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Standing on the Bow of the Titanic

I’m sure many of you are tired of me railing on about Covid and how terrible it is.  Trust me; I am as tired of doing that as you are of hearing about it.  The problem is nothing seems to be working.  I feel like I am standing at the bow of the Titanic, screaming about the Iceberg in our path but not feeling the boat turn at all.  This pandemic and what we are about to go through is like getting run over by a Zamboni.  So many people saw this coming and tried to warn us.  Why didn’t we get out of the way?

 

Ok, so with that said, here is another attempt to get the message out.  One of the comments or questions I get way too often is, “How can a disease with a 1% Mortality rate shut down the Economy?”

 

There are two problems with this question. First, it ignores how alarming a 1% fatality rate really is.  Secondly, it only focuses on the fatality rate as if people either die or are 100% ok.  What about the people who get hospitalized and then recover after some time?

 

Let’s take a long hard look at the numbers.  Since the US has a population of 328,200,000 million people, here is what happens if we let the virus run its course and everyone gets infected.

 

  1. Over 3.2 million people would die. We have 21 states in this country whose population is less than 3.2 million people.

 

What about the people that survive?

 

  1. Over 62 million people will require hospitalization. That the entire population of California and Florida.

 

  1. 59 million people will have permanent heart damage

 

  1. 32 million people will have permanent lung damage

 

  1. 9.8 million people will have a stroke because of Covid-19

 

So, it is a big deal. It’s not a choice between saving lives and shutting down the economy. If this virus were to run its course and 3 million people died while 62 million people required a hospital stay, we wouldn’t have to worry about shutting down our economy. It would shut down on its own.

 

Even without everyone getting infected, we have a genuine threat of overloading our hospital and delivery system in many parts of this country.  The only thing worse than getting Covid and needing inpatient care to save your life is having that situation and not having a bed available or staff available to take care of you.

 

In the scenario above, 62 million people would need a hospital bed at one time or another.  If we assume, each one only stays in the hospital for a week, and the load is spread out over a full year, that still means that around 1.2 million people would be in a hospital bed at any one time.  The problem with this is we only have about 1 million total hospital beds in the country, and on any day, between 70% and 80% of them are in use for non-Covid patients.  That means we only have 200,000 to 300,000 beds available at any one time.  Where would we put the extra 1 million people?  Who is going to care for them?

 

So, the next time you get mad at your Governor or some other elected official for requiring that you wear a mask or closing your favorite bar,  consider the facts above. They don’t want to shut down the economy. They aren’t doing this for political reasons. They are making the decisions to shut things down because they have doctors and scientists making sure they know what would happen if they don’t.

 

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