July 20, 2020 Corona Update

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” Presidential Inaugural Address, January 20, 2017

Well not exactly.  This American Carnage is going to continue on for a while. The state of the American Covid-19 reminds me of one of the rules of surgery:  all bleeding eventually comes to an end.

This pandemic will come to an end as well, and in the south, this could happen sooner than we think.  Without intervention, the Coronavirus will spread quickly through communities, leaving the infected either immune from the disease or dead.  This is one way to manage it, but certainly not the intended path that we set out on a few months ago.   There is emerging evidence that in addition to Hotspots in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, new areas of rapid viral spread are occurring in Georgia, Tennessee. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. 

In fact, the Whitehouse Coronavirus taskforce has produced a confidential map that was quickly leaked to the public identifying 18 states that were “Red Zones,” areas where disease spread is severe enough to warrant lockdown orders to control exponential spread. 

Daily cases of new virus in the US tallied over 70,000 twice last week up from 20,000 one month ago.  Those who are attributing this to increased testing for the virus are mistaken.  Testing has increased by 37% over the last 4 weeks, and caseloads have increased by 194%. The percentage of positive cases of the total number of cases have increased as well.

Death rates, that is the percentage of people who die once they have contracted the disease, are down.  This is due, as mentioned previously to greater success in treating critically ill patients and quarantining of older folks and nursing home patients.  But the number of deaths per day has gone up, because a small percentage of a whole lot of people is still a whole lot of people.   And if hospital systems are overwhelmed, expect the advances in clinical treatment to have less of an effect on death rates.

We know that without serious intervention, these trends will continue as far as the eye can see. We also know how to intervene: shut down large gatherings and bars, limit indoor dining, wear face masks in public, wash your hands, and social distance.  If most people adhered to these basic principles, the virus can be kept at a low level, as is happening in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states right now.  

If we think of this Pandemic as a war, a war that has so far cost 140,000 American lives, what hardships would we be willing to endure to win?  We don’t have to storm the beaches at Normandy for this one, folks, or tiptoe through a field of landmines, we just have to wear face masks in public and not get slobbering drunk at the corner bar.  I think the Greatest Generation could have handled this one. This is not as clear for the current population.  Governors against face masks are suing mayors who think we should wear them.  Citizens are declaring that it is their constitutional right to infect someone else by doing whatever the hell they want.  If we don’t fix this, and soon, the American Carnage we are witnessing now will be an afterthought compared to what is about to come.    

In past emails, I have generally been optimistic about our ability to control this Pandemic.  What is happening right now is a major change, and I am sounding the alarm.  We need to get serious.  If you have missed one of Steve’s Updates, they are all stored here in a google drive. Elaine

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