Coronavirus Shock: Just Another Panic Monday?

The Reason Roundtable podcast debates the severity of the both the outbreak and the potential governmental responses.


As cases exponentially spread, financial markets swoon, and various institutions shut down (despite the president's insistence today that "Nothing is shut down"), Reason Roundtable podcasters Peter Suderman, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Nick Gillespie, and Matt Welch give a progress report on their own levels of PANIC and DOOM from inside the infectious zones known as New York City and the District of Columbia. Regular listeners will not be surprised to learn that there are vigorous levels of disagreement.

Also under discussion: the eternal return of Joe Biden, the looming knockout blow to the democratic socialist presidential candidate (if not quite to his policies), the problem of using statistics in conversation, and the dark right-wing past of the inventors of the Boysenberry.

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

Music credit: 'Assembling' by Asher Fulero

Relevant links from the show:

"CPAC Attendees Mocked Coronavirus Fears. Now Some Are Self-Quarantining," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Trump Says the COVID-19 Death Rate Will Be 'A Fraction of 1 Percent.' Is He Right?" by Ronald Bailey

"To Avoid Charges of Price Gouging, eBay Bans Sale of Coronavirus Supplies," by Billy Binion

"No, Stimulus Spending Wouldn't Be an Economic Vaccine Against the Coronavirus," by Eric Boehm

"Did the Trump Administration Overpromise 1 Million COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests by the End of This Week?" by Ronald Bailey

"Coronavirus Will Be Deadly To Your Liberty," by J.D. Tuccille

"Joe Biden Is No Moderate," by Peter Suderman

"Sexism Didn't Kill the Warren Campaign. The Warren Campaign Killed the Warren Campaign," by Katie Herzog

"Elizabeth Warren Drops Out. Her Failed Campaign Is a Reminder That Even Democratic Voters Don't Want a Woke Policy Wonk in the White House," by Peter Suderman

"DNC Changes Debate Qualifications, Excluding Tulsi Gabbard," by Christian Britschgi

NEXT: Coronavirus: Don't Worry, Be Happily Informed

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  1. I see what you did there.

    Come on, honey. Let’s go make some noise…

    1. Is this your fun day?

      1. That was yesterday.

        1. I had the world in my hands. But that’s not the end of my world, just a slight change of plans.

  2. Panic on the streets of London.
    Panic on the streets of Birmingham.
    I wonder to myself could life ever be sane again?

    1. Hang the blessed DJ.

    2. Come, Armageddon! Come!

      (Yeah, I know. No Johnny Marr. All right then:)

      All those people, all those lives. Where are they now?

  3. The virus thing is so overblown it’s not funny. There’s not much to worry about unless you’re elderly or otherwise unhealthy. Or, if you live in a shithole country without soap.

    1. I live in NJ, but have soap. What’s my risk?

      1. >>live in NJ, but have soap

        wow! when did you get elected governor?

        1. Our governor doesn’t need soap. He needs the best cosmetic surgeon taxpayer money can buy!

    2. Yeah but a virus that’s no more dangerous than an average flu doesn’t do much to advance the Orange Man Bad narrative. Reason itself has been fucking schizophrenic on the matter. When it began, Trump was a nationalist racist for noticing the virus came from China. Then it was all sunshine and roses and the technoutopians were going to save us all with miracle medicine. Then it was JESUS FUCK PANIC AND BY THE WAY WHY DIDN’T TRUMP DECLARE MARTIAL LAW TO STOP THIS!!!!!!!!!!

      1. I mentioned this elsewhere here, but the purpose of modern journalism is to support the Democratic Party. The more strenuously you defend it or advance its narrative, the better you are at journalism and the more awards you get.

        What they’re doing is actually coherent once you understand that.

        1. You idiots need to stop acting like fucking babies about Trump’s poll numbers for Christ’s sake.

          “It mostly only kills old people, so who cares.”

          That was the argument that was posited here. Let’s focus on that.

          1. Notice how Tony always picks one comment, misquotes it or takes it out of context, and then brandishes the misquote against others however unrelated.

            This is classic fifty-center tactics for derailing conversation. “That’s not the topic, the topic is actually blah, blah, this thing someone else said… do you see how wrong you are because of this unrelated thing”.

    3. This is anything but overblown. This is starting to look very likely to never leave humanity, barring vaccination efforts and results similar to Polio.

      This could very well result in a long term or permanent adjustment to human productivity and life expectancy.

      Just because it doesn’t kill you, doesn’t mean it’s insignificant. If a good chunk of the world stays home from work for several weeks, that’s a real adjustment to global GDP. And what if this happens again every cold/flu/corona season? Markets are always correct. The sell off is not a democrat hoax; it’s the aggregation of millions of people seeing the news and making their best predictions.

      1. >>result in a long term or permanent adjustment to human productivity and life expectancy.

        weren’t you bitching at me Friday about the clutching of pearls?

        1. When you called people who have gotten abortions “murderers”? Yeah.

          1. But that’s exactly what they are, you bloodthirsty ghoul.

      2. //Markets are always correct.//

        About viruses? Get the fuck out of here. People freaking out may be reflected in the market but it doesn’t mean anyone is correct about anything. The constant media drumbeat of this relatively insignificant virus being the literal end of humanity isn’t helping.

        If the markets are a reflection of delusion and hysteria, the markets are not correct.

        1. Markets tell you how much equity and debt are worth at that moment. They are, by definition, always correct.

          1. whenever I feel down I just go to TS in Wien and after a chat everything is much better

        2. Remember the tulip market. Always correct. Or the crash of 1929. Markets always care correct. Or the real estate market of 2008. Always correct. Or the dot com bubble? Yeap, markets were correct.

          DOL is a fucking idiot.

      3. “This is starting to look very likely to never leave humanity, barring vaccination efforts and results similar to Polio.”

        Tony bringing the stupid hard.

        1. Tony always brings his A-game stupidity.

      4. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe this will change our perceptions of the flu season going forward. The spanish flu is a worst-case scenario guideline for this.

        One of the modern myths of the Spanish flu is that because it occurred in 1918, everything including the flu was really deadly and so nothing like that could ever happen again. To the contrary, flu season was well-known in 1918 and seen by health professionals as a mild annoyance, only killing the old and infirm, much the same as it is today.

        But it turned out the Spanish Flu was a “novel” virus, never been seen before and.. unlike CV19 attacked and killed nominally healthy people in the prime of their lives (ages 15-40). To this day, researchers still don’t know or understand why the Spanish flu devastated healthy young and adult people. But as we know, even after the 1918 epidemic, people pretty much returned to normal in regards to how they perceived flu season.

        For the US, I don’t think this virus will be particularly devastating. However, countries like Italy are currently having a very hard time of it.

        1. Why would the US have an easier time than Italy?

          1. I presume (with a certain amount of confidence) that our healthcare system is better than theirs.

            My understanding is that Italy has a very large aged population which has been some of the explanation as to why they’re being hit so hard.

            I think researchers will be breaking this down over the next couple of years, studying Italy’s response and results.

            1. Thanks. I hope you are correct.

            2. Italy is certainly older as is all of Europe.

              But unfortunately, I suspect, once you age-adjust the deaths, that the US will be at or near the bottom for wealthier countries.

              If that is not the case, if we handle it well, that will be great. If it is the case that we don’t however, I’m increasingly pessimistic that we have the basic honesty, maturity, or attention span to even rethink what we did right or wrong.

              1. “…But unfortunately, I suspect, once you age-adjust the deaths, that the US will be at or near the bottom for wealthier countries…”

                The US will likely be much higher than those with ‘free’ medical services; they exist here, delays exist there.

      5. We’ve had news of this virus for about two months and you’re proposing a permanent adjustment to human life expectancy?

        Okay then.

        1. I’m not proposing. I’m stating it is a real possibility. And it is. Normalcy bias is real.

          All the Trumpies want to minimize, but it’s here and it doesn’t care what they think. Look around the world. Look at Korea and Italy. Then tell me there is not going to be significant economic impact. Then extrapolate what happens if this returns every year.

          1. What if it does not?

            1. Then that would be great and we go back to life as normal. But presuming such at this point would be unwise.

              Trying to claim that people who take precautions are being duped by a dem hoax is unhelpful and wrong.

          2. I’m not talking about the Trumpies. I’m taking about what you’re saying. You’re saying it’s a real possibility that long term human life expectancy will change based on two months of news about this virus. It seems like you’re being a little quick on the draw, doesn’t it?

          3. CDC, NIH, most non media doctors, drew pinsky, etc, etc are all minimizing it, because they arent idiots.

        2. Tony is the dork who was convinced global warming was going to kill every single lifeform on Earth, down to single-cell creatures living in rock 10,000 feet below the surface.

          He’s a willfully ignorant fool living in his own worst nightmares.

          1. I’m not Tony.

            1. Correct. You are jeff.

            2. “I’m not Tony.”
              From that comment and your comments in general, I doubt you are Tony.
              I also have no doubt you are someone who has posted here and been called on your bullshit often enough to assume taking a sock handle would give you a bit of slack from your continued bullshit.
              It doesn’t.

              1. He’s Pedo Jeffy.

      6. “…Markets are always correct. The sell off is not a democrat hoax; it’s the aggregation of millions of people seeing the news and making their best predictions.”

        The last 11 epi/pandemics, starting with Pneumonic plague in 1994, SARS, bird flu, Ebola, Zika, etc has resulted in an average 1 year Dow increase of 13.3%
        The market is (almost) always correct, just not in the case of a couple of weeks of panic selling by financial chickens little.

        1. Which is why I will be looking to reinvest in April, but not earlier, barring some major Fed announcement or other market-moving news.

          1. Like I said, and you now admit, the market isn’t a good prediction of anything in the case of the literal end of the world.

          2. The term for market timers is “idiot”.

            1. Shhhhh. He has been claiming his skills for weeks. I can point to dozens of studies showing him to be an idiot, he refuses to admit it.

          3. De Oppresso Liber
            March.9.2020 at 7:00 pm
            “Which is why I will be looking to reinvest in April, but not earlier, barring some major Fed announcement or other market-moving news.”

            This from a brain-dead predicting that the harm from this virus is PERMANENT!
            Way to go, imbecile!
            Whatever you’re selling, I’m long; can’t do better than buy from idiots selling…

      7. You’re hilarious

      8. “is not a democrat hoax”

        You’re really pushing that fake “the Republicans called it a hoax” narrative.
        Is this job 1 on your Media Matters talking points worksheet for today?

      9. It is amazing how wrong you are about everything.

    4. Juice is right on target with “The virus thing is so overblown it’s not funny.” The Coronavirus is basically the flu without a vaccine. Get over it and go on with your lives. We will all soon have the virus. The smartest thing most of us can do is to not tell anyone if you suspect you have the virus. Drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, eat plenty of hot soup (I recommend chicken noodle or chicken rice).

    5. Dead old people aren’t a problem?

      The King County numbers are grim.
      17 deaths vs. 1 recovery with 65 active.

      1. Remove the outlier of the one low-cost elderly care facility and get back to us.
        Or, just get lost.

        1. Kirkland is hardly a “low cost” community. It’s a wealthy suburb of Seattle.

          That facility is an outlier simply because it was hit by coronavirus and others were not. There’s no reason to think that other elder care facilities would fare any better, or that elderly at home would fare better.

          1. I did not realize how stupid you are.
            Try again.
            Oh, and keep PANICKING! Do you have any equities at all? SELL THEM NOW!
            And fuck off; idiocy is easy to come by.

  4. institutions shut down (despite the president’s insistence today that “Nothing is shut down”)

    LOL, Columbia University shut down! Oh no! What will society do!

    1. …And University of Washington, and Standford.

      And many events are being cancelled. In Europe the first democracies are starting to quarantine as well. The whole northern half of Italy is being told to shelter in place, basically, with travel restrictions on the entire country.

      1. They are canceled out of fear.

        How many people die every year in the US due to influenza? This won’t even be close.

        1. The total people killed by COVID-19 is, just now, approaching the daily death tolls from automobile accidents.

          Sheltering in place will save more lives from lack of travel.

        2. Death rate isn’t the only metric. How many other places of work will be shut down? How many parents will have to stay home from work to watch kids when their school is shut down? how much travel will be restricted?

          The economic impact of corona is already massive, and is not slowing down. And unlike SARS, MERS, Ebola, etc. might not go away.

          1. “…And unlike SARS, MERS, Ebola, etc. might not go away.”

            And unlike the unfounded predictions of fools, it is most likely to ‘go away’.

            1. “…the unfounded predictions of fools…”

              I assume you don’t place yourself in this category?

              1. “I assume you don’t place yourself in this category?”

                I didn’t make the prediction that ‘it won’t go away’.

          2. Yes the CURRENT impact of corona is big even if the worse part is the exponential growth. Italy briefly changed its testing. It started testing everyone going into ICU rather than simply testing those who presented with ILI-type symptoms.

            They found 10% of patients going into ICU were testing positive. Which means either (or both) that a)hospitals themselves have become the major ‘superspreader’ or b)CoVid19 can create symptoms serious enough to go to hospital but not part of any diagnostic protocol – yet hopefully.

            The former should be very worrying here in the US as well. Nurses and others I know have been complaining that hospitals are woefully lax re keeping staff from getting infected by patients. We simply don’t do epidemic here in the US anymore. At least not in that direction. And 10% of existing ICU? – doubling every six days? That is mere weeks to completely full hospitals with no more admission.

            The latter means this will ultimately be a pandemic. If you’re reading this comment, you will get this at some point. Maybe not first wave (now – the small one) or second wave (the big one) or third wave – but after it goes endemic and becomes smaller and seasonal

            1. Keep the panic level at 11, JFree; the dance of the beheaded chicken is appropriate for you.

          3. “”How many other places of work will be shut down? How many parents will have to stay home from work to watch kids when their school is shut down? how much travel will be restricted?””

            This is all based on an irrational fear. You probably think taking your shoes off at the airport is good security procedure.

      2. “Standford”


            Spelling error was unintentional, but it looks like Standford is still more real than Trump U.

      3. Man. What will life do without social activists.

  5. Caution is one thing; panic quite another. This corona circus thing is so overblown it’s ridiculous.

    1. Right you are! It’s total nonsense. The conservatives want to appear “caring,” and the dems want to find something to halt the great economy under Trump.

  6. What was that about moist foam at the end? Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. You should have a urologist look at that.

      1. My moist foam is fine. KMG, Suderman, and Jacket may need a urologist.

        1. Yes, a metal sheath, camera, and firestick up their dickholes and beyond is what all of them need.

  7. I’m not panicking over the Coronavirus and I’m enjoying (for the moment) the panic over the government’s fucked-up response to the Coronavirus.

    The sadness and depression will set in later when I am forced to come to grips with the idea that nobody learned a thing from this.

    “You see how fucked-up the government’s response to the Coronavirus thing was? You sure you want those people running the whole goddamn healthcare industry?”

    “You bet! In fact, I’m even more enthusiastic about the idea now!”

    “Can you call me an ambulance? I think I just blew out half the blood vessels in my head.”

    1. Oh FFS. You dumbass market fundamentalist ideologues are completely fucking useless.

      There is NO LAW PREVENTING THE PRIVATE SECTOR FROM UNVEILING ITS ‘SOLUTION’ HERE. You think the morons walking around in hazmat suits at Costco hoarding toilet paper are doing so because they have overweening faith in govt rather than the private sector?

      No. They are walking around in hazmat suits at Costco hoarding toilet paper because apparently the price of toilet paper was too low to send the pricing signals that Hmmm I believe this is a crisis that calls for more toilet paper. I’m sure gun shops are busy too cuz this is clearly a crisis that calls for more ammo too.

      And close to half of the govts $8 billion new corona slush-fund is going to be going to the pharma industry to ‘fund research into a corona vaccine’. Not actual public health. But pharmas hype and BS about this virus that has convinced a majority of commenters HERE that this virus is just ‘flu but smaller’.

      1. So the FDA doesnt exist? The entity who has largely botched the roll out?

        1. Oh yeah. Please do show me the pipeline of anything being slow-walked by them

          Any two-bit entrepreneur could sell ‘the solution’ out of a van in a Costco parking lot and earn a freaking fortune. And if the cops came to arrest him – that would be another market. And da judge/lawyers. Wouldn’t take much skill to turn it into a televised White House sale in front of the WH press corps. I’ll sell you a pill for that Prez Medal Freedom. FDA bureaucrat – I’ll sell you a pill for that approval piece of paper thingie. You? I’ll sell you a pill for 12 hours of infomercial time on your network

          Within a month, the guy will be on Oprah touting his ‘I started out in a van in a Costco parking lot and now I’m on Oprah’ book. Here’s your pill Oprah.

          1. Keep pitching the ‘government-is-the-solution’ to any and all ‘problems’, JFree; it keeps you in the ‘fucking lefty ignoramus’ bucket.

  8. Bringing this back to making political points for a moment, Italy’s experience should be a wake up call for people who want a nationalized healthcare option. The threshold for overwhelming hospitals and ICU wards is alarmingly low.

    1. Here’s how things are in Italy.

      How will they be any different here? The CDC was founded after WWII as the Communicable Disease Center, first for fighting malaria and expanding into other public disease threats, including epidemiological concerns over biological weapons arising from the Korean War. They’ve had 70 years to come up with a contingency plan for exactly this sort of shit, and yet apparently Trump had to appoint Pence to oversee the response because there’s no contingency plan for exactly this sort of shit.

      My niece works at a hospital – they’ve got 4 ICU rooms, something like 55 rooms total in a town of about 6,000. What happens when 300 people get sick and 15 of them need an ICU room and they all need doctors and nurses and drugs and medical supplies? How many ICU rooms and how many hospital beds does the entire state have? How many military bases do we have and how many sick can you fit in the barracks? How many classrooms, gymnasiums, auditoriums in how many schools? How many hotel rooms, stadiums, convention centers, other public spaces can be commandeered? I’m sure the CDC has all that information in their Big Book of Contingency Plans. Don’t they? Surely they do. Surely.

    2. Seattle is a week or two behind Italy.

      Try to remember where Italy is now. And post again on this in a week. I really hope it is just the LifeCare center residents that got whacked very very early. Because the residents there are probably not your usual superspreaders. Pumping gas and sneezing on the handle. Standing in line at Costco hoarding toilet paper. The folks whose profiles on Tinder are swiped right. The guy who would love to self-isolate but just can’t find a home to – you know – isolate in.

      No – a virus heading into a nursing home is not heading there to see how high its RO can go but how low it can go. To test how little it can burden the infrastructure at the margin not how much. So I hope it dropped by there first on its itinerary – not last.

      1. Time to wash your cry blanket.

  9. Re: Markets imploding!! Walls closing in!!

    Can I get an amen?

    1. It’s game over , dude!

  10. Ok, wrt the financial markets, what we are seeing is not all that much of a big deal. In December 2018 (I know, ancient history, right) the market declined 19.6% in a matter of a week. To me, this is an opportunity to buy at a discount, following my written investment policy statement.

    1. The virus wan’t the black swan. More like a gray duck. The real swan is the capitulation in oil, largely the result of America’s extensive production. We’ll see if OPEC and the Russkies can cut production far enough to rebound prices. In any event, these two issues will affect market valuations. Probably a surety that growth will not reach 3% this year, although a reduction of a half or a full percent will still keep the US economy leading the world. This is, however an opportunity, if one can keep his head. Lots of good companies are oversold. I’ve been risk averse for some time, at my age capital preservation is the name of the game, I needn’t grow the pie any larger. Even in the hammered oil patch I see Exxon paying over an 8% dividend, at a tie a 30 yr T bond is under a point. Not a bad place to stash a slice of retirement cash in troubled times.

    2. I bought in 2008 and am looking for bargains now.

      1. You looking for stock tips? I got some great ones for someone like you who knows a buying opportunity

        1. Doubtful I’d take touts from someone who has shown themselves to be a financial ignoramus.
          Try your brother-in-law; maybe your sister has married someone stupid enough to take your advice.

  11. Nick details every good conversation with his folksy BS.

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  13. I think it’s funny how the all-knowing market must be overreacting due to falling victim a Democratic hoax. There’s something of a contradiction here I dare say.

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  15. It is fearful to see how Coronavirus is evolving into a much stronger form, there is a lot of fuss about the topic and I am seriously terrified with some of the reports came recently. Though, an essay on coronavirus talked a bit about the basics of its structures, origin and probable consequences we never know when is it going to stop.

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  17. The threshold for overwhelming hospitals and ICU wards is alarmingly low.

  18. NBA is suspending the season.

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