A Moment Which Will Live in Infamy
In this, the first week of May, 2020, many are arguing for the reopening of the US economy, often arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic just isn’t bad as the media makes out. Let’s look at that claim.
It is true that in 2020 thus far, with social distancing (such as it is), the US has seen “only” 75,000+ COVID-10 deaths compared to nearly 400,000 heart disease & cancer deaths in a typical year during the same period. But there is a vital difference that makes these numbers incomparable: we are not developing 200,000 new cases of cancer & heart disease every WEEK (as we are currently with COVID-19) and cancer and heart disease are not contagious and cannot double in number every few days as COVID-19 can.
At least our isolation has bought us time to learn more about the disease:
- We now know it causes strokes and blots that can cost limbs and permanent disability, even in the young.
- We now know your chances of getting sick–or seriously sick–greatly increase with exposure (we’ve always suspected this of viruses).
- We now know that COVID-19 mortality rises sharply with age, starting in the 20s.
- We now know is rises also with a host of coditions–notably obesity and high blood pressure–regardless of age.
- We also know that hydroxychloriquine has not measurable effect on the virus–but can kill the patient–but that at least one known anti viral is of modest help.
- We know that because this virus interferes with the immune system and keep patients sick for so long, intubation is not a practical solution in most cases.
- We know that for reasons unknown, COVID-19 has people walking around feeling essentially okay with blood oxygen level so low, they are usually only seen in the death throws of ICU care.
- And we know that (also for reasons unknown) the only available anti-tussant medication–the go to medicine for anyone with severe resperatory disease–makes COVID-19 worse.
So that’s all something, but it’s only a part.
The purpose of “lockdown” was never to wait out the virus. Now was is to cripple the economy, curtail liberty, or let “big brother” turn the screw. It was to give the government time needed to put in place the mass testing, contact tracing, PPE, and public education needed to relax restrictions responsible so our economy and people could ride out the virus until either a vaccine or herd immunity stops it without opening the door to an economy crushing medical crisis. That sort of coordinated response to threats is a big part of what government is for.
But there are. We just aren’t competent, as a nation and society, to take those measures.
Instead, we’ve done nothing except learn to cut each other’s hair, and now as countries throughout Asia are restoring their economies with the necessary mitigation measures in place, we are throwing up our hands and opening the doors to damnation as if in futility, as if this were 1918 or we were lemmings with no ability to plan or understand–as if there were no effective measure we can and should be taking.
This moment will be remembered with profound national shame.
Some that I follow are using deaths per million as their indicator. A main reason stated is that deaths, in their opinion, are more accurate than the case count. You’re dead or your not, testing is still highly argued. And case count is highly influenced by the number of tests issued. Additionally all data is whacky, some is just less whacky. OK, we argue over which is best for sure. Any thoughts on why you’ve picked confirmed cases over some of the other “interesting” numbers?
Maybe tests / million would be useful?