Shutting down the university, until… when?

The pedestrian-only portion of Greene Street in front of the Russell House today -- deserted.

The pedestrian-only portion of Greene Street in front of the Russell House today — deserted.

The last two days, I’ve sort of had the USC campus to myself as I take my daily walk through it. Which is nice, and also normal. It’s spring break.

But the students won’t be around next week, either. Which is far from normal:

The University of South Carolina has extended its spring break an additional week as a result of the rapidly-spreading coronavirus.

I stopped to use the men's room in the Thomas Cooper Library. This was on the inside of the door.

I stopped to use the men’s room in the Thomas Cooper Library. This was on the inside of the door.

Spring break will now run through March 22, and no classes will be held during that time, USC officials said on the university’s website.

“Classes and all campus events will be canceled for the week after spring break, March 16-22 as the university monitors the impact of COVID-19 in South Carolina and makes additional plans,” officials said.

Following that, all classes from March 23 to April 3 will be conducted virtually, the university said…

The thing is, how will we know the coast will be clear at that time? We don’t it seems to me.

Things are getting weird….

The empty food court in the Russell House.

The empty food court in the Russell House.

28 thoughts on “Shutting down the university, until… when?

    1. Mark Stewart

      Biting recession tends to refocus society… Unfortunately its most often the result, whether this is a cure or not is another matter.

  1. Mr. Smith

    And now we have the ban on foreign nationals traveling from Europe — which echoes the so-called “Muslim ban” in the sense of: Oh, you can’t be too careful, you never know what they might be carrying. Whether it be viruses or ideologies, such bans suggest that foreigners as foreigners are a threat. But the WHO director general came out against such general bans a month ago.

    Just what does the Commander-in-Chief of Stupidity not understand about community spread?

    1. Mr. Smith

      Follow-up on presidential incompetence — from a commentary by David Frum in The Atlantic magazine:

      “There was one something in the speech: a ban on travel from Europe, but not the United Kingdom. It’s a classic Trump formulation. It seeks to protect America by erecting a wall against the world, without thinking very hard how or whether the wall can work. The disease is already here. The numbers only look low because of our prior failure to provide adequate testing. They will not look low even four days from now. And those infected with the virus can travel from other countries and on other routes. Trump himself has already met some.

      The travel ban is an act of panic. Financial futures began crashing even as Trump was talking, perhaps shocked by his lack of an economic plan, perhaps aghast at his latest attack on world trade. (The speech seemed to suggest an embargo on European-sourced cargo as well, but that looks more like a mental lapse of Trump’s than a real policy announcement. The ban on cargo was retracted by a post-speech tweet, although the ban remains in the posted transcript of the speech.) Among other things, the ban represents one more refutation by Trump of any idea of collective security against collective threats. While China offers medical assistance to Italy, he wants to sever ties to former friends—isolating America and abandoning the world.”

  2. Norm Ivey

    The thing is, how will we know the coast will be clear at that time? We don’t it seems to me.

    It won’t be. The idea is to slow the spread, not stop it. we can’t. If we continue to congregate in large groups and spread the disease quickly, we can easily overwhelm the medical infrastructure in this country. By slowing it down and distributing the illnesses over a longer period of time, we reduce the stress on the system.

    The Spanish flu infected 30% of the world’s population including in the US. If this one gets to 15% of the US population, that’s about 50 million. If 12% of those are hospitalized (current rate), that’s 6,00,000 hospitalizations. We have about 1,00,000 hospital beds in this country.

    Read about what’s happening in Italy. ICU in hallways. Sick doctors treating sick patients.

  3. Mark Stewart

    We seemed to have gone from a collective ignorance to fear in less than 5 days.

    Unintended consequence: The employment rate is about to pop.

  4. Realist

    Link to a ProPublica article that actually makes sense instead of the usual ramblings of the hubristic posters who use any opportunity to equate a health crisis to politics, i.e., blame Trump. Now is not the time to join the circular firing squad of elitist commentary that contributes nothing but more discord and disinformation for the sake of seeking political advantage even if for nothing more than personal satisfaction.

    Yes, the fires of panic and fear are being fanned by governments and the media to the point where sensible people are behaving irrationally. Any perceived miscue by a responsible authority is suddenly pounced upon with the same vigor as the coronavirus does when attacking a susceptible segment of the general population.

    The fear and panic is real now. I witnessed it today when shopping for a few items after a business/personal trip to Florida. Shoppers were displaying fear in their eyes and panic in their actions entering and leaving the market. One would believe a Zombie attack was imminent or underway based on their behavior. The pharmacy tech told me it had been like this all day and the number of calls requesting additional 30, 60 and 90 day supplies of medications was exceptionally high. The requests were made because many customers were not planning to leave home and go out into the public for weeks or until the crisis has passed. The bunker mentality is becoming more and more evident as the tedious task of developing, testing, distributing and inoculation proceeds until completion.

    Mark is correct about collective ignorance but it is not only at the public’s level, it is also at the government and media level. Too many articles written about coronavirus are tinged with a political tone and for once, it would be a good thing for the media and pundits to stop the ideology crap and focus on what will really help the general public come to better terms with the virus and how to actually avoid contacting it.

    Maybe adopt the basic hygiene practices that health care practitioners follow when dealing with an outbreak. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face. Don’t shake hands or press buttons, use your elbows instead. This was the reply when my daughter asked how they avoided infection when dealing with an infectious virus. Rudimentary but effective.

    Read the article or not, up to you. I have found ProPublica to be a reliable and honest source of information reporting. This virus crisis will pass and the consequences will be much greater than any in recent history. Again Mark is correct. Unemployment will skyrocket and the economy will suffer worldwide because like any sudden, unexpected crisis no one is prepared for will have significant negative consequences.

    1. Mr. Smith

      Chen was on NewsHour weekend making these same points.

      As for the other:
      A specialist in the field today described the ban on foreign nationals from Europe as “worse than useless” — because it means that personnel and resources are being deployed to do something unproductive and not in ways that can actually make a difference. How is that critique “elitist” or “political” rather than substantive and valid?

      1. Realist

        “Chen was on NewsHour weekend making these same points.”

        Good for you to point this out. Now, give yourself a gold star and move to the head of the class.

        As for the specialist and his or her opinion, the “worse than useless” is meaningless. Did this specialist indicate exactly what resources and personnel were being deployed to unproductive locations outside the medical field? Actually your posting of the specialist’s opinion is a great example of “elitism” and “political” rhetoric. Without further information, “substantive and valid” are misnomers intended for personal emotional response.

        I don’t agree with Trump on too many levels but banning travel from Europe other than the UK may be a good thing and actually help flatten the curve in one of the articles provided by Bill in his post.

        But, you can give yourself another gold star if it inflates your ego a little more by pointing out the obvious negative critique of Trump’s action on this issue.

        1. Mr. Smith

          “What’s in a name?,” Shakespeare famously asked. Well, it would appear that those who anoint themselves with the title “Realist” consider themselves a cut above the rest of us. Why? Because they see themselves as the only clear-eyed folks in whatever room they happen to be in. By virtue of their “superior” reason and/or their “superior” moral compass, they are our betters, eager to tell us how things “really are.”

          In brief, they suffer from massive egos. But their egos are easily bruised, always teetering and must constantly be defended against any challenge. Mainly by pompous putdowns of anyone who dares question them.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            OK, guys, come on — Realist, Mr. Smith… can’t we discuss the issues without talking about each other?

            I’m concerned because both of you give a lot of thoughtful input, and I value that. I wouldn’t want to lose it. But my civility policy clearly states no ad hominem stuff, expecially if you’re not using your full, real names. I give people who fully identify themselves a LITTLE latitude on that, but even that is limited…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I mean, the little cutting remarks just aren’t necessary. Y’all have good points to make, and you can make them strongly without them being about each other…

              It distracts. People come away from reading it remembering only the animosity…

              1. Realist

                Not a problem. From this point on, I will refrain from posting a reply to Mr. Smith’s comments, negative or positive and abstain from any ad hominem comments.

                Maybe it is time to follow the example of Doug and just end my posting – period. Why? For one example, I do find Mr. Smith to be quite annoying and pretentious. Just being totally honest and candid. Fairly certain some of my comment will be removed.

                The other is that any semblance of a balance of both sides of the aisle that separates us has disappeared from this blog. The conservative voice is no longer being represented and the constant bashing of Republicans, i.e. conservatives, of any stripe is constant and by fiat, ad hominem attacks against those of us who proudly proclaim to be of a conservative nature.

                I will close with an observation that will not agree with your absolute support of Joe Biden.

                I am not a doctor or health care provider so my observation is based on first hand personal experience watching four out of five in one family suffer the devastation of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Plus the experience of discussing the diseases with so many others who went through the pain of watching a loved one slowly die in front of their eyes and losing the very essence of who they are. It is a very painful experience, I know, I watched my wife go through it.

                Based solely on practical, researched extensively, and personal experience taking care of a loved one afflicted with the disease, Joe Biden in my estimation is suffering from early onset dementia and he will not be able to withstand the rigors of a presidential campaign. He will require protection from the public by having the remaining primaries cancelled, no debates with Sanders, and depend on a virtual campaign with sound bytes. House Whip Clyburn has already stepped to the forefront by supporting a suspension of debates, etc. in order to protect Joe Biden from Joe Biden. The real disaster will be if there are debates between Biden and Trump. Trump will have him twisted in so many different directions, Biden won’t have the facilities to counter effectively other than engage in anger and outbursts once offended. This is expected of Trump but not Biden.

                If by chance Biden is elected, the odds he will survive the first year are against him and once the acknowledgment is made public he can no longer function as POTUS, the Vice President will step into the role and that is what everyone should be considering when the VP candidate is chosen. He or she will become POTUS well before Biden’s term, if elected, expires.

                The Sanders’ Bros are already exploiting this issue and are saying the same as I have.

                1. Barry

                  That’s pure speculation but I am perfectly ok with a reduced Biden or anyone outside of the current dementia riddled occupant.

                  Reading some of his recent tweets is interesting. He deletes quite a few, and those are the ones that really telling.

                  As I’ve always said, I’m taking the approach of the Trumpsters in 2016. I’ll vote for a sick of butter over Trump. Now I do admit, the stick of butter would likely be the smarter of the two.

                2. Barry

                  BTW- we already have a dementia President.

                  On Thursday, the American Medical Assn., the American Hospital Assn. and the American Nurses Assn. sent a joint letter to Vice President Mike Pence calling for the president to issue an emergency declaration.

                  But the White House hasn’t indicated whether Trump will make such a move. (The move would make states eligible for emergency aid including expanding Medicaid so they could test poor people)

                  State leaders are wary of criticizing the president directly, fearing that he may attack them personally or retaliate against their states.

                  Friday, under outing pressure, Trump issued the declaration.

                3. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Realist, first, please don’t go. Your perspective is appreciated.

                  Second, as to this: “Joe Biden in my estimation is suffering from early onset dementia and he will not be able to withstand the rigors of a presidential campaign.”

                  People were saying that a year ago. And he made it through the whole gantlet, being dismissed left and right by folks in the media. And he made it through. He’s the only Democrat left. All those younger people (and no, I’m not counting Tulsi, because I have no idea what she thinks she’s doing) fell by the wayside, despite all their youthful energy and younger brains.

                  And he was not spared any primaries, or debates, or anything else. No special considerations.

                  As for surviving the rigors of a first year as president… frankly, I think it will be easier than what he’s been doing for the last two years. I spent two or three hours with him in October 2018 and watched him campaign for James and Mandy. After that, he was doing the same for Joe Cunningham. Then, that same day, I think he was doing the same for someone in another state.

                  I was worn out keeping up with him for those couple of hours. And I know that that’s been a typical day for him since that day. Which inspires awe in me.

                  The only question will be, who has a firmer grasp on reality, Biden or Trump? I’m confident that anyone who is not totally in the bag for Trump will judge that Biden has the better understanding of what’s going on.

                  Also, I know that Joe will fill the West Wing with competent people, rather than with toadies whose only qualification is loyalty to Trump. This is a very important point to me. I know that the government would be in better, less worrisome hands even if Joe did nothing but take naps all day.

                  Can bad things happen between now and the election? Sure. My wife, quite a bit younger than Joe, has had two mini-strokes.

                  But as long as Joe continues as he has, I feel like we’re in good shape.

                  Do I worry about the debates with Trump? Of course I do. I know I would have a LOT of trouble dealing with his garbage without totally losing my temper. And I would have been worse on that point when I was, say, Pete Buttigieg’s age.

                  But there’s no avoiding it. It’s something Joe will have to go through.

                  Sometimes, I feel guilty to see Joe going through this stuff, for my sake and that of the rest of the country. He has earned a peaceful retirement. But he was needed (because as we’ve seen, no other Democrat could have gotten to this point, and a Democrat is needed to oppose Trump), and he stepped forward. And I’ll always be grateful to him for that…

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    All of that said, we may see much of the campaigning curtailed along with everything else in the coming weeks and months — but it won’t be to spare poor ol’ Joe…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Meanwhile, speaking of Doug — he suggested on Twitter that Joe and Bernie be subjected to the simple cognitive tests that those of us on Medicare have to take every year. One of the tests is to draw a clock face showing a particular time.

                      To which I responded with the following confession:

                1. Mr. Smith

                  Oh, now I see that all my posts are being pre-screened by the blog-master.

                  In that case, I’m done with this.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Actually, that’s not the case. Just a coincidence. I just noticed that your last two comments were held, along with one by someone else.

                    Are you posting from a different location? It’s possible that a change of IP address could cause a comment to be held…

    1. Realist

      Great article Bill. Other good reads included that are worthwhile. Flattening the curve article is especially interesting. The virus was never going to be completely isolated in the Chinese province but closing it down apparently did help keep it from spreading as rapidly as it could have.

      No one person or agency or government official has the perfect answer and each seems to be trying to do the very best they can to engage in sensible actions and advice. However, until a successful vaccination is developed and the peak is reached, fear will still be embedded in the general public. We can follow the basic measures to help prevent infection.

      Again, thanks for the article, it was a great first person account.

  5. Realist

    The long lines have a genesis and the coronavirus is just another stone added to the imbalanced scales. It is not Trump’s fault, it is the result of an agency not being brought up to date and new and effective leadership interjected. Congress is the failure here and has been since the TSA was created post 9/11. Both sides of the aisle has had more than enough time to remedy the situation. Read the link below if you will.

    Then to add to the problem is the coronavirus that was kept from the international community by the Chinese until the genie was out of the bottle and on the loose. Not surprisingly, the first to adequately respond to the virus spread was Taiwan. Taiwan being part of China is a logical conclusion to reach that outside mainland China, Taiwan was the first to become aware of the problem and reacted accordingly.

    Another point to consider that internationally, the number of tourists travelling from country to country in the past 25 years has increased from 533 million in 1995 to 1.442 billion in 2018. Record numbers of travelers crossing international date lines increasing but facilities and emergency procedures to handle a coronavirus have not been upgraded sufficiently to handle the uptick efficiently. The virus has only added to the inefficiency and exacerbated the situation to the point it has now and the combination of all factors involved has reached the point where we are now.

    Whether you like, hate, despise, or whatever your feelings are toward Trump, this is not solely his fault and it is a situation that no one, not even Biden, Sanders, or any other politician could correct in a short period of time under the current circumstances. Cumulative problem ignored by politicians on both sides of the aisle and like the tin can, continually kicked down the road to let someone else take care of the problem when it finally explodes. If Hillary Clinton had won and in the White House, the same problem would be before us and the situation most likely the same.

    Some airport authorities are considering privatizing the functions TSA is supposed to be performing to alleviate the problems. Maybe after this is over, something positive will borne from the embarrassing “caught with our collective pants down”.


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