Pandemic Report No. 6
In my last Pandemic Report, I showed the vast differences in how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the 50 states, and the vast differences within each state. The solution, I suggested, is to let Americans decide at the local level—counties and cities—how and when to restrict activities while fighting the virus.
In this report, I will show how we can do that while still protecting the most vulnerable members of our society. We now know enough about the demographics of the pandemic to allow us to do both: protect and reopen.
I claim no originality for this theme. It was expressed in an article for The Hill, a site for the politically obsessed, by—and be sure you’re sitting down when you read this—a Harvard professor. Yes, Virginia, there is a voice of pandemic sanity in that institution.
He is Graham Allison, the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the public policy branch of Harvard University. He has taught there for five decades, and was the school’s “Founding Dean.” He has served as a national security advisor to Presidents Reagan and Clinton.
In his article, Allison uses statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to show that “the fraction of Americans who today face a significantly greater risk of death than they did BC [before the coronavirus appeared] is likely to be roughly 10%.” And that 10% is mostly retired from the workforce and is not likely to be found in our elementary and secondary schools. Meanwhile, COVID-19 risks for the rest of the population are “substantially lower than many other threats they were living with BC.”
So why are we forcing an unnecessary lockdown on 90% of the population—and tanking the nation’s economy—instead of just concentrating on protecting the 10% that are vulnerable?
Follow the Statistics
Being a suspicious sort, I usually say “follow the money.” But here we can simplify the process by following the statistics provided in the links to Professor Allison’s article.
Let’s start by putting the pandemic in perspective when looking at annual causes of death for the entire U.S. population. Again, this is straight from the CDC:
- Heart disease: 647,457
- Cancer: 599,108
- Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
- Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
- Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
- Diabetes: 83,564
- Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633
- Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173
All of these cause more deaths than the CDC assigns to COVID-19 (37,308 as of May 1).
Granted, that mortality figure might be lower than you’ve seen in scary news headlines. The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center gives no figure of U.S. total deaths on its famous map and graph, so you have to search elsewhere on its site for a figure of 66,369 deaths. Similarly, Worldometers gives a figure of 68,495 U.S. deaths. Neither site gives an explanation of how they arrived at their numbers, which are almost twice as high as the CDC’s figure. Yet their unexplained numbers are uncritically accepted by the media. (See the previous articles in my Pandemic Reports for numerous examples of why coronavirus statistics reported in the media are not to be trusted.)
Even if we did accept those higher and unexplained figures (not recommended), we can see that seven of the CDC’s death categories account for more deaths annually than COVID-19 has allegedly caused so far. Yet we don’t have a national lockdown justified by those greater threats. Instead, we concentrate on helping the people at risk.
Now let’s look at that 10% of the U.S. population that accounts for 80% or more of the COVID-19 deaths.
According to the CDC, “8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older.” But even that figure doesn’t give an accurate picture, since not all senior citizens have the underlying medical conditions that are the major risk factors.
Those underlying medical conditions include asthma, chronic lung disease, diabetes, serious heart conditions, chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis, severe obesity, liver disease, and other immunocompromising conditions. For people with these underlying medical conditions, the CDC offers “actions you can take based on your conditions and other risk factors.”
Bottom line: By taking a local approach to fighting the pandemic (as outlined in my last Pandemic Report) and concentrating on protecting that 10% of the population that accounts for almost all COVID-19 deaths, we can reopen the economy and prevent a depression much worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
But time is very short. The best summary of what is at stake came in Pat Buchanan’s April 30 column, “Will Depression II Dictate Trump’s Fate?” I urge you to read that column in its entirety; no need to repeat his arguments here. You don’t have to be a Trump fan to be concerned; all that’s needed is to be concerned about our nation. But I do hope that President Trump has read that column. The survival of our nation and our liberties are at stake.
My Previous Articles on the Coronavirus Pandemic
- How Big of a Threat Is the Coronavirus? (March 26)
- How Bad Has the Pandemic Been? How Bad Will It Be? (April 6)
- An Economic Shutdown Based On…What? (April 15)
- Is Sweden’s Problem Coronavirus or Immigration? (April 21)
- Let the Lockdown End, County by County (April 27)