STUMP » Articles » Pandemic: Current Stats of COVID-19, Spanish Flu, and WASH YOUR HANDS » 2 March 2020, 17:33

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Pandemic: Current Stats of COVID-19, Spanish Flu, and WASH YOUR HANDS  


2 March 2020, 17:33

I may (or may not) do something more involved later, but I thought I’d share some of the materials I’ve found the last few weeks re: COVID-19 and its deadliness and infectiousness.


This is not an attempt to make people feel better (or worse). This is just to share some info.

Here is a Relatively simple infographic, though not my favorite:

COVID-19 might be more infectious than regular seasonal flu… and it might not. The stats are too early, really.

It does seem to have an R0 (the average number of people an infected person infects) of more than 1, which is all that’s needed to have an epidemic/pandemic situation. Seasonal flu is epidemic pretty much every winter, with an R0 between 2 and 3.

People forget just how infectious measles and polio were, because we have vaccines for them.

That’s the simple diagram.


Here’s the complicated one (without COVID-19 to begin with).

Yeah, it’s big. And no, COVID-19 is not on there. This was from October 2014, which was when there was that Ebola outbreak. Remember that?

Those diseases to the right are very infectious. Measles and malaria are up there. Check out rotavirus – or stomach bug. You know that if one person in a house gets it, generally they all do (WASH YOUR HANDS (see below)). It’s also an endemic problem with cruise ships.

(Wash your hands).

The higher up the vertical scale, the more deadly the disease. The case fatality rate is the probability of dying if you have the disease. Obviously, it’s really high for something like untreated rabies or Ebola. It’s pretty low for colds. And COVID-19.

The info underlying this is still available on Google Sheets, and I’m going to redo the graph by not selecting all the diseases.

I will use the estimate of 2.3% case fatality rate and R0 of 2.28.

This is a simplified graph:

Hmmm, that’s still hard to see. Let’s really zoom in.

Yeah, that’s more like it. Note: COVID-19 is at about the same case fatality rate as the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, but less infectious. SARS, another coronavirus, has a similar infectiousness as COVID-19, but was much more deadly.

Seasonal flu is a little bit more infectious than COVID-19, and a lot less fatal.

To be sure, these are preliminary statistics for COVID-19. The case fatality rate and infectiousness may move around.


Here’s a variety of articles I found interesting.

I understand one of the churches or the church leaders involved in the South Korean COVID-19 spread are being sued for their behavior. I’m not sure it would do much good.


The Spanish Flu hit the U.S. back in fall 1918. In 2018, I looked at the trends of Spanish Flu.

Memory Monday: September/October 1918 – the Spanish Flu Arrives in the U.S.

That includes factoids such as — worst week for top cities:

1. New York
Population: 5.2 million
Worst Week: 5,222 (Oct. 26-Nov. 1)

Losing 0.1% of a city’s population in one week is huge.

A few other posts:

That last one is from January 2018, in which I first describe the Spanish Flu watch project I had that year.


As I mentioned in my last post on COVID-19, I mentioned that people should really be worried about the flu.

As of right now, FluView from the CDC ending February 22 has the following estimates:

Pneumonia and influenza mortality has been low, but 125 influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported so far this season. This number is higher for the same time period than in every season since reporting began in 2004-05, except for the 2009 pandemic.

CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 32 million flu illnesses, 310,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 deaths from flu.

The season starts in the fall, by the way. It’s not just from the beginning of 2020.

Still — they estimate about 10% of Americans got the flu. The death counts are high for pediatric deaths (yes, very few die, but very few kids die from anything anymore), and yes, most of the 18,000 deaths are of old people.

Most of the handful of deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 are old people.

Yes, COVID-19 is both more infectious and more deadly than the regular flu….


Yes, I understand most people are concerned about their own lives, and not protecting the lives of old folks they don’t know (or even old folks they do know). But really. You should pay attention to this stuff.


I just got this link on hand-washing sent to me from Westchester County.

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community. Follow these five steps every time:

1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Paper towels are better than air blowers for drying, by the way. Those air blowers blow germs all over the place. Nasty.

Also, soap is better than hand sanitizer, for most people. It’s just deficient.

Here’s how to dry your hands:

Seriously, best TED Talk ever. I have never forgotten that after I watched it.

Most people miss the back of their hands, especially their thumbs:

And finally, the way to wash your hands, according to the WHO:

via Buzzfeed

Proper handwashing will help cut down on all sorts of problems, so yes, why not pick up a new, good habit? It doesn’t even require you giving up your favorite food or drinks!

And finally, what you didn’t know you needed, but here you go:


In Vietnamese. With English Subtitles.

You’re welcome.

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