Now that the race riots appear to be calming down across the country, the media is back to sounding the alarm about the coronavirus pandemic. Media talking heads have gone apoplectic at the latest reports of a “spike” in cases, especially in southern states like Florida (which gives them a perfect chance to attack Republican governors).
Are they warranted in their concern? Mostly no. They are correct in reporting that, in twenty- one states, the number of known cases has risen, but much of that can be attributed to increased testing. Multiple studies have already shown that there are far more people that have or have had the virus than have been reported to this point, but most recover or are asymptomatic.
As of Saturday, the number of hospitalizations across the country has declined by 53 % and the total number of patients with COVID-19 ending up in the Intensive care unit has declined by 66%. It should also be noted that, outside of New York City at its peak, there hasn’t been any major city where the hospitalization capacity has been put under severe stress. The original point of the lockdowns was to “flatten the curve,” not eradicate the virus completely, so that emergency rooms wouldn’t run of capability and beds to treat those infected. We long ago flattened the curve.
So, what about Florida? Is the pandemic getting more serious in the Sunshine State? Again, mostly no. It is true that the overall known cases are rising, however, many of the new cases being reported are from people 40 years or younger, which is good, because most people under 65 recover from the virus. The number of those testing positive has risen, which is something to watch, and hospitalizations are increasing, but the duration of stay is shorter and most patients are recovering.
The number of deaths continues to decline as does the number of ICU patients. The latter two categories are obviously of paramount concern, and as long as those numbers remain low, there is no need to halt the phased reopening. Most of the state is doing fine. As was the case during the pandemic’s peak, Miami Dade, and to a lesser extent Broward and Palm Beach counties, accounted for the overwhelming majority of the damage.
The total deaths from COVID-19 are themselves being inflated. Many of the deceased were elderly and had underlying health issues. These factors, which have nothing to do with the virus, are more than likely the true cause of death. However, the government classifies all these deaths as being caused by COVID-19, providing a significantly inflated number.
This is absolutely absurd.
On May 4th in Colorado, a 35-year old man was found dead from alcohol poisoning. The man’s blood-alcohol level was .55, which far surpassed the .3 level that will kill a person. However, the man’s death was classified as death from COVID-19 because he tested positive for the virus prior to his death.
This reporting was so outlandishly bad that local health officials chimed in to provide the proper context.
“‘COVID was not listed on the death certificate as the cause of death. I disagree with the state for listing it as a COVID death, and will be discussing it with them this week,” said County Coroner George Deavers.
“‘The person who died did not die from COVID-19, but they did test positive for the virus,” said county public information officer Vicki Shaffer. “The state is reporting that death as a COVID death, but our health department wanted to let people know that even though the person did have the virus, they did not die from it.’”
Moral of the story: Don’t believe the media freak-out. If deaths and ICU hospitalizations spike, then we have a problem on our hands and we may need to reevaluate the reopening of certain areas. However, at this point, no lockdowns are warranted, and we can all get back to our lives while using our best judgment to stay safe.