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SARS-CoV-2 aka COVID-19: What is the NET Cost in Lives

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus; COVID-19 is the disease.

As horrific as the SARS-CoV-2 virus is, I wonder: how many people nationwide were NOT killed or injured because of COVID-19*? And how that compares to COVID-19 deaths.

That is, by staying homes and with eerily empty roads, traffic accidents are reduced substantially. Similarly, people die from bad economic conditions, and many people are losing their life savings and investments (e.g., the person who invested everything in a small business). Suicides rise, other adverse health outcomes occur, etc. These things are well known from recessions and this is the mother of all recessions, and though hopefully short-lived, for too many, it will have lifelong effects.

* See for example: Special Report: Impact of COVID19 on California Traffic Accidents eg just in California alone6,000 fewer injury/fatal accidents per month that can be directly or indirectly attributed to the shelter-in-place order”.

I am NOT making an argument in any way for reducing the efforts to fight COVID-19, nor am I taking any position on when the economy should reopen.

But at some point, only the irrational can argue that more deaths are better—that some kinds of deaths matter more than others (worth debating). The “crossover” day will come, simply as a matter of mathematics.

I’m guessing wildly that the crossover day will come by the end of May. But I also think that if we could get the supply of N95 masks along with training in their fitting such that everyone can wear one properly, along with glove use with frequent changes, we could bring that forward by 3-4 weeks. Maybe you should not go back to work until you are trained to wear an N95 mask properly and/or have proof of infection/recovery?

No matter what the President and Governors and Congress do, blame will be spread thickly for acting too soon or too late. But the mark of a leader is to make hard decisions and take the heat. I don’t have to like it, but I do respect it.

I for one am willing to accept any reasonably logical action which involves risk assessment, because no one can weigh all the factors or predict the future, and everyone weights the various factors differently. And that is why the advisory for the public to not wear masks infuriates me—it has no scientific or logical basis. But at least recommendations for mask use are finally changing*.

I take on the risk of driving for a benefit (getting where I want to go), and I take that on willingly and gladly. Such is life. Ditto for COVID-19.

* Ditto for the irresponsible medical profession and it’s paint-by-numbers statin usage—little or no risk assessment for individuals as a whole being, and near zero adverse event reporting by doctors. GIGO medicine.

Speaking personally

Not that any of this makes me favor a quick change for myself and my wife and my parents—we are all higher risk and while my business is being hurt and I’m having to draw on savings, I favor a longer closure rather than a shorter one.

But my three daughters are being hurt every day by not being able to work and save for college, and the government does exactly zero for them (being on my tax return, they get $0 as part of the stimulus package and their colleges are not refunding them anything for their greatly altered college experience). So even within my own family, the decision on when to reopen the economy is conflicted! Millions more are being hurt also, and the government is so incompetent that at-risk people still won’t get checks for weeks to come.

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