March 22, 2020: US Death Toll

Just to keep track of the nonsense that has wrecked our economy and generally made our politicians run around as if their fool heads were on fire, each day I publish the corona virus total death toll in the US based upon the latest data I can find.  A single death is an immense tragedy if you love the person.  However, we are not talking about love, but rather public policy, which should always involve a sober analysis of risk and cost.  Please recall that in a bad normal flu year our death toll in the US can be as high as 90,000.

 

Note this will be a total death toll since the beginning of this bad farce, and not a daily toll.  As of March 22 the death toll is 348.

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30 Comments

  1. Careful of what we compare…
    Based on 7 known flu seasons, the average number of cases in the U.S. was 25,300,000 with average deaths at 34,571. That’s 0.14%. But this is with flu vaccines available to the general public which should keep numbers low. I think It’s more realistic to compare with the last pandemic.

    Swine flu (H1N1) cases in the U.S. was 60,800,000 with deaths at 12,469. That’s 0.02%.

    So far Corona Virus has about 27,111 cases in the U.S and 340 deaths. That’s 1.25%
    So if we did nothing and got to 60,800,000 cases at 1.25%, that’s 760,000 deaths
    What are acceptable losses???
    Sources I used:
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_flu_pandemic_in_the_United_States

  2. If we have more than 50K deaths in the US, I will eat my words, with sausage, catsup and RC Cola. I do not think we have the foggiest notion of the actual number of Wuhan Flu infections in this country.

  3. Your denominator in the case of the 2009 swine flu is likely an estimate from models or survey research. Your denominator with this ailment is a census of tests results, and they’re being sparing with the tests because they’re in short supply.

    A possible green shoot right at this time is that Iran may have hit the plateau. Another is that it’s been circulating in the rest of the Near East (and in North Africa) for weeks now. There are hundreds and hundreds of cases but few deaths as yet. Either a different strain or the warm weather is inhibiting and / or therapeutic.

    Some sad news. The blawger David Lat, who is 44 years old and has a regular exercise program, is in critical condition in a hospital in Manhattan. Only comorbidity is some mild asthma.

  4. If we have more than 50K deaths in the US, I will eat my words,

    In China, there have been north of 3,200 deaths and there are 1,800 or so who are in serious / critical condition and not out of the woods. About 80% are in the province of Hubei, which has a population of 58 million. If we’re hit as severely, that might mean somewhat north of 20,000 fatalities. I think the Chinese government was pretty draconian in Hubei.

    Another patient from the Diamond Princess has died. There are still 15 bad cases which haven’t been cleared yet. They had about 240 passengers over the age of 60 who were (1) symptomatic and (2) tested positive for the coronavirus infection. The ship had over 2,000 passengers over 60.

    No clue about a 2d wave. IIRC, the Spanish flu had 3 waves.

  5. What are acceptable losses???

    I don’t find that question to be a particularly useful one, but my best guess at how to come up with an answer is that you have to subtract the best case scenario from the worst case scenario, and then divide 2 trillion by that number to come up with the cost per life saved. If that dollar amount strikes you as unreasonably expensive, then your worst case scenario represents an acceptable loss of life.

  6. I’ve done some more playing with numbers (please forgive, it’s the Asberger’s Syndrome coming out): # of US cases: 26,747 (as of 22/3); US population: 335.6 million; US incidence: 0.008%; # of S. Korea cases (as of today): 8897; S.Korea population: 51.2 million; S.Korea Incidence: 0.017 %.
    Supposedly S. Korea has done a good job of containment–their curve is flattening. If the US does likewise we should then reach no more than roughly 0.02% incidence which would be roughly 50000 cases. That seems highly optimistic, but…

  7. Bob, there is no way American society in 2020 has the social cohesion of any current Far Eastern society. America at its apogee in 1947 did, see the Texas City disaster as an example, but not now. It is reasonable to believe that we now have about 10 to 100 (chosen as limits of one order of magnitude) asymptomatic infections for every confirmed case.

    Let’s say there are about 630,000 asymptomatic infections, which falls within that range. If we apply the Italian 7% fatality rate then we have a fatality forecast of around 45,000 persons.

    We have good reason to think the 7% may not apply. We do have more resources than Italy, we have the benefit of their lessons learned, and we have war fewer smokers per thousand. Using the Chinese reported percentage of 2% (is it accurate??) gives us a fatality count of around 13,000. If the Chinese were lying perhaps the number will be higher.

    The big issue is that we have no reason to believe that the maximum infection limit we will face will be as low as 630,000. My municipality closed all parks, and the half of the population that is not taking this seriously is defying the closure in enough numbers to make enforcement impossible. As I said, this is not 1947, and we are not South Korea.

  8. All this discussion is fine, but I got 3 people in my household with unspecified respiratory ailments. My wife and step daughter saw the physician last week but are still coughing. My wife is so bad she can’t get out of her recliner. We took her to urgent care yesterday and were assured no COVID-19, but no actual test was done. We had to stay in the car as the on duty nurse came out with mask & gloves on. That nurse was visibly scared. Then after 10 min only my wife was permitted inside. And sadly there are not enough testing kits for the virus. I think this is worse that what Donald posits, but I pray Donald is right. Pray for my wife, my stepdaughter, my son-in-law. And pray for my ex-spouse now unemployed due to this crisis. Yeah, my life is screwed up; I know what the judgment is, so kindly spare me. Just pray instead of wasting time with Excel graphs and economic pontificating. Sorry, I am in a worried mood. 😔😔😔

  9. The only parks I would close are known make-out spots.
    (Is that even a thing anymore? From my admitedly limited observations teens these days seem more interested in their screens than in the opposite sex.)

  10. Lucius, unless there’s an obvious risk factor, like international travel to/from a hot spot or close contact with somebody who’s travelled to/from a hot spot or a relative or colleague with a confirmed case, it’s likely not the Wuhan flu, which is why the clinic didn’t spend a scarce resource on your wife. That’s actually good news.
    (Easy for me to say, I know.)

  11. Ernst, once we saw the outbreak in the nursing home in Washington State we knew those ‘obvious risk factors’ were outdated.

  12. Lucius, I’ve been praying since December and will continue to do so, now especially for you and your loved ones.

  13. Give me facts that stick to tell me I’m wrong, and I’ll accept them. I never find ALL the facts to be unpleasant.

  14. But this is with flu vaccines available to the general public which should keep numbers low. I think It’s more realistic to compare with the last pandemic.

    Since you’re playing with numbers anyways, have you looked at the effectiveness of the flu vaccine for each season and seen if that maps?
    https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/effectiveness-studies.htm


    LCQ-
    did they check for pneumonia at least? (Last time my mom had walking pneumonia, they figured it out with a mere stethoscope, may not have made a big production of it.)

    That’s where it’s dangerous, and you don’t need a positive Wuhan Flu diagnosis to keep that from killing you.

  15. Bob, there is no way American society in 2020 has the social cohesion of any current Far Eastern society.

    China is welding folks into their apartments to “quarantine” them, and there’s a decent chance the entire thing got started because the guys who work in the local bio research institute sold the test animals he was supposed to destroy to the local meat market. Which has been a repeated, and known, issue.

    South Korea has been doing fine, but they didn’t depend on social cohesion. They basically quarantined people who had symptoms (temperatures scans before entering public places) and let the country keep running.
    They’re giving daily updates on their numbers:
    https://www.cdc.go.kr/board/board.es?mid=a30402000000&bid=0030

    Of those tested about half have the virus but have no symptoms. (which, remember, are “cold or flu” until you hit severe respiratory distress)
    Bunch of data here:
    https://spinstrangenesscharm.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/covid-19-interesting-data-from-korea-and-from-the-diamond-princess/

  16. Totalitarian repression like welding apartment complexes shut (yes, I saw the videos) is NOT social cohesion! And yes, the South Koreans DID depend on people acting responsibly, and most did. ONE did not, and 80% of their caseload came from that ONE patient. If it were the U.S. it would have been 10 or 20.

    As I said to my wife the other night “How would you like it if you were told you couldn’t drive on the interstate tomorrow because the Air Force was going to be landing on it and launching jet fighters from it in their annual war games? South Koreans accept such intrusions as necessary”. That acceptance is just one example of how their society works, how it has cohesion in the face of threats.

    BTW, a 17 year old South Korean with no underlying conditions just died the other day.

    As to your links, see the second as fully in line with my reasoning as to how this is spreading.

  17. Totalitarian repression like welding apartment complexes shut (yes, I saw the videos) is NOT social cohesion!

    I know.
    It demonstrates the opposite.
    Which is my point.

    BTW, a 17 year old South Korean with no underlying conditions just died the other day.

    A 17-year-old male patient died on 18 March after suffering fever and deteriorating respiratory symptoms. After several tests by the KCDC and multiple university hospitals, COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing Management Committee conclusively determined the patient to be COVID-19 negative.

    Directly from the daily updates of the Korean CDC, which I have been suggesting folks look at for days; more information here:
    https://spinstrangenesscharm.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/covid-19-interesting-data-from-korea-and-from-the-diamond-princess/

    As I said to my wife the other night “How would you like it if you were told you couldn’t drive on the interstate tomorrow because the Air Force was going to be landing on it and launching jet fighters from it in their annual war games? South Koreans accept such intrusions as necessary”.

    That’s because it is necessary if they are going to practice for the homicidal psychopath running the country next door, much less his big brother, that they can’t ground the military.
    The US population also lets the military shut down traffic for planes and such…when it is needed. Since we’re rather less dense than Korea, have a rather large number of places that can launch or recover aircraft, and Canada won’t nuke us, that is much less common.

    And yes, the South Koreans DID depend on people acting responsibly, and most did. ONE did not, and 80% of their caseload came from that ONE patient.

    You’re trying to refer to Patient #31, aren’t you?
    Who some tabloid-level media are blaming for the Shincheonji cluster, because it makes for such a comforting story. “Oh, people are terrible and evil, it’s all totally under control if we just can control people.”

    Here is the situation in Korea when left the hospital the first time:
    ○ KCDC also provided the updates on the Korean nationals evacuated from Wuhan. The first group returned on 15 February were 368 people in total, 2 of which have already been confirmed positive of COVID-19. The second group returned on 1 February were 333 people in total and have been confirmed positive of COVID-19. They will be released as well on 16 February.
    ○ KCDC pointed out that we must prepare for the community transmission in and health care setting, even though no further confirmed cases have been confirmed in recent days.
    ○ Community transmission is on-going in China and the cases without a clear epidemiological link are being reported in Singapore and Japan. Therefore, it is possible to have the risk of community transmission even in mild symptoms, and the infection may spread among patient and older people in health case setting.

    https://www.cdc.go.kr/board/board.es?mid=a30402000000&bid=0030

    Here is the day she agreed to be tested:
    ○ KCDC pointed out that we must prepare for the sustained community spread and transmission in health care setting. It is triggering an early detect, strengthening surveillance on community, and preventing of infection through protection of vulnerable health facilities.
    ○ Community transmission is on-going in China and the cases without a clear epidemiological link are being reported in Singapore and Japan. Therefore, it is possible to have the risk of community spread even in mild symptoms, and the infection may spread among patient and older people in health case setting.
    ○ We are also revising the case definition to expand the criteria for hospitals to perform diagnostics tests regardless of patients’ travel history.

    https://www.cdc.go.kr/board/board.es?mid=a30402000000&bid=0030&act=view&list_no=366221&tag=&nPage=9

    They started testing her contacts and discovered the Shincheonji cluster. They then tested those who had already died– thus not having had time for the incubation period to pass and thus not having been infected by patient 31– and found several positive cases that had been identified as more standard pneumonia. Korea thinks one of the members of the group may have caught it at the local hospital and that is how patient 31 got it; since China has been hiding this since November, it’s rather hard to identify.


    Incidentally, Korea had an alarmed tracking program for those who were supposed to be in isolation.
    Again, not counting on anybody’s good will.

  18. TomD-
    So you deliberately lied when you stated:
    BTW, a 17 year old South Korean with no underlying conditions just died the other day.
    ?

    KNOWING he did not have the Wuhan flu?

    And you deliberately, falsely accused a woman of negligently causing the infection of 80% of the Korean cases, knowing that she was most likely guilty of nothing but catching the Wuhan flu at her church and being tested the very first day they started suggesting tests of those who had not left the country?

    Because that is what you are claiming, now.
    Guess that claim is worth just as much as your claim about accepting all the facts.

  19. Ernst-
    Proverbs 26 situation. 4 and 5 can be rephrased as damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but when some fool announces that they believe a country has intense social cohesion, and then sets up a little old lady to be scapegoated by that society for catching a virus at church, it calls out for correction.

    The other examples of false witness are just obnoxious, and the main purpose of responding is to make sure that folks have access to the facts.

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