I like math. I'm not a doctor or a scientist, but one thing that seems to be readily available via news sites is a lot of data - number of tests taken, number of positive cases, number of deaths, etc. The New York Times published an article on 3/26/2020: "Where the U.S. Stands Now on Coronavirus Testing" that has all the data available in the U.S. on these numbers.
So I did a little math based on the NY Times article. Again, I'm not an expert in the field, but this gives me something to do to make sense of the information coming in and what it might mean to our country.
As of when the article was published, there had been about 558,000 tests administered across the U.S., with about 75,800 testing positive. That's 13.6% positive rate for all the tests administered. Of these at the time (the number has since grown), there were 1,588 deaths, which works out to be about 2.1% who die after testing positive. If you take a straight extrapolation from those percentages and apply it to the entire U.S. population (about 327 million), you get a number of about 44.5 million people who will test positive for coronavirus and 934,500 projected deaths.
But this projection doesn't take into account any variables, positive or negative - such as slowing rates by practicing social distancing (or increasing rates for places NOT practicing social distancing), and whether there will be "side" deaths (people who aren't positive for coronavirus, but who die from a cause they can't get treated for while hospitals are overwhelmed, such as cancer, organ transplants, etc., which most hospitals have since cancelled. While these deaths won't be DIRECTLY due to coronavirus, I think they should still be laid at coronavirus's door, since life-saving operations have been postponed/canceled recently due to lack of space).
That's a scary number. Hopefully it's a number that can be changed for the better with social distancing practices. Hopefully we've gotten to state lockdowns in time to prevent more spread. Hopefully the experimental drug treatments being tried in hospitals right now will prevent future patient deaths.
But whatever happens, this is an experience that has changed - and will change - all of us. Not just in this country, but around the world. This is a pivotal event of our lives, just like WWII was for my grandparents' generation. There will be common questions asked down the road: "Where were you locked down during the pandemic? Did you get the coronavirus? Who did you know who died?"
Anyways, musings that probably everyone is having right now. Hope you are all staying healthy during these days, and I'll be seeing you again after lockdown. Stay safe.
Who the heck is Alison McBain?
I am a freelance writer and poet with over a hundred short pieces published in magazines and anthologies. If the Walking Dead isn't on, I draw pictures and do origami meditation in Connecticut, where I live with my family. If the Walking Dead is on... shhhh! The Walking Dead is on! For more info, please check out my "About Me" page.
© Alison McBain. All rights reserved