Light at the End of the Pandemic Tunnel

When you go to the Johns Hopkins CSSE COVID-19 site, you find a lot of good information. There are numbers about the total number of cases throughout the world. The number of deaths. The number of recoveries. You can drill down all the way to your county to see what the current numbers are. The data is sourced from various state and local health authorities and is updated almost real-time or as soon as numbers are posted.

For one, you find (through some math) the current mortality rate in the US. There may be a lot of debate over that number, but it is a benchmark number to use in determining how deadly this virus can be. Other studies have proposed different numbers, but those are based on speculation, wild at times. The bottom line is that if it’s truly not as deadly as some claim, the number should be dropping. With regards to counting deaths related to underlying conditions, if COVID-19 accelerated the death then it should be considered a cause. Absent the virus, the death probably wouldn’t have occurred at that time.

To take that a step further, with regards to the comments about only advanced COVID-19 patients are being tested, you also have to consider that based on current numbers, only 20% of tests turn out positive. So, a lot more people are being tested who are not positive. If the theory about only advanced patients are being tested were true, that number would be much higher. Once again, data to be considered primarily to debunk several of the wild theories aimed at trying to diminish the impact or reopen the country much sooner than it should be.

But, there’s another area of the site you should check out. That’s the Critical Trends tab. In it, you’ll find several data graphs to help understand the pandemic in a global sense. Right now, our mortality rate is 3.9%, but another number is our deaths per 100K. We are currently at 6.25 per 100K, not nearly as bad as Italy or Spain or France, but worse than Germany, Austria, and one we should pay attention to, Canada. Our neighbor to the north has a much lower mortality rate than we do. Their number is climbing as are many of the numbers. But given the geographic proximity and similar democratic society, there many be some lessons to be learned from the north.

The one to really pay attention to is the New Cases page where the flattening of the curve is graphed. We are starting to see signs of that, but we’re not close to where we need to be. It will take at least 10-14 days of true flattening to reopen the country. Now that doesn’t mean we can’t allow selective areas to reopen, but there should be extensive testing, aggressive contact tracing, continued preventive measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, etc. to help keep the spread from surging again.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel. It appears there is and it may be sooner than we expect. Look at the other countries who had high mortality rates. Spain is seeing a flattening and drop in their new case numbers. They will start reopening. Italy has also. Similar measures are being considered now. Belgium is getting there with spikes and drops, but an overall flattening. Germany is moving towards a period to reopen. All will be moving towards reopening, but with restrictive measures still in place to help prevent a resurgence of infections.

There’s a part of the Big Book we read at every AA meeting, talking about our commitment to recovery. “Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took which are suggested as a program of recovery.” At this point, those words make a lot of sense. We can reopen and recover. But we can only do it when we take the appropriate steps.

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