How big of a threat is the coronavirus in the United States? The answer, of course, is that nobody knows. I certainly do not want to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic, especially in regard to the measures you should take to protect yourself. However, there is some reason to view the “end of the world” scenarios as more scare-mongering than realistic.
Some of the scare-mongering has political overtones. In particular, some Democrats and leftists seem suspiciously eager to blame the virus and any deaths from it on President Trump. (I’m looking at you—MSNBC, CNN, and the “woke” inquisitors at the daily White House press briefings.)
But not all of the most frightful scenarios come from that quarter. Most survivalist-type sites have justifiably seized on the virus as proof that they have been right all along in their doom-and-gloom warnings, and offer common-sense advice. But some of them are promoting worst-case scenarios as revealed truth, and a few are using worst-case scenarios to sell their proprietary cure-all for the virus.
What I find most suspicious is the extraordinary cacophony from the media and their usual “experts” that the coronavirus pandemic requires a revolutionary expansion of governmental powers, with the requisite diminution of our constitutional liberties. The day before yesterday “terrorism” was the justification. Just yesterday they used “global warming” as their excuse. Today it’s the coronavirus. They seize on any crisis or perceived crisis to promote their agenda of increasing the State’s power over us.
Then there is the sudden sanctimonious regard for human lives in quarters not known for such humanitarian zeal. From Left to Right, we have the politicians and think-tank pundits who have promoted our endless wars with no regard for the suffering that results from them. And, from the Left, the promoters of abortion-on-demand who have justified the murder of an estimated 60 million Americans-to-be since Roe v. Wade—I’m looking at you, Governor Cuomo. “Human life is not disposable,” he told us this week. This from the governor who advocated and signed into law legislation legalizing abortion to the point of delivery.
But those kinds of hypocrisy are par for the course in politics, and the coronavirus is just the latest excuse for such contradictory passions. Let’s look at a more carefully defined example—contradictory reactions to deaths from disease.
Comparing Influenza Deaths with Coronavirus Deaths
Granted, we are nowhere near a total figure for deaths from the coronavirus, and there are good reasons to assume that its final fatality rate may be much higher than with the flu. But let’s compare apples with apples, in the form of deaths (so far) from the coronavirus versus deaths from regular flu.
Worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, the common flu kills up to 650,000 people every year. As of noon on March 25, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the coronavirus has killed 19,784 people around the globe. Yes, the coronavirus undoubtedly has a lot of damage still to come, but it would be most unusual for it to rise to the annual death toll from influenza. Still, let us grant that this remains to be determined, and look at a more specific area where the “curve” of deaths from the coronavirus seems to be going down—China.
A study published in the September 2019 issue of The Lancet Public Health, a respected and peer-reviewed journal, concluded that an average of 88,100 deaths from influenza occur in China every year. The Johns Hopkins coronavirus map shows 3,406 deaths in China so far from the coronavirus. And since the curve is going down in China, it does not seem likely that the coronavirus has any chance of causing more deaths there than the common flu.
On to the United States. As of noon on March 25, the Johns Hopkins coronavirus map showed 55,568 known cases in the U.S. and 734 deaths. That compares to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of 38 million to 45 million cases of the flu and 23,000 to 59,000 deaths from the flu during the 2019-2020 U.S. flu season. And, if anything, the 2017-2018 flu season was even deadlier, with an estimated 61,000 deaths. Granted, the coronavirus curve is just starting to go up in the U.S., not down, but it will take a humongous jump from 734 deaths to 61,000 deaths to make the coronavirus as deadly as the common flu.
I know these statistics are hard to believe—for me as (no doubt) for you. Everything the media has told us is that the coronavirus is far deadlier than the flu. But these statistics are the best estimates from respected sources: the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, and The Lancet Public Health medical journal.
- Worldwide: 650,000 deaths annually from the flu, 19,784 from the coronavirus (so far)
- China: 88,100 deaths annually from the flu, 3,406 from the coronavirus (so far)
- U.S.: Up to 61,000 deaths annually from the flu, 734 deaths from the coronavirus (so far)
The real question is why we’ve been fed non-stop propaganda that has led to the lockdown of much of the U.S. population, with the threat that the lockdown will expand to all of the nation and last for months, not weeks. That would guarantee a prolonged depression resulting in political and social revolution. You simply cannot shut down tens of millions of mom-and-pop and small to medium sized businesses for months without destroying the nation’s economy.
Nearly half (48%) of all U.S. employees work for small businesses—18% for businesses with fewer than 20 employees. And small businesses account for over half of net job creation in normal times. The largest sector of small businesses are restaurants and food-service firms. And it’s not just the people you see working in the restaurants—it’s the entire supply chain, including farmers and those who transport food from the farm to these restaurants. When restaurants close or are restricted to carry-out and delivery, those supply-chain jobs are also adversely affected.
These are the people whose livelihoods are most at risk from a months-long lockdown, and a large percentage of restaurants and other small businesses would not survive such a lockdown—they would have to close shop.
This is why President Trump, Governor Cuomo, and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are saying we have to get America back to work. Within weeks, not months.
We don’t need bailouts of Wall Street or Silicon Valley. We need to assure the survival of Main Street and middle-class American workers.
Whatever he does, Trump will be blamed for the deaths that occur (that’s already happening). But there is no easy choice, for him or for the nation. End the lockdown before the crisis is over, and hundreds of thousands may die and the occupant of the Oval Office will be blamed for their fates. Yet if we don’t return to work for months, the entire economy of the United States is toast.
That doesn’t exactly make me want to be President when I grow up.
No matter how over-hyped the coronavirus threat may be, however, it is still a deadly virus. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your family and loved ones.
And see all my articles in this pandemic series.