Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Worst Case Scenario (Covid-19)

I have Internet access at home on my computer, for the first time since April 2011. After experimenting with no Internet at home in April and May 2011 when I moved to Iowa, I realized that the lifestyle is for me. Using my cell phone is enough access. However, blogging is something I really prefer to do on a keyboard, not a cell phone. So, for the next few weeks, and let's be honest, months probably, I'm probably going to blog a lot more than I have the last few years. In large part because the world is not ending, but it feels a bit like it is ending.

Before we get into how bad it might get, let's talk about best case scenarios. Let's say that no one has any contact with anyone outside of their immediate family for the next two weeks. That means that asymptomatic infected people will become symptomatic and go to the hospital if needed, there will be very few new infections, and we will have peaked in maybe three weeks from now. Hospitals will probably manage with the staff and equipment they have, thousands will die, but mostly older patients with co-morbidity. Shortly after peaking testing will catch up and infected people will be quarantined more specifically, instead of 80+% of people as we are today. We'll get a good idea of really how widespread and contagious the disease is, and then we will have nice summer.

Ok, now let's walk through how bad it might get. If people don't quit interacting with others, more people are going to be affected. A contagious person can infect others for up to 14 days before showing symptoms. 14 days! That means everyone I've interacted with, even shared a door handle with in the last 14 days might have infected me. Fortunately, I'm not one for a lot of contact with others in general and as I retrace my steps the last few weeks I've only sat in a restaurant twice, a week ago and four days ago. Although I have been to Starbucks twice this week. To add more to the story, the median incubation period before showing symptoms is 5-5.2 days, and 97.5% of infected,  people show symptoms within 11-11.5 days, depending on the study you read. (Both published in the last four days.)

What that means... Colorado essentially went into mild lock down on Monday, it's going to be two weeks before we know if we made a dent in this pandemic or not. Moderate lock down is next, and I think severe lock down is a real possibility. Fortunately, Colorado cases have been increasing at a linear rate, not exponential, so there is hope we have already gotten ahead of the curve.

Jumping two steps ahead, based on the 2011 movie Contagion, and what is happening in Italy now, I think it is entirely possible that the National Guard or Reserves (or plain regular Army) will be  stationed outside of grocery stores to take temperatures and limit the number of people inside. While restaurants are open now, I'm guessing they will be called on to close. I don't think there will be widespread looting, or riots, because it's not "that" deadly. Which brings my next point.

I know many people in their 60s, 70s, 80s, and a few in their 90s. This virus is killing something like 3% up to 10+% of people in those age ranges. I am 99% sure t hat before this thing is over, someone I know will die from it. The last three church congregations I have been a part of have all been older, with lots of people over 60. It's a statistics problem. If enough people get sick, and enough older people, someone I know will die.

So let's say that this virus kills 4% of everyone it affects. Let's also say that when the hospitals get overwhelmed, the death rate will double, like it has already in Italy, because of a lack of ventilators. So let's say that 8% of the USA dies, and everyone gets infected, that's about 26 million Americans that might die. That's how bad it could get. Let's say it takes a year for that to happen, that's huge absolutely huge, but not the end of the world. Sure, it's very possibly the end of the world if you are over 60.

Point being, Jesus loves you. Hang in there.

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