Covid is out there, and I am not gonna be one of those guys that says it is a hoax. But if you heave read my previous posts on the topic, I like looking at hard data, an I never trust media news reports.
Early in the pandemic, we had no idea what we were dealing with, and there was mass hysteria. I get it. This thing has been scary. But as I write this, we are eleven months into it, and there is all sorts of hard data we can use to see how bad this is.
I’m going to start by looking at three states. California, New York and Florida. I chose these, because they are all over the news, replete with praise or criticism for how they are handling the Pandemic response in this winter 2020 wave. California and New York are making more strict mask mandates and shutting down businesses, while Florida has specifically taken the approach of saying “Be careful out there, but live your lives.”
In Florida, you can go into any restaurant that can operate at full capacity (indoors or outdoors), and the theme parks are open… even packed. Every day looks like what the news calls a super-spreader event, and while the media condemns Florida for its response, they only talk in absolute numbers, and never use comparative averages. You know, 10,000 cases reported today, and Florida still refuses to close. So here is a little data to put this into perspective from the recent weekly averages.
The stats below are represented in terms of per 100,000 residents in each state in order to show the relative number based on the population differences. The data comes from State Health Department records and the CDC.
|Population||21.5 Million||19.5 Million||39.5 Million|
|Deaths per Day||0.47||0.62||1.42|
|Cases per Day||51.1||51.2||101|
|Tests per Day||558||1,025||759|
So what are we seeing here? The state that has had the greatest amount of mobility, the softest approach at limiting the citizens, no mask mandates, and no business closure limitations, also has the lowest number of hospitalizations per capita, lower cases per day, and far fewer deaths per capita. It also happens to be the state with by far the highest population of greater “at risk” individuals.
You might say “Yeah, but Florida is warmer.” Sure, but warmer than Southern California? No. Also consider that since Florida is open, there is a massive wave of tourism flooding into the state with people visiting the super-spreader theme parks. You know, from place like New York.
But Wait! There's More!
We hear about all of the Covid deaths, and we think it is awful. Surely it is, and I am not going to dispute that. But are all of these Covid deaths truly Covid deaths? You might want to look at some historical data to see how many people were dying before Covid, and look at the difference compared to how many people are dying now. In other words, if on a typical day 95 people die, we accept that as part of life. If we hear 100 people died today from Covid, we do not. But in such a case you would expect 195 people to die in a typical day during the pandemic. That would be awful! But what if the average were only 110 per day during the pandemic? Logical reasoning would dictate that you have to question why so few people are dying of normal causes, right? In looking at it like that, Covid will have really represented an additional 15 deaths, and not 95. It is bad, of course, but do we collapse the world economies for that?
So how do we know how to find this info? No worries, the CDC keeps track of it, and here is a handy dandy chart to put things into perspective:
You can absolutely look at that and see more people are dying this year than last year, but you can also see that the trends are similar, and the differential is not monumental. Add to that the fact that 2019 was a low year in deaths, and if we go back to look at other years in the past few decades, we can see years that were actually worse than this when we adjust for population. The difference is that we didn’t have a 24 hour news cycle of people peddling fear, we didn’t have politicians using a pandemic for political gain.
We didn’t change the normal parting words of “See ya later” to “Be Safe.”