20191218W Day -13: Noroviruses, like small naked Coronaviruses

20200521h Santa Cruz, CA: When I investigated what was going on back on Dec. 18, 2019, the first thing I ran across was a New York Times article by Jessica Grose on a Norovirus outbreak at an elementary school. Some points made in the article:

  1. There are multiple strains of norovirus migrating around the world. Catching one strain does not prevent you from catching a different strain;
  2. Noroviruses are seasonal and most active during Nov-Apr in the Northern Hemisphere and May-Oct in the Southern Hemisphere;
  3. Noroviruses are highly contagious stomach viruses that cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea;
  4. Noroviruses are able to live on surfaces for days;
  5. Infected people can shed billions of virus particles for two weeks or more;
  6. As few as 10 virus particles are needed to cause an infection;
  7. If there is an outbreak at a school, then kids should change our of their clothes as soon as they get home and leave their clothes and backpack at the front door;
  8. Infected people should self-quarantine;
  9. Active infections normally last 1 to 3 days; and
  10. Avoid going to the E.R. if you are infected.

From wikipedia, the following additional facts:

  1. Noroviruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis, responsible for about 18% of all cases worldwide;
  2. There is no vaccine or specific treatment;
  3. There are an estimated 685 million cases of disease and 200,000 deaths worldwide associated with norovirus infections, 25% of which are children under the age of five;
  4. Noroviruses are named after the city of Norwalk, Ohio, after an outbreak in 1968;
  5. Like coronaviruses, noroviruses are single-stranded positive-sense RNA viruses;
  6. Unlike coronaviruses, noroviruses are non-enveloped (naked capsid) viruses;
  7. The norovirus genome is linear and non-segmented, with a length of about 7500 bases;
  8. The norovirus capsid varies in size from 23-40nm in diameter. The smallest 23nm capsids are composed of 60 VP1 proteins and the largest 40nm capsids are composed of 180 VP1 proteins;
  9. The estimated mutation rate is 12-14 substitutions per 1000 sites per year, which is considered high for RNA viruses;
  10. Diagnosis of norovirus infection is made via PCR assays within a few hours, with detection ability of as few as 10 virus particles;
  11. Infection by one strain of norovirus generally provides immunity against reinfection by the same strain for 6-24 months;
  12. Noroviruses can survive for weeks on hard and soft surfaces, and for months to years in still water; and
  13. Individuals with different ABO(H) histo-blood group phenotypes are infected by noroviruses in a genotype-specific manner.

Regarding blood-type, I found an article by Prof. Patricia L. Foster on livescience: Your Blood Type Might Influence Your Risk of Getting the Stomach Flu. Some interesting facts from the article:

  1. Noroviruses can survive in temperatures from 32 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit; and
  2. As naked-capsid viruses, noroviruses are resistant to alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Here is a interesting quote from the article regarding blood type specific infections:

When norovirus is ingested, it initially infects the cells that line the small intestine. Researchers don’t know exactly how this infection then causes the symptoms of the disease. But a fascinating aspect of norovirus is that, after exposure, blood type determines, in a large part, whether a person gets sick.

Your blood type — A, B, AB or O — is dictated by genes that determine which kinds of molecules, called oligosaccharides, are found on the surface of your red blood cells. Oligosaccharides are made from different types of sugars linked together in complex ways.

The same oligosaccharides on red blood cells also appear on the surface of cells that line the small intestine. Norovirus and a few other viruses use these oligosaccharides to grab onto and infect the intestinal cells. It’s the specific structure of these oligosaccharides that determines whether a given strain of virus can attach and invade.


20200519T Day 140: Drive Shack Opens Up

Wind Surfing Beach near Davenport, CA – May 19, 2020

One stock that my brother recommended to me was Drive Shack. It is a Top Golf competitor that, as most other non-essential businesses, has been closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, they opened back up and their stock opened up on Tues as well, closing at $1.43.

On Tues I visited a new beach where I saw some wind surfers. It reminded me of my kite surfing in Morocco.

I also worked a bit on my RV – mainly cleaning it up and testing the fridge which still refuses to operate.


20191223M Day -8: Lady Bird Lake Reflections from Austin, Texas

Lady Bird Lake – Austin, TX – Dec 23, 2019 (Credit: SurfingTheUniverse.com)

20200515F Santa Cruz, CA: Back in December, I was in Austin. My beloved flew in for the holidays. We walked along Lady Bird Lake during the day. It was a beautiful sunny day.

Lady Bird Lake – Austin, TX – Dec 23, 2019 (Credit: SurfingTheUniverse.com)

Meanwhile, the press was reporting on how this flu season was turning out different than past flu seasons. I’m not sure who decided that the unusual flu season would be the focus of the news and medical press on this day. Here is an article that caught my eye:

Rare B Flu Strain Causing Early Surge This Season from passporthealthusa.com

Here are some quotes of interest:

Dave Osthus is a statistician and flu forecaster at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Osthus explained that the current “2019/20 season is already worse than three of the past 20 flu seasons ever were, and the worst part of the flu season—historically late December through early March—hasn’t happened yet.”

especially this one ending with “worst than imagined”:

Looking at the influenza trends, the CDC was able to publicize that the flu season has “about a 40% chance of a peak in late December, a 30% chance of a peak in January, and a 25% chance of a peak in February.” These numbers may change as the season continues, but the outcome will remain the same or even become worse than imagined.

Looking back in time, it was reported in May that the 2018-2019 flu season was also “unusual”:

The just-ended 2018-2019 flu season was relatively mild compared to the last season, during which nearly 80,000 people in the U.S. died of flu-related illness.

The 2018-2019 season has been unusual, though, because the flu came in two waves: one that peaked at the end of December, and a second that peaked in early March.

It seems that “unusual” flu seasons will be the usual for the foreseeable future.


20200507h Day 128: About 8 day average confirmed COVID-19 case doubling time since first case Nov 17, 2019

Screen Shot 2020-05-07 at 6.15.38 PM
Data for May 6, 2020, from https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

As of yesterday, total worldwide confirmed cases of COVID-19 are calculated to be 3,913,643 by worldometers.info and increasing at about 100K new cases per day. By this weekend, the total cases should cross 2^22 = 4,194,304.

In 20200417F Day 108: Surfing the Multiverse back through a Pandemic Wormhole and 20200321S Day 81: Three to the Fourth Power is Eighty-One, I documented the exponential growth of worldwide COVID-19 cases. I assumed an initial outbreak date of Dec 12, 2019. This led to the following:

  • 2 weeks to go from 1 to 10 cases by Dec 26, 2019
  • 2 weeks to go from 10 to 100 cases by Jan 9, 2020
  • 2 weeks to go from 100 to 1000 cases by Jan 23, 2020
  • 1 week to go from 1000 to 10000 cases by Jan 30, 2020
  • 5 weeks to go from 10K to 100K cases by Mar 5, 2020
  • 2 weeks to go from 100K to 250K cases by Mar 19, 2020
  • 2 weeks to go from 250K to 1M cases by Apr 2, 2020
  • 2.5 weeks to go from 1M to 2.5M cases by Apr 19, 2020
  • 2.5 weeks to go from 2.5M to 4M cases by May 7, 2020

It’s been a total of 21 weeks since Dec 12, 2019. There are reports that the initial outbreak case may have happened earlier than Dec 12. Today, I tweeted an answer to a question from @DanielleFong in which I researched the first case to be Nov 17.  That would be 128+45=173 days ago, or almost 25 weeks ago. While confirmed cases were definitely at least doubling every week in the beginning of the pandemic, the recent doubling rate is about half the initial rate. By this weekend, the first case will be 176 days ago and the number of doublings will be 22. 176/22 gives exactly 8 days doubling time.

If it was even doubling every 8 days, we would have gotten to 4,194,304 cases from Nov 17th, 2019 like this:

  • 2019-11-17u: 1 case
  • 2019-11-25M: 2 cases
  • 2019-12-03T: 4 cases
  • 2019-12-11W: 8 cases
  • 2019-12-19h: 16 cases
  • 2019-12-27F: 32 cases
  • 2020-01-04S: 64 cases
  • 2020-01-12u: 128 cases
  • 2020-01-20M: 256 cases
  • 2020-01-28T: 512 cases
  • 2020-02-05W: 1024 cases
  • 2020-02-13h: 2048 cases
  • 2020-02-21F: 4096 cases
  • 2020-02-29S: 8192 cases
  • 2020-03-08u: 16384 cases
  • 2020-03-16M: 32768 cases
  • 2020-03-24T: 65536 cases
  • 2020-04-01W: 131072 cases
  • 2020-04-09h: 262144 cases
  • 2020-04-17F: 524288 cases
  • 2020-04-25S: 1048576 cases
  • 2020-05-03u: 2097152 cases
  • 2020-05-11M: 4194304 cases

For posterity, Danielle’s question …


20200413M Day 104: Dr. Robin Armstrong, M.D. in Texas, Interview with Joe Piscopo about COVID-19 Treatment at Nursing Home

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Dr. Robin Armstrong, medical director of The Resort at Texas City nursing home. April 7, 2020. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

SANTA CRUZ, California – I have been interested in treatments for COVID-19 since my brother sent me a treatment involving hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and azithromycin. When I heard that a doctor in Texas, near my hometown, was treating patients at a nursing home, which was on Logan Street, I had to learn more. Here are the notes I took from an interview that Dr. Robin Armstrong had with Joe Piscopo on April 13.

JP: Are older folks affected most?

RA: Yes, they are more predisposed to COVID-19, just as with other similar illnesses.

JP: Does this virus keep circulating in a closed area?

RA: Yes, this virus is transmitted very easily with RO of 2-3. It can live on surfaces up to 48 hours. That’s why this virus is different. It’s also different because people shed the virus while they are asymptomatic.

Susan, 68yo: If symptomatic, do I ask for a drug from the beginning, or wait until breathing problems occur.

RA: We really don’t know. In our nursing home, we wait until someone becomes symptomatic. The majority of people have mild symptoms and get over this. In India, they are taking it prophylactically now. I’m not recommending that yet here.

JP: Hydroxychloroquine usage in India?  The deaths there are much less.

RA: A friend of mine in India says people there are taking hydroxychloroquine prophylactically. Patients having mild symptoms are improving. Our study is suggestive that it works as well. Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin together are effective at moderating mild symptoms.

JP: What about platelets?

RA: You can harvest blood plasma with anti-covid-19 antibodies and some people have had success with that. This is for very ill hospital patients. My goal is to keep people out of the hospital.

JP: [Asked about politics]

RA: I’m on the Republican national committee now and that’s why some in the mainstream media has been attacking me regarding this treatment.

JP: What is the agenda of the mainstream media in attacking this?

RA: Their entire focus is on defeating Trump and anything that brings him down, that’s what they are aiming for. I treated my patients based on the studies out of China and France – not because Trump suggested it.

RA: We have an ample supply of it – Bayer is the maker of it – it shows promise and we should be prescribing it for people.

JP: Texas will open soon I hear?

RA: I’m sure hoping so. Texas has not been as hard hit as New York City. We are more spread out and rural, so it’s harder for the virus to jump from person to person. We need to listen to the scientists and do it in a wise manner.



20200329 Day 89: Back to the Future

Classic car parked near West Cliff, Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz, CA: I took a stroll along the beach on West Cliff. This weekend, the parking lots began being closed off to discourage people from gathering on the beaches and trails. There were many people still walking along the beach and in the neighborhoods nearby. I saw a classic car parked in one of the neighborhoods.

Parking along West Cliff is now closed in Santa Cruz, CA

Today it was also announced that the “15 days to flatten the curve” plan of social distancing guidelines has been extended to 45 days. New York still has the most new total and new deaths due to COVID-19 at 965 and 82, respectively. New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, California, and Washington all had reported 10-21 daily deaths yesterday. The statistics from worldometers.info also show the US with a total of 142,224 cases, 2,485 deaths, and 4,559 recovered. Both Pres. Trump and Dr. Fauci are in sync with preparing the country for 100,000 or more deaths due to COVID-19.

I’m still hoping to intercept a future – to head in a way back to the future of a parallel time line that I was in before I started daily (more or less) blogging 89 days ago. I’ve somewhat arbitrarily selected June 8, 2020, as the date I wish to intercept. Or, perhaps, I’ve sent myself a message from the future that caused me to pick that date for some reason.



20200327F Day 87: Unemployment, Stock Market, and COVID-19 Cases are All Up

This week a record 3.28 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits. Yesterday, the Dow had it’s best 3-day gain since 1931 and today it finished the week up 12.8%, it’s best weekly advance since 1938. The S&P 500 rose 10.3% – best week since 2008. The Nasdaq rose 9.1% – best week since 2009. U.S. COVID-19 cases topped 100,000.  U.S. Influenza A cases topped 128,000 and Influenza B cases topped 113,000. Also, the largest relief package ever, at $2 trillion for coronavirus relief, was signed into law.


20200324T Day 84: 4th Best Percentage Gain in DOW

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Top 20 percentage rises and falls of the DOW as of today

Today, the DOW had a gain of 11.37%, the best one day gain since Mar 15, 1933, which happened to be the best one day gain ever at 15.34%. Today’s gain narrowly beat out the gain of 11.36% on Sept. 21, 1932. Just last week, the DOW had the second largest one-day percentage drop ever of 12.93%. This was only a few days after the then 4th largest one-day drop of 9.99% (and don’t you wonder who kept it from being 10%). And this was only a few days after the then 11th largest one-day drop of 7.79%.

For the last four days, I’ve been sensing a change in my universe surfing. I am no longer interested in this universe where a pandemic sweeps the globe. In this universe, I consume more twitter than I have in a lifetime prior. My intention to create instead of consume has been challenged by my weak free will in the face of the universe. I have a choice now. I can continue to be pummeled by the huge waves of the universe sending me into this pandemic. Or I can strengthen my free will and surf to a new set of universes in which COVID-19 is not dominating the daily thoughts of myself or the world.

From what I know about universe surfing, I can’t do this alone. So, if you find yourself reading this, please join me in surfing to a universe in which SARS_CoV_2 and COVID-19 are not dominating the world’s psyche and are only a distance memory. Oh, and your retirement savings will also be higher in the universe I’m surfing to. I’m putting myself on an 80-day surfing plan from 4 days ago. Target date of June 8, 2020, the 160th day of this year.


20200323M Day 83: Lone Fisherman, Four Horses, and a #COVID19 Pandemic


Lone Fisherman at Salinas River State Beach

Santa Cruz, CA: Today I drove south on the 1 and made it to Salinas River State Beach. It was quite windy and also empty, except for a lone fisherman. The trail next to the beach had a few hikers – and also some horse riders.


While COVID-19 is continuing to spread as the math predicts, I’m feeling more optimistic that it’s possible fo me to surf to a universe where COVID-19 is not seen as anything more than a really bad flu virus. The universe I sense is one where the 80+% of people who experiences mild or no symptoms from being infected with SARS_CoV_2 slowly build up a herd immunity across the globe.


20200322u Day 82: Santa Cruz Shelter in Place


Santa Cruz, CA: This morning I went to watch the sunrise. Although Santa Cruz County is under a Shelter in Place order, it’s difficult to tell that by walking along the beach. Surfers are still surfing. People are still running and walking along the beach. The coffee shop near the lighthouse is still open with a restriction of only one person in the shop at a time.

I drove up the 1 towards San Francisco and the highways were still filled with cars traveling to the beaches along the 1. At Swanton Berry Farm, there was a sign requesting everyone to wash their hands before coming inside. The jelly samplers were gone, along with the tables where people used to eat. To go orders were still ok.


Updates on the coronavirus today are:

  1. New York cases of COVID-19 rise above 15,000. US cases rise above 30,000. Italy has over 60,000 cases. Worldwide cases rise above 330,000.
  2. US Senator Rand Paul because the first US senator to test positive for COVID-19.
  3. Locally, Santa Cruz County in CA has only reported 15 cases and Travis County in TX has reported 79 cases.
  4. The national guard is being mobilized for states that have the worst outbreaks.

The housemates in the house where I’m staying are all talking about coronavirus much of the day. Visitors are not allowed inside the house per the house rules.

Something surfing related I just realized is that the areas of the US most heavily hit by coronavirus outbreaks are the areas which are more liberal than conservative. Liberals have also been the ones who have been sounding the alarm about the pandemic while Trump previously had been calling the media alarm a “hoax” and comparing COVID-19 to the flu. Could the liberals be resonating with the energy of universes where COVID-19 is much worse than the flu while the conservatives are resonating with energy of the flu being worse? Possibly, but then how would republican senator Rand Paul being the first COVID-19 case be explained.

In financial news, as much as I want to call a market bottom, I think the next week is going to be rough. The best bet for a market uplift is if the US congress can agree on a relief package for individuals and businesses.