April 1st projected death rate in the U.S. by August: 240,000 “even with blanket nationwide adoption of stringent mitigation efforts” April 7th projected death rate: 82,000. April 8th projected death rate: 60,415. May 11th projected death rate: 137,000 and largely attributed to increased mobility/states re-opening. May 13th projected death rate: 140,000
Wash your hands frequently. For at least 20 seconds. Spray surfaces with disinfectant. Wait at least 4 minutes before wiping. Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Wear a mask. Sanitize your groceries. Don’t sanitize your groceries. Keep 6 feet apart. Droplets can travel up to 27 feet. Exercise. Don’t go to the gym. Go outside. Don’t go to a park, the beach, a state park or the mountains. Don’t travel internationally. Don’t leave your state. Don’t congregate with more than 10 people. Don’t go to work. Don’t go to church. Don’t leave your house. Sit down, shut up and stay put until we tell you otherwise.
As we work through our 10th week of Covid 19, I still find myself questioning my understanding, my behaviors and my sanity. Throughout this ordeal, I’ve changed my mind from one line of thought to another daily. There’ve been days when I’ve felt that my attempts to comply were futile, absurd even. There were others when I felt them to be critical to survival. So when my state and others decided it was time to re-open, I found myself in shock. After going to such extreme lengths for so long it was just too much to wrap my head around that we were just going to abandon everything that had been indoctrinated into us only a couple of months into it. Widespread testing had only just begun, after all. “It’s too soon.” I thought.
On April 24th, Georgia was one of the earliest to re-open. They started with some of the riskier businesses (salons, gyms and bowling alleys to name a few). South Carolina was right behind them opening on a limited bases starting April 28th. I thought both states were being reckless. I decided to add them to my list of areas I was already monitoring. The results so far are eye-opening. All of the states and counties listed have been testing daily which, as we were told to expect, revealed an increased number of cases. However, contrary to what much of the news is reporting, the percentage of people testing positive has steadily declined in all the areas I’ve tracked. Testing in Georgia has more than quadrupled but the percentage of people testing positive has fallen by more than half.
The Tennessee counties I’ve listed are the ones in which I reside and commute. I’ve also tracked the recovery data here and, as of today, my area has less than 50 active known cases. Over 56% of all Tennessee cases have recovered. And though our percentage of people testing positive has decreased, at least one national news outlet keeps reporting on Tennessee as having “spikes.” Thus far, the only spike I’ve seen was a 900+ case jump in one day that was largely attributed to a single prison.
To a limited extent, I think that the stay-at-home government mandates were warranted. However, Sweden’s results certainly challenge the theory since it is one of the few places that did not impose significant restrictions on activity. The percentage of their population who have tested positive so far is very close to that of Tennessee, where schools, churches, businesses and public lands such as local, state and national parks were shut down. Their death rate, though, is concerning.
Regarding death rates, I have noticed that some are increasing. I have yet to delve into the issue, but would expect that the vulnerability of the population and the quality and/or preparedness of its medical system to be the main contributing factors. I don’t mean to minimize death whatsoever, but the question at hand is one that may not be answered until further down the road.
Another factor that I’ve included but have not fully explored is population density. I’m not sure I’ve seen any reporting on this variable, but I have no doubt that it has played a huge role with regards to the spread of Covid 19. Places like New Zealand and Iceland are largely attributing their success in mitigating the disease to swift and extensive government actions. I’ve little doubt that their testing and contact tracing were highly beneficial; however, that is a much easier task to surmount when your population density is 8 people per square mile versus 66,940 found in New York City.
When I heard that India was preparing for lock downs, like with Georgia’s re-opening, I feared the worst given how compactly they live and commute. So far, though, the numbers are surprisingly low. I will continue to monitor.
While Covid 19 may be highly contagious, at just under 1.5 million cases, so far it appears to be nowhere near as pervasive as the flu, H1N1 or the Spanish flu of 1918:
- According to CDC data, the number of flu cases in the US from October 2019 – April 2020 are between 39-56 million. There are NOT 10 times or even 5 times as many people dying from Covid 19 as there are from the flu. Claims that Covid 19 is ten times more deadly than the flu are justified only because the number of flu cases are so much higher. CDC data for the same timeframe as above cites 24,000-62,000 deaths and current Covid 19 deaths are 88,709.
- From April 2009-2010, CDC estimated there were 8 million cases and 12,469 deaths in the U.S. due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus.
- The Spanish Flu of 1918 infected more than 500 million people worldwide and killed 30 million Americans.
Stay at home orders weren’t meant to be indefinite (though it sure felt like it.) And as I insinuated above, I believe there is/was some benefit to what some states did. But, thus far, less than half of one percent (.45%) of the U.S.’s population is known to have been infected with Covid 19. Compound that with the possibility that 25-50% of cases are asymptomatic and a large percentage of cases are/were in prisons and nursing homes (i.e., Arkansas reports that half of their cases are in prisons and nursing homes and New Hampshire reports 80% of cases are in nursing homes), it is easy to understand why so many people are challenging the merits of what we allowed our government to do to us.
For months, we willingly gave up our most basic freedoms. We allowed OUR government to dictate who could and who could not earn a living. We allowed OUR government to restrict our movement. They shut down businesses, recreation, public lands and places of worship. They blockaded roads preventing us from freely travelling the country, OUR country (which I personally encountered). Was it worth it? Only time will tell.
The primary goal of locking us all down was to prevent overloading our medical systems. I don’t know for certain, but it does appear that we’ve turned that corner. I can only hope that we are now better prepared should a second wave hit.
Note: This post, the data it contains and my current frame of mind are representative of a single day on a timeline whose end has yet to be determined. I pulled most of the data from the CDC or state websites, and some from Wikipedia updates.