Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Column: The Truth About COVID-19 -- Better than you think

The Truth About COVID-19: Better than you think
By Spencer Cadavero

As the media turns its attention back to COVID-19, there is a renewed push to shut down the economy. Some states have even begun to scale back reopening plans for their economies; others continue to delay opening. It is essential to look past their catastrophizing and focus on the facts of COVID-19.

One fact to consider: while testing has risen 23 percent, the rate of positive results has only risen 1.3 percentage points to 6.2 percent. Even as alarmists point to the rise in cases, they admit that the boost in testing has played a role in the rise in the total number of known cases. Therefore, the total number of positive cases is not of much use, as it only paints a partial picture.

The rate of increase in total positive cases is a more meaningful measure, and it has barely increased. Even more important is who is getting infected. The data show that recent cases are primarily younger people. But that’s a good thing; these are precisely the people that are key to building herd immunity, which is the only long-term solution for fighting COVID-19 and is inevitable anyway.

While the news readers reporting “surges” of people testing positive for coronavirus renew call for lockdowns, they neglect to tell the whole truth, which is that the numbers surrounding COVID-19 inspire optimism. According to the COVID Tracking Project, the average weekly deaths from COVID-19 has been in steady decline nationally since April. Oklahoma has followed this trend. The primary justification for lockdowns has been to prevent deaths from COVID-19, but if deaths are falling, then that rationale largely evaporates.

There is also reason to believe that total death numbers are overstated. In May, the Washington State Department of Health confirmed a report that revealed they were recording non-COVID deaths as COVID-19 deaths. This was partly caused by the Washington State Department of Health’s negligence and partly because hospitals are given a 20 percent premium for COVID-19 Medicare patients from the CARES Act. This extra money incentivizes hospitals to record COVID-19 among the causes of death even when it was unlikely it contributed at all.

In their June 24th update of COVID-19 data, the CDC made the following statement on comorbidities, “For seven percent of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.5 additional conditions or causes per death.”

The American people must not let themselves be alarmed into a second economic shutdown. Even as the media pundits and political class push for more restrictions and shutdowns, the numbers do not support such measures. We have made substantial strides in recovering from the recent debacle of shutdowns; don't let the fear of a few "very smart" people erase that progress.

About the 1889 Institute 
The 1889 Institute is an Oklahoma think tank committed to independent, principled state policy fostering limited and responsible government, free enterprise and a robust civil society.


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