of the cellulitis in my left leg. I need to have it reviewed, but I am not exactly ecstatic about another two-week hospital stay. I guess if the virus does not come to me, I can go to it.

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    1. Señor Cotton: First off, I urge you to get the leg attended to ASAP before it worsens. Let us hope it does not. Getting old is fun, ¿no?

      By northerners, you mostly mean Canucks in your area. Here, our Gringos are hunkered down far more than the locals. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Even more so is their desire to get the “stimulus” money from Trump, a desire they voice on the local internet forum with some regularity. Where is it? Where is it? How can I get it? In spite of their not having been hit financially by the Kung Flu in the slightest. They want their “free” money. Almost all of them are Democrats, of course, or maybe all of them, 100 percent.

      But it’s another lovely day here.

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      1. Don Guillermo: Are you implying it’s a nation of lemmings? Oh, my. Well, they did reelect the Pretty Boy, but then again, the United States twice elected Weepy Obama. Plenty of blame and shame to spread around.

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  4. I would second that recommendation, Steve, get your leg looked after soonest. In our area most expats are hunkered down, but not all. We had a nice small gathering yesterday of like-minded people not locked behind our doors. Had a great BBQ.

    Some people getting back to work but not enough in our area. Many have come to me looking for work for themselves or other family members who haven’t worked in months. CFE and others don’t care. No pesos no services. For the northerners’ complaining about people not isolating, stay inside and pay a local to do things for you. They could use the cash. You can stay inside until you are older and grayer.

    The only thing I would complain about is we could use some rain, and that will come sooner or later, I’m sure, and in the meantime it is a beautiful day and I’m going to go and sweep the deck.

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  5. Felipe, trying to measure the percentage of people with the virus and a percentage of deaths is futile. For example, if you take the day rate of confirmed cases, it is 12%!

    12% is scary, taken in that context. The confirmed cases means nothing because you have to be tested before you count. The biggest message to me is mask usage. The one thing we know for sure is mask usage is our biggest defense, #2 is distancing and #3 is hand washing. ANY time you go indoors with people not in your household, i.e. stores, restaurants, public buildings, etc. Masks should be worn. If you do not live with or visit anyone who is high risk, I would say why wear a mask?

    Other than that, look at Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea. They all have the lowest rate of infection in the world. I think one of the biggest mistakes made in this whole crisis was the closing of everything. I think leaving everything open along with universal mask usage would have a much different outcome. But, that’s just my opinion.

    Stay well. everyone.

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    1. Nomad: Are you questioning my arithmetic? I’ll have you know I made straight-Cs or less in math whenever I was forced into a math class. Well, anyway, I think our figures reflect different things.

      As for the most important defenses, everything I read says masks are mostly useless to protect oneself. What masks are good for is protecting others if you have the cooties, i.e. Kung Flu. I would put hand-washing at No. 1, distancing at No. 2 but a close second. As for the Orientals having lower rates of infection, that must mean there is some racial protection unknown to the rest of us. A good area for further study.

      Stay well to you too.

      I found your comment in the spam pile. Lord knows why.

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  6. I’ve heard that wearing a mask to stop COVID is like building a chain link fence to keep out mosquitoes. It might help a bit but only if you change masks frequently so they don’t become an infected Petri dish. Too many people are wearing the same mask day after day. Not good.

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    1. Brent: I too have read often that masks don’t do much to protect the wearer, just others around you if you’re infected.

      I now wear a mask only when required to enter a business. I use the same one over and over. I don’t see any cooties on it, so I’m good to go. I think.

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  7. Steve, as a longtime victim of cellulitis, the instant it appears I take clindamycin 300 mg, three times a day.

    If that doesn’t knock it out in two days, double the dosage. Save yourself a trip to the hospital. Good luck.

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  8. But is this whole thing overblown, as some suspect? On my mountaintop, our death toll of three (!) is 0.003 percent of our population. Our confirmed case count of 23 is 0.025 percent of the population. In the entire nation, the death toll of 16,000 is 0.012 percent of the population. And the confirmed case count of 134,000 is under 0.11 percent of the population.

    This paragraph tacitly assumes that the reported cases to date are the extent of it, which of course it isn’t. If this were no more contagious than the average flu, then yeah, it’d be a non-threat. But the contagiousness does mean that it is a serious problem. Worth shutting the entire economy? Reasonable people can differ on that one. And any sensible discussion of CV also needs to take into account the enormous gain in knowledge we’ve achieved in these past few months. When the lockdowns began, the best evidence suggested that the infection fatality rate could be as high as 2%. Combine that with something super-contagious, and yes, you have a serious problem.

    The problem now is that all those folks who are so fond of screaming “Science!” are now ignoring the same. The CDC’s latest infection fatality rate estimate is somewhere around 0.25% of the general population. But in truth, the fatality rate for those over 70 is fairly high, while for the rest it’s even lower. This argues for protecting the elderly and infirm while allowing the rest of us to get back to our normal lives. If you believe that a vaccine will become available within the next 6 months, then that goes double.

    Furthermore, it’s not a public health crisis if a bunch of people are sick with flu-like symptoms for a week or two, and then recover on their own. What’s important is hospitalizations and deaths. Yet there’s still over-focus on infections.

    Alas, many public health authorities, in the wake of their blessings of the protests over the death of George Floyd, have essentially destroyed their professional credibility. Now, since protesting apparently doesn’t transmit CV, we have hordes of Hasidic kids in NYC blocking streets in protests to have parks and camps reopened.

    Frankly, I can hardly think of a better rebuke to NYC’s antisemitic, buffonish excuse for a “mayor.”

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where I’d just like to go to a mall, fer crissakes!

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    1. Kim: Of course, it was not my intention to imply that current reported cases are the end of it. Obviously, it’s not.

      So the Hasidic kids in New York have hit the streets to open parks and camps? Didn’t know that. Power to ’em.

      As for the mayor of New York, the citizens have what they deserve, and simultaneously have proven the grievous drawbacks of universal suffrage. I’m not a fan.

      You want to go to a mall? Come on down. The malls have reopened in my state capital, just a short drive down the mountainside.

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  9. I don’t know. And the problem is you don’t either. No one really has a firm grip on the spread of the virus or what to do. Everyone is speculating, theorizing, modeling and generally blowing hot air.

    Sweden’s “herd immunity” was supposed to be the cat’s meow and guess what? Florida and Texas “opened up” and now they have sky-high infection rates. But other places have opened up and they’re OK. So who knows?

    And the information in Mexico is even more confusing. The latest is that we’ll reach “peak infections” by July. What I do know is that if we have a serious outbreak in rinky-dink operations like Pátzcuaro or San Miguel, or Melaque, with rinky-dink medical care, we could be seriously screwed.

    So for the time being, I’m taking the recommended precautions but without going bat-shit, like some of the gringos here in San Miguel.

    That’s my take. BTW your arithmetic is not so great, almost as bad as mine.

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    1. Señor Lanier: Just checked my go-to website for Kung Flu stats. Florida has spiked up a bit (3.7% of confirmed cases) in 24 hours, but Texas has not at all, so I’m guessing you’re still reading the NYT for reliable info. Stop that right now!

      Who you calling a rinky-dink town? Speak for your own burg. We have three government-designated clinics for Kung Flu cases. Two are for relatively mild hospitalizations and the third is for hard cases. None of them is even close to being over-burdened. All is well.

      As for my math, it’s good enough, and that’s good enough for me.

      Saludos to Stew.

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    2. Señor Lanier: We are in lockstep on one thing. To quote you;

      “No one really has a firm grip on the spread of the virus or what to do. Everyone is speculating, theorizing, modeling and generally blowing hot air.”

      That sums up the entire situation nicely. Well done.

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  10. Well, it seems everyone has their own ideas about this problem. Good masks work. Just cloth masks really don’t.

    A doctor from Taiwan addressed this issue on the internet. The answer seems to be a two-fold mask with a pocket in between into which a coffee filter is placed. When it gets nasty, just wash it and dry it. Then put a new coffee filter in to it. Coffee filters are dirt cheap.

    I read an article in Bloomberg that said people with O-positive blood type seem to have a better chance with this virus. But my daughter-in-law is an RN, and she has been taking care of victims of this virus since the first of March.

    Most seem to be coming in from the reservation. And American Indians almost all seem to be type O-positive. What is the truth here?

    Now it seems she has the virus. Where this will go, I don’t know. We can just hope and pray.

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    1. Señor Gill: It’s a confused mess, all of it. I send best wishes to your daughter-in-law. The odds of a satisfactory recovery are very much in her favor.

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  11. Also, I think the situation is skewed in that the governments forced nursing homes to take in virus patients. That spread the infection among elderly resident of these nursing homes. There it is: our government protecting us again.

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  12. What drives me crazy about this is that the playbook for epidemics is clear: identify and isolate infectious individuals, track and test those who have contacted infected individuals. Lockdowns only keep those jobs from becoming unmanageable. We got the lockdowns but nobody followed up with the testing and isolating.

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    1. Creigh: If we start listing the problems with this whole pandemic and the way it’s being handled and politically used, we’ll be sitting here writing for hours.

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