Coronavirus is a global tragedy that is being felt around the world. As of midnight, March 24, 2020, the estimated death toll is 16,365. The death toll is increasing daily and is still accelerating at an exponential rate in many areas of the world. The purpose of this article is not to minimize the seriousness of this epidemic, but to relate it to other events.
COVID-19 virus deaths in China have apparently peaked. It appears that China may be able to contain deaths to about 3,500. Total deaths are at 3,260 with about eight to 10 new deaths each day. This is less than 0.03 percent of the 10.5 million people who are expected to die in China this year. Even if we look more narrowly at February/March, when COVID-19 mortality was highest in China, it was still only the 49th cause of death in the country.
As COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread in many countries, including the United States, cases worldwide now top 421,000. Since last weekend, the U.S. has had the third-highest total confirmed cases in the world. The number of confirmed cases here now stands at 54,893, as of 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The link below is from the Brookings Institute and provides continual updates on worldwide cases and deaths.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health said there were 564 confirmed cases with eight deaths. Acton said those numbers are lagging behind as they ramp up testing. The ages of the confirmed cases range from infant to 95. The deaths were in Cuyahoga, Erie, Franklin, Gallia, Lucas, and Stark counties. Of the 145 people hospitalized, 62 are in the intensive care unit and 25 are from long-term care facilities.
The influenza death count from 1918 was the deadliest health event in history. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One-fifth of the world’s population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history.
One of the most destructive natural events in recent history was the March 11, 2011 tsunami that occurred after a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck about 225 miles off the Japanese coast.
The combined total of confirmed deaths and missing is more than 22,000 (nearly 20,000 deaths and 2,500 missing). Deaths were caused by the initial earthquake and tsunami and by post-disaster health conditions.
There were nearly 7,000 more deaths from that tsunami in one day than there has been from the first report of COVID-19 deaths in December 2019.
The guidance to maintain separation for other people is a key to slowing down and eventually stopping the increase in those infected with COVID-19 and deaths. One of the things that make accurately counting deaths due to the virus is that each country has a unique set of circumstances. The UK has 15% of its population as regular smokers. Areas with high incidences of HIV, Ebola, and various cases of flu will have higher death tolls. Failure to test a significant portion of a population will skew forecasts until that testing is done.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a site that compiles the latest guidance on how to prevent contracting COVID-19 and how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 to others. The information that relates to the timing of the peak incidence of new cases and deaths, the relaxation of restrictions on public gatherings, and the resumption of non-critical employment are based upon the political objectives of the current occupants. Experts in the field of virus epidemics are expressing extreme caution in predicting the trajectory of new cases and deaths.
The responses of individuals, industry, and states in dealing with this crisis has been encouraging in most cases. It is important that we maintain our perspective on what this virus means to the world, and to us individually. The participation of the federal government has been slowed due to the resolution of priorities on helping individuals versus corporations, while state and local governments have proceeded with the best practices they can muster. God bless the world and all its inhabitants. We are changed forever, and there is an opportunity to use these events to make a better, kinder world.