Thursday, March 11, 2021

70 days later, almost 200,000 more deaths

My last post about COVID-19 was late December.  See link below.

At that time I wondered how many naysayers and downplayers of the virus would have dismissed the science of lockdowns, social distancing and masks, had they known half a million Americans would die without those deterrents.  At this point, I haven't heard any GOP local, state or federal public servant predict that it might take another 150,000 American deaths to prove just how free we are.

Still, I wonder just how many American deaths they might have considered collateral damage had we instituted no mitigations.  1 million? 2 million? I recall the 2 million number used by some infectious disease experts at the start, when asked how many lives might be lost if we did nothing.  Does that mean we saved upwards of 1.5 million Americans?  Is that enough to warrant the damage done to our economy, the education system, small businesses, etc?  

Do you only answer YES if you lost someone, knowing how many of your friends, relatives and neighbors were saved?  Do you only answer NO, if you haven't lost anyone?

During the pandemic of 1918-20, about 675,000 Americans died, out of a population of about 100 million.  In other words, almost 7/10 of one percent of the population died.  Not 7/10 of one percent of the people who got the disease, 7/10 of one percent of the whole population.  If we extrapolate that percentage to our current population of about 330 million, that would equate to about 2.3 million souls.  Would that number of deaths convince everyone that, perhaps, staying away from the old and immune compromised, and wearing a mask in public, is not a sacrifice of one's liberties, but an acknowledgement that a truly free person can choose to temporarily forego a right when that action saves countless lives? 

Do you think it would be helpful if we could somehow figure out who was actually saved?  Perhaps give out certificates to a random sample of the population that was at high risk, so that we put a face with the statistic?  It would at least make for a good conversation starter.

I have asked a few of my acquaintances who believe that mask mandates, either state of private business imposed, violate their essential freedoms, whether they adhere to the standard business practice of disallowing shoeless or shirtless people inside their establishment, or do they strip off their shoes and shirts and claim that the restriction violates their freedoms, and all those who obey those guidelines are sheep?

Virtually all say that they don't argue with such signs or rules.  When I press them for a reason, I here safety, especially the shoe issue.  Fear of getting injured, or thinking that a business owner would require shoes to avoid getting sued should a customer get hurt.  When I remind them that getting a virus by entering a store unmasked could lead to sickness, hospitalization or even death for them, other customers and the employees, to mention possible lawsuits should the death be linked directly with a sick employee, the general reaction is a shoulder shrug, or if the person is a complete denier, the statement that the virus is not real anyway, and all the rules are attempts to control the population.

I can almost excuse those who just havn't thought their anti-mask stance through, as it is clear that they have adopted that stance due to some misguided belief that their freedom is at stake because someone told them, not necessarily because they thought that themselves right from the start.  Or perhaps just out of a sense of duty to their particular political tribe.  At least there is hope for that person, in that they may be convinced to see another side of the issue.  The deniers, unfortunately, will never be convinced.

In Texas, I see that the governor has declared that Texans are now free to go about their business, and that the state will no longer interfere with their rights to do what they think is best.  I have to wonder if he will also suspend other laws that are designed to protect citizens from hurting themselves, traffic laws, food handling requirements, alcohol and drug laws, etc.  After all, I am sure that all Texans will do the right thing, so why does the state have to tell them not to drink and drive, abuse drugs, wash their hands after urinating and before handling food, drive within the speed limit and at a safe distance, just as I am sure that there are no bars in Texas (or anywhere for that matter), that might serve a customer who has already had too much, or may be just a bit short of the legal age.  After all, what self-respecting business owner would put his profit above safety?

But what really annoys me about those governors who have dropped their mask requirements, is that many have declared that while they prefer not to mandate masks, no city or county official is allowed to mandate masks either.  And, even worse, if a business owner wants to require masks, that is fine, they can handle every yahoo that enters their establishment with a freedom chip on their shoulder.  Sounds like the governor wants all the praise for granting people their freedom, but none of the hard decision making when it comes to protecting the health of that business's employees, not to mention their safety when cowboy Bob decides no one is going to tell him to wear a mask when he is drinking away his paycheck. 

Of course, the good news is that about 2 million Americans are getting vaccinated almost every day, and that the most recently approved vaccine does not need intense storage requirements.  While I have found by reading my past posts that I have been very bad at predicting the number of deaths we may experience in the future (I thought that half a million might not be achieved), I expect that with too many states pulling out early in regards to their attempts to control the spread of COVID-19, and despite the push to vaccinate, we will lose another 100,000 Americans by mid-summer, thereby exceeding the total for the pandemic of 1918-20, which will make this the most deadly (in aggregate) of events in American history, save for the Civil War.  Hopefully, your family will not be touched.

Stay masked, stay safe.