Watching COVID-19: The OC

Orange County decided to open up their beaches on April 25th, so, it’s a good time to take a look at the Orange County COVID-19 website, and start monitoring their stats.

If many people were infected with SARS-CoV-2 from going to the beach, it could show up in the new cases they report every day.


Recent Studies Look for Actual Spread of SARS-CoV-2 the COVID-19 Virus

This page collects links to stories of surveys and universal tests for SARS-CoV-2.



(I wrote this draft a year ago on April 2019.)

I don’t think people will be going around trying to steal food from hoarders.

People will be looting.

Some people will be coordinating BBQ grills to cook all the meat that’s going to spoil.

They’ll empty the supermarkets, and distribute the food.

They’ll be looting toilet paper for toilets that don’t flush. LOL.

They’ll be looting video games in the hope that electricity will return (it won’t) and we’ll have leisure time (we won’t).

They’ll be looting for saws, and nails, and anything metal.

They’ll be fleeing the place, trading diamonds for transportation to a safer place, like drunks calling uberlyft to get out of the downtown party zone and get home safely.

(Okay, I was wrong. People didn’t really coordinate BBQs. The meat just spoiled. Or the vegetables did. People bought too much food.)

(Maybe I’ll update this with what’s actually happened.)


I Think There’s Under Counting of Covid-19

I took my friend to county general hospital because she had covid-19 symptoms. It looked like covid-19, but they would not give a test. She already had an appointment to get tested at a center tomorrow.

They’re rationing tests, saving them for more serious cases.

What the fuck?

Imagine if someone walked in and was told they wouldn’t be given the test. Most people will go get the test, but I’m pretty sure some people, without cars, would not get tested. They could get sick, and even die, and would not be part of the covid-19 counts.

I think there’s undercounting of covid-19 in the underinsured communities. (There may also be undercounting in insured communities!)

I wouldn’t be surprised if Boyle Heights has a lot of cases.

Early Surges of Cases in Brentwood

Early in the local epidemic, a lot of cases were showing up in Brentwood, an affluent community in the west side of Los Angeles. Needless to say, it’s got lots of white people.

The pattern continued, with cases showing up in the westside.

People in the eastside Facebook groups were saying it was because they got more testing. I think they were on to something.

Asians Dying, Not Showing Up in Counts

I look at the Los Angeles County stats, and I noticed that the share of deaths for Asians is 18%, so far.

It’s possible there’s more travel with Asia, so, you know, you get infections. The weird thing is the Asian communities in LA County keep showing low numbers of cases.

Looking at the April 18 stats for this page, I plucked out a bunch of cities and neighborhoods known for having Asian people.

The median value for the rate is around 115.

City, Rate per 100k
Artesia, 59
Covina, 116
Diamond Bar, 38
Gardena, 151
Torrance, 121
Monterey Park, 61
Norwalk, 86
Rosemead, 28
San Gabriel, 36
San Marino, 60
Temple City, 65
Walnut, 49
Chinatown, blank (probably in with Lincoln Heights)
Lincoln Heights, 73
Little Bangladesh, 137
Koreatown, 119
Eagle Rock, 131
Echo Park, 70
Northeast San Gabriel, 29
South San Gabriel, 79

Most of these cities fall into the lower part of the distribution.

The only pattern I see is that the numbers rise as you go westward.

Asians make up 14% of the LA County population, but are 19% of the deaths. Many if not most cities with many Asians report a lower density of cases than the median.

It’s been like this from the first report with a racial breakdown. Initially, I thought this was due to mask-wearing. (It was true – many Asian people were wearing masks in February, a month before LA County started to recommend mask-wearing.)

However, given the larger percentage of deaths, I wonder if it’s due to undercounting due to a lack of insurance, because AAPI communities, at least in LA, tend to lack health insurance through work. Many people work for small businesses that don’t provide group healthcare.


Gin and Tonic, Imperialism, and COVID-19

Gin and Tonic is a great drink, and if you look into the history, you can see hints of the current fascination with hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug (and also a lupus drug).

The gin was used to make the tonic, quinine, more palatable.

It was invented by the British East India Company, one of the early capitalist imperialist ventures, to give to crew, so they wouldn’t suffer malaria, as they entered and exploited India.

So, the drug was used as a prophylactic, to prevent malaria. Imagine how powerful they felt, drunk on gin and tonic, watching as the colonized people died.


How Long Does SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) Last on Surfaces

In the next “normal”, we’ll have fewer plastic and steel surfaces. That’s my prediction.

Coronavirus can live a long time, upwards of five days, on these smooth surfaces, but loses viability over one or two days when it’s landed on a cardboard or copper surface.

It’s been shown that wooden cutting boards can kill bacteria. Perhaps the same is true of viruses.

The twist on this is that wooden furniture probably behaves more like plastic than wood, because it’s all painted with plastic.

Copper is tricky, because it’s naturally toxic. It’s used in pools to kill viruses and algae. It’s also harmful to people, in large amounts. Despite this, we might see a rise of bare copper surfaces for door knobs, handles, and other surfaces.


How Long COVID-19 Coronavirus Stays on Surfaces

Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1

Cutting Boards of Plastic and Wood Contaminated Experimentally with Bacteria


Village Scale Epidemic Management in Japan

This paper has influenced me during this COVID-19 pandemic. It breaks past the idea of looking at epidemic policy narrowly, through the lens of science and government, but with a broader view that includes “natural, social and economic factors.”

Smallpox and the Epidemiological Heritage of Modern Japan: Towards a Total History

The TL;DR: in Japan, smallpox response was structured around the village and family, creating cultural changes that persisted into feudalism and into the modern era, when it was displaced by a more centralized response to cholera.

The paper takes as its inspiration, Contagion and the State by Peter Baldwin.

This is an NHK video of a festival they do in Kyoto to ward off pestilence. Click on the photo for a video.

Photo: NHK

Archive Posts

First COVID-19 Post

I’ve been obsessed with it for over a month. I’ll be copying things from my Facebook feed here, and going back in time to find early posts.

This document shows some plots of the daily numbers coming out of Los Angeles County.

The news is both bad, and good. It’s terrible that we’re nearly at 10,000 cases. It’s good that our cases-per-day is increasing slower than it did in the recent past.

I’ll take this as a sign that shelter-at-home and masking up is helping.

Some people have claimed that may people are not sheltering at home. While I can see that as a possibility, I don’t think it’s the case, because we’ve experienced significantly improved air quality, and faster-flowing traffic.

Many people aren’t going to work. Many businesses are shut down.

Infections typically spread at work.

The Future

Deaths-per-day are still increasing. Deaths follow the progress of the disease, and at the end, some people die.


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