Proof That Ignorance Isn’t Bliss
The American coronavirus pandemic is what happens when you ignore the information around you.
I am in awe of the terror caused by the coronavirus. I see the headlines, the chaos in the hospitals that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and I know there are people going through the tremendous grief of their losses. I see the shortages of personal protective equipment, I see the people striking for better protection at their workplace. And I see an enormous trend towards work from home. Life as we knew it in January, will never be the same.
I am grateful that I live in a state where for the most part, people are honoring the coronavirus safety guidelines by staying home and isolating. Many of us are earnestly trying to flatten the curve and not be caught in it. I have seen the pictures of the empty streets in downtown Salt Lake. The malls, the bars, the recreation centers, the libraries, and the schools are all closed. The economy is shutting down in a way that I could not have imagined before now.
I had some inkling of what is to come. Around March 20th, I happened upon an article in Yahoo! Finance, Hell is Coming: Here is the Mathematical Proof. In that article, they described the trend of the coronavirus. They predicted that deaths from the virus would double every 3 days. They did. They predicted that our hospitals would be overwhelmed by the number of sick. Many are already overwhelmed. They predicted that by April 7th, we would see a total of 12,800 dead. I didn’t believe them. But I’ve been tracking that number and we are definitely on track to meet or exceed that prediction.
There are 5113 dead as of today. 1,000 new deaths were reported yesterday. Including today, there are 5 more days to April 7th. And between now and then, the fatality rate will continue to rise until about April 15th, when it is projected that the daily death rate will peak at more than 2200 per day. That prediction assumes a full mitigation effort, and that is according to this White House briefing on YouTube:
But only now are seeing the apex on the horizon.
Now let me show you a different graph. From Worldometers, this is one of South Korea and the trajectory of the spread of the coronavirus in their country. Notice that they saw the apex in their caseload more than 3 weeks ago:
We aren’t even close:
The differences between how the two countries responded to the epidemic that has become a pandemic has been documented very well in this article, The missing six weeks: how Trump failed the biggest test of his life, from The Guardian. Therein, we learn, starting on January 20th, 2020:
Within a week of its first confirmed case, South Korea’s disease control agency had summoned 20 private companies to the medical equivalent of a war-planning summit and told them to develop a test for the virus at lightning speed. A week after that, the first diagnostic test was approved and went into battle, identifying infected individuals who could then be quarantined to halt the advance of the disease.
We recorded our first confirmed coronavirus case on January 20th, too. What were we doing in America since then? We heard Trump telling us that the coronavirus was a new hoax from the Democrats. For weeks Trump and his administration downplayed the threat from the virus. And he told us that he takes “no responsibility” for the outcomes we are witnessing today. I say, “respondeat superior” or, “let the master answer”. Trump was more worried about the economy than about our health. Without health, there is no wealth.
The Guardian article notes that by the end of January, the White House had all the information it needed to act decisively to stop or slow the spread of the coronavirus. Following their leader, millions of Americans ignored the virus at their peril. They ignored the information already available to them, beseeching them to heed the warnings.
We have no vaccine, no cure, and no way to predict with certainty who will die once infected. We do know that it spreads through the air and through contact with the face. We also know that many of those who died had pre-existing conditions that made them more likely to die from the virus. We also know that asymptomatic people can carry the virus and infect others. To congregate with others now is like playing Russian Roulette. Just one sneeze or cough…
And still, I see some churches insisting on congregating. When I see people who insist on gathering, not following the guidelines, I sigh. When I see people who have to work in a warehouse and their employer is not taking every precaution to keep his employees safe, I am sad. When I see Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp admit that he didn’t know that people could spread COVID-19 even if they are asymptomatic, I roll my eyes. And when I see that Surgeon General Anthony Fauci gets a security detail due to death threats, I see that people are willing to kill in order to remain ignorant.
After reading everything that I could find, I can tell you that no one needs to tell me to stay home. I have a family to protect. I have a job to keep. I am lucky to have health insurance that won’t leave me bankrupt from a $73,000 medical bill, the average cost of a visit to the hospital for COVID-19. I am lucky to be able to work from home. But that doesn't mean that I will tempt fate by venturing out. My wife is the designated shopper (hallelujah! — I really dislike shopping), and let her shop knowing that she’s a nut about safety, just like me.
I will wait until after we are on the downward slope from the apex. I will wait until I see the recovery rate rise. I will wait until I see that the coast is clear. I will wait until my gut and my chest — that’s where I find my moral compass — tell me that it’s OK to venture out. I will trust my intuition. I will trust the scientists and the doctors who are working the front lines to solve the problem of the coronavirus, before I ever trust the president.
It is exasperating to watch what is happening before me. I accept that I have no control over other people. I can only let them do what they will do and watch. I will take care of myself so that I can care for others and keep them safe. I can observe and learn from the mistakes of others just as they can learn from mine. I can be mindful and stay out of the way until this passes. And it will pass. For the sake of my family and the people I love, my goal is to let the pandemic pass without me.