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Are The Coronavirus Fears Justified By The Numbers?


Is the Coronavirus the apocalypse or a big nothing burger?

 Are the Coronavirus fears that are being propagated in the mainstream media justified by the numbers coming back from the test results? Depending on how you read the results, (or, more likely, depending on who you listen that is interpreting them, since most people never really look at the actual data) the world has either entered into the twilight zone or... the twilight zone.

It's just two different kinds of twilight zone, driven by two different agendas.

What do the test numbers really tell us?

Well, for one thing, depending on how you read the numbers, you may well have already had the virus. There was a recent study done in Santa Clara County, California, where they did testing of a portion of the population - 3000 people - a small portion, but on people other than just those presenting with symptoms and they found that

... the results suggested that between 2.5% and 4.2% of people in the county have contracted COVID-19, which is 50 to 85 times greater than the number of cases being reported at the time.

That is a stunning discrepancy between anticipated and actual cases. Now, keep in mind that the left-side-twilight zone people will find all kinds of problems with jumping to any conclusion that this ripples through to be a valid statistic of the population at large. They are quick to say the test that the researchers used was not reliable and that the sample size is so small as to be meaningless.

Or else, alternatively, by God, those numbers must mean this thing is a LOT more to be feared than we thought!!!!!!

But whose agendas are driving this thing, anyway?

The panic or the negative reaction to it as overblown tripe seems to run through the minds of the masses pretty much in lockstep to their political predispositions. At least, that seems to be the way it is running in North America.

It seems those on the political left see the Covid-19 pandemic as having brought us into a twilight zone of a super-bug that is capable of wiping out our entire generation if we don't hose down everything (and everyone around us) with hand sanitizer and sleep in isolation rooms with N95 masks.

Those on the political right see something equally worthy of the twilight zone label; but it is something more sinister than a virus. What the right sees is a good crisis being milked by power-hungry politicians hell-bent on maintaining power and removing Trump from office.

Does the truth of where this thing washes out lie somewhere in the middle? Or is it being measured on a somewhat more simple line of left vs right than it deserves? Are we being nearly nuanced enough in how we look at this?

The numbers tell us that you can't look at ANY ONE particular city or state and try to anticipate what it means for the country.

New York City is a highly mobile, international city with lots of traffic and a varied population that comes and goes to and fro for every kind of reason. Right now (as of 2020-04-19) the official numbers of cases run around 10,000. For a city of 8.8 million people, the rough math says about 1 in every 880 people in NYC has or did have the virus.

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Washington, D.C. has a similar type of population: an international city with lots of traffic and a varied population that comes and goes to and fro for every kind of reason. According to the Washington Post, there are currently 3100 cases  (as of 2020-04-21). The population of DC is about 702,000. That makes a rough calculation of about 1 in every 225 people in DC has or did have the virus.

Unfortunately, I can't trust that the numbers aren't jacked up anyway.

Again, looking at the data from the study done in Santa Clara County, California, we see some real discrepancy between what they expected and what the testing results show for the number of cases.

A total of 50 tests came back positive. After adjusting for differences in zip code, race and sex between the sample population and Santa Clara as a whole, the researchers estimated that between 48,000 and 81,000 people in the 2-million-strong county had contracted coronavirus at some point. At the time, the health department was reporting about 1,000 positive cases.

They were estimating Santa Clara county to have had about 1,000 positive cases, with a population of 2,000,000 giving the expected rate of 1 out of every 2000 people for Santa Clara County. But based on the actual results from the test, it looks like an actual rate of 1 in every 25 to 40 people.

So, until they have test results based on testing more than the people who are already symptomatic, we have no idea what we're really up against.

And you see this idea being talked about by both sides for different purposes.

People on the right, such as Rush Limbaugh, seem to believe that this thing blows through the population for the most part without even being an issue for any concern. On his radio show, he said,

The common cold is normally a mild illness that resolves without treatment in a few days. And because of its mild nature, most cases are self-diagnosed. However, infection with rhinovirus or one of the other viruses responsible for common cold symptoms can be serious in some people. Complications from a cold can cause serious illnesses and, yes, even death – particularly in people who have a weak immune system.

He then went on to say that statistically - statistically - this coronavirus is potentially even less dangerous than a common flu bug for the number of deaths and hospitalizations compared to the normal flu bug every year.

Although Rush is excoriated and lambasted relentlessly by his critics, his thought is, basically, this thing is overblown; not enough to bring the economy to a screeching halt.

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And people on the left? Well, they're people on the left. For them, it all depends who is saying it.

And they think Rush is an idiot. So if Rush says it, it's asinine.

But if other people say it - especially someone from the democratic side of the isle - then it's "thoughtful" and "weighed carefully against the science."

Check out this little speech by Dr. Birx on the idea of opening the beaches in Florida and why it's maybe not a reason for global panic:

See? Thoughtful. Nuanced.

And yet, when Limbaugh makes statements like it's not the end of the world if states make determinations to open their economies, he's stupid.

And if the president does it? Well, he's just an idiot, apparently.

Apparently, if the president says it, it must be stupid just because HE is saying it.

You want to hear stupid? I was listening to a conservative talk show last weekend (don't remember which) but a caller basically said as much. He asked why hydroxichloriquine was even on the table for discussion for a possible treatment for Covid-19. The host asked if patients want to try it and their doctors think it's a good idea, then why should they not be allowed to try it? Why can't we trust the medical professionals to make medical decisions?

The response from this guy? Well, he said there was no way in hell he was going to try hydroxicholoriquine if he got sick because it has to be stupid because Trump is recommending it and Trump is an idiot.

It's what he honestly said. I lie not.

There IS an increasing number of reports that seem to recognize this thing may be less deadly than the first numbers suggested.

A Los Angeles news station reports it may be more widespread than first thought.

An estimated 320,000 adults in Los Angeles County may have been infected with coronavirus, according to preliminary results of a study that suggests the illness is far more widespread than current testing shows and the death rate is much lower.

But depending on who is reporting, it is either seen as a cause not to see this thing as a deadly sweep, or a cause for fear that the sky is falling. It always amazes me how different people can even look at the same numbers and come to such drastically different conclusions.

But are some manipulating the figures for nefarious gain?

The short answer that I hold to is that I was suspending judgement at first on this thing as to how cautious we needed to be with it and how dangerous it was. But however it might have needed to be given benefit of the doubt in the beginning, it is becoming clear that the powers that be have been trying to co-opt this thing as a tool to take out Trump.

Nancy Pelosi makes Trump out to be a racist for blocking flights in January from China and then, in March, says he's not done enough to help the country but seems to block pretty much every move he tries to make to keep the country going as a political stunt to make him look bad.

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But it gets worse.

What is troubling is the number of reports that medical officials are told to report deaths unrelated to te virus as caused by the virus anyway. Consider this report from NPR radio:

But new guidelines from the National Center for Health Statistics, which Minnesota follows, will err on the side of pinning more deaths on COVID-19, at least provisionally.
An alert issued Thursday instructs those who fill out death certificates to categorize pneumonia deaths that can’t be traced to another underlying condition as presumptively COVID-19.

What could POSSIBLY be the reason for that? Yeah. I don't know, either. But think of how much fuel that adds to the fires of conspiracy. It sure feels like an inappropriate use of the numbers.

One analyst looked at some of the stuff in this CDC guideline given to doctors and medical staff on how and when to report as a Covid-19 death vs a non-Covid-19 death. According to the CDC guideline, the result is....

“The underlying cause depends upon what and where conditions are reported on the death certificate. However, the rules for coding and selection of the underlying cause of death are expected to result in COVID- 19 being the underlying cause more often than not,” the guidelines read.
“COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death,” CDC guidelines issued March 24 read. “Certifiers should include as much detail as possible based on their knowledge of the case, medical records, laboratory testing, etc.,” the guidance continued.
“If the decedent had other chronic conditions such as COPD or asthma that may have also contributed, these conditions can be reported in Part II.”

I don't know about you. But I find that troubling. They are coming right out and saying that they are expecting the coding to show the cause of death as coronavirus more often than not. Also, it says they SHOULD report it as Covid-19 where the disease "caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death." But if they had underlying conditions, they CAN BE reported in part 2."

So..... how often does the "can be" part get done as compared to the "should be" done part? And how does this shake out in real life?

Remember the telephone game you played in kindergarten?

The reality is that it seems this "over-attributing to Covid-19" happening in ridiculous situations.

There are numerous reports of false attributions to Covid-19 when it seems pretty obvious that it is overreach. In fact, many in the medical community say the same thing. Fox News interviewed Dr. Scott Jensen from Minnesota who feels the reporting is ridiculous and could be very misleading.

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The problem for many is that Dr Jensen is a Republican State Senator. So for the left, he is part of the "Fox News Conspiracy."

But you have to think about what his complaint is. He says that in his 35 years of medicine, it's hard to imagine that for the amount of money a hospital admission gets for a patient ($13,000) and the amount of money they get for putting a patient on a ventilator ($39,000) it's not affecting the healthcare decisions that are being made.

And when you hear a number of doctors saying these patients sometimes shouldn't be put on ventilators but should just be put on oxygen, that is a concern. According to some doctors, some of these patients might well get lung damage from the respirator.

Now, maybe this is where some of the "nuance" maybe needs doing. In a March 25th article in Buzzfeed, there was a report of patients being underreported as having Covid-19 due to lack of testingPerhaps - perhaps - this is why the CDC changed their guidelines. 

It is wise to give benefit of the doubt. I try. I really do. I'm just trying to be a cognitive man. And I don't always have enough hours in a day to compare timelines of stories to see what might have let to what.

But by any measure, by the time the kindergarteners in the media finish the game, it's usually a chicken little disaster.

The CLASSIC case of "reporting" frenzy is a story that came out of a Louisiana newspaper where there was "a one-day old baby who died of Covid-19."

Now, we all (should) know that a one-day old baby can't contract a disease that takes two weeks to manifest after exposure. And the reality of the story was that the pregnant mother went into premature labour (at about 20 weeks or so?) and the baby died a day after it's premature death. Apparently,

The coroner said the child has not tested positive for Covid-19 but doctors and the state's epidemiologist agreed that the death can be ruled a coronavirus-related death.

How does that help anything but the hysteria and the conspiracy theories?

And just because you have a conspiracy theory, it doesn't mean it's not true. Sometimes, they're harder than hell to prove to people who choose not to see it - you know - "court of law" level proof. But there are a lot of people who get away with murder.

Part of what goads these people on the left is the popularity of a President that has them in his crosshairs.

He is stopping them from simply doing what they want, which is to play class warfare to maintain their seats of power by sowing hatred and discontent.

And right now, quite frankly, it feels like they're trying to milk this one for all it's worth to try to maintain power and control.

While congress should have been dealing with funding for medical preparation measures back in February, they were too busy impeaching the president. And now, they oppose him at every turn, all the while saying he isn't doing enough.

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They are mad with rage. Back in January, Nancy Pelosi was criticizing Trump for shutting down the flights from China. It was racist, she said. Then, in March, she criticized him for not doing enough.

For the left, consistency seems to be the hobgoblin of small minds unless the consistency is a hatred for Trump.

The fear on the right seems to be that the democratic side is holding on to keeping things locked down until there is a vaccine.

And now, even now, there is already a hysteria being ginned up about a possible second coronavirus wave next winter even worse than the first. THAT seems to be good justification for keeping the alarm bells ringing until there is a vaccine.

Never waste a good crisis.

This seems unnecessary.

The numbers seem to be going down. There are numerous treatments being done by many doctors using existing medications and with stellar results. The economy is reeling from the unwillingness to acknowledge that countries that are simply refusing to go overboard with these draconian measures of quarantining are seeing virus infection numbers no worse or maybe even better than all these countries sheltering in place.

So what do you do?

You can pray. Real prayer changes things. I truly believe these people are evil and with nefarious intent. This has to be treated as spiritual warfare.

And you can write. Write to your congressmen, your senators. Write letters to the editors of your papers. Call your local talk shows. And be prepared for pushback. The left can be a very, very disingenuous bunch. They are some of the most intolerant and hateful people who spew all they spew in the name of tolerance and love. 

The left seems to be the epitome of what Paul was talking about when he spoke about the reprobate sinners in Romans, chapter 1.

The worst part is they truly think they are the tolerant ones and you are the hateful bigots. But unfortunately, If there is any hope, it is that iron still sharpens iron. But don't expect any sharpening happens without some sparks flying.

And in all your doing, if you see from your position on the right that those on the left look like the reprobate in Romans, chapter 1, be careful not to see yourself as righteous simply because you believe the correct things.

In all your being right, you must always strive to act loving and to be gracious. You aren't dealing just with the people. You're dealing with collective mindsets (and, if you can hear it, with principalities and powers in heavenly places). You need to be better in your hearts and attitudes as you become the iron that sharpens other iron.

You need to be the better person because you don't want to be the person that Paul talks about in Romans, chapter 2.

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The Cognitive Man is an evangelical, North American Christian who has an interest in remaining anonymous, at least for a little while. He is a published author and a frequent guest blogger at several other major web sites. But he wishes to lurk here in the shadows for a while, at least. He MIGHT come out of hiding eventually. Time will tell.

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