The Coronavirus: Trying to Foresee what’s Coming Next

The number of new infections in the U.S. has leveled off at about 30,000 per day in the last five weeks and appears to be showing a slight drop off.  This is very positive since more and more people are being tested all the time.

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So much about the coronavirus is as yet poorly understood that it is hard to even know the best way to implement the social distancing strategy which most of the world (except for Sweden!) is taking very seriously.

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As I discussed last week, many states, including Nebraska where I live, are beginning to reopen their economies.  Considering the uncertain timeline for the further spread of the coronavirus, it is critical to do this, even if the effort starts out slowly and hesitantly.

Many people, including myself, have speculated on how the pandemic is going to significantly change the way we conduct our personal lives, both at work and at home, such as, for example, by speeding up even more quickly the adoption of technology.

Another big change is going to occur in how we relate to the rest of the world in the future, especially China. Not only was the pandemic caused by poor public health measures in Wuhan, China, but it has now become obvious that the developed world has become too dependent on industrial supply chains centered in China.  This has enabled China to dictate the terms of access to its market in circumvention of established international trade rules.  The U.S. and its allies can’t protect their interests without confronting China.

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Conclusion.  The coronavirus pandemic has presented a huge shock to the entire world.  Trying to limit the number of infections and deaths is an enormous public health issue.  But is will also have a big effect on everyday life in the future.  And world affairs will be greatly impacted.  It is worthwhile to try to anticipate what is coming down the pike and prepare for it, even if imperfectly!

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5 thoughts on “The Coronavirus: Trying to Foresee what’s Coming Next

  1. As the chance occurrence of possibly related events seems to be lurking all around us, the JAMA Network OPEN’s weekly publication of the American Medical Association today has an article with the following title: “Association of US Households’ Disaster Preparedness with Socioeconomic Characteristics, Composition, and Region. This publication is open to anyone on the internet. The survey of 16,725 households occurred in 2017. Of these households, 42.8% included children. It seems that the survey reflected preparedness for locally unique disasters (not so good). Disaster preparedness becomes important as the basis for knowable disasters as well as the basis for responding to less knowable/predictable disasters. The proverbial Appian Way can be reconfigured by knowable realms of knowledge, especially for healthcare reform. The JAMA Network OPEN article just reminds us that the path will not be easily “repaved.”

    • I took a look at the JAMA report. I’m not at all surprised that higher socioeconomic status correlates to higher preparedness. Higher income and higher levels of education simply make people more aware of the need to prepare for emergencies and more capable of doing so.
      What lower income people need is more and better economic opportunities. They were being helped by the very low unemployment rate before the pandemic hit but now they’ll be badly hurt by the currently much higher unemployment rate until we are able to fully reopen the economy.

  2. You write “the developed world has become too dependent on industrial supply chains centered in China” ….”The U.S. and its allies can’t protect their interests without confronting China.”
    No need to “confront” China. Just don’t be dependent on their industrial supply chains. Meaning – bring the jobs home, manufacture here. Which will mean CEO’s multiple millions (overkill for their well-being) will have to be shared with the lower-paid workers (where marginal increases have huge effects on their well-being). Why “confront” China when we are our own problem?

    • We need to confront China over their unfair trading practices such as, for example,
      restricting our imports to China and stealing our intellectual property.
      Many companies are likely to decide on their own to move at least parts of their supply chains to other countries where they get a better deal. We should encourage them to do this.

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