Quote of the day—Hannah Furfaro

People will remain at risk until most are immune to the virus either through vaccination or extensive community spread, said Yonatan Grad, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Without a vaccine, the end of the pandemic here could go like this: aggressive social distancing will help flatten the number of infected at any given time, but to prevent a serious reemergence, widespread testing is needed to detect those who have the virus, and those who are immune. Government officials will need to get serious about tracing who has come into contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the disease, Grad said. Once the virus is under control, he added, officials should attempt to keep infected people elsewhere from bringing the coronavirus back to Washington.

Hannah Furfaro
April 8, 2020
Coronavirus has closed Washington’s schools, at least through summer. When will it be safe to return?
[There are predictions the peak in resource use and daily deaths will in less than a week. But that assumes “full social distancing through May 2020”.

I don’t see May being a time we can return to normal. “Normal” will not return until there is a vaccine or herd immunity. Even then, because of our prolonged work from home and social distancing we will have made drastic changes in our society. I expect many companies will shed major portions of their office space. I expect schools will have made significant migration to online teaching.

I see some of this as a very good thing. For many jobs the office space and commuting in a era of high speed digital communications is a waste of resources. Imagine the time, fuel, construction materials, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, water, sewer, trash, and transportation bandwidth saved without there being “the office” to go to.

There will be a component of individual responsibility take place that I see as good as well. The need to be “in the city” will dramatically decrease. This will change the demographics and the politics of the nation and the world.

I see the loss of a major portion of the restaurants and small shops in our future. Large retailers will survive only because of their online sales. If something can be sold online and delivered in a small vehicles by one person who drops a package at your door there will be very few local shops which carry it. Items which need special handling such as perishable foods will be the partial exceptions.

We live in interesting times.—Joe]


24 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Hannah Furfaro

  1. It turns out that the company I use to work for use to have office space outside of the city and they paid very little for it. It wasn’t a pretty space. It was the sort of place you expect to find computer nerds working away. A couple of office rooms divided into cubicles.

    About 7 years ago they moved into a beautiful office space in a converted mill building. Huge 20-30 ft ceilings. Newly installed polished hardwood floors, walls either original brickwork or wainscotted hardwood over sheet rock. Exposed internals of the old mill line shafts.

    It is beautiful…

    And the company uses about 30% of the space. All of the developers are clustered in one area, about 900 sq feet. The boss has his office space of about 200 sq feet. A part time person uses another 100sq foot space. Everything else in this > 2000 sq foot office space is nominally unused.

    A few years ago I worked with a distributed team of developers. Once a month we would rent office space in a local city area. The office space came with good wifi, teleconferencing equipment, your choice in conference rooms and a private office and a cube farm. It cost maybe $100 for the full day. We brought our laptops in, set up and went to work.

    If we had client meetings they would be scheduled for that day. If we had a need to meet clients outside of that day, we would either rent a conference room plus private office space for $25/day or meet at their location.

    Much of what we use office space for today is met and greet of clients and for team building. There are ways to do this without needing to commute to an office.

    I can easily see some of these office spaces becoming day rentals instead of long term leases and an entire community growing up with VoIP in their homes working from home.

  2. There will be many unintended consequences, yet I agree that some of the changes could be really good – remote learning and work. I also think that we will see the rise of mom and pop manufacturing.

    In the near term what I worry about most is the global supply chain and inflation. Shortages are popping up everywhere. Even farmers are having difficulty getting feed and supplies (I had to pay $35 for a 40-pound bag of corn).

  3. For office work: until disaggregated companies show they are innovative leaders the old legacy companies will insist on asses-in-seat offices. I had this conversation a few days ago and several Directors were insistent on the collaborative gains if colocation. Over half of our team is remote or traveling at any given time so this assertion is questionable.
    For specific items: I see that already. No moon clips, anything other than a value item needs to be ordered. All local car stores only have the cheapest tool and can order things for you.
    For living and food: I doubt this will trigger a regional living and food/mfg movement. City Planners are still in love with dense cities with public transport. This feeds into local entertainment, and local biz insisting on the city/downtown model, etc. This is ironic since people “choose” to travel for work many hours daily, but insist their weekend entertainment is local. But maybe the “8 minute” neighborhood movement will overcome this.

  4. I’ve seen a lot of people enjoying the fact they’re mostly home with their loved ones and neighborhood. Sort of a return to community. I wonder if that’ll last or if many folks will want to rejoin the rat race of commuting. I’m not sure yet.
    If most want to continue their new lives, that trickles down to those who do have to commute, like shop workers, construction, etc. Into easier lives. Less traffic, less time on road and all the perks that come with it. Time will tell, but I’m holding out hope.

    Only traffic jams I’ve had are wreck and construction related. I prefer that to the rat race.

    • If there are three words that I NEVER want to hear again, they are “work from home.”

      I thought there was supposed to be some kind of Geneva convention or something…

  5. I think ”normal” will return much faster than most people think, once HCQ+zinc+Z-Pak is a recognized and readily available as an out-patient early treatment for the disease. Suddenly a diagnosis isn’t a scary thing, it’s a “take these $5 pills and some vitamins, get some sleep, and stay at home for a week to be sure” thing.

    But the PTB are resisting that with all their might, trying to tank the economy and destroy Trump and lower the population – Dr Fauci is deep state, a friend of Bill Gate’s dad, and some other “population lowering eugenics” sorts of people, including the Clinton’s. A return to normal is the very last thing they want.

    On a personal note, I expect there will be large changes in education in some places, and nearly none in others, depending on local situations. I’m hoping that mass public education gets a serious shake-up.

  6. Of course what is said in the quote is true of any and all communicable infections ever.

    I see this rather differently. I see it as a Big Hope, or wet dream, of authoritarians. Note for example that the quote focuses on what “government authorities” can do. The repercussions from this event will be with us from now on, into perpetuity.

    As for on-line sales; there is a lot more packaging taking place. Certainly the corrugated paper box and packaging materials makers and distributors will flourish. I don’t see immediately that this is more efficient, as it’s mainly shifting the distribution from individuals to the commercial carriers.

    Contrast this with the HIV issue; it was the first virus to acquire civil rights, as Rush Limbaugh pointed out this morning. COVID will have been the first virus to have world-wide, legislative backing. It will result, has resulted, in permanent extra government powers.

    Look for the Greta Thunbergs, the Algores, and the pope to parlay this also into a global climate issue. They’ll be pointing out how the shutdowns have improved the global climate prospects. This will further the already popular notion that human activity, particularly human liberty, is bad for the planet.

    I see this all this as just another step, in a long line of steps, toward a global, church/state, fascistic system.

    Also regarding the sewers you mention; you poop and pee, it would seem to me, approximately the same amount regardless of where you are (allowing for the possibility that some people eat and drink differently in various settings). Shifting the same flow from one point to another doesn’t seem to me to fit the description of altering the “bandwidth”. On the other hand, eliminating office buildings would certainly reduce the “available sewer bandwidth”. Maybe that’s what you mean; right now you have your dwelling sewer system and the office building sewer system. Eliminate the office building altogether and you’ve reduced the “available sewer bandwidth”.

    However; as fun as it may be to think of these things, purely for the mental exercise, let’s be careful that we don’t consider humanity in the same way that a rancher considers his cattle, or a gardener his garden.

    Central planning is for hive insects. People are created with free will, even though it means that your free will may inadvertently make someone else uncomfortable, angry, or even sick.

    We’re also enjoined to be thoughtful of others, and so free will goes hand-in-hand with “love thy neighbor”.

    I don’t find coercion anywhere in the formula, but that’s where we’re heading, and for that trend there’s no change in sight.

    • Both the office sewer and water supply have to be sized for peak capacity. If you reduce the peak needs at the office you have reduced the construction and maintenance costs of that piece of infrastructure.

      The company owners and managers will do this on their own without any coercion from the government. Over the last 10 years this happened to Barb’s company (insurance). They eliminated several floors of office space in downtown Seattle because after a few people worked from home there was less advantage for their coworkers to go into the office. It became a positive feedback loop and mid-March the everyone began working from home with no apparent ill effect on company productivity or product quality. The company has become a distributed system with only data systems somewhat centralized (although I suspect they are at least partially distributed). This is far more reliable and fault tolerant than the central office building model.

      One might even view this as an anti-fragile response to stress. And happened completely independent of any government force. I see the implications for government control as just the opposite of your vision. With less physical real estate anchoring a company to a particular geographical location the government entities have less control over, or even insight, into the company. The company can “move” to a friendlier location with far less effort should a different government jurisdiction offer lower taxes and/or fewer regulations.

      • I would add that state and local governments are going to shortly find their checkbooks are empty. And it will be difficult for them to raise taxes when few are working. I’m sure that they will scream and holler for relief, but I expect (hope) they have some hard decisions ahead.

        And when you think about it work at home and distance learning should be a lot less expensive, so how will they justify business as usual and their need for more and more money?

        As I said unintended consequences abound in this environment. I hope that I’m not disappointed.

        • I was wrong. Today, I see that the Fed has announced a $2.3T ‘loan’ program that will include a ‘loan’ program for local and state governments so they can continue business as usual.

          So they get ‘loans’ that will never be paid back. How do you spell hyperinflation? Will food and bullets become more valuable than dollars?

          As for forecasting never underestimate the ingenuity of man.

          • Food, fuel, bullets, cigarettes, and the smaller bottles of whiskey, etc., and silver dimes and quarters. After forty years, all those preppers may finally be vindicated.

  7. You’ll know this has really taken off when new construction has home-office/home-schooling architectural features. That is, it is assumed that for each Master bedroom, there would be two home-offices (smaller rooms with door that close, without closets), and regular bedrooms would have a home-schooling nook. Combined with primarily distributed companies and online schooling option that get the kids out of the 19th century education-is-a-factory model, there is absolutely no reason to even be in a dense urban area.

    Separate from that idea, I was reading some time ago about how single engineers in Silicon Valley were essentially living in their cars because even on a ridiculous salary, the housing prices were even more ridiculous. So I go looking at Class A Motorhomes, like the Thor Tuscany or the Fleetwood Discovery LXE. Yes $440K to $505K, for the 45′ models, before you start adding on, but consider the opportunity: These single engineers can afford that price point. Offer a model/layout optimized as single or double occupant bedroom/bathroom/kitchen/dining/home offices, and assume a tow-trailer for a car or other run-about conveyance. Then you just need a footprint to park it in that provides, water, sewer, power, hardwired internet service, maybe propane.

    Class A motorhome might be too much: what if one had a residential trailer pretty much made on a 40′ 18-wheeler trailer frame, and if it needs to be moved, hire a trucker to bring his rig and move it. In any event, one would be completely mobile, and this doesn’t have to be the trailer-park of yore. In any case, as long as a market exists from such conveniences, when you’re done with the single life and it’s time to get into a house outside the city to do the family and kids stuff, you could sell it to the next single engineer for 60% and use that as a downpayment someplay where $300K buys you a bigass house on a big plot of land and polite neighbors outside of shouting distance.

  8. As an aside, has anyone looked at or determined why people with “natural immunity” are immune and what we can learn from them? Jus’ askin’ . . .

    • Yes, but I don’t really know significant details. I know blood type is associated with differences in response. Type A is most affected and type O the least. I’m certain there are a lot of people running the multivariable analysis to see what else pops out as an indicator.

  9. It may not be ‘natural immunity’, it may be COVID was circulating a LOT earlier than January but it was just ‘a nasty case of flu’.. A few months ago I spent the evening shivering in my bed (under three blankets) with a fever but it broke during the night and I was back to work the next day with normal temps. Not usual for me so I remember the event.

    My HR lady confirmed my gut feel, I take about 1 day a year of sick time and I can’t remember when I last got the annual flu even without being vaccinated each year.

    No way to really know if it was COVID or something else until they start wide-scale antibody testing.

    • There are two strains (at least) of the coronavirus. An L strain and an S strain. I think it’s the L strain that is the one that kills people.

        • Don’t you miss me Joe? LOL! I think I posted and followed you for about 7 years. That’s a long time — but I got to really understand the gun crowd.

          I forgot my handle. ub52 popped up when I went to post so I used it.

          How are things going? I came back to see how the libertarians were doing with the “stay home” measures that are in place now.

          • I did miss you! But more than anything I worried that someone was too harsh with you in the comments and you decided the abuse wasn’t worth whatever enjoyment (?) you obtained from your visits here.

            If you don’t mind I will change the handle you used with the most recent comments to “ubu52”. That will preserve your comment counter instead of you starting over.

            I’m doing great! My job is very secure. We have lots of food stashed away (the canned tuna was past its expiration date and didn’t taste right so we did have to throw it away). My home work environment is better than my office work environment. I don’t have to socialize with nearly as many people. My kids, including my step children, are all safe. If it weren’t for all the people dying and the economic disaster I’d prefer this to be the normal. There is the issue of I haven’t been to Idaho to visit my family there since January. And I haven’t been to the range since February. But other than that things are good for me.

            And you?

  10. Lots of things will fall out of this. Some good, some bad.
    On the plus side, centralized offices and the cities they exist in are going to take a hit. It’s also possible, there will be a lot more home schooling and distance learning thus breaking up a key element of communist influence. Depending on how long memory is and how fast the economic recovery is, I can see an increase in prepping. The whole episode has pretty much made Trump’s case about bringing critical manufacturing home. Of course, this will get reversed as soon as Democrats or big corporations manage to seize power again. I don’t know how facial recognition works with everyone wearing masks. Right now, it is either utilitarian masks or goofy makeshifts but I look for an explosion in fashion masks like Carnival in Venice.

    On the minus side, non-chain restaurants are screwed. Not only will this enhance bigness, it will advantage fast food over real food. Small retailers are going to take a hit but not as bad as restaurants. This could be ameliorated by prohibiting the collection of sales tax for on-line sales. It is basically impossible for small outfits to comply with tax laws in thousands of jurisdictions thus driving them into the arms of the Amazons of the world. The tech oligarchs will roll on unchecked. Electronic surveillance will increase. It has been a long-term wet dream of the Left to restrict movement of the peasants. I think this is the motivation behind the global warming issue but now they have another way to do it that is more plausible to people. There has been discussion that the epidemic lockdowns are a test-run for a “climate emergency” lockdown. I don’t think it will change the behavior of the Left. We have known they are totalitarians for a long time and they aren’t going to change. But you can bet that they are most interested in the reaction of the general public re compliance. They may be right but even they aren’t, it increases the odds for a fatal miscalculation and brings us closer to civil war.

  11. Lots of great stuff here. A few more observations.
    Home schooling — lots of people are getting exposed to it, without having intended to do so, for the first time. A fraction of them will like it enough to stay with it. I wonder how large a fraction.
    Food supply chain — the US seems to be in good shape here. Other countries maybe not so much. The WSJ today had an article about India, where fully 1/2 of the countries works on growing, transporting, and selling food, through well over 1 million tiny stores and vast amounts of unskilled human labor. Some of that labor is not showing up. Some of the trucks needed to carry the food aren’t running, or are hassled enough by police (wtfo?) that the truckers simply abandon them on the road. I have no idea how fragile that system is, or how close to chain reaction collapse. If it did collapse the calamity could be vastly worse than the Black Death.

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