Are the numbers we see daily about COVID-19 the numbers we should be seeing?

I wonder who is deciding what numbers to report daily. We see that the number of people dying of seasonal influenza is lower than expected. We see that the number of COVID-19 deaths is increasing. Yet, there is a distinction in a COVID-19 death. Did a person die of COVID-19? Or did a person die with COVID-19? Are the numbers being reported daily the numbers that the public needs to track?

If a person had pneumonia and died of pneumonia and they also had COVID-19, the death is probably coded as a COVID-19 death. COVID-19 might have exacerbated the death by pneumonia, but how do we really know? When all is said and done, I expect to see fewer deaths from diabetes (yes, that is still happening – my neighbor’s mother-in-law passed away a couple of weeks ago due to complications of diabetes).

I expect to see fewer deaths from cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and related cardiovascular events. There are a few deaths mounting as a result of hospitals not allowed to do elective surgery. Were they remotely tagged as relating to COVID-19 and added to that category since COVID-19 was the reason they did not receive the necessary surgery? I am joking!

The herd immunity is about to be evaluated as more states open their businesses to the public that has been quarantined. We know from studies in California that 55 to 89 times the numbers of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and never knew they had the disease. I heard this number might be as high as 96% of the people who have had COVID-19 do not know they had it. Does that number seem high?

I have not seen a close personal friend of mine in over a couple of months, even though it is an easy drive to where she is living. I talked to her about her having already had COVID-19 because of some flu-like symptoms she had a while back. In retrospect, she believes she has already had it. She also believes that there are quite a few others like her.

We know that the people most at risk are elderly with pre-existing conditions. We also know that the virus can kill anyone at any age. But, when a person in the ‘any age’ category gets to look at closely, did they have pre-existing conditions? Did they die of COVID-19? Or, did they die with COVID-19?

Could they have been borderline diabetic with high blood pressure and overweight? The pre-existing conditions are not saved for those over 60, 70, or 80 years of age. There is something about this virus that focuses on weakened immune systems with multiple health issues or risks.

I wonder how many people who die annually from seasonal influenza die with pre-existing conditions. Is there any similarity between seasonal influenza and COVID-19 deaths? Are pre-existing health conditions sufficient enough to think seriously about a more rigorous protection plan for people in this category in the winter months?

We have a double-edged sword scenario with COVID-19. It is asymptomatic and no one knows they have it. Because the threshold for recognizing the disease when you have it is so low that many thousands have had it and do not know it.

We protect everyone to ensure that the high-risk people are protected. We protect people we do not have to protect in order to protect people who need protection. Sweden, Japan, and other countries did not lock down their populations. Should the United States have been one? Probably not.

We make decisions based on what we knew at that moment. Monday-morning quarterbacking is good to see what could have been. When lives are at risk, we tend to err on the side of extra caution rather than a few extra deaths.

Our fears are kept in the news highlights by the number of deaths per day. We do not report the number of recoveries per day. We do not report the number of potential victims that could have had the disease and breezed through without any health problems. I know that number is hard to estimate, but there have been some credible studies to show that it is a large portion of our population.

We have models that simulate deaths when these conditions reign, yet these models have never been vetted, nor are we allowed to know what factors are used to determine future deaths. If we tweaked this number or that factor, what is the predicted result? If the herd immunity is stronger than expected, what is the predicted result in that situation?

We can use models to help, yet we are not using them intelligently, in my opinion. We had a model predict millions of deaths in the United States not that long ago. Social distancing was not part of that model that could have been tested with different scenarios to tell us that six feet of social distance give us so many deaths. But ten feet of social distancing yields a different result. Or three feet might be almost as good as six feet?

Too many numbers and the ones we choose to concentrate on are born more out of fear than choice. Why did we choose the numbers we are reporting? We will probably never know. It is what it is!

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –

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