Another way to look at the Chinavirus numbers…

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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

In the Chinavirus debate, the death rate is the main number that is relevant to setting government policy.  It tells us all we need to know about our ability to manage the virus in terms of its spread, recovery and deaths.              

129,947 deaths in a U.S. population of 331,000,000 means .039 percent of the population has died from the coronavirus.  This also means that 99.961% of the population has not died.  In addition, 129,947 deaths from 2,888,729 confirmed positive cases equals a 4.5% death rate for those who have tested positive.  This means 95.5% of positive cases don’t end in death. 

These are better numbers than the 1968 Hong Kong Flu outbreak.  The estimated number of deaths was about 100,000 in the United States. The most excess deaths were in people 65 years and older. Sound familiar?  This virus continues to circulate worldwide as a seasonal influenza A virus. The population of the U.S. was approximately 201,000,000 in 1968.  100,000 deaths in that population means .049% of the population died from the Hong Kong Flu.  Somehow, this country survived without shutting down a single business or shuttering our schools. 

The Chinavirus case number is never reduced even when some people test positive at one point, but later test negative.  Why aren’t the subsequent negative cases reflected and adjusted?  How is the government accounting for a person who tested positive a month ago and has retested positive again?  Are they chalking up two positive cases that should really be counted as only one case? The number of cases only seems to go up, without reduction for new negative or double/multiple positive cases.  Remember, a positive case does not equate to a sick person.  

We need to be focused on the trends of the percentages, not the top line numbers.  It’s also true that it is not the healthiest segment of the population that’s being tested, therefore the numbers are likely skewed to the high side.  It is also a fact that the more people who get tested, the greater the number of positive cases will be discovered.  

No one in government seems to be discussing this:  What is the target number that government officials deem acceptable?  Is it an unattainable zero?  As we know, the Hong Kong Flu is still alive and well after 52 years.  What is the number that will allow us to get back to normal?  This writer hasn’t heard one.  Unfortunately, officials have only been promoting a scary doomsday scenario which will result in our officials painting themselves into a corner from which they won’t be able to easily extract themselves.  

Notwithstanding the chilling effect of government policies on our collective economic well-being, we have yet to hear any government official calling for a government spending freeze/budget cut/tax cut or payroll tax reductions. All we hear from too many politicians is squawks to completely shut down private businesses. 

Just last week, Palm Beach County officials were complaining about the Florida Governor’s spending vetoes on some local programs.  This points out their utter lack of understanding the current economic situation.  They actually think they are being shortchanged when, simultaneously, there are tens of thousands of people in our county who are unemployed due to government policy decisions.  Can’t anybody in government think beyond the next election?

It is easy for government to make economy-killing policy decisions, like shutting down bars, beaches, gyms and restaurants when their paychecks are not affected. And, governments continue to tax residents, notwithstanding their economic plight and the long-term damage these shortsighted decisions will have.

Apparently some teachers expect to get paid even if they aren’t working.  How is that fiscally responsible?  This is especially so when taxpayers can’t work because the kids (also the least likely segment of the population to contract the virus) are required to stay home. And what about the taxpayer parent who must help do the teacher’s job by supervising distance learning, or otherwise homeschooling the kids?

Let’s be clear.  The coronavirus is real and no one is wishing illness on anyone. If someone falls within a vulnerable segment of our society, their decision must be respected to take the precautions they deem best for themselves.  However, on a purely mathematical and statistical basis, the numbers don’t justify the current overreaching policies that are killing our businesses and threatening our long-term economic well-being.   The ripple effect of these bad policies is just starting to be realized—think increased suicide rates, residential and commercial evictions, foreclosures, bankruptcies — as well as the negative effect these policies are having on our freedoms, the strength of our country and our collective psyche.

It’s time to change the narrative.  The numbers support it. 


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John R. Smith


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