Those Rising COVID-19 Numbers | Citizens Against Government Waste

Those Rising COVID-19 Numbers

The WasteWatcher

On June 16, The Wall Street Journal published an opinion by Vice President Michael Pence, "There Isn’t a Coronavirus 'Second Wave.'"  He wrote, “In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections.  Such panic is overblown.  Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.”

Certainly, news reports with headlines like, “Coronavirus cases spike in Texas, Arizona, Florida after reopening,” or “As states reopen some see coronavirus spikes,” or “Six U.S. states see record spikes in new COVID-19 cases” have raised concerns.

But the Vice President reminded the nation that “while talk of an increase in cases dominates cable news coverage, more than half of states are actually seeing cases decline or remain stable.  Every state, territory and major metropolitan area, with the exception of three, have positive test rates under 10%.  And in the six states that have reached more than 1,000 new cases a day, increased testing has allowed public health officials to identify most of the outbreaks in particular settings – prisons, nursing homes and meatpacking facilities – and contain them.”

Pence remarked how a lot of testing is occurring, approximately 500,000 tests per day, but less than 6 percent of those tested are found to have the virus.  Over the past two weeks the daily rate across the nation has dropped to 20,000, down from 30,000 in April.  Fortunately, the death rate has dropped too, and while still too high at 750 a day, it is a large decline from 2,500 a day just a few weeks ago and far below 5,000 that was being predicted.

Also, headlines vary on which states are seeing spikes, for example three days ago, one news source said three states see a record daily high, while another wrote six states reported record cases, and yet another reported that 22 states are reporting a rise in coronavirus cases. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, with one of the states described with a “record high” of cases, has said that reopening the state remains on track.  He reported that the median age for COVID-19 cases is 37 years and that most of these patients are asymptomatic or have minimal symptoms.  He stated that a new case is just a positive test but that does not means someone is sick and that the state has more hospital beds available than it did at the start of the pandemic.

Texas Governor Greg Abbot, who heads another state that appears on the list of rising COVID-19 numbers, said on June 16 that his state can handle the spike in numbers.  While the governor admitted that people were becoming lax about wearing masks and social distancing, he urged his citizens to take a greater responsibility to control the spread of the virus and “there is no reason right now to be alarmed.”

A June 17 Wall Street Journal editorial puts all these numbers and the breathless, over-the-top reporting of spiking COVID-19 numbers into a proper perspective.  It said, “Here we go again. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has issued a new forecast that COVID-19 fatalities would spike over the summer in states that have moved faster to reopen.  Cue the media drumbeat for another lockdown.  Maybe someone should first explain why the models were wrong about so much the last time.”  The editorial noted that Stanford epidemiologist John Ioannidis found that “most models have overshot in part by making faulty assumptions about virus reproduction rates and homogenous susceptibility.”

The editorial discussses how New York state was hit very hard and was the frontline for fighting COVID-19.  But the state’s bed utilization peaked at 18,825 and intensive care unit (ICU) beds peaked at 5,225, but hospital utilization never exceeded 85 percent capacity for beds and 89 percent for ICU beds.

“Warnings about reopening states are overblown so far,” said the editorial and it certainly seems that way closely looking at the numbers.  In Texas, while hospitalization rates have been climbing, fatalities are down, and COVID-19 patients occupy fewer than five percent of all hospital beds.  In Arizona, with the largest increase in COVID-19 numbers, about 59 percent of its emergency beds and 17 percent of ICU beds are unused.

The Journal editorial also said that “national Democrats and the press are still promoting worst-case predictions, almost as if they’re hoping for worse so they can prove Donald Trump wrong.  The University of Washington now projects that reopening will cause deaths to triple in California and increase six-fold in Florida and Arizona through September.”

Whatever a model is projecting, our nation cannot continue in a state of lock down.  States keeping their economies in a morbid condition will cause more damage to our nation and its overall health.  We know who the vulnerable are and they must be protected.  The numbers to watch are hospitalization rates, not the number of positive cases, which are due to more tests being done and most individuals do not get seriously ill.  The Journal sums it up appropriately, “A surge of new infections is inevitable as states reopen, and health officials will have to watch for and contain hot spots.  But the COVID models aren’t destiny, and the cost of new lockdowns is too great to sustain.  We have to live with the virus risks while fortifying the health system and protecting the most vulnerable.”

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