Everyone is a vector of the disease | SupChina COVID-19 updates for April 1, 2020

The first delivery of N95 face masks to New York City hospitals took place today with Jess Ting of Mount Sinai Hospital and Nancy Paljevic of Mount Sinai Beth Israel. Donate today, we’ll match every dollar!

Hi readers,

Everyone is a vector of the disease. I’m a vector of the disease. Every time I touch a door handle, pick up any object in the grocery store, or breath in too soon after someone walks by — I might get the disease. Or almost worse — I might give someone else the disease. It’s difficult to escape the feeling that everyone is just a carrier and a pathway for this thing to spread.

Last week, the Trader Joe’s near my apartment in New York City was shut because some of their team members tested positive for COVID-19. The sign in the door said they’d reopen sometime soon but provided no further details.

Grocery stores are probably the second-most likely place outside of hospitals to become hotbeds for the disease due primarily to the fact that they’re almost the only thing open, plus the fact that there’s no way to avoid brushing alongside people and touching items that have been handled by multiple people in a short period of time.

It left me wondering, “What happens if all the grocery stores close? Or worse, what happens if the grocery store employees are all sick, but they keep working?! What happens if garbage collectors all fall ill, or just walk off the job? What if the police fall ill in even greater numbers than they already are?”

In today’s increasingly app-based, desk-bound existence it is easy to take for granted the complex webs of interdependence on which modern society relies. If any part of the system goes down — healthcare, food supply, waste removal, telecommunications, transportation — the whole thing stops working, no matter where you are on the socioeconomic ladder.

I spent the afternoon today going into ground zero for COVID-19 in NYC when I met with some doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital, to whom we delivered the first batch of personal protective equipment from our ongoing fundraiser.

The cognitive dissonance of the experience was very high. Helping each other is what humans do — we can’t survive without each other. But in the case of a pandemic, getting near to other people is literally what we’re all avoiding.

Onto the news.

– Bob Guterma
SupChina COO

The U.S. situation is worsening for many parts of society

Protective gear in the national stockpile is nearly depleted, DHS officials say.

  • A nurse on the front lines in Chicago tried to wear her own N95 to work while caring for COVID patients (when it wasn’t supplied for her) & she was told by management she would not be allowed to. She quit her job.
  • Frightened doctors face off with hospitals over rules on protective gear
  • Meanwhile, there might actually be a lot of protective equipment in warehouses in the U.S., but people can’t agree on price

How companies treat their employees in the crisis will define their brands for decades.

There have been over 650 reports of discrimination and violence against Asians related to COVID-19  — in just one week.

Many new york coronavirus patients are young, surprising doctors

Food banks struggle as demand explodes thanks to coronavirus layoffs.

The list of those who won’t get a $1,200 stimulus check is growing — and includes some surprising groups.

China’s COVID numbers are fake

Bloomberg says that “the U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report to the White House” that China has intentionally under-reported both total cases and deaths from COVID-19. This is according to three anonymous officials.

They did not reveal details but “the thrust, they said, is that China’s public reporting on cases and deaths is intentionally incomplete.” Two of them “said the report concludes that China’s numbers are fake.”

What does this mean? We hardly required intelligence services to know that China’s numbers are unreliable, but this news may herald a renewed effort by the U.S. government to hold China culpable.

Finally, does China really have COVID-19 under control? Reports such as this from Sixth Tone suggest not:

“Just as China was enthusiastically opening up for business after a weekslong shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities have asked the country’s tourist attractions and entertainment venues to close their doors again.”

Around the world in 30 seconds

  • France struggles as it wages “war” against COVID-19 (Forbes)
  • WHO says coronavirus outbreak in europe may be approaching peak (Bloomberg)
  • Coronavirus has started a censorship pandemic in Turkey, Hungary, Thailand and around the world (Foreign Policy)
  • Pandemic spreads in Latin America as cases pass 20,000 (CNA)
  • Iran says U.S. sanctions are taking lives. U.S. officials disagree. (NYT)

Cure and vaccine radar

  • Virginia-based oncology drug maker begins testing its drug for use against COVID-19 (Yahoo Finance)
  • France Sanctions Drug After Nearly All Patients Recover COVID-19 (CBS News)
  • Chinese scientists on hunt for coronavirus treatment find ‘effective’ antibodies (NY Post)


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Take care, and don’t forget to wash your hands!