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Covid-19: 20,000 Dead, 40,000 more to Die

Posted in Health - aging, mostly by EloiSVM42 on April 11, 2020

I’m having some trouble getting my head around these Covid-19 numbers in juxtaposition with the pronouncements coming out of the White House.

In round numbers, in mid-April, we have about half a million diagnosed cases of Covid-19, with about 20,000 deaths due to the virus. This is a lethality rate of about 0.04%, which is much higher than typical viruses, but is also a moving number, which could decrease with more data.

60,000 total deaths are now the forecast, which means we may expect another 40,000 deaths. That is way down from the early models forecasting from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, which is a really good thing (we learn as we go, right?), but still a whole lot of deaths. And that 60,000 figure, I understand, assumes complete social distancing and self-isolation (“if we do everything right”), which is not yet the case.

Trump says he wants to “open up” our economy about May 1. Hmmm. So, if the models are right, or close to right, and Trump thinks this thing should be over by May Day, that means we should expect another 40,000 deaths in the next 15 days, or about 2,667 per day.  Does anyone seriously expect the economy to “open up” in those circumstances?

Obviously, these numbers are ad absurdum. That many deaths are not going to occur in the next two weeks. In fact, some experts think the death rate may have peaked on Friday, when it hit 2,000. So, logically, these 40,000 projected deaths are going to stretch beyond May 1, possibly way beyond.

But channeling Trump’s optimism, let’s extend the timeframe to “open up” the economy to Memorial Day, May 31. 40,000 deaths over 45 days is still 889 deaths per day. I’m not buying it that people are going to be ready to go back to work when we’re still losing about a thousand lives a day to the virus.

These are not editorial comments; these are just the numbers and dates being presented officially. But it is plain as the bodies piling up in the morgues that the situation is a lot more nuanced than what is being advanced.

Sadly, Trump is not a nuanced kind of guy. He is a clueless kind of guy and not interested in becoming less so. So, interspersed with cautious comments from experts (cautious because caution is warranted and because if they speak too candidly, they know they will be fired), is a mash-up of happy talk and crazy talk.

The saddest thing is that Trump is too stupid to realize that if he would take/had taken forceful action to increase testing and mandate massive manufacturing of ventilators and other medical equipment, the timeframe would be shorter and the deaths fewer.

P.S. I’ve given up on trying to calculate lives lost unnecessarily by state, due to inaction or willful stupidity. The news that we let 40,000 people into the country directly from China after the date Trump said he had banned such entries, renders all the calculations mere guesswork and not worth the effort.

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