17 Mar A COVID-19 Message from Bert’s Son, Webmaster, and Sailing Padawan Apprentice.
A COVID-19 Message from Bert’s Son, Webmaster, and Sailing Padawan Apprentice.
Do it now. Not later. Tomorrow is already too late.
That is the advice my father has taught me my entire life. The situation didn’t matter, be it at home, at sail, or anything else. Get your assignments done now, and have more time to make it perfect. When you’re at sea you have to do everything now. I learned early that taking a sail down, before it gets out of control reduces the effort required by its square. Start cooking now, before your forced to stay above deck for the rest of the day, and you go hungry. Make weather decisions early, as soon as you get the forecast. Change the heading now, before you’re stuck in the storm without options. In flight training hesitating before making a decision, especially a meteorological decision, can be the difference between your passengers life or death. Land under control, before you crash out of control, or even better decide not to take-off at all.
Bert wanted me to share the following post that was originally written by Jason Warner, the chemical engineer and business executive. It explains COVID-19 by the numbers, and why it is important to make a plan now and take action now. Tomorrow may very well be too late:
“This is a long post addressing two underlying issues with the current
response to the pandemic that leaves me concerned. It’s the longest post
I’ve ever written.
For those of you not taking action, or believing the pandemic to be
“overhyped”, you can make fun of me as much as you want now or when this is
over. You can make me the subject of memes and post it everywhere. I will
pose for the picture. I am not trying to convince you, but I do feel
compelled to share information that I deem critical to all of us, which is
why I am posting this at all.
*WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE 5 MINUTES TO READ AND CONSIDER THE INFORMATION I AM
As of 3/15/20 at 9 am PST this post has been shared over 50k times since it
was posted 2 days ago. So a lot of people find value in the post and
although it’s a long read, I believe you will find this information
For those of you who don’t know me well, I am analytical and metered. I
don’t freak out nor do I respond emotionally. I also don’t post a bunch of
b******* or political or controversial stuff on Facebook. I founded and am
CEO of a successful software company that provides SaaS-based data,
analytics, and dashboards to recruiting departments at companies we all
know. As you would expect, I am data-driven and fact-based. Before founding
my company I held executive roles leading very large recruiting teams at
some of the world’s fastest-growing companies such as Starbucks and Google.
At Google, I was fortunate enough to report to Sheryl Sandberg before she
took the Facebook COO role. I was a Chemical Engineering major in college
and have a business degree from a top undergraduate business school. I am
not one for hyperbole or histrionics. *My b******* factor is close to zero.*
I share all this personal information only to help solidify that this post
may be worth reading and sharing with others. I would encourage you to
forward or share this post at your discretion. Many people do not
understand what is happening with the pandemic to the degree required which
is why I took the time to write this and share this on Facebook.
Now that I’ve gotten the introduction out of the way, here are two issues I
want to bring to everyone’s attention.
*ISSUE ONE: SOCIAL NORMS ARE POWERFUL MOTIVATORS AND GETTING IN THE WAY OF
PEOPLE TAKING THE RIGHT STEPS IN RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC:*
One of the current problems with addressing the pandemic is the social
pressures of taking action today. It’s awkward and feels like an
over-reaction. The reason it feels like an overreaction is that most people
OVERWEIGHT the currently reported cases and inherently UNDERWEIGHT the
mathematics of how the virus is spreading and what will happen in about 30
days time. This is because our brains tend to think linearly as opposed to
logarithmically. It’s the same reason many people don’t save for retirement
or understand compound interest.
To create a new social norm, human beings like to see behavior modeled.
This serves as a signal that says, “oh, someone else is doing it so I
should do it also.”
*SO HERE IS A SOCIAL BENCHMARK FOR REFERENCE — THIS IS WHAT I’VE DONE FOR
MY FAMILY TO DATE:*
I have already isolated my family. We have canceled EVERYTHING. We have
canceled previously scheduled doctor visits. Social get-togethers. No
playdates. Normal routine meetings. Everything has been canceled. It’s
difficult and socially awkward. Some of you think I’m crazy, but I’m doing
it not because I am afraid, but because I am good at math (more on that in
part 2). I had to have my 16-year-old daughter quit her job coaching junior
gymnasts at the local gym, with one day’s notice and also tell my kids they
can’t attend the youth group at church. Both of those were tough
discussions. I told a very close friend he shouldn’t stay at my house this
weekend even though he was planning to and had booked his flight from the
Bay Area. I canceled another dear friend’s visit for later this month to go
snowboarding on Mt Bachelor.
We are not eating out. Our kids are already doing online school so we don’t
have to make changes there. I would not send my kids to school even if they
were in public or private schools. We have eliminated all non-essential
contact with other people. We will only venture out to grocery shop when
required. We will still go outside to parks, go mountain biking, hiking,
and recreate to keep ourselves sane and do other things as a family, just
not with other people. We have stocked up on food and have a supply for ~2
months. We have stocked up on other goods that if depleted would create a
hardship, like medicines and feminine hygiene products. We have planned for
shortages of essential items.
*THE REASON I HAVE CHOSEN THIS ROUTE FOR MY FAMILY IS MULTI-FACETED:*
1. Although my family is considered low risk (I’m 49 in good health, Angi
is 46 and in good health, and our kids are 14 and 16), *we must assume that
the healthcare system cannot help us because the hospitals will become
overwhelmed very quickly.* *Most American hospitals will become overwhelmed
in approximately 30 days unless something changes.* More on this in part 2
below. So although we are in great health and unlikely to become gravely
ill, the risk is greater if you do not have access to the medical care that
you need. This is something for everyone to consider. As a society, we are
accustomed to having access to the best medical care available. Our medical
system will be overwhelmed unless we practice social distancing at scale.
That said, the medical teams in Italy are seeing an alarming number of
cases from people in their 40s and 50s. Triage tents are already going up
in the parking lots at many hospitals close to the epicenters in the United
2. *It’s not a matter of if social distancing will take place, it’s a
matter of when.* This is because social distancing is the only way to stop
the virus today.
As I will explain in part 2 below, *starting now is FAR more effective than
starting even 2 days from now or tomorrow. *This has been proven by Italy
and China (and soon to be France and other European countries who have been
slow to respond.) [updated as of 3/14 France is now on lockdown mandated by
the government]. Wuhan went on lockdown after roughly 400 cases were
identified (and they had access to testing that America has systematically
failed to do well to date). The US already has more than 4 times this
number of known infected cases as Wuhan did when it was shut down, and our
citizens are far more mobile and therefore spreading the virus more broadly
when compared to Wuhan. Yet our response is tepid at best.
*If hand washing and “being smart” were sufficient Italy would not be in
crisis. *So I pray the draconian measures are coming from our government
because they are required to stop the spread of the virus. It’s better to
start sooner than later as the cost is actually far greater if we wait. I
pray they close all schools and non-essential services the way that Italy
and China have done.
3. *Spreading the virus puts those in the high-risk category at much
greater risk. This is a moral argument.* It’s a strong argument because
there are only two ways, as of today, that the virus can be stopped: let it
run its course and infect 100s of millions of people or social distancing.
There is no other way today. If you don’t practice social distancing,
people downstream from you that you transmit the virus to will die, and
many will suffer.
4. *The risk of infection is increasing exponentially, because the quantity
of infected people, most who will not show symptoms, is doubling every
three days. *So the longer you wait to self-isolate, the greater the chance
of you or someone you love becoming infected and then you infecting others
because more of the population is becoming infected. There are twice as
many infected people today as there was on Tuesday.
5. *The virus is already in your town. It’s everywhere. *Cases are
typically only discovered when someone gets sick enough to seek medical
attention. This is important as it typically takes ~5 days to START showing
ANY symptoms. Here’s the math: For every known case there are approximately
50 unknown cases. This is because if I become sick, I infect several people
today, and they infect a few people each tomorrow (as do I), and the total
count of infected people doubles every 3 days until I get so sick I get
hospitalized or get tested and become a “known case”. But in the time it
takes me to figure out I am sick 50 others downline from me now have the
virus. So every third day the infection rate doubles until I get so sick
that I realize I have the virus an am hospitalized or otherwise tested.
Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital estimate that there are 50x more
infections than known infections as reported (citation below). The
implication of this is that the virus is already “everywhere” and spreading
regardless if your city has zero, few or many reported cases. So instead of
1573 reported known cases today there are likely 78,650 cases, at least, in
the United States. Which will double to 157,300 by this Sunday. And this
will double to 314,600 cases by this coming Wednesday. So in less than 1
week the number of total infected in the United States will quadruple. This
is the nature of exponential math. It’s actually unfortunate that we are
publishing the figures for known cases as it diverts attention away from
more important numbers (like the range of estimated actual cases). [Update
as of 3/15/20 — I’ve been sent more research that may add clarity to the
ACTUAL cases vs CONFIRMED cases and will update this post with any
6. *Some people cannot, or will not, practice social distancing for a
variety of reasons and will continue to spread the virus to many people. So
everyone else must start today.*
The reasons above are why I have begun to practice social distancing. It’s
not easy. *But you should do it too.*
The hospitals will be at capacity and there are not enough ventilators. You
will hear a lot about this issue in the coming few weeks… the shortage of
*ISSUE TWO: MANY PEOPLE ARE FOCUSED ON THE WRONG NUMBERS:*
Yes, the virus only kills a small percentage of those afflicted. Yes, the
flu kills 10s of thousands of people annually. Yes, 80% of people will
experience lightweight symptoms with COVID19. Yes the mortality rate of
COVID19 is relatively low (1–2%). All of this true, but is immaterial. They
are the wrong numbers to focus on…
The nature of exponential math is that the infection rates start slowly,
and then goes off like a bomb and overwhelms the hospitals. You will
understand this math clearly in the next section if you do the short math
exercise. Evergreen hospital in Seattle is already in triage. I have heard
credible reports from people on the ground that they are already becoming
overwhelmed. And the bomb won’t really go off for a few more days. Probably
by Wednesday, March 18th (next week). In just a few days from now, we will
hear grave reports from Seattle hospitals. [update as of 3/15/20 — see the
comments section below for an update from a staff member at Evergreen
Hospital in Kirkland, WA]
*You should assume the virus is everywhere at this point, even if you have
no confirmed cases in your area.*
*YOU SHOULD DO THIS SIMPLE 2 MINUTE MATH EXERCISE (NO REALLY TAKE TWO
MINUTES AND DO IT):*
To further understand exponential growth, take the number of confirmed
cases in your area and multiply by 10 (or 50 if you believe Harvard and
Massachusetts General estimations) to account for the cases that are not
yet confirmed. If you have no confirmed cases choose a small number. I’d
suggest 10 cases in your city, if no cases are yet reported. But you can
use whatever number you like. This number of infected people doubles every
~3 days as the infection spreads. So literally take your number, and
multiply by 2. Then do it again. Then do it again. Then do it again. Do
this multiplication exercise 10 times in total.
*2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x (the number of estimated
infections in your city today (not just the reported cases)).*
This result is the estimate for the actual cases in your area 30 days from
now. The math will take 30 seconds to complete with a calculator and it’s
worth doing the math to see how it grows. This end number is the number of
cases in your city 30 days from today if a large percentage of the
population does not practice social distancing.
2 to the 10th power is 1024. When something doubles 10 times, it’s the same
as multiplying by 1024. The infection rate of the virus doubles every 3
days. *In thirty days there will be 1,024 times the number of infected
people in your area as there is today if your community does not
immediately put social distancing into practice. One thousand and
twenty-four times as many infected people as there is today, in just 30
*Next, divide the final number (the scary big one) you just calculated by
the current population of your city and you will be able to get the
percentage of people THAT YOU KNOW PERSONALLY who will be infected 30 days
*THIS PART IS IMPORTANT: *Next, take 15% (multiply by 0.15) of that final
30-day number of total infected people (the number you calculated by
multiplying by 2 ten times). This will provide an estimate of the serious
cases which will require hospitalization, and compare it to the number of
beds and ventilators available at your local hospital. Google the “number
of beds” and the name of your local hospital now. It takes 2 seconds and
the number of beds is easy to find. 65% of beds are already occupied by
patients unrelated to the coronavirus. St Charles in Bend, Oregon where I
live, has 226 beds and the town is roughly 100,000 people. Most hospitals
have on average, 40 or fewer ventilators. 5% of patients require ICU
treatment. There are very few ICU beds compared to regular beds in
hospitals. There are very few negative pressure areas in any hospital to
deal with the containment of airborne diseases.
*These numbers you just calculated are the Big Problem: Too many patients,
not enough beds, and a serious shortage of ventilators (the biggest
problem) if we don’t immediately begin social distancing. More on this
biggest problem related to the insufficient quantity of ventilators is
*COUNTRIES AND CITIES THAT GET OVERWHELMED WILL HAVE A MUCH GREATER
MORTALITY RATE BECAUSE THEY WON’T BE ABLE TO ADEQUATELY PROVIDE MEDICAL
*And by medical care I mean not just coronavirus patients. *Your son or
daughter that needs acute care surgery this May for his badly broken leg
will be attended to by an orthopedic doctor that has been working at
maximum capacity and working 18-hour shifts for 7 days every week for 6
weeks because it was required to care for all the coronavirus patients at
her hospital. Or the orthopedic surgeon will be sick with the virus and
your son or daughter will be operated on in a tent in the hospital parking
lot by a non-expert or a member of the National Guard. Your elderly Mom
that has diabetes and goes into acute distress next month may not receive
ANY medical care because the doctors are consumed and have to prioritize
patients based on triage guidelines based on success rate probabilities.
Your sibling’s family that are all injured in a terrible car crash in June
will have diminished care. If one of them needs a ventilator there will be
none available because all of them will be in use by critical coronavirus
patients. Your young friend with cancer and a compromised immune system
from treatment will succumb even though the cancer was curable and the
treatment was working because their body was too fragile to combat the
coronavirus due to the chemotherapy and they couldn’t receive the
customized, acute care required due to the hospital being overwhelmed. All
of the above is currently happening in Italy, who had the same number of
infections we have today just 2 weeks ago. You must start social distancing
The count of actual virus infections doubles every ~3 days. The news and
government agencies are lagging in their response. So we hear that the US
only has 1573 cases today (3/12/20) [update as of 3/15/20: 3115 confirmed
cases), ( see https://www.worldometers.info/
and it doesn’t seem like a lot. It would be better to report the estimated
actual cases since reported cases don’t tell us much. However, we know from
China that the actual number of cases is at least an order of magnitude
greater than the reported cases because people get infected and do not
display symptoms. In math, an “order of magnitude” means ten times
difference, or put another way, a factor of 10. 100 is 10 times greater
than 10, so it’s an order of magnitude greater.
Harvard Medical School / Massachusetts General Hospital just released its
estimate (recording is here:
that the actual cases are 50x greater than the reported cases. So we likely
have 75,000 cases in the United States already. The number of reported
cases is not that important.
But let’s assume the current number of cases is only 10,000 ACTUAL cases in
the United States just to be conservative and model out what will happen:
*If we don’t stop the virus from spreading, in 30 days we will have 2 to
the 10th power more cases of infected people because the infection count
doubles every 3 days (the virus doubles every 3 days and there are 10, 3
day periods in 30 days).*
*This math is familiar if you did the exercise above. If not, go up and do
the math exercise.* The math: 2 to the 10th power means 1,024 times as many
cases as we have today (2 times 2 repeated 10 times).
*This number is a catastrophically big problem for all of us:* We will have
10 million+ actual cases (10,000 actual cases today x 1,024) in the United
States in just 30 days’ time if we continue without extreme social
distancing. 10 million people with the virus. And it will keep doubling
every 3 days unless we practice social distancing.
15% of cases require significant medical attention, which means that 1.5
million people will require significant medical attention if 10 million
people get infected (15% of 10 Million total infections = 1.5 million
people requiring hospitalization).
*1.5 million hospitalizations is way more than we have beds for at
hospitals in the United States. *And 65% of all beds are already occupied
in our hospitals. But many patients (5%) with the virus need ICU beds, not
just any old hospital bed. Only about 10% of hospital beds are considered
intensive care beds. So we will have a huge bed shortage, but that is not
the biggest problem, as we can erect temporary ICU shelters and bring in
more temporary beds, as Italy has already done, and California and
Washington hospitals have already done. Evergreen Hospital in Seattle has
already erected temporary triage tents in the parking lot as of 3/13/20.
All regular beds are full at Evergreen Hospital as of yesterday.
*Once the government of China, Norway, and Italy came to understand this
math, they reacted accordingly and shut EVERYTHING down.* [update as of
3/15/20 now France has done the same lockdown]. Extreme social distancing
is the only response available to stop the virus today. The United States
is not responding well nor are other countries like the UK. Countries that
do not respond well will pay a much larger, catastrophic price.
But hospital beds are not the big problem. *The lack of ventilators is the
big problem.* Most estimates peg the ventilators in the United States at
roughly 100,000 to 150,000 units. See the study from last month:
The primary and most serious comorbid (comorbid is a medical term that
means co-existing or happening at the same time) condition brought on by
the Coronavirus is something called bilateral interstitial pneumonia which
requires ventilators for the treatment of seriously ill patients. So if
1.5M people of the 10 million infected 30 days from now require hospital
care (15% of the 10M estimated total infections), 1.3M may not get the care
that they need because we don’t have enough ventilators, beds, and ICU beds
in the United States. And remember, this is only if ALL OF US EFFECTIVELY
start social distancing by April 11th (30 days from today). This increases
the mortality rate significantly.
*BUT IF WE START EXTREME SOCIAL DISTANCING BY MARCH 23 (12 days from
original writing), WE AVOID OVER 1.4 MILLION PEOPLE GETTING CRITICALLY ILL
AND OVERWHELMING THE HOSPITALS:*
If everyone takes extreme measures to social distance, and the United
States can dramatically reduce the spread of the virus 12 days from now,
the math is very different, as the exponential growth will only be 2 to the
4th power (12 days divided by the doubling rate of every 3 days equals the
exponent of 4):
*2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16*
*So instead of 10 Million cases in the United States if we wait 30 days, if
we act 18 days sooner, we will have only 160,000 cases* (16 times the
estimated 10,000 actual cases as of today), of which 15% are likely to
require hospitalization. This is 24,000 critical patients (a huge
difference compared to 1.5 million acute patients). The difference between
taking extreme measures now, versus waiting even a few days, is very large
due to how exponents work in math.
*THE OUTCOME IS EVEN BETTER IF WE TAKE ACTION IN THE NEXT 6 DAYS:* If the
vast majority of the population self isolates and implements social
distancing in only 6 days from now the exponential math is 2 to the 2nd
power (6 days divided by the 3 days it takes the virus to double means the
exponent is only 2). In math this is “two squared”.
*2 x 2 = 4*
Multiplied by the estimated 10,000 ACTUAL cases as of today (3/12/20) that
means only 40,000 total cases will develop, 15% of which may be critical
which is 6,000 critical patients.
*This is why you should share this post broadly. If people begin social
distancing in the next 6 days it will greatly reduce the impact on all of
us. It’s why they say a “post goes viral”.*
*SOCIAL DISTANCING WILL REDUCE THE FINANCIAL IMPACT TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY:*
Finally, the longer everyone waits to practice significant social
distancing the greater the economic hardship will be on all of us. Lost
jobs. Mortgage defaults. Closed businesses. Bankruptcies. All will be
minimized if you start social distancing today.
Some of the reasons the economic impacts will be reduced are worth
mentioning: If we stop the virus now the overall duration of the outbreak
will be far shorter. The stock market will normalize more quickly and
recover more quickly. Businesses and people will be able to survive a
shorter duration outbreak vs a longer duration outbreak. More companies
will avoid bankruptcy if we begin to practice social distancing now.
This is a big financial reason to begin social distancing if you are
employed by any company: if companies see that the virus is being slowed,
they will be less likely to conduct layoffs. You will be more likely to be
laid off or experience a job-related event if we don’t practice social
distancing immediately. As an HR executive, I’ve been involved in many,
many layoffs. It’s the last thing companies want to do. But if they see
that the pandemic will be shorter-lived vs long and drawn out, they are
less likely to make the permanent decision of laying off staff.
The overall economic impact that hits your bank account will be greater if
you wait or you don’t practice social distancing. This is why Norway acted
now, because it’s less economic impact to take drastic measures early than
to do them later, and it saves a lot of lives and suffering by doing so.
And Norway has only one confirmed death as of this writing.
Many people have suggested they want to support local restaurants and other
businesses, who have seen sales drop by 50–90%. Stopping by and visiting
them won’t save them. What will save them is social distancing and what you
do after the pandemic is over? If you are concerned, call them and buy a
gift certificate over the phone.
*START TODAY. I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH. YOU MUST START TODAY.*
Finally, the article that I posted yesterday written by Tomas Pueyo has
been read 30M times in the last few days and has been updated with new
information. It’s worth reading again.
Here’s that link:
Other up to date data I frequently consult regarding the pandemic is here:
I hope this is helpful and useful. My brain focuses on the math and I try
and be fact-based in my analysis and interpretation of how I should respond.
*THERE IS MORE INFORMATION IN THE COMMENTS ON **THE FACEBOOK POST*
READING AND I WILL BE UPDATING THAT POST, AND THE COMMENTS, WITH MORE
INFORMATION, (AS OPPOSED TO CREATING NEW POSTS).*
*MY FINAL PARTING THOUGHT:* *Please share or forward this post at your
discretion. If everyone shares this post and two of your friends share this
post and so on, we use the power of exponential math to work in our favor,
which seems appropriate given the virus is using that same exponential math
HOW YOU CAN REALLY HELP: If you know people who have large numbers of
followers, or people in the media, please leverage your personal
relationship with them and ask them to amplify this post by sharing it.
It would be useful to get the post on Twitter and LinkedIn. If you know
people in government this fact-based post may help inform them to make the
best decisions. *I am not active on Twitter.*
*It’s time for us humans to go on the offensive against the virus.* We must
*There is only one way to do so:* *Social Distancing.*
*Do it today.*
*NOTE: Anyone, including the media, is free to use this post, any related
content, in all or in part, for any purpose, in any format, with no
attribution required. Please direct message me if you have other ideas for
how to raise awareness.*”
Bert is still on his adventure amidst all of this.
Follow my track in real-time via: https://bit.ly/svseaburban