A friend of mine posted today on Facebook that there were 10,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas. She is feeling overwhelmed. I understand her position.
I think it is great news with a caveat. The caveat is that social restrictions are monitored and changed as needed to ensure two things – hospitals can handle the incoming COVID-19 patients needing urgent care; and, the second is the daily death rate continues to remain static compared to the confirmed COVID-19 rate. We need to know when to push the accelerator and when to hit the brakes!
If populations are never let out of their homes, there will be no significant increase in daily COVID-19 new cases, no increase or demand for hospitalization ICU beds, and no increase in daily deaths. How long do you keep people immobilized in their homes?
People congregating will pass the virus on to others. We know that the death rate for people under 45 years of age is nearly zero. We also know that the under-45 crowd will be quarantined in their homes rather than hospitalized compared to the over-55 group.
So long as the most vulnerable are protected, what is the harm for the bullet-proof younger generation to catch the bug and take two weeks out at home? They will catch the virus – it is a matter of time. Do you want to continue to wear masks and social distance for the next four years or the next year?
When do you open the spigot for social interaction? How effective are the controls to minimize deaths and hospitalizations? The risk of dying from or with COVID-19 increases with age and pre-existing conditions. These people need to be protected. Everyone else will catch the virus sooner or later.
Vaccines and antiviral drugs do not guarantee total safety or immunity from COVID-19. You (the ubiquitous ‘you’) are extending the shelf life of COVID-19 if you think that you can keep sheltered until next February when a vaccine might be available. Worldwide, one percent of all COVID-19 patients are hospitalized. Everyone else survives by self-quarantine.
In my local area (greater Houston area – Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller counties), the Texas Medical system has entered Phase II for COVID-19 ICU beds.
Phase I allocates 15% of all ICU beds for COVID-19 patients. This represents 1,330 ICU beds. Currently, there are 1,364 COVID-19 patients being treated in ICU beds. Those extra 34 COVID-19 patients are in Phase II. There are 339 additional ICU beds allocated for COVID-19 patients. When Phase II ICU beds are full, Phase III begins with an additional 507 ICU beds.
The COVID-19 positive test rate in the greater Houston area has been recorded at a low of 962/week to a high of 1598/week during the past three weeks. Last week, the number of COVID-19 positive tests were 1360/week. Two weeks prior to the last three, the average was 400/week. The two-month average prior to that was around 250/week.
We have gone from 250/week nearly three months ago to averaging a thousand more a week today. One thousand additional COVID-19 patients used up the 15% ICU allocation and cause the hospital system to enter Phase II.
COVID-19 testing in the greater Houston area is increasing. Testing has increased to over 10,000/day with an average of 12% positive during the past three weeks. The prior two-month average was less than 5%. The national average is 9%.
From my perspective, COVID-19 hospitalizations are under control and being managed well.
Total deaths from or with COVID-19 in Fort Bend County (where I live) is 60 today. That is an increase of 4 COVID-19 deaths in the last eight days. Harris County is showing 411 COVID-19 deaths as of today – an increase of eleven in the last eight days.
We would prefer no deaths from any disease. It is not going to happen. COVID-19 deaths will continue to happen for a while – months, if not years. We have thousands of seasonal influenza deaths every year. We do not stop children from going to school. They are highly susceptible to seasonal influenza – and some die from it. The susceptibility rate of children (under ten years of age) appears to be much less than seasonal influenza.
There is a potential problem if there are grandparents living at home. The risk of infecting the elderly increases with interaction from people (children included) interacting with the public.
Is the death rate being monitored and controls in place to retrench new social norms if necessary? I believe so. Knowing what and when to do something to save lives is critical during this pandemic.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com