My COVID Times Diary: It’s serious and not over!
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. ~ Carl Sagan
The Good News
This week it will be one-year (March 12th), since we closed the campus I work on and I started working from home. For all of us it’s been a heck of a year. There is some excellent news on the COVID front this week, the vaccination program pushed by the Biden Administration has done an excellent job. Currently two million people a day are getting vaccinated for the coronavirus in the United States. There are 200,000 million adults in the United States, so it’s reasonable that by June, every adult in the country could have at least a first dose of the vaccine. This is being greatly helped out by the approval of a third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson that only requires one dose, and can be stored at normal freezer temperatures instead of needing extreme freezers. These factors, as you can see in the chart above, have also led to a steep decline in new cases recently. Death rates have also been falling.
The Bad News
People seem to be confusing the word improvement, with the idea that the pandemic is over. I heard a great thing today, it’s like a marathon runner no longer running because she sees the finish line. Back in November everyone was alarmed at the increasing rate of deaths from COVID 19. We were horrified that 2000 people a day were dying from the virus. We would watch in further horror as this number would go up to 3000 a day. As the vaccine rollout got moving and cases began to drop we now find ourselves at 2000 deaths a day. By comparison from the worst days that’s an improvement, but it’s still 2000 people a day. In case your bad at math that 60,000 a month! The equivalent of deaths in the worst, entire flu season in the last decade, dying every single month. But the public and politicians are acting like the pandemic is over. Not just reasonably ramping up restaurant openings, sports stadiums, bars and increasing approved gathering numbers. But pushing the limits, why would they do this? Several reasons, first politicians want to look business friendly in hopes of getting re-elected, and in particular GOP politicians have to appeal to a base that still thinks this is all no big deal. Second, income, local taxes have taken a beating and this is a way to yes help small businesses, but in the end get more local taxes in the coffers. Finally, it’s what the public is asking for. After a year of staying home people are tired and just want life to be normal. Of course premature opening will almost certainly lead to a new spike and will only extend how long we’ll need to continue to take these precautions, lack of patience leads to the exact opposite of what people want.
You’ll notice in the image above that the high rate of decrease in cases and deaths has stopped. The current numbers suggest that the trends are flattening out and likely will start to rise. But even if they stay flat, how is 2000 deaths per day acceptable? The United States which loves to talk about ow exceptional America is, has consistently been one of the worst countries on Earth in terms of COVID deaths. We have been tested during this pandemic and America, and Americans have failed this test miserably.
COVID is still serious!
As I’ve mentioned, we’re still at 2000 deaths per day, over 500,000 Americans have died from COVID 19 in the last year. So, on the surface, when an average year of flu deaths is 40,000 a year COVID is at least twelve and a half times worse that the flu. But it fact, it’s much, much worse than that.
For the 2019-2020 flu season, 22,000 adults and 195 children died from the flu and that’s a below average year for flu severity. For the 2020-2021 flu season, during COVID 450 adults and 1 child died from the flu. That’s a 98% reduction in flu deaths during the COVID crisis. And yes, I know, the conspiracy theorists will claim that all the flu deaths were blamed on COVID, and sure there were probably some errors, but even if you double the numbers it’s a 96% reduction in flu deaths. What this tells us is that all of the hand washing, hand sanitizing, mask wearing, staying home and closures made it much harder for viruses to circulate than it normally has in past years.
So without all of our precautions we can infer that the number of COVID infections and deaths would have been massively higher. COVID deaths during the 2020-21 flu season were ONE THOUSAND TIMES higher than flu deaths over the same time. And, in the most recent non-COVID flu season, flu deaths were fifty times higher. So it’s not wholly unreasonable to suggest that without the precautions we took, COVID deaths could have been fifty times higher! That means without the precautions taken, COVID deaths could have been TWENTY-FIVE MILLION!!! So stop with the COVID is no big deal bullshit. No facts, no science and no bit of common sense supports that idea. So keep your damn mask on and get vaccinated if able!