COVID-19…Fear, Panic…by the Numbers

{LFC Comments:  Thanks to our patriotic friend, Chuck L., for this article on COVID-19 statistics.]

COVID-19 By the Numbers

Written by Chuck L.
July 16, 2019

I thought I would share with you some thoughts that I jotted down and sent to some folks.

I was originally going to send this out with my daily update statistics, but this got a bit long so I am sending it our separately.  It is intended to put things into perspective and to alleviate some of the hype and panic that is impacting people.  Hopefully it is useful in accomplishing that intent.

It seems like the media is doing its best to strike fear into the hearts of people regarding the coronavirus pandemic.  They routinely use words like “spike” and “surge”.  An Associated Press article in The News-Herald this morning had a headline of “Florida virus deaths surge, research moves forward.”  It went on to say:

“Florida surpassed its daily record for coronavirus deaths Tuesday amid rising global worries of a resurgence…”

“The new deaths raised the state’s seven-day average to 81 per day more than double the figure of two weeks ago and now the second-highest in the United States behind Texas.”

The facts are that the per capita death rate in Florida as of yesterday was 205 per million people.  This is 0.02% of the population of Florida.

Texas, another coronavirus case hot spot, has a per capita death rate of 115 per million people.  This is 0.01% of the population of Texas.

For reference purposes, Ohio has a per capita death rate of 263 per million people.  This is 0.026% of the population of Ohio.

And the per capita case rates for Texas, Florida, and Ohio are 9.5, 13.6, and 5.8 cases per 1000 people.   Florida has the highest rate, which if interpreted in its worst possible way, would mean that 1.36% of the population of Florida has been confirmed to have contracted the virus.

So, the data do not warrant the use of that type of language.  In some respects this reminds of the daily body count in Afghanistan and Iraq during President George W Bush’s term in office.

Now to focus on Lake County.  I have heard of reports of people being scared, and perhaps very scared, because it sounds like the virus is out of control and killing almost everyone.  I have been somewhat surprised to see on more than one occasion a single individual driving a car while wearing a mask.  To what end, I don’t understand, but obviously driven by fear of contracting the virus.

Here is the data as of yesterday.  There have been 643 coronavirus cases reported in Lake County.  This does not mean 643 individuals have tested positive for coronavirus.  It means that there have been 643 tests that have come back positive.  The summary data from the Ohio Department of Health shows that these 643 positive tests were from 520 individuals.  Does anyone think that the number of cases reported means that is the number of individuals infected?  No doubt as that seems to be the intent of reporting the number that way.  So why would they report it that way?

So, there are 520 individuals in Lake County who have been confirmed to have contracted the virus.  This amounts to 0.23% of the population of Lake County.  Correspondingly, this means that 99.77% of the population of Lake County has either not been tested or has not tested positive for coronavirus.

So does this mean that my chances of running into someone who has the virus in a chance encounter at the store or a restaurant is only 0.23% or 23 times out of 10,000?  Well, technically yes.  But the reality is that the chances of running into some who has the virus is even less than that.

Why is that?  Well, The number 520 is the total number of people in Lake County who either have the virus or who had it and have recovered.  So, if we reduce the 520 by the number of people who contracted the coronavirus prior to June 1st (298 such individuals who would no longer have the virus), the number of people currently in Lake County who might still have the coronavirus drops to 222.  This amounts to 0.10% of the population of Lake County.  Under this scenario, your chances of randomly encountering someone with coronavirus is one in a thousand.

However, this likelihood, in all reality is still inflated.  Why?  Because those who have been confirmed to have coronavirus or have significant active symptoms (coughing and/or fever) typically are staying home.  So the chances of encountering someone are actually less than 0.1% or less than one in a thousand.

But wait, there is another factor involved.  And this is especially important for going to the store or other places where one might briefly encounter someone else.  Let’s say that I go to the store and pass within 3 feet of someone who has the coronavirus and is actively transmitting it.  I still need to have enough contact time with that person to reach a threshold contamination level.  This is virtually impossible when passing by someone.  So, I would need to have enough time with that person to reach a threshold infection level.  If that person isn’t coughing or sneezing, or if that person isn’t even talking, the chances of being infected are minimal at best.

Overall then the chances of randomly coming into contact with someone who is transmitting the coronavirus is considerably less than one in a thousand.  What does this mean?  If I encounter 100 people in my normal business in the community in a day my chances of not running into someone who is actively transmitting the virus are greater than 99%.  Conversely my chances of running into one person, out of the hundred people with whom I had contact, who is transmitting is much less than 1%.

But what if I do get the virus?  Isn’t it likely that I will be hospitalized or that it will kill me?  Generally, the answer is no.  Based upon Ohio data for the first 13 days of July, here are the likelihoods of being hospitalized or dying if one is found to have coronavirus.

Just to be clear the death percentages DO NOT mean that 19.15% of those 80 or over are going to die of coronavirus.  It means that if, in the unlikely case that someone 80 or over contracts the virus, there is a 19.15% chance of dying of the virus.  And there is some question about that as well.  The definition being used may very well include those who died with coronavirus as well as those who died because of coronavirus.  I don’t have the data available to make that distinction.  Typically deaths occur when there are one or more co-morbidities that make it more difficult for the body to fight off the virus.

So these numbers indicate that if someone is 50 or under, the chances of serious consequences are very minimal.  For example, for the average person under 50, the chances of encountering an individual with coronavirus is less than one in a thousand.  But should he or she contract the virus by such a chance encounter, the chances of being hospitalized is less than 5% or as low as 1% depending upon age.  The chances of dying or no more than 0.25%.  Which means the chances of surviving are 99.75% or better depending upon age.

There obviously is more risk associated with those who are 70 or over.  Between 50 and 70 is somewhat marginal.  But again the key factor is the overall likelihood of encountering someone who is actively transmitting the virus.

For those that are older, it would be prudent to avoid circumstances where there is a static group of people, especially those who are strangers, in a closed in area for an extended period of time.


Psalm 126:3

Categories: Uncategorized

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