I want to start off by saying that this article has not been written to cause hysteria.
The goal of this article is simply to state the facts about COVID-19, which has plagued our news and social media feeds over the last few months.
I understand that it’s not always possible to find time to dive into long-form podcasts or consume articles on the subject as most are filled with jargon and statistics that often detach the matter from the human element of which it affects.
And I know for many, including myself, it’s hard to trust the politicians who present us with updates on the coronavirus – because let’s be honest, rarely have politicians given us reason to trust them.
Unfortunately, these aforementioned points generally leave us with clickbait headlines, social media posts or even worse, rants from celebrities, both in and out of the jiu jitsu community, as sources of information.
And this is where the trouble lies.
This is where reality is often misinterpreted or misrepresented, leading some to the belief that our governments and experts in the health sector are having an “overreaction”.
This is why I and the team at Keenan Online wanted to help provide, you, a member of the jiu jitsu community, with the facts of the matter in a clear cut fashion.
As you may be aware, we decided to close the doors to Legion HQ recently, much like other academies and organizations have also done, to help reduce the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the San Diego area.
Keenan has also taken to social media to voice his concerns and provide information on what we in the jiu jitsu community can do to play our part in reducing the spread.
His actions and the actions of our organization, however, have been accused by some in our industry as being nothing more than an act of “holier than thou” self-righteousness.
I feel this accusation is about as apt as accusing someone of being self-righteous for notifying another when money has fallen from their pocket.
Or accusing someone of being “holier than thou” for helping their grandmother move furniture, instead of making her do it herself.
These examples are of far less consequence compared to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I hope you can see that doing what you can, and what anyone else in your shoes would do, to help someone else is more important than any inaccurately perceived desire to use that act as a tool for righteousness.
Before I move on with this article, I want to come out and state the obvious.
Yes, we do make money from the online products Keenan Online & The Lapel Encyclopedia.
I also want to state that you will see marketing material from us suggesting how you could use one of those aforementioned online products as a way to train your mind, study and prepare yourself for when the time comes to get back on the mats.
While the goal of this article is to inform you of the risks of COVID-19 and what you need to do to help reduce the spread in your area, I want you to know that this is not a ploy to get you to sign up with us.
As you will notice, I have removed all signup forms for our newsletter and products that normally occupy the scrollable sections of our articles.
I want you to trust the intentions of this article and the information within.
While I cannot control whether you do this or not, I can control and eliminate any distractions on our part that would normally be positioned with the goal of signing you up to our products and services.
One more bit of housekeeping before we start, I also want to make it clear that I am not a medical professional nor am I claiming to be an expert on COVID-19.
What I do have is a vested interest in seeing the spread of this disease contained (more on that later).
The information sourced for this article is more advanced than what you’re no doubt seeing on social media, but it is still just the basic information regarding the disease.
I am not here to scare you, I am not here to comfort you either. I am here writing this to present you with what is happening in the world.
I have decidedly clipped my wings and avoided flying too close to the sun in regards to the research conducted for this article: sticking to recorded statistics and what has been already been accepted as “what we know so far” by those working in the field.
And I know exactly what you’re thinking when you read the word “statistics”. This is why I have also decided to present this information in a partly light-hearted way. The Keenan Online way – we entertain, but we provide the best value we can to help you.
For your benefit and perusal, I have provided all references at the end of the article and numbered each relevant claim in the text.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s continue.
COVID-19 – WHAT IT ISN’T
Before we get into what COVID-19 is, we need to clear up some misinformation circulating on social media and around the water cooler.
(You’re probably wondering why there’s a picture of a guy hacking on a computer for this section. To be honest, I just typed COVID-19 into a stock photo library and he came up. I laughed because he has nothing to do with COVID-19, which was actually perfect for this section of the article. And just like a hacker in a cheesy 90’s movie — he’s in).
COVID-19 MYTH #1 – IT’S JUST THE FLU
While the symptoms may seem similar, COVID-19 is not the seasonal flu.
One of the main differences, and the most important, is the mortality rate between the two.
In the USA, the seasonal flu on average kills 0.1% of people affected by the disease each year.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 35.5 million people in the USA alone were sick with the flu. Of that, 34,200 became fatalities. 1, equating to 0.096% (rounded up to 0.1%)
And on March 3rd the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the global death rate may now be closer to 3.4%. 4
“Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. In comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected” (Lovelace Jr, Higgins-Dunn, CNBC) 5
Ghebreyesus also stated that they do not yet know enough about how COVID-19 behaves. Influenza, on the other hand, has been around for years and we have much data on it in regards to how it is transmitted and what treatments are needed to cure and prevent the disease.
Now, before you shoot off to Google to look up COVID-19 mortality rates, please take into consideration that the 3.4% estimation above is a global average and you will see a regional average differ anywhere from 0.7% to 4% dependant on the level of health care in that area and the general health of its inhabitants.
Now, we do have to be careful when comparing percentages. At the time of writing this article, the global infection tally for COVID-19 stands at 182,700 and the death toll at 7,173 (3.9%) 6
And this is where some people are finding fuel for a “whattabout” comment (more on this in the next section).
While 7,173 is significantly less than 34,200 it is important to note that the 34,200 reflects the influenza 2018-2019 season (21 weeks); while the 7,173 deaths from COVID-19 alone have come in only a few short months – marking the inception of a new disease in the world – and if this disease is allowed to spread to a level matching the seasonal flu, the worse it will be.
I know the facts I’ve stated above may make it seem like I’m playing off the flu-like its nothing to be worried about, but trust me, I’m not.
The death risk from influenza should always be taken seriously.
Which brings me onto the next fallacy…
COVID-19 MYTH #2 – CORONAVIRUS HAS KILLED LESS THAN [ADD TRAGIC EVENT HERE]
If you’ve ever played off COVID-19 by saying “The coronavirus has killed fewer people than suicide this year.” or “The coronavirus has killed fewer people than heart attack this year.” I have a serious question for you…
… what are you hoping to achieve here?
Seriously, what is your intention behind this kind of statement?
I didn’t realize we had to pick teams when it came to causes for mortality? Like it was a football game or something.
Whenever an emergency or disaster strikes and it gets media coverage, the “whattabouts” are not far from rearing their ugly heads.
I came across this meme recently and it seriously blew my mind at how ridiculous this “whattabout” way of thinking can be…
So, I felt an obligation to edit it and present it with a more accurate perspective…
Case in point: People are dying.
These arguments literally have no value and provide no aid to the situation.
While people smarter than us are trying to figure out how to deal with the spread of a contagious disease, others are chiming with arguments outside of the point.
It’s like watching the final of the ADCC Absolute division and arguing with your friend over which competitor has the dopest rashguard sponsor…
… Hey! there’s a fucking match going on, guy!
Imagine you’re at the funeral of a loved one who recently passed away from cancer. Now imagine someone coming up and saying to you…
… “Cheer up, more people die from heart disease in a year, so it’s not that bad. You’re overreacting.”
The truth is, any cause of mortality needs to be taken seriously, and not used to downplay the severity of another.
You may be saying, “Yeah, but more people are going crazy, when we already have diseases that need curing.”
Yes, that is true. The world is in a panic and yes we do have a large number of diseases currently harming our loved ones.
But we need to look at this not from the perspective of “one cause of mortality is getting more press than another”, but to look at it from the perspective of…
… “another cause of mortality will be permanently added to the list if we don’t contain it and find a cure as soon as we can.”
The reason COVID-19 is creating such ‘hysteria’ is that it is new, it’s dangerous, we don’t know much about it and if we don’t do what we can to contain the spread now, we may be stuck with it for good.
Ok, so you may have noticed that I got a little heated in my argument there, that’s because I do have a vested interest in the containing the spread of COVID-19…
COVID-19 MYTH #3 – IT ONLY AFFECTS THE ELDERLY, I’M YOUNG AND HEALTHY SO I’LL BE FINE
Give me a second…
… Ok, I’m back.
This has to be the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard when it comes to the spread of infectious disease.
And trust me, I do not choose my words lightly. It’s idiotic on a number of levels.
Firstly, even if you show no symptoms after contracting COVID-19 you are still a carrier, and you are spreading it to others who may be at serious risk.
The transmissive potential of infectious disease is measured by its reproduction number.
Just to give you an idea, the reproduction number for H1N1 influenza in 2009 was 1.33, for Ebola in Guinea in 2014 it was 1.51 and the Zika virus in South America in 2015-2016 was 2.06.
In its early days, COVID-19 had an estimated reproduction number between 1.4 to 2.5.
Now, since its rapid increase, a number of studies have found that number to have grown.
So, if you’re He-Man or She-Ra and can get by with just a little sniffle, my hats of to you, you’re my hero…
… but please, while you’re being such a specimen, take into account others who are not in your age bracket or at your baseline level of good health…
… this brings me to my personal investment…
So, as you may know my name is Cristiano, and I work in marketing for Keenan Online.
You’ll know me from the blogs I write to the various memes I post on the Keenan Online social media accounts and, if you’ve signed up to our newsletters, you also read the emails I write each week – high five!
But what you won’t know is that I also live with an autoimmune neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis, which is basically a severe muscular weakness caused by a disconnect in communication from my brain to my muscles. Don’t worry, it’s not that bad though, I am under treatment and live, for the most part, a normal life insofar that my treatment stays the course.
Why I bring this up is that my condition is caused by an autoimmune disease – meaning part of my immune system is actively attacking the neurotransmitter receptors of my muscles.
This is a photo of me recieving my monthly blood infusion.
Much of my treatment involves suppressing my immune system so that I may engage in exercise, housework, employment, keep my respiratory system functioning, yada yada yada.
The side effect of this, however, is that my immune system is absolute trash and even though I’m relatively young and look healthy, I am one of those people susceptible to the grim side of COVID-19.
… y’know, dying from respiratory failure.
And it’s not just me, many other people around the world suffer from chronic diseases that severely affect their immune systems and put them at grave risk of fatality if they contract COVID-19.
Can you imagine someone with cancer, all the crap they have to go through in life, the pain, the suffering of their disease, their treatment and the limitations they impose on them, only to now have to worry about younger-healthier people thinking “COVID-19 isn’t that bad for me if I get it.”
And, what’s with people thinking “It’s only bad for the elderly, so it’s ok”?
Elderly people are still people.
They’re our parents, our grandparents, our aunts, and uncles – godparents if you’re lucky – they raised us, why should their health and mortality be worth any less than our own.
They’ve lived a good long life so it’s ok if they die painfully – is that it?
Has the stupid internet phrase “Ok Boomer” been that rapidly instilled into our culture that we’re supposed to forget about our elderly?
Ok, I’m sorry. I’m finished with my rant now. I thank you for being patient and staying with me this long.
So let’s get back to the valuable info and dive into…
COVID-19 – WHAT IT IS
So you’re probably wondering why I have used COVID-19 and not the coronavirus throughout this article.
This is because the coronavirus is actually the name referring to a large number of viruses affecting humans and animals.
A proportion of these diseases under the coronavirus umbrella are known for causing respiratory issues in humans and range from variations of the common cold to Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and now the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
COVID-19 symptoms may include:
- Dry Cough
- Sore Throat
- Shortness of Breath
- Muscular Aches & Pains
- Nasal Congestion
It’s estimated that 80% of people contracting the disease will recover without the need for treatment, some of those barely noticing the symptoms at all.
But, as we discussed – sorry – as I ranted about earlier, this does not mean the COVID-19 is safe, as while many will be fine, others will suffer severely.
As mentioned earlier COVID-19 is not fatal for all, but this is how it affects those at risk…
Once an individual is infected, the virus moves from the back of the throat to the lungs making its way to the individual’s blood.
The virus then uses a spike-like protein to attach and bind itself to a receptor of the respiratory cells called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) of which it enters to replicating to spread the infection within.
The goal of the virus is to both multiply and then make its way to the lungs.
Once there, the individual’s immune system response is triggered and tries to remove the virus but ends up inflaming the lung sacs filling them with fluid and pus and eventually causing pneumonia.
This makes it very hard to breathe, and as we know, breathing in oxygen is absolutely essential for life. It fuels us and our organs need oxygen to function. Those severely affected by the virus may need help from a mechanical ventilator to avoid death via organ failure.
The WHO estimates that 1 in 6 people contracting COVID-19 will become seriously ill. 8
Those at risk include:
- The Elderly
- Those Living With Chronic Disease Affecting The Immune System
- The Obese
- Those With High Blood Pressure
- Those With Heart Problems
- Those Living With Diabetes
HOW COVID-19 IS SPREAD
COVID-19 is spread by coughing or sneezing, specifically via the droplets which are expelled.
How long COVID-19 can live on surfaces where these droplets land varies and seems to be dependant on the material of the surface.
Touching that surface then touching the eyes or mouth is how COVID-19 passes from one person to another.
If these droplets remain in the air long enough, after the infected party has coughed or sneezed, COVID-19 can also be passed on via inhalation.
As mentioned earlier, some people infected with COVID-19 may show minor symptoms, so it is possible to catch the disease from an infected individual who has a minor cough.
Before reading the following global statistics on COVID-19, please keep in mind the speed and exponential spread of COVID-19. The time between the writing of this article until now could see these numbers vastly increased.
Now that we’ve gone through the data and identified COVID-19’s effect on the human element, let’s take a look at some vital dos and don’ts during these coming months.
WHAT NOT TO DO
I’m sorry to shoot off with the negative first, but I do feel that it is important to cover the don’ts as well as the dos.
This way, we’ll get to finish on a positive. I promise.
DON’T PUT ALL YOUR FAITH IN ANYONE THAT ISN’T AN EXPERT
If you’ve been training jiu jitsu for a while now, you’ll be aware of the mat scientists.
And if you’ve only recently started jiu jitsu, get ready, because you’ve got a couple of years at least worth of “what did he just say?” BS coming your way.
One such statement going around is “We train on the mats in close contact with people all the time, so that means jiu jitsu people have super strong immune systems.”
Nope. If it were true, doctors would be telling you to train jiu jitsu to cure the flu. I mentioned before that I’m no doctor, but I’m sure that’s neeeeeeeeeeeeever happened.
You know, when someone tells me they never get sick, I struggle to remember times when they were…
…But, when they do get sick, I can always remember when and where I was when they told me they never do.
So, if anyone is talking as if they know more than the CDC or WHO on COVID-19, don’t believe them.
This includes your training partner, your instructor, the barista who hooks you up with your latte, actors, musicians, athletes, and Jiu Jitsu athletes especially…
… and yes that includes Keenan and myself.
Way back at the beginning I told you I wasn’t an expert on this matter and Keenan will tell you the same.
Our goal here is not to persuade you over to our side, but to encourage you to look into the potential effects the spread of a disease like this can have.
What I have done here in this article is research the most basic and credible info I could find to provide you AND me with more information on COVID-19.
More information than you’re going to get on social media or in the locker rooms of your academy.
Please do your own research, and do it on credible sites with actual experts in the field.
And remember, just because someone is an expert in one field, doesn’t mean they are an expert in all fields.
The truth is, a guy with a wicked rubber guard, straight jacket system or even a championship belt will most likely know, pardon my french, putain absolument rien about your health and COVID-19.
DO NOT KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND
Many people online are saying, “If you want to stop worrying about the coronavirus, turn off the media.”
I understand this statement to a degree, as it is common knowledge that news outlets online, on TV, on the radio and in print are partial to jazzing up a headline or spinning the angle in order to get eyes on their publication or broadcast.
However, turning off and tuning out completely is foolish.
It’s like saying “I wont run out of gas in my car if I don’t look at the fuel gauge.”
COVID-19 has saturated our news as of late, and it’s for a good reason.
You need to be aware of the updates and cases in your area.
You need to be aware of closures and of what you need to do.
Stay in the know and listen to the facts.
BE WARY OF ANYONE TRYING TO SELL YOU A “CURE” OR “PREVENTION”
Look, I don’t know when you’re going to read this article. And, if by some miracle, a cure is created between my writing and your reading I’ll be happy.
But, it has to come from the experts.
Don’t be fooled or trapped by some mountebank snake oil salesperson trying to hawk their diet, routine or some other BS that hasn’t been approved, verified or promoted by the CDC, WHO or similar bodies.
… Have you seen this BS?…
Televangelist, Jim Bakker has recently been sued by the government 10 after he and so-called “natural health expert” Sherill Sellman (my god, that name) promoted a coronavirus cure …
… silver in a bottle.
At $80 a pop Sellman stated that
“Well, let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it has been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours, totally eliminate it. Kills it. Deactivates it. [It] has been proven by the government that it has the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV.”
Am I crazy? Are we living on the Righteous Gemstones here or what?!
Ok, enough with the crazy, It’s time to check out…
WHAT YOU CAN DO
USE SOCIAL DISTANCING TO FLATTEN THE CURVE
As mentioned earlier, you can contract COVID-19 by coming into contact with or inhaling droplets from an infected individual’s mouth or nose.
This means you can reduce the risk of infection by limiting social and physical contact, steering clear of anyone with even minor symptoms and adopting good consistent hygiene practices, e.g. washing your hands regularly and using hand sanitizer when access to a sink and faucet isn’t available.
These practices will aid in what is called flattening the curve.
Flattening the curve with social distancing practices will in theory both aid the health system by ensuring there isn’t a huge spike in severely ill individuals needing treatment all at once and lowering the total number of infections throughout the course. 11
Basically, flattening the curve buys our health system time.
Time to provide better care for a more manageable number of patients and time to develop better treatment practices and hopefully, a vaccine in the future.
Currently, In the USA there are an estimated 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people. 12 Which is just under 1 million hospital beds across the nation (327.2 million / 1000) x 2.8 = 916,160.
According to the CDC in 2009, about 68% (rounded up from 67.8%) 13 of beds may be occupied at any given time leaving only 293,172 beds available across the country.
Based on the reproduction number of 2.79 mentioned earlier, those beds could fill up fast.
One study published two weeks prior to the study finding the reproduction number above found a more conservative, yet not by much, reproduction number of 2.68 yielding an epidemic doubling time of 6.4 days. 14
Being that, at the time of writing this article, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US sits at 4,551 and assuming an 8% hospitalization rate (5% mild, 2% ICU, 1% needing to be put on a ventilator) 15 a very conservative number when compared to China’s 15% to 20% and Italy’s over 50%, it is suggested hospital beds in the USA could fill in a matter of months.
This will place not only a strain on the health system and the professionals caring for those affected but also for those currently living with chronic disease, as the medical care and attention they need will be spread thin.
In many cases, resources and medications needed for managing their conditions may also become harder to come by. 16
Again, to use myself as an example. If my neuromuscular disease gets out of hand, I will be at risk of something called myasthenic crisis, which can result in repiratory failure.
If I do go into crisis, I will despirately need the help of a mechanical ventilator to breathe for me while I recover in the instensive care ward at the hospital.
If COVID-19 is allowed to spread, it is likely that access to a mechanical ventilator mightn’t be possible, as those in a critical condition with COVID-19 will need them too and there isn’t a heck of a lot of them to go around as it is.
This is why it is important we act now, instead of waiting for things to get worse.
Think of this like the famous marshmallow test, which measured the ability children had in adhering to a practice of delayed gratification.
Doing what we can now, no matter how hard it will be, will, in theory, make things easier and a lot more manageable in the future.
Your social distancing practices should include the following:
- Staying a minimum of 1 meter (3 feet) from others showing symptoms – the further the better
- Wash your hands regularly
- Use hand sanitizer regularly, especially after touching surfaces others have been in contact with
If you have symptoms
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a bent elbow or tissue
- Contact your doctor immediately
What about wearing a surgical mask like the doctors and dentists wear on tv?
To be honest, these masks won’t do much good for protecting you against COVID-19.
Surgical masks were designed to keep surgeons from infecting the patient as they hovered over their wounds and openings (I couldn’t think of a better word, but you get it).
However, surgical masks will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 when those infected with the virus wear them: hindering any accidental expulsion of droplets into the air and surfaces.
And for this reason, it is important that you do not stock up on face masks, as there are people who need them more.
The same goes for toilet paper…
Remember the TV show The Walking Dead?
Remember how there were some humans that were complete assholes, who tried to kill others for their resources instead of helping each other survive? Making things harder than they actually were.
Well, those people are only one roll of toilet paper removed in the evolutionary chain from the assholes who hoard all the TP.
Keep an eye on them.
There’s always a catch.
Nothing comes for free in this world, and reducing the spread of COVID-19 as we are seeing is coming at a huge cost to many in society.
The shutting down of stores, events and yes jiu jitsu academies is both financially devastating for employees and business owners.
This isn’t going to be an easy task, and I want you to understand that even though I’m championing social distancing; seeing people out of work and losing money is not something I take lightly or enjoy.
I recently spoke with a friend who had to cancel their vacation plans which they had been working hard long hours to save for.
Another friend of mine just canceled his wedding, as the bride’s family are from Holland and entry to Australia (where I live) at this stage requires a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period immediately after arriving.
My heart breaks for these people, as I’m sure yours does too.
But, my heart would break even harder if they had to go through the pain of losing a loved one to COVID-19.
And I know that they may never even experience that, but if we can do something now to reduce the spread and hopefully buy time to develop a vaccine so we can avoid adding another cause of mortality to a select proportion of the world, that may be your mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, husband or wife…
… I think we need to give it a shot.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths in the United States — 2018–2019 influenza season https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html
- New England Journal of Medicine. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2002032
- Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/02/study-72000-covid-19-patients-finds-23-death-rate
- Lovelace Jr, Higgins-Dunn, CNBC, Health Space https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/03/who-says-coronavirus-death-rate-is-3point4percent-globally-higher-than-previously-thought.html
- Lovelace Jr, Higgins-Dunn, CNBC, Health Space https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/03/who-says-coronavirus-death-rate-is-3point4percent-globally-higher-than-previously-thought.html
- Worldometers, Coronavirus 2020 https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries
- Science Daily, “Spread of coronavirus underestimated, review finds” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200214111519.htm
- World Health Organization, Q & A on COVID-19 https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
- Worldometers, Coronavirus 2020 https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries
- NPR, Missouri Sues Televangelist Jim Bakker For Selling Fake Coronavirus Cure https://www.npr.org/2020/03/11/814550474/missouri-sues-televangelist-jim-bakker-for-selling-fake-coronavirus-cure
- The Economist, Covid-19 is now in 50 countries, and things will get worse https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/02/29/covid-19-is-now-in-50-countries-and-things-will-get-worse
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, https://stats.oecd.org/index.aspx?DataSetCode=HEALTH_REAC
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Hospitals, beds, and occupancy rates, by type of ownership and size of hospital: United States, selected years 1975–2009 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/2011/116.pdf
- The Lancet, Nowcasting and forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak originating in Wuhan, China: a modeling study
- Statnews.com, Coronavirus model shows individual hospitals what to expect in the coming weeks https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/16/coronavirus-model-shows-hospitals-what-to-expect/
- ASH Clinical News, FDA Acknowledges First Drug Shortage Caused by COVID-19