OK, folks buckle up for a bumpy ride in this installment because we’re going to hit some turbulence . . .It’s gotten rough out there, really rough and ragged, not to mention we're in the clouds with information overload. Why not overload you just a wee bit more to get you out of the clouds and into smooth air .
Today’s vlog contains a macro level overview of the evolving COVID-19 situation. While some of the information repeats previous vlogs it’s for a reason.
First of all the data clearly shows we have evaded the original death projections.
Even in the areas of NY and NJ, which, by the way, comprise 42% of the US deaths, the total number of deaths was far below the original projections. Great news and I am in no way trivializing those who have died, suffered or are suffering…..what I am saying amounts to 3 takeaways
- We succeeded in blunting the rapid progression thus preventing the healthcare system from being overwhelmed. The actions we took to isolate made a big difference but NOT the ONLY difference as many would like to believe. This is exactly like thinking diet is the sole key to health or weight loss.
- The emerging data on the estimated infection rate shows it is far more prevalent in the population than previously thought.
- Of those infected a surprisingly high estimated number of people are completely asymptomatic throughout the exposure, infection, and immunity cycle. Estimates are ranging from 20-30+% of those infected are symptomatic.
Now, this is VERY important and good to know moving forward..because it’s good news, it’s also good because we are developing data to guide us, and ‘good’ because even ‘bad’ news has a good use in the context of learning.
Second, here are my thoughts about how things will play out as we emerge from Limbo.
1. There can be no blanket policy whether on a nationwide or state-wide basis.
Loosening the current restrictions will need to be community-centric and based upon a number of factors. For example, NY city and the surrounding area represent the absolute worst scenario for a pathogen like this; dense population, constant influx and outflow of individuals from all parts of the globe, movement based upon crowded trains, subways and sidewalks in January, February and March with cold overcast environmental conditions ideal for exposure and contraction of the virus.
Compare this with many communities across rural America; low population density, little to no influx and outflow of global travellers, ‘social isolation’ is seen as a mental health challenge rather than a challenge of physical distancing, open air, sunshine. For example, here is a video from Muenster, Texas (below) or this pic from Bowen, Queensland, Australia. To date, neither town has had a single documented case of COVID-19, not even a suspected case! There are thousands of communities across the globe which have not been infected with COVID-19 yet are subject to the same restrictions and economic impact. Moving forward it will be critical for a ‘Bottom up’ rather than a ‘Top Down’ approach but with each level above completely supporting & communicating with the levels below to provide the resources necessary to be successful on a community level…...most of all at the very bottom or base is each and every one of us and our personal responsibility.
2. Now here is a tricky concept…..the places with the least impact thus far from COVID-19 are the ones that will have to be watched the closest.
As people move from urban areas with higher infection rates move in and out of smaller communities with low to no infection this raises the potential for mini outbreaks which can strain the modest healthcare resources of rural communities. This is practically inevitable but as we move forward, learn more and move into summer the impact of this aspect of the virus’s progression can be sharply attenuated. So just because you may be living in one of these places doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry as the restrictions are lifted, actually you need to be more aware than ever before.
3. Partial or full Herd Immunity will be part of the formula. With information and data suggesting the infection rate is much higher than originally thought and a far higher percentage of those infected being asymptomatic we are already in the process of working through the ‘herd’. We need to acknowledge this is already taking place so we can continue to isolate the elderly and most at risk while finding a sustainable and manageable balance which minimizes casualties both physical and economic.
Third, here are other big-picture items I want to address and come to terms with.
Understanding them and coming to terms with these realities will help us individually and collectively move forward.
- There is no ‘cure’. As we learn and understand more about the etiology of this virus better treatments will be developed but there is no cure per se. A vaccine is still way off in the future and, when developed, will not be a universal ‘cure’. So cures, vaccines and who should get them is a moot point at this time.
- Based upon the data and revised projections society has to make the mental leap of thinking of COVID-19 as a Black Plague, Ebola or Anthrax death sentence to what it really is…..a highly transmissible version of SARS Viruses. SARS viruses are, by definition virulent to host who have pulmonary challenges (smokers, COPD etc), cardiovascular disease or are immuno-compromised but, as the emerging data corroborates, this is far from a lethal virus for most healthy people.
- Due largely to COVID-19, the economy and chronic uncertainty in every aspect of life people are easily swayed by this ping pong of soundbite Science. Once again we need to understand this is fear in play. When people have fear they cease to think. When people cease to think and reason they are ripe for manipulation. Even the most intelligent people fall prey to this even when they think they are not!
I am not asking you to drink my flavor of Kool-Aid. I am asking you to avoid drinking whatever flavor of political fear, be it SIP for eternity the economy be damned or this is a hoax and we want our lives back, and gee, give me another swig of Lysol with a twist of Chlorox……
What I am asking you is to THINK rather than drink….because each one of you have the capacity and that capacity to think and reason is vital to completing that ‘Last Mile’ of the internet autobahn to put things together for your individual needs so YOU can navigate this huge detour we are taking with Covid-19. Thanks very much for listening.