I was looking for a simple graph to compare the Covid-19 death rate increase country by country – starting from the first reported death. The death rate, while still imperfect, is one of the “hardest” pieces of data we have to work within understanding the spread of the disease and the likely number of cases. (Tomas Pueyo – from Medium has an excellent explanation of this).
I have had a hunch that Covid has been lurking around Seattle far longer than most think. I know people who think that they have had cases here all the way back as far as December. People reporting horrible flu unlike they had ever experienced. Many people saying – “I can’t believe it because I had a flu shot!” The data now seems to show that the Covid-19 spread started in China earlier than we had been led to believe, and it reached the Seattle area and Italy earlier than we thought. China lied and covered up the truth.
The chart data helps to explain why Northern Italy and the Seattle area both showed a massively fast exponential death rate increase. Italy’s death rate increase has been faster than China’s. Seattle spiked to over 20 deaths almost overnight and has the highest death total in the United States. The death rate really is the hard data that shows the virus was here and spreading much earlier than most believed.
It is now widely believed and reported that China’s patient Zero was known on November 17th. It is also clear that the Chinese authorities hid the truth and sought to clamp down on doctors who reported the outbreak to Chinese authorities early on.
The Seattle/ Pacific Northwest area and Italy have quite a few things in common. Both Northern Italy and the Seattle area have a VERY large and regular influx of Chinese nationals. And both regions have engaged Chinese immigration for economic gains, and both have had struggles dealing with the outcomes of immigration.
Northern Italy, particularly Prato & Milan have a very large Chinese population. Official figures put the Chinese population of Italy at 320,794 however it is well known that illegal immigration figures make the total Chinese population much larger. It is also been well known for years that Chinese immigrants in Italy have been importing cheap labor from China illegally to manufacture upscale Italian textile brands on the cheap. Often skirting local labor laws and regulations. The result – regular direct plane routes from China.
The greater Seattle area and particularly the area’s in the Eastside have a huge Chinese population. Being a native of Bellevue, WA, and a longtime Microsoft employee, I have watched the Chinese population explode in the area. In Bellevue, the Asian population is about 34% the majority is from China. Nearby cities of Redmond, Kirkland, Sammamish,and others also all tout very large Chinese populations. The Chinese immigrants have been settling in the area for a number of reasons. Primarily well to do Chinese are trying to “escape” living in China, they desire to live in a place that has less pollution, government corruption, and better education opportunities for their children. The Chinese invasion has been a bit of a double-edged sword for Seattle. It has driven up real estate prices, changed the look and feel of neighborhoods.
Chinese immigration has brought both opportunity and consternation to locals who at times both welcome and resent their new neighbors. It has also been known for years that China was producing a lot of technical talent from its major universities. Microsoft, Amazon and several other local tech companies, not unlike Italian textile companies, knew that they could secure loads of Chinese tech talent on the cheap using H1B Visa’s.
While I was at Microsoft there was a concerted effort to hire more Chinese developers to the company. The effort was led by Qi Lu – a Chinese-American software leader. Lu was at that time the Senior Vice President of the Online Services Division that included Bing and MSN. At that time, around 2014, I was instructed to replace as many US FTE’s as I could with Chinese based employees. The incentive for me was that I could have 3 Chinese headcount added to my team for every 1 US headcount I could get off the payroll. I resented the plan and the idea. But it was a division-wide program, the belief at that time was that getting a strong foothold in China would be strategically important for Microsoft, and getting a steady stream of cheaper Chinese labor would benefit the company over the long term. I do not know what the status of that program is now.
The point of all of this is that the Seattle area now has very a large population of Chinese immigrants and a very large influx of Chinese people traveling back and forth from China every day. It is part of life in the Pacific Northwest. I am not saying it is bad, I am simply stating it is a fact that we have a large population and deep ties to China. Further, I have two kids that go to the University of Washington, and if you have ever toured that campus or the area, you are instantly struck by the large percentage of Chinese students. There are about 4,000 Chinese students at UW from their own reports. It is thought that there are Hundreds from Hubei province as UW is a popular choice for that area. UW does not release those figures.
Back to the chart – the chart shows total number of deaths in each country starting from the first reported death from Covid-19. If you assume that China has been lying and covering up the earliest reports of Covid dating at least back to November 17th. You can then explain why the death spikes were so oddly high for both Italy and the Seattle area – and you can extrapolate the same for China. The likelihood is that both the Seattle area and Northern Italy have had Covid in the community as early as December, and it is highly likely that community spread has been happening well before the first reported deaths in both areas. Early studies already show that Covid-19 was in Seattle weeks earlier than first thought.
It is also likely that South Korea was hit just a bit later, and highly likely that Sout Korea’s very aggressive actions including massive testing and better medicine have made a HUGE difference in reducing the total number of deaths there.
For the United States and Italy, unfortunately, I think this data shows that China’s lies, coverups, and missteps in handling the initial outbreak will mean devastating and permanent damage to two of China’s most closely tied regions in the West. The spike in deaths and the economic carnage caused by weeks of China’s lies and delays will kill thousands in Northern Italy, and may yet do the same in the Seattle area.
Looking at the South Korea death totals from day 1 clearly demonstrates that the earlier thataggressive actions are taken the better outcomes nations can expect in controlling death tolls. The graph shows that the United States is at a crossroads right now. If we act aggressively and smartly, we can look more like South Korea and Less like Italy. It is in our hands now as a nation. Unfortunately, China’s lies and coverups made things infinitely worse for these areas with the deepest ties.
Only history will tell how much damage has been done to our relations with China. If many thousands die in these regions, the stain will likely last a generation or more. The cultures of these areas were already beginning to clash, and the damage from the death and economic fallout will only add to that strain.