Thursday, July 16, 2020

Questions that I would like to see answered

by Don Keith

Really, I'm not trying to cause trouble here. I know COVID-19 is one bad bug and we should mitigate as requested to help prevent its spread. That makes sense even in a normal cold and flu season. But please, help me find the answers to some questions the media seem to have forgotten to answer:

1- Why do media insist on showing us that "Total number of cases" line graph? Of course it is a steadily rising curve and will continue to get higher...unless we suddenly have NO new cases. The data are cumulative! With number of cases on the x axis and time on the y, the graph will get fatter as time goes on. Or until there are zero new cases. Or until time stops.

2- Corollary to that question: Why does the total number of cases since the beginning not equal the number of people who have recovered, the number of active cases currently, and the total number of deaths from the corona virus? You've either recovered, have it now, or died from it, right? Those numbers are not even close to each other. What happened to all those folks not accounted for?

3- Is it true that anyone presenting to a hospital with viral pneumonia is automatically classified as suffering from COVID-19? I've heard this from more than one reliable source. Even though there are many, many other causes of viral pneumonia besides corona. And if someone is tested, say, six times and is positive three times and negative three times, does that count as three more cases of COVID-19? I know people who have tested four times with two negatives and two positives. And each is still without symptoms.We've all heard those stories of test people submitting unused swabs that came back positive. Or that swabbed a peach that apparently has a raging case of COVID-19. I have no verification of those kinds of things.

4- How come we don't know why there has been a surge of new cases in many states over the last month that had previously been relatively unscathed? We've been studying this virus for six months now, and similar ones for years, and we apparently don't have a clue. You can't blame it all on the bars, the beaches, or the political party of the governors can you?

5- Corollary question to #4 above: Is it possible that this surge could be related to dramatically increased testing? See this article about accuracy of the current tests being done.

6- That, of course, would not explain the increase in hospitalizations and deaths. Something is going on. Surely the vast, well-funded communicable disease bureaucracy can tell us what's up and suggest ways to fix it. Besides everybody going into a bunker, I hope. I do hear phrases in the media like, "...deadliest day yet..." and "...record-breaking new cases..." But I do note that these are coming in states and areas where positive tests and deaths were very low before, so records are not that hard to break if there is an increase in either. And with far fewer cases in the past, that leaves a much bigger group with no immunity, right? Or am I way off base here?

7- And then there is that big grab bag of rumors, guesses, wishes, and naysaying. Do kids carry the bug and infect us old folks while they stay well? Are we killing more people by using porous,filthy, germ-saturated, carbon dioxide-trapping face masks than we are saving with them? Does the virus remain alive on an elevator button for about two seconds, two minutes, two hours or two days? (I've heard all four!) Does your blood type, diet, IQ, blood alcohol content, or sign of the zodiac have anything to do with your likelihood of catching this mess? Is stress really a factor? Do the meds we've been hearing about for months really help, and if so, why is nobody talking about it in the media? Has the death rate eased or not? And why, if a six-year-old comes down with COVID-19, is it "Dancing With the Stars"-program-interrupting breaking news? But if a thousand recovered people in the country are dismissed from the hospital today, we never get the word? Just the shots of somebody who looks like death warmed over being wheeled out, barely able to manage a weak wave to the cheering medical professionals lining the hallways, as if to say, "Well, we pulled one through, I guess."

Again, we're pretty far along with this thing now and we're spending billions worldwide, but either nobody is telling us what we really need to know...or I've been so busy living and writing and laughing and growing tomatoes in flower pots in the backyard that I've missed the answers to these questions.

More reading: this article contains some arithmetic. But dive in anyway. It will still make sense to most of you. And hopefully cause you to ask your own questions.

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