Covid-19 is not just another seasonal flu. Don’t fool yourself. Stay the course with self-isolating if your city or state has ordered it. Isolate anyway, even if you haven’t been haven’t been required to hunker down. Here is why.
1. According to the Centers for Disease Control – the CDC- 490,600 people were hospitalized with flu in the 2018-2019 season. Of those 34,200 died. It hit all age groups, although the elderly were at significantly more risk. Yes, that’s a lot of people!
As a result, some people are thinking, “Why make such a fuss over Covid-19, when there aren’t that many deaths.”
Sorry to say, but the death rate has begun to accelerate sharply. It was about 400 yesterday, and 684 so far today. This is an exponential leap, with cases rising sharply all at once. We are standing on the edge of a surge that will create a massive shortage of hospital beds.
2. Hospitalizations for seasonal flu, in contrast, are spread across the year, so that hospitals are able to absorb the cases without running short of protective equipment, personnel, ventilators, and other necessary supplies. As of March 23, 5 doctors in France had already died from Covid-19. And as we’re told daily, U.S. healthcare workers are seriously worried because they don’t have adequate protective gear.
3. In cities with high population density like NYC, which is currently the epicenter of the US epidemic, the number of patients who will require hospitalization is growing exponentially. Right now, cases double every 3 days. As beds fill with Covid patients, deaths from a raft of other health threats like diabetes, heart attacks, car crashes, drug overdoses, and assorted emergencies are likely to rise, since there will be limited bed space to care for these patients. So for heaven’s sake, be extra careful. As my mother always warned me, “Don’t run with scissors!”
4. People in big cities like Seattle, LA, and San Francisco are likely to experience scenarios similar to the horror show unfolding in Italy. As of today Italy reported 407,405 cases and 18,227 deaths. The first 2 cases were documented on January 31. Think about it. In less than two months, there are so many bodies that they are being stacked up in churches. There are no funerals and too many mourners grieving alone. The epicenter of the epidemic is in the north where Milan- a fairly small city of about 1.5 million- is located. In contrast, less populous areas like Sicily in the south have fewer cases and deaths. The good news is that rigorous social distancing now can still flatten the curve for places like Sicily.
5. Extrapolating the situation in Italy to the U.S., here’s a likely scenario. Big cities (particularly with public transportation) are likelier to bear the brunt of the pandemic first. New York City is a case in point. And thank God for Governor Cuomo! But if you live rurally or in a small town, don’t be complacent. Once the virus gets a foothold, flattening the curve to decrease the number of cases where you live- and therefore preserve your local hospital capacity- will still be the name of the game.
We all understand, and many of us are personally experiencing, the terrible economic fallout from this virus. It’s almost incomprehensible. I can hardly sleep when I think about the suffering. Nonetheless, I am even more Car crashes and overdoses, heart attacks and diabetes kill a lot of people, too. But those statistics have no bearing on Covid-19, other than the unpleasant fact that if you go to the hospital for help with these common crises, you may be out of luck in some cities because there will be no beds left for you. worried that our administration’s recent decision to disregard the data in favor of jump-starting the economy (by Easter???) could lead to a veritable mushroom cloud of illness and death.
Your money or your life? The choice is yours and I know that it’s not an easy one. It is heartbreaking. I sure hope that Congress gets money to the most vulnerable of us very soon and doesn’t give it away disproportionately to big corporations.
In the meantime, please be careful and stay safe no matter your age. A growing number of young people are in intensive care. Please don’t be one of them.
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