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Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 7, 2020

Here were the press conference people today:

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And here were the reporters:

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So what were the main points to be said today?

There are 1.32 million cases worldwide. It’s growing a lot in the US, they never fail to say.

In Sweden, there were 7693 cases total, with 490 cases over the last day. And 640 people had been or still were in the intensive care.

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Anders Tegnell, the national epidemiologist, said that it appears the number of new cases per day is going down. Does this mean they have reached the peak? Not sure, because their models hadn’t predicted that the top would come so quickly.

As for the number of fatalities, it is at 591. They showed the graph. The green bars show the filled-in numbers; sometimes there’s a lag until a death is counted as a coronavirus death.

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Then it was time for questions:

One of the reporters asked his question in sign language; the lady at the edge spoke the question out-loud while looking at his hands.

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He asked if people with hearing difficulties or other disabilities were more vulnerable than others in intensive care. The answer was no.

Question: Norway says their epidemic is under control, and they have had only 83 deaths. What’s behind that they have so many fewer deaths?

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Anders Tegnell: (clearing his throat repeatedly) First, we have to think about what it means to have it under control. It means that you don’t have a very large increase, but you still have an increase. Even though they have many restrictive measures in place. There’s two reasons for which Norway has a lower mortality rate than Sweden so far. First, because their infection is mostly among younger people than we have it in Sweden. You can see it very clearly in the age pyramids. And the other reason is that in Norway they have much less spread in retirement homes. We have this discussion with our colleagues in Norway to understand what the difference is in testing and structures, such that Norway retirement homes have been better at controlling the spread in retirement homes than in Sweden.

Questioner continued: In hindsight, do you think we should have done as they did in Norway, which was to have a restriction on visits to retirement homes?

Anders Tegnell: I don’t think that would have made a big difference. That wasn’t where the problem was, it’s more complicated. In reality, visits to retirement homes ended about the same time in Norway and in Sweden.

Question: In Norway, they say that they have gained some time in terms of cases and fatalities. Do you, Anders Tegnell, agree with that description and does it mean that they have been able to flatten their curve?

Anders Tegnell: Those are two different things, winning time and flattening your curve. You can gain time in different ways, one way is to lock everything down as they did in Norway. What that probably does is to kick your curve forward. Now their biggest problem is, how can you open the country back up without getting a very steep curve? Also, when your time comes, what will happen? Will your medical system be able to cope? Here in Sweden, our medical system has coped. It’s been hard, but we’ve done it.

Cue: self-satisfied glare.

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Question from the Norwegian reporter from the other day: I have a question for Anders Tegnell. Are there internal discussions amongst the public health authorities about whether you’ve solved this problem in the correct way?

Anders Tegnell: if we’ve solved … ? My Norwegian needs some help …

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Norwegian reporter again, enunciating carefully: are there internal discussion amongst the public health authorities as to if you’ve solved this problem the right way?

Anders Tegnell: Ah, okay. We have a continual discussion every day about whether we’re doing the right thing, and if we need to do anything differently. If you’ve done it right or wrong, is very hard to know. Different countries have done very different things. Italy took the most drastic measures, but still has a very bad situation. Other countries were more moderate. So … I think we will be analyzing this in the years to come, as to what was effective and what wasn’t. I think the most important is to have a continual analysis like we have, look at the developments, note what isn’t going properly, as we have done with the retirement homes, that there we have a spot that hasn’t worked well. So we have to look at it and see if we can understand what would help it to work better. Also when it comes to restaurants, we see it’s not going well. We pointed this out, and we’re working with provinces and municipalities so that restaurants will be better at handling their responsibilities.

Question from another Norwegian reporter: Over in Norway, we think that each person with coronavirus is infecting 0.7 other people. What is the corresponding statistic in Sweden? Higher or lower?

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Anders Tegnell: Last we looked at it, we were around 1.7 or 1.8. I don’t know where the statistics from Norway came from. The statistics we have suggest it should be somewhat higher in Norway. But I’ll have to talk to my Norwegian colleagues to see how they calculated that.

Norwegian reporter continued: You don’t believe our statistics?

Anders Tegnell: I don’t believe anything until I’ve seen the developments.

 

Carl Larsson in the US

I once wrote about finding Carl Larsson cards in Berkeley, California, and in Davis, California.

Well, I have found some more Carl Larsson artifacts in the US.

First, you can go to Solvang, California, and there’s a store there that sells magnets with Carl Larsson paintings on them. I don’t want to mention the name of the store, because I a little confused as to whether I want to bring them more business, because they seem to have a lot of bad reviews for rudeness. Also, I don’t 100% remember, but I might have bought all the Carl Larsson magnets they had, anyways. I bought thre. It was so glorious!! As the store reviews predicted, the women at the register were surly. And then, like an idiot, right after paying for the magnets, I left them there at the counter and walked out the store without them! And they closed about a minute later! And it wasn’t until about 30 minutes later that I was frantically searching my purse and came up empty-handed of my Carl Larsson magnets. We went back to the store, but the lights were out, and it was empty. I was heart-broken all night. The next morning, I called them, though, and they had indeed found the magnets, and they shipped them for free to North Carolina. So that was actually very nice of them. I mostly took the train home from California to North Carolina, with a 3-day stop in Chicago, but actually I beat the magnets home by a day.

The second Carl Larsson place for artifacts is the gift shop of the Swedish-American museum in Chicago. Maybe it’s just a winter thing, but they were selling Carl Larsson winter cards. And for far cheaper than if you ordered them online from Pomegranate. I bought a box so that I’ll have it ready for next year. It was great!

Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 6, 2020

As is traditional, they start by emphasizing: it’s looking really bad in the US. Today they also add that it’s getting better in Europe.

On this day, there are 1.25 million cases worldwide. The US is responsible for most of the new cases, they mention straight off. In Sweden, there are 7206 cases. The number of new people place in the intensive care is still pretty constant (the black line in the graph). There are 477 people who have died.

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There are fewer new cases over the last few days, but that’s because cases are always under-reported on the weekends. We have to wait till tomorrow to see what it ends up looking like.

Today, the main person talking is Anders Tegnell, the chief national epidemiologist.

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He showed a graph that shows cases of regular flu during the last two years (the purple and marigold lines below) compared to this year (the turquoise line), and says the quick decline in the turquoise line during the last two weeks shows the measures put in place are having an effect.

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Anders Tegnell: We think we have flattened the curve. We at least see the effect of our measures. And we still have enough hospital beds.

Anders Tegnell continues: Our biggest trouble is we have the infection spreading in retirement homes in Stockholm and in the west. So everyone involved in that has to think about how to do better. Any staff with the mildest symptoms should stay home, and there should be more testing among the retirement homes. The spread in retirement homes is a big reason for the increase in fatalities in Sweden. When talking to my Nordic colleagues, they don’t have this same problem. Whether it’s a matter of time or if they’re doing something better, is something we’ll have to discuss.

Then he comments about masks: the biggest way to stop infection is by staying home when you’re sick and washing hands, not protective material — at least when it comes to retirement homes.

Question: how many of the deaths can be linked to retirement homes?

Anders Tegnell: No, yes … I think it’s too much to say that much of the coronavirus spread is in retirement homes, it’s not like that; most of the infection spread is through community spread. But many of the deaths are linked to them. We are looking at that. In the coming days, we are going to look carefully at the deaths among old people and see which ones actually had an address in a retirement home. We will share that information in a few days.

Question: so again, what about face masks? [while a reporter in a face mask sits right there]

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Anders Tegnell: No, we still say that face masks should be used where they are needed, in hospitals, because there you can have situations where the best way to stop infectious spread is through protective material. Out and about in the community, however, there’s no evidence that they help. I know in some countries there’s discussion that you should have a face mask, but still, that’s so you don’t infect anyone else. But here in Sweden, we don’t say that. Rather, we say that if you have symptoms, you should stay home. In these other countries, they’re saying if you have symptoms, you should just wear a face mask [are other countries really saying that?] and personally, I think it’s more effective to just stay home rather than wear a face mask of doubtful quality.

Questioner continued: but what about if you are infected but have no symptoms? Couldn’t you then infect others if you go out and about without wearing a mask?

Anders Tegnell: “I think it’s very important to remember what is important to do. That which is important to do is to stay home if you’re sick.” The number of people who get sick from asymptomatic carriers is very small in all the studies — somewhere around 10%. The most important thing is not that we get rid of all infection, but that we get rid of enough infection so that our medical services don’t collapse.

Question: why don’t you think that protective material can’t solve the problems of the spread in retirement homes? (asked by a journalist with a scarf-made face mask)

Anders Tegnell: Because you have to look at the complex situation of the spread of coronavirus in retirement homes in its entirety. If you think you can solve it through more face masks, then you will be entirely wrong. You have to look at how well trained the staff are, if they are able to stay home when they are sick, if you can test them, how you can isolate sick patients.

Question: could we have avoided some of the spread in retirement homes if we had tested more of the staff?

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Sharp questioning by a reporter

Anders Tegnell: It’s a good question. We’re looking at different retirement homes to see if that makes a difference. There’s indications of that. My Nordic colleagues have tested a lot in the retirement homes, and they have fewer problems than what we have, so absolutely, as soon as we can test a little more, it will be a priority to test more staff and patients at the retirement homes. We test everyone who comes into the hospital, and there we have good control, we don’t see infections spreading there. So in retirement homes, it might help, too. But yet again, it can’t solve the situation all by itself, we have to look at the situation in its entirety.

Question: what about libraries? Some have closed. What do you think?

Anders Tegnell: I personally think it’s important to read and get books. But it’s the same conditions as for other public spots — things to do to reduce infection. Make sure it’s not too crowded, etc. If the libraries can follow that, then I think it’s good for them to stay open.

Then, the press conference was over, and it was back to the studio:

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This lady mentioned how, contrary to what Anders Tegnell was pushing for, in the US, the authorities are encouraging increased use of face masks; people are even making their own, even if they’re not medical-grade masks.

Then there was an individual interview with Anders Tegnell:

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Anders Tegnell

Question: let’s start with good news, the curve appears to have flattened out quite nicely. Can you say something more about that?

Anders Tegnell: Well, we have to look at it very carefully. We have to remember the latest numbers are from the weekend and are not complete yet. The even better news is that incidences of regular flu have gone down a lot. This means that our measures have been effective.

Question: When do you think the peak will come? Some other expert said in 3 weeks.

Anders Tegnell: We have a lot of people modeling this in different ways. They are all indicating that we might reach the peak of new cases this week. Then it would take another week for those new cases to start showing symptoms. So somewhere in that range. More and more are in agreement about this now.

Question: The report about the available capacity of intensive care units seems to show that Sweden is pretty well-prepared. Is that also your evaluation?

Anders Tegnell: Yes, I think so. We have had a pretty flat curve of the number getting admitted into intensive care for a long time. And now we are getting to the point where a lot of people are getting better and being discharged from the intensive care. So I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to keep up with the intensive care capacity. And we should have great respect for the great efforts people have made to open up the intensive care capacity, they’ve done a large job. But it looks like it’s going to work.

Question: How should people celebrate Easter?

Anders Tegnell: most important, do not celebrate with your old relatives. Also, don’t travel from hard-hit cities like Stockholm to other places. So be careful, stay outside as much as you like.

Question: You mentioned that infection is spreading quickly in the retirement homes. There’s a lot of old people in retirement homes who maybe visit hospitals. Is there evidence that that’s how the infection spread into retirement homes? Or what else do you think was the biggest factor?

Anders Tegnell: We don’t know. We’re looking at it. I don’t really think that if old people had chanced to visit in a hospital that that would have made a big difference. It’s not so normal right now that people have been going from retirement homes to hospitals. People have been trying to avoid visits to hospitals. And we also have very good control of the infections in hospitals, so I don’t think that’s the biggest source.

Question: Clarify about face masks again.

Anders Tegnell: Yes, it should be used in hospitals. No, it should not be used out and about. If you’re feeling sick, you should stay home.

Question: A study out from China shows that there’s been a lot of infection from people without symptoms. What do you think of that paper?

Anders Tegnell: Yes, but those cases of infection are not the majority. In most studies, the number of people who are infectious without symptoms is very low.

Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 3, 2020

On this day, there were 1 million cases globally. There were 6078 cases in Sweden; including 612 people who got sick in the last day; and 469 people who had or still are in intensive care. There were 333 fatalities.

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They start off, as usual, by mentioning that global cases are growing quickly because of the US.

This time is was not Anders Tegnell holding main court, rather it was Anders Wallensten. So not the chief epidemiologist, but the vice-chief epidemiologist.

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Anders Wallensten

By the way, this is the guy who introduces all the speakers at the beginning of the press conference:

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Anders Wallensten says: you see the number of cases by day is increasing.

Question: Based on the curve now, meaning the number of dead and the number of cases and people in intensive care, is this where you expected to be at this point?

Anders Wallensten: Um …. [asks a clarifying question back to buy time!] …

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Anders Wallensten feigning confusion

Wallensten: We’re looking carefully at these figures that we have, and we have done some modeling and … you see, these numbers are what the numbers are, we don’t have to compare them. We can make a prognosis of where it’s going, and then we can change tact based on that.

Question: Do we see a peak coming in Stockholm?

Anders Wallensten: No, by these figures, no. It also would take a few weeks to know that we actually had a peak.

Question from a Norwegian reporter, speaking Norwegian: You’ve asked people to stay home during the Easter holidays and not go on vacation. Do you think people will do that?

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Norwegian reporter from NRK

Anders Wallensten, speaking Swedish: I think there will be a few trips, but I really hope most people will re-think. It’s not forbidden, but I think most people will stay home.

Question: do you have a prognosis of how many people are going to die?

Anders Wallensten: It’s hard to make an exact prognosis. We can see the developments in Italy and other countries. It’s different in every country. So to come up with a specific number is hard.

Questioner continued: okay, but if you could come up with a number, what would it be?

Anders Wallensten: I haven’t calculated that, but we have people working on modeling and …

Questioner continued: so haven’t they said anything to you about a number?

Anders Wallensten: I don’t have an exact figure today.

Question: Will the number of intensive care units be enough?

Johanna Sandvall: she says that we have capacity right now, it’s Stockholm it’s a bit tight, etc, etc, and all our resources will be used to  meet the need, etc etc.

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Johanna Sandvall

Questioner continued: [a bit unintelligible] but will it be enough?

Johanna Sandvall: [snaps] it’s not possible to answer that question!

Question: An epidemiologist in the US by the name of Dr. Anthony Fauci (*mispronounces the last name*) has estimated that the coronavirus death rate is 0.1% (Has Dr. Fauci actually said that?? Or was this guy making it up?) And this is not worse than a bad season of flu. So with that in mind, how can you justify shutting down an entire country?

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Anders Wallensten and Johanna Sandvall trying to figure out what to say, while the guy on the left grins

Anders Wallensten and Johanna Sandwall first stare dumbfounded at the reporter for a full two seconds; then stare at each other, hoping the other will try to answer first. Anders Wallensten finally makes an attempt.

Anders Wallensten: Well, eh, okay, we don’t really know what the real mortality rate is. The first rates from China were at 2-3%, in Italy, it’s been higher. It can vary. The more time passes, and the more information we get about mild symptoms from this illness, the more these mortality rates can fall. Where it’s going to end up, we don’t really know. If we look at the American statistic that you just gave, it’s pretty low and maybe comparable to influenza, but we also have a situation where we see how the medical resources in certain countries are extremely stretched, and that’s a good reason for taking these measures. It’s not just about comparing to influenza. If it had been an pandemic of infuenza, then it could have been an equally serious situation.

Questioner persists: Ehh, the article in question is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which is one of the world’s most respected journals. So if New England Journal of Medicine considers the mortality rate of coronavirus is at 0.1%, and one of America’s leading epidemiologists says the same, how can it be that we impose such stringent measures that affect the economy and that can have really large consequences for public health? So I ask again. How can you shut down the whole country?

[Heads of the other journalists are swiveling around to take a good look at this guy]

Anders Wallensten: Um, eh, if you, if we look around the world, for example, the situation in Italy. We don’t want that situation here in Sweden. So these measures are hopefully going to be a short-lived thing that will make a big difference for how well we are able to take care of sick people. That’s what we’re trying to do. Of course, in the long-term, these measures can affect public health negatively, so we do want to be clear that these measures are for handling an acute situation and are not meant to remain in the long-term. Absolutely not. So it’s important to share information on how to take care of patients, how to slow the infection rate, develop a vaccine; and you’re absolutely right, if this goes on a long time, it would be a big problem.

To his credit, Anders Wallensten kept a gentle expression on his face. There was no hint of, why are you so stupid?

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After the press conference was over, they went back to the studio, and Iva Horvatovich, a reporter, was asked to summarize.

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Iva Horvatovich

I think Iva wants to give encouragement to the people trying to keep coronavirus from being a catastrophe, because she always puts a bright spin on things, as though to say: I know you’re working hard! I’ve got you!

This is what she said today: Well, today there was not much news, which is maybe good, because that means nothing too terrible is happening. We’re going to continue tracking this curve, and if you have a flat curve, it takes a little longer to reach its peak [except no one today said anything about a flat curve], and that’s why we haven’t seen a peak, yet. A positive sign is that the rate of people in intensive care who are dying has gone down a little.

And there’s still capacity available in the intensive care units, but especially in Stockholm, it’s getting a little tighter, but at least we haven’t yet shot over the top of the capacity of the medical resources.

Iva continues: And yes, it’s true that coronavirus is infecting people in retirement homes, (but Iva hurries to add that) this is completely in line with what happened in other countries in Europe and the world. It’s happened in Italy, Spain, in the US, that you’ve had the infection spreading in retirement homes, and many people have died. We don’t know if the total number of fatalities will be as high in Sweden as it has been in Italy, where they weren’t as prepared for coronavirus at the same level that we were.

Finally, there was an individual interview with Anders Wallensten.

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Anders Wallensten

Question: There’s been an increase in the number of cases. Have we reached the peak?

Anders Wallensten: I don’t think so. We won’t know if we’ve reached the peak until we’ve started going down in new cases for a few weeks. And we’re not there yet.

Question: There’s also an increase in the number of dead, what do you think [I thought they just said the number of dead was a little lower. Or was that just Iva who said that?]

Anders Wallensten: I’m afraid it will continue like that for a while. It’s a sad time.

Question: How happy are you with your strategy for combating the disease?

Anders Wallensten: Yes, well, it’s of course not until later that you can really know which strategy worked the best. But the advice and recommendations that we have laid out is followed carefully by most people and I think this has a clear effect.

Question: are you worried that there won’t be enough intensive care units?

Anders Wallensten: well, of course it would be a big problem if they weren’t enough. But Socialstyrelsen (some sort of agency that does ‘social’ stuff ???) has their eye on that and they have said that there’s possibilities for expanding capacity, so I hope it will be enough.

Question: is it time for some clearer prohibitions on what people can and can’t do?

Anders Wallensten: from what we see, the recommendations we’ve given out have had a good effect. Of course, you can’t know exactly until afterwards what the real effect has been. There’s a certain lag between when you make a rule and when you see any results from it. But for now, we think our current recommendations are at a good level.

Question: You’ve talked about flattening out the curve. Is it going to plan?

Anders Wallensten: We’ll have to see. So far, it’s manageable, even if it’s tight. And that’s our goal, to hold it within the manageable.

Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 2, 2020

At this point, the total number of global cases is 928,000. In Sweden, there are 5466 cases, of which 519 are people who newly became sick the last day. That’s the most new cases in a day so far. And 429 people have been in intensive care.

Here’s who was at the press conference today:

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These three are Taha Alexandersson, Anders Tegnell, and Svante Werger.

Anders Tegnell is the chief epidemiologist for Sweden, and this is what he had to say about the situation today:

— They have reached a new and higher level of increase — about 500 new cases a day.
— The number of new intensive care cases is more flat in its increase (the black line below). There is still capacity in intensive care for more patients, and new intensive care units have been built.

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Anders Tegnell also said: The cases among old people is unfortunately going up. There are a number of retirement homes where infections have occurred, not just in Stockholm, but in other places around the country.

Anders Tegnell: The curve is starting to be steeper, but overall, I think we still have a fairly flat curve.

Then they gave some advice about playing sports that I thought was interesting. Anders Tegnell said: we think it’s especially important for young people to be active, to play sports, to be outside a lot, to move around. They simply caution that sports teams shouldn’t be traveling around for competitions and recommend avoiding sports with lots of physical contact. If possible, hold practices outside.

There was a question from Thomas Moore, a British journalist. He asked in English: I’m sure you’ve looked at the same evidence as the UK government from Imperial College (doesn’t explain what that evidence is). Why do you disagree with that evidence, how confident are you in Sweden’s approach even now as deaths rise, and do you think the UK government will come to regret its decision to lock down the country?

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The British journalist

Anders Tegnell (answers in English also): That’s a lot of questions. If anyone would regret what they’ve been doing at this time, probably to a certain extent. It’s always much easier to look in the mirror and see what we should have done. But I’m quite confident all governments today are really trying to do the best they can do under the circumstances, I mean, there’s no hidden agenda, definitely not in Sweden. Imperial’s report, it’s not a published report — it’s a report from the University. It has flaws like all these reports have. All of these reports build on basic data that’s not very clear yet. We don’t know the variables we need to know very clearly at this stage. Which means your choice of variables and how you measure them would influence the results very very much, and there’s a number of different prognoses out there that vary widely, and show us how difficult it is to understand where we are and where we’re going. I think so far the projection we have done in Sweden, we have followed them pretty well, so far.

Question: a six-month-old baby died in the US of coronavirus, and a couple of kids under 14 in Europe.

Anders Tegnell: when you have 1 million cases of an illness, you’re always going to get a few exceptional cases, even if children are not the primary ones to get sick.

And there were quite a few questions about spread of coronavirus in retirement homes, both at the press conference, and later when they took Anders Tegnell into what looks like the cold outdoors for a further interview:

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Question: Do you know through what mechanism coronavirus spread in the retirement homes? Was it because of people visiting, or was it because workers there didn’t have the right protective equipment?

Anders Tegnell: we don’t know yet … still looking into that, and we need to know, because the situation in the retirement homes needs to get better.

Question: If it was because of lack of protective equipment, will workers in the retirement homes get that equipment now?

Anders Tegnell: I’m not sure it was because of lack of protective gear …

Question: Should you have taken the decision about forbidding visits to retirement homes earlier?

Anders Tegnell: We had a recommendation about that for a long time. Now unfortunately we have more people in retirement homes getting sick, and so therefore, we had to make a clear signal that there should be no more visits.

Question: How is it possible that we could have such widespread coronavirus spread in the retirement homes?

Anders Tegnell: Well, it’s in Stockholm that this is happening. It’s a question we’d have to ask the city of Stockholm. We don’t have any more information other than we know it’s happening.

Question: We see a lot of old people out on the streets. They’re not listening to what you’re saying about staying home.

Anders Tegnell: yes, I think we are trying to have the best information campaign we can so we can reach them. I think information is better than putting restrictions in place that people then try to find a way around. Of course, old people still need to be able to go out and move around. It’s very important. It’s not being outside that’s dangerous, it’s the close social contacts, and in fact, close social contacts inside are the most dangerous.

Question: The curve is going up now. What’s the prognosis?

Anders Tegnell: yes, it is going up and we need to do some more research into this. If our prognosis is correct, then we’ll stay at this level for a few more weeks. And then hopefully we will reach the top and go down.

Question: Any evidence that we’re building up some herd immunity?

Anders Tegnell: Not yet, but that’s evidence that we’re working on collecting. In a month, we hope we’ll be close to a herd immunity that would allow us to slow down the infection rate. When you get to 20-25% immunity in the society, then the infection rate will start being much slower. We’ve had a month of relatively slow increases, which means it can take us a while to get to the top of the curve; which is good, because that gives the medical resources a chance to cope.

 

 

 

More bokmärken in the US

I wrote once about the first time I ever found bokmärken in the US. It was such a wonderful occasion.

I went back to Payn’s Stationary story when I visited San Francisco again in December 2019 for a conference. He was still selling bokmärken, and there were different varieties than the last time I’d been there a year and a half previously. It was delicious! I bought a whole bunch, and the guy at the register, who I guess maybe was the owner, told me: oh, I’m going to have to order more of these now!

He said that he orders them from some whole-saler who imports them from Europe. He just orders more as he needs them. Yes, you keep doing that.

And then about a week later, I visited Solvang in southern California. This town is built as a “traditional Danish settlement”, though I don’t know exactly how much real Danish history that town has. Whatever the case may be, there’s lots of stores there that sell trinkets, and among them was a store entirely dedicated to Christmas stuff. It was called Jule-something. Amidst all the Christmas ornaments and decorations, I found a shelf drowning in bokmärken! It was so wonderful. And they were selling for cheaper than at Payn’s! Like half-price. I bought all I wanted (maybe 6 sheets), and although I got some Christmasy ones, I also got frogs, and fairytales, and flowers, and all sorts.

However, the sad news is that according to the cashiers, their supplier of bokmärken is no longer selling them or something. So I think that stash on that shelf might be the last of them. Maybe they’re just slowing going to wean themselves off of that particular piece of merchandise. It’s a shame.

I afterwards took the train from California to Chicago. In Chicago, I visited the Swedish-American museum. They don’t sell bokmärken there! Can you believe it?

Sweden coronavirus press conference, March 26, 2020

I shall summarize this press conference, introducing you meanwhile to the world’s ugliest and stupidest idiot. But stop a while.

On this day, there were 417,000 cases throughout the world. There were 2806 cases in Sweden; 66 dead; and 178 patients in the intensive care.

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Press conference by the public health officials in Sweden

Look at that: both the national epidemiologist and the vice-national epidemiologist were at the podiums. That means two Anders: Anders Tegnell (in the middle with the red shirt) and Anders Wallensten, next to him to the right.

Anders Tegnell on the current situation: we had fair numbers over the weekend, but now we’ve had a couple of days with increasing numbers. We have to see what happens now. There’s been a few days of increasing numbers especially in Stockholm.

He adds: Those that die have been in the hospital for maybe 4 weeks. We still want to keep the curve under the capacity of the hospitals. It’s going to be very hard.

After Tegnell spoke, so did Taha Alexandersson (the lone woman) about medical equipment. And finally the man on opposite end spoke — he’s from the school system, and he was talking about what to do about all the closed schools and graduation ceremonies.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have entered the Ugly Stupid Pig portion of this press conference. It’s this ugly loser in the press corps:

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Except, he never actually introduces himself or his media bureau, so he could be anybody at all.

Ugly loser spits out: I have a question for Socialstyrelsen (shoving his ugly loser hands in the direction of Taha Alexandersson, while looking as though he wants to kill her).

His question: You say that medical staff should feel protected from coronavirus infection. How are you going to guarantee that? And if there is a medical staffer in Sweden (now with his voice rising unsteadily with emotion!) who feels at risk for infection, and doesn’t feel that their bosses listen to their complaints, can they turn to Socialstyrelsen so that you (another ugly gesture at Taha Alexandersson) will do something about it?

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WHY are you looking at her like that, you sick pig?

Taha Alexandersson responds: Socialstyrelsen doesn’t take in complaints, but I truly hope that we give the best support we can to employers so that they can adequately support their employees. I hope that medical staffers, and I think that they do, turn to their employer for support. We are a knowledge-steering authority, not an enforcement authority.

Here’s Taha Alexandersson as she listens to the sick pig and answers him:

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Taha Alexandersson

And here’s the sick pig breathing heavily and about to explode at the indignity of needing to give her time to answer:

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Sick pigs do explode

But it doesn’t end there! Sick pig is not about to end his righteous assault. In his sneering, ugly voice, he decides to ask again:

Sick pig with sneering, ugly voice: You said that medical staffers shouldn’t feel unsafe, and I ask again, how are you going to guarantee that?

Taha Alexandersson takes a breath:

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Taha Alexandersson: Just as I cannot guarantee how coronavirus is going to spread, or what the global shortage of medical supplies will look like, I also cannot stand here and guarantee something that’s not in my power to guarantee. What I can guarantee is that Socialstyrelsen will do its utmost to work to give advice and recommendations and support so that medical staff don’t feel unsafe. Thank you.

But the curt “thank you” didn’t work … sick pig comes back with more.

Sick pig (sounding like a 2-year-old at this point; no, wait, 2-year-olds actually sound cute): Then why did you saaaaaay that no medical staff should feel unsafe? If you now say you can’t guarantee it???

Taha Alexandersson: Then if I can re-phrase myself: Socialstyrelsen is working to try to support employers, as well as municipalities, so that they will be able to make sure that their medical staff don’t feel unsafe. Thank you.

But take a look at sick pig’s face, and tell me you don’t think he’s going to harp on about this:

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Sick pig: So what should a medical staff who feels unsafe doooo?

Taha Alexandersson, now having to explain two plus two equals four: I hope that all employees in all workplaces know where to turn if you feel unsafe. I turn to my employer.

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Yes, mr. Sick Pig, Dr. Taha Alexandersson knows what you’re about.

So Mr. Sick Pig now needs to do his final business, which is, to ask his questions again of the white men on the stage, because otherwise, he can’t be satisfied. With a suddenly innocent expression on his face (at least he tries; there’s no rubbing off that muck), and having exchanged his sneering angry voice for an appropriately worried but respectful one, and glancing lovingly upwards at the white men, he asks:

Sick pig: we’ve gotten reports that there’s people out doing the medical work who are worried about infection, they’re worried that equipment will run out ..

Anders Tegnell answers quietly, just repeating what Taha Alexandersson already said: that’s a dialogue that they need to have with their employers, we can’t just stand here and discuss how that dialogue should proceed. I can only say that which Taha has said (!!!!), that we on this level will do everything we can so this will go as well as possible. We will give the best advice possible, and we will do all we can so that we can get the right equipment.

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And now that Sick Pig has gotten his assurance from the white man, he calms down and nods even, to show how good and obliging he truly is.

So now that sick pig is out of the way, we can move on to the next question, which came from Johan Nilsson of TVT (?). He asks: do you see that you risk confusing people when you say at these press conferences the the situation is stable, then a few hours later Stockholm City comes out and says that the storm is upon us? What can you say about this discrepancy?

Anders Tegnell: It’s not a discrepancy.

Johan Nilsson: well, then, that the general public won’t understand …

Anders Tegnell cuts him off, and turns the question back: It’s also your responsibility, as journalists, to be clear that what we report at these press conferences is just the situation at an instant, and things can happen very quickly. Also, there’s 2 different things we’re talking about: we’re talking about how the epidemic spreads, that’s one thing, and we’re talking about the medical situation in Stockholm, that’s the other thing. They’re related, but they’re not going to be at the same level. I think we have a responsibility to be very clear in our communications so that this doesn’t cause worry to people.

Later on, after a few minutes of boring questions, something of a repetition occurred when a journalist asked this of Anders Tegnell:

Yesterday, you describe the situation as stable, while the authorities in Stockholm said something completely different. Why was there such a difference?

Anders Tegnell, getting saucy: I answered that question once, but I can answer it again.

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Anders Tegnell and his combat-with-the-press grin

Tegnell continued: We are talking about two different things. I never said the situation in Stockholm was calm. I said there was pressure on the medical situation there, and that was also repeated on the evening news. But the epidemic spread in Stockholm that we’ve seen so far, at least till yesterday, looks quite fair. Now, for two days, we’ve been seeing quite a few more cases. That changes things. But it doesn’t change was I said yesterday, which was talking about two different things.

Sweden coronavirus press conference, April 1, 2020

I actually only saw the end of this one, but there were three things to mention:

1) On this day, there were 853,000 cases globally. In Sweden, there were 4947 cases. Out of those, 512 people had become sick during the last day. There were 393 people in the intensive care. Anders Tegnell, the national epidemiologist, stated about this: our curve is starting to look steeper. There were 239 dead.

2) For the first time, one of the people doing the sign language was a man:

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3) At the end, when they were back in the studio, they were analyzing whether or not the list of recommendations from the government was too long, too much too follow … were all the measures and communications clear? The reporter in the studio gave her opinion: I think the recommendations have all been very clear …

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Iva Horvatovic

… and I think she said that in response to people who tweet like this, who seems quite honestly super annoying. This tweeter seems like someone who moves to a new place and goes, OMG, OMG, OMG, please recognize what a great person I am, OMG, and in order to prove that I don’t actually care what you think, let me breathlessly list all the ways you’re failing.

Sweden coronavirus press conference, March 31, 2020

On this day, there were 716,000 cases worldwide. There were 4435 cases total in Sweden, and 358 people in intensive care. 180 dead.

This time, the press conference started off with politicians.

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Isabella Lövin of Sweden

Do you see her? Her name is Isabella Lövin, and she is the vice-Prime Minister. I have taken two selfies with her over the years. It was very exciting.

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Stefan Löfven of Sweden

And that man is the Prime Minister. I have seen him. I wrote about it here. I maybe was over-excited when I wrote that. I seemed to be very fond of him.

The politicians did a lot of talking, but mostly what they said was: on Easter, don’t go around distributing candy, that will have to wait. And no more visits to your parents or grandparents in retirement homes.

Oh, and that there will be more testing in Sweden. Testing will continue to be prioritized for old people and for medical people, but also now extended to other people who perform critical jobs (police, ambulances). But no, not everyone who wants a test will get one. Right now, about 10,000 tests are being done a week, and they want to get up to 20,000 to 30,000.

Question from the journalists: have we been testing too little, too slow?

Prime Minister: No, we’re testing as much as our neighboring countries, and we keep testing more and more.

Later, there was an individual interview with Isabella Lövin:

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Isabella Lövin

Correspondent: Why did you decide to make the rule prohibiting visits to retirement homes?

Isabella Lövin: some homes had already made this decision, others had not; and we wanted to have one clear rule for everyone, so that there will be no doubt, and so the head of the retirement doesn’t have to try to justify it themselves, but can just say, sorry! No visitors! Rules are rules!

Correspondent: Does this mean people can’t see their parents as they’re dying?

Isabella Lövin: there can be exceptions, but that’s up to the local chief.

Correspondent: you are asking people to stay home over the Easter break, but there’s no harder measures. Why not, for example, shut down ferries going to islands?

Isabella Lövin: It’s very important to follow the Public Health Authority recommendations. And we will take stricter measures if we need to.

Then it was back to the studio, where this self-satisfied analyst started summarizing:

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Mats Knudson

Mats Knudson: no, they’ve decided not to close the ferries to the islands; they’re going to trust that people will do what authorities tell them to do. So Easter will be sort of like a test to see if people listen or not.

By the way, Hiba Daniel was again the main newscaster that he was talking to:

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Hiba Daniel

Then it was time to leave the studio, because a second press conference was starting: this one with the people from the Public Health. Anders Tegnell wasn’t there today, instead, the vice National Epidemiologist stepped in. His name is also Anders.

Like Anders Tegnell, Anders Wallensten starts off by mentioning, oh, by the way, cases are increasing rapidly in the US.

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Anders Wallensten

This is what the graphs of the day look like:

The graph for the number of deaths by day is on the left, and number of cases per day on the right.

This this guy talked about something important: misinformation and propaganda with coronavirus.

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He said: Our job is to inform people about the correct things. But today, instead of informing, I want to talk about recognizing and confronting propaganda that’s coming from outside directed towards Sweden. Things that foreign entities are doing towards us. What we see right now is that a whole lot of distorted information is coming in — distorted information about the management of coronavirus in Sweden. Some things that are being said:

— that coronavirus is a form of biological warfare
— that it is not dangerous and the government is overreacting
— that Sweden is not doing anything at all about coronavirus (which, he then adds, you see is absolutely not true, motioning to the three other speakers on the podiums standing next to him)

He continues: Right now, there’s a lot of worry among us, and when people are worried, it makes them more vulnerable to these types of propaganda campaigns. So what we’re doing is trying to analyze these threatening propaganda-actors, figure out what they’re doing, and when they activate their resources against us. And then he lists some other things (kind of vague) that they’re trying to do to protect against the misinformation.

He continues: that’s what we’re doing. But what can you do? It maybe sounds like a broken record, but I have to say it anyways: think critically about news you read. Can you confirm the source? Where is the information coming from? What’s the goal of the people spreading it? If you see something suspicious, then don’t share it. Don’t let anyone steer you; it’s you that holds the truth (I maybe translated that wrong).

Then it was time for questions:

Here’s a picture of Anders Wallensten looking slightly perplexed at one of the questions:

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The same German journalist from the day before asked: Denmark yesterday said that they’re going to keep everyone locked inside till Easter, and then maybe think about loosening the restrictions. And the numbers in Sweden are going up. So are you all still sure that your measures are the correct strategy with your more liberal coronavirus policies?

Anders Wallensten: We believe that what we’re doing is correct right now. I don’t say that we won’t adopt new restrictions later if the situation changes, but the increases in coronavirus cases that we see is expected. Denmark knows best what to do for Denmark. But what we see here so far is a rate of increase that is not super steep.

German journalist again: Anders Tegnell said the other day (Tegnell is I think Wallensten’s boss of sorts) that in Sweden there is a pretty stable situation. Do you still think that’s true?

Anders Wallensten: It depends on which of the numbers you look at. We see an increase in cases. That increase is constant, day by day. It’s not shooting up.

So the press conference ended, and then it was time for individual interviews. They did an interview with this lady, who was one of the speakers. They asked her: there’s 3 doctors and 2 nurses that are in the intensive care with coronavirus. What can you comment about that?

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And what did she say? She kind of blamed the poor doctors and nurses. She said, well, it’s all very sad, but it’s up to every medical staffer to use the protective equipment they have properly! And she repeated that a couple of times. Yikes.

They also did an individual interview with Anders Wallensten, but they dragged him outside for that, and it looks cold:

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Anders Wallensten

Then it was back to the studio, and Hiba Daniel was leading the discussion again. Mats Knudson had disappeared, and Iva Horvatovich was back.

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Iva Horvatovic

They talked again about the misinformation campaigns directed towards Sweden. Iva summarized as follows: there’s lots of talk that Sweden isn’t doing anything, that Sweden is taking it very easy. And Sweden’s strategy has raised a lot of notice. In the established media, it has been said simply that Sweden is going its own way. But on social media, it’s a different story with a lot of misinformation.

Finally, and I’m sorry to do this, but I would be remiss if I didn’t show Hiba Daniel’s little grin when bringing up the out-of-control situation in the US:

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Anders Tegnell on the Swedish news on coronavirus

The newscaster at the Swedish TV (SVT) is named Anders Holmberg, and he is asking questions of Anders Tegnell. Don’t get confused between them, even though they are both called Anders. Tegnell is the national epidemiologist.

Holmberg: Many people have talked about how much less Sweden does compared to other countries when it comes to putting restrictions on social contact. Some countries have shut-down and entered quarantine, but Sweden has a strategy based more on getting information out and voluntary compliance. What if it turns out that you were wrong about this approach? There’s many people’s lives that are standing in the balance.

Anders Tegnell does not look so amused:

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Anders Tegnell, national epidemiologist

He says: I’m not the one who’s wrong, it’s a national authority  …

Holmberg hurries to say, yes, yes, I meant the Public  Health Authority, you and your colleagues.

Anders Tegnell: We believe that we are taking the entirely correct approach. If you go out on Stockholm’s streets, you’ll see that there are many fewer people out than normal.

Holmberg: So is everyone else in all the other countries just wrong, then?

Tegnell: I’m just not sure that those other countries have achieved anything much beyond what we have, with us using information and voluntary compliance as we usually do in Sweden. I think it’s very important to use the sorts of tools that we already know work within the public health sector. And in Sweden that is built on trust, voluntary compliance, and that each person looks for good solutions. In other countries, there’s other traditions, where you might use laws to force people to take things seriously.

Holmberg, the newscaster, again: But aren’t you worried that it will turn out that you have taken the wrong path?

Tegnell: No one knows at all how this is going to turn out …

Holmberg: that’s not my question, but are you worried?

Tegnell: Of course, everyone is worried, including me, about how this will develop. I’m not so worried that here in Sweden it will turn out much differently compared to other countries. We will all need to confront this in different ways and take different measures. So far, the situation has developed fairly in Sweden. The medical sector continues to cope with the measures we have taken. If we need to take more measures, then we will.

Holmberg: It’s still early now.

Tegnell: Exactly.

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Anders Tegnell interviewed by Anders Holmberg

(By the way, I’m not entirely sure when this interview was conducted, but it was sometime around March 29, 2020).