Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

The coronavirus doesn’t care about your rugged individualism

Put a pin in this story, and let’s see how things are in a week, and in two weeks.

Reports of COVID-19 cases might not be as prevalent outside of the metropolitan areas, and official actions have been slower and less restrictive.

In Midland, many residents have continued their normal routines, shopping in grocery stores and at busy retail locations. The city hasn’t issued restrictive orders but has been talking about it. There’s a striking parallel between the places restricting social gathering and the political map, but that’s not what some politicians see.

“I don’t know if it’s a red versus blue thing; it’s a human nature thing,” said Jack Ladd Jr., a member of the Midland City Council. “A lot of people want to see something like this before they react.”

That visibility is increasing as cases pop up in Midland. And the county recorded its first death attributed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, this week, which has prompted more discussion from public leaders.

Midland had four known cases as of Wednesday, and they were up to six cases as of Thursday. They don’t know where people may have gotten the disease.

Lubbock stopped short of telling residents to stay at home, but it did put restrictions in place. Lubbock’s emergency order, Mayor Dan Pope said, “is like the stay-at-home orders elsewhere, without the panic in it.”

“You know West Texas,” he said. “We have a little more common sense … and a healthy sense of skepticism.

“I would say people are in two camps — those who have bought in and understand and are really staying home, and another group that’s harder to reach,” he said.

He said Lubbock’s two hospitals are well situated at the moment — they can open another 40 ICU beds if needed — and added that “we don’t have any stress on our health care system” at this time. As of Thursday, the city had a drive-through testing center, and he said it plans to have a total of four by Monday. Lubbock County had 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, he said.

You know what else the city of Lubbock has? A population density that’s roughly the same as the city of Houston:

Lubbock, population 255,885, area 123.6 square miles = 2,070 people per square mile.

Houston, population 2,325,502, area 1,062 square miles = 2,189 people per square mile.

Now sure, Houston is an international travel and business hub, with multiple central business districts, and it is surrounded by millions of other people, in Harris and other counties, while Lubbock is mostly in the middle of empty space. But you know, those 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lubbock County (population 307K) represents one case per 16K residents. In Harris County, with 4.7 million people and 135 confirmed cases as of Friday afternoon, that ratio is one per 35K residents. I’m just saying.

Now of course the real numbers are higher, and even if I knew the exact totals right now they’d be obsolete by the time you read this. My point is, they’re going in one direction at this time, and their ultimate trajectory depends entirely on our actions, not our attitudes or innate qualities. I hope, I really hope, that the people of Lubbock and Midland and anyplace else where people are mostly moving about without much care about coronavirus don’t come to regret their actions later.

Related Posts:

16 Comments

  1. C.L. says:

    You can take the (good ‘ole) boy out of West Texas, but you can’t take the West Texas out of the (good ‘ole) boy. And visa versa.

    C19 don’t give a shit that you live in no mans land or sixteen blocks off Bourbon Street- it’s still a comin’ fer ya.

    They’ll wake up soon enough.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    I wonder how much all this forced shut down and social distancing will effect this year’s flu deaths. Even though this happened kind of late in the season, you’d think that all the distancing, hand washing, etc. would lead to fewer people sick from the flu, and thus, fewer flu deaths.

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    Bill, let us hope that hand washing and other habits will stick with us, and help reduce colds, flu, and upset stomachs and other little viruses that sneak around routinely. The bars being closed will stop a lot of drunk driving deaths. No school means no school shootings.

    Montgomery County decided to take all of the stressed out people and treat them like teenagers, with a curfew. That’s not a good way to get compliance. And the police, if they are still working and responding, need to do something better than harass people walking their dog at 5:30AM. In some places, the police aren’t responding to most calls, and then, the prisons are letting people out, there is a great mix.

    I still wish a bona fide expert can explain to me why the virus came to the US at least as early as mid January, but waited until mid March before going viral. Our federal government and most media largely ignored the virus until late February, kept the rodeo going, didn’t close anything, and suddenly in mid March it spreads exponentially? After two months of little or no spread?

  4. C.L. says:

    Jason, we, for all intents and purposes, weren’t testing for C19 for a month+ after it arrived here – that’s why. The more you test, you more people you find that have it.

    I think you answered your own question with “Our federal government and most media largely ignored the virus until late February…”

  5. Jules says:

    it’s been taking a week or more for test results to come back – another lag

  6. Jason Hochman says:

    C.L., Jules, I agree. Of course if you test you are going to have confirmed cases. But, why weren’t the hospitals and ICUs overrun by now? Even if you don’t test people, but you get thousands and thousands of cases of bad pneumonia requiring hospital care, you would still have overcrowded hospitals…which didn’t happen. Whereas, by that point, Italy was already having a terrible crisis.

    Our officials somehow thought that because all of the local cases were the group that traveled to Egypt, that magically, they didn’t spread any germs.

    There were people who tested positive, and I found out about it, and they weren’t reported to the media, so I don’t have 100% trust in any reports.

  7. Manny says:

    Jason I am no expert, but what could have happened is that people may have been dying or were sick, but they were not tested for the virus. Back in January my entire household came down with what were very similar symptoms to covid19. I was getting tired much too quickly, running a fever, and had a dry cough. I never felt sick enough to go to the doctor. I did take my son and the doctor said it was not the flu. What was it, who knows. Possible that the virus mutated and became deadlier?

    Remember the Swine flu, everyone was blaming Mexico, turns out it came from pigs here in the United States.

    The Spanish flu, the first recorded case was in Kansas, but it is called Spanish flu because Spain was the first one to report

    “To maintain morale, World War I censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.[6][failed verification] Papers were free to report the epidemic’s effects in neutral Spain, such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII, and these stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit.[7] This gave rise to the pandemic’s nickname, “Spanish flu”.[8][9] Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify with certainty the pandemic’s geographic origin, with varying views as to the origin”

    In time they will be able to explain most of what you are asking about.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/01/health/coronavirus-washington-spread.html

  8. Jules says:

    Jason, you think this is over? No. Stay home.

  9. Bill Daniels says:

    Speaking of rugged individualism, I was in the Heights yesterday, working, and saw a bunch of rugged individualists strolling, running, and biking all along Heights Blvd, not necessarily maintaining 6′ distance between them. I also saw Dan Crenshaw doing some kind of interview, right around 11th St., maybe? Had to do a double take, I saw the guy with the camera, and sure enough….it was Dan and some other guy interviewing him.

  10. Brad says:

    Who cares about one-eyed Dan? I only pay homage to our armed forces that didn’t get captured in Vietnam or injured in Iraq/Afghanistan.

  11. Brad says:

    Bill, I would hope that you would agree with me and Trump that POWs and injured servicemen are losers.

  12. Bill Daniels says:

    I’m not entirely thrilled with Dan, he seems like he’s got a John McCain ‘snake in the grass’ streak in him. I hope I’m wrong, but……

    I like veterans that aren’t war mongers, like John McCain. It’s funny, as a libertarian, I used to find common ground with liberals, being anti-war, but ever since McCain became a never Trumper, it’s like you just abandoned that anti war platform and made McCain, and even Shrub Bush (credit: Molly Ivans) heroes because they opposed Trump.

    Where are your principles? I like people who aren’t war mongers like McCain and Bush. How about you?

  13. C.L. says:

    Well, that didn’t take long. Five cases of Corona (soon to be 150, I suspect) and the City of Odessa has a shelter in place order effective tonight.

    Numbnuts.

  14. Toby says:

    Regarding why the virus didn’t spread for a long time and then suddenly spread exponentially – it was already spreading exponentially, but when the numbers are low, it isn’t that noticeable.

    Also, when there weren’t as many cases, the high risk people such as those arriving back on flights were quarantined and heavily watched. Once a few of those got through the cracks and community spread started, there was no holding it back.

    I’m hoping this link to Wikipedia’s page on exponential growth will come through. Notice how at first the green line of linear growth in the first chart is actually lower than the other types. But then at a certain point it surpasses both of them.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_growth

  15. […] the different attitude towards stay-at-home orders in some parts of the state and points out that coronavirus doesn’t care about anyone’s attitude or […]