An undisputed fact: More than 98 percent of those infected with COVID-19 recover without hospitalization.
Several readers took me to task for an earlier column, where I urged less hysteria in reacting to COVID-19.
Readers Bill Dougherty and Ed Hale took exception to my description of Dougherty’s New York City birthplace as “that teeming ball of earthworms.”
Extolling the Big Apple’s virtues in true travel brochure fashion, Dougherty didn’t disclose why he left that bastion of culture to live in Clarkston.
Hale termed my New York City description “dehumanizing,” a fair point. Correction: New York City’s 27,000 people per square mile is a gargantuan human “petri dish” where an infectious disease can run rampant.
My “earthworms” comment was an analogy, gentlemen. Sorry if it went over your head.
Moscow reader Ed Bechinski questioned my patriotism. If we’re exchanging “cheap shots,” I suspect (but can’t confirm) Bechinski was in Canada while I was in Vietnam.
Paul Oman labeled me a “racist.” This most-overused epithet in the English language is meaningless for that reason. Oman has as much evidence that I am a racist as I have that he is a Martian.
Millennial Alexis Brown emailed a shower of unprintable expletives. Impressed by her command of the English language, I copied it to everyone I know.
Reader Douglas Call questioned my failure to “normalize” data for comparative analysis. The shortcoming of predictive statistics is that the true numbers will eventually be known. Further suggesting I have an association with people whose views I don’t share may make Call feel superior, but doesn’t change the statistics.
Retirement hasn’t dampened former Opinion editor Jim Fisher’s verbal tap-dancing skills. Clearly, Fisher misses his old role as the Tribune’s left-wing skewer of the right wing. Characterizing me as caring less about COVID-19 victims than a bunch of politicians do, he knows that’s both unprovable and demeaning.
Cut from the same cloth, the latest Opinion editor tap-danced among the facts (April 12), implying that area hospitals might suffer a ventilator shortage. When told by hospitals that questions about their resources were “... none of your business, ...” he invited “... speculation from a very dark place.”
These intellectual giants are among those spewing their hatred of President Donald Trump across these pages almost daily, so I’m in good company.
But it’s balderdash.
Despite much grandstanding about potential shortages, every American needing a ventilator received one. Contrary to what this page’s editor would have had you believe on April 12, America guarantees anyone needing a ventilator will have one within 24 to 48 hours. There are more than 60,000 ventilators not being used.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said (Jan. 21) the coronavirus didn’t present a danger to Americans and citizens shouldn’t be worried about it. By March 1, there had been one American death attributed to COVID-19, and zero calls for the economy to shut down.
Fact: 98 percent of those with COVID-19 recover without hospitalization.
There is zero science suggesting that unlike all previous coronavirus strains, this particular one would overwhelm the human immune system. Forty-three percent of Americans don’t bother protecting themselves with the annual flu vaccine (while the flu kills an average 36,000 Americans). Will those same people seek a COVID-19 vaccine if one is ever developed? If the media sensationalized flu as they have COVID-19, more would likely seek the flu shot.
The media, by suggesting that New York’s experience could engulf the entire nation and dramatizing the numbers of cases and deaths has terrified Americans. The media refuses to emphasize the important fact (Did I mention this?) that 98 percent of those with COVID-19 recover without hospitalization. Instead, the media irresponsibly stokes an environment of raw, irrational fear.
Recent studies have suggested that many more people have suffered COVID-19 than previously reported. Without symptoms but still contagious, they likely infected others before recovering themselves. If true, this is how herd immunity is achieved. Welcome to the herd.
Why are we reacting as if citizens are dropping dead on the street?
Ninety-eight percent of those with COVID-19 recover without hospitalization (Am I repeating myself?).
The media is irresponsibly speculating about potential food shortages because some food-processing employees tested positive for COVID-19. Worse than hyping fear of disease is causing anxiety about food. Why would anyone report this way?
Fact: There are no legitimate reasons to fear food shortages.
Can all COVID-19 reporting be trusted? Frankly, I don’t know. That fact alone concerns me because I have been paying attention. Some things just don’t pass the “smell” test.
For example, the government will pay an additional 20 percent to hospitals on top of traditional Medicare rates for COVID-19 patients during the public health emergency, and will reimburse hospitals for treating uninsured patients with COVID-19 (at that enhanced Medicare rate). Whether that’s affecting reporting of COVID-19, I don’t know. But it is certainly an added financial incentive.
Curiously, 71 percent of reported Nez Perce County COVID-19 deaths have been 80- to 100-years-old (with age-related health conditions) in nursing facilities. This seems to me probably about an average couple of month’s worth of Lewiston-Clarkston Valley deaths for that age range under normal conditions, before COVID-19. That nobody is discussing those numbers comparably seems, well, odd.
Concerned that COVID-19 deaths were being under-reported, on April 13 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued this guidance for doctors: “In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID-19 cannot be made but is suspected or likely, ... it is acceptable to report COVID19 on a death certificate as ‘probable’ or ‘presumed.’ ” even when the patient has not been tested for the disease.
The CDC guidance adds that the “cause of death” is left to the doctor, using his “... best clinical judgment.” And if that doctor is a hospital employee?
Knowing how humans can misinterpret that kind of unclear guidance, I remain skeptical.
Rogers of Clarkston is a retired manager at CCI-Speer (now Vista Outdoor). His email address is email@example.com.