COVID-19: I’ve Got Questions.

I haven’t said a lot about COVID-19. Not “politically,” anyway.

It’s been a project in and of itself to be working full-time while wrangling two small children who are being just as patient as they can be.

I’ve been listening to a lot of people. Medical professionals, commentators, our local and national leadership… and I’ve felt quite like the Lost Boys in the film “Hook,” running back and forth between Tink and Rufio’s sides as they hear valid arguments thrown out from each about who’s the real Pan.

I have to imagine a lot of you feel the same.

Let me get one thing clear before we start: for anyone with compromised health or weak immune systems, this disease is serious. What does seem to differentiate it is just how fast someone can go from “fine” to dead. It’s no joke. And China’s communist overlords in Beijing need to held accountable for their role in perpetuating the problem.

I respect my medical community friends immensely. I’ve heard first-hand from doctors and nurses—and it’s been a wild ride for those on the front lines in the worst areas. The ones who work in ICUs or testing locations are in the thick of it, and see nothing else. It IS their world. They see the pain of having a loved one Facetime their dying relative. They see the horror of someone who’s scared and alone, and likely going to die alone.

Yet…

We have to also remember that the anecdotal experiences that our healthcare professionals in some hospitals in some places are not necessarily indicative of how bad this is, how bad it will get, or how intrusive government should be.

And, the fact the celebrities have had it doesn’t indicate how bad it is. It simply makes us perceive it as worse. How many of you thought twice when you heard Tom Hanks had it? I know it gave me pause. It’s only natural.

But here’s the thing: models have changed. Predictions have changed. Experts, like Dr. Fauci, who was on record just a few months ago writing this off a nothing-burger, are now among those leading the federal response team at the White House. And yet we’re supposed to trust the models and the experts implicitly.

So I guess the gist of what I’m saying is this: we need to be objective, and let people be objective about this. This isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and as weeks turn into months—it’s not wrong to have the conversation about when to come back.

Questioning certain government orders (especially when some of them have been utterly absurd) or how long they need to stay in place doesn’t mean I’m putting down healthcare workers and their experiences and expertise. Questioning the models doesn’t mean I want people to die.

It just means I’ve got questions.

Shouldn’t I? Shouldn’t we all?

Look, this is unprecedented, and for a while, all we COULD do was depend on models and predictions. And dare I say, it made us feel like we were DOING something.

But now we’ve got some hard evidence to work with. Chiefly, the one constant throughout all this chaos is that the recovery rate has held fairly steady at around 98%.  Here are a few more things to think about:

  • 80% of people who had it had such mild cases that they didn’t even see a doctor for it. In fact, for 1 in 4 people (according to the director of the CDC himself) COVID-19 presents as symptomless.
  • An antibody study in New York City shows approximately 25 percent, or over 2 million NYC residents have COVID-19 antibodies. Let that sink in for a moment. That means that 2+ million had and recovered from COVID-19 in a city that’s reporting 150,000 official cases and 11,000 deaths. That means that in NYC, the nation’s titular hotspot, the death rate of infected persons is 0.55 percent, which means 99.45 percent of people have recovered.
  • For kicks, let’s assume the same antibody study holds true nationwide; say 25 percent of the population had and recovered from COVID-19 just as in New York City. That’s 78.7 million Americans. With the current (possibly inflated) number of deaths at 56,634, the death rate is 0.07 percent. Of course, the latter is hypothetical, but you get the gist of it. And, I say “possible inflated,” because there’s growing concern around the validity of the death rate. Even Dr. Birx, part of the White House task force, is calling for the counting of all “suspected” COVID-19 deaths: “The intent is … if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that.”  This, in conjunction with the fact that even before COVID-19, a staggering 1 in 3 death certificates was wrong. That’s concerning.
  • The Diamond cruise ship off the coast of Japan also substantiates these very low numbers. As Slate (I can’t believe I’m quoting Slate) put it: “But the most straightforward and compelling evidence that the true case fatality rate of SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19] is well under 1 percent comes not from statistical trends and methodological massage, but from data from the Diamond Princess cruise outbreak and subsequent quarantine off the coast of Japan.”
  • While ~some~ places have seen a heavy caseload, hospitals (yes, hospitals) are having to fire or furlough staff because of a lack of work. Even the esteemed Mayo Clinic plans to “furlough or reduce pay of 30,000 employees.”
  • The USNS Comfort sailed into New York to ease the so-called explosion of cases, and treated 182 people from March 30 to present day.
  • With six weeks of numbers to work with, the number of people officially sickened by COVID-19 (again, not counting those who had it and didn’t need to go to the hospital or be tested) in the US constitutes less than one percent of the population. Less 👏 than 👏 one👏 percent.

So what are we doing? With states (including my own, where just 0.07 percent of the population has been affected these last 6 weeks) mulling over whether or not to extend the shelter-in-place orders, I’m just asking that we look at the facts.

Cancer (and I’ve got three family members suffering from it) kills nearly 600,000 people a year in the US.

And yes, I know—cancer is not transmittable like COVID-19 is, so don’t @ me.

And at the beginning of this outbreak, I was more than willing to accept the fact that we couldn’t make the COVID-19 vs. flu/cancer/suicide/heart disease, etc., comparison because we just didn’t know enough about the virus and its ability to mutate and wreak havoc.

But we’re 6+ weeks in.

And it’s not killing people en masse. It’s just not.

And I’m beginning to think it has less to do with the 6 weeks we’ve all spent cooped up at home, and more to do with the fact that the human body is just better at this than any of us thought. After all, we didn’t have a Wuhan-style lockdown (literally) here. There are still scores and scores of people out every day in stores, at work as essential workers (and no—it’s not just grocery workers and police/fire/medical—it’s anyone who works for a business whose product is considered essential).

As every day passes, I’m becoming more convinced than ever that the only thing we’ve defeated here is a stellar economy, small businesses all over the country, entire industries (mine, for example), and torpedoed any progress we had made on the national debt.

And look—I’m not saying we should have done nothing. We had to go with the information we had. But now we’ve got hard numbers.

As my governor has noted time and time again, we’re not eradicating this virus until there’s a vaccine. And to quote him again, we cannot isolate people indefinitely.

And I believe it’s time to start opening up.

Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com, and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show on KSEV 700 Radio in Houston, and on Newsmax TV. She can be reached via: afuturefree@aol.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree

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