Links and Notes - Sat, Mar 14, 2020

11:42 a.m.

This morning's weather has been overcast with temps in the 30s and wind nearly calm. It's pleasant to be outside. Barney and I walked the neighborhood from 9:55 a.m. to 10:55 a.m. Barney did well on his 60-minute walk. During the walk, I heard an Eastern Bluebird sing. This was west or southwest of the school. On Thursday's walk with Barney, I heard an EABL sing along Grantley.

Yesterday, I saw an AMRO on our back law. That was the first robin sighting on the ground in our yard. Robin song is common now in our neighborhood.

Yesterday morning, Barney and I walked for about 30 minutes. Gabbie wanted to chat over Facetime, which we did when I returned home. Gabbie is a talker over Facetime. I barely get a word in because she does not stop chatting. At one point she got quiet. The phone faced upward. I got a great view of a ceiling light. Then I heard the squeaking sounds of a marker on a learning book. Gabbie was drawing and/or tracing over letters or shapes. She has enjoyed doing this lately. Catherine pointed the phone toward what Gabbie was doing.

Then yesterday evening, Barney and I went for about a 50-minute walk. We started a little before 7:00 p.m., and we finished at 7:40 p.m. With the spring-forward one hour last weekend, we still have some daylight to around 8:00 p.m. When we started the walk, the sun was still up, shining in our eyes when we walked west. Near the end of our walk, the sun was either below the horizon or low enough that I could not see it because of trees and houses. At this point, the sky contained a lot of pastel colors. The sky was a mix of clear and some clouds. The western sky near the horizon was dominated by peach-orange colors. The eastern sky near the horizon contained light purple-pink colors. Brilliant evening sky.

Toledo Express Airport (KTOL)
Mar 14, 2020 10:52 am EDT
Weather : Fair
Temperature : 38 F
Humidity : 50%
Wind Speed : NE 6 mph
Barometer : 30.47 in
Dewpoint: 21 F
Visibility : 10.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 33 F

Toledo Executive Airport (KTDZ)
Mar 14, 2020 10:53 am EDT
Weather : Fair
Temperature : 38 F
Humidity : 57%
Wind Speed : NNE 5 mph
Barometer : 30.48 in
Dewpoint: 24 F
Visibility : 10.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 34 F

Toledo Suburban Airport (KDUH)
Mar 14, 2020 11:35 am EDT
Weather : Partly Cloudy
Temperature : 36 F
Humidity : 59%
Wind Speed : Calm
Barometer : 30.49 in
Dewpoint: 23 F
Visibility : 10.00 statute miles

Temps this morning in the 9am hour:

Toledo Express Airport (KTOL)
Mar 14, 2020 8:52 am EDT
Weather : Mostly Cloudy
Temperature : 36 F
Humidity : 54%
Wind Speed : N 5 mph
Barometer : 30.45 in
Dewpoint: 21 F
Visibility : 10.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 32 F

Toledo Executive Airport (KTDZ)
Mar 14, 2020 8:53 am EDT
Weather : Mostly Cloudy
Temperature : 36 F
Humidity : 56%
Wind Speed : NNE 6 mph
Barometer : 30.46 in
Dewpoint: 22 F
Visibility : 10.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 31 F

Toledo Suburban Airport (KDUH)
Mar 14, 2020 9:16 am EDT
Weather : Partly Cloudy
Temperature : 35 F
Humidity : 59%
Wind Speed : N 3 mph
Barometer : 30.45 in
Dewpoint: 22 F
Visibility : 10.00 statute miles
Wind Chill : 33 F

Toledo 7-day forecast

Last Update: Mar 14, 2020 9:58 am

Today: A slight chance of rain between 4pm and 5pm. Cloudy, with a high near 46. Northeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tonight: A slight chance of rain before 9pm. Cloudy, then gradually becoming partly cloudy, with a low around 29. Northeast wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 43. Northeast wind 7 to 11 mph.

Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 27. Northeast wind 5 to 7 mph.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 52. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph.

Monday Night: A slight chance of showers after 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 40. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 54.

Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 30.

Wednesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 43.

Wednesday Night: A chance of showers after 2am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 34. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Thursday: A chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 54. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Thursday Night: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 47. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Friday: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 64. Chance of precipitation is 70%.


We complain a lot about Big Drug or Big Pharma, but during a pandemic, we looked to them for help with testing and a vaccine.

U.S. Coronavirus Testing Gets A Potential Breakthrough

Weekend Edition Saturday, · In what's looking more like a public health debacle, the U.S. has a serious testing problem with the coronavirus. Only around 15,000 people have been tested so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And public health experts say that's not nearly enough to know how widespread the outbreak is and how to respond.

But the Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new test from the giant pharmaceutical company Roche that could represent a major breakthrough.

The initial test approved by the FDA is complex and requires specialized training and equipment. Until this week, some of the supplies required to do the test had to come from a single company in Germany that couldn't meet the demand.

"The big players that normally sell things like the [regular flu] test kits or rapid strep test kits to hospitals, they haven't had assays authorized yet by FDA," says Kelly Wroblewski, director of infectious disease programs at the Association of Public Health Laboratories.

So in other words, the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. and the world haven't been able to pitch in and help.

But that just changed in a very big way.

"We're very excited to share the news that overnight we got emergency use authorization from the FDA," says Paul Brown, a senior executive for Roche. He says the company has a new test that's more simple, and quicker to get results.

Roche has already begun production while it awaited FDA approval, he says.

"We have about 400,000 tests that are available for the U.S. market," Brown says. And he says Roche expects to manufacture about 1.5 million tests per month.

Michael Mina, an associate medical director of virology at Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston, says that if that kind of manufacturing pace can be kept up, "I think that will be one of the pieces that turns out to be sort of a game changer in the testing capacity in the United States."

Mina and other public health experts say that dramatically ramping up testing is crucial to saving lives.

Mina says it's striking just how unprepared the U.S. has turned out to be to face an outbreak like this. He thinks much will be learned from it. But with so much at stake, he says, "I just wish that we had really begun to take this problem seriously as a country two months ago versus really focusing on it just within the last couple of weeks."

Roche says it will start shipping those first 400,000 test kits this weekend. More companies could soon follow suit with new FDA-approved tests of their own.

Meanwhile, at a White House Rose Garden news conference Friday, top executives at Target, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens pledged to make space in some of their parking lots for drive-through testing.

Sporting events/leagues that have either been cancelled, postponed, or rescheduled:

Sports Leagues Shutter Their Seasons – And Leave Fans Wondering What To Do Now

A spring without baseball? Saturdays without soccer? March without Madness? Such is the uncharted world of sports in the age of coronavirus.

What had seemed unimaginable just days earlier is suddenly the new reality: Sports in America have shuttered.

It started with the NBA. A Wednesday night game between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder was called off moments before tip-off as word came in that Jazz player Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. By the end of the night, the NBA had suspended its season for at least 30 days.

All day Thursday, the other pro leagues followed suit. The NHL suspended its season indefinitely. Major League Baseball halted spring training and pushed back opening day at least two weeks. The PGA Tour canceled its upcoming events, and NASCAR postponed its races this weekend and next.

Major League Soccer suspended its season for 30 days, and the English Premier League postponed its season after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for the virus.

And the biggest blow for many American fans: March Madness isn't happening. In fact, the NCAA canceled all its remaining sports championships this winter and spring. That includes championships in gymnastics, swimming and diving, track and field, wrestling, lacrosse, golf, hockey, tennis, baseball and softball.

I think it REALLY started when a week ago, the mayor of Austin, TX ordered the cancelling of this month's SXSW event, which is a large event that brings in over 300 million dollars to the Austin economy.

Then last weekend, the Ivy League conference announced that it would cancel its conference basketball tourneys, and the regular season winners would get the automatic bids to the NCAA tourneys.

Then on Monday or Tuesday of last week, Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced that the MAC hoops tourneys, which are played in Cleveland, would occur without fans. And DeWine extended that order to include the first and/or second round NCAA hoops games that were scheduled to be played in Dayton and Cleveland. No fans.

Then the news snowballed on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. At first, the NCAA said it would play its tourneys with no fans. But then conferences started canceling their conference tourneys.

The MAC women's tourney played games on Wednesday in Cleveland with no fans. And on Thursday, Akron and Ohio men's players were on the court, warming up for their Noon tip-off. Then the game was delayed an hour, and finally the tourneys were cancelled.

The Big East men's tourney started its first game on Thursday at Noon. But on Thursday, the Big 10, the ACC, the Southeast Conference and more announced that they would cancel their conference tourneys. Eventually, the NCAA cancelled everything.

The NBA canceled or suspended its season on Wednesday evening. The NHL and NASCAR said that they would continue, but on Thursday, that all changed too. Rapid fire. The dominoes fell. Or it was more like a ball of snow rolling downhill, getting bigger and bigger.

On Wednesday, Thursday, and yesterday, the cancellations and suspensions went beyond sports. Schools, colleges, universities, religious institutions, concerts, nearly everything that can host gatherings of hundreds or more people were cancelled, suspended, or postponed.

Ohio K-12 schools will be closed for three weeks, at least, starting on Monday.

The prospect of months of working from home suddenly seemed a lot sadder without weeks of college basketball games to look forward to.

Steady. My wife already worked from home most of the time before this pandemic, and she's not a sports fan. Believe it or not, not everybody watches sports. We cancelled our full cable back around 2008. We have been without ESPN for more than 10 years. I didn't watch ESPN much when we had cable.

I only watch the NFL, mainly the Browns. The other sporting event that I watch is The Masters golf tournament, which has been postponed.

It has been several years, since I have watched the NCAA men's hoops tourney. I won't notice it being gone. I won't notice the NBA being cancelled. The last time that I attended a Mud Hens game was in 2007.

The only sporting event that I will notice not occurring or being postponed this spring is The Masters golf tournament, which was scheduled for mid-April.

The Biggest Week in American Birding event, scheduled in early May in northwest Ohio, has not been cancelled yet. My former employer, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, is taking a wait-and-see approach. If that's cancelled, then I will notice, and that will be unfortunate.

After The Masters, the only sporting event and live TV event that I follow is the NFL, which will begin summer practice in late July or early August.

The sudden cancellations raised more questions, some still unanswered.

For instance: whither ESPN? The sports network posted its programming schedule for Friday, the first day in the low-sports era: SportsCenter and talk shows all day.

"We appreciate your patience as we work through modifications for the days ahead," Josh Krulewitz, ESPN VP of Communications said in a statement. "Our programming team is hard at work to fill the holes on our networks and we will provide updates when finali

That's weird, and a sudden change dropped into management's lap. The only reference that could be used is the week after the Tue, Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. No flights were permitted for several days after the attacks. I think that college and pro sports were cancelled or postponed through the following weekend.

But this is different because this is a weeks-long or a months-long issue. It's possible that MLB could start later in April. And maybe the NBA resumes in late April or May with a squashed playoff season.

I wonder if the NCAA would change its big hoop tourneys from March Madness to May Madness if health conditions improve by late April.

How will the people who clean stadiums and sell hot dogs pay their bills now that games aren't happening? Some teams say they're working on this. The Cleveland Cavaliers say they're developing a compensation plan for their events staff and hourly workforce. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he'll continue to pay arena staff affected by the NBA suspension.

And what about the restaurants and bars that benefit from people attending basketball and baseball games and concerts?

What about college athletes who will lose their chance to compete in an NCAA championship, and possibly a whole season? The NCAA said Friday it would grant "eligibility relief" to student athletes who compete in spring sports, with more details to come.

The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo are still slated to happen in late July and early August. But with qualifying competitions canceled, how will teams or athletes earn a slot? No answer to that one yet.

On Friday afternoon, President Trump declared a state of emergency in the United States. These are unprecedented times in which citizens are asked to do their part to keep from spreading the coronavirus and endangering vulnerable people.

Canceling sporting events is a necessary part of that, for the safety of the athletes and their fans. But many Americans sure will miss the games.

It's now 1:04 p.m. The sky is still overcast. The wind is light. Temps were about 40 degrees. I might go birdwatching soon along the lakeshore for ducks and other waterfowl. Some light rain might move into the area this afternoon.

To show how fast things change, this was Wednesday's, March 11 story that was updated late in the evening.

March Madness Will Be A TV Affair

March Madness is going to be very different this year. The NCAA has decided both the men's and women's Division I basketball tournaments won't be played in front of fans. The energy. The excitement. The yelling. All gone. Thanks, coronavirus.

"While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sports, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States," said NCAA president Mark Emmert. "This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and, most importantly, our student-athletes."

Only essential staff and "limited family attendance" will be permitted at any of the March Madness games. The decision is sweeping and unprecedented. This year, 68 teams are playing in the men's tournament in 14 cities from coast-to-coast. The tournament begins on March 17 and wraps up April 6 in Atlanta, Ga. The women's tournament will have 64 teams and starts March 20 and the national championship is April 5 in New Orleans.

Health experts say one of the ways coronavirus moves from person to person is when people are close together for extended periods of time. This "community spreading" has ratcheted up the number of cases in the U.S., and sports leagues are wrestling how to deal with the outbreak.

Reaction to the NCAA decision rippled across the sports world to shock and disbelief. At the Big Sky Men's Basketball Tournament, Idaho State Head Coach Ryan Looney said, "As a coach, you go to a regional or you go to the Final 4, even as a fan if your team's still not playing, they're unbelievable atmospheres. To sort of think about that not being there is — wow." Still, he understands the decision, "It'll be a unique experience for sure. But honestly you gotta think of the safety and well-being of everyone."

Similar limits will be imposed by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12, among others.

Then on Wednesday evening:

Late Wednesday, the NBA suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19. The Jazz player, identified as Rudy Gobert, had not suited up for the game between Utah and the Oklahoma City Thunder. But the NBA said once it learned of the presumptive positive test, it suspended the game just before tip-off.

Now the NCAA has its own difficult decision to make — continue on with its March Madness tournaments or end the season early.

Yesterday, Mar 13, 2020 story:

President Trump Declares National Emergency As Coronavirus Pandemic Grows

President Trump on Friday declared that the coronavirus pandemic is a national emergency, a designation that frees up as much as $50 billion in federal assistance to state and local governments overwhelmed by the spread of the virus, and makes it easier to surge medical resources to areas that need them most.

Australia's Fire-Ravaged Forests Are Recovering. Ecologists Hope It Lasts

This is infuriating. I don't understand why this is not illegal. It would be, probably, if the they ran a brick and mortar store. But why hasn't the Tennessee government hammered these people?

He Has 17,700 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer and Nowhere to Sell Them

Amazon cracked down on coronavirus price gouging. Now, while the rest of the world searches, some sellers are holding stockpiles of sanitizer and masks.

On March 1, the day after the first coronavirus death in the United States was announced, brothers Matt and Noah Colvin set out in a silver S.U.V. to pick up some hand sanitizer. Driving around Chattanooga, Tenn., they hit a Dollar Tree, then a Walmart, a Staples and a Home Depot. At each store, they cleaned out the shelves.

Over the next three days, Noah Colvin took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes, mostly from “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods,” his brother said. “The major metro areas were cleaned out.”

Matt Colvin stayed home near Chattanooga, preparing for pallets of even more wipes and sanitizer he had ordered, and starting to list them on Amazon. Mr. Colvin said he had posted 300 bottles of hand sanitizer and immediately sold them all for between $8 and $70 each, multiples higher than what he had bought them for. To him, “it was crazy money.” To many others, it was profiteering from a pandemic.

The next day, Amazon pulled his items and thousands of other listings for sanitizer, wipes and face masks. The company suspended some of the sellers behind the listings and warned many others that if they kept running up prices, they’d lose their accounts. EBay soon followed with even stricter measures, prohibiting any U.S. sales of masks or sanitizer.

Now, while millions of people across the country search in vain for hand sanitizer to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus, Mr. Colvin is sitting on 17,700 bottles of the stuff with little idea where to sell them.

“It’s been a huge amount of whiplash,” he said. “From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’”

It seems like he's oblivious to what a scam he's running, and he's unaware that he's a cretin. It sounds like that he thinks this is all cool.

Mr. Colvin is one of probably thousands of sellers who have amassed stockpiles of hand sanitizer and crucial respirator masks that many hospitals are now rationing, according to interviews with eight Amazon sellers and posts in private Facebook and Telegram groups from dozens more. Amazon said it had recently removed hundreds of thousands of listings and suspended thousands of sellers’ accounts for price gouging related to the coronavirus.

Amazon, eBay, Walmart and other online-commerce platforms are trying to stop their sellers from making excessive profits from a public health crisis. While the companies aimed to discourage people from hoarding such products and jacking up their prices, many sellers had already cleared out their local stores and started selling the goods online.

I don't understand. Why haven't local governments arrested these people?

If karma exists, then the dude featured in the NY Times story will get stuck with all of that crap and potentially lose a lot of money.

Mikeala Kozlowski, a nurse in Dudley, Mass., has been searching for hand sanitizer since before she gave birth to her first child, Nora, on March 5. When she searched stores, which were sold out, she skipped getting gas to avoid handling the pump. And when she checked Amazon, she couldn’t find it for less than $50.

Sites like Amazon and eBay have given rise to a growing industry of independent sellers who snatch up discounted or hard-to-find items in stores to post online and sell around the world.

These sellers call it retail arbitrage, a 21st-century career that has adults buying up everything from limited-run cereals to Fingerling Monkeys, a once hot toy. The bargain hunters look for anything they can sell at a sharp markup. In recent weeks, they found perhaps their biggest opportunity: a pandemic.

As they watched the list of Amazon’s most popular searches crowd with terms like “Purell,” “N95 mask” and “Clorox wipes,” sellers said, they did what they had learned to do: Suck up supply and sell it for what the market would bear.

Mr. Colvin, 36, a former Air Force technical sergeant, said he started selling on Amazon in 2015, developing it into a six-figure career by selling Nike shoes and pet toys, and by following trends.

In early February, as headlines announced the coronavirus’s spread in China, Mr. Colvin spotted a chance to capitalize. A nearby liquidation firm was selling 2,000 “pandemic packs,” leftovers from a defunct company. Each came with 50 face masks, four small bottles of hand sanitizer and a thermometer. The price was $5 a pack. Mr. Colvin haggled it to $3.50 and bought them all.

He quickly sold all 2,000 of the 50-packs of masks on eBay, pricing them from $40 to $50 each, and sometimes higher. He declined to disclose his profit on the record but said it was substantial.

Elsewhere in the country, other Amazon sellers were doing the same.

Chris Anderson, an Amazon seller in central Pennsylvania, said he and a friend had driven around Ohio, buying about 10,000 masks from stores. He used coupons to buy packs of 10 for around $15 each and resold them for $40 to $50. After Amazon’s cut and other costs, he estimates, he made a $25,000 profit.

Mr. Anderson is now holding 500 packs of antibacterial wipes after Amazon blocked him from selling them for $19 each, up from $16 weeks earlier. He bought the packs for $3 each.

Eric, a truck driver from Ohio who spoke on the condition that his surname not be published because he feared Amazon would retaliate, said he had also collected about 10,000 masks at stores. He bought each 10-pack for about $20 and sold most for roughly $80 each, though some he priced at $125.

“Even at $125 a box, they were selling almost instantly,” he said. “It was mind-blowing as far as what you could charge.” He estimates he made $35,000 to $40,000 in profit.

This is not business. This is not capitalism. These sellers are human debris. They're not selling pet toys.

To regulators and many others, the sellers are sitting on a stockpile of medical supplies during a pandemic. The attorney general’s offices in California, Washington and New York are all investigating price gouging related to the coronavirus. California’s price-gouging law bars sellers from increasing prices by more than 10 percent after officials declare an emergency. New York’s law prohibits sellers from charging an “unconscionably excessive price” during emergencies.

Mr. Colvin does not believe he was price gouging. While he charged $20 on Amazon for two bottles of Purell that retail for $1 each, he said people forget that his price includes his labor, Amazon’s fees and about $10 in shipping. (Alcohol-based sanitizer is pricey to ship because officials consider it a hazardous material.)

Current price-gouging laws “are not built for today’s day and age,” Mr. Colvin said. “They’re built for Billy Bob’s gas station doubling the amount he charges for gas during a hurricane.”

He added, “Just because it cost me $2 in the store doesn’t mean it’s not going to cost me $16 to get it to your door.”

But what about the morality of hoarding products that can prevent the spread of the virus, just to turn a profit?

Mr. Colvin said he was simply fixing “inefficiencies in the marketplace.” Some areas of the country need these products more than others, and he’s helping send the supply toward the demand.


“There’s a crushing overwhelming demand in certain cities right now,” he said. “The Dollar General in the middle of nowhere outside of Lexington, Ky., doesn’t have that.”

He thought about it more. “I honestly feel like it’s a public service,” he added. “I’m being paid for my public service.”

As for his stockpile, Mr. Colvin said he would now probably try to sell it locally. “If I can make a slight profit, that’s fine,” he said. “But I’m not looking to be in a situation where I make the front page of the news for being that guy who hoarded 20,000 bottles of sanitizer that I’m selling for 20 times what they cost me.”

I like this headline:

The Hand Sanitizer You Can't Find Is In This Putz's Garage

The current pandemic isn’t one specific person’s fault, but there are individuals who have found in this global panic a route to becoming a real jerk.

Chief among them is Tennessee’s Matt Colvin who, with the aid of his brother Noah, was inspired by news of the potential for over 1 million American deaths to turn a handsome profit.

The Times suggests that Colvin is just one of thousands of resellers that gobbled up prevention goods with an eye toward making a small fortune. (But he’s the one they photographed in a t-shirt that says “Family Man Family Business” in front of shelves of Purel and Clorox wipes he can not sell.) Chris Anderson of Central, Pennsylvania estimates he made about $25,000 on masks, similar to the ones that hospitals are now rationing. An Ohio-based online seller by the name of Eric says he has made between $35,000 and $40,000 on masks. He declined to give his last name, not out of shame, but fearing “a retaliation from Amazon.”

On the one hand, you wonder if you can really blame these men? Buying short and selling long is an American tradition with roots as deep as the buttonwood tree where a group of traders created the New York Stock Exchange in 1792. Then you read Matt Colvin, hoarder of hand sanitizer, suggesting that price-gouging laws “are not built for today’s day and age. They’re built for Billy Bob’s gas station doubling the amount he charges for gas during a hurricane.” As if Coronavirus isn’t the world’s biggest hurricane.

As it happens, making your own hand sanitizer isn’t impossible. My wife cooked up a huge batch made of aloe vera gel, rubbing alcohol and some essential oils. (And I am proud to report we are not selling it online at inflated prices.) Additionally, all signs point to soap and water being an effective, if not the most effective, weapon against viruses.

True, but when away from home, the hand santizer is more portable.