April Is The Cruelest Month

[ Posted Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 – 16:35 UTC ]

"April is the cruelest month" begins T. S. Eliot's famous poem "The Waste Land," which is why it seems particularly appropriate to quote right now. You'll doubtless be hearing this line again throughout the month, for obvious reasons. But while contemplating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic during April is indeed beyond sobering, what we should all be hoping for is that Eliot's line does indeed prove prophetic. Because the alternative is even worse -- that April will only be a preamble to even worse news in May and beyond.

As we enter April, America just passed the milestone of having over 200,000 officially-reported cases of COVID-19. I say "officially-reported" because that figure is nowhere near the actual truth. There simply are not enough tests to go around, even among people who are already obviously sick. The only ones tested in many areas are either frontline responders (doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc.) or people so ill they must be hospitalized. Even people who have most likely died from the virus aren't always tested, due to the lack of testing resources. So while the official number just topped 200,000, the reality could be many times that number of Americans actually infected. We just don't know.

But even that large number pales in comparison to where it will likely be at the end of the month. How many million Americans will be infected on the first of May? It is currently impossible to even predict. Most people, both in politics and in the media, have now switched to only paying attention to the number of coronavirus deaths, since that number is a lot lower. For now. The White House finally had to admit that we could be looking at 100,000 to 240,000 coronavirus deaths as a best-case scenario. Will the number of coronavirus deaths at the end of April be higher than the total number of cases at the beginning of the month? It is not out of the question, the experts tell us. April is going to be viciously cruel, no matter what the final tally turns out to be.

The next two days will reveal some other statistics that will be almost as shocking, because tomorrow we'll get the weekly unemployment report and then on Friday we'll get the monthly update to the official unemployment rate. Tomorrow's number is going to be even more brutal than last Thursday's number, on that pretty much everyone agrees. Last week, it was reported that 3.3 million people filed for unemployment benefits in one week -- blowing away all previous records (including those set during the Great Depression and the Great Recession). This rather cruel number is likely to be revised upwards, as the data are corrected, but this week's number is likely to be close to double last week's. Economists are predicting perhaps five million filings in the past week (estimates vary by around a half-million either way). If this is true and if last week's number is revised upwards, then somewhere around 10 million people will have filed for unemployment in two weeks' time. And these numbers could get even crueler for the rest of April, because the worst is yet to come. One Federal Reserve estimate predicted that we could see a staggering 47 million people unemployed before this is over, pushing the unemployment rate over 30 percent -- higher than anything seen in the 1930s in the depths of the Great Depression.

In February, the official unemployment rate was 3.5 percent. On Friday, we'll get the number for March, which some are predicting could be around 5.5 percent. This, obviously, won't tell the whole story, since the wave of layoffs and furloughs really didn't begin swelling until the later part of the month. But if April begins with 5 million more people filling for unemployment in one week, then the April unemployment rate (which will be reported in a month's time) is going to be brutal -- far more brutal than a two-point rise.

The stock market may have bottomed out, fluctuating wildly for the past week or so but not heading downward at the steep rate it did during most of March. But that could change with the new economic numbers coming out. When even Donald Trump is admitting that 100,000 people dead from the virus could be the best we can hope for, at this point, the market has to factor in this grim new reality.

Trump apparently began taking the coronavirus seriously a few days ago. Better late than never, I guess. Right up until that point, he was belittling it every chance he could as something not much worse than the yearly flu season. He expressed his hope that we'd see "packed churches" for Easter, which falls in mid-April this year. But a few days ago, his manner noticeably changed. The real reason for this wasn't all those briefings by the experts, since he's been getting them all along and mostly ignoring them. No, the real reason is that this hit him in a very personal way -- one of his real estate mogul buddies got sick and went to the hospital. Within a day, he was in a coma. Which, apparently, shocked Trump since he had been firmly convinced that this was nothing more than an overblown flu. In this state of shock, what the experts have been telling him all along finally seemed to sink in, at least a little bit.

HuffPost had a rundown today of how Trump first saw the coming cruelty of April:

On Feb. 10, [President Trump] repeatedly predicted -- at a meeting with governors, at a campaign rally and in a Fox Business interview -- that the coronavirus would no longer be a problem by April. He then made this claim at least three more times a few days later.

  • "Now, the virus that we're talking about having to do -- you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat -- as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We're in great shape though. We have 12 cases -- 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now." [Feb. 10]
  • "Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away." [Feb. 10]
  • "I really believe they are going to have it under control fairly soon. You know in April, supposedly, it dies with the hotter weather. And that's a beautiful date to look forward to." [Feb. 10]
  • "We think and we hope, based on all signs that the problem goes away in April." [Feb. 13]
  • "There's a theory that, in April, when it gets warm -- historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So we don't know yet; we're not sure yet." [Feb. 14]
  • "I think it's going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus." [Feb. 14]

This now looks foolish (ahem), as April begins. But at least now, at this incredibly late date, he is finally admitting the seriousness of the problem.

There may be a silver lining in all of this. If the social distancing really makes a major impact, we will hopefully begin to see the effects of it in April. The curve will finally begin to bend downwards, as the transmission of the virus is slowed considerably by all the actions taken by the nation's governors (since Trump refused to act in any meaningful way). But each state was on its own, meaning that some moved quickly and some dithered right along with the president. So the slowing of the spread of the virus may happen regionally, beginning first in the areas that instituted restrictions earliest. Slowly -- at precisely the same speed as the restrictions themselves spread -- this will move to the states that waited longer.

The first good news will be the slowing of the spread of the virus, so that its growth curve isn't quite so exponential. The number of new cases each day will begin to increase only slightly instead of jumping sharply upwards with each passing day. The total number of cases will continue to climb upwards, but the slope of the curve will not be as steep. Later, we will see the daily numbers actually begin to level off, so we're only seeing roughly the same number of new cases each day. The third milestone will be when the daily numbers actually begin to drop a bit, meaning fewer new cases each day than the day before. This is when the overall curve will begin to flatten out, and eventually start heading downwards. But this peak will also be only the beginning of the peak of deaths, since the death numbers always lag the number of reported cases. So we've got a whole lot of grim milestones to get through before anyone starts talking about returning to any kind of pre-pandemic normalcy.

If we're lucky, we'll see at least a few of these milestones in April. The numbers in April are going to be a gut punch -- there is no doubt about that. But maybe we'll begin to see the flattening of the various curves at some point during the month. If the social distancing works, if the tests improve (so there isn't such a huge lag time in getting the results), and if the hospital systems aren't completely overwhelmed, then if we're lucky we'll see at least some incremental signs of improvement at some time during April.

This, however, is still the best case: April will be the cruelest month, but things will start to improve in May. The worst case scenario now is that even the social distancing doesn't have a big enough impact on the spread of the virus, and the numbers continue to rocket upwards through the cruelties of April right on into May. And that would be the cruelest cut of all.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


38 Comments on “April Is The Cruelest Month”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    There may be a silver lining in all of this. If the social distancing really makes a major impact, we will hopefully begin to see the effects of it in April.

    That's pretty optimistic, considering that we just really got started with 'stay at home' orders which are still not nationwide with more than a handful of states not playing along or announcing the orders but exempting religious gatherings!?

  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM -

    The good news, for you, is I saw a map and pretty much all states bordering Canuckistan have gone stay-at-home. I think North Dakota was the only outlier, but I only glimpsed the map (during a news broadcast)...

    Stay safe up there.


  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, I don't want good news for me.

    I have surrendered the me for the we, you know.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Speaking of which, do you suppose that Michale is just having the dreaded connectivity issues? As in no internet(s) …

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Can't say that about any PRiSM song … except maybe Open Soul Surgery. :)

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I guess all those here that keep telling me you have no influence don't know what they are talking about. :D


    You oughta take this show on the road, Don!

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Damn. :(

  8. [8] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    I love that you referenced the waste land. Honestly that whole first stanza is genius. Mixing memory with desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.

    That hook really is pretty good. You just need a catchy tune, verses people don't hate, and pie.

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Canuckistan? That's a funny one that I've never heard before. I've been calling it Canadia forever.

    Note to Elizabeth Miller: No disrespect meant - Canada and I go back to my short pants days in Detroit. 'Tis an excellent country save for the black flies and the cold as bleep winters.

    In many ways it's better than The States, and is easily my first choice if/when things get too cray-cray down here. Go RedWings!

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Don Harris, I'm a huge Yes fan (and early Genesis, ELP, Moody Blues et al.) I agree that "Owner of a Lonely Heart"is cringe worthy.


    "This is no time for blaming Trump and letting Perez and Biden and the rest of the big money Dems off the hook. "

    I agree that this is some powerful writing and I gotta admit that the thought of Perez and Biden out of the picture almost makes my mouth water!

    I generally agree with what you write and what needs to be done. I think most of us do. I take exception when you bag on CW for not pushing your agenda. Simply put, it's YOUR job not HIS.

    Here's Bill Maher <a href="" on this very subject.

  11. [11] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Dammit, that didn't work out. I'm doing all this on a cracked smartphone. Here's the link:

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    And yeth, as much as Michale annoys me I hope he's OK. I hope he didn't take Cheetogod's advice about "it's no big deal" and expose himself to CV.

  13. [13] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    And just like all the people that CW and others here laud for not taking no or no answer for an answer for their persistence in seeking an answer I am not taking no or no answer for an answer.

    The way I see it, you've been taking "no" for an answer every single day because you're too damn ignorant to understand that "no answer" is the answer, and that daily answer is obviously: "No."

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.

    Put up. Shut up. Fuck off.

    CW doesn't have to agree with me or push my idea.

    Exactly. He could just keep de facto saying "no" every single day by ignoring you... oh, wait!

  14. [14] 
    TheStig wrote:

    The doubling time of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries are not necessarily the same...and they vary from country country. Here is a web page that explains the how and why and lists the mortality doubling rate for different countries.

    The US estimate is 3 days. So how are things likely to look on Easter Morning? Here is the progression of predicted deaths leading up to Easter Morning:

    Cumulative deaths 8 am, April 2: 5132

    April 5:10264

    April 8:20528

    April 11:41056

    This is not your typical seasonal flu.

    Initial point from the Johns Hopkins COVID web tracker

  15. [15] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    You keep using those words- but it is obvious form your word turds that you do not know or are pretending not to know what they mean.

    Said the dipshit who can't grasp this concept:

    [47] Chris Weigant wrote:

    Don Harris [22] -


    What's the ugliest part of your body?


  16. [16] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    They hate the verses because the verses expose the fault in themselves that they don't want to face.

    that's one possible interpretation. another possible interpretation is that they find it intellectually limited and resent the manner in which it's being presented.

    the irony of you using that quote from the princess bride is very meta.

    "you keep using that word. i do not think it means what you think it means."
    ~inigo montoya, the princess bride

  17. [17] 
    Kick wrote:

    This ain't rocket science, Don:

    [47] Chris Weigant wrote:

    Don Harris [22] -


    It is in no way whatsoever a difficult concept to grasp:

    ig nore

    past tense: ignored; past participle: ignored

    refuse to take notice of or acknowledge; disregard intentionally.

    take no notice of
    pay no attention to
    pay no heed to
    pass over
    shut one's eyes to
    be oblivious to
    turn a blind eye to
    turn a deaf ear to
    brush aside
    shrug off
    push aside
    never mind
    look the other way
    look right through
    look past
    turn one's back on
    give someone the cold shoulder
    freeze out
    steer clear of
    send to Coventry
    give someone the brush-off
    cut dead
    knock back
    give someone the go-by
    set aside
    take no account of
    fail to comply with
    fail to observe
    fly in the face of
    leave out

    "Ignored" is the answer, Don, and it conveniently requires the word "no" to express it in written form.

  18. [18] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    can you pin this link somewhere for future reference? i feel as though i'll especially be referencing numbers 9 and 12 today...

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    I understand completely.

    CW replies with bullshit snarky comments because he has no valid argument against my points.

    So then, by your own calculation, CW has no valid argument; as such, isn't it the height of ignorance on your part to expect him to present an argument he doesn't have?

    He will not defend his positions to legitimate criticism so he hides behind snarky comments just as you hide behind pretending to be stupid.

    Oh, it has been quite obvious for a long time now that you sincerely believe that everyone here has a problem because they somehow don't recognize the brilliance behind you and your obsession or are simply "pretending" not to see it. You also believe that those same people refuse to recognize it -- get this -- because they live in fear that it would work and therefore simply must pretend not to acknowledge its genius. *laughs*

    Question: Have you ever just once perchance considered that you're the problem?

    But now the bodies are beginning to pile up and there is no place to hide from that.

    Hide in your post office box; you are definitely a small enough little man to fit.

  20. [20] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    And if people are not pissed off enough yet or even by Easter to get up off their ass and fight by demanding two years of BMI and medicare for all for anyone that wants it, Emergency Political Contribution Vouchers right now for the 2020 elections and willing to tell the big money Dems they will vote for Nader if the Dems don't stop taking big money then they never will be.

    Nice convictions you've got there.

    Even though the big money politicians DESERVE to be carried off by a mob, tortured and killed we can't get together now to form a mob.

    You lack the courage of your convictions, sir. Do it!
    ~ Louis de Pointe du Lac, Interview with the Vampire

  21. [21] 
    Kick wrote:


    can you pin this link somewhere for future reference?

    You know it! The call word is "panda." You use it, and that link will appear when I see it.

    I like #5. That plane going down in flames is a nice touch... the color of Hair Dick Tater's head. <--- Oops, almost did a #6. ;)

  22. [22] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    What makes you think repeating the original bullshit again that was debunked in my response is anything other than word turds?

    You keep claiming to have "debunked" everyone. *laughs*

    I said CW ignored you, and he did so and has done so repeatedly. There's nothing to "debunk." If CW hadn't ignored you repeatedly, there'd be no reason whatsoever for your being demonstrably unhinged for years upon years.

    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Don Harris [22] -


  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, another thread crashes and burns. :(

  24. [24] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    I am available and will participate in any rational discussion that does not involve the bullshit or avoiding issues.

    Avoiding "issues"? You and your obsession are not "issues"... no matter how many times you hurl your expletives at the author or try to force your obsession down everyone else's throat.

    But if the trolls come out they will be dealt with.

    You are the troll.

    People are dying.

    The virus has absolutely nothing to do with you.

    And I am the only one here trying.

    Seek professional mental help and stop avoiding your "issues."

  25. [25] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    Glad you agree with me on something.

    We don't agree. You claimed you "debunked" me when I said CW ignored you. I explained how we obviously know he ignored you, and now you're claiming he ignored you.

    I win the point... while you obviously contradict yourself and prove you debunked bupkis.

    I am not being unhinged , just no longer being nice for a valid reason- nice was ignored.

    So we're in agreement that you've been ignored. So you've "debunked" nothing except for debunking your own argument. Good for you, Don. Thanks for the assist.

  26. [26] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Elizabeth Miller

    Although I have from time contributed to the nastyness here, I agree: hurling insults when one disagrees really hurts OUR Comments section. However tempting from time to time it betrays intellectual weakness.

    To continue on the Canadian theme, do you suppose it would be better if rather than hurling insults we instead were curling insults?

    The only good thing about the vitriol is it shows how passionate war are about politics. I have trouble talking politics with Trump supporters because I get so angry with their gullibility that I want to grab them by the neck and throttle them. Sigh.

  27. [27] 
    Kick wrote:

    Over 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in March as economy collapsed

    A record 6.65 million people filed a new jobless claim the week ending March 28.

    More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

  28. [28] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    I am seeking the professional help I need.

    You're an admitted troll.

    CW is not providing it as I keep pointing out.

    Yes, it is quite obvious you're trolling CW and therefore the entire forum with your with repetitive obsession. Enough already.

    YOU, however, either need to see a shrink or do the world a favor and visit a Dr. Kevorkian.

    I suffer from no ridiculous fantasy or utter asinine self-absorbed delusion wherein I've convinced myself that "the world" either is or should be paying attention to me personally; that's the difference between you and me.

    People are dying.

    And I am the only one here trying. ~ Don Harris

    Oh, and nice touch and thank you ever so much for expressing to everyone reading this your "genuine" level of concern about "people dying." You seem perfectly fine with it if it would suit your agenda, you deranged little man.

  29. [29] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    jack kevorkian died in 2011. while living, he didn't seem to have much of an opinion on pie, so i'm going to presume that he was a supporter.

  30. [30] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  31. [31] 
    Kick wrote:


    jack kevorkian died in 2011. while living, he didn't seem to have much of an opinion on pie, so i'm going to presume that he was a supporter.

    After fasting in his jail cell for three days, Jack Kevorkian was bailed out by his attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, who brought him a piece of pie, to which he retorted:

    This is full of fat and sugar. You tryin' to kill me?
    ~ Al Pacino as Jack Kevorkian, You Don't Know Jack

  32. [32] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris

    Only to you by you.

    Wrong. You're on record admitting you're a troll.

    As for turning troll, when I have asked CW nice many times since 2015 and not got an answer it seemed to be time try another approach. ~ Don Harris

    As myself and others have already discussed with you, you're a troll. I also discussed with you that if you continued to troll this blog and the author that I would continue to echo what the author has already told you, which is quoted verbatim, as follows:

    Look, you've got something to say. You want the focus solely to be on it. More power to you. So as I suggested, perhaps you should set up a blog and write about precisely what you want to? ~ CW

    It really doesn't bother me when a fucktard little cunt refers to me as deranged.


  33. [33] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Don Harris [49] -

    Yes. You are a troll. Deal with it.

    As for your language, you are pushing me very very close to banning the first person ever from my site. You have been warned, and this is your final warning.

    If ignoring you doesn't work, then banning you just might. Address the issues in the articles or the comments to those articles, and quit with your own monomania, because nobody's listening. Instead, you are just trolling.

    And we're ALL way beyond getting tired of it.

    Is that clear enough?


  34. [34] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    a situation in which something which was intended to have a particular result has the opposite or a very different result
    ~cambridge dictionary

    a literary device by which the audience’s or reader’s understanding of events or individuals in a work surpasses that of its characters.
    (e.g. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, for example, the audience knows that Oedipus’s acts are tragic mistakes long before he recognizes his own errors.)

    don, i have so much sympathy for your situation, but watching it unfold in exactly the opposite manner you seem to intend is both funny and excruciating.


  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    don, i have so much sympathy for your situation, but watching it unfold in exactly the opposite manner you seem to intend is both funny and excruciating.

    I would wholeheartedly concur with that.

  36. [36] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    New column is up...


  37. [37] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    i repeat, i have so much sympathy for your situation, but watching it unfold in exactly the opposite manner you seem to intend is both funny and excruciating.

    this reader experience firmly fits the definition of dramatic irony that directly precedes it.

  38. [38] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    April is the cruellest month, breeding
    Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
    Memory and desire, stirring
    Dull roots with spring rain.
    Winter kept us warm, covering
    Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
    A little life with dried tubers.
    Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
    With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
    And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
    And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
    Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
    And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s,
    My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
    And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
    Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
    In the mountains, there you feel free.
    I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

    ~t.s. eliot

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