Friday, February 28, 2020

Why COVID-19 Is Worse than Flu

Many people and news sources have been saying, recently, that people should worry about flu more than novel Coronavirus (CV), citing that tens of thousands of people die from flu every year-- while CV remains far fewer... and no one in the US has died from CV, as of this date. I heard a radio talk show host, today, say, “In the grand scheme of things, it just seems like such a miniscule issue.” The reasons it is NOT miniscule are:

·         Between 50 and 400 times as many people with CV will be hospitalized compared to the same number of patients with flu (~20% instead of 0.05-0.37%), and hospitalizations will last 2-5 times as long (2 weeks instead of 3-7 days).
·         At the currently publicized fatality rates, 23 times more CV patients will die as flu patients (2.3% instead of 0.1%).

·         CV spreads more readily. The R0, or number of people infected by a single sick patient, is higher for CV than for flu. Seasonal Flu R0 is 2 to 3[1], and CV R0 is as high as 4.7 to 6.3 prior to containment, and 2-3 after “vigorous control measures.”[2] The World Health Organization estimates the CV R0 as 2-2.5[3], but the effective number is for the entire outbreak, which includes during control measures. Note that even with “vigorous control measures,” the R0 for CV compares to the regular R0 of flu.

·         Approximately 81% of CV infections are “mild, meaning they did not result in pneumonia or resulted in only mild pneumonia,”[4]. While the 19% with more than mild pneumonia are not specifically stated as requiring hospitalization, for the purposes here, I will speculate that folks with more than mild pneumonia require hospitalization. I'll also treat the number as a round 20% for convenience.

·         Hospitalized CV patients require 8 to 17.3 days in hospital for CV[5] vs 3 to 7 days for flu[6].

The length of stay in hospital is unrelated to the quarantine / gestation period. It is purely coincidental that they are both about two weeks. 

·          2.3% of CV patients die[7] vs. 0.1% of flu patients[8].

·         Approximately 10 to 50 M people have gotten the flu each year since 2010[9]. The CDC reference actually says 9.3 to 49 M, but I will use round numbers to make for easy math.

·         For each 100,000 flu cases, 49 to 370 people[10] (or 0.05% to 0.37%) are hospitalized.

If CV is contracted as much as flu (10-50 M per year):

·         CV would be expected to produce fatalities of 0.23M to 1.15M.
·         The number of people needing hospitalization in the US would be 2M to 10M.

·         Consider the number of hospitalizations multiplied by the length of stay; calculating the “person days in the hospital” or hospital load factor: 

Flu: Number of hospitalizations times length of stay = (10 to 50 M cases per year) * (.05 to 0.37% hospitalizations per case) * (3 to 7 days per hospitalization) = 15,000 to 1,295,000 “person days in the hospital.”

CV: Number of hospitalizations times length of stay = (10 to 50 M cases per year) * 20% hospitalizations per case * 14 days per hospitalization = 28,000,000 to 140,000,000 “person days in the hospital.”

If more people get CV than get flu, which seems quite possible without containment-- given the lack of acquired immunity and no vaccine and the reported R0--, then more than the numbers above could result.

The 20% “serious cases” and 2.3% fatality rate are enough to raise concern, along with a higher hospital load than flu due to the length of the illness, which explains why the CDC is talking about “Non Pharmaceutical Interventions” (NPIs) such as closing schools and businesses[11]. The only way to keep the hospital load and fatality rate down is to keep the case rate down. It is why China quarantined Wuhan. It is the only way to avoid a catastrophe. “Containment” is the only option. 

The question remains, then, “How many people will get it?” Containment in America has ostensibly been slowed considerably by President Trump’s early decision to disallow entry of foreign travelers who had been in China. Yet, the CDC predicts that the slowing will not prevent the spread within the US, merely slow it. Delay is of considerable importance, especially given the “hospital load factor” discussed above. Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch predicts that within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.[12]

There are 7.8 billion people in the world and 330 million people in America.
            40 to 70% people infected:       3.12 to 5.46 B cases
            2.3% fatality of cases:             72 to 126 M deaths
            40 to 70% people infected:      132 to 231 M cases
            2.3% fatality of cases:             3.0 to 5.3 M deaths

The WHO reports that the fatality rate was as high as 17.3% early in the outbreak, reduced as low as 0.7% as “standard of care has evolved.”[13] Certainly, it makes sense that a learning curve would be involved in clinical care of patients. If the fatality rate can be reduced to 0.7% around the world, the number of deaths in the preceding paragraph could be reduced by over two thirds. The other way to reduce fatalities is, obviously, to reduce the number of cases. That is why “NPIs” are to be expected.
People really need to stop using the flu comparison to try to make themselves feel safe. The comparison to the flu is NOT comforting.

[1] Eisenberg, Joseph, The Conversation, University of Michigan School of Public Health,, accessed February 27, 2020.
[2] Sanche, Steven, The Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, is Highly Contagious and More Infectious Than Initially Estimated,, accessed February 27, 2020.
[3] World Health Organization, Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),, accessed February 28, 2020.
[4] Soucheray, Stephanie, Study of 72,000 COVID-19 patients finds 2.3% death rate, Center for Infectious Disease and Research Policy,, accessed February 27, 2020.
[5] Ibid, Sanche.
[6] Thompson, William W., Influenza-Associated Hospitalizations in the United States,, accessed February 27, 2020.
[7] Ibid, Soucheray.
[8] Center for Disease Control, Disease Burden of Influenza,, accessed February 27, 2020, (2020).
[9] Ibid, Center for Disease Control.
[10] Ibid, Thompson.
[11] Centers for Disease Control, Transcript for Press Briefing, February 25, 2020,, accessed February 27, 2020.
[12] Hamblin, James, “You’re Likely To Get the Coronavirus,”, accessed February 28, 2020.
[13] Ibid, World Health Organization.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Favorite Store-Bought Sweater and The Color Pink

Back in late 2007, my mom and I were shopping at the Galleria in St. Louis, and we happened upon this sweater in Brooks Brothers. I had never actually bought anything in Brooks Brothers, and it seemed at little bit "out of my league," to be entirely honest. I thought the pink and brown Fair Isle sweater was the bee's knees, and my mom purchased it for me as my Christmas present that year.

While it was my first thing from Brooks Brothers, it wasn't the last. They usually have a few Fair Isle sweaters each year, and I keep an eye on them. It is one of the few stores where I've seen wool Fair Isle sweaters, ready-made. Fair Isle is usually hard to find, often only in two colors, and typically not wool. The wool yarn, to knit it yourself, is generally more expensive than a store-bought sweater (even at Brooks Brothers), and a store-bought sweater is instant gratification! One of the benefits, also, of a store-bought sweater is that they are machine-knit, which allows them to use finer yarn than most of us are willing to use in hand knitting.

Another sweater I picked up at Brooks Brothers is actually one in cotton yarn, a spring sweater in short sleeves.

The short-sleeved sweater looks really cute over a long-sleeved cotton shirt, and I have one in green gingham that looks great with the little green squares in the sweater. The reason I showed this sweater, though, is because it has the 1818 worked into the shoulder. That's when Brooks Brothers was founded. I find this particularly amusing because Illinois became a state in 1818. I just saw a whole table of Illinois sweatshirts in Sam's that had 1818 on the chest and sleeve. :)

Even with the various sweaters I've collected over the years, the original pink and brown one is my favorite. I have a thing for pink. When I was a sophomore in college, some of the people in my dorm gave me a hard time about wearing pink so much, and I took it as a challenge to wear pink as much as possible, after that. I also painted my room pink and put down a pink carpet. It was odd because there seemed to be a "rebellion" theme on our floor (4th West, East Campus), and folks there tended to wear a lot of black and motorcycle boots and things like that. Meanwhile, there were those on the floor that didn't appreciate my lack of assimilation. It was fine and dandy to be rebellious, but only if I was rebellious like them. (Ironic, huh?) The more I was frowned-upon, the more pink I became. Stubborn. Long story short, after sophomore year, I moved to another floor!

My pink streak cooled off after sophomore year, though I've always had a soft place in my heart for it. In late 2016, when I was shopping for a car to replace my VW diesel (because VW was about to "buy back" my diesel Jetta), I spent several months hemming and hawing about what I might want to get, and I just wasn't moved by any particular thing. Then, I happened to be in the VW dealership and saw a #PinkBeetle in the showroom. The model was a "special edition," only 500 of them made as a breast-cancer awareness promotion. They were a 2017 model, and they flew out of showrooms rather quickly. Well, I don't have breast cancer, but I took one look at that car and thought Karma had led me to it... and such perfect timing, too. It had my name on it.

After buying the #PinkBeetle (the official model name, and the first car to be named with a hash tag), the pink in my wardrobe had a resurgence. (I also delivered a proposal at work with pink separator sheets between the sections! Hah!) For Christmas this year (2017), my soul-sister, Babs, made me a beaded picture of the car. So cute! (I guess I'm making a nuisance of the pink thing, kind of "sophomoric," I suppose...)

Thanks, Babs! You're the best!!!

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

2017 Sweater Catch-Up Post

I've been trying to figure out a problem with my camera (and trying to lose weight), and I haven't gotten any pictures of anything I made in the last year or so. Now that I've worked through both of those things to various degrees, I figured I'd better catch up on statusing my knitting.

My latest sweater is Norah Gaughan's Joyella, an interesting knit out of joined hexagons.

I finished another Einstein Coat, this one using alternating colors of Lite Lopi. My first Einstein Coat is posted here and here.

I made a simple top-down V-neck cardigan using two colors of Creatively-Dyed Woodbrook, alternating colors for a bit of a transition. I used the "Pink" pattern from Wendy Bernard's "Custom Knits" book, a pattern I've used before, here.

I made a Debbie Bliss "Drop Collar Cable Cardigan" with several mods, including changing out the cable, adding a 3-stitch slip stitch edge to the front (a feature I learned on Nanook), and adding a hood.

I also have finished pictures of socks #68-#71.

#68 (I showed the start of these socks here):

#69 (another pair of BFF's like Sock #48, using a different color of Gradiance from The Unique Sheep):

#70 (in a matching Opalite colored yarn to the worsted yarn I used for Nanook, both from Hedgehog Fibres, and starting with the same Bear Claw pattern as used around the collar of Nanook):

#71 (a simple ribbed sock in Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball Crazy, great mindless knitting pattern for airplane travel):

I had a couple of other "Uggh" projects I won't post here... :)

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Florida Vacation

I see it has been almost a year since my last blog. I've knitted a few things in the interim, which I should get photographed and posted. I'm also doing a bunch of wool applique and embroidery. Still, this is more of a family post, the latest vacation adventure. I finally coerced Chris and Mitchell into airline travel with me, which was a first for both of them in their lifetimes. Perhaps not so surprising for an 11-year-old, but a pretty big deal for the 48-year-old.

FL-First Flight

We went to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, which was right on the beach and had a boardwalk/stair exit from the pool area to the sand.

FL - Hotel 1

FL - Ocean 1

FL - Beach 4

FL - Beach 2

FL - Beach 3

FL - Beach 1

I spent some time under an umbrella, sewing. These are the borders for the 2016 Sue Spargo Block of the Month, "Cuppa."

FL - Sewing

And this is my view from under the umbrella.

FL - Beach 5

We went out to Pensacola to see the National Naval Aviation Museum.


We played miniature golf one evening.

FL - Golf

But we mostly hung out at the pool and the beach. The pool was set up as a "lazy river" with a current that would carry folks around a loop. It was a gorgeous pool area, and note the ocean in the background.

FL - Pool 2

FL - Pool 1

It was clearly a tough week for everybody!

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Friday, July 22, 2016

Garden Peculiarities

When tomatoes tell lies.

Lying Tomato

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Quilted Book Cover

I took a detour from butterflies and other projects-in progress-to make a quick gift. My sister-in-law's mom is going through some challenges, and I saw a coloring book that made me think of her. (I have no idea whether or not she will actually like a coloring book.) I also found some clever "twist up" coloring pencils. While I hadn't thought about sewing anything, it struck me to make a little pouch for the book and pencils, and the project kind of took on a life of its own over the weekend.

I had started sewing little hexagons on papers while I was on travel last week, thinking to start a "box of hexagons" using scraps. I didn't have a specific project in mind, just to start collecting scrap hexagons. However, I took them out and thought about using some of them. I had 35, which was exactly enough to make five flowers. That seemed kismet, so that's what I did. I sewed them on some fabric charms I had in my stash, added some sashing to make it tall enough for the book, and put a zipper in the side.

It occurred to me to embroider around the flowers, and then I added some French knots in the middle. (It's DMC pearl cotton in "variations" colorways.) A little tag, and it was done!

Sharons Gift - Front

Sharons Gift - Back

Sharons Gift - Blue Flower

Sharons Gift - Green Flower

Sharons Gift - Orange Flower

Sharons Gift - Purple Flower

Sharons Gift - Red Flower

Sharons Gift - Label

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay