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Perspective of COVID-19 important


April 16, 2020

Here we are, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, with information of all sorts flying to and fro. What is meaningful among all the numbers being bandied about?

Before diving into this, understand that nothing here is meant to minimize the seriousness of the pandemic or any of the grief and tragedy connected with people and families who have lost loved ones.

Another caveat: the counts being used are what is available. There is disparity between sources, and so figures here could be dramatically different than what is actually occurring, but it’s all we have at the moment. I’m thinking of some coverage of Dr. Fauci and some of his remarks early in the pandemic. He was only talking about what was known at the time, and it will be interesting, when all this is over, to read more factual, actual information about what really happened.

Washington state has had 544 deaths connected with coronavirus, according to information gleaned online. The majority, 303, occurred in King County. Snohomish has had 77 die. And in Pierce, 23 have succumbed. Various counties have from a few to 20-plus deaths.

In our neck of the woods, Garfield County is the last county in Washington that is yet to have a positive test, thank goodness. Columbia County still has its one positive and scores of tests which have been negative, knock wood.

The United States, in total count, is leading the world with 614,451 confirmed cases and 29,897 fatalities. News reports indicate that some political leaders in New York and California, as the pandemic was getting rolling last February, eschewed social-distancing options as xenophobic and urged people to continue to circulate and patronize their Chinatowns.

Turns out that wasn’t so smart.

The counts need perspective, and doesn’t it make sense to put this pandemic in its proper perspective by studying the per capita rates?

For example, New York is seriously afflicted with 202,932 total cases and 10,841 deaths. Wow, those are monumental numbers.

But there are 19.85 million people in New York state. Per capita it figures to 546 deaths per million of population.

Again, the death of each one of those individuals is not to be overlooked or minimized, but the per capita perspective does offer a basis for comparison.

In Washington, the 544 deaths would be divided by 7.41 million people for a rate of 73.4 deaths per million of population.

Wyoming, with is half a million people and one death, is at 1.72 deaths per million.

Zowie, even heavily populated California, with 39.54 million, has a per capita death rate of 20.

Compared to influenza, and let’s take the Centers for Disease Control’s report that 22,000 people have died from the flu since October, 2019: that’s 66 deaths per million of our country’s population.

If each Washington county is considered in a per capita perspective, then Gov. Jay Inslee’s business shutdown just doesn’t make sense—for the “one-size-fits-all” policy. The governor should allow less-affected counties to get back to normal on a case-by-case basis.


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