COVID-19 Risks of Flying

I fly a lot. Over the past five years, my average speed has been 32 miles an hour. That all changed mid-March. It’s been 105 days since I’ve been on an airplane—longer than any other time in my adult life—and I have no future flights scheduled. This is all a prelude to saying that I have been paying a lot of attention to the COVID-related risks of flying.

We know a lot more about how COVID-19 spreads than we did in March. The “less than six feet, more than ten minutes” model has given way to a much more sophisticated model involving airflow, the level of virus in the room, and the viral load in the person who might be infected.

Regarding airplanes specifically: on the whole, they seem safer than many other group activities. Of all the research about contact tracing results I have read, I have seen no stories of a sick person on an airplane infecting other passengers. There are no superspreader events involving airplanes. (That did happen with SARS.) It seems that the airflow inside the cabin really helps.

Airlines are trying to make things better: blocking middle seats, serving less food and drink, trying to get people to wear masks. (This video is worth watching.) I’ve started to see airlines requiring masks and banning those who won’t, and not just strongly encouraging them. (If mask wearing is treated the same as the seat belt wearing, it will make a huge difference.) Finally, there are a lot of dumb things that airlines are doing.

This article interviewed 511 epidemiologists, and the general consensus was that flying is riskier than getting a haircut but less risky than eating in a restaurant. I think that most of the risk is pre-flight, in the airport: crowds at the security checkpoints, gates, and so on. And that those are manageable with mask wearing and situational awareness. So while I am not flying yet, I might be willing to soon. (It doesn’t help that I get a -1 on my COVID saving throw for type A blood, and another -1 for male pattern baldness. On the other hand, I think I get a +3 Constitution bonus. Maybe, instead of sky marshals we can have high-level clerics on the planes.)

And everyone: wear a mask, and wash your hands.

EDITED TO ADD (6/27): Airlines are starting to crowd their flights again.

Posted on June 24, 2020 at 12:32 PM94 Comments


Speed June 24, 2020 2:55 PM

Bruce wrote, “This article interviewed 511 endocrinologists … ” but I’ll bet he meant epidemiologists.

Matt June 24, 2020 3:16 PM

There’s really not that much known. We’re talking about a small time window, by infectious disease standards, and air travel all but shut down very early in the process, further narrowing our sample. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I defer to those endocrinologists and their expertise and honesty, but pressures apply to everyone, and they’re being leaned on to tell us how we can go back to normal, not when or whether. And there’s a tendency for humans to downplay a numerical risk when they haven’t personally lost a loved one to a painful, isolated death.

Too many people are trying to look at data in a way that allows them to go back to doing what they were doing before. You’re clearly intelligent and informed, but really ask yourself whether you look at any of this data wishfully. Sitting for four hours in almost direct contact with a total stranger is not going to be safe. That seems intuitively unavoidable.

In person interaction is great, and sometimes truly needed. But for so many reasons – COVID-related and ecological – maybe technologists should be leading the way on not gathering by the thousands to watch people give speeches and click through PowerPoints.

Matt June 24, 2020 3:17 PM

Oh yeah, and what they said. I didn’t catch the “endocrinologist/epidemiologist” mixup, so I repeated it.

Bruce Schneier June 24, 2020 3:29 PM


“Bruce wrote, ‘This article interviewed 511 endocrinologists … ‘ but I’ll bet he meant epidemiologists.”

Ouch. Fixed.

Thank you.

Tatütata June 24, 2020 3:58 PM

Maybe, instead of sky marshals we can have high-level clerics on the planes.

Be careful, there is this old expression in French: “… comme la vérole sur le bas-clergé breton”, which roughly translates in English in “… like the pox on the clergy in Brittany”/.

Only altar boys should watch out on planes.

Airports and airplanes are ghastly places in normal times. But at least they’ll be less crowded for a while, which is a good thing, at least for the passenger. I read though that the EU is considering a prolonged travel ban on US citizens, together with residents of other places like Brazil and Russia.

Oh, I just heard a jet passing overhead, with an unusual flight path. It’s been a while.

Clive Robinson June 24, 2020 4:13 PM

@ Bruce,

On the other hand, I think I get a +3 Constitution bonus.

Well the bad news is in many photos you look like you have a “Nightclub suntan” which possibly means that you have low vitimin D levels.

Thus according to some studies you may have atleast twenty times the risk of dying that others do…

So as Vitimin D tablets are easy to buy and it’s actually quite difficult to take a dangerous level, you might want to think about taking 50-100ug a day to build up your levels.

For some reason both the UK and US medical researchers are not looking into Vit D. Possibly because it does not fit in with policy…

Clive Robinson June 24, 2020 5:04 PM

@ Tatütata,

the pox on the clergy in Brittany

Ahh the good old days when England more or less owned France.

As you probably know the French and English have been trading insults for a millennia or more. Thus in England we blaimed the French for the pox and wished it on them, and they just as vehemently did the same…

Even the end of WWII did not change such ingrained behaviours, which caused issues with the European Economic Community, but worse when it evolved into the European Union with certain types pushing for what was doomed to fail which is political unity…

So as the end of 2020 approaches and devolution will probably happen, I guess a new round of insults will be thought up and traded…

The daft thing about it is the English and French have more in common than either would be prepared to admit. Therefore like arguing siblings we will black each others eyes, but woe betied any other nation that picks a fight with either one as like most arguing siblings the chance to have a punch up in assistance to the other is seldom missed.

Joe Davies June 24, 2020 5:46 PM

There are other risks in flying during COVID as described by NASA here:

Many COVID-19 induced changes are predictable.
Contamination and disinfecting problems, scarcity of
supplies, the lack of relevant procedures, and other
difficulties posed by social distancing appear obvious.
Not so evident are complications rooted in the obvious
but discovered only as one problem begets another. They
can also present as unanticipated side-effects of operating
equipment in an unfamiliar manner as the result of an
individual or industry response to combat the virus.

Singapore Noodles June 24, 2020 5:48 PM

Everyone would act sensibly if they could see the virus. So, find a way to make the virus visible.

JonKnowsNothing June 24, 2020 7:28 PM

@Singapore Noodles

Everyone would act sensibly if they could see the virus. So, find a way to make the virus visible.

Maybe TMI:

I had a flu viral rash, lots of little red polka dots everywhere. The clue is: not an itchy rash. Popped up after a small temp the next day. Lasted a couple of weeks. Guaranteed noticeable if it spreads to visible areas.

Was rather interesting to watch as the virus moved across the body and colonized the skin.

COVID19 can do the same.

SpaceLifeForm June 25, 2020 12:49 AM

It’s been months now since I said this, but it needs repeating.

Stop flying. Just don’t do it.

(article from 2020-05-14)

Dr. Joseph Fair, a virologist and epidemiologist who has been hospitalized with the coronavirus despite being in good health and taking precautions, said Thursday that he believes he contracted the virus through his eyes on a crowded flight.

Roberto June 25, 2020 1:47 AM

All that under the assumption that the population going to a local restaurant has the same probability of carrying the virus than the population that takes the plane. Is that so?

However I feel that I can expect that the population of a local restaurant, in a place where the virus is under control, is less likely to carry the virus. On a plane, it seems more likely that people coming from very different places get together (especially with few planes flying).
The plane removes my ability to take a decision based on the local spread of the virus.

Clive Robinson June 25, 2020 2:21 AM

@ ScienceGeek,

Mask are theatre

That rather depends on what you are trying to achieve…

It boils down as I’ve said before to “Individual rights -v- Social responsability”.

Which means you have to look at things in several different ways.

First off, there is no mask filter you can get that will entirely protect you from RNA viral particles they are way too small. Thus any filter capable of stopping them all would have holes so small your lungs could not drag air through them.

However practical filtets can stop a percentage of viral RNA but will stop a significantly higher percentage of droplets that contain viral RNA. So the practical upshot is as most viral RNA in the air is in water droplets then the bulk of the viral RNA does get stopped by the filter.

Which has a series of secondary effects.

One thing that is known is that how badly you are effected by SARS-CoV-2 depends a lot on your “viral load”. That is even people with quite a poor immune system can deal with very low levels of the viral RNA. Bur even people with very good immune systems will succumb to a high viral load (which is why even healthy young female Drs and Nurses died of COVID-19). So even an imperfect mask will reduce your viral load thus improve your survivability.

Another secondary effect that is known, is that the level of viable viral RNA emitted by an infectious person decreases faster with distance than 1/(r^3) volumetric dispersion. This is because of two effects firstly droplets containing the viral RNA drop under the influance of gravity, secondly the viability of the RNA depends quite a bit on it being in a moist enivironment thus evaporation of droplets reduce the viability of the RNA quite markedly. The wearing of a face mask obviously traps a significant proportion of the droplets especially the larger ones therefore aids in reducing the amount of viable viral RNA held in the air around an infectious person.

Another rather important secondary effect is a mask does not just reduce the velocity of exhaled viral bearing dropplets, it also breaks up any vortex effects. It is known that people can blow “smoke rings” way further than they can blow a cloud of smoke. The reason is that the smoke ring is in effect a vortex effect constraining dispersion. The same applies to the exhaled droplets with their viral contents. Importantly though because the droplets are constrained they also.evaporate more slowly thus the viral RNA remains viable for longer. A mask will stop tgis issue as it stops a vortex building up.

There are other effects such as breaking hand to mouth/nose physical transmission, but if everyone wears masks there is a significant reduction in the viral load you might receive, thus your chance of either not becoming infected or only mildly infected go up by several orders of magnitude.

There is both laboratory and real world evidence of the benifit of wearing masks with SARS-CoV-2 thus to dismiss them or make claim “Mask are theatre” is not a sensible thing to do.

But if you want to dispute this first get your facts right, there are published papers on the effectiveness of masks and social distancing. But at the end of the day, even if there were not, the maths is still against your argument which renders your argument invalid when it comes to the “Social Responsability” asspect, and that’s realy the only one that counts when it comes to disease control from airborne pathogens.

wiredog June 25, 2020 6:03 AM


“Mask are theatre”

In the last 2 weeks cases have risen by 84% in states that do not require wearing masks in public, but have fallen by 25% in states which do require wearing a mask in public.


ScienceGeek June 25, 2020 6:04 AM

@Clive Robinson • June 25, 2020 2:21 AM:

But if you want to dispute this first get your facts right, there are published papers on the effectiveness of masks and social distancing.

You say get your facts straight, yet you patently didn’t read the things that I linked. One of them was an artile in a CDC publication that did actually look at things other than facemask!

There is both laboratory and real world evidence of the benifit of wearing masks with SARS-CoV-2 thus to dismiss them or make claim “Mask are theatre” is not a sensible thing to do.

Yet you fail, unlike I, to provide any of this “real world evidence”! The only evidence I found was based on either computer modelling or observational studies, while the publications I linked are based on controlled clinical trials or hard quantative experiments.

So I’m not going to write long essay your stile, but if you have any hard evidence to support your assertions, I welcome it; until then your are posing opinion as fact.

Jim Lux June 25, 2020 9:34 AM

One problem with many mask studies is that they are looking at effectiveness in preventing ingestion of pathogens or toxic particles.

That’s sort of different than the COVID-19 mask requirements, where the mask is attempting to reduce the virus laden particles being dispersed into the environment.

A mask that has a perfect input filter, and no exhaust filter (many of these exist) is not particularly useful for the COVID use in reducing group transmission.

Conversely, a mask that has no intake filter, but perfectly filters exhaust would be very valuable – considering the problem of presymptomatic dispersion of particles.

In short, the mask isn’t to keep you from getting sick, it’s to prevent you from inadvertently getting others sick when you don’t know you’re shedding virus.

Mark June 25, 2020 10:24 AM

Really hope that all covid-19 situation will not have bad influence on businesses. Just think about the results, what troubles it may cause. As a restaurant owner, I should deal with a lot of problems today, I guess the first one is fire protection services for my commercial kitchen. I rely on san jose fire protection company that can help me with it. Other problem – cleints, where can I get them today? Hope everything will be better soon!

NDAs_Maybe? June 25, 2020 12:24 PM

Has no one else spotted “contract tracing” in paragraph 3?

That’s what Donald’s lawyers are trying to do with Mary Trump’s NDAs!

MarkH June 25, 2020 12:32 PM

This question is quite personal for me, because I have an international family … and from entering the queue to board the plane and leaving the queue for passport control is at least 10 hours in close proximity to other travelers.

My principal perspectives on the risks of flying during the pandemic:

  1. Nobody has good data on these risks. Now that airline travel is gradually resuming, there will be practical opportunities to collect such data. The “I can’t wait” flyers will serve as voluntary laboratory animals, to enlighten the rest of us. Between 3 and 6 months from now, we’ll probably have an adequate picture.
  2. If PCR testing were available in truly astronomical quantities, many things would be practical which at this moment are only dreams. For example, a requirement for boarding could be a PCR test on flight day, one 2 days prior, and also a test 4 days prior to flight, with all showing negative. I don’t have the ability to compute the effect, but I intuit that if everyone boarding an airliner passed such screening, that (in combination with basic precautions) the risk of contracting Covid-19 would be reduced to a very small level.

On the personal level:

  1. I won’t be boarding any airliner until either (a) cases are massively reduced, by controls or by vaccination; or (b) a screening regime is imposed along the lines of my point 2.
  2. My wife booked tickets in late winter so she and our daughter could spend the summer in their country of origin. It was a great relief to me, when in late May the airline sent an email that they were canceling the tickets. The airline, which is essentially the country’s flag carrier, announced a few days ago that they won’t be resuming normal operations before 2021.

Even if my loved ones could fly this summer, they would surely be required to sit in quarantine for two weeks (again, quarantine requirements might be removed or shortened if massive testing were available).

Bruce Schneier June 25, 2020 1:00 PM


“Has no one else spotted ‘contract tracing’ in paragraph 3?”

You were first. Thanks.

Clive Robinson June 25, 2020 3:53 PM

@ ScienceGeek,

Yet you fail, unlike I, to provide any of this “real world evidence”!

Actually I have provided links to the scientific papers already within a day or two of them being published, and I’ve had the chance to read through them. You would know this if you had bern a regular visitor here for the past few months.

So your comment says rather more about you than it does about me.

Which you go on to amplify with,

The only evidence I found was based on either computer modelling or observational studies, while the publications I linked are based on controlled clinical trials or hard quantative experiments.

You obviously failed to do any real research lookups on the Lancet, JAMA and several more very reputable journals and organistations. That currently are rather more respected than the US CDC that has not done at all well in the COVID-19 crisis and has almost certainly been “got at” by the current executive one way or anorher.

I suggest you do a search of this site, my name and either SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 and you will find the refrences.

Thunderbird June 25, 2020 4:37 PM

Bruce, the comment tagged Mark • June 25, 2020 10:24 AM appears to be comment spam.

PRRA June 25, 2020 5:49 PM

@Clive Robinson June 24 4:13 PM

I cannot find a decisive verdict about using supplements for immune system boosting but eventually settled on vitamins C & D3 plus zinc. Not large doses but regular doses. I suspect some medical authorities are more interested in pushing expensive drugs and vaccines rather than cheap, low tech alternatives that might help lot of people 🙁

MarkH June 25, 2020 5:57 PM


When I first saw your “masks are theatre” comment I assumed you were trolling, and didn’t bother to respond.

There is an abundance of “real world evidence” for the effectiveness of masks against the pandemic, as nicely summarized here:

Since you seem to be confused on this point, observational studies absolutely are “real word evidence”. No, they are not controlled experiments … but beyond any reasonable doubt, they are real-world evidence, and can be enormously useful in advancing scientific understanding.

From the linked article:

“… a randomized controlled trial … would be “very unethical in a pandemic,” says Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University

It would be unethical, because observational studies make such a strong showing that masks are protecting people. Decent medical scientists don’t deprive people of a known life-saving intervention simply to score points.

Unlike some crank hypotheses (e.g. prophylactic effect from HCQ), there is a firm basis for expecting masks to help: SARS-CoV-2 is known to transmit via expelled droplets, and straightforward experiments show that even simple low-tech face coverings reduce the travel of such droplets from a person by large factors.

Your assertion that “masks are theatre” is factual … but in a different dimension than you apparently had in mind. In addition to their medical function of reducing disease transmission, masks also have social signaling effects, including:

• display of respect for one’s neighbors
• reminder that an invisible killer is on the loose
• reinforcement of social unity amid the stressors of crisis

Bruce famously used “security theater” to label the political dodge of taking actions which do little to enhance security, but rather function to protect the powerful from accusations of failure to respond. This kind of theater is a liability to society.

Mask-wearing is primarily the action of ordinary folks, not of the powerful. Its theatrical component is much more social than political. Its net social impact is beneficial, not deleterious.

Since you label yourself as a science geek, you might be interesting in learning more about observational science.

In many scientific disciplines, controlled experiments are impossible, impractical, or unethical. Two of my favorite examples are astronomy and paleontology. No human being has the opportunity position instruments to survey particle counts in the first second after the Big Bang, or adjust the composition of a star in order to explore how it might affect its eventual trajectory toward supernova.

We can’t implant radio transmitters on ichthyosaurs to track their movements in search of food or mates, or jab them with infectious agents to study the action of their immune systems.

The recognition of vast patterns of similarity among species, and the inference of process by which they originate, was accomplished without a single controlled experiment, as far as I am aware. Nobody has yet brought back a teaspoon full of the solar core, or dropped something into the sun to study its reaction … but we know quite a lot about our sun’s composition and dynamics.

In medicine, many questions are inaccessible to controlled experiment by dint of limitations in resources, access, or ethical considerations. But the complex realities of human behavior create what are sometimes called “natural experiments” — individuals, communities and societies have different patterns of action, and from careful observational study of them it may be possible to “tease out” the relationship between action and consequence.

I can imagine that there are some who despise astronomy for the paucity of controlled experiments within it. To me, the successes in learning about things we can’t reach, can’t affect, and which in many cases have ceased to exist, are among the most magnificent attainments of intellectual endeavor.

ScienceGeek June 25, 2020 9:25 PM

@MarkH • June 25, 2020 5:57 PM:

I read the meta-analysis that the NPR publication refers to… Here’s the problem:

Our search identified 172 observational studies across 16 countries and six continents, with no randomised controlled trials and 44 relevant comparative studies in health-care and non-health-care settings (n=25 697 patients)

from Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis

You are suggusting that a guess based on mere correlation is more foundational in understanding than controlled clinical trials and a properly controlled experiment in a lab that contradict the observational thesis? Confirmation bias?

You further say:

It would be unethical, because observational studies make such a strong showing that masks are protecting people. Decent medical scientists don’t deprive people of a known life-saving intervention simply to score points.

This is but patent evidence that you hadn’t actually read any of the things I linked—somehow they managed to do controlled trials (guess they are just unethincal sadistical tyrants by your standard?), oh and guess what: even doctors and nurses sometimes are willing participants in similar “risky” trials—N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel (preview: no difference between N95 vs surgical mask, some got infected some didn’t)

But here’s the real kicker: doctors and nurses catch COVID-19 when wearing PPE while exposed to SARS-CoV-2:

Of the confirmed cases in China, 3.8% (1716/44672) were healthcare workers. Of those, 14.8% were severely or critically ill and 5% of the severe cases died[45]. Latest figures reported from Italy showthat 9% of COVID-19 cases are healthcare workers, with Lombardy region reporting up to 20% of cases in healthcare workers[46,47]. In Spain, the latest COVID-19 situation overview from the Ministry of Health reports that 26% of COVID-19 cases are in healthcare workers[48]. In a Dutch study, healthcare workers were tested voluntarily for COVID-19 and 6% tested positive [49]. In a report on 30 cases in healthcare workersin China, all cases had a history of direct contact (distance within 1 metre) with COVID-19 patients, with an average number of 12 contacts (7, 16), and the average cumulative contact time being two hours (1.5, 2.7)[50]. In the Dutch study, only 3% of the healthcare workers reported being exposed to hospital patients with COVID-19 prior onset of symptoms and 63% had worked while asymptomatic[49].

from Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the EU/EEA and the UK – eighth update. I’m guessing all those healthcare workers simply haven’t a clue how to use masks properly? Or perhaps the 100% of HCW who have been in close proximity to the patients in China got infected somehow else or were just not wearing a mask (given how ubiquious that habit is over there even among the regular population)?

How’s this for food for thought: I’m guessing if masks are actually effective and, as you put it “a known life-saving intervention,” I’m guessing the legislators of the Lincoln Country, OR are [insert your word of choosing]: Oregon county issues face mask order that exempts non-white people.

JonKnowsNothing June 26, 2020 1:36 AM


Many of the problems with PPE is fit and finish. Masks are made for 6ft 4in 220lb men and not for 5ft 3in women. Masks that fit in one size do not fit all sized people, shapes, weights or stature.

Any mask, PPE can fail if not fit properly. It takes 2 people to properly fit a full PPE outfit (like scuba diving you need a buddy to be sure you got it right). Early death rates would have to be sorted by those who had

  1. No PPE
  2. ReUsed PPE
  3. Re-Washed PPE
  4. Chem-Cleaned PPE
  5. PPE on some days and none on others
  6. Management/Governments flopping between PPE YES and PPE NO.
  7. No PPE Available vs Choosing to Not Wear PPE

If you are in a heavy viral loaded environment, even a small gap in PPE can be a catastrophic failure.

As stated by more authoritative sources:

 Masks do not protect YOU.
 They protect the Next Dude Over.
 Sans-Mask you need to be 26ft away from other folks.

fwiw: The US CDC is not an authoritative source. It might be but then again it might not be.

Friso June 26, 2020 1:51 AM

@Clive Robinson

I think @Tatütata was talking about Brittany, France (,+Frankrijk/@48.0839463,-4.1994074,8z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x4811ca61ae7e8eaf:0x10ca5cd36df24b0!8m2!3d48.2020471!4d-2.9326435), not Britain.

Like @Roberto I think you’re missing a valuable point, that flying helps the virus travel farther than it could have without planes. Besides that not flying has quite a positive effect on the planet as a whole.

Weather June 26, 2020 2:17 AM

Speaking from new Zealand its the local population that sorted it, but saying that we can go to level 4 once more before the population simply disrectes the law.

Weather June 26, 2020 2:53 AM

Maybe you should regulate the press news, there’s no firewall on people, but this is based on what I hear, not what its like.

MarkH June 26, 2020 4:41 AM


In a way, our discussion is a recapitulation of dialogues which have recurred often since Bruce kindly opened the door for discussion of the pandemic on his blog.

I’ve expressed my own preference for respecting the perspectives of professional epidemiologists, because as a group they have so much experience of both a practical and intellectual nature.

Their intellectual experience is of great value, because in an epidemic situation data are fragmentary, unreliable, incomplete, subject to frequent revision, etc. The newly-minted horde of “armchair epidemiologists” tend to treat a particular report, claim, analysis or datum as a highly significant point of departure.

The professionals have long and bitter experience of peering through the “fog of battle.”

Some specifics:

  1. Controlled trials are fine by me. I doubt that there are enough, of sufficient quality, to supplant the weight of observational evidence concerning face masks. Such trials are far more important for medicines; virtually all drugs are risky, and most can be extremely dangerous. Their deployment can consume a lot of resources, and might displace other much better remedies.

By the way, how does one blind a mask trial?

  1. You cited some studies of influenza transmission. Note well that SARS-CoV-2 ≠ flu virus.
  2. With respect to ethics, recall that SARS-CoV-2 ≠ flu virus. For people of typical working age, most flu strains are almost never fatal, and very rarely entail hospital treatment; asking them to risk flu for an experiment means a week or so of resting miserably at home if they catch it.

Covid-19 is vastly more destructive and deadly, even to those in their 30s and 40s.

Doctors don’t expose people with rabies or ebola to test hypotheses concerning susceptibility or treatment.

  1. One of the studies you cited, and the point you made about hospital workers getting sick, reflects a very fundamental misunderstanding.

Transmission of infectious diseases through air has two components: emission, and reception. Prevention of either will block transmission.

Medical people wear respirators to protect from reception when they may be in air contaminated with a high burden of virus. JonKnowsNothing explained how this can go wrong.

The recommendation for the general public to wear masks is focused on preventing emission, much more than reception. There’s excellent reason to believe that even loose-fitting surgical or cloth masks reduce emission by large factors.

On the other end, such masks are presumed to have much less capacity to prevent reception.

For a simple metaphor, removing the firing pin from a handgun is a highly effective way to prevent it from firing bullets … but handguns are very poor shields from incoming fire.

The concept underlying masks for the public is not the prevention of reception from virus-laden air; it is the prevention of formation of that virus-laden air in the first place.

For this reason, high compliance rates are of crucial importance. Even a small fraction of people failing to wear masks will greatly reduce the effectiveness of mask use.

Clive Robinson June 26, 2020 5:23 AM

@ Friso,

I think @Tatütata was talking about Brittany, France

She was, and so was I, you need to be thinking temporally 😉

We’ve been shoving our politics, power and insults back and forwards into various bits of land for over a thousand years, and I suspect it will go on for another thousand years atleast.

It’s a game neither side want to give up because at the end of the day it’s about the pomposity of pride expressed as nationalism.

Take your choice of national anthem, the “La Marseillaise” was originaly the “Battle Hymn of the Army of the Rhine” which is a nice little blood thirsty song you can literally get your teeth into or the more gentel “God save the Queen” which is mostly quite mild mannered (unless you are Scottish and some idiot sings the verse with Marshal Wade in it). The French realy get behind their national anthem, where as the English get behind “Jerusalem”, “Land of hope and glory” and “Rule Britania”. I would much rather we trade insults and rude signs than arrows or bullets, and settle down afyereards to the important task of raising a glass and singing songs. Mostly such nationalism is good natured fun, sadly though from time to time some idiot takes it to far and other idiots follow…

myliit June 26, 2020 5:43 AM

re: face masks, two things:

1) iirc Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, recommends, iirc, that we wear masks

2) from a link in in MarkH’s npr link above, 18 June 2020

“… All Californians are now required to wear masks in shops, at work and outside if they’re within six feet of another person. …”

S.Squier June 26, 2020 6:04 AM

Should you fly again soon, I would avoid United Airlines if you can.
Even during the height of the pandemic Stateside they were packing domestic flights, using all available seating per their usual — this was still the case at least as of mid May, but I’ve not flown since so I hope they’ve since corrected course. If it hadn’t been for the orderly but dubious way of loading the airplane by seat number, attendants wearing face shields and general absence of in-flight services, you wouldn’t have known there was a pandemic at all.
I was not impressed.

Curious June 26, 2020 9:07 AM


Obviously, or I think it makes good sense, that “open” masks aren’t really preventing virus from entering your airways. Half masks also obviously don’t protect your eyes. No idea if a virus can enter the ear canal, unsure if a mucus membrane or not.

My “best bet” has always been on both try reducing the viral load, and also try covering up nose and mouth to avoid inhaling the stuff, even though I only had a simple FFP2 dust mask without optimal seal. I wish I had proper masks, and also, masks without vent openings, as a vent opening would be bad for other people should I one day wear a mask while infected by covid-19 virus.

I stopped believing government authorities a long time ago re. covid-19 and I am sort of forced to try care of myself. At least, now in June, it is possible to buy high-contant alcohol hand and item disinfectant liquid.

I will eventually having to resort to a proper half mask, and look somewhat silly in the stores soon. I don’t regard the virus spread danger as high in my area in my country, but I don’t want to gamble so I use the protective equipment I have anyway. It is also nice practice. I did wash the food I bought and brought, but not atm. I do like cleaning my door knobs, and other stuff with disinfectant. Nice training anyway.

My general impression of official covid-19 responses (I don’t live in USA) is really bad. It is all too obvious that my local government never took the risk of a pandemic seriously, and utterly failed to protect the population, even though they seem to take pride in being very careful. I do not want to be the proverbial canary in the coal mine, just so the local government can create a statistic of virus spread.

An interesting thing I’ve picked up, or what I think I’ve learned, is that, failed testing might be cause by the virus having spread from nose to throat, to lungs, and moving around, making positive diagnostics of covid-19 virus disease difficult, or perhaps even impossible if using a swab at a location where the virus load isn’t large enough any longer.

MarkH June 26, 2020 11:06 AM

Another wrinkle concerning air travel:

Jay Brainard, who oversees TSA operations in the state of Kansas, made a whistleblower complaint about the inadequacy of precautions against Covid-19. It would seem that this happened about a week ago, though I only learned of it last night.

The essence of his complaint is that the insufficiency of PPE and protocols increased virus transmission risks.

Of the “front-line” TSA workers who screen passengers, about 1.8% have tested positive for Covid-19, and six have perished from it.

Brainard expressed particular anxiety about re-use of gloves, and the risk of contact transfer of SARS-CoV-2. For example, when additional screening is applied, TSA agents often handle personal items in carry-on bags, and sometimes make “pat-down” searches of passengers. Ideally, the gloves should be changed after each contact, but this would require huge numbers of them.

I don’t know the extent to which this implicates the safety of air travelers. As far as I know, spread of Covid-19 via surface contact is quite rare compared to airborne droplet spread.

What I think about, is my own experiences of flying. Since the turn of the millennium, the vast majority of my air travel has been across the Atlantic, and mostly via an airport which has enormous queues — hundreds of people deep — going into TSA screening, and on returning to America even larger numbers waiting to pass immigration, or milling around baggage carousels waiting to reclaim their belongings.

If air travel volumes were to return to even 20 or 30 percent of pre-pandemic levels, I don’t see how it could be physically possible to maintain safe distances in such a facility.

Anyway, I don’t expect to be there to find out, until I know that the number of infected people coming getting onto planes is near zero.

The U.S. is now exceeding its previous peak (from 2 months ago) of new case detections. The head of the CDC just made public their estimate that for each detected infection, there are about ten not counted.

The likelihood of exposure to an infected person in the U.S. is now greater than at any previous time, and probably far greater than in most countries.

Jeff June 26, 2020 11:10 AM

Planes was always a flying garbage can. Air travel requires spending time in a closed places. I’d rather wait until the situation calms down.

lurker June 26, 2020 1:26 PM

Doctors often do much closer than “pat-down” searches of patients, and they (usually, in developed countries) wash their hands between patients with soap and water. Takes about the same time as changing gloves, and much, much safer. Should we expect the TSA to take any notice of medical practices? during a pandemic or not?

Clive Robinson June 26, 2020 1:42 PM

@ Bruce,

I would keep your air speed down to zero for a while.

It would appear the US is now into a new wave of COVID-19 cases wotse in both numbers and rise due to the easing of lockdown a few weeks back.

Apparently Dr Fauchi has said the real infection rate is probably around ten times the reported rate.

But even so that is still only a tiny fraction of the US population.

Apparently the CDC is predicting another 100-150 thousand new deaths starting in 2-3 weeks and going on for another 3-5 weeks pased on data from the previous significant rise.

It would appear the major infection vector age range is 18-35 the bulk of whom appear to neither wear masks or practice social distancing and indulge in unsafe social practices.

Whilst the death rate may be low in this age range, it does happen. But more importantly these are the “stay at home” or “no fledgling” generation still living with their parents (40-55 range) and grand parents (55 upwards) who are much more likely to die. Thus these young adults are in effect “visiting death upon their families”.

Clive Robinson June 26, 2020 2:58 PM

@ Robert,

They need to ban CPAPs…

I would hardly call the “California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation” an organisation to take medical advice from. Especially as they do not say from whom or how they got their advice from. Importantly the fact that they have not given contact details of who drew up this policy and thus carries the legal responsability and liability for any death or injury.

It actually turns out if you go and get real medical advice from those practicing in this area of medicine that stopping the use of a CPAP device for even very short periods is harmful to the users health. Including increased incidence of strokes and heart attacks as well as increasing the likes of fibrosis in the lungs, right side of the heart and the coresponding blood vessels.

But it also significantly increases your risk of injury, worse than the use of anesthetics, medications etc where you get the “Do not operate” warnings.

The spurious argument used about finer droplets has as far as I’m aware no research backing and as most CPAP masks have the same dispersive effect on vortices that cloth masks do I doubt the claims made.

But we do know from research that has been published in JAMA that along with coughs and sneezes, spluttering and snoring cause increased dropplet travel. Those with sleep apnea are known to splutter and snore excecively in their sleep without a CPAP mask. Thus they are probably a considerably more significant risk without their CPAP machine than with it.

Thus if actual scientific tests were to be carried out I would fully expect them to come out against the “California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation”

In fact they could be significantly liable due to discriminating against those with disabilities.

But another reason to doubt they have received qualified medical advice is the “loose weight” nonsense. It’s fairly clear that sleep apnea has a genetic component as it is hereditary in many cases. But also a significant number of people who have to use CPAP machines these days is because they have had an injury to their mouth, jaw or airway, some from the fact they have had an airbag blow up in their face causing injury in those areas, others because they have come off of pushbikes skateboards and skates, full contact sporting injuries and trips or falls where they’ve hit their face etc.

Thus I suspect that the “California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation” have an alterative entirely non medical related interest in stopping the use of CPAP machines.

Oh and there is absolutly nothing short term about COVID-19 the US are apparently going into a second wave right now. Also there will not be a vaccine untill autumn 2021 at the earliest and I can not see those in correctional facilities being high on the prioriry list.

So that piece of paper from the “California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation” is full of what are effectively lies, probably at the instigation of some corporate looking to improve profit and reduce liability by pretending to be proactive, when infact they are being not just reactive but harmfully so.

JonKnowsNothing June 26, 2020 4:59 PM

The appalling pictures and videos of desperate people crammed on beaches everywhere might give one pause about attempting something “brave” like flying, unless you have a private jet available.

Even during the worst of the previous lockdowns, people with private jets zoomed all over the world to party in their favorite locales. Yes, they got COVID19. Yes, they brought it home with them as a gift to all and sundry around them, with little consideration for the differences in social and financial status of those they infected.

The MSM report on a series of COVI19 outbreaks and hotspots in Melbourne Australia gives a pretty good overview of just how fast things spin out of control.

Outbreaks May 2-June 25 2020 (majority are in June)
Cluster Size

  1. 19
  2. 17
  3. 8
  4. 15
  5. 15
  6. 15
  7. 8
  8. 5
  9. 5
  10. 3
  11. 13
  12. 111
  13. 13

One important point to remember if you can:

Herd Immunity Policy

(aka Do Nothing Policy aka Die for the Economy aka The Swedish Treatment aka Die Faster So We Can Make and Take Your Money aka Neoliberal Economics)

is still very much alive and in practice in many countries.

Pretty much like Lord Voldemort. Only there is no magic wand (contact tracking app) to protect you and Dumbledore fell from the tower long ago.

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lurker June 26, 2020 11:45 PM

My local paper today has an article showing the country of origin of all the known cases of Covid19 imported into New Zealand. Sorry, the on-line version is behind a paywall. Vivid half-page graphic shows more than half came, in roughly equal numbers from UK and USA, and giving the lie to a popular meme, -none- came from China.

1&1~=Umm June 27, 2020 12:45 AM


“Personally, I won’t be flying until I can bring my scuba tanks on board, and no further than the pure oxygen filled tanks would last.”

You may not last in a healthy condition as long as the oxygen filled tanks would last…

Oxygen is actually a poison to the body and like the koala bear and cyanide we have developed a tolerance for it at lower levels. The excess of oxygen is ‘hyperoxia’ but the lack of oxygen is ‘hypoxia’ which can cause problems in cognition.

As we are talking about COVID-19 which is a respiratory disease that is currently thought does most damage to the lungs, you might want to compare the effects of it and hyperoxia on the lungs. Broadly as they both cause inflamation the symptoms a patient would report start the same and remain similar, untill the disease becomes more advanced and additional symptoms might be reported.

Which as significantly increased levels of oxygen are used to treat the more severe cases of COVID-19 makes things harder for the clinicians…

MarkH June 28, 2020 2:35 AM


Although the small number of Covid-19 transmissions attributed to air travel is reassuring in a sense, my presumption has been that this datum (or perhaps, lack of data) doesn’t mean much.

Contact tracing seems to be so rare, that it would be legitimate to say that almost all Covid-19 cases have not been medically traced. Accordingly, contact tracing records are weakly sampled, and probably a a poor guide to a situation like air travel which accounts for such a small proportion of potential exposure for most people.

Perhaps interesting for you, the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics of the House Science Committee had hearings last Tuesday on the subject of air travel safety in light of infectious disease risks.

One of the representatives, in prefacing a question about epidemic plans for airlines, expressed distress that the contact tracing capability for air travelers is so poor. He said the U.S. government has repeatedly pressured airlines to do the kind of data collection which would be helpful for contact tracing when epidemics arise, and the the industry has consistently refused.

Clive Robinson June 28, 2020 3:43 AM

@ MarkH,

With regards “one of the representatives” and,

    expressed distress that the contact tracing capability for air travelers is so poor.

As far as I remember the US collects not just names but pasport and other information of all people on passanger and cargo aircraft as part of it’s “post 9/11 activities”[1].

If they still do gather the information, then it sounds like a “Game of Silos” in the respective “Inteligence Agencies” of which any epidemiological organisation would effectively become one.

[1] A part of which was/is the “Advance Passenger Information System” (APIS) run by the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) sub agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with some of that information ending up in “Fussion Centers”.

JonKnowsNothing June 28, 2020 6:02 AM

@MarkH @Clive

re: Contact Tracing ability of Airlines and Others in USA

Everyone in the USA now has to have REAL-ID marked on their DMV License or ID Cards IF they want to fly, enter a federal building (social security) or have business on a military facility.

The law sets forth requirements for state drivers’ licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes”, as defined by the Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The Secretary of Homeland Security has defined “official purposes” as boarding commercially operated airline flights, and entering federal buildings and nuclear power plants, although the law gives the Secretary unlimited authority to require a “federal identification” for any other purposes.

To obtain the required mark, you have to provide several documents such as Birth Certificate, Proof of Residency (name on a bill with street address), original/official Social Security Number Card or similar documentation.

All of this data is scanned at the DMV and added to a series of ginormous state databases which are then linked together and then linked to federal ginormous databases and then linked to LEOs and more ginormous databases. There are various direct and indirect methods of the data traveling outside the USA.

Additional aspects of REAL-ID is that it is part of the USA’s version of Hostile Environment Immigration policy.

Starting October 1, 2021 “every air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification (such as a U.S. passport, U.S. passport card, U.S. military card, or DHS trusted traveler card, e.g. Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST) for domestic air travel.”

The Airlines have the REAL-ID info which go into the hopper when you buy or check-in at the airlines. The FEDs have all that information and more from the Boarding and Ticketing information.

The information is already available however, the “contact tracing” being done is not for medical purposes.

note: The scanning of the documents by the DMV looked to me like a sieve of security failures waiting to be noticed. No one noticed, at least not officially.

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The UK Home Office hostile environment policy is a set of administrative and legislative measures designed to make staying in the United Kingdom as difficult as possible for people without leave to remain, in the hope that they may “voluntarily leave”.[1][2][3][4][5] The Home Office policy was first announced in 2012 under the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.[6] The policy was widely seen as being part of a strategy of reducing UK immigration figures to the levels promised in the 2010 Conservative Party Election Manifesto

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The Windrush scandal is a 2018 British political scandal concerning people who were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in at least 83 cases,[1][2][3] wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office. Many of those affected had been born British subjects and had arrived in the UK before 1973, particularly from Caribbean countries as members of the “Windrush generation”[4] (so named after the Empire Windrush, the ship that brought one of the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK in 1948).

As well as those who were deported, an unknown number were detained, lost their jobs or homes, or were denied benefits or medical care to which they were entitled.[3] A number of long-term UK residents were refused re-entry to the UK, and a larger number were threatened with immediate deportation by the Home Office.

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Clive Robinson June 28, 2020 11:07 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, MarkH,

Everyone in the USA now has to have REAL-ID marked on their DMV License or ID Cards IF they want to fly…

It was not just those in the US with permanent residency or leave to stay I was thinking about, it was anyone traveling on aircraft that go into or through US airspace (and that of other nations) which you would require for contact tracing to find “Patient Zero’s” or “Super Spreaders” or what ever distopian name they get given these days.

After a little thought I remembered that the Database being collected actually pre-dated 9/11 and was kept secret for a number of years. It’s data comes from not just those connected with Real-ID, but APIS and several other sources as well (though there are some “loop holes” remaining).

It’s called “ATS” which is a TLA used in multiple places, but in this case stands for “Automated Targeting System” supposadly designed to find all “National Security Threats” be they human or cargo crossing US boarders. By the way it’s not just “terrorists” but “criminals” and “bad drivers” that get flagged up as threats,

So what I don’t get is why the US representative in question is complaigning about the airline ondustry being unhelpfull, they already hand over this information to the US Government any way.

Hence it’s either just another “grandstanding stunt” by the Representative or as I noted a “data silo” issue in this case in the DHS, which already collects all the information required for contact tracing and a lot lot more.

Oh I noticed in my above that I called the DHS CBP a “Patrol” not what they would prefere “Protection” which they very clearlt fail at (drugs and illegals from Mexico being the most obvious). Not sure if that gets me enough points for refusal of entry, the “black glove and flashlight treatment”, a full set of water treatments or some combination there of with extra added “Special Administrative Measures” thrown in “just for the fun of it” :-S

MarkH June 28, 2020 12:43 PM


I suggest a lack of awareness of the process of contact tracing, which is difficult and labor-intensive.

Of course, airlines have a record of the identities presented by passengers, and (in most cases) of which seat they were supposed to occupy.

If you’re attempting contact tracing, you’ll eventually want answers to questions like:

• where was the passenger in the 2 week prior to flight?
• where has the passenger been since the flight?
• how long did the passenger intend to remain in the country of arrival?

But most of all, you will need a dependable means by which to communicate with that passenger. If you can’t find/call/email the person, you’re at a dead end.

As a survivor of a bewildering number of international flights, I can assure you that after you leave the plane, the airline often has no clue on how to reach you. You could drop dead in the terminal for all they care: once you disembark, their responsibility is ended.

CDC wants airlines to collect and retain the data needed for location/communication. So far, airlines don’t. CDC’s shopping list is short and sweet. In addition to the passenger’s name, which you correctly but trivially observed they already know, CDC wants:

• phone number
• email address
• address of stay at destination
• emergency contact information

In case you’re thinking, “I have to give this information to book a flight,” I can testify from experience that I’ve never been asked for all four. Further, the enormous use of third-party booking websites means that information given by passengers doesn’t all reach the airlines. For about half of their passengers, airlines don’t even have a phone number or email address.

For anyone interested in the history of this battle, it began in 2005 when public health authorities were pondering the previous SARS outbreak, and how best to prepare for the next crisis. They asked airlines to collect the data that would support contact tracing.

The airline industry has been fighting tooth and claw against this for 15 years now:

During this interval of industry refusal to help protect public health, Ebola and Covid-19 came to America …

… by plane.

According to recent headlines (since Tuesday’s hearings), there now may be some actual movement on this matter.

Smith June 28, 2020 9:30 PM

Bruce, take a good hard look at the COVID-19 data. If you get COVID-19, given your age, what are your chances of surviving it? What are your chances of spending weeks or months in ICU, in a coma, on a ventilator?

You’ve got a lot of friends. How many people do you personally know who have died from COVID-19? How about friends of friends? As I go out to 2 or 3 friends of friends, it turns out a lot of people I’ve met have died from COVID-19. And that’s just so far. COVID-19 is just getting started.

Then there’s the part where survivors aren’t completely healing. They’re disabled for life. It’s this generation’s version of Polio.

Now take a look at:

Scroll over to the right on the first table. Look at “new” & “cumulative” totals for “confirmed” & “deaths” for the last week. Those numbers are higher than they were last April. (Our leaders are trying to reducing testing, so those numbers could be worse.)

Now go outside & look around. How many folks do you see congregating in groups? Socializing? How many aren’t wearing masks, or don’t wear masks over their nose?

On that Wiki page, look which states have the highest numbers of new cases: AZ, CA, FL, TX, … COVID-19 isn’t stopped by Summer, heat, or humidity.

It’s believed COVID-19 can spread from asymptomatic individuals. It only takes one person on your flight. And your stuck next to them for hours…

And then you get the folks who ARE symptomatic & highly contagious, and who need to get home for medical care…

They tell me the airlines will wipe down the seats with alcohol. Yet I find they forget to remove used air sickness bags from the seat pocket in front of me. Combine that level of competence with an airborne virus and recirculated/recycled air…

Well, you’re risking your life for the airlines’ profits.

And that’s something to think about. Airline stocks are tanking. Nobody’s flying. So this whole thing about flying being “safe”. Are the “experts” thinking about my safety? Or the airline’s bottom line? (Remember all the “experts” who said smoking cigarettes was healthy?) And do we want to be on the bleeding edge, our lives becoming the raw data to find out whether they’re right or wrong about safety?

Even if the airlines can make it safe, what about the rental car? The taxi? The hotels & restaurants? There’s a million vectors for infection when one travels.

It’s your life. What’s it worth to you?

ps: My son has an autoimmune disorder. He’s immunocompromised. It’s not my life that I’m worried about.

ps: Real ID. To get a Real ID Driver’s License, I need to supply the DMV with my Birth Certificate. An original state-issued birth certificate, not a copy. To get an original state-issued birth certificate, you guessed it, I need to send them a copy of my Driver’s License. And every step along the way, some state agency collects a handsome fee. At least we know it’s an official government operation.

Bob Acker June 28, 2020 10:22 PM

I am over 70, so more susceptible than many.

I look at some of the severe impacts:

Lungs turned to roughly concrete.

Attacks on the blood vessels and other organs beyond the lungs.

Even when recovered, lingering severe adverse symptoms that may last a lifetime.

Therefore we minimize risks.

We believe exposure to other humans in confined spaces is a mistake.

Therefore, we do not enter any enclosed spaces, except our own home.

Our supplies are either picked up outside or delivered outside.

Of course, that eliminates passenger aircraft entirely.

Clive Robinson June 29, 2020 2:43 AM

@ Smith, Bruce,

COVID-19 isn’t stopped by Summer, heat, or humidity.

It is known that both sunlight and the raising of the air temprature that causes faster evaporation both have a detrimental effect on the viability of corona RNA viruses, from scientific study.

However a decrease by natural effects can be fairly easily overcome by human agency, which is the real problem…

That is if people stop social distancing and mask wearing and engage in risky and direct contact activities then the virus viability time measured in days or hours becomes of little effect compared to the almost direct transfer from an infected person to an uninfected person measured in minutes or seconds…

If you go and look at the CDC data on infections normalized against age range then the transmitters of SARS-CoV-2 are the 18-45 age range.

You only need look outside to see groups in that age range “getting it together” at close quaters whilst injesting chemicals that alter perception and behaviour in deleterious ways. Just as they effect driving ability, impulse control and cognative ability to name just a few (it’s why we say “courage from a bottle” and call certain plants “dope”).

The proplem is that age range are going to be mainly asymptomatic, and even with symptoms they will be mild so they might as well be asymptomatic whilst being highly infectious. Thus going to a party or bar will be an extraordinarily high risk activity as will conversation in small groups with raised voices so people can hear each other often with their faces less than 3ft appart… They will not be able to tell who is infecting them as well as not caring from intoxication.

But… This age range also due to certain economic policies are now the “non fledgers” that “stay in the nest” untill their mid thirties and later with their parents who would be in the 40-65 age range and even grandparents in the 60+ age range.

We know from Northern Italy where such two and three generation households are common that the death rate in the 55+ age range was very very large as much as eleven times the average for the five previous years in the early part of this year. We found this not from medical statistics but morturary statistics and death notices in newspapers. Where with these “excess deaths” it was discovered that the medical cause of death on the death certificate was incorrectly recorded as something other than SARS-CoV-2 related…

Thus the gregarious and “carefree” socializers in the 18-45 age range are bringing their “dirty business, back across the threshold” and not just leaving it on the doorstep but trampling it inside and “visiting it on their parents and grandparents”.

If you like “A whole new breed of serial killers” or “granny killers”.

Unfortunatly these are not the outlying corner cases that politicians invoke with “think of the children” they are not even “edge cases” in effectively six months hundreds of thousands have had their lives terminated twenty to fourty years early due to the irresponsible behaviour of their children and grand children. In the western nations average life expectancy was rising and was in the low 80’s in many places with substantialy increasing numbers making it past a century.

However the US already had a falling life expectancy which is almost unique in so called first world nations. What effect do you think that unrestrained COVID-19 deaths will have on the average US life expectancy this year?

Well you could work it out in a number of ways some more accurate than others. But the simple way is to find a ball park with a low and high side and go from there.

So to start lets say 300,000 early deaths from COVID-19 this year in the US as a “low side” with an average life expectancy loss of 20years. So 6 million years of life expectancy lost to COVID-19.

The anual death rate in the US is given by the CDC[1] as,

    “Number of deaths: 2,813,503; Death rate: 863.8 deaths per 100,000 population; Life expectancy: 78.6 years”

So you can see there is going to be something like a two year drop in average life expectancy on the low side, lets say to 76years if the US is lucky…

But some estimate the death rate will be between 1 and 5 million over 1 to 3 years. That means 20million to 100million years of life expectancy lost. Or if it all happens in one year 7 to 35 years off of the average life expectancy. Bringing it down to somewhere between 44 and 72 years. That worst case is down below many third world countries…

All because a certain generation want to have a “good time” and a very small percentage of the population see themselves as “entitled” to profit at any cost…


[2] The CDC figures give a per million expected death figure prior to COVID-19 of 8638. According to the worldometer the current US COVID-19 deaths per million are 388 per million or 4.5%…

Clive Robinson June 29, 2020 5:58 AM

@ Bruce, ALL,

Healthcare Migration

Back when COVID-19 was called “Novel Corona Virus” I indicated a concern that there would be “Healthcare migrants” from akong the “Spice Route” to the west.

Well this has now been clearly confirmed.

In the UK the influx of people from Pakistan represents more than half the confirmed cases comming into the UK. Some are obviously sick on arival and are being shipped off to hospital directly. These people are obviously infectious and have spent many hours on an aircraft getting from Packistan to the UK. Thus it is more than highly probable that of the 65,000 people comming into the UK from Pakistan have infected others on their flight.

The problem with confirming this is that the UK authorities for what ever reason are extreamly lax on contact tracing or following up those who have arived in the UK by air.

However the problem has now got so bad that the UK government is considering “quarantining” the entire city of Leicester, which has a very high Pakistani presence and high levels of infection.

Why would their be “Healthcare Migrants” well the cost of a return flight to the UK from Pakistan is less than the black market price for just one course of various quite common drugs with 2000USD being the price for the likes of Dexamethasone or a fake / knock-off of it.

But why the UK?

Well some people in Pakistan still have entry rights as British Citizen’s arising from when what is now Pakistan was a part of what is now the British Commonwealth (ie previously “Empire”). Also and perhaps more importantly the UK National Health Service is in effect free for those admitted to hospital by way of “Accident and Emergancy”.

What few have perhapsed realised is that the so called “air bridges” that are planed will quite rightly be seen as a back door for more Healthcare Migrants.

Though why any country would be insane enough to consider an air bridge with the UK still aludes me unless they are desperate for tourism money. Because if you look at the “deaths per million”, the UK at 642, has the worst death rate for any nation with a population of over 25 million[1]…

Analysis of the viral RNA strains indicates that the two main sources of SARS-Cov-2 in the UK are,

1, Northern Italy.
2, Southern Pakistan.

Not China even though there is a large East Asian / Oriental population in the UK (China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan).

As @SpaceLifeForm has stated several times about air transport of passengers “just stop”…

Oh and today we have passed two world wide milestones,

1, Ten Million infections.
2, Half a million deaths.

Which gives a Case Fatality Rate of about 1 in 20 or ~5%…

[1] Strange as it may appear small nations suffer from the issues arising from the “law of small numbers” and the way they report things. Thus whilst Belgium appears to have a worse death rate, it is down to the fact that they report the numbers differently to most. That is when it comes to deaths, anything where COVID has not been specifically excluded is reported, where as most other countries report only what has been specifically diagnosed by test etc which falsely under reports the figures (see Brazil and Russia as just two examples of this).

JonKnowsNothing June 29, 2020 9:44 AM

@Clive @All

re: Death of the Bank of Mom and Dad

I’ve made a few references to the wealth transfer aspect of the deaths of so many resource-richer older people. I’ve not found any hard-numbers such as we had early on about the cost of Saving The Economy/Saving Mom and Dad, but this aspect is surely part of the equation.

Pre-COVID19, many wealthier nations were eyeballing the Collective Wealth of the Elder Population as well as the Costs of Keeping Them Alive. We know a lot about the costs of keeping people alive but the undertow is the wealth transfer to “heirs apparent with impulse control issues”.

In the Real Estate market in the US and UK, there has been moves to force older folks from their independently owned homes (mortgaged or owned) in order to free up housing for families with more offspring. Older folks are called Last Owners because we stop moving to new housing. We halt the RE House Churn, we don’t ReFi as often and we don’t do as many DIY upgrades. We are barnacles and hold-back the RE Business Model Buy/Sell/Re-Sell/Bigger House/Bigger Mortgage; where commissions=pay (a longer term version of the gig-economy).

In the UK they had the Bedroom-Tax, in the USA we have had a number of proposals but most of the push comes in the form of Property Taxes. So the concept of how to get access to Held Wealth is not new news.

COVID19 is a game changer in the transfer of Held Wealth.

The collective wealth of the generations that are dying is large, where an individual’s wealth might be small or none. Aspects of wealth vary by country and custom but includes fiat-money, hard metals, land, cattle-livestock, stocks, bonds or anything considered of value like tulip bulbs.

The neoliberal view of such wealth is that it “That should be MINE!” and direct course of economic actions will immediately be implemented to strip that wealth from the novice or under experienced receiver. Inheritance Taxes, Wealth Management Scams, which exist now for the medium-wealthy, will certainly proliferate and target the new holders. It won’t be for their betterment.

Anecdotal stories of how such wealth is perceived often had the aspect of “found money” that was “splurged on vacations”.

The collective wealth of 500,000 dead will flow into the hands of Neoliberal Economies, claiming austerity and that survivors must pay for the dead. There is a clear financial incentive for the No Mask, No Distance, No Compliance in countries like the USA.

The dead are profitable and COVID19 provides the opportunity.

“Après nous, le déluge”.

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The under-occupancy penalty (also known as the under occupation penalty, under-occupancy charge, under-occupation charge or size criteria)[1] results from a reform contained in the British Welfare Reform Act 2012 whereby tenants living in public housing (also called council or social housing) with rooms deemed “spare” face a reduction in Housing Benefit, resulting in them being obliged to fund this reduction from their incomes or to face rent arrears and potential eviction by their landlord (be that the local authority or a housing association).

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The tax is nearly always computed as the fair market value of the property times an assessment ratio times a tax rate

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Tulip mania (Dutch: tulpenmanie) was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637.

Tulip mania reached its peak during the winter of 1636–37, when some bulbs were reportedly changing hands ten times in a day. No deliveries were ever made to fulfil any of these contracts, because in February 1637, tulip bulb contract prices collapsed abruptly and the trade of tulips ground to a halt.[36] The collapse began in Haarlem, when, for the first time, buyers apparently refused to show up at a routine bulb auction. This may have been because Haarlem was then suffering from an outbreak of bubonic plague. The existence of the plague may have helped to create a culture of fatalistic risk-taking that allowed the speculation to skyrocket in the first place;[37] this outbreak might also have helped to burst the bubble.

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“Après nous, le déluge” meaning “After us, the flood”) is a French expression, attributed to Madame de Pompadour, the lover of King Louis XV of France.

An alternative form, attributed to Louis himself, is “Après moi, le déluge” (“After me, the flood”). This saying is believed to date from after the Battle of Rossbach in 1757, which was disastrous for the French.[2] There are two possible interpretations: “After my reign, the nation will be plunged into chaos and destruction”; or “After me, let the deluge come”, meaning that he does not care what happens after his death.[3] The second corresponds to the meaning of “Après nous, le déluge” taken by Brewer: “Ruin, if you like, when we are dead and gone.”

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Clive Robinson June 29, 2020 4:09 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

Re the bank of mom and dad.

It makes sober reading, and the thought of some automaton type droid sitting there with a calculator and a set of tables doing the “profit on death” figures is frankly disquieting to put it mildly and makes my skin creap.

I guess as I’m not as young as I once was and a prime candidate for such a cull makes me look at it somewhat differently than some thirty something sociopath who cares not a jot about the people only the profit to be made off of their dead bodies. It’s the sort of thing the BoJo unelected advisor and quarantine breaker would revel in.

But as for the “Bedroom tax” that is not the least of it just one of several nasties, because those in council etc accommodation usually have no choice on the number of bedrooms. Thus it effects the singletons and single mothers (who are expected to sleep in the same bed as their children untill they are twelve) as much as it does older folks, because “Council housing stock” has been designed with a minimum of two and frequently three bedrooms.

But it gets worse, there is a “cap” on the level of rent that you can claim and this is set at some nominal national average with an area modifier. The result is “welcome to slumsville” as private landlords charge prices way higher than that.

But lets say you have a place and some how you are paying for it, the landlord can kick you out with little or no notice. In theory you would be entitled to emergancy housing in the local area. Once upon a time that would have been a slum “Bed and Breakfast” full of people you would not want children near. Now because that does not dissuade enough people most local governments decide sending you to some slum a hundred or more miles away or even in a different country is the thing to do and they pull tricks with train fares and the like to ensure you fail to get to the accommodation then can not get back again the following day for what is a totally unnecessary “required” meeting that if you do not attend you automatically loose any entitlement untill you get an appeal at the HM Courts and Tribunals maybe ten or eleven months later… Where if you win you will not get all the money you were owed, because they will claim it will put you over the savings limit, so you can not pay of loans etc thus incure further interest charges etc.

Oh and I know of one person who was disalowed any assistance because it was claimed “they could live with their parent” even though their parent was on bail awaiting trial for abusing them…

Such is the “caring sharing system” we have in the UK, where people who have never been through the system or have not helped someone through the system get fed a pack of lies about such people being wasterals, deadbeats, freeloaders, lazy, indolent, criminals, economic migrants, illegal immigrants etc etc by politicians.

I won’t go into the children that slip through the cracks, but you can look up the scandle in Rochdale to get an idea of what still happens in many parts of the country.

It’s all rather horrific in what is supposed to be a first world nation and one of the richest in the world.

Sancho_P June 29, 2020 5:08 PM

(@Smith, …)

I hate to say that, but it doesn’t matter whether @Bruce takes to the plane or not.
It doesn’t matter neither to him nor to others. There’s no risk, just normality.
We can delay it for weeks, but we (individuals) can not stop “the flu”.
Likely westerners never could.
Two reasons: (1) We are free + (2) we can not stop flying / traveling.

America first!
Yes, they did a very good, a great, a tremendous job! Fantastic! Top!
Clap, clap, clap.
– But EU will follow en suit, in just a couple of weeks.

I’m literally living on a small island, COVID is nearly dead here since weeks.
But without massive tourism (2) and party (1) we will be dead in a couple of months.
There’s no choice, we have to face facts.
GRETA-19 will continue.

JonKnowsNothing June 29, 2020 6:15 PM


at the risk of sounding more of a Luddite than normal…

re: 1. We are free

This is debatable depending on where in the world you happen to live, what legal systems are in place and WAI (working as intended), religion, ethnicity, gender(all types of) and a host of other criteria.

We have an “illusion of freedom” and we have an “ideal of freedom”. Sometimes those match up. Sometimes they don’t.

Freedom is also associated with wealth and disposable income. You can be Free and have no food, no shelter,no legal recourse, no ability to change locales, no work, and the list goes on.

Even Death is not Free… someone has to pay the ferryman … or gravedigger.

re: 2 we can not stop flying / traveling

We do not have to stop traveling.

There are other ways of travel other than airplanes. They were quite common and normal transport before Lindbergh. Travel can take many forms and formats. The concept of immediate “RIGHT NOW TRAVEL” is a recent one, and very closely related to “checking your phone for non-existent messages” or “doom-scrolling”.

Air travel has it’s place but for the vast majority of travel provided by the airlines is for the ego-pump of the traveler:

    “I’m Taking the Red Eye to Paris for the BIG DOGS meet up….”

If you are from the USA (or traveling from the USA), Paris will not be on your itinerary for a good long while, and its pretty much the same for any other destination on the planet. COVID19+USA are not Passports to the World.

You might be Free. You might have a private jet. You might be a VIP.
Getting off the plane is whole different problem.

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Charon the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. A coin to pay Charon for passage, usually an obolus or danake, was sometimes placed in or on the mouth of a dead person.[1] Some authors say that those who could not pay the fee, or those whose bodies were left unburied, had to wander the shores for one hundred years, until they were allowed to cross the river

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Charles Augustus Lindbergh (February 4, 1902 – August 26, 1974) was an American aviator, military officer, author, inventor, and activist. At the age of 25 in 1927, he went from obscurity as a U.S. Air Mail pilot to instantaneous world fame by winning the Orteig Prize for making a nonstop flight from New York City to Paris.

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Sancho_P June 30, 2020 5:28 PM


Luddite? Do you have (and watch) TV? A job?
– Wouldn’t eremite / caveman be more appropriate? 😉

My “free” means “We don’t wear a mask because we are free”, as seen in the US and everywhere in the west.

… Of course we can travel by donkey and Rocinante, Sire!
– But we don’t 🙁

Jon June 30, 2020 7:48 PM

Incidentally, I suspect that travelling by personal automobile the same distance is still more dangerous than on a jet airliner, despite the virus. J.

JonKnowsNothing June 30, 2020 8:27 PM


No (I have a so called smart phone)
No (I have a so called smart tablet)
No (btdt, all done now)

I can faithfully attest that riding my horse is very enjoyable experience.

I get to see the sky, the birds, the coyotes, enjoy the agricultural area and watch the grapes and oranges grow and get harvested. I can watch the hawks as they soar overhead and the local ground squirrels raise their pups. I get loads of time to think about what my next plans are (or aren’t). (1)

He does not require oil changes, new engines, new transmissions, gasoline or diesel fuel. He has no plastics, pbas, pfas/pfos. He does not need concrete road ways or asphalted overlay. He has 4 speed gears (gaits: walk, trot, canter, gallop) and reverses in slow and fast. His speed is 4mph at a walk. He has On-Demand 4 wheel drive and can go Up Hill and Down Hill, and move sideways left or right, or at an angle (both forward and back). He can cross wet or dry streams and creek beds. He can cross terrain with no paths. He can traverse sand, dirt, gravel, rock or ground with stones and boulders.

He does not require a GPS Mapping System: He always knows where HOME is, and will take me there without Surge Prices.

He comes with self insulating coat (gets thick in the winter and short in the summer). He can open and close gates (I do have to do the latch part). He is washable and drip or air-drys. He comes to me when I call him and stands patiently while I do my human-antics of brushing and saddling and bridling. He requires no electricity, internet or cabling. His working life expectancy is 25-30 years(2). His annual medical needs are @$300-500. He gets a set of horse-shoes every 6-8 weeks.

And for all of the above, his only requirements are:

Grass and Water</b

1 Pre-COVID19
2 with COVID19, my life expectancy is much shorter than his.

Jon June 30, 2020 9:10 PM


Sounds delightful, except you are overlooking a few more requirements, one being a large amount of underpopulated and reasonably fertile real estate(1).

Grass is not common in urban areas(2) and complaints about your horse’s ’emissions’ might come rather more frequently in more densely populated areas.

An average speed of 4mph, given a reasonable commute of 16 miles, implies a four-hour trip – one-way. To many this would also be unacceptable. I imagine you are quite fortunate in not having such that every day. Many people are not as lucky as you. Think of them also.


(1) Property tax should probably be included in expenses here.

(2) Even in suburbia, those who have grass might, for very valid reasons, object to your horse eating it (and/or pooping on it).

JonKnowsNothing July 1, 2020 1:25 AM


Those are valid points as far as they go… but you might have missed a few side paths.

5G is faster than 4mph. It doesn’t require a 4hour RT. It can be done from horseback, a boat, a train, on foot, on bicycle…

Horse emissions are biodegradable and if you like mushrooms, white, crimini or portabella, you know they like what horses produce.

Given that a good many hi-tech folks, consider their urban dwellings and lifestyles as “THE WAY PEOPLE LIVE”, they often miss that a great part of the world does not live in the same sort of environment. Smartphones are everywhere but cars are not.

@Sancho_P post indicates a “small island”. I dunno how small of a small island that is, but some islands are advertising for Billionaire Private Jet Owners to come for staycations on private islands.

I can also tell you, that 4mph is a lot faster than you are going to be moving in your hyped-up-overprice-BMW/TESLA during the 4-6 hour commute window 2x per day in Silicon Valley, as people pour in from housing 3-4 hours away, because affordable housing doesn’t exist in Silicon Valley, not even for those making Good Bucks.

A not uncommon commute starts with 4am jaunt to the local Park and Ride, then to the train station, then on the 6am commuter express in the Bay Area, followed by a ride on the transit system or bus or ferry or UBER to arrive at the office. The same in reverse only there’s only 3 trains out and if you miss the last train you are homeless for the night as well as Shanks Mare.

So… the entire point is to Think Out of YOUR Box. Consider something new, different, weird or odd. Take a trip in your mind to see if something different would work.

Lots of folks are doing that now because what we had didn’t work, we lied to ourselves and lied to each other that it did. But it didn’t.

Time to change. We have all the time we want. Time is infinite.

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Agaricus bisporus is an edible basidiomycete mushroom native to grasslands in Europe and North America. It has two color states while immature – white and brown – both of which have various names, with additional names for the mature state.

A. bisporus is cultivated in more than seventy countries,[2] and is one of the most commonly and widely consumed mushrooms in the world.

In 1893, sterilized, or pure culture, spawn was discovered and produced by the Pasteur Institute in Paris, for cultivation on composted horse manure.

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The prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has announced the country is looking to attract “VIPs” to help restore Fiji’s paralysed tourism-dependent economy.

“So, say you’re a billionaire looking to fly your own jet, rent your own island, and invest millions of dollars in Fiji in the process. If you’ve taken all the necessary health precautions and borne all associated costs, you may have a new home to escape the pandemic in paradise,” the prime minister said in a remarkably frank tweet.

the country would also welcome travellers arriving by yacht who were prepared to spend 14 days at sea – or make up the balance in quarantine in Fiji.

The country’s attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has announced the first planeload of 30 “high-net-worth individuals… from a very well-known company” were set to arrive by private plane in the archipelago nation on Sunday.

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DDG search on: “exhausted japan sleeping on street”

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Clive Robinson July 1, 2020 2:36 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

And for all of the above, his only requirements are: Grass and Water

And love, and you stopping by everyday come rain or shine to check and provide those little extras.

You can not put a horse in the garage and go away on vacation for a couple of weeks or business trips etc

But as you note getting him ready to roll in the morning os rather more than stuffing a bit of toast in your mouth whilst turning the ignition key…

I’m old enough to remember horse drawn carts of a few tradesmen such as the “rag-n-bone man” and the “Knife sharpener” and the “Coal merchant” as well as joy of joy’s for a small boy the steam engines pulling into the regional coal yard just a mile away across near open fields of farmland. There was also two stables just up the road and quite a bit of woodland and a river to play in. The “water rats and occasional otter that a quite contemplative child who could stay very still for an hour or so could see. Likewise the azure flash of a kingfishers wings and the stately slow movments of a hunting heron after the fish some being brown trout that I later learned to tickle. There were also the stray game birds and waterfowl, that I also learned how to get into the larder.

Sadly it’s now just memories, I took my own son on fathers day this year to show him where I was born and the area around. All though some of the fields were still there it was now “nature reserve” with graval paths and helpful notices about what you might see but won’t because of too many people and bored children making two much disturbance. The fields stoutly fenced off with big tresspass notices and where the coal yard was now a buss garage and industrial park faced off by a large “Travelodge” hotel advertising parking for around 15USD/day right next to the station, but being built a massive office complex of many tens of thousands of square feet, apparently it is to be the new UK headquaters of a major international “no frills” super market chain. With those stoutly fenced fields shown on a map as being for converting into god alone kbows how many parking spaces for the expanding industrial estate and the new “park and ride” scheme. But worse yet along what was a wooded hill side road next to the river where there were flood marshes with a rich diversiry of life, it’s now having executive developments with homes with tennis courts and swiming pools and lots of glass and tailord lawns…

Oh and a new “managed livery stables” so your horse can be preped fed exercised and all those other things that form a bond between man and beast done for you so you don’t have to get your hands dirty when you go for your half hour or so ride around the nature reserve.

As for the river I used to canoe on and fish in, it’s become “managed” and is nolonger navagable and as for fishing well, lets just say the sized hook you would need is two small to see and “sticklebacks” are in effect a protected species. As for the water rats, otters, and herons they appear to be long gone due to the dog walkers with ten or more unruly mutts on long chains being a hazard to not just themselves but anything that gets within a twenty foot radius… For there is no love between a dog walker and the mutts they drag along, you know that if the leash were slipped the beast would disappear as fast as four legs could run.

They call it “economic progress” I call it something else that would carry a “not for work” warning lable if I were to type it here…

JonKnowsNothing July 1, 2020 12:14 PM


Your recollections and reflections are fantastic. Thank you for sharing them!

Perhaps because I see the End of Me coming Soonerish, I reflect more about what trade offs I made to enjoy the bounty of Silicon Valley from the very start of “what’s a computer?”.

For all my Luddite postings, I am not a true Luddite in the sense that I do not want all the GOOD stuff thrown into a trash bin because some BAD stuff overwhelmed everything (up to now). Folks posting here are all interested in making more GOOD stuff and fixing the BAD so it isn’t so bad and that’s a nice place to be; knowing even the sock puppets come to “learn” because once you “learn something, you cannot unlearn it”.

Old tech, older tech and even ancient tech still has a lot to show us about how to do things we never considered because well… WE never had to do them. This is perhaps the most important aspect of future-designs. There’s only so many ME-TOOS you can build, only so many markets you can saturate with the Same-Old-Same-Old stuff. Everyone gets bored writing the same code over and over for yet another company as we Rotate-1 through jobs. Sure it pays the rent (maybe), puts a car in the ~600 sq ft used to store a hunk of plastic and metal, and puts food on the table (until the end of the month).

We can DO BETTER by thinking differently and doing differently.

There were a whole series of “How did they do that?” documentaries where they took a bunch of folks will various skills, academic and self-learned, and dropped them off in a location and said “Do This Ancient Thing” and you have “this lot of stuff” to make it with. I had more fun watching because most folks couldn’t make a darn thing and it was only 1 or 2 people that had any luck at all.

An example: Water Wheels

Water Wheels have an ancient and long history.

These are the basis of water turbines that run big electrical grids. It’s pretty complex how these grids are setup but water flows over the turbine blades and spins the generators which power the grid.

There’s modern uses for the same principles: Wind Generators use wind to power the blades. Wind Powered Well Pumps either by direct mechanic means or by charging a battery system.

It doesn’t have to be big to be of use. It can be small and carried in a backpack or inserted into a water pipe so it turns when you run the water from the tap.

If you never ever think about wind or water or ancient tech you won’t have a chance to think of new ways to use it.

search: DDG portable river turbine generator
search: DDG water pipe hydroelectric power
search: DDG power generation from water through pipe

def: Soonerish:

“Soon(erish) = Quite some time after “shortly”, but before “eventually”, a while after “in the near future”, but without a doubt “before the usual appointed time”, perhaps close to “early”, but surely long after “at once”. My guess is… as soon as the info leaks out.”
[source unknown]

Jon July 1, 2020 4:13 PM


Time to change. We have all the time we want. Time is infinite.

But real estate isn’t. A few quick Google searches told me that, in California, there are about 16 million acres of grazing land*, and that a reasonable area for one horse is between 1.5 and 2 acres.

The population of California is a hair shy of 40 million. Granting an average of roughly one horse per person, I think you can see why your lifestyle, while no doubt fun and economical, is not a reasonable solution for the vast bulk of the population.

You could argue, with some validity, that there are too many people, but that’s a different matter.

I found it amusing that you mentioned 5G. 5G is a short range wireless protocol. If, given a typical two-person household would have two horses on 3-4 acres, I don’t think you’d get any 5G because everyone would be so spread out it wouldn’t work. Better might be amateur radio on the 2-meter band. No streaming video – but is that really necessary?

And yes, mushrooms like being pooped upon. Now train your horse to poop exclusively upon mushrooms whose owners that have agreed to this treatment. And not anywhere else.

As Clive Robinson pointed out, the march of progress includes a lot more people – somewhat to the detriment of nature.

So yes. I have thought outside the box. Moreover, I’ve done the research and the math, and concluded that your lifestyle is highly privileged and cannot be rationally extended to accommodate even half the current population of California.

Enjoy it while you can. Jon

  • There’s another 27 million acres of cropland, but humans have to eat too. ht tps://

Sancho_P July 1, 2020 4:56 PM

@JonKnowsNothing, Jon, Clive Robinson

Yea, sometimes it helps to ignore reality, only it won’t last long.
I can see ya with wife, kids and your horse living in the bronx, 4th floor, 350 ft2,
thanks for taking pity on us other plebs 😛

Now these daydreams lead us way OT from “COVID-19 Risks of Flying”.
I’ve understood @Bruce’s concern as:

”I fly a lot [- and to continue my life I need to fly. Should I take the risk?].”

  • My unease was him using the term “risk” in this context:
    ”Risk :
  • A situation involving exposure to danger: flouting the law was too much of a risk | [mass noun] : all outdoor activities carry an element of risk.
  • [in singular] the possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen: reduce the risk of heart disease. …” (from Apple dictionary)

We all, but Americans first of course, will contract the disease, sooner rather than later, say within a couple of months [1].
So flying isn’t a risk but a fire accelerator.

If by all means you cannot afford contracting “the flu” within the next 2 months:
Don’t fly during this period (and take all other precautions, good luck anyway).

Flying is not a risk, because you will contract “the flu” anyway.
– On the other hand, probably your personal “risk” will increase after 2 months because you will then need all your strength in a very challenging time to come.

The time frame is at the core here. Very likely you will contract it before your natural death, with/without flying.
“Soonerish” may fit exactly 😉
[BTW my dictionary calls that “soonish”?]

Weather July 1, 2020 5:34 PM

In software to check hardware, you can’t use ,if x==1 ,but you can do 2+2+corruption+4 =opcode(8), in theory there’s still the question of 8 and if the silicon readdress the table.
Just thinking…

JonKnowsNothing July 1, 2020 6:01 PM


re: The Rabbit or Rat Hole

There are lots of aspects that would not suit others. There are other aspects that would not suit more.

re: Horse Space

The minimum space you need for a horse is 8x8ft but more commonly 10x10ft or 12x12ft with 24x24ft considered luxury accommodations.

If you live in an area with lots of rain fall and available water, you can keep a horse on green pasture. If you have irrigation you can keep a horse on green pasture that way too. Race Horses are raised on green pastures.

If you live in an area with less rainfall or drought, you need either more area for foraging or you need to feed extra grass/hay/alfalfa which is grown commercially by irrigation and dry land farming.

The amount of space needed for foraging is determined by zoning and other ordinances.

These same aspects affect cattle, sheep and other livestock.

Depending on where you live in the USA, real estate can be expensive and water may or may not be available. Ground water or run off may have “water rights” that you do not own or you may not be able to drop a well deep enough to hit the continuing fall of the underground aquifers where mega farms and cities extract industrial volumes of water.

Your local water supply maybe sold off by municipalities to corporate water bottlers who pack it into those Oh So Handy Single Use Bottles that folks pay $1-$5 for, depending on venue.

These aspects affect cattle, livestock, urban and suburban users.

Additionally, even if you have water it might be toxic or contain chemicals not conducive to continued life. Much of the water in Silicon Valley is extremely polluted due to manufacturing processes.

These aspects affect all livestock, humans and corporations.

If you are fortunate enough to own that much real estate in areas like Marin County CA where Oligarch WannaBees buy enormous acreages for their private preserves, you might fill it with a personal golf course, air landing strip, helicopter pads and room for 50 of your closest best friends for overnighters.

This occurs in all areas that considered (at the time) desirable, which varies by location and epoch.

When you keep a horse in a stable, you really need to ride every day to give the horse some exercise or you might find yourself Shanks Mare while your horse has a great old time bucking and kicking and running That-A-Way without you.

If you keep your horse in a stable you can sometimes cut a deal to do the feeding and cleaning yourself and you can even provide your own feed. In other situations you get a Full Service Stable where they clean out the stall, feed the horse, make sure he has water, and they take the horse to a Turn Out Paddock or Field for a few hours where he does whatever he wants, like running and bucking and playing; like a dog park except for horses.

Horse stables are in nearly every major city too. You can see the pictures of Mounted Patrols in Paris, London, New York and other cities. There are ceremonial horses in military bases and for political pageantry.

There are historically important horse venues like The Spanish Riding School located in Vienna Austria, The Cadre Noir located in Saumur France and Schools in Portugal and Spain. These are European Riding Schools.

If you lack the space for a full size horse you can try a mini-horse or donkey. Arnold Schwarzenegger has kept some folks amused during COVID19 with his postings along with his mini-horse Whiskey and donkey Lulu.

If you think about all the work folks do and all the stuff they put on their lawns, you could save a lot of hassle with a horse (or sheep or goat). You wouldn’t need a lawn mower, or chemical fertilizer. The manure is Digested Grass and lawn would be greener and healthier. You don’t want too much so you can pick it up and compost it for a garden. Manure management is just as important in a country area as in an urban one.

In urban areas, weed abatement is a big deal. Fires and all sorts of nasty stuff is associated with overgrown weed lots. A good number of municipalities are using goats to keep the weeds down along highways and in under used areas.

In places with a different wealth system, having a horse is a sign of extreme wealth. You might be happy to have one if you lived were there were days and days of riding to get to the nearest outpost. In such places the internet and computers are just as important as in urban areas, maybe even more.

I am quite happy with my horse, I don’t need a TESLA thanks.

It’s all in how you look at things.

[That was fun, now back to the normal programs]

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Jon July 1, 2020 8:16 PM


It’s interesting how complicated your “just Grass and Water” horse becomes when we start looking at details like “Where does the grass grow?”, “Where does the water come from?”, and “Who cleans up the poop?”.

Looking at the mere mathematics, having a horse in California is a sign of wealth. Maybe not extreme (define that?) but I have pointed out that it is an unattainable dream for at least half the state’s population, because there just isn’t enough suitable land.

Sure, you can put a horse in an 8×8 box – but the grass (or other feed) has to be grown somewhere.

You are in very special circumstances because you can (and do, according to you) have a horse. Most people don’t have that choice, that opportunity, that money, or enough land.

Recognize them and their choices also. Thanks.


PS – Goats? What do they have to do with anything here? And have you ever tried riding a miniature horse? Hah!

Clive Robinson July 2, 2020 4:46 AM

@ Jon,

Goats? What do they have to do with anything here?

@JonKnowsNothing did say, they are to keep weeds and other types of vegitation down so they do not become a fire hazard.

But as you appear not to get it,

Plants will grow where ever they can[1] and in quite a few cases protect themselves with poisons and thorns etc.

The thing is some plants especially annuals grow fast and die or die back at the end of the year leaving a lot of “celulous fibre” behind which is a lot lot less dense than wood so burns increadibly easily and fast with a very high calorific output in a very short time[2].

If left for a couple or three years without being cut back other plants such as brambles take over from grasses and meadow plants, and appart from providing blackberries for jam making they are not a lot of use other than as a near impenetrable barrier that is difficult to cut back these also leave behind very very flamable “deadwood”.

If you’ve ever seen a “heath” or “grassland” fire where you have to shout as loud as you can so you can be heard across the roaring of the flames, that are like a wall ten to twenty feet high. You might get the feeling of just how dangerous land that’s not propperly tended can become. If not have a look of footage from the Australian bush fires from just over a year ago.

There are three basic ways you can clear land,

1, Controlled Burn.
2, Cut and plow in.
3, Put to pasture.

The first two are human labour intensive for only a short period of time in the year. The first is baned in many parts of the world for various and often incorrect reasons. Though the second can and is done by heavy farm equipment it has issues such as the seeds get plowed back in therefore you still have a problem that “big agro” has more products to poison with.

Putting to pasture is the best way not just to clear back the land to “grassland” but get a profit out of it instead of a whopping great loss. The trouble is cattle are not very good with anything other than grass because they pull up their food rather than chew down, sheep whilst they chew down tend to be fussy eaters (because of the wear on their teeth).

However your average goat can turn corn/wheat stems and dead grass to nice tasting protien (tastes like real mutton not the joke you get in a supermarket labled “lamb”). They can also do it to just about any similar source of plant fibre, and will chew it right down to the ground like sheep do. All you realy need to do is put out a trough of water and some shade/shelter and they will do what it would take a lot of paid labour and machines to do for free and do it better, a lot better, because they will also eat the seed heads and manure the soil quite effectively, such that you can turn the field afterwards and plant grass and similar the following year to let sheep out onto. Or let it grow to medow to make hay for “fodder or fertilizer”[3].

Oh the goats immune systems are about ten times stronger than human immune system (hence their use in chemical weapons testin). So they quite happily not just move through but eat plants that have nasty effects on humans if they just touch them. So unlike labourers they will just turn out in the morning without the need for all that protective equipment and keep going quite happily till sunset and not get sick.

Hence some people “rent out goats” for ground clearence,

Also if you take the time to get to know your goats they have very recognizable personalities. Though you will have to “trim” the males in more ways than one if you want to keep them on for more than a year.

Using goats especially the billies solves another problem I’ve mentioned in the past. The current fad for goats milk products means a similar problem to “cattle veal” only the male kids are so small when they are slaughtered they have no meat on them “sweet”, “pink/rose” or otherwise. Thus they become “land fill”. So bringing them on for a year on rough grazing provides you with meat for freezer or market at the end of autumn.

[1] I’ve some very supprising “Scotch Thistles” growing in my front garden. Whilst in many places they are a nuisance, as they are very rare around this part of the world and attract butterflies bees and birds, I’ve let them be rather than weed whack them,

Someone has suggested I might pot them up and grow them at the front as a “soft barrier”. However as some farmers in the US know cattle and sheep do not like them because the act as barriers to cattle and sheep to water, however not to a goat 😉

[2] Burning back or burning the stuble used to be a common land managment technique, that had the important effects of burning out pests and giving back to the soil via the ash. For various reasons we use “big agro” products these days that not only poison the soil but the water we drink instead… Not all “technological advancment” is realy advancement.

[3] if you look up various low labour farming techniques putting down a heavy layer of hay or straw on land makes it easy to grow some crops like peas/beans root vegtables and most other human eddible crops including “strawberries” from seedling without the need to weed etc. Such a cover also encourages water to be held in the soil, worms for aeration and helpfull animals that keep unhelpfull pests down.

Jon July 2, 2020 5:32 AM

@ Clive Robinson

Uhhh… Maybe a bit of topic drift here? JonKnowsNothing proposed his horse as an alternative transportation device.

Goats are not transportation devices.

Goats have many assets and abilities, but that’s not really relevant to a subject in which Mr. Schneier was discussing transportation.

Goats? What do they have to do with anything here?

@JonKnowsNothing did say, they are to keep weeds and other types of vegitation down so they do not become a fire hazard.

But as you appear not to get it,

What did that have to do with transportation? Jon

Clive Robinson July 2, 2020 12:04 PM

@ jon,

Goats are not transportation devices.

Actually they have been used to pull small carts and wagons, with upto a quater ton (550lb) load.

I used to know someone who lived in a remote part of Spain that did not have mains electricity. They used to put four large “car bateries” on a small goat buggy to take them into town to be charged twice a week. They eventually switched over to more and more solar but as far as I’m aware they still use the goat buggy to pick up the shopping and even the mail.

MarkH July 2, 2020 12:50 PM


Maybe a bit of topic drift here?

I nominate you for the 2020 Understatement Prize.

SpaceLifeForm July 3, 2020 4:11 AM


“So… the entire point is to Think Out of YOUR Box. Consider something new, different, weird or odd. Take a trip in your mind to see if something different would work.”

They still make LSD these days?

Yes, always think outside the box.

@ Clive

“However as some farmers in the US know cattle and sheep do not like them because the act as barriers to cattle and sheep to water, however not to a goat 😉 ”

I’m undereducated on the livestock front, only dealt with cattle, pigs, chickens. Very little at that.
No husbandry.

Question? Am I wrong in thinking that cattle, sheep, and goats can’t get along together quite well?

I can see the cattle and sheep getting into a tif over some fresh grass, but, the goats can keep them under control.

ScienceGeek July 3, 2020 5:26 AM

@Phaete • June 25, 2020 6:40 AM

Being curious myself i looked around a bit and found this study, allow me to share.

Comparison of Nanoparticle Filtration Performance of NIOSH-approved and CE-Marked Particulate Filtering Facepiece Respirators

What’s that study got to do with filtering sub-100mn lipid envolope viruses by surgical masks?!

@JonKnowsNothing • June 26, 2020 1:36 AM

As stated by more authoritative sources:

 Masks do not protect YOU.
 They protect the Next Dude Over.
 Sans-Mask you need to be 26ft away from other folks.

fwiw: The US CDC is not an authoritative source. It might be but then again it might not be.

You patently didn’t read the link, the study in the CDC publication (not arbitrary CDC words like you’re trying to make it out) did test “the Next Dude Over” theory is disproved it—read the thing before replying to it! What’s your authority for the “26ft away from other folks,” or is that just a hypotethis based on thin air?

Here’s a good flashback: WHO, Fauci, & Adams on face masks

Clive Robinson July 3, 2020 8:13 AM

@ ScienceGeek,

You are back again, have you been away for “reprograming”?

With regards,

What’s your authority for the “26ft away from other folks,” or is that just a hypotethis based on thin air?

As I’ve told you before the authoritive evidence was a JAMA peer reviewed paper, that if you had been around and reading this blog instead of just turning up after “Troll Training 101” you would have seen.

I would sugest you try a little independent thought from your neo-liberal mantra and try doing a search on my name and JAMA on this blog. If you have any ability it should give you the URL to the paper in a few seconds, you can then download it and read it.

Till then do everyone a favour especially yourself go away and do a little independent learning and stop expecting to be spoon fed.

MarkH July 3, 2020 10:39 AM

Skepticism about face masks reminds me of the stubborn resistance physicians once raised against washing their hands when attending childbirth … whilst millions of women continued to die needlessly.

Only a fool would claim that surgical masks — or other woven face masks — filter individual virus particles. What they do, is capture a significant fraction of expelled water droplets. This can be demonstrated by low-tech experiments at home.

From the early days of the pandemic, epidemiologists concluded that almost all community transmission is via expelled droplets, and patterns of transmission found via contact tracing continue to confirm this.

But don’t give up, ScienceGeek! Maybe there really are canals on Mars, or perhaps Earth is actually hollow … and how can we be sure that no dinosaur swims in Loch Ness?

JG4 July 4, 2020 12:30 PM

@MarkH, @Clive was well ahead of the Semmelweis curve in your handwashing reference. Sadly, the best and brightest of a generation of doctors died prematurely from alcoholism. My quote about the doctors who ostracized him was, “They couldn’t handle the truth.” I’m wondering if it was Elsevier who set the psychopath, liar, thief, murderer and her team of sociopaths after Aaron. It must have brought some bad press to MIT. Glad to see them going open source.

Groves of Academe
“MIT, guided by open access principles, ends Elsevier negotiations” [MIT News]
“Standing by its commitment to provide equitable and open access to scholarship, MIT has ended negotiations with Elsevier for a new journals contract. Elsevier was not able to present a proposal that aligned with the principles of the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts. … More than 100 institutions, ranging from multi-institution consortia to large research universities to liberal arts colleges, decided to endorse the MIT Framework in recognition of its potential to advance open scholarship and the public good. ”

I thought that I had posted this link to Aaron’s blog, but it turns out that someone smarter than I am was at least five months ahead of me.

Clive Robinson • August 28, 2012 12:03 PM

You might want to taake a look at,

Appreciate the discussion of trustworthy hardware and trustworthy software. Maybe you can ride that springboard to trustworthy government, because I haven’t seen much of it lately. I remain interested in the topic of which governments got it right. And hope that I posted the content about Steve Wozniak’s conclusions. I’m trying to get a foot in the door in Sydney.

ScienceGeek July 6, 2020 6:07 AM

@Clive Robinson • July 3, 2020 8:13 AM

As I’ve told you before the authoritive evidence was a JAMA peer reviewed paper, that if you had been around and reading this blog instead of just turning up after “Troll Training 101” you would have seen.

I’m still waiting for a link, don’t tell me to go and look for some abstract nonsense that you can’t even give me a proper refernce to!

@MarkH • July 3, 2020 10:39 AM

What they do, is capture a significant fraction of expelled water droplets. This can be demonstrated by low-tech experiments at home.

First, the significant portion of the aerosol particles that the masks “capture” would fall to the ground within the first metre anyaway [1]. It’s the particles that hang around in the air that are the problem. The problem, of course, is that once you get a barrier to breathing, you start breathing heavier, so if you were exhaling active virions, you’d breathe harder projecting the built-up moisure within the mask, and if you are non-infected and happen to have some active virions sitting on the outside of the mask, you’d be sucking the air harder and guess what would happen (recall the mask is actually permiable!)

Like I said “… systematic review [of controlled trials] found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza…” [2] but then that would involve you having to go and read actual studies rather than reinforce your own confirmational bias with observational studies.

But hey, don’t let evidence get in the way of your evidence-free “mocking!”

Oh, and this must really petrify you: “… It is possible, if not probable, that if surgical facemasks were to be introduced today, without the historical impetus currently associated with their use, the experimental evidence would not be sufficiently compelling to incorporate facemasks into surgical practice…” [3].


Clive Robinson July 6, 2020 6:45 AM

@ ScienceGeek,

I’m still waiting for a link, don’t tell me to go and look for some abstract nonsense that you can’t even give me a proper refernce to!

As you’ve already been told I’ve posted the link on this blog, so stop being a lazy little troll and get you miserable arss into gear and go do some work other than that your paymasters want you to do. It’s called “Research” something you obviously can not be bothered to do.

As for “abstract nonsense” unlike your ramblings no the paper which is well peer reviewed is not abstract in the slightest, like the dropplets it’s very down to earth.

ScienceGeek July 6, 2020 6:53 AM

@MarkH • July 3, 2020 10:39 AM

I appreciate that reading, and especially parsing, is hard for some people so, I’ll pre-parse this lab report for you “Evaluating the protection afforded by surgical masks against influenza bioaerosols” performed by Health & Safety Executive (a government dept) in the UK (it’s the same lab experiment I linked right at the start, but but you patently took the approach that is wasn’t worth a read at all):

The aerosol was generated by a simple pulsed compressed air atomiser, fed with a solution of artificial saliva, manufactured according to the recipe in BS 7115:1988 Part 2. This particular recipe was chosen as it was an innocuous mix and therefore suitable for use with a human volunteer. The atomiser generated a poly-dispersed aerosol covering a size range <1μm to >200μm with approximately 50% of the particle number distribution <20μm and 10% >100μm. This compares well with the particle size distribution of a cough calculated by Nicas et al (Nicas et al., 2005), where approximately 50% of the particles were <20μm and 25% >100μm.

The duration of the pulse was approximately 0.5 second. The number of particles generated by this method was >250,000 particles per ml (measured for the range <10μm). However, the number of particles within the size range of the instrumentation employed in the inert aerosol tests (0.02μm to approx. 1.2μm) was approximately 100,000.

Culminating in

Infectious, viable virus could be detected in the air behind all surgical masks challenged.

Kinda destroys your argument where you speculated (and that’s put it politely!) that I was talking about but naked virus capture…

Clive Robinson July 6, 2020 8:30 AM

@ ScienceGeek,

none has a link to this mysterious “JAMA peer reviewed paper”

Funny plentt of other people know about it[1][2], so how come you can’t find it…

I guess because you are just trolling along, and don’t know how to do your own research…

[1] Yup even in The Indian subcontinent their ordinary main stream media know about it,

[2] This article from nature –I assume you know how important they are in the workd of research– has an article about it. Even has some nice photos for you to see how what you sneeze and cough spread,

ScienceGeek July 6, 2020 10:04 AM

@Clive Robinson • July 6, 2020 8:30 AM

Again, neither of those are “JAMA peer-reviewed paper” about 26ft away blah blah blah… and neither really deal with actual infections caused by virus-loaded aerosols; unlike the research that I linked to. I’m guessing in your imagination a COVID-19 infectee sneezes every second, or at least sufficiently to be so overtly hazardous, right?.. If that were the case, would be much simpler to round up everyone who sneezes sufficiently frequently to be a hazard! But then again, your premise was ridiculuos—you’re completely ignoring sub-clinical and midly clinical infections (hint: that’s most of them!)!

You’re simply trying to reframe the discussion and failing rather badly.

In other news, according to your logic, medical staff are just inept at using masks or (what most of them actually have) respirators, because despite facemasks, face shields, etc, they still managed to get infected: “One in five infections at peak of outbreak among hospital staff,” which is actually on par with the data from ECDC I posted earlier. Of course the rational explanation is that as all of the research I linked to demonstrated face masks, even N95 resps, are not as effective as people believe; and that’s the problem: post-modernists treat science as a religion—anyone who doesn’t agree with a “belief” is a denier. There’s a quote from Feynman about that!

What’s that saying about the false sense of security and lack of security?

Clive Robinson July 6, 2020 12:13 PM

@ ScienceGeek,

Whilst others take pity on your petty footstamping I do not.

You are trying now to conflate other known issues with,

In other news, according to your logic, medical staff are just inept at using masks

Acctualy some have been, through “Hobbson’s Choice” due to a lack of PPE and other factors beyond their control.

Others have likewise kept in what they thought were “safe zones” one or two meters from patients. But that was clearly insufficient as viable virus has been found in air conditioning ducts in hospitals tens of meters from infective patients.

And it’s more than likely some have succumbed due to faulty PPE of which there has been quite a bit around (Turkey for instance had millions of sets of PPE they knew to be faulty that they sold on to other nations, likewise China has provided defective testing and other medical supplies).

As for,

But then again, your premise was ridiculuos—you’re completely ignoring sub-clinical and midly clinical infections (hint: that’s most of them!)!

Either you realy do not do anything other than read US Government hand outs from agencies that have repeatedly “dropped the ball” with COVID-19, and have clearly bowed to political preasure or you are trolling.

For your information look up the cytokine control loop and viral loads. You might also want to look up why interferon might not be working.

But remember one thing as with IT Security there is no such thing as 100% security in biosecurity either. Infections remain probabalistic in nature, all you can do is change the averages. And there has been scientific research demobstrating that the wearing of masks does very much change those percentages. It’s not difficult to find the papers, but for some reason you have not.

All you have apparently found is information from US Gov sites that you think supports your anti-masker political position as touted by the US executive.

I will let others and history judge you, as far as I’m concerned you’ve “OUTED YOUR SELF” enough as it is for most to see.

As far as I’m concerned you are cognitively biased beyond redemption for one reason or another. But I’ve finished dealing with your bias and your faux justifications by accusing me of lying, go some place else and try it on someone else, hopefully they will also see yiur anti-masker political mantra for what it is a danger to life.

Brad July 18, 2020 12:43 PM

As a person that only flies once or twice a year, usually with a person in her mid-eighties, this blog has been most helpful. Without it, all I had was a 100% fear to fly, which greatly inhibits my ability to enjoy retirement. Now I feel better about the actual flight part, and am aware of the issues to manage before and after the actual flight to minimize contact and exposure risks. I think I will try a trip in December or January, processes should be even better, and there might even be a vaccine.

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