It is Saturday April 18, 2020. A Saturday that looks just like Friday and Thursday. I have been sheltering in place with my family for 4 weeks now. I have not driven my car, or interacted with another person (other than my immediate family) face to face for a month.
We went into this sheltering in place because the Governor issued a statewide “Stay At Home” order a few weeks ago. We have observed that order without fail.
As I write this, the situation in the United States looks like this:
I remember a sketch on Sesame Street that used to go “which of these is not like the other?”. The United States has had 710,000 COVID-19 cases as of today, and the next closest country (Spain) has had 191,000. Almost all of those 710,000 cases have all occurred in the last 40 days.
In addition, the U.S. has had 37,175 fatalities from COVID-19. The next closest is Spain, with 20,000 fatalities.
If you have read some of my previous COVID-19 posts, you know that fatalities have not caught up to cases yet. The countries with the highest death rates (Italy, Spain, UK, for example) all have fatality rates greater than 10%. So the U.S. should expect that if COVID-19 stopped today (not too likely, read ahead), we could reasonably expect a total of 71,000 fatalities.
If only the news was that good.
This week, as a country, we collectively decided that social distancing wasn’t that important. States that were social distancing are easing restrictions. Jacksonville opened its beaches yesterday. Take a look at social distancing, Jacksonville style:
How many of those people are going to catch this virus, and carry it to others? How many of those people will die?
For those of you who think “37,000 fatalities isn’t so bad”, let me share some reality with you. This is the COVID:19 doubling chart. Get familiar with this like your life depends on it. Because it does.
This virus does not care about the American economy. The virus has one job: infect people. It has been remarkably efficient so far. 700,000+ people in 40 days is effective. But 700,000 infections and 37,000 fatalities is the good news. Now let me share the bad news with you.
It’s going to get worse. Much, much worse.
It’s going to get worse because:
1) The 700,000 infections and 37,000 fatalities happened under our Best Case Scenario: social distancing, people taking this seriously (for the most part), and because healthcare systems were not yet overwhelmed (other than New York City).
2) Our Best Case Scenario produced four days in a row this week of more American fatalities on each day than the number of Americans who died in Pearl Harbor.
3) Now that some of us (I am looking at you, Donald Trump) have gotten bored with this social distancing thing, we are going to experiment with Worst Case Scenario. This is an experiment that uses your lives for experimentation. How do you feel about that?
4) By the way-the motivation for easing social distancing is helping the economy. Take a look at the doubling chart again.
Let’s say that we have another three doublings in case counts. We are going to reach the “840,000” cases this week. Three more doublings gets us in the neighborhood of 6,720,000 cases. A 10% fatality rate on 6,720,000 cases is 672,000 Americans dead. How is that going to affect the American economy?
I am going to continue sheltering in place. I will not let the leaders of this country experiment with my life.