The Game Of Loads And Vectors is a game of numbers. Sadly, far to many in the media and online are playing a very dangerous game with the numbers. One group uses each new case, each famous person (or even people related to or vaguely related to a famous person) to stoke fear and panic and/or for personal gain. The other group of idiots is using numbers to claim this isn’t a real threat.
As I’ve noted before, it is not the total number of cases or the number of deaths that truly matters right now. The outcome for people with COVID-19 is going to be vastly different from the outcomes in China, Iran, or elsewhere. Here, the most at-risk population is going to be 70+ with underlying health conditions, and/or those who smoke cigarettes heavily now or previously. A good bit of that has to do with the ACE2 binding previously discussed. For most in the U.S., it will likely be much like having a regular flu.
The real threat we face is in controlling the rate of spread. Why did China, Iran, and Italy have the outcomes they have/are having? It spread rapidly, and overwhelmed the health systems. They simply did not have the beds, the ICU beds, or the supplies to handle the huge number of cases that hit.
Right now, according to the American Hospital Association, there are 924,107 staffed hospital beds in all types of hospitals including psychiatric and other specialty hospitals. There are 792,417 staffed beds in community hospitals. Where there are 97,776 staffed ICU beds in the U.S., only 46,825 of them are medical/surgical intensive care.
While many will have very mild symptoms, there is a percentage of patients that require time in the ICU. This paper looks at data from China (and acknowledges that the official data is problematic) to try to estimate how many that will be, and comes to a max of 2.6 – 4.9 per 10,000 adults. This report looks at Italy and reports a rate of 11 percent needing ICU. This report lays out why COVID-19 is worse than the flu, and looks at the impact on the healthcare system — and on the rate of spread and how it could spread exponentially as in Italy and elsewhere.
So, using the 11 percent figure, there being curretly 2,952 cases in the U.S., that means approximately 325 patients will need long-term (days to weeks) of ICU care. With 46,825 staffed beds, we’re good, right? Yes, we are — today. Will that hold true tomorrow or even next week? The magic ball says maybe. Let’s look at the following two graphs.
This is from the Johns Hopkins interactive graphic that I’ve linked to in almost every post. Note the significant rise associated with the spread of COVID-19 in almost every location. Where spread has not been controlled, there is effectively exponential growth. Now, let’s look at the U.S.
This comes from the CDC, and while not interactive it does have a lot more data than I can show. I would urge you to scroll through the number of cases and watch how it jumps.
Again (and again), there was never any chance to prevent it from getting here, as the Chinese government has lied from the start and used it’s considerable power to prevent other nations from responding by stopping travel. There is no doubt that if President Trump had not — despite howls of outrage from China and the leaders of the Democratic party — put in place a travel ban things would be much worse.
All we can do now is slow the rate of spread. We have to do this to:
• Prevent the spread from overwhelming ICU beds, ventilators, and other medical treatment. Keep in mind that right now Italy has ordered hospitals to stop treating the elderly.
• To buy time to overcome bureaucratic and other roadblocks to testing. Effective, efficient, and fast testing is essential to being sure those who have COVID-19 get treatment and are prevented from helping spread the disease.
• To push the spread out into warmer weather, a time when colds and the flu normally drop off.
• To buy time to develop effective vaccines and treatments and get them made here since the Chinese are now threatening to cut off drug exports to the U.S. (even as they try to blame COVID-19 on us).
What is going on now is not an overreaction to “the flu” as many idiots are claiming. It is a needed, indeed almost a desperate, attempt to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed like far too many others. The number to watch in the days ahead is NOT the number of cases (or who has gotten it), and it is not the number of deaths. It is the rate of spread. If the rate of spread drops, and the total number of cases stays low, we will be in very good shape from a healthcare perspective — and that will drive financial and other perspectives.
Right now, we are in good shape. Let’s all be smart and work together to help keep it that way.
If my posts are enjoyable, helpful, or otherwise a benefit, please consider hitting the tip jar. With the levels of stupid out there, really do need to up the strategic alcohol and tobacco reserves…
•My Amazon Wishlist
If you suspect you have COVID-19 or have been exposed: call your state health department and work with them so that you can be dealt with in a way that minimizes the chance of spreading the virus to those helping you and to the general public. Can’t get them? Call your local department or see if your health service has online/telemedicine screening set up; or see if one who has will let you use it even if you are not in their network. Do not go out in public, and don’t go to an ER or other facility without calling ahead. Be smart.
Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Yes. Is there need for panic? NO. HELL NO. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Should you be preparing? Yes, better late than never. And good luck finding/getting stuff.
Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, wash them thoroughly every time you use the bathroom, then follow with hand sanitizer after every washing, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash on a regular basis. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Do NOT shake hands with anyone, and avoid touching or being touched by strangers. Or your strange friends.
Avoid travel if at all possible. Right now, there is no way I’m going to a trade show, major convention, etc. If you can telecommute, get that set up now. If you have to travel, use lots of hand sanitizer and go to full flu protocols. If you have to use a public restroom, take full precautions including using paper towels and such to handle faucets, doors,etc. Believe it or not, this was highly recommended before now, and major grocery chains have long told employees to use those practices to avoid getting or spreading colds, flu, etc. Not many actually do it, but…
If you own a business, make sure your employees know the above protocols. Have someone who refuses to wash their hands or otherwise follow the protocols? Talk to them, write them up, and if necessary fire them as they now pose a risk of infection to you and your customers. Extreme? Yes, but while the CDC and others are working to slow it down, odds are it is already here and could hit hard and fast. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
I want to reiterate that there is no need for panic, but there is a strong need to be alert, be informed, and be prepared.
Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles: