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Newley's Notes

NN211: Special Coronavirus Edition + Postcard from Hong Kong

Photo by Steven Wei on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, March 22.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

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With the coronavirus now spreading across the globe, I hope everyone is safe and healthy. And I trust you are doing what you’re no doubt sick of hearing you should be doing:

  • washing your hands (think you’re doing it right? Watch this),
  • practicing social distancing,
  • wearing a facial mask when around others,
  • looking after those who need help, and
  • taking steps to protect your own health in simple ways (eating healthy food, getting enough sleep, exercising).

🇭🇰 Here in Hong Kong, the city’s 7.4 million residents have been grappling with the coronavirus since January. There have been more than 270 coronavirus cases and four deaths.

Some people are working from home. Some are going into the office. Many have no choice but to be out and about, working in restaurants or in shops, or for the government.

Many people are juggling work and family demands (here’s a thoughtful piece on the subject by a WSJ colleague).

😷 Nearly everyone you see out in the streets is wearing a facial mask. People are still taking the subway and riding busses and trolleys, but they’re less crowded than usual.

People are still having picnics, going for hikes, shopping for food.

And they’re also eating out (sans masks). Most restaurants are still fairly crowded in the evenings. Some will take your temperature to make sure you’re not running a fever, take down your name, mobile number and email address, and ask you to confirm you haven’t traveled abroad in recent weeks.

But life continues. Things just take more time to do. People are more cautious. In one month here, however, I have yet to see a single person lose his or her temper in public due to a coronavirus-related issue. After all: Folks here lived through SARS more than 15 years ago.

As the saying goes: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

🏨 Meanwhile, my newest story, out Thursday, looks at how some hotels are dealing with the pandemic: Do Not Disturb: Hotels Hammered by Coronavirus Offer 14-Day Quarantine Packages. It begins:

With the coronavirus pandemic pummeling global travel, some hotels are employing a new tactic to boost bookings: targeting guests who face lengthy quarantines.

The risky strategy is a reaction to the unprecedented challenge that the world’s hospitality companies now face, with few people traveling and few likely to do so for some time.

And some local color from Hong Kong:

At the Dorsett Wanchai, which describes itself as “a 4.5 star hotel,” a reservations employee said the hotel was receiving dozens of inquiries a day about its 14-day quarantine package. For 9,688 Hong Kong dollars ($1,248), or about $89 per night, guests can book a “Premier Room” with a window that can be opened to let in fresh air, an unusual feature for high-rise hotels in the semiautonomous Chinese city.

Here are ten (nearly all Coronavirus-related, and actually this week more than ten) items worth your time this week:

📈 1) For a continuously updated feed of the most important global coronavirus news, see The WSJ’s dedicated page: wsj.com/livecoverage/coronavirus. Much of our core coronavirus coverage is free for all to read.

We also have a page with graphics showing the disease’s spread.

🦠 2) The latest from us, just out: Global Coronavirus Infection Cases Double in a Week to Pass 300,000

The global spread of the novel coronavirus is accelerating rapidly, with cases of infection doubling in a week to top 300,000 Sunday, pointing to the increasing challenges for governments world-wide as they lock down more people and shut borders.

⚠️ 3) Important read about Covid–19’s severity: A Medical Worker Describes Terrifying Lung Failure From COVID–19 — Even in His Young Patients [ProPublica]

“It first struck me how different it was when I saw my first coronavirus patient go bad. I was like, Holy shit, this is not the flu. Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube.”

🎥 4) Striking video – warning, it’s graphic – Italy’s hardest-hit city wants you to see how COVID–19 is affecting its hospitals [Sky News]

💉 5) A look at what’s up with testing in the U.S.: America Needed Coronavirus Tests. The Government Failed [WSJ]

“While the virus was quietly spreading within the U.S., the CDC had told state and local officials its ‘testing capacity is more than adequate to meet current testing demands,’ according to a Feb. 26 agency email viewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

🇺🇸 6) How long will Americans be fighting the coronavirus? [AP]

“‘The best-case scenario is that we have vaccine in 12 or 18 months and then our lives go back to normal,’ Jit said. ‘The worst-case scenario it takes a long time for a vaccine to be developed, and the world is really changed and our lives aren’t the same again.’”

📊 7) On the coronavirus and the economy: Coronavirus-Triggered Downturn Could Cost Five Million U.S. Jobs [WSJ]

“A recession is now all but certain, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of 34 economists, which projects a downturn that would last months at least, and would in some ways rival – and possibly even surpass – the severity of the 2007–09 slump triggered by the housing collapse and subprime loan debacle.”

Bonus link: don’t think we’ve never been uncertain before, Jason Zweig, who writes The WSJ’s “Intelligent Investor” column, says:

"Some commentators have argued that the coronavirus panic is nothing like the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 because, unlike today, policy makers knew exactly what they were doing back then. That’s nonsense. Monetary and political leaders navigated that time not with foresight but with a jury-rigged blend of bluffing, analysis, tinkering, bickering, guesswork and luck. Don’t let yourself be fooled into believing it’s unusual that nobody knows what’s going on right now."

🙏 8) Big picture thoughts: The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming [Wired]

"Is there in any way a brighter side to this?

Well, I’m a scientist, but I’m also a person of faith. And I can’t ever look at something without asking the question of isn’t there a higher power that in some way will help us to be the best version of ourselves that we could be?"

(Bonus video: Larry Brilliant’s 2006 Ted Talk, “My Wish: Help Me Stop Pandemics.” )

Bonus big-picture link: Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How. [Politico]

🌟 9) Miscellaneous links, some virus-related, some not:
* Netflix Party: A new way to watch Netflix together;
* 10 Perfect Films to Watch While Stuck at Home;
* Zigsam – The Austrian Cigarette Collection;
* ‘I wear my grandad’s old boxers’: meet the people who haven’t bought clothes for a decade;
* The 48 Hours When Liverpool’s Title Run Screeched to a Halt;
* Cleaning the Ship’s Cargo Hold;
* Locked-Down Lawyers Warned Alexa Is Hearing Confidential Calls

🐕 10) Much-needed dog video the week: This is as good a time as any to tell you that my dog sings along to the Law & Order theme song every time he hears it [Twitter: @pete_schultz].

💡 Quote of the week:

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

By Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I'm reading, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. For updates, get my weekly email newsletter.

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