Morgue trailer, Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES)

One of the big challenges in thinking about the coronavirus pandemic is that there's only so much horror the human mind can take before it starts to seem normal. It's the same defense mechanism that led many Londoners to just sleep at home during the Blitz, because the sirens and bombs and sudden death became routine, and going to the bomb shelter started to feel pointless.

You can talk as much as you want about a 9/11 every day, or eight jumbo jets crashing each day, but even then, we start tuning out the numbers because trying to grieve for thousands of people a day is just impossible. But here's a number that ought to get our attention: Last week, the US lost 22,000 people to COVID-19, setting a new record for the second week in a row. That number caught the eye of New York ER doctor, public health prof, and Ebola survivor Craig Spencer, who noted on Twitter that last week's COVID-19 deaths equaled another number: the estimated 22,000 influenza deaths from the entire 2019-2020 flu season, as recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So just in case anyone's still saying the coronavirus is no deadlier than the flu, that might be a useful number to know. Not that it's going to convince the true deniers, because they've learned that reality is optional.


In addition to the record weekly numbers (again, second consecutive record week for deaths), which likely reflect the results of increased infections during the holidays, CNN reports, yesterday we set yet another new daily death record as well, with at least 4,197 deaths recorded, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And as the network notes, "This is not the complete total for Tuesday, though, because final numbers come in overnight."

This is only the second time the USA's daily death number has exceeded 4,000. The first time was just under a week ago, with 4194 deaths on January 7. So for each of those days, you have a 9/11, plus a Jonestown, plus the 1988 terrorist bombing of a 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, with a dozen deaths not included. Add the school shooting of your choice.

And once again, it's getting so bad that the mobile morgues are being delivered. In California, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services has leased 10 mobile morgue semitrailers to help counties store bodies when their own facilities are overwhelmed; that's in addition to 78 refrigerated trailers donated by Hub Group, an Illinois business, that have already been sent to hospitals and county morgues around California.

California had the most COVID-19 deaths of any state last week, with 3,315, an increase of 44 percent over the previous week. We're now at a total of 375,000 deaths in the US, and we could certainly hit a round 400,000 by the time Joe Biden is sworn in.

Masks. Social distancing. Stay home if you possibly can. Get the vaccine when you can. Demand your state and local governments listen to public health experts.

It would be nice to stop setting so many goddamn records.

[Reuters / CDC / Craig Spencer on Twitter / CNN / SFGate]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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