Why do some states relax restrictions on bars and restaurants and other states do not? I live in Texas, near Houston. Yesterday, the governor ordered a halt to elective surgeries to ensure adequate space of new COVID-19 patients. All other restrictions were not touched.
Today, the Texas governor order all bars to close and decreased restaurant patrons from 75% to 50% occupancy. Some counties, mine included (Ft. Bend) mandated face masks for everyone entering a business. Other counties established requirements for face masks earlier.
I think the answer to the original questions of why some states do and others do not is that they can. They can control populations – for health concerns. New York lost a lawsuit today because they discriminated between protest marches and church attendance. Protests were supported and encouraged and attending church was forbidden.
Governors do what they think is right for their citizens based on their belief systems. In the end, they will be reelected or not based on results, rightly or wrongly.
The Texas governor responded to recent screams from the media about setting daily records of new COVID-19 positive cases. I think the latest daily record is at or near 6,000. Is setting records cause for alarm? Or is there another measure that prompts action or reversing actions?
The great fear in Texas is that there are not enough hospital ICU beds to handle the great influx of new COVID-19 patients. 15% of Texas hospital ICU beds are dedicated to COVID-19 patients. Today, June 26, 2020, there are 4,739 COVID-19 patients occupying ICU beds in Texas. There are 12,587 hospital beds and 1,322 ICU beds available.
The Texas governor specified four counties to halt elective surgery. Adjacent counties have available ICU beds if needed. The surge capacity, according to the medical centers in the Houston area, is quite robust.
Texas has a 6% positivity rate as a limit to activate phases of reopening the state for social interaction. The positivity rate is the seven-day average of positive COVID-19 tests divided by the seven-day average number of COVID-19 tests administered. In early April, the positivity rate was around 10% and trending downward. In May, the positivity rate dropped below 6% and Texans could mingle and congregate at restaurants and watering holes. In June, the trend exceeded 6% and has averaged upwards of 8% during the month.
The new COVID-19 cases have increased from an April average of around 900 per day to slightly over 1,300 per day in May and trending north of 3,600 a day in June.
The Texas goal for COVID-19 testing is set at 30,000 tests/day. The April average was near 9,000/day. In April, the average increased to near 24,000 tests per day. The goal was exceeded in June and we have seen an average of over 32,000 tests/day.
Medical authorities tell us that the lag time from a person contracting the disease and showing symptoms is around 2-5 days. We are currently seeing a lag time of 9-16 days before a person must be hospitalized from COVID-19. The majority (98+%) of positive COVID-19 are put under self-quarantine for 14 days.
The hospitalization rate in Texas is defined as the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized divided by the number of active cases. March of 2020 saw a hospitalization rate fluctuate between 15% in early March to 12% in mid-March to 13% by the end of March. These are averages for the days involved.
The hospitalization rate for May started a couple of percents lower than April’s rate at 11% average for the first ten days. The next ten days showed a further decrease to 8.5%. From late May through late June the hospitalization rate has fluctuated around 8.55%. It is 8.6% on June 26, 2020.
In April, COVID-19 new cases averaged around 900 a day and the hospitalization rate was above 13% for the month. In May, the new COVID-19 cases rose to around 1,300 a day with the hospitalization rate near 10% for the month. The June COVID-19 testing is nearly triple the May daily tests and the hospitalization rate is hovering around 8.55%
Many more positive tests of COVID-19 and the same hospitalization rate when testing was one third that total. What about the death statistics?
The average daily deaths rose substantially in April from around 12 per day to a high of 31 a day in mid-April to settling around 27 a day in late April. The May figures showed similar results – 35 daily deaths in early May, 45 daily deaths in mid-May, and 25 daily deaths in late May. June has seen a rough average of 29 per day with an uptick in the past week.
In April, 900 new cases produced a weighted average of 29 deaths per day based on the last two weeks. The May new COVID-19 cases averaged around 1,300 per day with 35 deaths per day on the average for the month. The June new COVID-19 cases are around 3,600 per day with an average of 29 deaths per day.
Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later is the slogan used by Fram oil filters in 1970. It has stuck with me all these years. It applies to many things in our lives. How can you be absolutely certain that quarantining citizens will result in the virus dying out because there are no new hosts to infect? You cannot!
At some time, people will begin congregating and the virus will be passed from one person to another. There appear to be several things happening through this COVID-19 pandemic. One is that we are testing more people resulting in more positive COVID-19 cases. Great! Those people are sheltering at home and not transferring the virus to others. Had they not been detected through testing and quarantined; they would be infecting more healthy people.
Hospital care is much better. Lessons have been learned and we are seeing more people survive severe cases of COVID-19 than we did two months ago. Washing hands, wearing face masks, and social distancing has helped. Isolating the most vulnerable – the elderly with pre-existing conditions have kept that demographic far safer than three months ago.
We know that asymptomatic people cannot pass the virus on to others. And we know that pre-symptomatic people can. However, you cannot tell the difference – neither has visible or measurable symptoms. Everyone must be wary – hence the new face mask restrictions for business and adjustments to opening phases in Texas and other states.
Metrics are being used to institute or relax restrictions on our citizens. Each state has its own metrics. What works in Texas may or may not work in another state. I live here and I follow the local COVID-19 story as it unfolds.
You will pay now with increased hospitalizations and daily deaths or you can wait and pay the same price a month or two or three down the road. It is truly Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later. There is no middle ground when considering the total picture of how easily spread this virus is from one person to another.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com