The Real Virus Problem is Panic

It’s amazing to me, that in an age where the term “viral” often referred to the latest pic of some aging music star in a bikini who is “rocking it,” the term has now taken on the actual medical definition, but with the same horrible inspiration for over-reaction.

I’m just going to boldly state what should become obvious:
The REAL Virus Destroying Our Country is PANIC!!!

Don’t get me wrong.  Covid-19 has reached “pandemic levels.”  It is indeed spreading quickly, and perhaps is in fact a “slippery virus” that can morph into strains yet undetected.  However, just like the very common, and un-heralded strains of Influenza, the primary concerns are for the same population (elderly and health/immune compromised).  More to the point, statistics would tell you that common influenza is more deadly in both cumulative and age demographics than Covid-19, with age groups from all demographics being threatened by Influenza, while Covid-19 primarily ignores anyone under 15 years of age.

And yet…at no time in the last 100 years, have we completely shut down education, commerce, and social gatherings to combat this common disease, which kills FAR MORE PEOPLE worldwide and domestically. 

Comparative Statistics on Influenza –vs- Covid-19

As rampant as Covid-19 appears to be, the United States, as of 03-18-2020, has seen a total of 7,323 confirmed cases, with 108 Deaths attributed to it. Nothing to sneeze at (pardon the pun).  At first glance those are alarming statistics, especially if you are one of the 108.  This would represent a very high mortality rate, or roughly 1.47% of those who contracted the virus.

But, Stats Can Be Misleading.
First, because there are so few testing kits available across the country, due to a slow response at a Federal level, the number of cases are almost assuredly being under-reported.  The Deaths are easy to spot. But, how many are walking around without being diagnosed, or with symptoms not severe enough to warrant testing under current guidelines? This missing data would likely lower the mortality percentage rate significantly.

Looking at comparative numbers from the same sources (Both are from the CDC), common forms of Influenza are FAR more deadly, to a broader population than Covid-19.

During this flu season, which began in October of 2019, between 36M and 51M have come down with the flu, even after the availability of flu vaccinations. This has resulted in the deaths of between 22,000 and 55,000 Americans

The reason that there is such a wide gap between the “possible stats” on this chart, have to do with the fact that many simply aren’t actually diagnosed, but like many (including myself) put up with the symptoms and inconvenience of those symptoms, and go about life as we know it.

Again…compare that to the number of Covid-19 Cases WORLDWIDE.
With a total of 125,048 confirmed cases, and 4613 deaths related in some way. Again, the likely number of cases is being severely under-reported and hampered by a lack of testing kits in most countries

I can tell you first-hand, that the version of the “common flu” I got this year, hit fast, was super aggressive (high fever for days, and deep, painful, raspy cough), but lasted just a little over a week, with the cough lingering for maybe a total of 10 days.

I work from home. I didn’t panic. And in fact, did not suspend my holiday travel to New Orleans, where I also “self-medicated” with a wide variety of alcoholic beverages and great Dixieland Jazz.  In short. I didn’t die…I’m old…i’m in the “high risk demographic,” and I sure as heck didn’t feel the need to stockpile toilet paper.

And, that’s exactly my point.

The Common Flu, is FAR MORE DANGEROUS…
to FAR MORE PEOPLE, Including Kids.

While Covid-19, is spreading quickly…the same types of Risk Pools are shared with Influenza.  AGE is the most prevalent factor.  65 and older (me) have the highest percentage of Hospitalizations and Deaths.

But, while I laughed when I read that the “Millennials” are calling Covid-19 the “Boomer Remover,” they clearly missed the boat for years, as evidenced by the stats involved with the common flu.

Covid-19 has a fairly short list of pre-existing health conditions that can worsen, according to the CDC.
Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick, or dying  from this illness.
This includes:
Older adults (we’ve covered that)
As well as people who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
Heart disease
Diabetes
Lung disease

But, the more common forms of Influenza, have proven dangerous to those who may have some of these symptoms, or belong to a wider range of demographics.

So….WHY ARE WE SUDDENLY LOCKING DOWN OUR
ENTIRE COUNTRY AND CULTURE NOW?

The most recent developments and edits from government are the most perplexing.  But, in some ways, mimic how we have treated disease worldwide for generations.  “As long as we have an idea of how to treat it, we can relax,” seems to be the single mitigating difference between Covid-19 and Influenza.

Forget the fact that Influenza clearly kills tens of thousands more people. Because we “understand it,” we are fine with losing a percentage of our population to it annually.  And, even though Influenza is clearly almost as communicable, because it is “flu season,” we know what to expect.  Like athletic sports seasons, or entertainment seasons, flu has become part of our cultural fabric.  It doesn’t cause alarm, until someone from your family gets a “nasty case that turns into pneumonia, and kills them.”  Which happens, more than most people want to admit.

What has made this virus truly “viral,” is that social media, as well as what many call “mainstream media” (along with myriad third and fourth party sources anecdotally)  have turned this into a leading, omnipresent story, rife with comparisons to diseases far more deadly (Ebola anyone?), to say nothing of turning the reactions from government  into political footballs.

What we are facing, which is likely going to result in what could become a deep recession, is the direct result of two very different forces; Inaction by our Federal Government, and Over-Reaction by our State and Local Governments.

Inaction by our Leadership in Washington, both in congress and the White House, created a vacuum of solid information and solutions when this pandemic was brewing on foreign shores.  Decisions to turn down testing kits from China, over the desire to “make them ourselves,” has created a dearth of kits nationwide, along with the necessary data to get an accurate picture of how many are truly infected, and how serious the symptoms are.  Too many are being told to “stay at home” because there are no kits, and our medical facilities and staffs are operating with a shortage of basic supplies.  If you don’t know what the real picture is, you are open to conjecture, rumor and fear-mongering.

Slow reactions, and mixed messages on an almost hourly basis from Trump, his team of “experts,” and Congressional “leadership,” have done nothing to quell the fears, while fanning the panic in the streets, as well as the huge Vote of Non-Confidence by Wall Street investors.

On the other end of the spectrum, are the State and Local officials who without the support of the Federal Government (who in fact are telling them to source their own supplies and resources), are over-reacting in ways that are literally decimating business, family incomes, and household stability.  By such draconian actions as closing down schools indefinitely, eliminating virtually all public entertainment, and closing down any gathering place that has more than 25 (or 10 if you follow Trump) patrons, you are all but insuring that people are going to panic, and resort to hoarding, arming up (gun and ammo sales are at a record high), and simply shutting down their trust in government in general, along with any sense of community.

My wife is an elementary school counselor and teacher.  She is now scrambling to figure out how to deal with educating kids remotely, helping to provide meals and counseling to countless kids who have lost one of the single social safety nets in their lives.

Add to this the record number of people who will be suffering from lost wages, lost benefits, and trying to figure out how to simply maintain a sense of “normal” while the world is crumbling around them, and you have a true world emergency, bordering on hysterical pandemonium.

This is an emergency that is both preventable, and recoverable. It didn’t start as an emergency that threatens our very culture and well-being, we allowed it to happen! It happened, because fear, and “viral misinformation” was allowed to permeate our lives. Leadership did not lead. They pointed fingers, and reacted. Leaders create solutions. They don’t spend their time pointing fingers and dodging blame.

If I was in charge…

  • I would immediately begin a campaign of comfort, that lays out the facts, eliminates the conjecture, and helps stop the panic, by broad, decisive action.  You do this by pulling the experts TOGETHER. Not isolating our country from the rest of the world.
  • I would spend the time and money to dominate airwaves, social media, and other forms of mass communication, with reasons to be hopeful.  BROADCAST THE RECOVERY STATS…not the continued risks of death.Death by Coronavirus remains barely that of the common flu, and certainly a lot less than death by heart disease, cancer, and other forms of disease that take millions from us every year.
  • Cancer kills close to 10 Million People a Year!
  • Heart Disease kills more than 17 Million Worldwide…and yet we do little to stop some of the primary causes…namely obesity and smoking.

When was the last time we considered shutting down the economy while at war?  And in some respects, we are very much at war. A War Against FEAR and Misinformation.

Hoarding toilet paper?  Shame on You. Spreading Fear About a new virus that is hardly making a dent in mortality rates worldwide?  Double Shame on You.

This is the time for pragmatism. It is the time to tell our leadership to start leading.  It may be too late to get back what we have lost (or given away) up to this point.
But, DAMMIT PEOPLE…GET A GRIP!

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4 Responses to The Real Virus Problem is Panic

  1. Shannon says:

    We’ve always known it’s not if, but when we would enter a pandemic. The US should have been prepared for this event. The confusion and panic is due to media reporting misinformation – I wish they’d step up and learn to report the facts, JUST the facts. We know from TON’s of examples that our president just makes shit up cuz he either declined being briefed (he’s the very smartest in the land) or his attention span is so small, he’s forgotten his briefing. So, STOP recording his idiotic remarks. I’ve even gone so far as to appreciate Pence. Well, a little bit anyway.

    Like

    • Patric says:

      Well…yes…I guess I think of Pence as the poor bastard that walks behind the circus act, and apologizes to the patrons, when the chimp flings poop at the crowd. The look on his face is always, “please don’t do this…please don’t do this… please don’t…oh…crap…you did it.”

      Like

  2. flabio33 says:

    What I haven’t been able to figure out is why the CDC numbers are much lower than WHO numbers. CDC shows about 15K US cases while Johns Hopkins, shows 30K per day. CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html. Johns Hopkins – https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html . CDC shows only 200 new cases per day, not counting the last 10 day because real data is not in yet.

    Like

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