Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Fear, questions and rumors complicate the coronavirus situation

The thought of being infected by the COVID-19 virus is truly scary. The numbers are big. On Monday, the number of Americans infected was 337,933, and the number of Americans who have succumbed to the disease was 9,653. The number of deaths after the virus has run its course is predicted to be 200,000 or more, according to some models.

A new model predicts coronavirus deaths will peak in the United States on April 16, though the research is a preprint, which means it has not yet been peer reviewed. The peer review process is a vital part of assessing new medical research and identifies weaknesses in its assumptions, methods and conclusions. This prediction could very well change.

Accompanying the actual news about the virus are rumors about the pandemic. One says it did not come from a wet market in Wuhan, China as is commonly believed, but from a biological laboratory located there. Another said that the lab developed the virus and purposely released it as a biological weapon against China’s enemies.

In another storyline, a guy claiming to have been employed in a management position in a high-tech firm, and therefore possessing special “inside” information, said that the pandemic isn’t a virus at all, but the effects of radiation poisoning from 5G technology. And it’s all part of a plot by a select few individuals who are determined to wipe out much of human life and take control of Earth.

If the latter theory were true, we might as well go back to work and forget about social distancing and hand-washing; we are all at great risk from 5G, no matter what we do.

As the coronavirus rages, we don’t need bright, happy fairy tales. We also don’t need dark, misery-laced horror stories. We need factual information, the good and the bad, absent emotional baggage. On this point, both President Donald Trump and the news media need to sharpen up.

Trump often puts things in a good light, sometimes in words that are much too positive. Embellishing is a common practice among people trying to persuade. The media, on the other hand, often reports things with a negative tone, frequently more negative than reality requires.

When Trump speaks in traditional Trump-speak, the media accuses him of lying. When the media accuses Trump of lying, he accuses the media of “fake news.”

The news business involves telling people the facts of a story. Report what Trump said, his actual words. Don’t tell us what some reporter or editor thinks he meant. If his meaning is unclear, ask for clarification.

An example, cited in a previous column: Trump said, “And this is their new hoax,” referring to the way Democrats were treating the administration’s response to the virus. This statement was misreported in reports from several respected media sources as Trump calling the virus a hoax. Is that incompetence, or politics?

Our lives have been substantially affected by COVID-19.  The tragedy and pain of suffering and death from it are enormous. And fear is at epidemic levels. Our lives have been turned upside-down, with businesses and schools closed, jobs lost and people told to stay home.

However, some more positive aspects of the pandemic can give some relief to the sometimes-overwhelming negative aspects. While America has recorded 9,653 deaths as of Monday, 17,582 infected people had recovered. And that does not count those who didn’t know they were infected and suffered no symptoms.

And the roughly 338,000 Americans who had been confirmed as infected as of yesterday is only about one percent of the nation’s 330,000,000 total residents.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) produced a model of the virus, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This model has been widely cited as what to expect.

Writing for, Derek Hunter looked at the model’s projections compared to reality. He wrote, “While the reporting data from some states are lagging, others have provided information that calls into question the validity of the whole model, and with it, all the actions taken by government.”

Citing the IHME model he noted that on April 4th, from 120,963 to 203,436 Americans would require hospitalization, but only 18,998 actually were hospitalized.

Given that not all states had reported complete statistics when the count was taken, Hunter notes that those whose report was incomplete were smaller states with less serious effects. Therefore, even if the reported number was doubled, it was still far below the projection.

Models are informed guesses based upon a data set. The problem is which one is selected, and how much damage will be done if it turns out to be the wrong.

As of April 6, reported the following worldwide statistics: Of the 1,287,284 confirmed cases, 70,540, or 5.5 percent of the total, have died; and 271,950, or 21.1 percent, recovered or were discharged.

In the U.S. there are as of yesterday 337,933 identified positive cases, according to, and 9,653, or 2.9 percent have died, and 17,582, or 5.2 percent have recovered.

This isn’t good news, but it demonstrates that reality isn’t as bad as we may think.

No comments: