What Seems Likely on 3 April 2020

2020-04-02 11.14.29

Day 21 for our lockdown.

Lots of ups and downs this week. Two good days of workouts has me feeling like I’m making progress.

Home School – I’m going to keep what’s useful (a daily schedule) and let go of the rest.

Our seven-year LOVES seeing daily videos from her friends on Flipgrid. If you’re isolated then create a group and share short daily videos. It will make you happy.

All our kids love their morning meeting on Zoom. You could create something similar with your pals. A quick check in.

People are writing our kids back => so great. Thank you for your letters.

I’m going to pull the plug for the weekend, again. How often are you reseting your mind?

2020-04-02 19.33.47

Thanks to the friends who reached out in the last 24 hours. Lots of good ideas were shared. Here’s a mash-up of the best stuff I came across.

Consider a three-stage progression:

Phase One / Current – we’ll move towards widespread lockdown to get the first wave under control. This is going to create a massive economic contraction, far worse than anyone is expecting.

We will see contractions in counterintuitive ways. It is going to be surprising.

For example, my medical mentor is seeing layoffs in his field. To me, this is really surprising.

Isn’t there a shortage? Yes, in hotspots but…

…think what happens when a local government mandates every medical facility cease elective and non-urgent surgeries in advance of an outbreak. Your state’s “success” with the virus punches a huge hole in the finances of your hospitals. Hospitals are huge fixed cost businesses, with a lot of operational leverage.

Go the next step, what happens when the highest paid people in your community see their peers getting laid off? Massive contraction in luxury and discretionary spending.

I think high-end real estate, hotels and services are toast, for a while.

“Don’t fire me” => I’ll take a pay cut.

The protected class are going to be asking for massive paycuts, rather than getting fired (and losing their family’s health insurance). The American healthcare system works great for the elite, until it doesn’t.

Phase Two / Transition – Frontline clinicians develop effective, rapid treatment protocols.

Combine with widespread testing and contact tracing (made easier by the global unemployed being ready for government work, and health insurance coverage).

Testing focuses on those in contact with risk-populations and those with potential to be super-spreaders.

Who are potential super-spreaders and where are the super-spreading events?

  1. People who interact with at-risk populations
  2. Kids => school is not coming back any time soon
  3. Team sports, particularly those with contact
  4. Large gatherings => religious services, sports events, concerts, schools, universities
  5. Politicians => Colorado’s mail in ballot system goes nationwide
  6. First responders
  7. The jet-set and any entity with a private jet
  8. What am I missing? Share back to me.

We are seeing states establishing in-bound quarantine rules => 14-days right now.

This is going to spread because the economic harm from a handful of positives arriving (in this period) far outweighs the benefits from freedom of movement.

What seemed like an unreasonable constraint on liberty in March, will be demanded by many in the near future => even radical libertarians will want to get their factories open.

In this phase we will learn about reinfection, if antibodies convey immunity, if gradual herd immunity is a viable strategy, what COVID-19 infection does to the body/organs/brain.

To selectively quarantine, we will need to break into smaller entities. The US is set up for this with county/state government and health authorities.

I think this period will be a lousy time to be living in a mega-city => maybe that’s why smart pals immediately left NYC?

Inter-state commerce already has a port-of-entry system for the highways. Most of the US has the ability to self-quarantine into 5-10 million population city-states.

Smart local authorities will set circuit breakers for future lockdowns. See what Singapore is doing in April. Singapore’s follow-on lockdown implies a circuit breaker at 1 daily infection per 100,000 citizens. Yesterday, Colorado was ~7x that rate and locked down.


If the above happens then we will have wasted the financial support to the airline corporations. The corporations are toast because we are going to need to put them out of business for a while. We will need to support, then redirect, their employees (and many other employees). Note, the planes will get going, with different owners, in Phase Three.

Open borders are toast in this phase.

At-risk populations are probably going to want some sort of lockdown for the duration of Phase One & Two. Individual 12-18 month hard lockdown is misery.

What’s the optimal size of the bubble? What’s the optimal strength of the lockdown?

Becoming robust for Phase Two:

  1. Expect you will be unemployed at least once
  2. Create a plan for cash flow through Christmas 2021
  3. Have supplies on hand for a surprise 28-day hard quarantine
  4. What am I missing? Share back to me

Phase Three / Exit – vaccine, herd immunity or some other development gets us back to an unknowable new-normal.

There’s going to be a strong argument for getting rid of many aspect of globalization going forward. Here’s John Gray on a post-COVID world.

2020-04-03 09.36.20

Let’s end with some good news => The Brits built a 4,000 bed hospital in 9 days, Nightingale. Truly impressive.