Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: March 9, 2020

10 03 2020

The Proposed Payroll Tax Relief – This is NOT a Good Idea

Trump is proposing a payroll tax relief to help people.  Right now, your payroll tax is 6.2%, which means for every $100 you make, you are paying $6.20.   Barclay’s economist Michael Gapen said that it would likely be something that Obama did by reducing the payroll tax to 4.2%, which means for every $100 you make, you would only pay $4.20, which only gives you $2.00 extra per $100 you make.  If you only make $1000 a month, you would get $20.00 a month extra.  If milk cost $5.00 a gallon (it’s cheaper usually but just to give you an idea), you could buy 4 extra gallon of milk a month, or maybe one prescription medication if your copay is $20.00.  Breadcrumbs for the poor if they are still employed when this happens. 

But here is the kicker-in-your-ass:  “A temporary cut in the payroll tax can help workers who are still drawing a paycheck, but if you’re idled due to the virus and don’t have paid leave, it doesn’t help you,” he said. 

If you start hearing THIS is the plan they are going to choose to offer to the masses, you get on the phone and call your senators and representatives immediately.  Other economists are recommending that Congress that for the short-term to aid those affected by the virus, they could help defray the health care costs of those infected and also reducing the Social Security payroll tax for all workers.  That might have been a good idea though before they decided to allow corporations to pay zero taxes and now the GOP are back on their policy of cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.  But once again, if they decide to reduce the Social Security payroll tax for all workers, it assumes you are working which you might not be if you lose your job because 1) the business had to cut back or went under because people were too scared to go out in public and spend money and 2) you haven’t been asked to self-quarantine you and/or your family.  If you are a gig worker, like an Uber or Lyft driver you wouldn’t qualify for this program either.  If you are retired, this won’t help you either because you don’t get a paycheck anymore. 

But let’s also remember that through the GOP tax bill, in 2019 anyone making $30,000 or under will have had your wages taxed at a higher rate, which might be a big surprise to you when you file your tax return and your amount was less than last year.  Don’t worry people making $40,000 or under in 2021, you’ll have to pay more taxes on your income in 2021 which you’ll discover when you file those taxes April 2022.  And remember how many corporations who supposedly got a tax break that said they would pay 15% of their profits only paid….ZERO.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention submitted a plan that they wanted to recommend that the elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of COVID-19.   White House officials ordered the air travel recommendation be removed.  An official with direct knowledge of the plan who then spoke to the news.  This is the reason why they wanted all statements to go through them so they could decide what is told to the public and what is not.  Instead, they suggested that certain people should consider not traveling, but have stopped short of the guidance sought by the CDC.  And they wonder why they are having a crisis in credibility which spills over to the stock market.  It makes you wonder what else they are not telling us. 


As of 1:13 a.m. ET on March 10, 2020, 114,100 people were confirmed positive worldwide with 4020 people having died; all but 884 people died from the mainland China totals.  It is affecting 102 countries now. 

Some excellent news from China, though.  For the third day in a row their number of newly positive testing has diminished.  Between March 9 and March 10, there were only 19 new cases.  Italy has now taken the number 2 spot which had been held by South Korea. 

In sad news, Germany is reporting their first 2 deaths and Canada their first death.

New countries on our list today are Albania, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Cyprus, and Mongolia. 

All countries are still reporting new positive testing (but these countries have remained the same in the last 24 hours, which again, does not necessarily mean that they have hit their peak but rather they either don’t have enough kits or are waiting for results or have logistical issues that is not allowing them to test:   Afghanistan, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greece, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, U.A.E., Ukraine, Vatican City, Vietnam, West Bank & Gaza. 

The United States, as of 1:13 a.m. on March 10, 2020, had 729 confirmed cases with sadly 26 deaths.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Update: March 8, 2020

9 03 2020

Updated Totals

I am short on time today.  Maybe I will do a double blog on Monday because there is a lot of ground to cover. 

COVID-19 is now being reported in 97 countries.  In the US, at 12:10 a.m. ET on March 9, 2020, there are 545 confirmed cases in the United States with sadly 22 deaths.  Don’t be surprised in the weeks to come that the numbers will go up, but that doesn’t mean that all of it are new people getting infected; as testing occurs, and only the sickest people are going to be tested until more tests can be made, it is going to appear that there is a high mortality rate.  You can’t extrapolate real percentages when real numbers are not known.  You have to get a large enough sample size of how many people were tested, how many were negative, and how many were positive to get any clear idea of percentages.  For example, there have been 109,900 cases confirmed worldwide at this time but as China is beginning to stabilize some (only 83 new confirmed cases between the 3/8 and 3/9 totals), things are going up in most of all the other 96 countries.  There have been 3825 deaths and all but 706 of them were in mainland China.  In China, there have been 80,734 confirmed cases with 3119 deaths.  That leads to a 0.038% mortality rate.  But in smaller populated countries, the mortality rate could be much lower when this is all over.    

US map:

All countries who have confirmed cases increased their number of confirmed cases with the exception of these countries who have had no new confirmed cases in 24 hours (which does not mean the virus is finished):  Andorra, Belarus, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, Gibraltar, Iceland, Jordan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macau, Monaco, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia. U.A.E., Ukraine, West Bank and Gaza. 

Egypt and Argentina have reported their first deaths respectively. 

Countries reporting confirmed cases and who were not previously on the list are:   Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Faroe Islands, Maldives, Moldova, and Vatican City.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: March 5, 2020

6 03 2020


My thoughts for a blog post in the morning always change by the evening.  Today I learned that three individuals who traveled to Egypt together, that the two in Harris County [Houston] who live in an unincorporated northwest area of Harris County, have had positive tests for COVID-19 and the one in Fort Bend County (which is southwest of downtown Houston in a suburb called Stafford) was presumptively positive.  One of the Harris County travelers was a professor from Rice University.  She had come into limited contact with an employee on February 24-25.  Fourteen Rice doctoral students, faculty and staff have been in self-quarantine away from campus.  None of those individuals have reported symptoms.  Potential contacts of the man from Stafford are being notified and being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.   The only callers coming into the screening line in Stafford being referred for testing were those who were sick enough to go to a hospital and who had either come into contact with someone confirmed to have coronavirus or who had also traveled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea.   People in area didn’t seem rattled by the news. 

The University of Houston announced that it requires students or staff returning from travel to countries under a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 travel warning related to coronavirus to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days away from campus.  Two faculty members and four students from the University of Houston are under a 14-day self-quarantine after returning from Italy and South Korea.

The Houston Health Department laboratory is now conducting COVID-19 testing for specimens collected by medical providers from patients who meet CDC COVID-19 testing criteria.

As a follow-up to my post about how companies planned to profit off Americans to come up with the test kits (and in the future a vaccine), companies we already pay upfront to subsidize their research with our tax dollars, a bright light came from sunny California from Governor Gavin Newsom:  BREAKING: we have ordered health insurance companies to waive ALL out-of-pocket costs for preventive coronavirus testing. Let’s hope other states will follow suit.

On Monday, March 2, 2020, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg declared a public health emergency Monday after the federal government released a woman from quarantine who tested positive for COVID-19.  The woman was among the 91 Americans evacuated from Wuhan and was placed in federal 14-day quarantine at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.  She tested negative twice for COVID-19 and was released on Saturday under the guidance from the CDC.  After the woman’s release, the CDC received the results of another test that showed a weakly positive confirmation of the virus that causes COVID-19.  Nirenberg said, “As mayor of this city, I find it totally unacceptable that CDC would release a patient prior to receiving all test results and potentially expose the public to this harm.”  According to the press release, the woman arrived at the Holiday Inn Express Airport at 3 p.m.  The woman also visited North Star Mall, where she browsed stores including Dillard’s, Talbot’s and Swarovski and ate at the food court.  They transported her to Texas Center for Infectious Disease at 2 a.m.  Local officials are tracking 16 people from the mall and three at the hotel who they believe had contact with her.  The city health department has recommended deep cleanings “with disinfectants” to both the hotel and mall.  Nirenberg said, “We simply cannot have a screw-up like this from our federal partners.  While the CDC is encouraging everyone to wash their hands and prevent the spread of the virus, as we would during the season, I would encourage the federal administration to not wash its hands of the responsibility to protect the public.” 

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said that 235 people were still under quarantine at Lackland. They came from the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined last month off the coast of Japan.  Those evacuees were scheduled to be released Monday but local officials have requested a third round of testing before giving them the all clear. 

Eleven of those individuals had tested positive prior to this gross error and were still being monitored at Lackland. 

I caught some video of a news correspondent who was in Seattle.  It looks like a ghost town; it is creepy.  My husband said that when he went to the gym today (and he goes at the same time every night after work) he noticed more people had dropped off.  On Monday it wasn’t as crowded (like one-third of the people were not there) but he didn’t give it much thought, but as the week went on, it became less and less. 

Meanwhile, China has discovered that the coronavirus has mutated at least once into two strains.  One type, called type L, accounted for about 70% of the cases in China and is much more aggressive than the other strain, called type S, which is milder and is the source of about 30% of cases.  Type L was more common in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan, but began to decrease after early January 2020.  They believe human intervention may have placed more severe selective pressure on the type L, which might be more aggressive and spread more quickly.  But type S, which is evolutionally older and less aggressive, might have increased in relative frequency due to the relatively weaker selective pressure per the scientists.   “The researchers said the S type is thought to be the ancestral strain and that the findings ‘strongly support an urgent need for further immediate, comprehensive studies that combine genomic data, epidemiological data, and chart records of the clinical symptoms of patients with coronavirus disease 2019.”   It goes on to say “the genomes studied were only sourced from China, so it is unclear what strains are most common in other countries or if there have been further mutations.” 

The Trump administration said today they will not have the number of kits available as VP Pence stated in his press conference yesterday (stop promising things until you know that this is true).  The stock market does not like uncertainty as one could see by the drop after the gains yesterday.

The CDC still does not have its correct number of cases.  Even though it says their numbers are updated at noon every day (and these were the noon March 5, 2020 totals), they don’t even say these numbers on air.  These numbers aren’t even the ones they publicly said on Monday and it was now Thursday.  Heavy sigh.  They say the numbers that are accurate (which is more than double their number on their web site).   

This is incorrect information — BTW

And here are the stats I post at the end of every blog:  

In the United States there are now 215 cases confirmed by lab tests and sadly 14 deaths.   Deepest sympathies to the family and friends of these individuals. This is as of 12:30 a.m. March 6, 2020.

Of hopeful note, Mainland China only saw an increase of 143 cases between yesterday and today, perhaps a sign that things are getting under control there.  Switzerland has reported its first death from the virus as did the United Kingdom. 

All the countries on the chart below had increases from the day before with the exception of these countries who did not have tests showing positive results (doesn’t mean there aren’t more people infected):  Afghanistan, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, Cambodia, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, French Guiana, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Macedonia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Ukraine, Vietnam.

The only new country on the list tonight is the West Bank and Gaza.